Only a Text (& its Spaces)

Date: Thu Feb 24 2005 - 18:06:34 PST

Mike wrote:
"So, what is out there is of interest, but apparently others eithe are
looking elsewhere, have no questions of concern to them (can that be
possible??) or simply are struggling to stay afloat. I am guessing the

Thank you mike for getting us out of the dark by mapping the space of
(unusual) non response . You asked "what is out there is of interest[?]" I
have one to share that has a hybrid shard space of mutual interest--Bakhtin
meaning making theory in text and theory of production space in text.

I came across this interesting article by William R Millar on 'Bakhtinian
Reading of Narrative Space and Its Relationship to Social Space'

Curiously, it is in the field of construction of ancient spaces and
religious texts. Religious texts are 'read' in terms of their social space
and distribution of power within it, and their possible transformation by
the reader.

Bakhtin is used as a model to read texts, and its spaces--as he read
Dostoevsky relationally (Einsteinian). To read like Bakhtin, Millar assumes
that reader must first develop a sort of special literacy "the capacity to
see from within a narrative space, rather than from outside. p7" The author
is expected to show the worldview of the characters and their perception of
self--to hear the epoch (p8).

Interesting to me is the application of the Soja's spatial theory to reading
text. "Narrative, like real life, creates a very complex mix of
spatialities. In that mix is "the notion of the text 'creating a world',
that is, a space in which the reader as well as the characters 'live'" p16.
well, seeing and reading a text in this way is similar to going to the
'hollow deck' in Star Trek, or in the Matrix!

From the field that I am disinterested in (Being burnt by fundamentalists in
Iran and now feeling the heat from them in here) and completely unexpected,
I was connected to an application of spatial theory--in religion! (Perhaps
the lesson is to see non-absolute in what is seen and practiced as

Here it is:
"[in] The Postmodern Bible they identify three spatial worlds surrounding a
text that impact the construction of meaning:
[1] "the world behind the text", the history of the text's production [2]
"the world of the text", the history of the text's reception
[3] the "world in front of the text" , their own [reader/scholar] encounter
with the text in the act of reading p17-18.

"Their eyes are focused to miss what is happening in front of the text."
[This is the empty space for most writers/scholars.]

This mapping on the ways of seeing and reading the text helps to chart what
are the blind spots of the author--what is made visible and what is not. One
example is "the current models used to describe the origins of ancient
Israel and how each has in effect colonized past time and silenced the
larger Palestinian voice in the name of objective scholarship. ... To ignore
the world we bring with us "in front of the text" is to "...mask the role
played by power and politics in the adjudication of readings...." p18"

At this point, evaluators like me ask "So What?"

Millar's answer is to offer a more 'aware' methodology for reading texts. "A
desirable goal, drawing on insights from Bakhtin and Flanagan, would be to
structure a discourse in such a way that a polyphonic conversation is
constructed, one that affirms hypotheses as holograms-not "mirrors" or
"photographs." p19"

All this is probably old news to you. But was happy to find a direct
'connection' between reading and doing (producing) text and
space--spatializing texts.

iraj imam

The Center for Applied Local Research
5200 Huntington Ave., Suite 200 Richmond, CA 94804
Telephone: (510) 558-7932 FAX: (510) 558-7940

"The defence of free speech begins at the point when people say something
you can't stand. If you can't defend their right to say it, then you don't
believe in free speech." Salman Rushdie, 7/2/2005

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