File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 83

Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001 11:43:26 -0500
Subject: Re: ethics - Levinas wrote:

The (mis)-reading was a 'joke' encouraging Eric to rite something on
Lyotard's ethics - though actually Lyotard is not really a philosopher
who writes on Ethics, directly unlike Levinas or Singer. In my use of
the term I'm actually refering back to textual and cinematic
theory/criticism where there has been a movement towards the
relativisation of the relations of writer, reader and observer (critic).

DDD wrote:

let me muddy up the mis-reading maybe a little more. In my posts on
levinas,i've been working mainly out of derrida's many readings of him
and out of levinas directly--but (big but) reading someone "directly"
always means reading him/her across a host of others whom you've already
read and who give you a hook to hang his/her words on. For me, that
means reading Levinas's words across the many works I've already
consumed and embraced--mainly by Ronell, Nancy, Blanchot, Nietzsche,
Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe, Cixous, even Irigaray, and certainly
Derrida. All of whom, of course, I approached in much the same way,
across other texts and at another time. And of course, I also read each
of these texts from where I am, from my own "lifeworld" context.
much for reading directly. ;)


Both Steve and D. Diane have stated this very well and I especially
appreciate the image of the weaving and interweaving of texts, the
extent to which any reading takes place in a maze of Others, something
akin perhaps to what Beckett calls the "gallery of moribunds."

However, just to widen the context, since I also played with this
allusion as well, it is worth mentioning the theory produced by that
literary critic/paleoanthologist/media groupie Harold Bloom.

In his book "A Map of Misreading" and various other essays he suggests
that a 'strong' poet arrives on the scene with a sense of belatedness.
There is nothing for him (and with HB there is usually this androcentric
implication) left to say.  It has all been said before and said better
by his illustrious predecessors.  

What such a poet does is misread his forebears a way that appropriates
them in a new way, making their work his own. The strong poet discovers
his own voice by violently wresting it away from the inscribed voices of
the others. (echoing Eliot's line about great art being theft.) 

Bloom thereby centers the Oedipal conflict at the heart of literary
'creation' (This is his famous 'anxiety of influence') and, by doing so,
points out the extent to which such misapprehension is actually a willed

What this also suggests is that misreading is more than a merely
phenomenological exercise taking place con-textually across a relational
web of texts. It is also libidinal.  The reader/misreader is not merely
conditioned by the Others, he/she is conditioned by his/her desires -
pleasure, terror or both as the case might be. Reading, like eating, may
be a matter of taste, but Kantian taste comes to us by way of Freud.  


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