Saturday, May 17, 2014

Open text, conspiracy theory and profundity

According to semiologists like Umberto Eco (a professor in Semiotics, who is more famous for his novel “The name of Rose” and the more recent one “The Prague Cemetery”) any text can be read as an open text. What is open text? Let’s look at a closed text first. Scientific and legal discourses are examples of open text. A sound scientific statement is one that it does not invite different interpretations.  A sound legal text has similar feature.  Poetic discourse (or poems) is a prime example of open texts. Open texts are there to invite different interpretations.
Love is in the eyes of the beholder. Any closed text can be read as an open text. Counsels arguing in our law courts are experts in re- and re-re interpretating the law. “My honour, this piece of law does not apply to the behavior of my client…” there he begins again. The prosecutor has his different interpretations and in so called “landmark” case, a high level judge makes the law by re-interpreting it in a novel way in the light of the current circumstances. Scientific discourse shares similar feature, and these open readings are essential to progress.
When we read a piece of poem (assuming that we know how to read a poem because it is an acquired taste that needs to be learned), we try to fit into it our own perceived feelings and scenarios. A good reading will uncover the hidden potential of a text while a bad reading will single mindedly look at one angle or aspect only. In other words, a bad reading is a reading of an open text as a closed text. A good reading (like a judge in “landmark cases”) is a reading of a closed text as an open text.
A single-minded reading of a text often reflects the unconscious bias of a reader. Umberto Eco has an interesting saying about such unconscious bias in his novel “The Prague Cemetery” – most conspiracy theories are practical jokes but are perceived (interpreted or read) as truth of profundity for the few (sometimes the few can be the many). The reason is that the few have at all the time holding such conspiracy belief in the (sometimes hidden) corner of their mind (and oftentimes with tangible physical and/or psychological benefits being tied-in).  Therefore, the conspiracy theory, rather than spreading rumor, only reveals what is already there in the first place. In his novel, Eco talked about a Jewish conspiracy for world domination.
Recently I read an interesting one-liner wisdom statement in a blog. Here it is below, and under it are selected readings/comments, the first one (certainly the least profound response) belongs to your author.  An almost real time example of the subject matter discussed in this article. No conclusion though is intended to be drawn (therefore any conclusions drawn are closed readings of individual readers and therefore their individual responsibility), since I intended this article to be an open text...
The statement: No river could flow if it had to know its destination first
The readings:
  1. Likewise, nobody will go to bed, if he knows he is going to wake, or the other way round?
  2. True. The beauty of life is its mystery, you never really know what you would see next.
  3. I see it as relating to freedom of thought.
  4. Had to give this one some thought. It speaks to the writer or artist.
  5. Gosh. If it did it would look like a straight line. Not as interesting to look at or travel, at least in my eyes.
  6. Now that is what I call profound! It means so many things at once: courage, expectation, hope...
  7. Kind of makes me think of people who try to plan every moment of every day, and just can't deal with the normal upsets of life because it wasn't scheduled. VS the puppy who just reacts to what is going on around it. I envy the puppy most.
  8. And that's what make their journey more interesting and exciting!
  9. This is one of my favorites.
  10. Rivers go with the flow, and where they're going they never really know. Life's all about the ride itself. The best decisions I've made in life have been instinctive or intuitive and have had other people questioning my sanity. I've never been disappointed by my spontaneity!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...