What is an author (pentru că l-am citit în engleză) sau Qu'est-ce qu'un auteur, original în franceză, e cursul pe care la ținut Michel Foucault în 1969 în fața Societății Franceze de Filozofie - o prelegere destul de interesantă despre scriitură, autor și funcția acestuia.
Ce mi-a plăcut mai mult în acest text este ideea despre nume a autorului, care nu se limitează la a fi doar un simplu substantiv propriu, ci depășește această formalitate. Foucault susține că numele autorului poartă în sine o serie cu multe descrieri și texte pe care i le asociezi, observație pe care o explică cu ajutorul lui Shakespeare, spunînd că, în momentul în care s-ar afla că Shakespeare nu s-ar fi născut în casa în care se știe că a fost născut, nu s-ar modifica modul în care e perceput numele autorului. Dacă însă s-ar afla că el nu este autorul sonetelor despre care se știe că îi aparțin, modificarea produsă ar fi una destul de semnificativă.
SELECȚII DIN CARTE
• Writing is (…) an interplay of signs arranged less according to its signified content than according to the very nature of the signifier. Writing unfolds like a game [jeu] that invariably goes beyond its own rules and transgresses its limits.
• The author must assume the role of the dead man in the game of writing.
• The author's name is a proper name, and therefore it raises the problems common to all proper names. (…) Obviously, one cannot turn a proper name into a pure and simple reference. It has other than indicative functions: more than an indication, a gesture, a finger pointed at someone, it is the equivalent of a description. When one says "Aristotle," one employs a word that is the equivalent of one, or a series, of definite descriptions, such as "the author of the Analytics," "the founder of ontology," and so forth. One cannot stop there, however, because a proper name does not have just one signification.
• The proper name and the author's name are situated between the two poles of description and designation: they must have a certain link with what they name, but one that is neither entirely in the mode of designation nor in that of description; it must be a specific link.
• If I discover that Shakespeare was not born in the house we visit today, this is a modification that, obviously, will not alter the functioning of the author's name. But if we proved that Shakespeare did not write those sonnets which pass for his, that would constitute a significant change and affect the manner in which the author's name functions. If we proved that Shakespeare wrote Bacon's Organon by showing that the same author wrote both the works of Bacon and those of Shakespeare, that would be a third type of change that would entirely modify the functioning of the author's name. The author's name is not, therefore, just a proper name like the rest.
• A private letter may well have a signer – it does not have an author; a contract may well have a guarantor – it does not have an author. An anonymous text posted on a wall probably has an editor – but not an author. The author function is therefore characteristic of the mode of existence, circulation, and functioning of certain discourses within a society.
• The text always contains a certain number of signs referring to the author. These signs, well known to grammarians, are personal pronouns, adverbs of time and place, and verb conjugation. Such elements do not play the same role in discourses provided with the author function as in those lacking it.
• They are unique in that they are not just the authors of their own works. They have produced something else: the possibilities and the rules for the formation of other texts. To take a very simple example, one could say that Ann Radcliffe not only wrote The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne and several other novels but also made possible the appearance of the Gothic horror novel at the beginning of the nineteenth century; in that respect, her author function exceeds her own work.
• To say that Freud founded psychoanalysis does not (simply) mean that we find the concept of the libido or the technique of dream analysis in the works of Karl Abraham, or Melanie Klein; it means that Freud made possible a certain number of divergences – with respect to his own texts, concepts and hypotheses – that all arise from the psychoanalytic discourse itself.