jueves, 25 de abril de 2024

Notes from Derek Attridge, 'Innovation, Literature, Ethics: Relating to the Other'


Notes on


Derek Attridge "Innovation, Literature, Ethics: Relating to the Other."


[PMLA  114 (1999): 20-31].


José Angel García Landa

Universidad de Zaragoza, 2003




Otherness as that which transforms us when we innovate, “Otherness, that is, is produced in an active or eventlike relation—we might call it a relating” (22); breaking down the familiar as welcoming the other. Innovation transforms the self.


Private creation vs public invention—a number of pragmatic issues lead from one to the other. (Ignora que it may be creative for the individual but significant for culture at large—already done). 


Significance of private creation may register much later:


“Hence inventiveness is not an inherent property of an act or a created object: it can only be retrospectively, and never certainly, assigned” (23)


“It is in the acknowledgement of the other human being’s uniqueness and therefore of the impossibility of finding general rules or schemata to account fully for him or her that one can be said to encounter the other” (24). The response to this otherness creatively changes us: “In this process the other is transformed from other to same, but the same is not the same as it was before the encounter” (24).


Reading as “registering what is unique about the shaping of language, thought, and feeling in a particular work” (25). 


(Problem: maybe we’ll register what is unique for us. But what is unique is not necessairly the main point of the other’s action—JAGL).


“what I affirm when I respond to the text in a way that does justice to its otherness is not simply a particular argument or arrangement of words but the creativity of the author or authors in bringing into existence that argument or those words” (25). 


(But the author’s otherness is not necessarily the reader’s otherness. What was ‘the same’ for the author may be 'other' for the reader).


“a full response to the otherness of the text includes an awareness of, a respect for, and in a certain sense (...) a taking of responsibility for, the creativity of its author” (25).


“we need to consider the other as a relating: it is not the text ‘itself’ butr my singular and active relation to the particular configuration of possibilities represented by the text that is the site of alterity” (26).


“Hence the need to repeat the work, as a temporal, sequential experience, if on wishes to repeat the apprehension of its otherness (though exact repetition can neve occur).” (27) (—cf. the notion that rereading enhances literariness)


Creativity required in response to creative work: 


“Only a new, unpredictable, singular, creative act, as an inventive event in its turn, can do justice to a literary work as literary work” (27)


Creation involves risk (27; cf. Toolan también)— Risk and trust.


Responsibility of the (critic): “As when I create a new artifact or mode of thought, my obligation is to refashion what I think and what I am in order to take the fullest possible account of—to respect, safeguard, and learn from—the otherness and singularity of the other and to do so without any certainty about the consequences of my act” (27-28).


Unpredictability of ethical demands vs. specific obligations of moral demands. (28). Primacy of interpersonal relations in using terms like responsibility and ethics.


Responsibility for the other is at the heart of creativity (29)


(Vs Attridge: más enfasis en la transitoriedad de muchos aspectos creativos, y también cuestionar la absoluta novedad y ‘otherness’. Mas bien una cuestión de posicionamiento: lo periférico se vuelve central).


“The discourses at our disposal may provide a way of understanding virtually everything about an innovative act—its psychic ingredients, its cultural matrix, its etiology and technology—but they will leave unanswered one crucial question, how does the new, the other, come into being when all we have is what we have?” (30).


(Respuesta: Through interaction. Absolutely new for whom?).


Otherness and novelty are irreducible to conceptual predictive knowledge, otherwise there also would not be such thing as responsibility or ethics (30). 


(A matter of retrospection—not calculation, I would add).



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