truth in practice | Theoretical Perspectives

flanneryCloseupShow and tell. My week. Past weeks have included an audio sampling consisting of semi-obscure works of poetry as read by their respective not-as-obscure authors : Ong’s Orality and Literacy; a demo on Multi-User-Domains from someone who had recently registered with an “adult” MUD and revealed some of the “orientation” to this new environment. My week is Reader-Response-Theory and Reception Theory. I decided to bring in samples of TWG’s work (the Young Frankenstein section from the showHouse/Lights which I was fortunate to be involved with at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn). I was interested in the simulacra and steps of disassociation from original material. House/Lights combines the text of Gertrude Stein’s Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights with a 60’s B-soft-core-porn-flick, Olga’s House of Shame. I also decided to show something I had prepared, but wasn’t necessarily decided on showing.
I remember an English teacher of mine from high school recalling the second hand story of a Flannery O’Connor exchange she had read about. A literature class had spent the good portion of a semester in 1961 dissecting the notoriously symbolic language of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” The Professor of the class wrote a letter to Ms. O’Connor detailing the classes close reading of the story and what its conclusion’s were regarding the symbolism of the text. She wrote a response unflinchingly debunking the theory.


This was a relevant example to discuss Reader-Response-Theory, I thought. And due to intense previous class discussion’s involving the importance of “the original” and the notion of the “first edition” and “the document”, I decided to forge the response Flannery wrote to that Professor of English many years ago. A cake-pan full of coffee and tea, a font called “1942 report”, and some crumpling were enough to illicit little or no questioning regarding the authenticity of the required document.

Was authority gained with the possession of the “real” document? Was it more impressive than the printed online article from which it was pulled? Is it detrimental to the trust fostered in a classroom dedicated to open-ness of thought and understanding of media theory? I’d certainly like to that that it was at least more creative.