From Text to Textonomies: Writing With Roland Barthes’ “Oeuvre a Texte,” “With or Without Quotation Marks” Johannah Rodgers
From Work to Text Roland Barthes translated by Stephen Heath (1977)
De l’oeuvre a texte Roland Barthes (1971)
Change is always taking place in language, our conception of language and, consequently, of literary works which owe at least their phenomenal existence to language. These changes are clearly connected with changes in society and culture, and in the disciplinary structures, which being inflected and re-constituted by these changes, are at the same time used to study them. These include: linguistics, anthropology, economics, psychology, sociology, history, etc. (the term 'connection' is used here in the sense of connection as association, not determination.) The novelty that occurs to the idea of literary works comes not necessarily from the changes themselves in society, in culture, and in the disciplines, but rather from the ways in which the functions and relations of all of these operate. It is indeed as though the interdisciplinarity which is today held up as a prime value in research cannot be accomplished by the simple confrontation of specialist branches of knowledge. Interdisciplinarity is in many ways impossible; but it is happening and it is inevitable because it is part and parcel of the changes that are taking place in society and culture. Disciplines become historical objects for study and from an understanding of their formations, functions, and devolutions, we can evaluate the operations and 'costs' of interdisciplinarity in textual behaviors, none of which have a place in the field of the sciences that were brought together, this classificatory illness being precisely the point from which it is possible to diagnose a certain mutation in which the idea of the work and the idea of the text leave their traces: it is more of an epistemological slide than of a real break. The break, as is frequently stressed, is seen to have taken place in the last century with the appearance of networked information and communication systems; since then there has been no further break, so that in a way it can be said that for the next hundred years we will be living in repetition. What History, our History, allows us today is merely to slide, to vary, to exceed, to repudiate. Just as Chaos Theory demands that the behaviors of texts, not simply their functions, be studied, so the combinations of natural and artificial language processing demand, in literature, the relativization of the relations of writer, reader, and text. Moving from work to text to textonomy, methodologically tracing a path that can be compared to that from a Newtonian paradigm developed through a study of macroscopic objects to an Eisensteinian paradigm with its inclusion and consideration of microscopic objects to a Chaos Theory/Quantum Chaos paradigm with its focus on relations and behaviors, we find there is no longer an object of study, but only processes, functions, and behaviors: textonomies. I know the term has limitations and therefore regarded by some with suspicion, but that is exactly why I should like to remind myself of the principal propositions at the intersection of which I see these textual behaviors appearing and being constituted from.