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Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Comparing and Responding to the Frequent Relation of an Unitary Term of Representation and Literature

Representation and literature have never been separated into parts and this tradition might have caused the most frequent topic of problem which still remains unbreakable.  If we talk about the role, representation itself owns a very important role to literature. As it is clear enough till this day that the question about their relationship has never systematically been ended. Representation, as an aspect of language, as the most essential role of understanding literature; may seem too far to be defined to its latest meaning. Indeed, it might because of representation hold a very great value of life, like as we formally know that literature had been simply bonded with life since a very classic era of Plato and Aristotle.
As the person who lives under the laws we have commonly known about our country’s governmental system, we found that we have been represented  by people who we formally believe they have the ability of representing our self. Then, why we have to be represented? Why we cannot just present our self? Let me  give an invitation for an example in literature. Gilbert and Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic constructs the idea of women’s incapability to present their selves to society. Women lost their power of defining their selves as a subject of authority, in this case when she turned to be a writer or a poet.  “Thus the "anxiety of influence" that a male poet experiences is. felt by a female poet as an  even  more primary "anxiety of authorship"-a radical fear that she cannot create, that because she can never become a "precursor" the act of writing will isolate or destroy. “ Literature in a history of western was never authorized to a ‘second sex’ –  by what Mitchell calls "the inferiorized and 'alternative' (second sex) psychology of women under patriarchy.", and the literature itself was a very male-dominated. It means, to gain the authority, women have to find a way to establish their ‘own power’ over the men. The condition of woman seeking an excessive ability in a particular form to gain a power which exist beyond herself is, I think, a condition of seeking a representative for her presentation. The same like what we do now, letting someone to be the representative of our self in the government’s seats, because that someone has a greater value and a greater strength than ours in controlling the governmental system. The tendency of letting another person represent ourselves, in fact, we admit that person owns more ability to be presence than the amount of ability we have.               
A representation that we have known only as a word implicitly occurs to the surface as not only just as a word. Refers to its lexical meaning as the ‘process’, representation itself is supposed to have its own regulations. An understanding of what Mitchell said in his “Representation” that there is a part of society which constitutes representation using the ‘invisible rules’, “The formula “let this stand for that to them” is regularly subjected to restrictions on subject matter (“let this stand for anything but that”) or on the audience/spectator (“let this stand for that, but not to them”).” (pg. 15). In a very general way, we might say that representation occurs because of the social agreement which do exist.  An ‘agreement’ which exist without any kind of action for questioning about its origin, an aesthetic representation which have lived among the society that somehow we have accepted and agreed to this way. However, no matter how strong the representation hold an aesthetic value in its own, there will never be such thing occurs with the way it is only by itself. There must be always a reason that cause representation to be established. In Plato’s “Ion” we see that the knowledge for a rhapsode comes from the inspiration about something which is inspired him. Similarly, a written text was made because of the author has been given the power of God so he could write words; but that is how we can sum up to one valid statement that even for a particular thing which sounds very spiritual and arbiter, there will always be something that cause something to be true. An agreement of representation also, has been designed by a particular power and authority which consist of particular persons; If we relate it now with what had been said in Mitchell’s Representation “It should be clear that representation, even purely “aesthetic” representation of fictional persons and events, can never be completely divorced from political and ideological questions;” (pg. 15).       
            And, after all, we may back to the start with a question, if Plato and Aristotle regarded literature as the representation of life, how can the whole ‘life’ is simply represented to thing called literature? Let me go further for a moment to Edward Said’s “Jane Austen and Empire”, here Said described how the signs and symbols in Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814) constitutes the presentation of an empire. Through Mansfield Park, the signs and the symbols show the ‘concept’ of empire for Austen in her era, known by what Said says “Austen reveals herself to be assuming the importance of an empire to the situation at home.”  ‘The situation at home’ which represents ‘the importance of an empire’; must be consisted of many representational signs. ‘The situation’ itself is likely ‘a body’ of the signs, just the same like Mitchell’s ‘codes’- “a body of rules for combining and deciphering representational signs”. The ‘codes’ is, based on Mitchell, the same with Aristotle’s three ways to differ the elements of representation: object, manner, and means. As for Mitchell “what I am calling ‘codes’ here are basically the same thing as Aristotle’s ‘means’”. Aristotle defined “Means” as the material which is used in representation. Then let me back again with the problem of how representing life through literature, regarding to the theory above (Mitchell and Aristotle), then we should consider ‘life’ as an ‘object’ of representation which contributes ‘codes’ to show its ‘concept’ that will be represented through literature. Then to sum up from the examples above, representation always took something or someone’s unrealistic form. Furthermore, the understanding of what is quoted from John Locke may bring us to one step closer to the definition of representational object , especially in literature; “word is not a thing, it is the idea of a man.”  In other words, it is not a real thing which is represented in literature but only its ‘concept’. That is why, even still questionable, Plato and Aristotle could put literature as the representative of life, similar with Jane Austen ‘s Mansfield Park and its concept of the empire.                

Monicha Nelis

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