"Holistic" or "Synchronic" Interpretation

        Steven Mailloux uses the terms "holistic" and "synchronic" to describe interpretive methods which take their evidence from the text without specifically considering the order in which the reader has encountered the evidence.  For instance, when a New Critic discovers "light" imagery in a text, the New Critic may not notice that in the earliest instances, the "light" was associated with positive values (moonlight on a river, light escaping the windows of a warm fire-lit inn; a moonbeam illuminating an open Bible in a church ) whereas the later  instances might associate light with negative values (blinding torchlight in a mob scene).*  The mixture, read synchronically or "all at once," pulling the evidence out of the order in which readers encounter it, might lead the New Critic to conclude that the "tension" between light and darkness was unified by a theme which used ambiguity to demonstrate that light (and perhaps reason [= "light" of the mind] could not be trusted.  Another New Critic, encountering the same stack of evidence out of order, might find the unifying trope to be irony and the universalizing theme to be light's paradoxical danger to mortal eyes.  Structuralist interpretation also extracts evidence from texts without asking specifically what readers' experience of the evidence might have been in any specific text, and Mailloux' critique of Structuralist holistic or synchronic reading also would point out its neglect of the readers' performance of the text as a crucial part of the text's meaning.  Mailloux would urge "temporal" or "diachronic" reading, following the reader's stages of textual performance, to see how the evidence set up enigmas to be solved, as well as snares that deceptively offer solutions, and partial fulfillments and disclosures of the solutions.

*The examples are taken from Hawthorne's "My Kinsman, Major Molineaux."