A Dialogue About Mailloux's Temporal Analysis and the Working With Mailloux Paper

Just a few questions.  Should we divide up the story through Barthes' hermeneutic code? Could you please define thematization, formulation, snare, equivocation, partial answers, disclosure, and the like? How close does Mailloux stick to this? How does he revolutionize it? Any other suggested readings for help?  Laura

From: Sanders, Arnie To: Student, A.          Sent: 2/16/01 3:09 PM          Subject: RE: Mailloux paper

Hi A,  Thanks for taking me at my word and opening up the correspondence about the assignment. You're the first. Big points!  Remember that M borrowed two codes from Barthes, hermeneutic and proairetic, because both the "expectation-disappointment" cycle (re: the enigmas), and the code of actions were things that took place in a temporal stream, they couldn't be extracted as a single meaning into the holistic interpretation as a product. They had to be explained as a process.

>Should we divide up the story through Barthes' hermeneutic code? Could you please define [the following terms from Mailloux]:

OK, but remember that M only uses these to describe briefly what B's doing, and he tends to use more simple and familiar terms (bless him!) when he practices temporal analysis. 

>thematization, what it looks like, making something a theme by a process of deliberate repetition of a thing, action, quality, etc. (the purple plant, drunkenness, dead bugs)

>formulation, what a reader does when the reader realizes/gestalts the existence of an enigma--stating it (unconsciously, perhaps) to one's self in recognition of its existence ("that boy's goin' plum loco over that girl but he's weird about peekin' at her--why?").

>snare, a false solution to an enigma, a detour in the reader's progress to a solution, though also perhaps part of the learning process like a charlie horse at practice (the light was too bad and the bug was too far away for G to be so certain of what he saw)

>equivocation, dictionary says saying neither yea nor nay about something, trying to have it both ways (it was the best of times, it was the worst of times; she's poisonous but she's innocent; I'm a wigwam, I'm a teepee [Psychiatrist: "Relax, you're two tents."])

>partial answers, hey, easy one, pieces of the puzzle but deliberately not all of the puzzle, a constraint has interfered with solution (she's certainly crossing herself so she thinks something just died, but why did it die?)

>disclosure, voila, here's the bunny! Save this for the "big reveal," though technically any even minor unveiling is "a disclosure" (Lisabeta shows G the garden door, Baglioni tells Giovanni that Beatrice is poisonous).  For instance, Rappaccini's telling Giovanni that they're both poisonous, after G's little experiment, is a "really big disclosure," I guess you could say.  But Mailloux' temporal reading looks even beyond the end of the story, and Baglioni's question, for perhaps the biggest disclosure, which happens in the readers' minds when they reflect on what the story has taught them about ethical responsibility, etc.

>How close does Mailloux stick to this? How does he revolutionize it?

That's part of what you should be able to tell me after reading Mailloux. You have to define M's theory and his resultant methods first, before you can deploy them in Chopin's story. I'd say he doesn't "revolutionize" the theory--that's closer to what Barthes was trying to do, that wiley Frenchman (and oh how the American New Critics hated him for it!)

>Any other suggested readings for help?--A

You can do Part Two with just Mailloux and Chopin. My advice?  Don't get fancy.  I only mentioned Barthes because I wanted you to know that M's theory had roots you should be aware of.

    For Part 1, abstract his theory from his statements about what literature is and does to the reader, and how that differs from the way a holistic reader derives a New Criticism interpretation of the text as a static artifact. Then examine his treatment of "R'sD" to confirm that you understand his moves as a critic, the way he reads the text for its effect on the reader and hypothesizes the readers' responses to the text (hence the name, "reader-response theory"). Put a summary of that into Part 1, too, taking care to show how the methods arise from the theoretical assumptions. You also are allowed, of course, to point out weaknesses if you see them, things the theory forces him to ignore, etc.

    Then, for Part 2, go thou and perform similar moves upon Chopin's story, drawing a Mailloux-like conclusion about what it does to the reader and how that affects the reader's sense of its meaning, also perhaps drawing some conclusions about what Chopin's up to in the big scheme of things.

    I recognize that such a "recipe" approach to writing the paper may seem a little limiting on your creativity, but the place to get creative is in your temporal reading of Chopin. Feel the burn! Break a sweat! Properly done, it's like volleying at the net with Navrotilova or (lately) Caprioti. [Whew--are those tennis star names dated!  4/8/13]

Does that help? --Arnie

From: Student, A  Sent: Friday, February 16, 2001 3:34 PM    To: Sanders, Arnie  Subject: RE: Mailloux paper

I feel that Mailloux is explicitly addressing the reader process in the now. Does it have room to change? Will Mailloux's next reading of "RD" be the same or will he find something new in this temporal reading process? How do we know which description of the temporal reading process is the most correct?   A

From: Sanders, Arnie To: Student, A Sent: 2/16/01 3:44 PM Subject: RE: Mailloux paper

Excellent points. He also begs the question of whether the reader's conscious awareness is essential for this process of enigma formulation and solution hunting. Good for a critique in Part 1, toward the end after you've explained what he thinks he's doing. Just don't forget to do the initial explanation before you start evaluating the success of his theory. Could you see a way to combine Hirsch and Mailloux to arrive at a "most probable reader-response to the tale"? Don't think you have to do that in order to do the assignment, though!