Wednesday, December 21, 2011

David Bleich - The Materiality of Reading

David Bleich - The Materiality of Reading - New Literary History 37:3


Reading and other meditative activities affect bodily functions and feelings because reading is a material practice. Its social forms derive from the materiality of language, a perspective derived from the Nominalist tradition that has been recently reread by Wittgenstein, Austin, Bakhtin, Whorf, Kristeva, Derrida, and others. In this sense of reading and interpretation, abstractions and generalizations are provisional, applicable in local and instrumental contexts rather than as scientific laws or permanent truths. To read is to describe and/or re-say, while explanation is understood to be a pragmatic action rather than a fixing of knowledge.