THE ANTINOMIES OF FOLKLORE VALUES

Publish in

Documents

8 views

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 14
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Share
Description
Ivan Lozica
Tags
Transcript
   Nar. umjet. 45/1, 2008, pp. 7-20, I. Lozica, The Antinomies of Folklore Values Original scientific paper Received: 4th Jan. 2008 Accepted: 5th Feb. 2008 UDK 398:82.0] 7 IVAN LOZICA Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb THE ANTINOMIES OF FOLKLORE VALUES A paraphrastic transposition of Solar's Antinomies of literary values to the field of folklore studies is given in this paper. The core aim is to show the congruity of theoretical positions and the impact of the professor's critical thought within the small group of his former students, now folklorists at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb. The first part of the text unveils some of the magic of Solar's interdisciplinary trickery, while the body of the text surveys the shifts in the approach to the study of folklore. In the conclusion, the author introduces a new dynamic concept of tradition as a possible value in folkloristics. Keywords: folklore, literature, values, tradition This text has been prompted and inspired by an article entitled The antinomies of literary values that Milivoj Solar published for the first time in his third book (Solar1976:139-147). My intention has not been to comment on or even develop Solar's analyses. I only wanted to demonstrate, on my own example, the congruity of theoretical positions in Croatian folkloristics and comparative literature, a congruity that we largely owe to the discreet (but productive) influence of the professor's critical thought on a small group of former students, who work today at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb. Autonomous literary values and oral literature The notion of literary values does not appear often in folkloristics. Over re-cent decades, scholars dealing with oral literature have been preoccupied with the medium of orality and various levels of the context of oral literary perfor-mances. Autonomous literary values are never attributed to oral performan-ces. Folklorists do perhaps tacitly tolerate the possibility of their existence by differentiation between gifted and poor narrators, but judgement of a perfor-mance's quality is not the same as judgement on the literary value of the text   Nar. umjet. 45/1, 2008, pp. 7-20, I. Lozica, The Antinomies of Folklore Values 8 performed. It is only through a change in medium that published notations of oral works are subjected to literary evaluation and anthological selections. That becomes understandable to an extent if one accepts Solar's thinking in which literary value is actually a projection of the idea of the autonomy of literature. Oral literature is realised in the so-called srcinal context in the comprehensive living experience of the community (of the performer and the public), where the dominant function of the performance need not be at all literary or artistic (aesthetic). The oral literary work is embedded in the life of the community, and the community has to accept it for it to be maintained in the communication chain (succession of performances), while the community does not demand individuality and srcinality in literary creativity. What the community does demand is the relative stability of the genre and variants of the familiar topic within the context prescribed by tradition. That would mean that the idea of the autonomy of literature cannot be applied to oral literature, and that only notation of the literary work – change from the oral into the written medium, and change in the context – confers upon it the legitimacy of literature. From that perspective, oral literature is only a precursor of literature, potential but not yet realised literature – in a word, pre-literature. I would say that such a claim would be equally devastating for the literary significance of oral literature just as for the idea of the autonomous literary values in written literature. The experiment just carried out has shown that literature comes about from non-literature – at least sometimes – through a simple change in medium and context. Does that mean that literary value can be reduced to bare notation and change in the context of the verbal utterance? If yes, then literary values are not autonomous either. The antinomy of literary values The above experiment is in harmony with Solar's thinking: the concept of literary value that is in customary usage is helpful, although it is negatively defined logically – literature is neither science, nor philosophy, nor politics, literature is neither music, nor painting. However, the content of the literary value concept is only a relatively fruitful abstraction, suitable for the defence of literature from the dogmatism of absolute value systems. There are no generally accepted definitions of autonomous literary structures in the scholarship on literature. We successfully invoke literary values when we emphasise what literature is not – the problems start when we want to show what literature actually is. Are we obliged to abandon the search for the literary in literature, do we have to give up the ideas of autonomy in the process of defining literature and search for the essential designations of the concept of literature in the non-literary? For example, should we satisfy ourselves with the definition of   Nar. umjet. 45/1, 2008, pp. 7-20, I. Lozica, The Antinomies of Folklore Values 9 literature that Vladimir Biti assigns in the Pojmovnik suvremene knji  !  evne te-orije [Glossary of Contemporary Literary Theory] to the empirical science of literature, the theory of the system, the new Historicism, cultural materialism and Marxist criticism that operates with the notion of the institution? Common to all of them is the effort to comprehend literature as a more or less autonomous, but, in any case, differentiated system of the practices of production, consumption, and critical pedagogical and scholarly reproduction of texts, which infers a certain number of institutionalised techniques, roles and positions as the driving force of its own self-preservation. That system is not isolated but rather, through a lively relationship with other systems as the unstable environment that has been allocated to it, tries to preserve its diversity and to resist efforts at its subordination and instrumentalisation (Biti 1997:176). I remember Kranj ! evi 's verses: ... Do you know, my son, what a tear is? // Yes, I know: firstly it contains water, // Sodium-chloride and phosphate. // Ah, my foolish mother // Walking with repugnance through the room, // While I tell her what a tear is! It is clear that the external definition of literature as an institution does not solve the literary in literature and that it can be applied to absolutely all forms of literacy. The specific difference of literary values that separate art(istic) literature from literature in the broader sense is not encompassed thereby. The adjective art(istic) is of no help to us either, since Solar commented quite rightly that literary value was not simply a realisation of beauty identical to its realisation in other arts, while he also discarded consideration of the disparate interpretations of literary values as a category of poetics or aesthetics, and even philosophical discussions on the notion of value. His renouncement of aesthetics and axiology is, however, only declarative, since he tests Hartmann's axiological aesthetics method, treating the literary in literature as a value. From that perspective, literary value is attainable only through the act of real reading in direct contact with literature, which assumes experience and intuition – and is unattainable to the discursive thought of scholarly analysis. Experience is individual and subjective and literary values are also individual and subjective, while if we draw a consistent conclusion from that, then a literary work does not exist outside of its reception and it is re-created once again with each new experience of it. Literary criticism becomes irrelevant and loses all objectivity, making literary values only relative. Solar responds to such a conclusion with the argumentation of Wellek and Warren: it is absurd to claim that poems do not exist outside of the reader because, in that case, one could not explain why the experience of one reader is better than the experience of another, and why is it possible to correct the interpretation of the second reader. Consequently, the reader does not create the literary values, he/she discovers them – perhaps critical judgement is   Nar. umjet. 45/1, 2008, pp. 7-20, I. Lozica, The Antinomies of Folklore Values 10 indeed relative, but it is not completely arbitrary. Some agreement on the literary values of recognised works in literature does nevertheless exist, and we can thus at least parley about literary values. And if literary values are not individual and subjective, then they are unavoidably general and objective and thus absolute – although our insight into the absolute value system is partial, and that means only relative. Showing the antinomy in the analysis of literary values in this way, Solar observes that we lack the category of mediation. The notion of autonomous literary values is contradictory within itself, and it is not a category by which we can interpret literature as it is for us today. Values do not exist but are valid The philosophical child's-play has not been futile: the logical deductions are faultless, the antinomies are demonstrated, and the autonomous literary values are eliminated as a category of mediation in the interpretation of literature. Like a skilful illusionist, Solar works minimalistically, not revealing the process by which he attained his objective. He uses the interdisciplinary trick that his philosophical competence makes possible: the sore spot in philosophy becomes an advantageous one in literary theory. He conceals the secret with the claim that and the notion of value itself is subject to interpretation within philosophic comprehensions that differ both in conclusions and in the questions that can be generally posed (Solar 1976:141). The tangle of meanings of the concept of value is not, nevertheless, so very inextricable, although Solar leaves it in an entangled state so as not to threaten his own analysis of the notion of literary values as a positively defined concept in logical sense. He relies on the thousand-year-old disciplinary authority that logic has enjoyed in scholarly circles and does not want to dispute that authority by opening up a philosophical discussion on the concept of values. I shall explain that briefly, although the complexity of the issue would undoubtedly demand a more detailed analysis. I believe that it is essential for the comprehension of value to differentiate between the area of being (Sein) and validity ( Gelten ), a distinction already introduced by the founder of axiology, H. Lotze, at the mid-19th century. By that division, the area of being  is left to the experiental sciences and reason ( intellectu s), while the area of validity  is dealt with by the mind ( ratio ), which is sensitive to values. Through history, the hierarchical relationship between mind and reason (as the two cognitive powers) changed in philosophical thought. While reason was usually given precedence over mind in Mediaeval philosophy, in the 18 th  century – and particularly from Kant onwards – mind was placed above reason. Solar conducts his search for a positively defined concept of literary values by logical deduction - thus in the sphere of reason –  – while the values belong to the area of validity, the sphere of the  mind. What
Related Search

Next Document

FC_PSR.pdf

We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks