Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quote of the Day: Eco on "Intertextual Irony"

I'm still reading, when I can, some essays by Umberto Eco, and here's a passage that caught my eye in his essay, "Intertextual Irony and Levels of Reading" in his collection, On Literature.
Intertextual irony provides an intertextual second sense for readers who have been secularized and who no longer have any spiritual senses to look for in the text. The biblical and poetic second senses stemming from the theory of the four meanings allowed the text to flower vertically, each sense allowing us to approach ever closer to some Afterlife. The intertextual second sense is horizontal, labyrinthine, convoluted, and infinite, running from text to text--with no other promise than the continual murmuring of intertextuality. Intertextual irony presupposes an absolute
immanentism. It provides revelations to theose who have lost the sense of

The four meanings, by the way, refers to the medieval strategies of reading the bible: literal, moral, allegorical, and anagogical levels of reading. Perhaps part of the irony is that the spiritual / transcendent / vertical senses of reading, at least traditionally, are limited to four levels, while the secular / immanent / horizontal senses are never-ending, infinite.

1 comment:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Isn't that interesting! The infinite is the "secular", as opposed to religious, that is limited. Such was the view of Kohlberg in his moral developmental model...the religious was beneath the "secularized" social contract stage (which was what our Founding Fathers used in developing our Constitution) and that was under-developed compared to a universalized understanding...