Intentional fallacy

It was called the intentional fallacy when I was at university  – meaning for me  that the author is not really a good judge of her or his work, doesn’t really understand what has been written.

Roland Barthes spoke of something similar in the The Death of the Author. I would have liked to have talked to Barthes back at university about it, instead of much later in my head when postmodernism seeped into my consciousness. It would have provided a shorter route to where I believe I am than the road I took. But at least I heard of intentional fallacy and it had an effect on my understanding of how literary works are constructed (or not). And then I heard of Barthes and many others later, and my understanding deepened.

One intentional fallacy I would like to point at in Uncorrected Proof (or maybe it’s not really an intentional fallacy, more a mistake) –  I based the novel (a little tongue in cheek, I admit) on the prelude/the history of Helen and Greece prior to the context of the Iliad and then fast-forwarded to the finale of Homer’s poem itself. For me any strict following of Homer’s martial poem would have been a weight I didn’t need. I felt in my heart that I had the greatest on my side in this, and that if Shakespeare were  Joyce he might have decided on a less strict following of the Odyssey for Ulysses, and given more emphasis in Bloom‘s narrative to ‘story’. For me, Shakespeare knew how to use story as a platform for other literary ventures. Joyce it seemed didn’t ‘do’ story or didn’t want to understand it, seeing story as a unnatural structure forced upon him by commercial literary progress, at least so it seems in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. But there is story in Ulysses, just it isn’t in any way commercial. Did Joyce intend to deconstruct story or did he simply not do it well?

The intentional fallacy (is it one or not?) I must own up to in Uncorrected Proof is this: in my creation of one particular character I intended for readers to read the words as I pronounced them in my head. And one word with a possible reader-mispronunciation attached to it only occurred to me recently, a mispronunciation that might have some politically correct readers catching their collective breath.

For reasons that shall remain in code, I named my genre plagiarist novelist in the story- Martyrn Varginas.

I lived in Italy and speak Italian and understand the Greek and latin bases to western European languages, so for me, Varginas, without question, is pronounced as the Greeks might, with the main accented syllable being the first Vár (as in are)-gin (as the drink)as (mass)

If it were in Italian the accent would be on gin…definitely NOT as English speakers might read it, with the emphasis on a middle sylalble – gyne – leading the surname to more than hint at the female sexual organ in plural.

Now it is true I realised the implications of making Martyrn’s surname and ‘vaginas’ so close but as I based it on a real name, itself very close to the most actively used pejorative term for the female sexual organ, I deemed it just and fair use. Suddenly (I kid you not) I realised of course that, just as swimmers at my local pool mispronounce Lido lie-dough, instead of lee-dough as it is in the original italian, they would just as readily mispronounce Varginas.

So, for the record: It is Vár (as in are)-gin (as the drink)as (mass)..okay?

Phew. Now that this has been clarified I will move onto the main characters in Uncorrected Proof that are based on the Iliad:

Archie Lees – Archilles

Ellen Spartan – Helen of Sparta

Anthony Gamenman or A.Gamenman(n) – Agamemnon

Menny Lowes – Menelaus

Cal Kline (or Cal Chase or Patrick Locus) – a fusion of Calchas/Patroclus

Dolon – Dolon (perhaps western literature’s first spy)

The first part of the story’s premise: Archie Lees gatecrashes the Crocker Book awards in a hairbrained scheme to get his novel back from the bestselling genre novelist..Martyrn Várginas..the ‘gin sodden half-assed’ hack who plagiarised Archie’s book …

Anymore from me on this subject could inspire some virulent shouts of intentional fallacy.….or worse…

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One response to “Intentional fallacy

  1. Lol! That was a good read.

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