The Representation Problem

". . . the central problem for a stylistics of the novel may be formulated as the problem of artistically representing language, the problem of representing the image of a language(The Dialogic Imagination 336)."

"The word can be perceived purely as an object (something that is, in its essence, a thing). . .In such a word-object even meaning becomes a thing: there can be no dialogic approach to such a word of the kind immanent to any deep and actual understanding. Understanding, so conceived, is inevitably abstract: it is completely separated from the living, ideological power of the word to mean--from its truth of falsity, its significance or insignificance, beauty or ugliness. Such a reified word-thing cannot be understood by attempts to penetrate its meaning dialogically. . . (The Dialogic Imagination 352)."

Prosaic language devoid of ideological motivation is nothing but a reified thing. The life-force of heteroglot language, as it were, clearly resides in its social orientation. As long as the word somehow reacts/interacts with the phenomena of social life, it can assume the status of the utterance--whereupon it is best appreciated and understood. Objectified language is not motivated; it is simply transmitted as yet another descriptive element in prose, bearing no greater significance than material objects (i.e., clothing, furniture, etc.) described in a story. For instance, if an author were to write a story taking place in a particular region of the country, that region's dialect could be used in the writing to indicate nothing else but the setting's "thereness," for lack of a better word. Reified as such, even dialogized language cannot be recuperated to uttered status without ideology--they would be only be consumed as nothing more than literary embellishments. Authentic prose is constituted by words and acts with a social agenda. Meaning is therefore never enclosed within the boundaries of the text itself. Rather, it gets its energy from "outside," in the socio-cultural network of ideas, beliefs, behaviors, speech acts, and interpretative patterns. The ideal text for Bahktin would no doubt flaunt its openness, its relativity to the outside world, its position in a network, yielding the greatest potential for interactive understanding by the reader.

Cyberspace Web Main screen critical theory