Trolling for narrative

In his famous piece, “The Death of the Author,” Roland Barthes makes his case for the death of the author, stating that as soon as writing begins, “the author enters into his own death” (142). Instead of the author being the origin of the narrative – taking personal responsibility as the “voice” of the text; Barthes prefers to see the author as a mediator of the text, or a scriptor of the text which is “born simultaneously with the text” at the moment of the act of writing (145).

One of Barthes’ problems with the “tyrannically” self-centeredness of author as God, is the limitation imposed on the text by the author’s own limitations. I believe this is crucial because as “God-author” the writer is saddled with the heavy mantle of giving meaning, which is just a form of judgment. I believe Barthes wants to remove the author from this judgment seat in order to open up the text to multiple meanings, interpretations, and revelations. In order to do this, text cannot be seen as originating from one source and received as such – like a single hose squirting water; but instead, must be experienced as part of a whole, from the sea of story.

Harris’ We feel fine, supports this perspective. The database does not judge the text it represents, but instead sifts and ciphers it based on a formula, a formula (although it arguably originated from a man) that is passive and non-human. For me, the database represents what Barthes’ envisioned. If narrative surrounds us all the time, like a sea, than the database is only a mediator of many voices and is essentially the construct or filter, just as the author would/should/could be. It dips its net in and trolls for the stories that are already out there, bringing them to the surface of the computer screen, and allowing us to read them. As a result, multiple texts and multiple narratives, born at the moment they are brought to the surface, provide the complexity and multi-dimensional experience which is to be human.