September 21st, 2010

“(…) ‘intentionality’ signals the belief that the author is behind the text, controlling its meaning; the author becomes the guarantor of the ‘intentional’ meaning or truth of the text, and reading a text therefore leads back to the author as origin (…) Trust the author, this rather circular argument goes, if s/he seems to be trustworthy “(Anderson 3-4).

In this passage Linda Anderson is directing her focus at Laura Marcus, a critic of autobiography who theorizes that looking at intentionality, or an author’s conscious choices to disclose or omit content, leads back to the author as he/she defines his/herself. Intentionality has a lot to do with the author’s control over what is being said and the question as to why he/she says it. I interpreted this as if there were two distinctive versions of an author within an autobiography, the one being represented and the one struggling to represent his/herself , the latter due to intentionality. However, Marcus argued that intentionality pertained to the author’s intention to always tell the truth, which is connected to the author’s automatic assumption of ¬†trustworthiness. I disagree.

As there are many versions of the truth, there are many conscious choices to tell it, therefore an author will struggle with these choices, and through intentionality he/she will choose what to say as well as what to omit . Think of it as editing, only that this process happens before the author begins to write.¬†As to what constitutes an author’s trustworthiness, I believe that should depend heavily on the reader’s discretion, and not the principle that authorship constitutes trustworthiness. Questioning why the author deems issue X as “relevant” will surely lead us back to his/her psyche, which I find more honest than an author’s intention of being honest, as suggested by Marcus.