Absolute Artist. The Historiography of a Concept by Catherine M. Soussloff

By Catherine M. Soussloff

This can be the 1st booklet to research the artist's biography as a rhetorical shape and literary style instead of as an unassailable resource of truth and information.

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54 Here the "attainment of a predetermined endpoint is seen as the purpose of life . . "55 "Life itself," a term Franklin borrows from Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge, did not appear as a concept until after the Darwinian theories of evolution. Thus, we must be careful to note that the use of the term biography emerges during a period of the reclassification of the natural world by science taxonomically, while at the same time life maintained its earlier immutable (teleological) status. "56 The term biography admits of an awareness of the separation of human life from other life, but it also adheres to universalist positions about life coming from both the Aristotelian and Judeo-Christian traditions.

This perception aids in understanding the epistemological significance inherent in the categorizing of literature according to genres or rules. "26 Derrida's invocation of natural and symbolic generation and birth resonates with some of the observations that I will make later concerning the genre of biography, life writing, or the life of the individual from birth to death. My point here, however, is this: if we accept Todorov's assumption that the result of the contemplation of genre is that "literature" rather than categories collapses and Derrida's position that genre causes us to question the structure of individual texts rather than the categories themselves, we begin to see how important genre is to understanding biography.

Furthermore, the formal ideals regarding film genres that this approach presupposes in order to have them subsumed by the auteur do not pertain in a poststructuralist theory of genre according to Todorov and Derrida, as I have illustrated earlier. For here, the idea of genre is infinitely flexible and used as a way of understanding structure rather than form. As Nichols suggests, there can be no a priori meaning for either the genre or the auteur if both of these categories are understood to be nonuniversal or unessential.

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