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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Eco's tic
Date: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 00:58:54 

At 04:55 PM 8/26/98 +0100, you wrote:
>	I think that _Foucault's Pendulum_ deals with matters of
>interpretation and over-interpretation. At one point the narrator
>mentions that Belbo had a list of 120 quotes from various people. I
>noticed that there were 120 short sections in the book, each with a
>quote at the start - hmmm... is Eco hinting that these are the quotes
>in Belbo's list?

	The Foucault of FP is not only the inventor of the famous pendulum, which
swings back and forth, but also the Foucault of deconstructionism, Eco's
enemy. Eco agrees with the decons to this extent: that the role of the
reader is very important. But he also insists that any text creates a
reader who can get it right, if the reader allows the text to speak to him
(See *Six Walks Through the Fictional Woods*). Literary criticism swings
back and forth between the supreme authority of the author and the role of
the reader.
	Now, in FP, the various post-Christian actors deconstruct their own lives
as they deconstruct the text. The Jewish actor gets cancer, as his own body
deconstructs. Belbo, the post-Calvinist, winds up generating the conspiracy
he has invented. Thus, in this fantasy novel, the errors men make come to
life and kill them. Against this Eco, a devout Catholic, posits the "public
gnosis" of the Christian revelation.
	Both *The Name of the Rose* and FP are very concerned with modern
approaches to texts, though there is clearly more in both. Especially in
FP, it is the women who have common sense and are grounded in reality --
perhaps reflecting a Catholic doctrine of Natural Law, women being more
close to nature because of their biology (childbearing, lunar cycles,
etc.). (I'm not arguing that this is correct, only seeking to understand Eco.)
	Eco's point in *Name* is that the world CAN be understood, something
Baskerville's disciple fails to learn, but that it cannot be COMPLETELY
understood until we come to the eschaton -- which is why there is something
right about Burgos's keeping a book of joy reserved until the end of
history. Well, one could discuss both Eco books at length, but:
	Like to Wolfe: Jorge Luis Borges as an important character as the
librarian in *Name* and in *Shadow of the Torturer.* Borges is much like
Eco, and in *Name* is not quite as evil as a superficial reading of the
book might lead the reader to think. 

Nutria (James B. Jordan)

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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