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From: Derek Bell <dbell@maths.tcd.ie>
Subject: Re: (urth) Eco's tic
Date: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 19:40:13 +0100

	Note, this message contains spoilers for _Foucault's Pendulum_!
Also, I'm not claiming to have a definitive argument or interpretation
of _FP_ or even just a consistent one, I'm just speculating out loud.

In message <199809070603.XAA00263@lists1.best.com>, Jim Jordan writes:
>	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.

	Yep - Michel Foucault, IIRC. I know a little of Foucault's
work: he was interested in how power produced the subject and I think
he tried to write a genealogy of power, similar to Nietzsche's
genealogy of morals.

	This also brings up the subject of how power is
dealt with in the novel - Causabon spends ages trying to figure out
the password to Belbo's computer, which asks him "Do you know the
password?" (The password is "No".) Similarly, Aglie pretends to have
powers of a supernatural nature (well, that's my interpretation) and
uses this as a hook to lead the authors down the garden path, so to
speak and lead them into a trap. (Framing them for the bomb on the train.)

	I think Eco's taking on several postmodernists at once -
Diotavelli seems like a parody of Derrida. I've heard several comments
on how cabalistic Derrida's work is and Derrida is from a family of
assimilated Jews. (I can't remember if Diotavelli is actually of a
similar background to Derrida, but there were comments from the other
characters on Diotavelli's obsessive interest in Jewish life - he
seemed to live vicariously by watching the lives of Jewish men.

>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.

	Eco doesn't believe in a "Death of the Author", he believes in
a two-way relationship, right?

>	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

	This notion of the power of words being cabable of altering
nature itself seems quite cabalistic! (I know it works on a
psychological level, the characters either interpreting what befalls
them as a result of their "Plot" or they start seeing the agents of
the "Plot" working against them.)

	Another Caballistic reference - Belbo named his computer
"Abulafia", after Abraham Abulafia, a 12th century Jewish philosopher
and Calallist.


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

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