Volume 7, Number 1 (January 2009) : 63--85|
The Emergence of Oedipus’s Blessing
Evoking Wolfgang Iser
Rubric A: History of Humanities
In these pages I present my interpretation of Iser’s model of emergence. I emphasize that what I am presenting is my understanding and exemplification of the relations among the chief terms in Iser’s model, namely, recursion, negativity, and emergence. At the same time, what I offer is, I believe, an extrapolation from what we know of Iser’s terms. I propose that the recursive relations and emergences traced by Iser in effect constitute an interactive experience of that which he called the “imaginary.” This recursive experience is a way of collectively taking part in the emergence of imagined being. This is to suggest that in his theoretical work Iser was moving from a theory of the individual act of reading to a theory of cultural and artistic transformation that is necessarily a shared activity. In its fully specified form I believe that this theory must have profound ontological implications, in other words, for how we participate in the being that, via negativity and the imaginary, we are presently helping to bring into being. Iser, I believe, had begun to explain how the greatest works of art and culture enact an interactive, transformative, and emergent way of being in recursion. The exemplifications of emergence that I analyze are from the works of Sophocles, Milton, and Kant.