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Robert Stecker APPARENT, IMPLIED, AND POSTULATED AUTHORS "Things inanimate cannot be aumors ..." Thomas Hobbes ANUMBER OF writers have recendy revived a suggestion of Wayne Boodi diat we distinguish, not only between die writer of a work of fiction and its narrator, but distinguish bodi of these from something else variously called die apparent, implied, or postulated author (or artist). What motivates making this further distinction? Does the motivation justify the distinction, i.e. , establish diat diere really is a need for it? These are the questions I want to answer in this article. Kendall Walton makes die distinction not only with respect to literature but across the arts.1 For him, speaking of apparent artists and their apparent acts is merely a convenient way of referring to what appears to be the case widi or in a work of art. However, not every way a work appears makes it appropriate to speak of an apparent artist. That a painting happens to appear green under certain unusual conditions of light need not make appropriate talk ofan apparent artist. It is appropriate to speak ofan apparent artist when a work appears to be made in a certain way or with a certain intention, or under die influence ofcertain beliefs and emotions — in short, whenever acts or states ofa maker ofthe work appear to manifest diemselves in die work. Given diis usage, it is certain that there is often license for speaking of apparent artists. Works of art do often appear to be made in certain ways, with certain intentions, and so forth. Often, we are not tempted to attrib258 Robert Stecker259 ute such acts of making to the narrator (if any) of the work. Sometimes they do not, in fact, belong to die real artist. While Walton's usage gives us formal license to speak of apparent artists, it does not so far give us good reason to. We would have a good reason to so speak only if the appearances picked out by such talk were important for understanding or appreciating works of art. If we are concerned widi appearances simply as our initial estimate of reality and if die focus ofcritical inquiry is the way a work really is, the intentions an artist really had, etc., dien Walton's usage will prove more cumbersome man useful. On die odier hand, ifthe focus ofcritical inquiry is or ought to be on the appearances themselves, men Walton's usage will help us maintain that focus and not confuse it with die alternative just mentioned. Walton indeed thinks diat it is die latter focus that is correct. "From the point of view of art criticism and appreciation, how works appear to have come about is important for its own sake, and not as an indication ofhow it did come about" (p. 65). It is mis claim that reallyjustifies talk of die apparent artist. The question now becomes whether Walton's claim about what is important is itself correct. One point that might be regarded in its favor is that it preserves the widely held view diat a proper appreciation of a work of art ought to find its source in the direct experience of it. (Call this "the direct experience requirement .") Appearances are well suited to such appreciation while "external facts," like the way the work is actually made and die real author's actual intentions, seem not to be. On the odier hand, die range ofappearances usually recognized is extended by speaking of die way the work appears to be made and of apparent intentions in such a way as to acknowledge diat we see works ofart as essentially made, essentially die product of intentional acts. In die following passage, Walton appeals to die direct experience requirement : One must examine "The Love Song ofJ. Alfred Prufrock" to ascertain that in it Eliot portrayed die hero compassionately. But if Eliot did not write die poem, he did not perform diis act, no matter what die poem is like; and ifthe poem was "written" by a computer . . . , no one performed the act of portraying die character compassionately. The words of the poem are, to be sure, good evidence diat someone wrote it, but it...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 258-271
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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