The Locus of Meaning: Six Hyperdimensional Fictions
Published: December 1994© 1994
208 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Ebook - PDF
In this innovative examination of works by Poe, Melville, Twain, Nabokov, Barth, and Pynchon, Herbert F. Smith established an aesthetic theory that allows for fresh readings of six problematic texts. He explores how the texts came to be written and what semiotic processes are involved in their creation, and in so doing he opens the way for new theoretical speculation.
Texts that do no more than produce data are essentially two-dimensional. Texts that interest as texts have a third dimension. Almost all literary criticism takes place within these three dimensions. For Smith, texts that compel the reader to go beyond of two- or three-dimensional analysis are the most interesting. The technique he develops for reading these works of literature is based on the idea of hyperdimensionality, a metaphor he borrows, along with catastrophe and chaos from science. The works he examines are seen as loci for meaning in which numerous directions and coordinates function simultaneously.
Beginning with Roman Jakobson, Smith examines speculations about the metaphor/metonymy dichotomy, invoking along the way Umberto Eco and David Lodge. He quarrels with the notion that metaphor and metonymy are polar, and proposes that the dichotomy be visualized as multi-dimensional, to reflect their complex relationship. As he develops his technique for reading metafiction, he sheds light on the theories of critics as diverse as Derrida, Barthes, and Frye.
The tone is exploratory, even playful, engaging the reader in a free play of ideas.