Back when in my English Literature degree lectures I was told that the author is dead. I now understand this to be an essay by Roland Barthes. I also now understand this to be wrong.
Barthes asserted that it is the reader’s interpretation of a text that matters; not the intention of the author, the events that surround and inform the text nor any of the other myriad factors that help drag a book mewling from the void.
Instead, he argued that a text is made up of multiple layers of context, value and meaning, and that it was solely the readers interpretation that mattered. The author was effectively dead, and could no longer argue on behalf of the text.
Which is all well and good, but I imagine that it would blow Barthes mind if JK Rowling were to tweet him directly and tell him that his analysis of the motivations of Severus Snape is totally wrong.
When my lecturer defended Barthes assertions, we were living in an age were you could have conceivably emailed an author, if they had an email account, and they might have even replied. But they probably wouldn’t. ‘Who gives a shit about emails’, they may have thought, before returning to their lives.
And they would have been right. Back in 1997, no one really gave a shit about emails. They were a novelty, a distraction. Most people didn’t have internet access at home, nor did most offices.
Nowadays though, I can tweet, message or tag an author directly, and not only stand a good chance of a reply, but a meaningful interaction.
Of course, this interaction may blow your pet fab theory right out of the water, because the author isn’t dead; the author is actively participating in the conversation and calling out your bullshit.