Robert Nozick ontologizes the text and its body; it consists of logical constructs such as words, connectives, punctuation marks, and quantifiers. Robert Nozick (1980) writes: “The only thing mere speaking can create, we know, is a story, a play, an epic poem, a fiction. Where we live is create by and in words: a uni-verse” (p. 75). This quote indicates that by using ordinary living language, a person can construct around himself not just a monologue or an objective discussion but a whole life. In this context, the concept of the universe written with a hyphen is mentioned bizarrely. Speech is ontologized, as it is not just a tool for transmitting information but the ground for creating a new reality.
Such maxims bring to mind Martin Heidegger and his work “The Source of Artistic Creation.” Martin Heidegger’s characteristic syllable and division of words into morphemes such as “uni-vers” enable readers to grasp meanings better. In his philosophical works, it is through such a written game that readers can see completely new images in old terms. Martin Heidegger also asks questions about the text and creativity in general, affecting the human imagination and life. He compares any art with technology in the ancient Greek sense of the word, as with a craft. Speech and spoken words for Martin Heidegger have an ontological meaning and make it possible to bring a person closer to the sparkle of being.
Robert Nozick’s text is interesting for its ontological orientation and the fantastic idea of a fix. Martin Heidegger calls his philosophy a fundamental ontology, which brings these two authors closer, who seem to be writing about very different things. Nevertheless, the model of expressing and sharing their thoughts, reading into ordinary words, and trying to extract new meanings from them makes them very similar to profound authors.
The following quote by Robert Nozick refers to the author’s figure and his role in the cognition of the text. He writes: “Our author, we know, is outside our realm, yet he met not be free of our problems” (p. 76). Robert Nozick asks an implicit question about the boundary between the author and the readers. It is crucial for him whether there is this border, in general, but he draws attention, perhaps, to the fact that there are not two actors in this interaction, as it might seem initially. There is an author; on the other side is the reader. A different position, not evident and intelligible, is occupied by the text, which is torn away from the author. The text is either between the reader and the author, as an intermediate connection, or separately, in a different plane.
In “Death of an Author”, Roland Barthes raises similar questions about the author, the text, and the distance between the reader. He concludes that the distance between the reader and the author is almost impossible since the power of interpretation invades the space of the text. Roland Barthes comes from a different context and considers the theory of the symbol as substantiating his opinion. In his view, the presence of symbolism in the text (the text is a symbol in itself) makes it distant from both the author and the reader, creating a field for interpretation.
Robert Nozick, like Roland Barthes, is fundamentally concerned with the figure of the author as such, that is, with his nature. Both of them are interested in whether we reduce the author to the reader and vice versa. It is not known whether these two images live in different realities, but, according to Robert Nozick, they still live, even if they have the same problems and sometimes views on what is happening. Roland Barthes and Robert Nozick solve the same problem in different ways: the first through symbolism and the interpretive field, and the second through the phenomenon of imagination.
Possibly, in the third quote, Robert Nozick makes such a gesture that could be called the ruthless murder of the author. He writes: “Playing on the intricacy both of our ontological status and of the first person reflexive pronoun, each of us too may truly say, I am the author” (p. 77). In this way, he puts on the shoulders of the reader the author’s responsibility for the meanings embedded in the text. At the same time, it allows the reader to fill both texts and events with interpretations with his living language, which combines the positions of Roland Barthes and Martin Heidegger stated above.
In his work “What is Literature?” Jean-Paul Sartre turns towards total and comprehensive responsibility and an existential reading of the texts. It is a revision of the anthropological project of the philosophy of the last century, in general. The raising of responsibility for reading by Jean-Paul Sartre denotes cultural responsibility and the subject’s manifestation, which echoes his philosophy of existentialism about being thrown into being.
Robert Nozick positively writes this quote, approaching the end of the text. This responsibility of the subject, which Jean-Paul Sartre speaks about for Robert Nozick, is severe, but it means autonomy and independence, which is very important for his views. Their text completely changes its centrality, which was on the author from the New Age and had ancient Greek roots. Now, this text is focused on the reader and his strong ability to construct meanings and interpretations around himself.
Nozick, R. (1980). Fiction. Ploughshares, 6(3), 74–78.