“The reader draws on his own internalized culture in order to elicit form the text this world which may differ from his own in many respect. Moreover, the text may yield glimpses of the personality and codes of the author. The literary transaction may thus embody, and probably to some degree always embodies, an interplay between at least two sets of codes, two sets of values. Even when author and reader share the same culture – – – that is, when they live in the same social group at the same time and the text directly reflects that culture, their uniqueness as individual human beings would insure this interplay” (Rosenblatt 1978, p. 56).
Meaning happens in a space between the text, the author and the reader, kind of like Bhabha’s ‘third space.’ The space created by what the author brought to the text, the text as object in a specific time and place, and the unique vision and experience of the reader come together in a new experience of the text.
“. . .during the reading the reader keeps alive what he has already elicited from the text. At any point, he b rings a state of mind, a penumbra of ‘memories’ of what has preceded, ready to be activated by what follows, and providing the context from which further meaning will be derived” (Rosenblatt 1978, p.57).
The process of reading itself , even when staying within the text for prior knowledge, reflects the overall process of living and making meaning of the world. We are constantly reevaluating our thinking based upon the interplay of the past, present and future. We are making it up as we go, by ourselves and with others.
“What each reader makes of the text is, indeed, for him, the poem, in the sense that this is his only direct perception of it. No one else can read it for him. He may learn indirectly about other’s experiences with the text; he may come to see that his own was confused or impoverished, and he may then be stimulated to attempt to call forth from the text a better poem. But this he must do himself, and only what he himself experiences in relation to the text is – – again let us underline – – for him, the work (Rosenblatt 1978, p. 105).
It is the constant reevaluation of experience, brought about by the text, one’s response to the text and the response of others to the text and to the reader’s response, which causes a reader to evoke deeper and different meanings from the text. Yet even with this seemingly social construct of the text occurring the ultimate meaning a reader takes from a text belongs solely to him, even if the reader parrots back the response of another, it is still an interpretation the reader has presented as his own, and he takes what he wills from this interpretation, understanding it on his own.
“In contrast to Saussure’s , Peirce’s formulation is triadic: ‘A sign is in conjoint relation to the thing denoted and to the mind . . . . The sign is related to its object only in consequence of a mental association, and depends on habit’ (3.360). Since Peirce evidently did not want to reinforce the notion that ‘mind’ was an entity, he typically phrased the conjoint linkage as among sign, object, and ‘interpretant,’ which should be understood as an aspect of a triadic mental operation(Rosenblatt 1978, p. 182).
My first class in my Master’s program taught by Courtney Cazden, was called “Forms of thinking, speaking, and writing.” Over the course of that summer I came to an understanding that these three aspects of language were simultaneously influencing and shaping each other in the creation of a text. I imagined a spinning triad where one part of the triangle never became predominate over the others. I see the same interplay between reader, text, and author that Rosenblatt describes.