First to start off with a confession: I have rubbed shoulders with ideas similar to the ones in Words and Images in readings before, and they immediately raised my hackles. Perhaps I was reading too much against the grain, or perhaps it was the context of the course I was in at the time: an Honors Imaginative Process class with a blustery teacher who barely grasped what he was teaching. I spent the majority of the class finding ways to escape the narrow assignments he shackled us with while still doing well in the course, and so already had a rebellious mindset when it came to readings. Despite the bias that I started our reading with, after discussing and examining it, I have come to recognize the concepts as valuable, if not set in stone.
One phrase in particular still does not sit well with me; I disagree with the idea that we are helping the author to write the book. Although I do think that it takes a partnership between reader and writer to complete the work, it is not in the sense that the reader is writing the book. Rather they are completing the work with their own ideas and experiences. If they later put their thoughts about the reading down on paper, even then they are not helping to write the book; the book will not change because of something they’ve later written about it. The words within it will stay the same, to be interpreted and “completed” by another reader who comes along with his or her own experiences.
Now onto my true reason for writing… The workshop today was beneficial in a few ways: it gave me the opportunity to reassure myself against the insecurity of my group mates (it is much easier to feel confident about yourself when you know that everyone else is as unsure as you are), and I was able to better form my thoughts on the reading by hearing other perspectives. For instance, I had a very specific understanding of the reading; I did not see any discrepancies in the material presented, while one of my teammates felt that the text was full of contradictions.
Although I understood the various concepts in the reading well enough (having intuitively experienced them during my own writing/reading ventures), discussing them solidified the feeling that these phenomenon are indeed real things; not just the product of blustery professors with too much time on their hands.