Death of the Mother/Author

In one of her emails to me my daughter cited the literary concept/essay by Roland Barthes known as The Death of the Author. “Barthes’s essay argues against traditional literary criticism’s practice of incorporating the intentions and biographical context of an author in an interpretation of a text, and instead argues that writing and creator are unrelated.”

She cited this essay as a way to illustrate what she saw as the death of the mother (the author), that I had nothing to do with her (the text), that she had nothing do with me and that anything she was, is, ever will be had nothing to do with her “creator”. She did make sure to include her adoptive parents in there too.  Essentially she is her own being and has no relation, connection, or other to me, her father or her adoptive parents.

On one hand I can appreciate that. I was much like that at about her same age. I fumed with anger if my parents ever tried to stake claim to anything I did (particularly since in my case, my parents did very little for me and seemed only to want to claim my accomplishments but were never there when I failed or struggled) .  Yet I still claimed them as my parents and gave them credit for traits of mine (good and bad) that I had clearly inherited from them either via nature or nurture.

My daughter disregards the nature and nurture and wraps her belief up in literary essays as a way of explaining it all.

On the other hand,  while I find the explanation/connection intellectually interesting, it made me sad. To feel you come from no where, belong to no one, have nothing in common with anyone on this earth, to believe you are a single solitary being with no connection to anyone, feels so terribly dark and so horribly alone to me.

8 Thoughts.

  1. That’s how I feel…often…even though, rationally, I know it’s not necessarily true. But, it’s how my heart and soul feel…more often than I would like.

  2. i read this and thought “no man is an island”.

    how sad, not to mention delusional, to believe one is totally and solely responsible for everything they are or ever will be.

  3. Its a common feeling I guess. I feel that way, or actually, felt that way for so long. At the age of almost 40, I am beginning to see how I am connected to my parents, my adopted family, my culture etc. Not that I see it so clearly, but I remember walking along as a child, maybe 10 years old..and feeling as if I was alone in the whole world. No one to turn to, and thats when I found religion, I think. When I knew that I had no one except one father. It wasn’t a religious experience but more of a need. I have a father..out there for my natural father, I did not know him, or even feel as if I came from one. My natural mother was out there somewhere, but not connected to me in anyway, and my adopted mother had been died for 5 years by then. Its a lonely feeling, its a scary feeling, and I don’t think it ever goes away.
    So, anything that I did, I figured it was because of me, or God..thats one else contributed in any form or fashion.
    But now, I am starting to see, how genetics fits in, nurture and consequence etc.
    Still, it doesn’t take those feelings away completely.

  4. Oh Suz. I think this might be the saddest thing I’ve ever read here. She actually said that to you? I’m so very sorry.

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  6. This reminds me of the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Have you seen it? I always cry at the end.

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