Conclusion: Interpretation and the Life
A text has no life of its own. It 'lives' only as an electric wire is alive. Its power originates elsewhere: in a human author. There is another point of comparison: however powerful the author's act of creation, the text lies impotent until it also comes into contact with a human reader. Only then can the human power, imagination, and intellect carried by the marks on a page strike a light, communicate warmth, or give a nasty shock.
The medium itself is important, and determines how much of the source's power is communicated. Old wires can give unreliable service and cause accidents. But it is the source that gives the wire its potential for illumination or destruction. Without this, there is no live wire. Once this is present, however, those at the receiving end are in control. It is they who decide what to do with the powerful resource they possess--whether and how to use it. They have all power in their hands.
They may turn off the source and play games or make models with the inert wire. That is how structuralist literary criticism appears to those more concerned to interpret the meaning of works of art or other communications. Post-structuralist deconstruction seems to many equally perverse, if more dramatic. It seems to show the wire short-circuiting and blowing a fuse.
In contrast to such subversion of the text, most interpreters assume that they are looking for a message which can be at least partly expressed in other words, and is independent of their own personal needs or preferences. For all the emphasis which literary