Brad Ramsey, when first writing in a postmodern way, wondered if there was a name for it. A palimpsest, which is an ancient or medieval scroll that has been erased (or rubbed clean) in order to make room for new writing, may contain legible traces of the original writing superimposed in the work. He thought he was writing a palimpsest because his examples resembled and effaced poetry that was already extant. However, he later believed what he was writing was more appropriately called pastiche, in that he copied the versification and extended the context of a work from the canon.
As an author of cultural postmodernist literature much of the focus on what he bases his books is intertextuality: the relationship between one text (a poem, for example) and another within the interwoven fabric of literary history. That which he publishes parallels another literary work, is an extended discussion of that work, and represents the adoption of its style. An example may come from multiple texts or genres to represent the chaotic, pluralistic, or information-drenched aspects of life; another, simply put, may be a composite of one master.
To imitate directly - i.e., to copy - a painting or a piece of sculpture means an attempt to reproduce it as faithfully as possible by one's own means, and the difficulty and technical value of the exercise are obvious. To imitate directly - i.e., to copy - a poem or a piece of music is a purely mechanical task, at the disposal of anyone who knows how to write or to place notes on a staff, and without any literary or musical significance. The difference in value denotes a difference in status between these two types of art or, otherwise stated, a specificity of status proper to the types of works that are texts (literary or musical) - in short, a specificity of the text which only a phenomenological aesthetics can describe; namely, I think, a comparative analysis of the types of ideality proper to different arts. Let us content ourselves here with noting this difference and conclude that direct imitation in literature or music, unlike what occurs in the visual arts, does not constitute a significant performance at all. Here, to reproduce is nothing, and imitating supposes a more complex operation, the completion of which raises imitation above mere reproduction: it becomes a new production - that of another text in the same style, of another message in the same code.
M. Gérard Genette. Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree. Editions du Seuil, 1982.
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