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The Machinic Assemblage: Dismantling Authorship
Young, Deborah E.

2012, BA, Kent State University, College of Arts and Sciences / Department of English.

The importance of investigating the author in reading a work is one that is historically valuated, indicative of a desire for limitation upon the text. Rather than the author acting from a position of transcendental control, the concept of authorship is rather produced as a repressive structure from a paradigmatic fear of the confusion writing provokes. Therefore, reading that attempts to reduce textual confusion by studying the author is one that, far from deciding meaning, simply recreates the text without the complexities that make it intractable.

Notably, Kafka’s "The Trial" is a simulation that problematizes reading the author as a form of mastery, as this work refutes the ideological understanding of power as a transcendent presence, arguing that power itself is a machinic effect. Contrary to the pervasive interpretation of Max Brod, who suggests this work demonstrates a negative theology, Deleuze and Guattari illustrate that "The Trial" actually critiques the transcendental, because K, in not acknowledging this authoritative presence, is representative of its dysfunction. A critical investigation reveals that K responds with indifference to the ineffaceable guilt supposedly inflicted upon him, treating the whole ordeal as an incompetent mistake he expects to be corrected at any moment. However, Kafka’s looming presence entirely overshadows the fact that this work embodies an absent theology only to refute it as a functional operation of power. The reading of this work’s political critique singly in terms of Kafka’s persona demonstrates how authorship has operated within these same assumptions of mastery—assumptions that create restrictive oversimplifications. If the text itself is understood as a machinic production and not an authored work, this denies the possibility of textual limitation. The figure of the author is certainly not an absolute determinate of meaning, but neither is his voice one that can be discounted: it is simply another voice in the machine.

Furthermore, the text as a machine is determined not by the intention of the author but performed through the design of the reader. Because the immanence of the reader rewrites the text, the presence of authorial control, far from a voice that is inherent in the text, is created by the reader. Specifically, the reader’s desire to solve for the author engenders upon the text a personified presence of mastery that is highly destructive to textual significance. This is a production that, far from resolving these elements with this rationalizing presence, instead creates a simplified variation of the text. It is a preoccupation that causes a critical loss of meaning both violent and impotent. However, the continuation of this absolutism subjecting the text to a classificatory rationalism does not fully master it, but turns the effects of violence and impotence upon the reader who has engaged in this approach, making his argument unstable. In this way, the affirmation of this transcendental control inflicts blindness upon the unwary reader perpetuating the textual assumption that the irrational can be mastered.

Kevin Floyd (Advisor)
Michael Byron (Committee Member)
Tammy Clewell (Committee Member)
Sara Newman (Committee Member)

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Young, D. (2012). The Machinic Assemblage: Dismantling Authorship. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from

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Young, Deborah. "The Machinic Assemblage: Dismantling Authorship." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2012. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 17 Jun 2018.

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Young, Deborah "The Machinic Assemblage: Dismantling Authorship." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2012.


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