Tracing meaning without an author: RACTER's inspired electronics and the computerisation of poetry
What is a text? What is meaning? What is a reader? What is an author? These are the fundamental questions facing contemporary literary theorists: despite the efforts of structuralism, and the debts that are owed to structuralist thinkers for acknowledging the constructed nature of texts, we can still not say for certain whether the author is alive or dead, powerful or weak, indispensable or irrelevant. With this concern in mind, I wish to analyse the poetic works of a non-human author, the poetry-generating computer program RACTER. Much contemporary literary criticism remains trapped within narrow humanist models of authorship - models that confine authorship to experiencing, intentional individuals who sit at the genesis of a work and govern textual meaning. The RACTER program lacks the intentional and experiential grounding to 'qualify' as a typical author-figure- however, I will argue that RACTER's works maintain an illusion of human authorship that serves as a supplement to the program's artificial textual generation.