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Akira Vol. I, No. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo

By Katsuhiro Otomo

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The point was to determine what the art reflected about its society. “Reflection theory” has exercised a powerful hold over Marxist critical practice ever since. Zhdanovite Socialist Realism Reflectionist ideas underpin the aesthetic theory later developed under the Soviet political regime, called Socialist Realism. A. Zhdanov (1896–1948). Socialist realism requires creative artists to follow the Communist Party line, to deal only in subjects approved by the Party and display the correct political altitude … … the working class are all heroes, capitalists are always evil.

Strucluralism asks us to reconsider our image of the individual, and the extent of the individual’s power. To “reconsider” is to challenge an entire cultural tradition based on a commitment to individual self-realization and self-expression (whether in the artistic or economic domains). Intertextuality and the Symbolic Order Semiotic theory was developed further by later poststructuralists, notably Julia Kristeva (b. 1941). One of her key concepts is intertextuality, which can simply mean that narratives are woven of echoes and traces of other texts, a web or “mosaic of quotations”.

Even Fish’s ostensibly more radical approach is tempered by the insistence that the reader is a member of an “interpretive community” whose shared values inform individual readings, as well as providing a criterion for assessing their validity. Reader-response or reception theory is not a particularly contentious form of critical theory. Much of what it says about the reading process is relatively unproblematic. Unproblematic, that is, until one delves into the complexities of the poststructuralist world … In that world, we can no longer take our everyday assumptions about the self, language and meaning for granted.

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