Четверг, 13 июняИнститут «Высшая школа журналистики и массовых коммуникаций» СПбГУ


No matter the results of cognitive disputes on what is and what is not a new television genre, paratexts have felt well in Polish television since 1990. It is not, however, important to underline the proportions of the two major parts of neotelevision: entertainment and infotainment, for paratexts perform their functions inviting both to watch news, entertaining and educational programmes.

Furthermore, modern television presents itself in two hipergenres, that is to say as public and commercial television. In accordance with new century endeavours and modern spectator expectations, the European regime functioning in public television until the 80’s has been revalued. There are only three rules remaining today: public television is an alternative for commercial television, the basis of its existance is public (social) financing, it also has a particular approach towards its spectators, meaning it involves their opinion and themselves in the process of opening programmes and the creation of programme strategies [Godzic 2004: 13–14].

Among these relations, the image of paratexts in the aforementioned hipergenres seems particularly interesting.

Place of paratexts in Gerarde Genette’s concept of transtextuality. During the 80’s, a French literature theorist Gerard Genette released Palimpsests (1982) and Seuils in which he presented his concept of transtextuality which precised the phenomenon of intertextuality, known then for fifteen years thanks to Julia Kristeva. Genette considered intertextuality one of possible transtextual relations within the field of literary activity. Intertextual relations between a source and a target workpiece consist, as defined by Kristeva, in borrowing literary threads, strategies, solutions and literary motives from a chronologically prior text to the newer one. It has to be, nevertheless, a conscious annexation oriented at intertextual game which then becomes an interpretation task for the reader. The higher the competence required for decoding the rules of this game, the better: the reader uses the competence and obtains double satisfaction from reading a book. As an example of intertextuality, Genette recognised especially quotations and literary fragments in which the author expresses the borrowing (quotes, italics, footnotes, revoking surnames, titles), meanwhile he considered plagiarism as less canonical. A very similar interpretation of the phenomenon was presented a bit later by a Polish literary scholar Włodzimierz Bolecki [Bolecki 1991]. It should be added that a different vision of intertextuality was already shown in the 70’s by Michel Riffaterre. He wrote that ‘intertextuality is a mechanism of literary reading’ [Riffaterre 1979; Genette 1992: 319], these are relations, noted by the reader, between one work and those which anticipated it. This is not the right place to illustrate the whole development of literary thoughts on intertextuality, it is only worth noting that its history is truly rich, meanwhile the phenomenon is extraordinarily topical today.

In his masterpiece, Genette further mentions the architextual relation, which refers the reader to rules and patterns of creating a text based upon genre requirements, that should be known to the reader from previous reading experience. Among the five transtextual relations, the present one is the most abstract and implicit, for its signals are manifested by taxonomical elements (for instance a sign on the title page: Novel, Stories) — the rest remains in the competence of the reader. It is the latter that should classify literary operations and strategies to the poetics he or she already knows.

Genette also presents his own vision of metatext, for he understands it mainly as a critical activity, both in the intratextual (critical reference to a prior work) and extratextual space (defined by Genette as transcendent), that is to say in the form of a critical discourse which is created in relation to the work even within a great time span.

Genette dedicates, however, most of the space in Palimpsests… to hypertextuality as a relation which has nothing to do with comments, but more with transformation, derivation of a text B (hypertext) from a text A (hipotext), transparent or not. The effect of such derivational operations are commonly known types of imitation, such as pastiche, parody, travesty. I would like to add once more that the relation is worth noticing because in Polish literary science it has been classified differently, without Genette’s hypertextuality.

Finally, the fifth of all Genette’s transtextual relations is the paratextuality of a literary work as this is the realm the French theorist is located in. I place this relation at the end, even though Genette classified it as second in terms of the increasing level of ambiguity and abstractiveness. Paratext is constituted by: “title, subtitle, heading, preface, afterword, introduction, issuer’s notes, notes at the bottom of a page, at the end; epigraphs; illsutrations; insertion; dust jacket note or book band note and all additional signals, made or by the author or by others, creating (variable) surroundings of a text” [Genette 1992: 320].

Moreover, the author adds that paratextuality ‘is undoubtedly one of the most priviledged areas of the pragmatic dimension of a work, that is to say of its reaction on the reader’ [Genette 1992]. Even though Genette characterised precisely paratexts in the book of 1987 entitled Seuils, we can read in a 1992 article translated into Polish that ‘paratextuality is like a deep well of questions without answers’[Genette 1992: 321].

Around metatexts and paratexts. I hereby want to articulate how I perceive the tradition of Genette in details. I do belong to the group of researchers that respect the guidelines of Anna Wierzbicka on metatext, and who especially respect the reception of this thought [Dobrzyńska 1999; Witosz 2001]. That is why I understand as the surroundings of a cultural text, of which its author is responsible (because he is the author of both the surroundings and the work), all author’s hints indicating the direction of interpreting the work or the author’s attitude towards the topic (modulants, i.e. ‘really’, ‘plausibly’, ‘with no doubts’, ‘allegedly’) or expressions which put in order and hierarchize the text constituting its coherence (coherence operators, such as ‘first of all’, secondly’, ‘meanwhile’); verbs of utterance and mental verbs in the 1st person singular or plural (i.e. ‘I will hereby present’, ‘I think’, ‘Let us picture…’ ‘I understand’, ‘I would like to explain’). In the extratextual space, metatext consists of footnotes, title, headlines, subtitles, introduction / preface, ending / epilogue / afterword, dedication. I consider the question of being an author the key issue in this relation: metatext and the proper text have the same author. In the relation of paratext, this element is absolutely different: the proper text (base, corpus) has its own creator, meanwhile paratext is created by third parties, interested in the type of recipients the cultural text will find. It may be a book editor, film distributor, editor-in-chief of a magazine or of a single issue, webmaster, radio or television managing director. It is obvious that the shape of paratext understood in this way is somehow known and accepted by the work author; however, it is difficult to discuss the range of such influence.

Time aspect is also meaningful in terms of analysing the range of the above-mentioned concept. Paratext is created after the main text, but its end is the reception of it before the main work, for the function of paratext is to represent and recommend a given cultural text. A change of time relations in the perception of paratext makes it pragmatically senseless. In reference to printed texts (not interpreted throughout a time span), paratext shall be placed before the main text.

In order to somehow entail the research material, I define paratext literally with the prefix ‘para-’ denoting association, being the vestibule in relation to the house space (as Genette puts it) or as buoys (according to Mitterand’s metaphor) [Mitterand 1975]. It also means that paratext with no time or space proximity of its main text has no sense, and after its reception it stops existing, because its functions have no right to update. Taking into consideration everything mentioned above, I regard as paratext: ‘for printed texts — editorial notes on the fourth page of the dust cover, press article leads, journal indices; for audio texts — leads and radio audition presenter previews, banners, TV shows, film trailers, for oral texts — presenters’ etc.

Paratexts in media studies. In the realm of construing senses coming from the stream of television chaos, there are discourses which help structure the chaos: “We are talking about texts composed by spectators upon their reception reactions and which are disseminated orally or by letters to newspapers and which create collective, rather than individual, reactions to a programme. It happens when spectators decode a programme as an element activating a text” [Fiske 1987: 124]. The fact that the British researcher considered them a layer of tertiary texts, which can only sporadically come back on TV screens, does not mean he discredits them. The second level of television intertextuality, according to Fiske, is shaped by all reviews appearing in other media about the programme broadcast on a given channel, thus these are opinions of critis on the programme. Finally, first grade texts are television programmes actually broadcast by channels. The second and third level of television text intertextuality have, in my opinion, much more in common than on the contrary, for it is difficult to discern nowadays the importance of an expert’s opinions and of a neighbour’s opinion, especially in terms of television. As some surveys have shown, the governing function belongs in half to friends’ reccomendations and to those present in experts’ reviews (“Foyer” IX 2005, proper survey results). The features that connects the second and the third level of texts are as follows:

a) the location (in case of review printing) or the date of broadcast (in case of oral texts) in respect of the primary text, that is to say of a proper television programme: these are the so-called post-texts;

b) intermediality which implicates the presence in the media or codes other than television (on the radio, in the press, in an average conversation);

c) maintaining continuity, for while a television programme is broadcast once in a certan period of time, post-texts prolong and ensure its existence for much longer period than its broadcasting only [Loewe 2003].

Both text levels are also a pristine etnosemiological material, as Fisk says, and they allow to prove the polisemanticity of television programmes and to precise their reception.

Almost simultaneously to Genette’s works and a couple of years after Fisk’s publication, Andrzej Gwóźdź released a work on three communication levels of the television discourse (1992) approaching Fisk’s proposal, although the author do not mention it. Nevertheless, it is Gwóźdź who was the first to describe them not as “text types”, but rather as “levels of intertextual processing” [Gwóźdź 1992: 146]. The author enumerates as follows:

a) direct discourses on extratelevision reality, which would correspond with commonly understood “television programme”, talking every time about something, either fictional (film, TV series, cartoon etc.) or documentary (reportage, news, live coverage etc.)

b) metadiscourses on the direct discourse which would cover the direction from an event to its sense that could update a retrospective lecture, such as “I have already seen that”;

c) metadiscourses on the metadiscourse on the direct discourse thanks to which the spectator’s lecture is prospective, that is to say it contains “I will see it soon” [Gwóźdź 1992: 146–147].

Even though the artist does not explicate the precise range of the second level, we may assume that it entails Fisk’s secondary texts, so there are all extratelevision texts on first-level television texts (professional and unprofessional opinions about seen programmes). Fisk’s third-level texts and Gwóźdź’s third level of intertextual processing are proper paratexts.

Recently, the author has spoken once more on paratexts; this time, however, he has used this exact term and in reference to the new situation in terms of the media. He revokes a handful of thoughts about paratexts of post-cinematic films, and to be more precise, on DVD films which change “the conditions of the lecture of seeing and hearing”’ they are exactly of paratextual nature. The cultural change leads, according to the author, to replace the logics of modern with the logics of repeatability. He looks not only at what accompanies the film, but also at how it shapes the new recipient and how it controls his or her requirements. Among paratextual elements, Gwóźdź enumerates: trailer, making-of documentary, set of removed or added scenes, audiocommentary, iconographic material, trailers of other films, series, collections, cycles of the same director etc. Gwóźdź claims that a paratext often denudes the historical-filming process which makes it paradoxically more important than the film for which the paratext was created. Is it that paratexts, which may be considered marginal, become the centre and vice versa? The question remains open. It is sure, nevertheless, that the modern culture revaluates its borders: prefixed centres and peripheries exchange their places or at least move slightly from their previous positions. Neotelevision is a good example of this phenomenon, although I tried to demonstrate how many of such transpositions there are in other means currently. In humanistic reflection, the issue of borders, mutual relations centre — periphery, text — margin is still valid, but one must add that it also concerns antynomial relations, i. e. globalisation — locality.

The fact that the border problem has remained is the evidence of the existence of secondary orality. The cyrographic and typograhic culture has overcome confines or any other demarcation line quickly, filling the whiteness of a piece of paper with black signs, then segmenting pieces of paper with margins, running head, footnotes etc. The oral culture, on the other hand, had no such explicit, and therefore perfect, ways of defining borders. The only explicit one is the difference between silence and its interruption, in other words speaking. All the rest had to be taken care of by oratory under created rules and recommendations for the perfect speaker. Coming back to the contemporary problem of blurring borders between what is important and less important, we mentally restore the order of secondary orality. Another proof of entering into the process of telewriting is the culture of repetitiveness, reduplication, represented by a great amount of media studies experts and philosophers.

Neotelevision. In order to define the place of paratexts on television, we need to define the role of television nowadays. The specificity of television communication determines the fact that it is a “global story composed of various particles of narrative texts” [Gwóźdź 1992: 140]. Such a discourse exists as a linear collection of texts (sequencing) and their concentric environments (selection), the lecture of every one of them takes place always by reference to pre-existent texts and those designed for the future. Two apparently contradictory attitudes meet on television: on the one hand, in the television discourse, the spectator finds what interests him/her, on the other hand, the spectator knows the discourse not only because of particular programmes, so that television exists for the spectator as a communication matrix driving his/her expectations and choices, as a sort of tableau, which helps categorise the world in accordance with this television [Gwóźdź 1992: 148]. The formation of medial competence serves as the generator of receptive attitudes and has its place in the discussion of media sciences experts (but not only) on the ways promoting the so-called medial education [Media i edukacja… 2003; Edukacja medialna 2004; U progu… 2005].

Sometimes, what is considered as a television text is a television programme schedule (daily or even periodic), sometimes it is the genres that are considered television texts, for television is a “domain of genres” [Godzic 2004]. It is worth presenting the views on modern television hipernarration. In the 80’s, Raymond Williams stated that television “cannot be treated as various interchangeable texts, because it is construed by a gigantic stream of different textual materials between which any demarcation line disappears; thus, they cannot by fully discernible” [Feuer 1997: 131]. The “television stream” term implicates some sort of chaos, meanwhile paratexts put it in order and hierarchize it, so that there are foreseeable elements in this stream. We should add that the definition of the order of the stream has contemporarily great significance for the advertiser who buys advertising blocks in a certain spot.

In broad understanding, the stream consists of proper television channels (shows, texts, discours) more or less susceptible to its connotative influence; commercials, TV shopping, tele-competitions, which uses television solely as one of means [Godzic 2001] and autopromoting programmes, such as proper paratexts (previews and leads integrated with television boards and jingles). The most elaborated elements are proper television texts (genres), the least elaborated (not to say there are no studies upon this realm) are television paratexts; however, there are texts showing a hypothesis that the essence of television are commercials [Banaszkiewicz 1994]. This thesis is also assumed by the contestation of “the great syntagmatics” of Metz [Metz 1971] in which an insert (commercial, board with channel logotype, preview, tele-competition, world temperatures) is an exceptional and marginal figure which gets only into the range of the syntagmatical construction.

In respect of the aforementioned, people speak more and more about the overvaluation of the insert, and it seems that proper television shows have been put between them: “TV Polsat and TVN let the spectator forget about cell phones, insurance companies, hair dyes, crisps, coffee or yoghurt for a maximum of twenty mintues. That is the temporal quantum for the course of information different than commercials” [Fiołek-Lubczyńska 2002: 483]. The insert is responsible for the more and more serious, not only on television, “medial dispersion of imagination”, as Antoni Porczak has put it [Porczak 2004]. The modern man lives in a land of chaotically connected pieces which bomb his/her mind and of which the man should create a meaningful whole or at least pursue the construction of some sort of meaningful composition out of lapidaries.

Characteristics of Polish neotelevision paratexts. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, it was assumed that television presented the culture of stream and it was not dependent on “the logics of selling culture goods” [Casetti, Odin 1994: 119], such as books, concerts, CDs etc. Today, it seems that one may say that the logics of “stream” becomes common for television, but not typical. The effect of new (“Now arrived!”) and continuity (“Once more”!) is articulated the most often. Among the evidence on its development, we can enumerate the actions of publishers who try to tell us in paratexts that this is “the next of Paolo Coelho’s great novel”, “a new film of the Amelia creators, meanwhile “the following titles are being made… and they are appearing on the market soon”. Let us notice that there is a paradoxical situation being created in front of us: new in the field of something known, creation of values upon the splendor of the predecessor, and it is universally thought that every next element in a series of culture texts is usually worse. That is why there are so many ephemeral prints, posters, trailers, editorial notes. If one is, therefore, faithful to a television series, he or she should also be faithful to the publishing house, the series or to the author or the musical band. For maintaining this need, its continuous adorning, thorougly prepared escorting texts are responsible. It is true that one cannot maintain the “Now!” effect besides the media, meanwhile the structure of the publishing process allows to maintain the “It will be back again!” effect, the continuity. Very seldom are culture goods for individual recipients created, but publishers try to make the period of time between the issuing of one good and another one as short as possible. To this end, the illusion of paratexts is used. Such paratexts shout the following: “Soon, the new novel of Jerzy Pilch”. It shows that the only bought product is already in the past, meanwhile paratexts let us live in the future — which is of course better, richer, thus more advantageous for us.

Paratextuality, that is to say accompanying one text with another one, recommendation and their presentation, a sort of escort through the jungle of cultural goods is a common phenomenon nowadays. It is not only the domain of television. Other spheres of culture which also want to sell their texts cannot allow delays in informing and recommending their goods. It should be added that it is not a new phenomenon, it only augments along with the development of the human culture, especially of the writing Man. I tried to prove the continuity [Loewe 2006], and the evidence of numerous modern representations of paratexts are the analyses conducted in my monograph [Loewe 2007].

As we can observe on the basis of the presented set, a very similar repertoire of paratexts can be found in the press and the Internet as well as the radio and television where the order of adaptation was inversely proportional to the chronology of media creation. It is newspapers that adapted their front pages to website main pages, meanwhile radio has a schedule similar to the television one. Moreover, the field of paratextuality is elastic, and it has tendencies not only to diversifying changes, but also to the change leading to its enlargement. Only a couple of years ago on Polish television, for instance, there was no headline news between the news jingle and the full presentation of the programme by the anchorperson, meanwhile the flash as a separate television programme was tested some years ago by the Katowice regional channel. The flash had a state of a somehow independent television programme assured by its setup — before and after it, there was a block of commercials and a block of leads. For example, between the headline news there are no programme inserts apart from the jingle.

Let us come back to the definition of a paratext. Accustomed to the modernistic academic paradigm, or defining the borders of examined objects and the type of applied methodology, I recognize paratexts as texts which accompany base texts (book, press articles, radio audition) literally. In printed texts, they co-exist with them, meanwhile in oral texts, they anticipate them directly in the chronologocial order. A rich repertoire of what is created generally because of the existence of a given cultural text is not to be entailed with a single research method although it is discernible by a general participant of culture. I think here, for example, about a commercial of a television programme on the radio, in press, as a billboard, poster, cabaret programme based on the television text, gadgets produced for autopromoting purposes of such a television show, interviews about it in press, presentation of the biography of the author as a link on the website of a television channel, presentation of a song or a soundtrack of the television programme on the radio and many other examples of the life of the text life in culture from the first lead upon its existence until the maintaining of the interest in the programme depletes. It may be a sinusoidal interest — just as in case of the Milionerzy1 which started with the first season two years ago with all the above-mentioned postfabricates. Seasons moved along, and the postfabricates faded as well. It changed one more when a new season was opened with a new series of old postfabricates. The aforementioned situation concerns probably every seasonal television show. For this reason, I want to focus on paratexts, not on postfabricates.

1 A competition show similar to Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

© Iwona Loewe, 2015