The following quote is from: Richard Sennett, The Culture of the New Capitalism, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006) 58-9. It offers a sociological/cultural definition of authority, which is perhaps useful for our examination of authorship:
[…] Authority names a complex social process of dependency. A person possessed of authority differs from a tyrant, who deploys brute force to be obeyed. As Weber long ago observed, someone possessed of authority elicits voluntary obedience; his or her subjects believe in him. They may believe him to be harsh, cruel, unjust, but still, something more is present. People below come to rely on those above them. In charismatic forms of authority, those below believe that the authority figure will complete and enable what is incomplete and disabled in themselves; in bureaucratic forms of authority, they believe that institutions will take responsibility for them. […]
What’s interesting about this definition is that it points out the fact that people desire authority—it “elicits voluntary obedience.” We, as readers, expect and believe that we need the author(ity) to explain & guarantee the meaning/value of the work. Cutting away the author is to free the work from its primary signifier. Without this we are alone, tentative, fumbling. There is anxiety. There does not seem to be a goal.

I do not ask authority or authorship from the mug that I’m drinking coffee out of. Its specific function frees me of that anxiety. Can “use value” replace the author(ity) in art?

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