I am recently writing the history of opera in Korea from 2008-2017 as one of the authors of <70th anniversary of Korea Opera> which will be published in February next year. The numerous opera-related historical materials seemed to inspire me to think about some part of the theory of Stanley Fish, disappearing text.
As Everything that I know about his theory is from the book, Reception Theory (1984) by Robert C. Holub, I should examine his theory thoroughly to identify if my idea is on the right track, and if I could develop my thought.
His theory is quite old, and the reception theory is no longer a major concern of academia anymore. But if I look more closely at the relevant studies, I might find someone who has already theorized this or might realize that I was wrong.
Anyway, as I recently do not have enough time to deal with this issue, I keep a record of my thought and save this for next time.
Reception theory presented by Fish focuses on the problem of the work and the reader and considers that the meaning of a work dilutes over time. However, his theory seems not yet consider the problem of the work and the reader when the work is imported into other cultures.
I believe that when a work enters a different culture, its context is greatly distorted in the early stage. But after this stage, such distortion is remarkably reduced.
It is similar to this situation. Suppose a scratch paper which was produced in culture A. This paper is going to enter B culture. But the door to B culture tiny, so the paper cannot enter B culture without detriment. To enter B, the paper must be completely wrinkled. If people living in B culture does not take an interest in the paper, it will remain crumpled. However, if it continuously receives attention from people in B culture, it is gradually unfolded.
If so, will the paper be as clean as it was before entering B culture? Of course not. No matter how hard you try to recover, the wrinkled marks do not disappear. What happens over time? Over time, it will be different from the paper before entering B culture. It is because the paper is old. People do paper preservation work under the name of ‘reinterpretation.’ And if the A and B cultures are constantly interested in conservation work, the two papers will gradually become more and more similar to each other. For example, the Japanese interpretation of Verdi opera is more similar to that of the West today than Korea. Let us consider another example of the Greek classics, which already had been worn and crumpled before entering Korea. It seems that the adaptation of Greek classics in Korean plays or Changgeuk (唱劇) is not much different from that in Western countries. (confirmation required) On the other hand, in the case of Verdi opera, there are different early receptions for each country. In Korea, there are still differences from the reception of opera composed by Verdi, but the Korean reception is gradually becoming similar to that of the West.
Is this a process where a text is constantly disappearing over time? I do not think so. When conservation work is ongoing, the paper can be changed. But it does not mean the paper is disappearing. When the text disappears is, the preservation work no longer exists. The paper is eventually rotten away.