"Who says?" Argumentative Essay


Who says? I see the question as a much more extensive investigation of authorship and authority over the status quo. "Who says?" is asking who defines the meaning of the Mona Lisa. "Who says?" is asking who mandates the architectural style of government buildings. "Who says?" is asking who has the power within society. For me, the question of "who says?" doesn't have one linear or binary answer. The question prescribes responses and interpretations that split and intermingle between higher truths and lower truths. These higher and lower truths can be seen as separate and entangled within each other, almost as if it's a loose knot. I define the split by the top half representing the higher truths which are more philosophical. These higher-level truths are a matter of discovery and not creation. For this instance, no one entity says anything; in fact, no one "says". A framework is just facilitated that gets interpreted. Now, the bottom truths, the created portion (the contingency of language), "who says?" is answered by the dominant culture or establishment. 

Within the area classified as bottom truths (created truths), authority and authorship are granted by the dominant establishment. A few examples of what can be seen as created truths are capitalism, racism, and the patriarchy. To fully understand this relationship, you must look at the repercussions of such association. Due to the establishment's influence, you begin to get a culture where we live within a binary. We get a culture where we worship only one truth—when in reality, truth is a construct. We also get a culture where the language is seen as black and white. (the contingency of language) Continuing with language, one begins to see the direct repercussions of the relationship by the implicit biases and innate prejudices within a language. In the U.S, the dominant establishment dictates what is "Standard American English", which are the grammar rules and pronunciation that people must follow. Consequently, people who speak English differently due to accent, cadence, etc., are seen as uneducated and/or lesser than within society.(Wallace) Keeping that in mind, you would think there must be some correlation between language and intelligence. However, there is no actual correlation between an individual's accent and their intelligence; it's just due to the establishment's influence of their created truths prejudices are formed. (Northern = smart and Southern = nice: The development of accent attitudes in the United States) 

Now let's discuss who has the authority over the higher truths, the truth over the world based on discovery. Here, no one entity says anything. In fact, no one "says". A framework is just facilitated that gets interpreted. So, the author doesn't actually command anything. The author provides a structure in which the reader gains control by being the destination. (The death of the author) Within the context of "Death of the Author" by  Roland Barthes, "consumption" is an excellent point of discussion. Who has authority over the meaning of abstract modernist oil painting? Some would say it's the Artist because of the plaque on the side defining it. In reality, it's the consumer of such canvas who prescribes their definition onto what they believe it means.

Another great example is in architecture, simply stated, Peter Eisenman likes to play with deconstruction within his buildings and designs. From his perspective, putting a steel column grid running through stairs is a thought-proking design choice. However, for many of the tenants who walk the Wexner Center for the Arts on Campus stairs, they would consider it an inconvenience. From this example, you can see how a literal framework is provided that, in return, is deciphered. 

To conclude, you may question the very choice to split the definition of “who says?”I did this because, in reality, truth is just an interpretation (Suzan Sontag). As I stated previously, the question of "who says?" prescribes responses and interpretations that split and intermingle between higher truths and lower truths. In many ways, this split can be an expression of the same truth. So, is it possible for the dominant authority to be the "one saying"? Yes. Is it possible for it to just be a framework? Yes. Finally, is it possible for both to exist for the same truth? Yes. Truth, due to its very nature, is subjective and can’t always fit within a binary. So, because of its intrinsic qualities, the classification of its authority can be argued for based on ones reality and network of beliefs/desires.  (the contingency of language)

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