As expressed throughout the semester through the complex and varying ideologies of many scholars explored, the exact definition a text has yet to be defined. I believe that the ambiguity of this term is in part due to the vast array of uses of text in a wide range of contexts. Perhaps instead of trying to define text, we should think critically about a world sans the existence of text. What is lost? To begin with, the majority of language. Although it is possible that our culture could depend on physical forms of expression such as body language to communicate, the depth and complexity of this type of language can’t possibly compare to what we have constructed with the availability of text. But the list continues, because without a definite language there is very little that can be expressed.
According to the works we have studied, a text may be digital or physical, oral or literary, ephemeral or long-lived. It may involve a process beyond what our eyes can see. Its existence usually depends on the medium it is being expressed upon. Texts are multi-meaningful and complicated. They may be reformulated, transcribed, or remediated. Texts can come to life; be displayed through visuals such as film or portrait. They may be written, read, and shared. They may be abstractly analyzed as data. A text is artful.
Clearly, a text can take on a number of different jobs and forms, which is why most definitions of text become invalid because they cannot accurately portray all of these functions. In addition to these varying elements of a text, the ways in which they make meaning also vary. According to McGann, change is the only law of text. Because texts are determined by social and material circumstances, which are both continuously shifting factors, text is always changing. I feel as if McGann has the greatest grasp on the indistinguishable conception of text by adhering to the “textual condition;” in layman’s terms, the 5 Ws. The only way one can begin to define a text is to first distinguish who is using it, under what condition is it being used, when and where is it being used, and of course why it is being used. This is not a clear-cut answer to the question of what is a text, but a text is not a clear-cut thing; it is extremely conditional.
I hope that my explanations of concepts of textuality listed here on this final portfolio blog can lead a reader to grasp a better understanding of the the multidimensionality of text, and begin to realize the huge scope of things, for lack of a better word, that depend upon the functions of text. Not just tangible things, but things in abstraction as well, as we have been alluding to all semester long.