Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Author assertion vs interpretive consensus

Jeff Goldstein:
One of the hobby horses of this site has been my recurring critique [criticism] of “meaning” as a function of interpretive consensus (itself a rather lazy extension of meaning as a function of convention) — an epistemological maneuver that I’ve argued is incoherent outside of its end game, which is to control narratives, and in so doing, to seize power by way of deciding and policing identity claims.

In plainer language, if there is question about the proper interpretation of an author's (or speaker's) words: then the author's assertion of what their words meant is privileged more than someone else's assertion of what their words meant.

Which is not to say the author might not be lying, b/c the author certainly might be lying. The author's assertion is privileged; it is not unquestioned truth. Which is to say: given equally unprovable assertions on the part of the author and on the part of those asserting interpretive consensus, i.e. given the presence of equally plausible evidence on both sides, the author deserves privilege and benefit of the doubt. Interpretive consensus does not deserve benefit of the doubt; does not deserve status as more highly plausible.

Good examples of authors' assertions of what their words meant... vs ...interpretive consensus are the several scandals which erupted over public use of the word "niggardly".

A good example of an author who is now lying about the original meaning of his words: Congressman Hank Johnson, D-GA, now says he was speaking metaphorically when he asserted his fear that the island of Guam might tip over. At a shallow glance, I was inclined to believe Congressman Johnson, D-GA . However, upon closer inspection, his words plainly reveal him to be a liar. One can only believe he was speaking metaphorically if one fails to look at what he said, or if one does not speak English. http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/04/025976.php


I have found, in matters of interpretive consensus and politically correct accusation: accusers mostly prefer to invoke generalizations, and mostly shy away from of case-specific evidence. Further, most accusers are conducting political warfare, and are not searching for truth. It's difficult to really let this sink into my bones: they do not care about case-specific evidence; they do not care about truth. I can say it, yet it's hard to internalize it and then to keep it internalized. Their purpose is to use generalization as ammunition, attack as tactic, and to conduct political warfare. I tell myself this, yet continually slip back into an unconscious habit of believing their purpose is to suss out truth. It is not. They are conducting political warfare. They are at war.* If I don't realize it, then I am a chump.


Did you know that large, naturally occurring floating islands do exist?
When they occur naturally they are sometimes referred to as tussocks, floatons, or sudds. Natural floating islands are composed of vegetation growing on a buoyant mat consisting of plant roots or other organic detritus. Some cenotes in northern Mexico have natural floating islands.

They typically occur when growths of cattails, bulrush, sedge, and reeds extend outward from the shoreline of a wetland area. As the water gets deeper the roots no longer reach the bottom, so they use the oxygen in their root mass for buoyancy, and the surrounding vegetation for support to retain their top-side-up orientation.
Also: artificial floating islands exist
Floating artificial islands are generally made of bundled reeds, and the best known examples are those of the Uros people of Lake Titicaca, Peru, who build their villages upon what are in effect huge rafts of bundled totora reeds. The Uros originally created their islands to prevent attacks by their more aggressive neighbours, the Incas and Collas.


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