Rhetoric and the art of Collaborative Discussion

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Re: Rhetoric and the art of Collaborative Discussion

Postby dada » Fri Apr 23, 2021 2:38 pm

Free associating from the mRNA thread. Making a point about the difference between dialectic and hermeneutic thinking. Feel like it is generally relevant to the disscussion of discussion.

Beginning with this quote. I haven't read the book, the quote is from the wikipedia entry for Symplegades:

"The New Critic I. A. Richards refers to 'Symplegades' in his work Practical Criticism. In Chapter 2, 'Figurative Language', he refers to dangers of misinterpretation in reading poems: "These twin dangers - careless, 'intuitive' reading and prosaic, 'over-literal' reading - are the Symplegades, the 'justling rocks', between which too many ventures into poetry are wrecked.""

My argument is that the twin dangers are the 'prosaic, over-literal reading,' and the placing of intuitive reading on a level with the literal, building a dialectic between the two. Forcing the dialectic has the effect of muting the intuitive reading, or creates doubt in the reader of their own intuition. Both interrupt the understanding of poetry, which is intuitive.

The mistake is in considering a literal reading to be an interpretation, when it is actually just a reading with no interpretation at all. I'll use a little story that everyone is familiar with to show what I mean. Dog with a bone on a bridge, sees his reflection in the water. Dog barks at the reflection, dropping the bone in the water.

In a literal reading, dog = dog, bone = bone, bridge = bridge. There is no interpretation. Interpretation begins with the intuition that the story elements are symbols, telling a story about greed or something. The dog gets greedy, wants the other bone, now it has none.

But to stop there is just to transpose the literal reading to this symbolic interpretation. Maybe we could say that the story is now thought to be 'literally symbolic.' Further interpretation requires another intuitive leap.

Intuitively, the story is next interpreted as some kind of lesson. I understand the dog, see the dog's action reflected in me. I conclude that it is wiser to not be like the dog. So the intuitive leap is to the story interpreted as an invitation to self-reflection.

The dog self-reflects and doesn't realize it is looking at its own reflection, takes the image literally. Mistakes its self-reflection for another dog with another bone. Being a dog, we can't really blame it for losing its bone in the water. Maybe we have compassion for the poor dopey dog.

Taking it further, I see the bone itself as the literal reading. When I self-reflect, I drop the literal reading in the water. And the successive layers of interpretation are all a direct result of an intuitive reading.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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