Hermeneutical Symmetries

I have been following the postings of José Angel García Landa at the Humanities Commons Narrative Theory and Narratology site. One posting brought me to rethink again the status of the relation between narration and description:


To the temporal preoccupations stated there I attached a link to the world-game-narrative posting on Berneval.

The temporal aspect of narration allows us to approach the description/narration relations from another angle:


A widened understanding of narration (that includes acts of description) allows us to see narration as the process that generates world, game and narrative. Narrativity is the potential, narration is the (temporal) process and world, game or narrative are the products (figurations).

I want to explore more.

Narration in a material sense consists of Description, Deposition, Disposition.

These three (Description, Deposition, Disposition) are material practices akin to the three different types of mimesis outlined in Paul Ricoeur’s Time and Narrative: refigure, configure, prefigure. I have reversed their usual order of presentation. Ricoeur is centred on the creation of texts from an authorial prefiguring through the configuring in the act of reading and finally the refiguring of the reader’s own self. In a world of endless semiosis the trajectories need not follow this singular path. A refiguring of the self-in-relation can prefigure a novel configuration.

Description is oriented outward and disposition is inner-directed. Description could be related to pre- or re-figuration. The deposition is what we find in configuration.

In a network, each node is an opportunity to devote attention narration and thus move to world making, game playing or storytelling.

And so for day 2854

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Sails: White and Blue

These concluding lines from Linda Pastan “Last Rites” Paris Review Issue no. 207 (Winter 2013)

What’s left is a blur
of sky where the weather
rehearses its own finales.
What’s left is blue emptiness
behind the white sail
of the nurse’s starched cap,
steering her out to sea.

remind me of Ian Hamilton Finlay



Of course the similarity is but a faint echo… appropriate for quiet exits.

And so for day 2884

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Slip Sliding

John Berger on Cy Twombly as quoted by Peter Schwenger Asemic: The Art of Writing (p. 49)

He doesn’t see language with the readability and clarity of something printed out. He sees it, rather as a terrain full of illegibilities, hidden paths, impasses, surprises, and obscurities. . . . Its obscurities, its lost senses, its self-effacement come about for many reasons — because of the way words modify each other, write themselves over each other, cancel one another out, because the unsaid always counts for as much or more, than the said, and because language can never cover what it signifies. (45).

Isn’t that startling?

John Berger. “Post-scriptum” in Audible Silence: Cy Twombly at Daros edited by Eva Keller and Regula Malin (Zurich: Scalo, 2002)

And so for day 2883

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Loving the Loafer

James Thurber
“The Courtship of Arthur and Al”
Fables for Our Time

They are two beavers. One is industrious and constantly working; the other, eats, swims and plays. The one “died without ever having had a vacation in his life.” The other continued to eat, swim and play and “had a long life with a Wonderful Time.” The other is the one who’s marriage proposition is turned down hence the moral offered by Thurber: “It is better to have loafed and lost than never to have loafed at all.”

And so for day 2882

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Picnic Spread

Alain Le Foll illustrator. French Favourites (1969)

Alain Le Foll illustration from French Favourites - a picnic scene

Two page spread from a small (67 p. ; 15 cm.) but enticing cookbook.

Many of the illustrations like the recipes themselves open expansive spaces beyond the borders of the page.

And so for day 2881

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One Two Three Tao

Ursula K. Le Guin

Comment on #16 Returning to the Root

in her translation of the Tao Te Ching

To those who will not admit morality without a deity to validate it, or spirituality of which man is not the measure, the firmness of Lao Tzu’s morality and the sweetness of his spiritual counsel must seem incomprehensible, or illegitimate, or very troubling indeed.

Redoubtable tricolon.

And so for day 2880

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The Rules of Play

Kate Raworth
“Get Savvy with Systems”
Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist

Worth quoting at length this capsule history of the Monopoly board game.

The game’s inventor, Elizabeth Magie, was an outspoken supporter of Henry George‘s ideas, and when she first created her game in 1903, she gave it two very different sets of rules to be played in turn. Under the ‘Prosperity’ set of rules, every player gained each time someone acquired a new property (echoing George’s call for a land value tax), and the game was won (by all) when the player who had started out with the least money had doubled it. Under the second, ‘Monopolist’ set of rules, players gained by charging rent to those who were unfortunate enough to land on their properties — and whoever, managed to bankrupt the rest was the sole winner. The purpose of the dual sets of rules, said Magie, was for players to experience a ‘practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences’ and so understand how different approaches to property ownership can lead to vastly different social outcomes. ‘It might well have been called “The Game of Life”, remarked Magie, ‘as it contains all the elements of success and failure in the real world.’ But when the games manufacturer, Parker Brothers, bought the patent for The Landlord’s Game from Magie in the 1930s, they relaunched it simply as Monopoly and provided the eager public with just one set of rules: those that celebrate the triumph of one over all.

Summarized from a New York Times article by Mary Pilon author of
The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game – a history worth circulating.

And so for day 2879

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Counting What Counts

Kate Raworth
Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist

I like the shift from the spoken to the thought captured in a neat tricolon:

Economics is the mother tongue of public policy, the language of public life and the mindset that shapes society.

Makes one want to pay attention.

And so for day 2878

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Timed Twined

egg-bearing time
knitting a nest
from another time

le temps ovipare
d’un autre temps

I first came to these lines and attempted a translation through the work of Tara Collington. “Le nid du temps : le chronotope créateur dans Lithochronos ou Le premier vol de la pierre d’Andrée Christensen et Jacques Flamand” in L’espace-temps dans les littératures périphériques du Canada. She reads this image and text collaboration in the light of Bakhtin’s notion of the chronotope. She arrives at the conclusion that the the creator-creating-chronotope (chronotope créateur) enfolds more than one temporality. This chimes in perfectly with Flamand’s and Christensen’s attention to the different time series of the stone and of the disintigrating bird carcass which cross in the figure of the nest and with the different time series of authoring and of reading enfolded in the creation. Collington writes: “Ce n’est pas la nuit des temps, mais plutôt le nid de temps, un espace-temps créateur qui donne naissance à quelque chose.” The homophonic play between “nuit” and “nid” that she detects invites the reader to meditate on the imbricated times that the poetic text figures. An so with entwined times twisting in my head, I attempted a translation:

le temps ovipare
d’un autre temps

egg-bearing time
knitting a nest
from another time

And so for day 2877

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Cookbook Store Ephemera

One I used to frequent. And one I would enjoy to visit.

bookmarker - cookbook store - 10th anniversary - torontoBookmarker - Books 4 Cooks - hours side - rolling pin shapeBookmarker - Books 4 Cooks - map side - rolling pin shape

I do like the rolling pin shape of the Books for Cooks marker.

And so for day 2876

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Amateurs and Authorities

Edward Said,
Reith Lectures 1993: Representations of an Intellectual
Lecture 4: Professionals and Amateurs
Broadcast: 2 August 1993 – BBC Radio 4

The final paragraphs — inviting us to think about authority and audience:

Therefore, the problem for the intellectual is to try to deal with the impingements of modern professionalisation as I have been discussing them, not by pretending that they are not there or denying their influence, but by representing a different set of values and prerogatives. These I shall collect under the name of amateurism, literally, an activity that is fuelled by care and affection rather than by profit, and selfish, narrow specialisation.

An amateur is what today the intellectual ought to be, someone who considers that to be a thinking and concerned member of a society one is entitled to raise moral issues at the heart of even the most technical and professionalised activity as it involve one’s country, its power, its mode of interacting with its citizens as well as with other societies. In addition, the intellectual’s spirit as an amateur can enter and transform the merely professional routine most of us go through into something much more lively and radical; instead of doing what one is supposed to do one can ask why one does it, who benefits from it, how can it reconnect with a personal project and original thought.

Every intellectual has an audience and a constituency. The issue is whether that audience is there to be satisfied, and hence a client to be kept happy, or whether it is there to be challenged, and hence stirred into outright opposition, or mobilised into greater democratic participation in the society. But in either case, there is no getting around authority and power, and no getting around the intellectual’s relationship to them. How does the intellectual address authority: as a professional supplicant, or as its unrewarded, amateurish conscience?

Seems to call for a complementary notion of an “amateur audience” — informed, engaged and committed to an ethos of care.

And so for day 2875

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