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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In tracing a web site from a URL from a piece of ephemera, I realized that the effort to build a community of likemindedness routed itself via belief. But when I reviewed the inspiring words, they did not reference acts of belief.

Led me to contemplate how “believing” is often wedged between “knowing” and “being” (“doing”).

If one were to lay out the states of mind along the syntagm of say a Bildungsroman, one would have the following schema:

knowing — believing — being — doing

In our Bildungsroman scenario, believing seems to me to be a hurdle. It represents a significant investment of mental energy. Could there be a metafictional moment where the wedge of believing is dislodged? In its place would be an imagination driven by hypothesis: asking “what if” and testing the results. Minimal investments but it seems that such a fictional world that is constantly tested would be more precarious than one built upon belief. There seems to be in inverse curve between investment and stability.

In our Bildungsroman scenario is there a potential moebius reversibility to the narrative syntagm?

believing — knowing — doing — being

A re-lodging as a way of addressing the precarity triggered by a total dislodging?

There’s a lot of fiction to read (or write) before figuring this one out. A significant investment.

And so for day 2853

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Galvanizing Jack

From the period following Jack Layton’s death: name sticker inviting the wearer to identify as believing in love, hope and optimism.

In the New Democratic Party orange …

Hello my name is ... and I believe in love, hope and optimism

Name sticker / advert circulating in wake of Jack Layton’s death

The web site referenced by the URL is now defunct but parts are available through the Wayback Machine:


We learn that this was designed by marketers:

FreeFlow Marketing is a Toronto based Internet Marketing Company that is helping us bring this community online. Pulp & Fiber helped us create and print all of the stickers you see being handed out across the city. Without the generosity of these two companies, this just wouldn’t be possible!

The name sticker is but a piece of ephemera. The portal to the online community defunct. The words that triggered the campaign and sail beyond its heyday …

Quoted on the front page of The Globe and Mail (August 23, 2011)

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Cover of The Globe and Mail - August 23, 2011

You don’t need to believe. You need to be.

And so for day 2852

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National Temperaments

Waverley Root
The Food of Italy

“What is the basic difference between French and Italian cooking?” Enrico Galozzi, the noted Italian gastronomic expert, echoed my question. “French cooking is formalized, technical and scientific. Order Béarnaise sauce in 200 different French restaurants and you will get exactly the same sauce 200 times. Ask for Bolognese sauce in 200 different Italian restaurants and you will get 200 different versions of ragù.”

Is this observation still relevant today?

And so for day 2851

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Lifting Lines, Shuffling Words, Plucking Strings

one of those haiku moments aided by the disposition of the longer text into couplets

in the closet full
of guitars and stomped hay

Gillian Conoley
“We Don’t Have to Share a Fate”
from the book A Little More Red Sun on the Human: New & Selected Poems

the startling visual impact of the lines is attributable in part to an early exposure to film:

Film was my first experience of art. As a writer, I envy film’s ability to immediately draw us in to a world that looks so much like the one we walk in.


the mind is arrested and reels back:

guitars, stomped hay, closet full

And so for day 2850

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Banquet Hunger

Alan Jacobs
Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind

In his book Jacobs offers a reading of Kipling’s poem “The Gods of the Copybook Headings

Here are two extracts from Jacobs’s book that would make good headings for a future copybook:

Wisdom lies in discernment, and utopianism and nostalgia alike are ways of abandoning discernment.

Breaking bread with the dead is not a scholarly task to be completed but a permanent banquet, to which all who hunger are invited.

Perhaps not enough to satiate a monstrous banquet-hunger but surely enough to furnish the fixings for a good picnic for those with frugal discernment.

And so for day 2849

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Crumbs of Metadata

A habit I picked up from my parents: recycling paper by cutting up sheets with printing or writing on one side but blank on the other. The tearing up is meditative and bonus it creates a stack of slips great for note taking while reading or jotting down a shopping list.

And sometimes one grows curious about the traces left by this practice. Note part of a title, part of a call number and a publication date on this example:

Foodways G635 2018 -- a scrap

Part of a title
Part of a call number
A publication year

A quick online search restores the reference:

Metadata with highlights - Foodways G635 2018

Google Books – screenshot of metadata

This appears to be a reference work I consulted in my search for the origin of “sugar bones” and Yiddish connections to this appellation.

Searching for the Origin of Sugar Bones

Still amazed by the robustness of the metadata structures that allowed for the recuperation of a full reference from three small elements.

And so for day 2848

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Akwaeke Emezi

But when realities diverged and you found yourself on a different path from people you used to share a path with … well. Masks were useful then; not quite lies, not quite truths. Just decisions about what to be and what to show. Curation.

I like how the passage oscillates between competing approaches to social interaction, alternating between truth-telling or truth-concealing. And finally opts for context-sensitive tactics by landing on the all encompassing word: curation.

And so for day 2847

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Blind Spot: The Backstory on Night Writing

Naomi S. Baron
Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World

Touch is obviously a critical component of reading for people using Braille. Those raised dots representing letters of the alphabet have an interesting backstory. While it was Louis Braille who in 1824 created the system currently used for making written text accessible to those with visual impairment, we have a French army captain to thank for the idea. In response to a demand from Napoleon to devise a system enabling soldiers to read messages in the dark without needing light. Charles Barbier de la Serre invented “night writing,” a system based on twelve raised dots.

And so for day 2846

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Cues for Search and Rescue

rupi kaur
the sun and her flowers

on the particularities of nostalgia

leaving her country
was not easy for my mother
i still catch her searching for it
in foreign films
and the international food aisle

And so for day 2845

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