(urth) Urth Digest, Vol 53, Issue 59

Chris P rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 3 15:55:57 PST 2009

There is wiggle-room for interpretation, but generally interpretation is supposed to stay close to the original intention of the speaker or at least not contradict it without absolute necessity. This may sound nitpicky but without it you get "radical" interpretation where everything can mean anything you want at any time.

I could basically use the same form of argument you used there to say that well, to me in my belief system, calling someone "Christ" or "Christ-like" is the same as saying that they are Richard Nixon. Thus you can't argue that my interpretation of BotNS as a retelling of the Watergate story without privileging an interpretation based on Wolfe's religious beliefs, right?

"When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set." -- Lin Yutang

> Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2009 18:42:16 -0500
> From: dstockhoff at verizon.net
> To: urth at lists.urth.net
> Subject: Re: (urth) Urth Digest, Vol 53, Issue 59
> Dan'l
> Frankly, the way you appoint yourself Guardian of the Sacred Texts rubs me the wrong way. Besides, it's a cliche that such Guardians often turn out to have been protecting only their own parochial perspectives and interpretations, not the Texts themselves. So why bother?
> This is where we disagree: "As a result, it is legitimate to say that Severian is "Christ-like," but
> not to say that he is "a Christ." "
> Logically, that rule can only legitimately operate within Wolfe's belief system. Since I don't operate or observe from within Wolfe's belief system, I don't have to follow it. I am free to use ordinary terms in their ordinary senses.
> The only way there can be a difference between these 2 statements is if you accept Wolfe's beliefs, essentially, as your own, as the basis of your critical process---as unquestioned assumptions made before you even start thinking about his works. To me, there is no difference, and if I can see no difference while I acknowledge---and factor into my analysis---that Wolfe sees a difference, then I do no violence to Wolfe's work. 
> Indeed, I can put Wolfe's apparent beliefs on and off like a hat, just as though I were reading any mythological literature from an alien civilization that I don't and can't entirely understand and whose basic beliefs I don't share. This is an especially important point in light of Wolfe's own tearing down and building up of other people's mythologies. All he does is privilege a certain interpretation of a literary or mythological figure. So what?
> It's s subtle distinction, I suppose, but it means a lot to me, and therefore I ask you (and brunians) to respect it and not peremptorily demand that I or anyone else bow to any belief system. 
> To summarize, I don't have a problem with Wolfe as a privileged interpreter of his own work---but he can be wrong. And so can his interpreters.
> David
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 15:55:57 -0800
> From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" <danldo at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: (urth) Silk corrupted?
> To: The Urth Mailing List <urth at lists.urth.net>
> Message-ID:
> 	<1f7617370901221555l6ffc9d9ft1213041e835c0b1 at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> On Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 3:45 PM, David Stockhoff <dstockhoff at verizon.net> wrote:
> > > These are 2 separate ideas: (1)
> > >
> > > What is key here is that we are interpreting a work by a writer who
> > > takes the position that Jesus was a unique historical figure, the sole
> > > Theoanthropos and Redeemer, an event which will not and *can* not
> > > be repeated. This is *Wolfe's* position,
> > > and
> > > (2)
> > >
> > > to interpret his work in a way that violates this position is to do that
> > > work a violence which I cannot condone.
> > >
> > > _I_ do not _accept_ Wolfe's position. I _acknowledge_ Wolfe's position. This
> > > is my point.
> >   
> We are in agreement so far. It is necessary, in interpreting Wolfe's
> work, to acknowledge his positions. To do otherwise is to
> wilfully misinterpret.
> > > And it hardly does violence to anything except certain people's
> > > assumptions---which I reject _as assumptions_. Especially assumptions to be
> > > forced on the debate as though they were _facts_. Do you see the difference?
> >   
> I do indeed. It is an *assumption* (or a belief) that Jesus is the unique
> etc. It is a *fact* that Wolfe takes this assumption as a starting point
> for his work. This fact should always be taken into account when
> interpreting relevant aspects of his work.
> As a result, it is legitimate to say that Severian is "Christ-like," but
> not to say that he is "a Christ." The former fits the writer's
> intent and assumptions; the latter does not. Unless you take an
> extreme postmodernist "death of the author" point of view -- with
> which I have very little sympathy, though I _do_ believe that the
> text is the text and the author is not a privileged interpreter --
> anyway, unless you take that position, saying that Severian is
> "a Christ" is precisely what I say: a violence against Wolfe's work.
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