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Archive for May, 2012

Wallace Stegner on Profanity

Posted by Remy on May 25, 2012

“Words are not obscene: naming things is a legitimate verbal act. And “frank” does not mean “vulgar,” any more than “improper” means “dirty.” What vulgar does mean is “common”; what improper means is “unsuitable.” Under the right circumstances, any word is proper. But when any sort of word, especially a word hitherto taboo and therefore noticeable, is scattered across a page like chocolate chips through a tollhouse cookie, a real impropriety occurs. The sin is not the use of an “obscene” word; it is the use of a loaded word in the wrong place or in the wrong quantity.”

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Joel Weinsheimer : On Metaphors

Posted by Remy on May 25, 2012

“If thought is indivisible from language, then thought is more fundamentally metaphorical rather than logical. . . . Metaphor, by contrast, consists in a reversible, oscillating, circular movement.  If pages are like leaves, then leaves are also like pages. Each sets up a resonance in the other, thereby leveling the hierarchy.  Whereas induction and deduction are vertical models of thought, concerned with the ‘higher’ universal and the ‘lower’ particular, metaphorical transference operates horizontally.  Like the iconic relation of existent to existent, or the emanation of the real from the real, metaphor connects two things on the same plane.  To say that a table has legs does not subsume it to the body; to say that the human body has a trunk does not abstract something common to it and a tree.  Neither descending nor ascending, neither subsumption nor abstraction, metaphor is a lateral movement.  Like deduction, metaphor begins with a concept, but the concept is changed by the transferred application; like induction, it ends with a new concept, but by the metamorphosis of a previous one.  Because it is horizontal, metaphor flattens out the difference between particular and general, unfamiliar and familiar. . . . even in such defamiliarizing tranferences as ‘the pages of the tree,’ the unique appeals back to the familiar and the singular to the common.”

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Stuart Firestein : On Facts

Posted by Remy on May 23, 2012

“As I began to think about it, I realized that, contrary to popular view, scientists don’t really care that much about facts. We recognize that facts are the most unreliable part of the whole operation. They don’t last, they’re always under revision. Whatever fact you seemed to have uncovered is likely to be revised by the next generation. That’s the difference between science and many other endeavors.  Science revels in revision. For science, revision is a victory. In religion, or astrology, or any other belief system, revision is a kind of defeat. You were supposed to have known the answer to this. But the joy of science is that it’s about revision.”

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Peter Leithart on Scripture

Posted by Remy on May 18, 2012

“Treating Scripture as a directory of moral lessons or compendium of moral rules assumes a constricted view of moral practice and reasoning. We don’t pursue virtue simply by applying general principles to particular situations, and true morality is never simply obedience to commandments. Practical morality requires the ability to assess situations accurately, memory of our own past patterns of action and of others’ inspiring examples, and enough moral imagination to see how a potential tragedy might become the birthplace of unforeseen comedy.”

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N.D. Wilson on Critiquing Stories

Posted by Remy on May 17, 2012

“One final thought: never read or watch a story like a passive recipient, enjoying something in a visceral way and then retroactively trying to project deeper value or meaning onto the story you’ve already ingested. Such projections have been making authors and directors seem more intelligent than they are for decades. As you watch, as you read, shoulder your way into the creator’s chair. Don’t take the final product for granted, analyze the creator’s choices and cheerfully push them in new and different directions. As we do this, the clarity of our criticism will grow immensely.”

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Father Hunger : Douglas Wilson

Posted by Remy on May 3, 2012

With a deft theological hand Douglas Wilson weaves fatherhood and atheism into a digressive encomium of love in a variety of roles, God to man, husband to wife, father to child. The breadth of topics covered by Wilson is impressive, everything from abortion to capitalism, to gender roles; all written in the bombastic style that wins him both friends and enemies. Rigorously pastoral, insightful and full of talking points, I found myself surprised and delighted and even at times confused and squinty-eyed, which are things I most find valuable in a book like this.

I see little doubt that this is one of the great challenges of the future and Father Hunger is an excellent starting point in moving forward.

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