Saturday, March 23, 2002

Resoluiton: write more.
exit the safe padded cell of academic prose.
humiliate myself splendorously and more frequently.

i have been living safely, driven by safety's hero--fear.
fear has been my bathrobe since i rid myself of the grimy funk that bathed me last semester--
half sick half stressed and scattered, i blindly flailed, grasping for the ari i loved and remembered vividly.
it took me a semester to find him--or at least a close relation with all the important qualities.
after my recovery, i remember the blind flailing and grimy funk and i was scared.
and i am scared.
i have written one article for the indy.
i have blogged carelessly and casually, casually toe-ing hotspring water to little effect.

i will begin this project with quantity. discipline will take this form first. I will try and free myself in the process--this will be messy. very little writing in this journal will communicate effectively, sharpfully. Certainly nothing will be artful. that does not concern me. i hold myself here, on my distant planet, accountable to no one but myself, so i need no one else other than myself to excuse myself myself.

a note on definitions: i reject samuel jacobson's championship of the dictionary. words don't come from the dictionary, nor are they laid to rest there. i suspect words. are they any more than a composite of associations?
what is a chair? something people sit on. If I lie down on a chair is it still a chair? If I sit on a table is it no longer a table?
kundera's dictionary of misunderstanding explains this much more effectively and artfully than i can.
but that is not a concern for me. clearly my goal is not to outwrite kundera. nothing could be further from my goals.
postulate 1: we learn words by hearing them in multiple contexts, and assigning them meaning based on those contexts.
postulate 2: each person will have unique contextual two people have the same experiences. no two people will encounter words in the exact same contexts.

proposition: words have different meanings for different people.

--Composite context defines words (postulate 1). Every person encounters words in different contexts (postulate 2). Therefore, words will be defined differently by different people.

proposition 2: the meaning of words changes constantly.
why? we are continually encountering words in different contexts. each new contextual encounter modifies a word's meaning.

proposition 3: the extent to which any word's meaning is dynamic within a person or between people depends upon the variance of its contexts.

example: take the word "spoon": there is very little confusion among people about what a spoon is. Everyone essentially agrees. You ask someone to pass you a spoon confident they're not going to pass you a fork. Why? because almost any person who has encountered the word spoon has encountered it amongst people who define it in essentially the same way, by essentially the same qualities, and in essentially the same contexts. imagine, though, if a child was raised in a community that called an eating utensil with four prongs and a handle "spoon." What we call a fork would then be called a spoon. Or supposed "spoon" became used to refer to an extreme style of dancing, or horsegrooming. This rarely happens, so there is little confusion over the meaning of spoons. But sit at a table with four people and ask them to define God and who knows what kind of different answers you will get. The more similar the past contexts in which people encountered the word God, the more similar their definitions.

sigh. enough shitting into my blog for now. more soon.