Wednesday, March 04, 2009


You can't read this sentence the same way twice. I take that as axiomatic, but not incontrovertible, and assuredly not the last word on the matter. My position is that the written word is a cue (quando) to performance. That's what reading is, a performance. Reading accomplishes what the written symbols merely denote. It furnishes (parfournir). It completes. The verbality of writing isn't verbality in the absence of reading.

We should envisage the possibility that our present common understanding of repetition may be molded by our cultural circumstances, in particular conditions of intellectual production, and not properly substitutable for archaic or simply different ways of thinking about repetition. Ong would have us imagine a "noetic world opened by exactly repeatable visual statement and correspondingly exact verbal description of physical reality" (p. 127). I also take it as axiomatic that a person can think beyond or outside the noetic world that's been bequeathed to them. People have some ability to form their own habits of thought, notwithstanding the hazards of idiocy (idiolecticality, idiophrenesis, idiosyncracies of various sorts). Thus it is not completely surprising that philosophers have come upon alternatives to the common understanding of repetition (religious repetition, clothed repetition) and have even gone so far as to express doubts about the very existence of repetition. You can't fool all of the people all of the time. Even Ong, who doesn't seem to credit individual persons with a surplus of intellectual creativity, has his doubts about "noetic closure" and all that implies. In the final analysis he must be seen as taking a critical stance towards the noetic worlds he describes. You can always think differently from the way you've been given to think.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:40 AM.


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