We're Mysterious to Ourselves
miércoles 24 de agosto de 2011
A comment to a post by Bill Benzon "Why don't we know what we do?"—on why graffiti artists can't describe their work adequately, and more generally, on why we cannot give an objective account of who we are and of what we do, and of what we mean. Benzon argues that it's out of a lack of attention. But:
Then there's also the issue that, like graffiti, a description is not context-free. It is not a free-standing, all-purpose account of the thing described. Perhaps you do not find that graffiti artists' accounts of what they are doing are satisfactory because you are thinking in terms of a context, discipline, perspective, etc. which is alien to them, call it aesthetics, semiotics, etc. No description describes the thing described. It only does so for a certain communicative purpose. Nothing is separable from its context, and yet, for some purposes, everything is. And talking about anything or any text to a third party is always a recontextualization or recycling of that text, graffiti, etc. A different account is called for, all the time -- I call that "the hermeneutic spiral", follow the link and you'll end anywhere, because it keeps rolling and spiralling.