Context For My Dissent

HoopoeMargaret and I were having a talk this afternoon wherein I paused a couple of times, on the verge of saying something about “context.” I paused, because as I was talking, the term “context”sounded flat and arbitrary; who, after all, decides what counts as “context”? What is context, and how much is enough? The questions that always come up when one invokes context came to mind vividly, and stalled my answers to Margaret.

What I ended up saying instead was “interpretive ecology.” Now, that doesn’t solve any great problems that attend “context.” I haven’t devised the brilliant terminological breakthrough that moves us on to the next problem. But “interpretive ecology” does suggest to me some of the considerations that impel us to make recourse to context — the fundamental premise that signification never happens in isolation, and that the circumstances affect the viability of the expression in question. Some elements in an ecology don’t make a great difference; other elements, even seemingly trivial ones, can prove vitally important (think of “invasive species”).

It’s not sliced bread, but it provides me with a helpful way of keeping an eye on the various roles that various contingencies play in our generating and appropriating expressions.

One thought on “Context For My Dissent

  1. Well, to me it’s not QE stuff, just the more basic, english lit stuff. Are you going overboard? Are you letting one another mean what they intend? (most rational people don’t try to make a miasma of a conversation unless they’re trying to fog the argument.)

    The second you get into overinterpretive wording you’ve kinda wrecked the foundation.

    Did you wanna reach a compromise or did u want a win?

Comments are closed.