… A Thousand Steps Begins…

HoopoeIn the past few weeks, I’ve sent away three four pieces for consideration/publication. At such a pace, I’m sure that not every paragraph is well-formed; that’s the price for getting work off my desk in a summer overshadowed by the clouds from the deaths of Margaret’s dad and my mother. If something is accepted, I can see about fine-tuning it a bit.

I’ve also started preparing a proposal for my book about interpretation theory. I’m a bit embarrassed to say what I expect to call it. There’s a story behind that awkwardness. Way, way back, a long time ago, Charles Cosgrove asked me to write a piece for a collection of essays he was compiling. I had recently been thinking about challenges to my thinking about interpretation from Kevin Vanhoozer and others, who stoutly upheld the pivotal importance of a single-meaning theory; in a flash, I made the verbal connection between my thinking on that topic and the sorts of calculus, so I called the essay ‘Integral and Differential Hermeneutics.’ The point, as I was deliberating at that time, was simply to contrast a theory that requires one single point of legitimate reference, to a theory that acknowledges that there will always be multiple divergent interpretive conclusions that depend for their ‘legitimacy’ on the contexts from which they emerge, to which they are addressed.

So over the years since then, on the relatively uncommon occasions when somebody remembered an essay I had written (especially things that don’t, sigh, have ‘postmodern’ in the title), people would often say something such as ‘Oh, right, differential hermeneutics.’ I confess that rather than graciously appreciating the fact that they remembered the piece at all, I found it a little irksome. In my imagination, ‘I & D H’ was an occasional piece that didn’t really tackle the hard problems of subsistent meaning, of the code metaphor, and reception history, and so on. In fact, I’ve posted here before to the effect of ‘Woe is me, I don’t have a convenient label for the kind of hermeneutics I propose.’

A couple of weeks ago, the clouds in my brain parted for a moment and I saw that if (a) people remember my contribution under the heading of ‘differential hermeneutics’ and (b) my approach really is oriented very directly at the question of plurality in interpretation, and (c) one of the challenges I’ve had in putting this prospective book together has been ‘But what shall I call it?’ (moan, moan) — then really, as a title, Differential Hermeneutics has a lot going for it. Thus, the book proposal under the title of Differential Hermeneutics has been taking shape, and it seems good and viable, and various bits of it are essentially already written (I will need to rewrite essays to fit the monograph setting, but will not need to create all of it wholesale). And that means I’m getting ready to talk to publishers (University publishers first, for political reasons).

On the other hand, having closed the book (as it were) on four essays, I find that this morning my brain feels a bit wrung out. There’s one other piece I need to flesh out and send away, but that will wait another day or so (and will wait till I hear back from someone about permissions). Plus — I blogged today!

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