I was going to leave a clever post about my conversation with David last Friday afternoon. It was going to explain why it’s not available yet (David’s computer exploded when I infused it with dangerously postmodern thoughts), and I was going to note some mistakes I made (I referred to “James Caputo,” but it’s “John Caputo” — I’ve gotten used to hearing people call him “Jack,” but in the flash between when I decided to mention him and when I actually articulated his name, I thought “I shouldn’t call him ‘Jack,’ I don’t know him at all, so I’ll use his formal name” and with “Jack” dominating my limited brainpower, I came out with “James”), and to re-emphasize my sense that meaning constitutes the potential difference that activates interaction and understanding in our network of relationships. I’m not sure I want to stick with that metaphor, but it just jumped out of my fingertips, so I’ll try it and see what happens.

If meaning characterizes our interactions and relations, if it’s not a quality that abides inside words and gestures, then our relationships with animals can reach the point of being “meaningful” even when those animals don’t share the full capacity consciously to propose, articulate, and infer meaning in grammatically-regulated words (or conventionally-regulated gestures). The creatures in our lives partake of meaning such that our own lives can’t adequately be described without including, incorporating, the animals we love.

So when Pascale, bereft of her beloved Ariel, anticipates resuming a fuller life with her friend, it sounds exactly right to me. The meaning of Pascale’s life has come to include a role for Ariel, and if one were arbitrarily to exclude cats (or other beloved creatures — for some of us, cats are the tough case) from heaven, one would rule out the fullness of Pascale, too. All that would have been fuller and more soundly reasoned, if I had had time to do a good job on these posts.

Oh, and while I’m (not) recapping my Friday afternoon conversation with David, I should note that just as I was pleased that he and Jamie Smith liked my book, so Frank Paynter seems not to have. That dissatisfaction doesn’t shock me. Frank and I have squalled over postmodern topics before, and if he didn’t agree with me before, these books weren’t calculated to win him over. So, consumer alert warning: If you think like Frank, you might want to take out my book from the local library rather than buying your own copy (let alone the gift copies you were about to buy for all your relatives). I’m still ahead, two critics to one, and I can live with that.

Frank said:


Just to be clear, the earlier book What is Postmodern Biblical Criticism? is easier going and may give me a foundation …oops, are foundations good things? anyway, it is providing me the background to be able to read “Faithful Interpretation,” my first copy of which is now in the Dubuque Friends Meeting library. When I’m ready I’ll order up a second copy, read it and then put it in the Madison Meetinghouse library; but, probably not before I’ve jumped up and down about the travesty of postmodern criticism in general and the illness that has befallen us culturally because we have been influenced to hold no truths to be self evident and so forth.

Congratulations on the publication. I hope to use it to learn more about postmodern literary criticism, “the theory,” to improve my own critical skills, and to practice disagreeing without being too disagreeable. Thank you for the link to my blog.

In peace and love,


David says,


Now the podcast is sitting in its pod, uncast, because I’m on deadline for copy editing my book. I should be able to provide the finishing touches in a few days. Sorry.

It could be, btw, that John/James/Jack Caputo was the external advisor on my doctoral dissertation. Was he at Villanova in the late 1970s?

David Weinberger

Yes, John Caputo had a very long tenure at Villanova before he moved to Syracuse a couple of years ago.

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