Another Step

(A) I am not a runner. This is why I regularly begin my morning by skipping rope for ten minutes or so — to get my blood circulating, keep my breath capacity at least marginally satisfactory, and so on.

(B) This morning I ran/walked a mile in thirteen minutes. Not exactly Roger Bannister, but it’s a start.

Core-porate Relations

QuadrigaI remain alert to news from Cupertino, though less obsessively as I did when I was a younger man, so I was interested to hear from Gruber about a momentous leak of information relative to tomorrow’s planned announcement of the latest models of iPhones.

Of course, Apple is notorious for its track record of successful secret-keeping. Against that backdrop, the leak of a GM operating system upgrade would be a noteworthy news event in itself. What makes this special is that it came just a couple of days before a much-anticipated Apple Event, at which viewers ordinarily gasp, applaud, tweet, subtweet, marvel, and kvetch about each micro-unit of news (since no one will have known about them till they’re announced at the Event). Tomorrow, Tim Cook will walk out onstage with all the details of his iOS upgrade apparently already known.

Popular imagination can easily envision the scene — including furious tirades, multiple firings, and new security measures possibly including the sequestration of loved ones in an Apple-controlled remote facility — were this to happen to Steve Jobs when he was at Apple. That’ not Tim Cook’s style, much to the disappointment of drama-loving fans and journalists. On the other hand, it would be tough for Tim to walk out with the script intact, to say ‘… and now, for your mind-boggled consideration, facial recognition!’ while the audience yawns.

Apple may be desperately rejiggering some of the specs, so that they can say ‘Neener, neener, that wasn’t the real Golden Master after all!’, but that would run the risk of bugs and failures, and if Apple hates anything more than leaks, it’s failures. They have another option, though.

Apple could deal with its misfortune by choosing not to make grand public punitive gestures (those will surely come anyway) on one hand, or stiff recitations about what anyone could have read on macrumors.

Apple loves the media, and its association with coolness, and it wants the media to have something unexpected to report. The iOS specs no longer count as hot or unexpected, however impressive they be. What if Apple called up a comedy writer — a Seinfeld, or a Poehler or Fey or David, or a behind-the-scenes comic writer — to rework the presentation with self-deprecating humour? Well done (and admittedly, that’s a risk with 24-hour turnaround and technology execs as presenters), it could divert attention from the sensation of the leak, keep Apple on the good guys side by laughing at itself, and make the presentation enjoyable even if you know what’s about to be announced.

This isn’t a moment for circling the wagons and publicly shooting traitors; more urgent concerns face Apple and the world than non-surprise product announcements. Apple could show its sense of proportion in a world where to heads of state are playing chicken with nuclear weapons, where two hurricanes have just devastated parts of the U.S. and its neighbours, and where climate change and economic disparities threaten to blight… well, everything. And make a few people laugh, perhaps awkwardly, and introduce some new products which (as far as the leaks suggest) should still be pretty impressive.

Turning of the Season

QuadrigaSteve Himmer always used to keep track of the end of summer by noting the last day he could wear short trousers (a situation he regarded as self-evidently natural and preferable to long trousers for men), and the first day of long trousers.* I don’t mind long trousers as much as Steve, but I mark the change from summer to autumn (and, mutatis mutandis, winter to spring) by the first night I sleep without the eye mask that protects me from early dawns. Last night was ‘no sleep mask’ night — autumn has come.

* It is a sign of the fallen and frustrating world in which we now live that it’s exceptionally difficult to track down the posts from one pot meal, Steve’s old blog, in which he discussed this important phenomenon.

… 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!