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TSE  May 2003

TSE May 2003

Subject:

Re: Journey of the Magi

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Mon, 19 May 2003 23:29:27 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (154 lines)

An interesting set of observations, Jacek.
I disagree about Eliot's status, but that is
  irrelevant here.
To paraphrase McLuhan, the natural tendency is to use
the new medium to do the old job. So academics seem
to want to use lists to exchange the kinds of fully
deveoped ideas characteristic of essays, but to do
so without the same degree of attention (days of
thought and revision intersecting between each entry in
the exchange, undertaken by people with the leisure
so to do). The new medium is compressng the exchanges
drastically and in doing so is compressing the whole way
that said academics 9no longer with the seem leisure)
think -- to the point whereby the exchanges much more
resemble conversation than printed debate. In effect,
it is RETRIEVING (one of McLuhan's laws of the media)
the old process of oral debate, because eletronic media
have much more the characteristics of oral culture than
of visual "kultur" to quote Pound. Standarised spelling
came about because of the needs of the print medium for
consistency, to reduce the work needed for the production
of the printed page on a mass scale (the printer was the
first mass production machine). Instead of assembling
pages letter by letter, compositors could assemble them
word by word. The standardising of print words led to
the standardising of spelling for all writing, hence the
dictionary. Given that literacy was a class characteristic
so standardised spelling became a class characteristic.
Standardised spelling became a matter of class snobbery
and variable spelling became mis-spelling, where it remains,
except now the wealthy classes are becoming less and less
literate. Standardised spelling is an artificiality. a matter
of convention. Conventions change. I fully expect this
new medium to change that convention. All the earmarks
(to retrieve an old convention) are there.

In the mean time we put up with academic snobbery, and the remaining
exigencies of social use of standardised spelling for which
we must prepare our students. Mostly spell checkers have taken over that
task, except for homographs. I'm sure that problem will be solved soon.

Nobody seems to be paying attention to the needs that thought has
that are being created by electronic conditions, except perhaps
for the IVLA (http://www.ivla.org/). Writing got along just fine with
variable spelling for some 1100 years before standardisation.
I fully expect it to become iconographic very quickly.

Cheers,
Peter
-----Original Message-----
From: Jacek Niecko

MY problem with ALL of you (with the exception, occasionally, of Peter
Montgomery) is that you're COMPLETELY DEPRIVED of any SENSE OF HUMOR
whatsoever--which means that you are so serious that you have NO
PERSPECTIVE
on yourselves--and you seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that
before you know your days will be over--YOU TAKE YOURSELVES SO SERIOUSLY
THAT AN OUTSIDER WOULD BE FULLY JUSTIFIED IN THINKING THAT, SOMEHOW, THE
FUTURE OF LITERARY RESEARCH AND, THEREFORE, OF THE WORLD, DEPENDS ON
WHAT
YOU DEIGN TO SAY ABOUT OLD T.S. ELIOT WHO INDEED WROTE A FEW POEMS, SOME
QUITE SHORT, SOME LONGER, THAT MADE A LOT OF DIFFERENCE TO THE HISTORY
OF
POETRY IN ENGLISH,  BUT HE HAS BEEN DEAD FOR CLOSE TO FORTY YEARS AND HE
DOESN'T REALLY DESERVE ALL THE CRAP THAT YOU"RE HEAPING ON HIM HOUR
AFTER
HOUR---

SHAKESPEARE AND MILTON AND DONNE, OF COURSE, HAVE ENDURED MORE CRAP, BUT
THEY WERE GREATER POETS THAN ELIOT, SO THEY CAN TAKE MORE CRAP BEING
HEAPED
UPON THEM--

Jacek Niecko
Washington DC
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2003 2:13 PM
Subject: Re: Journey of the Magi


> I think we must agree to disagree.  I do not share at all the idea
that
> grammar or spelling are simply "niceties" or that they are separate
from
> clarity, thought, or conceptualization.  I think that one of the most
serious
> reasons students have trouble writing is that sentence-level writing
has
> been tracked into simplistic notions of rules and disconnected from
both
> genuine expression and genuine communication.
> Nancy
>
>
> Date sent:              Mon, 19 May 2003 18:25:06 +0100
> Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
<[log in to unmask]>
> From:                   George Carless <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject:                Re: Journey of the Magi
> To:                     [log in to unmask]
>
> > As I am guilty of quoting Eliot from memory without checking the
source,
> > as Marcia pointed out, and therefore misquoting, I am not in a
position
> > to be pedantic about this.  But I disagree completely with the idea
that
> > the way email evokes slippage is a good thing.  I think when people
are
> > having a conversation, they do think and take care, and I think
writing
> > always needs to be treated with care even to seem like a
conversation.
> > I agree about mean-spirited challenges to others, but that is quite
> > different from agreeing that fast typing without much attention is a
> > good thing.  Why is it good?  It let me misquote and so quite
> > misrepresent Eliot's care, though that was my interest.  So I won't
> > quote again without checking or making clear that I am paraphrasing
from
> > memory.  Love of language is not pedantry.
>
> No, it's not.  But too much worry about such things as incorrect
spellings
> or the niceties of grammatical usage can get in the way of
constructive
> discussion.  There's a difference between exercising care when
writing,
> and setting out to play the grammar nazi for everyone else's posts,
and
> I'd emphasize again that I'm *not* merely saying "attention to
language
> doesn't matter", but rather that I think it serves us all better when
> people spend their energy in -- fancy this -- discussing Eliot or his
> criticism or his poetry, rather than in nit-picking for others.  And I
> would generally say that lively discussion, even if not always
technically
> perfect, is more rewarding than an atmosphere in which some people may
> lack confidence in posting lest they be gunned down by a resident
grammar
> nazi/troll/etc.
>
> And, ultimately, language should serve us, and not the other way
around. I
> think that if someone's meaning is unclear then it's fair and right to
ask
> -- politely -- for explication.  But often the tendency seems towards
the
> anal-retentive.. and most often (as always tends to be the case) the
> greatest culprits are those who in fact have the least to really say.
>
> --George

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