Dear Ken,
    Not for the first time, I'm in agreement with you: perceptions and
sensitivities do vary; responses to what is admired or abhorred also vary.  (I
quote Ken's post following mine.)

    I'm glad you've brought the discussion back to language (although I'm not
quite sure what "just this phenomenon, this property of language" points to).
I have been thinking about Nancy's statement "no one even knows each other
except as a text."  This is, to me, a challenge to all writing.  It is one I
have to disagree with.  For instance, people, especially in the past, have come
to know each other deeply and intimately when their only contact is letter
writing.  As for literature, I'm not convinced it is a medium through which
readers know, or should try to know, their authors.  Other ideas?


Ken Armstrong wrote:

> Recognizing the apparent diversity of opinion on this evolving thread, I
> did want to preface part of what I said with "For my part." To be honest
> (which does not, possible objections from elsewhere notwithstanding, mean
> that other statements are not honest), I am not ready to concur with you
> regarding "much language that has been hateful, untrue, " etc., unless it
> were on a case by case basis. Often enough the posts (I'm not sure how we
> mean it when we say "language is hateful") that I find baseless, or
> abusive, or perhaps just superficial, or just wrong--other people find
> intelligent and academically sound. So with all respect to the careful
> attention that (as I see it) characterizes your own posts, I don't know
> what to do with this one except to say it is apparently not so easy to say
> all of these strings of words over here are abusive, and all of these over
> here are intelligent. I'd like to think that discussion would reveal, among
> other things, which is which (and that they are not the same), but the
> discussion itself, it seems to me, will include some language that some
> feel to be objectionable.
>    Peter's statement I didn't find objectionable. His point, wasn't it, was
> that John's statement was in bad taste, or at any rate (since that term for
> the moment belongs to you) that it made as much sense as it would to put on
> blackface, etc. I have to agree with Michelle. The bad taste here seems to
> be in the ears of those who take it that way. And, from my point of view,
> the decision to launch the big stones was as I described it.
>   I expect, however,  that "those who take it that way" are as convinced of
> their rightness, or attached to it, as I am pretty sure that they are
> wrong. What to do? Here we are to talk about a poet the perception of whose
> poetry depends in part (in great part it more and more looks) on
> understanding just this phenomenon, this property of language if you will.
> At least we are (from my point of view and for the moment) on topic now.