Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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July 07, 2011

Those who stuck only to the print edition of a recent Charles Bernstein interview missed the following two gems, viewable on-line, here:

The perfection I’m sometimes seeking in satire is when the irony disappears into the social real. So you’re not saying the opposite of what you mean but also what you mean, albeit in quotes: a 360 degree turn.

The above dynamite quote seems to have been noticed and picked up on by exactly no one.

His observation that "the difficulty of Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams" comes despite a practice by which they "use only everyday words you don’t have to look up."

An adequate example drawn almost at random as a useful exercise to review is here.

How is it that can we understand each individual word but have no idea what she's talking about? And if we then feel like we're starting to figure out her meaning, what's that about? How exactly does that shift in register work? (cf. the Chomsk) What does this tell us about the rules and meta-rules we can navigate (or try/fail) to make ourselves accidentally understood via deliberate misunderstanding?

Maybe both quotes demonstrate abjuration: In the first case, of condescending sarcasm, in the second, of sophisticated jargon and obscure references. Thus he's unilaterally foreswearing use of two of the easiest, laziest, commonest weapons wielded by a speaker/author nowadays when they want to make themselves sound more intelligent than their listener/reader.