[lit-ideas] Re: Salingeriana

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2013 20:47:07 -0400 (EDT)


In an interesting message dated 9/23/2013 5:53:11 P.M. Eastern  Daylight 
Time, _lawrencehelm@roadrunner.com_ (mailto:lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx) ,  
quotes from McEvoy (quoting Popper),
 
 
"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." 
 
and adds,
 
"[T]o modify Popper's words slightly "It is impossible to speak in such a  
way that you cannot be misunderstood by someone."
 
I see. And thanks for the hermeneutic piece. I was thinking in terms of  
modal operators:
 
it is necessary that...
it is possible that...
 
Or, to use the logicians' jargon:
 
 
 □ 
◇
 
respectively.
 
Now, I would need variables here: "U" for utterer, and "A" for  addressee.

What Popper is saying:
 
"It is impossible for an utterer to utter an utterance in such a  way that 
the utterer can not be misunderstood by soma  addressee".

I think we need to introduce, again in logicians' jargon, 'some' and  'all':
 
 
∃ 
∀
 
respectively.
 
Then we would need to understand 'misunderstand' as getting the utterer's  
intention wrong. And then proceed to formalise. 

It seems Popper is making, wrongly, a modal claim (that it is necessary  
that misunderstanding should occur). This equivocates on 'should'.
 
Thanks to R. Paul on the clarification on 'phony'.
 
From the wikipedia article on "Catcher"
 
"Critical reviews agree that the novel accurately reflected the teenage  
colloquial speech of the time.... Words and phrases that frequently appear  
include: "Phony": Superficial, hypocritical, and pretentious"
 
It may be worth checking the etymology.
 
Wikipedia also writes:
 
"Each Caulfield child has literary talent: D. B. writes screenplays in  
Hollywood; Holden also reveres D. B. for his writing skill (Holden's own best  
subject), but he also despises Hollywood industry-based movies, considering 
them  the ultimate in "phony" as the writer has no space for his own 
imagination, and  describes D. B.'s move to Hollywood to write for films as 
"prostituting  himself"".
 
I wonder if Salinger used 'phony' in his personal letters as often.
 
The online Etymoloy source provides this:
 
 
phony (adj.) Look up phony at Dictionary.comalso phoney, "not genuine,"  
1899, perhaps an alteration of fawney "gilt brass ring used by swindlers."  
His most successful swindle was selling "painted" or "phony" diamonds. He  
had a plan of taking cheap stones, and by "doctoring" them make them have a  
brilliant and high class appearance. His confederates would then take the  
diamonds to other pawnbrokers and dispose of them. ["The Jewelers Review," 
New  York, April 5, 1899] 
The noun meaning "phony person or thing" is attested  from 1902.
 
-- 
 
So it's almost a 'naughty nineties' thing. It's interesting that the  
application to the war comes from Idaho.
 
Indeed, as the Wiki entry for Phoney War notes, and R. Paul cites,

"The term "Phoney War" was possibly coined by US Senator William Borah  who 
stated, in September 1939: "There is something phoney about this  war."[2]
Defiant Peace Bid Hurled By Hitler". The Pittsburgh Press. September 19,  
1939."
 
Wikipedia is being pretty cautious, if that's the word:
 
"there is something [insert ADJECTIVE] about this [insert NOUN]"
 
There is something phoney about this war --> this is a phoney war.
 
Does this work always? I hope so.
 
Note, incidentally, that what Popper says is not surprising:
 
"if there is understanding, there is a possibility of  misunderstanding".

It strikes me that this applies to all verbs.
 
For any verb, if there is X-ing, seeing that 'mis-' is a productive prefix, 
 there is is mis-X-ing.
 
Try 'mis-spitting'.
 
Cheers,
 
Speranza
 
 
 
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