The most important things I’ve learned today

  1. I lack the ability to skim a text. I blame the inherent Catholic guilt; I am just sure that the author will come find me or haunt me if I misread or misunderstand his or her work.
  2. I also lack the ability to stop reading a text, even if it does not seem immediately useful to the project (or dissertation chapter) I am working on.
  3. from I.A. Richards “Toward a Theory of Comprehending”: “The exploration of comprehension is the task of devising a system of instruments for comparing meanings. But these systems, these instruments, are themselves comparable. They belong with what they compare and are subject in the end to one another” (in Berthoff 173).
  4. Richards again: “Ends endeavor to choose means which will choose them. . .initial choices would be free [not exactly]; but, when choice has been made, the subsequent choices are bound thereby while the choice is held.  An interpretation knows only a part, often a very small part, of the entailments of its choices” (173).
  5. And again: “We are not weather vanes, 1; we are not filing systems, 2; we are not even agonies or delights, only, 3; we are not litmus paper, 4 or servo-mechanisms,5. We are guardians, 6. . .we must derive our powers, in one way or another, from the very forces which we have to do our best to control” (186).

All I.A. Richards’ references come from Reclaiming the Imagination: Philosophical Perspectives for Writers and Teachers of Writing,edited by Ann E. Berthoff.

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