Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Never read a bible verse"

"Never read a bible verse" says this fellow on his site, meaning that you should always read surrounding paragraph.  In fact he argues, texts are designed to be read top down, beginning with books before proceeding to sections and paragraphs and then finally individual verses.   In a sense, this is a case of the Last Visible Dog, but I wonder what are the smallest/standard units of communication in our culture and what are smallest/standard units the bible intends us to begin with, use and apply?


Katherine said...

I think, with reference to the written word, anything out of context can run an increased risk of being misinterpreted. The 'closer in', ie the less context, the greater the risk.

But, to take your example, in Russell Hoban's book "The Mouse and His Child", the 'last visible dog' idea of visual recursion (- also called the 'Droste' effect), is a metaphorical presentation for self-determination.
So in that regard is doesn't really illustrate your point at all, as I understand it.
In fact, it appears to illustrate the opposite, for in the story it wasn't until the *last* dog is seen, that the meaning becomes clear. ie, once the context is removed, all that is left is "I", or, the truth.

Sincere regards,

Katherine De Chevalle,
author of the blog "The Last Visible Dog".

Luke said...

Hi Katherine,

Thanks for dropping by, I feel somewhat rude in disagreeing with a visitor. While I agree there is a certain sense of self-discovery in the book, for example Miss Mud talks to the Father and his son about how she feels on the inside compared to her external appearance. However I would also draw your attention to this quote: "I know" said Miss Mud "it's all so difficult. And of course everyone bigger then I tries to eat me, and I'm always busy eating everyone smaller. So there isn't much time to think things out." Clearly, also present in this scene is the idea of things stretching out in both directions, the idea of always another layer.

But it's good to find another fan of The Mouse and His Child.

Nathan said...

Hi Luke,

I reckon individual words are the base both culturally and theologically. But only because there are certain "heavy" words that are capable of carrying huge amounts of meaning. One word can summarise a thousand words... like calling God "father"...

Nice blog.

Luke said...

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for dropping by, I didn't realise you were also from Tassie!

Words, I guess that makes sense, maybe the question should of been what's the default level of context we should go to? No one would seriously argue for more then a canon but a sentence seems way to little.

Katherine said...

Luke, don't worry about disagreeing with me! :o) I can take it.
There are loads of metaphors in TMAHC, as you would know. The Miss Mud one is great, as is the feeling of the Frog that he somehow 'knows' more than he realises, the sense of some knowledge (the prophesy) coming from elsewhere other than himself. And we could also talk about the belated sense of conscience that creeps over Manny Rat. Well, at least the sense of his impending punishment.
But I still feel that the main character, the mouse child, is the one who Hoban uses to reveal his main message. And I reckon the message is the one of self-determinism i.e belief in SELF - as opposed to self-discovery, which *is* compatible with a belief in a higher being.

What do you think? Have I convinced you?

But I've probably strayed from the theme of your original post. Sorry!

Hey, that's weird. The word verification is 'ungod'.

Katherine said...

Oh I have to confess I've never read any of Hoban's other books. But , to throw something else into the mix, I've found an interesting quote from one:

"There is a mystery that even God cannot fathom, nor can he give the law of it on two stone tablets. He cannot speak what there are no words for; he needs divers to dive into it; he needs wrestlers to wrestle with it, singers to sing it, lovers to love it. He cannot deal with it alone, he must find helpers, and for this does he blind some and maim others."
--Pilgermann (p.201)