Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Typo, Coinage, or Mistranslation?  

Nelson Ascher at EuroPundits cc: posts an email to Wretchard of the Belmont Club, containing a new (to me) wonderfully useful word:
I've lived a good part of my life under a military dictatorship and, thus, dealing with a press submited to state and self censorship. Thus, I, as many of my countrymen, had to develop certain reading skills, learning to find out the probable configuration of what was taking place out there by interpreting the tone of the papers, reading between the lines of each article and so on. I've been helped in this by my father's experience, as he had lived through fascism and communism and had those skills highly developed.
But I also found out that most Western Europeans and many Americans simply ignore what the critic Harold Bloom calls the 'difficult pleasures' of reading. Maybe that's because for a long time they weren't in need of developing those skills. Since 911 the media universe has changed, changed utterly (though I wouldn't go as far as saying that a terrible beauty is born of all this) and the hability of reading closely and skeptically the Western papers became a necessity.
One has to consciously develop both the habit and the ability to do this sort of careful decoding, and this is a wonderful portmanteau for the whole complex behavior. There are other behaviors like it, where the regular doing of a thing becomes an essential part of doing it well. Assuming, of course, that hability was an intentional authorial choice. If it wasn't, it should be.

That said, I think Ascher is wrong about most Western news-consumers. What I find myself and others I know doing doesn't involve deciphering meaning from a known-to-be-biased source, so much as supplementing it with other imperfectly reliable perspectives. Blogs aren't anyone's primary news source, or shouldn't be, but they're a crucial corrective, and a valuable way to help frame the context of news reportage.

In a way it's very post-modern: all narratives are presumed biased, presumed unreliable - but that doesn't mean you simply find the one that fits you best and cleave to it. There really is an objective truth out there, but it's veiled from us. Multiple perspectives provide ways of piercing the veil from a lot of different angles, so maybe we can combine them to create a clearer picture of what's on the other side.

What cyberspace does is give us instaneous low-cost access to the descriptions of thousands of individual blind men, each one describing the same very real elephant in a common room.

Or so it seems to me.

posted by Kelly | 4:10 PM link