Fuzzy Studies: A Symposium on the Consequences of Blur (Part 2)

An issue of: Common Knowledge

Fuzzy Studies
Journal Issue Pages: 200 Volume 18, Number 2 Published: Spring 2012 An issue of Common Knowledge

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CROSSED WIRES: On the Prague-Paris Surrealist Telephone

Sayer, D.

An exercise in humour noir, this essay explores relations between the Paris and Prague surrealist groups from André Breton and Paul Éluard's visit to "the magic capital of old Europe" in 1935 to the aborted "Prague Spring" of 1968. It focuses on the famous "starry castle" of Breton's Mad Love — which Czechs know better as Letohrádek Hvezda at Bílá hora, the White Mountain — as a signifier whose wanderings, over the period, encapsulate the mutual myths and misunderstandings that were constitutive of this most poignant of surrealist love affairs. The essay ends by suggesting that what makes the Czech capital a fitting object of the surrealist imagination (and a rich source of surreal art and literature in its own right) is less the "historic charms" that so seduced Breton in 1935 than the "geographical, historical, and economic considerations" of the city's modernity that he blithely put to one side.

INTERPRETATION AND RESISTANCE

Tamen, M.

People who talk about interpretation often suggest that what is interpreted must offer some kind of resistance, in quasiphysical terms. The physics entailed by such suggestions is never fully specified, and for a good reason: it is purely nonexistent. This essay presents arguments against physical fantasies in interpretation, very current in the humanities and the social sciences, and offers a different picture of interpretation. The picture has two parts: interpretation is described as a way of dealing with intentions, motives, purposes, linguistic noises, actions, meanings, and so forth, relative to all sorts of stuff; and interpretation is a default condition, rather than an optional acquired talent.

Introduction: Genres of Blur

Jay, M., Bencivenga, E., Burke, P., Jones, C. P., Butterfield, A., Garcia-Arenal, M., Rosenak, A., Clooney, F. X.

Ever since Clifford Geertz urged the "blurring of genres" in the social sciences, many scholars have considered the crossing of disciplinary boundaries a healthy alternative to rigidly maintaining them. But what precisely does the metaphor of "blurring" imply? By unpacking the varieties of visual experiences that are normally grouped under this rubric, this essay seeks to provide some precision to our understanding of the implications of fuzziness. It extrapolates from the blurring caused by differential focal distances, velocities of objects in the visual field, and competing perspectival vantage points to comparable effects in the intersection of different scholarly disciplines. Arguing against the holistic implications of Geertz's metaphor, as well as the even more totalizing concept of "consilience" introduced by E. O. Wilson, it suggests that blurring implies new types of complexity between or among those disciplines.

FUZZY REASONING

Bencivenga, E.

A logic is a doctrine of the logos, that is, of meaningful discourse; hence the first thing we expect from it is an account of what makes the logos meaningful — of what a meaning is. There is no single such doctrine or account: it is part of the immense richness of meaningful discourse that we can shift back and forth between several logics — several organized ways of reasoning, of providing reasons or grounds for our claims. Building on previous work on Hegel's dialectical logic, the author here identifies three distinct logics simultaneously in play in our conversations. Analytic logic structures its organization of discourse around negation, contraries, and hence arguments forcing a co

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