Stainless steel principles
Posted by Patrick on January 19, 1998 at 14:56:59:
In response to Disagreement, written by gkb on January 15, 1998 at 23:36:23
] ] I think it is possible to disagree on what those stainless steel-clad principles might be. If we do disagree, then what does that imply? The quote seems to me to suggest that JA was monolithic, and transparent in her views, but if that were so, surely intelligent, motivated people would be able to agree on what those views were.
] Why do you say this? Intelligent motivated people cannot agree on very many things in life.
That, of course, was my point. I was contesting the view expressed in the lines Erin quoted, since those lines seem to suggest that there are obvious principles behind JAs work, principles that we should all agree on. My point was that each of us may see things in JA's novels and think that what we see reflects JA's principles. But if we were really making contact with JA's true principles, we should all agree on what those are. That is, if JA had some particular principles, and they were apparent to us, we should be in agreement on what they were. If we disagree, that suggests that some or all of us are wrong in what we have inferred about JA's putative principles.
What kind of agreement are you looking for--a sort of total cosmic harmony where there is no room for individual opinion, taste or preference?
I'm not looking for agreement. I don't expect agreement. I think you may have misread my post.
] And what do you mean by the terms monolithic and transparent? Is that a shorthand way to say that there is only one possible interpretation of the writings of Jane Austen and that everyone in the world is in agreement with that one interpretation?
No, I do not think that. I think the opposite. That is what I meant - I find the term "stainless steel clad principles" odd precisely because it is possible for well-intentioned people to disagree about what JA's principles were. I do not think JA was monolithic - that is, she was not a simple person who thought the world a straightforward place; she did not look for simple answers to problems.
If so, where do you find it in the statement about principles? Do you think that principles are monolithic by nature or that people always agree on every principle that is based in reason? I really do not understand. Can you explicate your objection more clearly?
No, I don't think that people always agree on any principle. In fact, I would be surprised if we could get agreement on whether a given principle is based on reason, let alone agreement on the principle. The concept of a "principle" as it is used here refers to an unyielding constraint on behaviour, the source of which can be in morality or some other domain. All I was saying to Erin was that it is possible to disagree about what JA's principles might have been.
] ] But Lizzy and Darcy are different. They are open, questing, looking for real, authentic contact with another human being, and prepared to risk everything for it. This is an emotional stance. The rational stance, after a life of not finding such contact, would be to suppose that it is impossible or nearly so, and to stop looking. To settle. But neither does this.
] But they are only 23 and 28 years old! How can you project what they would have done in the case of true failure?
This question mystifies me. Can you explain the connection to what I wrote?
] > So, in my reading, P&P is not about balance, it is not about reflection or rational order. It is about the tyranny of the quantitative, objectifying view that produces a fatally stratified society, and about how to overthrow that tyranny through emotion, through genuine emotional connection to another human being. It is seismic and revolutionary, it is all about upheaval and passion, not about carefully managed balancing.
] I totally, 100% disagree here. The upheaval and passion and revolutionary acts are created by Lydia and Wickham--the people who have no balance either in their emotions or their bank-books! They are the overthrowers of social order. Like all revolutionaries, they are trouble-makers at home and the community--they have no respect for the social order at all, except in how to use it to meet their urgent and unholy desires.
] Those people who use their reason to moderate and manage their unsocial impulses are the ones Austen rewards most highly. Those who indulge their personal failings all suffer some personal loss.
All a matter of point of view, of course. In my view, Lydia and Wickham are trivial, not revolutionary. They are not seeking out a new way of being or a new way of living with other people, which is what Lizzy and Darcy are doing. L and D(ultimately) refuse to evaluate other people on the basis of objective measurements such as income and family status. They refuse to marry except for love. These are radical actions.
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.