Are we here?
Posted by Patrick on January 28, 1998 at 17:09:03:
In response to A solipsist in our midst --a brief response, written by Erin on January 22, 1998 at 20:10:40
] I think, when I said that I was referring to balance between visual image and smell in our appreciation of a rose. It may be the case that symmetry in, for example, a face, is necessary for a judgment of beauty, although it is probably not sufficient. But I think that this is a side-issue. I do not want to deny that roses have symmetry (or balance) in physical form. I do not deny that certain kinds of balance exist in the world. I was talking mostly about balance in JA's novels.
] Really, I thought it was the main thrust of this particular point.
Whether a rose is physically symmetrical is a side issue. Whether there is balance between the pleasures produced by the visual appearance and the smell of a rose is a little closer to the mark, because so clearly subjective. But it is still not central because it is comparatively a simple issue (qualitatively different to the question, is there balance in P&P?). For me, establishing aesthetic balance in the case of the rose would be at most suggestive for the P&P issue.
But I cannot comprehend the reason why you think this notion of symmetry, used both minutely and in a more general sense, cannot apply to Austen's ideal in P&P? But then I think I can since you deny the viability of such a notion in the first place.
It isn't so much that it cannot apply to P&P as that it does not apply. It is simply my view that JA's point was not about balance. It was about passion. She talked about passion very politely. But the polite form is largely irrelevant. The passion is what stays with us. Me, anyway.
] How do you account for the fact that we have the capacity to have this "conversation"...that I'm sitting here responding to your thoughts via a machine? Does not this very act evince that we are mutually recognized practitioners of shared practices and norms?
We are mutually recognized practitioners of shared practices and norms if, for example, we are both using Netscape as web browser and both click on the left mouse button and so forth. I don't see much more than that which we really have to grant as elements of "objective reality." We do not, for example, have identical (or, possibly, even similar) ideas about what sort of thing Pemberley is and what sort of activity goes on here. We can have this conversation because we speak the same language, but "having this conversation" does not mean that we could agree on exactly what the text of the conversation signifies. Remember before Christmas when some people were offended by my posts, and I was very surprised by that, having intended no offence and seen nothing in my posts that would give offence? Not much objective reality there.
Sure, the technology works. We can put people on the moon if we want to. In order to do that, we must have some shared access to a set of procedures and artifacts. But we arrive at that shared set only through herculean effort to systematize - "having everyone on the same page" means, literally, let's write the stuff we want to agree on down on paper and have everyone agree on the written form. This is rather like taking a photo of our reality and developing the photo and having everyone agree that the photo measures 5X7 and then saying "See - there is an objective reality."
And even with something as regimented and systematised as going to the moon, there is, if you push hard enough, no real objective reality: what is the answer to the question, Should we launch today, or wait for better weather?
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