Category: Frank Kermode

Regarding Words of Manipulative DissimulationRegarding Words of Manipulative Dissimulation

“We should never underestimate our predisposition to believe whatever is presented under the guise of an authoritative report and is also consistent with the mythological structure of a society from which we derive comfort, and which it may be uncomfortable to dispute.” — Kermode, “What Precisely Are the Facts?”, The Genesis of Secrecy

Just the facts, ma’amJust the facts, ma’am

“If so many causes act in concert to ensure that texts are from the beginning and sometimes indeterminately studded with interpretations; and if these texts in their very nature demand further interpretation and yet resist it, what should we expect when the document in question denies its own opacity by claiming to be a transparent account of the recognizable world?  In practice we may feel that we have no particular difficulty in distinguishing between narratives which claim to be reliable records of fact, and narratives which simply go through the motions of being such a record.  But when we think about it, as on occasion we may compel ourselves to do, the distinction may grow troublesome.” — Kermode, “What Precisely Are the Facts?”, The Genesis of Secrecy

We pronounced it differently in grad schoolWe pronounced it differently in grad school

“Since men cannot be aware of everything, their words, speech and writing can mean something that they themselves did not intend to say or write….  Not occasionally only, but always, the meaning of a text goes beyond its author.” — Kermode in The Art of Telling, quoting Gadamer in Truth and Method (trans. from Wahrheit und Methode by Barden and Cumming), quoting and summarizing Chaldenius, who probably wrote in Latin as he was writing in the mid-18th century