Re: unusual language

Beth W. Baldwin (bobaldwi@HAMLET.UNCG.EDU)
Mon, 7 Oct 1996 14:52:26 -0400

On Mon, 7 Oct 1996, Timothy Mayers wrote:

> When I brought up "other things" besides meaning though (and wasn't that a
> broad, catch-all category! oops) I was thinking more about things like
> sound, tone, rhythm.

I think that these other things also carry meaning, though. They carry
meaning just like certain fragrances and flavors carry meaning. But now
that you've brought these up, I think I'll have to put my "aesthetic
pleasure" glasses on and go back to read the sentence. I have to admit
that Annie's post prompted me to read with the "reading for denotative
meaning" glasses.

> Coming from a creative writing background, I
> sometimes enjoy reading and writing with only *those* things in mind. Even
> some heavy-duty theoretical criticism is, to my mind, lyrical and
> song-like.

I come from a creative writing background as well -- poetry to be
specific. I too read simply with an aesthetic ear tuned to sound
(sibilance, alliteration, rhyme, and rhythm) but I think that ensuing
years of scholarly reading have dulled my appreciation of those things in
texts other than poetry and fiction. I simply no longer look for it;
consequently I may not see it when its there. I'm not sure I'd find
those things in the "text" in question, but I might!

Occasionally I'll read it the first time through and it's like
> listening to a song sung in a language I don't speak, but which is
> melodious nonetheless. I can always go back and try to discern meanings
> later. That's probably where my concern arises. If meaning is always the
> first thing we look for, we *might* miss something.

You're right about that. I'm sure that there is a great deal that I miss
because I read more often than not for meaning. The problem *with that
particular sentence* was that meaning was hard to find even upon going
back to discern it. I should say IT -- big letters. One could find
"other" meanings which is what Annie's question prompted us to do in the
first place.

> Sorry if I misunderstood you...

I don't think you misunderstood me -- as long as I don't get labeled
a demonizing Limbaugh-lover, I'm okay.

Beth Baldwin, Ph.D. *
Office of Continuing Education *
University of North Carolina at Greensboro *
Greensboro, NC 27412-5001 *
910-334-5301, ext. 44 * *