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What role does misunderstanding play in understanding?
What role does misunderstanding play in understanding?

...when the light of sense
Goes out, but with a flash that has revealed
The invisible world


(Wordsworth, which Barthes mistakenly quotes as Shakespeare: and this line is his explanation of haiku)

In fact what Wordsworth is saying seems to be stranger still:

In such strength
Of usurpation,
when the light of sense
Goes out, but with a flash that has revealed
The invisible world, doth greatness make abode
Hi Molly, Misunderstanding can be cleansing, but usually only briefly.  We immediately turn around and resume our efforts to make sense.  Is there an alternative besides understanding correctly or incorrectly? 

In such strength
Of usurpation, when the light of sense
Goes out, but with a flash that has revealed
The invisible world, doth greatness make abode


The light of sense here isn’t directed on the wrong thing, it’s extinguished.  We all, I assume, have experienced that.  Sublime moments that make understanding look like a paltry thing, (a tattered coat upon a stick unless soul laugh and sing and louder sing for every tear in its mortal dress….) Oh my, I got carried away.  Yeats?    At any rate there certainly is an alternative to instrumental reason.

Years ago I read a book by Alan Watts written when he was an Anglican priest, before his shift to San Franciscan style Eastern thought.  It’s called, Myth and Ritual in Christianity.  He traces pagan roots into Catholicism.  Relevant here is his take on Virgin Mary.  Not a historical person, but The invisible world, doth greatness make abode.  “She” is generation without impregnation, the world out of nothing.  Wordsworth tells us, if it is of her that he speaks, that indeed She deserves our worship.

“She,” if you’ll pardon the anthropomorphism, on a certain level is dogma.  But She’s also a symbol for something else that can’t otherwise be spoken about.  The experience of… well if not Her, then something that feels experientially like a real person but is beyond the physical, being metaphysical.

Do you thing that’s what Wordsworth was getting at?
What role?
If one uses an analogy of a continuum with
two points at either end, thus:

X   ---------------------------------------------------------------- Y
MisUnderstanding         <  -- -- >                    Understanding 

Do we not have, or how close are we to a; binary opposition?

Misunderstanding plays a part in the distinction between understanding and
Not understanding. Or, as Mr. berryman puts it: Is there an alternative besides
understanding correctly or incorrectly?

My provisional response would be that the role each plays on the
continuum serves to help identify (and limit) the definition of the other.
...comments, concerns ? criticisms?
Or, have I missed the point altogether? Conceivably, this could be.
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Latest Post: December 17, 2011 at 7:49 PM
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