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January 25, 2007


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I am, as always, honored by your attention, Tutor. I hold no brief for Fish, except when he’s right — and I take his point to be that texts by themselves don’t entail meanings: to hypocrites and torturing weaselers in power, the Constitution permits scarring, disfiguring torture. To some readers, the Bible forbids homosexual love and tolerates luxurious self-indulgence. The text isn’t what constrains our interpretation, but always something more expansive — our sense of what we can get away with (for some), our sense of what we would die for (for others), our sense of what we are willing to face the judgment of eternity for (to still others), "what my friends think" (to many).

My revulsion at Gonzalez’s version of the Constitution doesn’t oblige me to say that AG the AG is intrinsically wrong about the meaning “in” the Constitution, but only that his reading bespeaks a culpable disregard for the American civil institutions he supposedly cherishes, for the aspirations of the countless souls who have turned to the Constitution as a charter of liberty, for the principle of the presumption of innocence, and for the well-being of flesh-and-blood prisoners for whose misery he has provided the rationale.

How interpretive communities are built and maintained - around Texts - is perhaps the seminal question. Maybe we will find that out in our time by active experimentation. Meanings are contested.

I think about what I would die for, and then realize that I am no less a coward than anyone else.

I was an activist once upon a time. There was a time when I was contemplating driving to Kansas to counter protest some pro lifers. But I didn't have money for bail, and we were acting independently from the local NOW chapter. Would they have bailed us out? Or said, "We don't know these women?" Anyway, the plan fell through and I never got to sleep in the church basement and maybe a jail cell. And how could I have explained that to the manager of my proofreading department? As it was, I had taken several trips to Washington when #41 was President.

Been thinking, too, about Jonah. Even wrote about him. I'd link to that post, but, frankly, it doesn't measure up to the intellectual depth here. But, just on face value, he's a pretty unimpressive prophet. Or, as I referred to him, an "inconvenienced truthteller." We need more Jeremiahs or Isaiahs. Or, better yet, Ezekiels or Elijahs. So few people inspire us to stand up and be counted.

Maybe we will find that out in our time by active experimentation. Meanings are contested.

Isn't that what's going on with the Libby Trial, effectively ?

I also find it interesting that the journalists covering it seem (by reports) to be turning to the live blogging and summarizing being done by bloggers who are or were lawyers .. because it's as good or better reporting than what they / their colleagues can do.

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