Looping Thoughts

The discussion during class provoked many thoughts on art and literature. Everyone participated in the discussion and contributed many different reflections in response to Plato’s Phaedrus. One lingering question was:

“Are published words [even on blogs or wikis] unreliable sources of the truth, seeing as we can’t speak face to face with the author to clarify questions or to confirm his/her authority on the subject?”

My thoughts on this subject are extremely scattered. I have many thoughts that don’t really tie into each other. So, I’ll just provide a couple.

First, one must distinguish whether they are referring to a published work, such as a book or poem, or a blog or wiki. Published works and visual art are less responsive than blogs or wikis. Blogs and Wikis are living, changing works where, in some cases, the author can respond to a comment or alteration. Whereas, the author is less likely to respond to published works such as books, poems, articles or visual art.

Secondly, what is “the truth?” Every word, statement, speech, essentially every form of literature is subject to interpretation by the reader or listener. Derived meaning depends on the audience’s frame of reference. No two people have the same frame of reference no matter how much they have in common. Does this mean that every person can interpret a work of art or literature differently? That a work of art or literature does not have a single meaning, but perhaps as many meanings as it does viewers or readers?

Simply because one cannot “speak face to face with the author,” it does not mean the sources are unreliable. Yes, a work is subject to interpretation, but as stated during the discussion, meaning of published words can only go a specific depth. If an author means one thing and a reader takes it as something different, then who is to say it is wrong?

I realize that I have not answered the question whatsoever; I am actually further away than I started from answering it. We have gotten precisely no where with this post. I honestly cannot answer the question at all. But, I can brainstorm the heck out of it!

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