Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What Does This Mean?

Photo of Paul Ricoeur


One of my favorite blogs is The Blogging Parson (http://mpjensen.blogspot.com/) by Oxford doctoral candidate Michael P. Jensen. Michael is a scholar with an exceptional gift for making the arcane make sense.

Last week, he had a quote on his blog that's stuck in my head like a tune you can't shake. The author of the quote is French philosopher Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005). Source is The Narrative Function, Semeia (1978).

Could we not say that by opening us to the different, history opens us to the possible, while fiction, by opening us to the unreal, brings us back to the essential?

What might he have meant by this?


(Photo source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Ricoeur)

12 comments:

Carrie said...

Ouch. This one makes my head hurt!

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Mine, too.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Whew! Still pretty heady... but we now have an answer(see cut/paste from a recent post by Michael Jensen on The Blogging Parson):



We had quite a deal of fun chewing over a Paul Ricoeur quote about history and fiction.

In his article he argues that the history and fiction intersect in the way they refer to the 'real' world.

Our ultimate interest when we do history is to enlarge our sphere of communication: that is, to encounter that which is different to us. But this requires an imaginative act, which is, to suspend your own conditions and desires and assumptions, in order to be communicated to.

'My contention...is that it is in this exchange between history and fiction and between their opposite referential claims that our historicity is brought to language.'

Jamey said...

huh???

Sarah Onderdonk said...

What's not clear about that?

(I'm KIDDING!)

Sarah Onderdonk said...

p.s. seriously... he has a GREAT blog. i've learned a lot there and and some of the dialogue under "comments" is very funny.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Jamey... here's one that makes a lot more sense:

"The earth is blue like an orange."

Jamey said...

Is that like smelling the color nine???

Sarah Onderdonk said...

ahahaha!

Sarah Onderdonk said...

amy... are you out there? we need your help with the orange earth.

michael jensen said...

Well, I guess all Ricoeur was trying to say was: fiction can be as true as what we call history, or even true-er...

Thanks for the write up, Sarah: now I feel some performance anxiety!

Sarah Onderdonk said...

you have nothing to fear! me, on the other hand... i not only have to worry about what dr. kreider thinks... but we have an oxford scholar, too!

(jchtjchtjchtjcht... that would be the sound of chattering teeth...)

of course, God is our ultimate champion... i bet he loves your blog!!