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RichardGarfinkle
09-28-2013, 07:05 PM
....it's just a story Richard. Which ending would you like?




ETA: Sorry, perhaps that's too flip. I might have posted conventional commentary. But the tale is what came to me. It was my design to avoid becoming entangled in policy arguments-- the world is in no short supply of those just now. It's an allegory. It may be apt or awful. But, it's still a story, and doesn't, imho, need defending. :)

It's not just a story. It's a story with a specific moral to be applied to our current situation. Allegories are like theories, they can and should be measured against reality.

You are making an active claim about political reality by your use of an allegorical story in a political discussion.

dfwtinman
09-28-2013, 07:57 PM
Allegories are like theories...

I see your simile, but raise you a metaphor. ;)



they can and should be measured against reality.


Yes, but by whom? I'd argue that such devices call upon the reader to do the work. Else, why bother? Authors often render political commentary in story form. Modest proposals one might say. Whether such a notion constitutes an inherent corruption of otherwise immutable laws of forum comportment is another matter. Applied in moderation, I'd say no. Other's mmv.

RichardGarfinkle
09-28-2013, 08:11 PM
I see your simile, but raise you a metaphor. ;)



Yes, but by whom? I'd argue that such devices call upon the reader to do the work. Else, why bother? Authors often render political commentary in story form. Modest proposals one might say. Whether such a notion constitutes an inherent corruption of otherwise immutable laws of forum comportment is another matter. Applied in moderation, I'd say no. Other's mmv.

But, if you gave the argument in non-allegory form it would be subject to counter argument. Why would the form of the argument render it immune to challenge?

Indeed, would not your argument remove the ability to challenge any argument, since any argument is interpreted in the mind of the mind of the reader whether it is rendered explicitly or implicitly.

dfwtinman
09-28-2013, 09:48 PM
But, if you gave the argument in non-allegory form it would be subject to counter argument. Why would the form of the argument render it immune to challenge?

Indeed, would not your argument remove the ability to challenge any argument, since any argument is interpreted in the mind of the mind of the reader whether it is rendered explicitly or implicitly.

In a word, no.

My answer to your question(s) centers on who does the challenging, not whether a thing can be challenged. I assume you agree that works of fiction have been known to advance ideas? If so, do you argue that those ideas go "unchallenged" unless you can engage the author in a dialogue? Speaking for myself, I've yet to write an author demanding that she explain herself.

So why choose allegory as my form of expression? For this reason. The budget issue is highly politicized, even emotional. In such cases, it can be extremely hard to make a point which is taken at face value. Meaning no disrespect to anyone, I have noticed that there are times when my words, however carefully chosen, were ignored as a reader sought instead to discern my sub rosa meaning. Particularly in political discourse, many want to place the writer in this or that camp, as a tool for interpretation if nothing else. Is a he a neo-con? A liberal? A libertarian? A nut job? Who thinks they know where my partisan sympathies lie? Do I have any?

It seems to be a default assumption, by some (and I truly do not mean you Richard), that argument is sophistry. Despite the forum's wise policy to the contrary, some see all argument as artifice in service to ideology.

By making the argument in story form, an obvious abstraction, my purpose was to remove any focus on me, and instead direct that focus to the idea. Defending the idea in my own voice defeats that purpose. In any event, at least in this limited respect, I don't seem to have succeeded.

Williebee
09-28-2013, 10:02 PM
Richard, Tinman,

Apologies for the shuffle, sort of.

It's an interesting discussion that I'm looking forward to following, but it was a bit of a derail.

Thanks.

dfwtinman
09-28-2013, 11:02 PM
Richard, Tinman,

Apologies for the shuffle, sort of.

It's an interesting discussion that I'm looking forward to following, but it was a bit of a derail.

Thanks.

A solid choice oh wise leader. I suppose the hard question must be whether even an obvious derail will be "worthy" of it's own thread.

But that's why the MODs get paid the Big Bucks.


By way of context, in a thread entitled "Will The Government Shut Down on Tuesday?", a topic on which posters hold strong opinions, I posted this:



Long ago, when the earth was flat, a tall ship sailed straight for the abyss. Half the sailors of Amerigo bore the colors of Vermilion, half the colors of Azul.

On a prior voyage the sailors had agreed that, when the abyss loomed, the captain would steer a course to port. Amerigo's captain was bound to execute the wishes of her sailors.

But, on this voyage, Amerigo's sailors were no longer of one mind. As the abyss loomed, the sailors from Vermilion told the captain to chart a course to starboard. "Foul," cried the sailors from Azul,"it was settled before this voyage began. Hard-a-port!"

The shouting continued as the abyss drew near. From the crow's nest it was clear that either course, port or starboard, would avert disaster for all. If either side relented, doom would be avoided.

But, as night fell, they would not relent. And that's how morning for Amerigo became a mystery.

shakeysix
09-28-2013, 11:47 PM
An argument from allegory should never be taken seriously because no two things are ever exactly the same.

Not my words but a digest of a lesson on logical arguments from the "Bedford Guide for College Writers." The example given was from Copernicus' day. As I recall the great minds of the day poo-pooed the idea that the earth moved around the sun because the earth did not possess a tail, wings or legs. The allegory was false. They assumed that the earth was like a living being. It had no power of locomotion so it could not move.

Anyway this is the way I remember the lesson. I haven't taught out of that book for 7 years and I am up to my eyebrows in fall housecleaning so I don't have time to shore up this example. I just thought it was interesting.

On the up side I just found 120$ in ancient Traveler's Checks in a file cabinet! --s6

RichardGarfinkle
09-28-2013, 11:54 PM
Split personality Mod note

Welcome to a more polite argument area. Please park all P&CE excesses at the door.


Hey, you're repressing my freedom.


That's a philosophical point.

dfwtinman
09-29-2013, 01:47 AM
An argument from allegory should never be taken seriously because no two things are ever exactly the same.


An interesting notion, but not one I'd subscribe to. The example is a bit off since to say that the earth is "like" a living being is a simile, whereas an allegory is closer to an extended metaphor.

But, even if one made that precise argument (the earth is a living being), it's not clear to me why a bad allegory renders all allegories impotent.

Let's look at the logic of this criticism in the context of a metaphor:


"All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances."
William Shakespeare


Is a stage an exact match for the world? If not, should we reject the use of metaphor?

I think allegories and metaphors are...to use a simile...like a painter's brush. It matters who is holding the brush. Let me quickly cite to my words quoted in the OP, lest anyone think I'm claiming a particular skill:


It's an allegory. It may be apt or awful.

I have no idea why the Bedford Guide adopted this stance. But I'll posit a theory (well, more a WAG): too many college writers are prone to writing
sophomoric twaddle, a malady which the Guide hoped to cure. :)

Saying all this, I've been known to change my mind in response to a persuasive argument.

dfwtinman
09-29-2013, 01:48 AM
Split personality Mod note

Welcome to a more polite argument area. Please park all P&CE excesses at the door.


Hey, you're repressing my freedom.


That's a philosophical point.

Yes it is. I've heard of them. ;)

ETA: Not that you're implying otherwise, but not all philosophical arguments depend on the juxtaposition of esteemed yet competing values (civility and free expression, in your example).

Williebee
09-29-2013, 02:13 AM
It would seem logical that allegory can have a place in an argument -- if only because it can be a tool to help all parties frame a point in a reference(s) they can each understand. But this means that the point gathered from the allegory can be objected to. However, as an allegory is apt to be an incomplete description or framing of the argument/point, how much further flawed does it become if we try to use the same allegory to respond in the original argument? At some point that allegory must either modify or be discarded.

shakeysix
09-29-2013, 02:22 AM
An allegory can illuminate an argument but it cannot cinch an argument. Pure Shannon Smith, this time around. Still can't find a copy of the Bedford Guide but American Express says the checks from 2002 are good! Hot Damn! I'm rich! --s6

Captcha
09-29-2013, 03:00 AM
I think one of the advantages of using allegories is that they remove the participants of the argument from their comfort zones and fall-back positions and biases. I would think that this sort of removal would be especially valuable in the realm of US politics, with its binary nature and knee-jerk loyalties. (how many figures of speech did I use in that paragraph? A LOT!)

I would say that allegories are useful for pointing out universal truths. I used to teach English, and one of the books we used a lot was Animal Farm. Some teachers got right into the Russian revolution, showing how this animal represented Trotsky and that animal represented the proletariat, or whatever. I always thought it was more useful to help the students draw parallels to the modern world, rather than the historical one.

This doesn't mean there are no bad allegories. But just because there are bad ones doesn't mean that good ones aren't super-valuable.

shakeysix
09-29-2013, 03:03 AM
I always cry when Boxer gets hauled off --s6

Captcha
09-29-2013, 03:04 AM
I always cry when Boxer gets hauled off --s6

Don't get me started on Boxer!

(I used to leave the room and make the kids read it to themselves when that scene came up)

ETA: And it was mostly because he was a lovely old horse and he worked hard and didn't deserve to be betrayed, but it was ALSO because he reminded me of my grandfather, a lovely old man who worked hard and was probably the best representative of the proletariat I could ever think of. I'd say that's an effective allegory, on several levels.

dfwtinman
09-29-2013, 03:09 AM
It would seem logical that allegory can have a place in an argument -- if only because it can be a tool to help all parties frame a point in a reference(s) they can each understand. But this means that the point gathered from the allegory can be objected to. However, as an allegory is apt to be an incomplete description or framing of the argument/point, how much further flawed does it become if we try to use the same allegory to respond in the original argument? At some point that allegory must either modify or be discarded.

Makes sense, but I think it may depend on the allowable tolerances for the application in question. The devil hides in the details, but sometimes the details are just noise. Estimating can be a useful tool.

Let me speak more plainly about my decision. The budget debate (like so many these days) is polarizing. Many, in my view, approach the budget topic from a highly partisan POV.

If there is a "shut down," it's my view that both sides of aisle will bear some degree of material fault. A number of posters in both camps seem unshakeably certain that only the other camp bears even a modicum of fault. My concern was that expressing my view would result in both sides placing me squarely in the other's camp. As a consequence, my post would come to nothing; "a failure to communicate," as Strother Martin might say.

My thought was to remove both myself and my point from the immediate field of battle. That is, to improve the odds of communication by de-escalating the tension. Whether it worked at all depends on whether anyone was more receptive to the idea of shared responsibility after my post.

Incidentally, "the abyss" in the allegory was irrelevant to my point. It simply represents a consequence of intransigence. Personally, I find the rhetoric of fiscal doom to be self-indulgent in some cases and deliberate fear-mongering in others.

dfwtinman
09-29-2013, 03:10 AM
An allegory can illuminate an argument but it cannot cinch an argument. --s6

Agreed.

dfwtinman
09-29-2013, 03:13 AM
I think one of the advantages of using allegories is that they remove the participants of the argument from their comfort zones and fall-back positions and biases. I would think that this sort of removal would be especially valuable in the realm of US politics, with its binary nature and knee-jerk loyalties. (how many figures of speech did I use in that paragraph? A LOT!)

I would say that allegories are useful for pointing out universal truths. I used to teach English, and one of the books we used a lot was Animal Farm. Some teachers got right into the Russian revolution, showing how this animal represented Trotsky and that animal represented the proletariat, or whatever. I always thought it was more useful to help the students draw parallels to the modern world, rather than the historical one.

This doesn't mean there are no bad allegories. But just because there are bad ones doesn't mean that good ones aren't super-valuable.

I was composing and failed to see that you'd beaten me to the point. :)

ETA: I think you're right about drawing parallels to the modern world. Likely reduces the odds of inexactitude. But, the idea of sailing straight over the edge, whilst sailors in red want to steer right while sailors in the blue want to steer left was ...low hanging fruit.
:)

RichardGarfinkle
09-29-2013, 05:52 PM
Allegory is a form of modeling. It endeavors to correlate one set of real world beings, objects, circumstances, and actions to a fictional set of characters, props, scenes, events, etc.

As with any other form of modeling an allegory can and should be judged not just on its artistic merits but on how well it models the aforementioned real world beings, objects, circumstances, and actions.

It seems to me therefore that an allegory should be judged more strictly than either a story or a theory since it has to pass muster on both artistic and representational ground.

Allegory is hardly the only artwork that requires twofold standards. Architecture needs to be both livable and artistic. Scientific illustration needs to be both well drawn and accurate to what is being drawn and so on.

Allegory is also commonly employed to draw moral conclusions. Thus it enters a third realm in which it is to be judged. How moral are the conclusions it draws and how well do they fit the real world circumstances of the people involved.

The parables in the New Testament are allegories (usually of a particular relationship between humans and God). As such they exist specifically to drive home a moral point. It would be disingenuous at best to treat them as nothing more than isolated bits of storytelling.

The metaphor of the Ship of State goes back at least as far as Sophocles (it's in Antigone if I remember correctly). It is used to justify the sole rulership of the king of Thebes. A ship needs a single captain to guide it lest it crash upon rocks.

Since one subject of the play is the question of whether one person (Antigone) can do what she deems right in defiance of the ruler, the allegory of the king as pilot becomes deadly serious (since her action is one that earns death).

The allegory of the Ship of State is therefore integral to the play, and one can argue that Antigone's actions consist of rejecting the metaphor on the grounds that it does not fit the facts on the ground (in this case, her brother's unburied corpse).

shakeysix
09-29-2013, 06:39 PM
Antigone always makes me cry.--s6

dfwtinman
09-30-2013, 09:42 AM
It seems to me therefore that an allegory should be judged more strictly than either a story or a theory since it has to pass muster on both artistic and representational ground.

I think this is stated too absolutely for me to subscribe to.

In the first place, some theories should also be judged on more than one basis. Game theory, for example, can be judged for its mathematical merits, but also on its usefulness as a basis for making rational policy.

But mostly, I'd argue we really need to look at this issue on a case by case base basis.

As breathtakingly significant as my allegory about our budget bickering was, there would seem to be a blue jillion theories of greater import to mankind. Oh say, theories on global warming, genetic engineering, evolution, the Big Bang theory, Al's theory of General Relativity, or even his "special" one. I'd have to say that these theories should be judge more strictly than my budget-boat allegory.

YMMV

dfwtinman
09-30-2013, 09:59 AM
Antigone always makes me cry.--s6

Crying again? Let me retrieve the number of my psychiatrist...

:)

RichardGarfinkle
09-30-2013, 11:16 AM
I think this is stated too absolutely for me to subscribe to.

In the first place, some theories should also be judged on more than one basis. Game theory, for example, can be judged for its mathematical merits, but also on its usefulness as a basis for making rational policy.

But mostly, I'd argue we really need to look at this issue on a case by case base basis.

As breathtakingly significant as my allegory about our budget bickering was, there would seem to be a blue jillion theories of greater import to mankind. Oh say, theories on global warming, genetic engineering, evolution, the Big Bang theory, Al's theory of General Relativity, or even his "special" one. I'd have to say that these theories should be judge more strictly than my budget-boat allegory.

YMMV

You seem to be confusing what I meant by more strictly.
Each of the theories you mentioned needs to be judged strictly on two bases: accuracy of modeling and utility. An allegory has other bases of judgment: its artistic/story qualities.

Thus it is more strictly judged because it is being judged on more standards, not more strictly on the same set of standards.

You had prposed that it be judged solely as a story and dismissed the need to judge it as a model at all. Thus you implicitly proposed the general thesis that allegory be immune from judgment standards of accuracy and utility. It is this that I am objecting to.

dfwtinman
09-30-2013, 01:12 PM
You seem to be confusing what I meant by more strictly.
Each of the theories you mentioned needs to be judged strictly on two bases: accuracy of modeling and utility. An allegory has other bases of judgment: its artistic/story qualities.

Thus it is more strictly judged because it is being judged on more standards, not more strictly on the same set of standards.

You had prposed that it be judged solely as a story and dismissed the need to judge it as a model at all. Thus you implicitly proposed the general thesis that allegory be immune from judgment standards of accuracy and utility. It is this that I am objecting to.

First, your lack of specificity as to what you meant by "more strictly" does not equal "my confusion." When a thing is subject to more than one reasonable interpretation, it is ambiguous. Were this is a legal matter, the law would require that your post be construed against its author since the author's lack of clarity caused the ambiguity.

Second, in all candor, you seem to be most willfully misunderstanding me. Whether you're vexed because (for good and sufficient reasons) I declined to answer your question, or because my allegory is at odds with some deeply held (albeit disguised) partisan view, or whether there is some other force in play, I cannot say.

I have not said that my allegory should be judged "simply as a story." Else, why did I bother with allegory? Nowhere have I "dismissed the need" to judge my allegory as a valid model. I said it didn't need defending. A thing can be judged without being defended. And most assuredly, I have not said anything in support this unsubstantiated assertion:



Thus you implicitly proposed the general thesis that allegory be immune from judgment standards of accuracy and utility.


Why would I? I have not and do not subscribe to the above notion, your stubborn attempts at attribution notwithstanding.

On the contrary, what I have said, ad nauseam at this point, is that it was my intent, in this specific instance and for the reason I plainly articulated, that the reader undertake to judge the allegory for him or herself. You mentioned architecture earlier. Are you saying that buildings cannot be judged absent the architect engaging you in conversation? Seriously, do you require poets to write you in defense of their metaphors? Or perhaps you feel some special privilege here to pose interrogatories and demand answers?

If, by some chance, you are are referring me saying that my post "was just a story Richard, what ending would you like?" I suggest you re-read the entire post. I was being flip and said so in that very post. The whole truth is that I found your question off the mark, if not a little off-putting owing to a grammatical mood which struck me as nearly imperative in tone, if not form

You have persisted in attributing this phantom thesis to me despite my having disclaimed it more that once. I was disinclined to indulge you initially (as to do so was contrary to my expressed purpose) If such a thing is possible, I am far less inclined now as I am presently unable to convince myself that my inquisitor approaches me in good faith. Therefore, I will say no more.

RichardGarfinkle
09-30-2013, 03:37 PM
It's not just a story. It's a story with a specific moral to be applied to our current situation. Allegories are like theories, they can and should be measured against reality.

You are making an active claim about political reality by your use of an allegorical story in a political discussion.


I see your simile, but raise you a metaphor. ;)



Yes, but by whom? I'd argue that such devices call upon the reader to do the work. Else, why bother? Authors often render political commentary in story form. Modest proposals one might say. Whether such a notion constitutes an inherent corruption of otherwise immutable laws of forum comportment is another matter. Applied in moderation, I'd say no. Other's mmv.


In a word, no.

My answer to your question(s) centers on who does the challenging, not whether a thing can be challenged. I assume you agree that works of fiction have been known to advance ideas? If so, do you argue that those ideas go "unchallenged" unless you can engage the author in a dialogue? Speaking for myself, I've yet to write an author demanding that she explain herself.

So why choose allegory as my form of expression? For this reason. The budget issue is highly politicized, even emotional. In such cases, it can be extremely hard to make a point which is taken at face value. Meaning no disrespect to anyone, I have noticed that there are times when my words, however carefully chosen, were ignored as a reader sought instead to discern my sub rosa meaning. Particularly in political discourse, many want to place the writer in this or that camp, as a tool for interpretation if nothing else. Is a he a neo-con? A liberal? A libertarian? A nut job? Who thinks they know where my partisan sympathies lie? Do I have any?

It seems to be a default assumption, by some (and I truly do not mean you Richard), that argument is sophistry. Despite the forum's wise policy to the contrary, some see all argument as artifice in service to ideology.

By making the argument in story form, an obvious abstraction, my purpose was to remove any focus on me, and instead direct that focus to the idea. Defending the idea in my own voice defeats that purpose. In any event, at least in this limited respect, I don't seem to have succeeded.

Let me see if I understand you. You seem to be saying that an argument rendered in story form removes the author from the argument, so that one can argue only about the idea. Is that correct?

I see no reason to accept your thesis. Why would the form of the argument remove the author. It is true that most arguments are presented in a non-fiction form, but by no means all. We've had theses presented as allegories, as quotations, as poetry as pictures and as LOLcats. Why would story form remove the author.

One of the principles here is that people should own their words. You wrote it, you are responsible for it.

ColoradoGuy
09-30-2013, 06:20 PM
Let me see if I understand you. You seem to be saying that an argument rendered in story form removes the author from the argument, so that one can argue only about the idea. Is that correct?

I see no reason to accept your thesis. Why would the form of the argument remove the author. It is true that most arguments are presented in a non-fiction form, but by no means all. We've had theses presented as allegories, as quotations, as poetry as pictures and as LOLcats. Why would story form remove the author.

One of the principles here is that people should own their words. You wrote it, you are responsible for it.

I agree. A debate, or argument, is a debate or argument. The particular form used doesn't affect the substance of author agency. All the dancing around doesn't change that.

dfwtinman
09-30-2013, 07:02 PM
Let me see if I understand you. You seem to be saying that an argument rendered in story form removes the author from the argument, so that one can argue only about the idea. Is that correct?

One of the principles here is that people should own their words. You wrote it, you are responsible for it.

Gosh O 'mighty,

Since you have raised the topic of "owning one's words," you might have at least "owned" that the thesis you've just rejected isn't at all the thesis you've been ascribing to me (oh, and rejected too), Surely that's fair.

While you've still not stated my thesis as I would, this is much closer. Let's see:


"You seem to be saying that an argument rendered in story formallegory may remove s the author from the argument, so that one can argue only aboutthe reader can concentrate squarely on the idea. Is that correct?"


With those deletions and insertions, this is substantially correct.

Perhaps if I remove myself yet again and let another's words be heard:



Originally Posted by Captcha
I think one of the advantages of using allegories is that they remove the participants of the argument from their comfort zones and fall-back positions and biases. I would think that this sort of removal would be especially valuable in the realm of US politics, with its binary nature and knee-jerk loyalties.



As for me "owning my words", I've can't imagine what more I can do. You've just quoted several examples. Here's another:





It would seem logical that allegory can have a place in an argument -- if only because it can be a tool to help all parties frame a point in a reference(s) they can each understand. But this means that the point gathered from the allegory can be objected to. However, as an allegory is apt to be an incomplete description or framing of the argument/point, how much further flawed does it become if we try to use the same allegory to respond in the original argument? At some point that allegory must either modify or be discarded.

Makes sense, but I think it may depend on the allowable tolerances for the application in question. The devil hides in the details, but sometimes the details are just noise. Estimating can be a useful tool.

Let me speak more plainly about my decision. The budget debate (like so many these days) is polarizing. Many, in my view, approach the budget topic from a highly partisan POV.

If there is a "shut down," it's my view that both sides of aisle will bear some degree of material fault. A number of posters in both camps seem unshakeably certain that only the other camp bears even a modicum of fault. My concern was that expressing my view would result in both sides placing me squarely in the other's camp. As a consequence, my post would come to nothing; "a failure to communicate," as Strother Martin might say.

My thought was to remove both myself and my point from the immediate field of battle. That is, to improve the odds of communication by de-escalating the tension. Whether it worked at all depends on whether anyone was more receptive to the idea of shared responsibility after my post.

Incidentally, "the abyss" in the allegory was irrelevant to my point. It simply represents a consequence of intransigence. Personally, I find the rhetoric of fiscal doom to be self-indulgent in some cases and deliberate fear-mongering in others.


As far as I can reckon, Good Willebee's hunting (as he created this thread) tracked all my of my posts on this subject. I think I've sufficiently owned my words by any fair measure.

dfwtinman
09-30-2013, 07:35 PM
I agree. A debate, or argument, is a debate or argument. The particular form used doesn't affect the substance of author agency. All the dancing around doesn't change that.

I'm generally good with this.

In the precise case in point, however, it was not my intent to "debate or argue," at least not in the formal sense. Nonetheless, I did sincerely hope to add to the discussion by, just once, interjecting a short, and I'd hoped mildly amusing, allegory. This isn't so different from other types of interjections one might encounter: a revealing joke or a well-phrased quote. Even in highly formal debates or high-stakes trials, an advocate may enlist a short parable in service to the campaign (Clarence Darrow and others were well known for this).

As I said in another post, used in moderation, I don't see why this should be an issue.

I would add only this, in reference to your comment about "all the dancing around." Respectfully, I don't see that one short and simply worded post, no longer than a caudate sonnet, constitutes much dancing around.

Any way, your comments are appreciated.

ColoradoGuy
09-30-2013, 11:43 PM
I would add only this, in reference to your comment about "all the dancing around." Respectfully, I don't see that one short and simply worded post, no longer than a caudate sonnet, constitutes much dancing around.

You've been dancing and piroutteing for pages and pages. What all that has to do with sonnet form escapes me.

Williebee
09-30-2013, 11:54 PM
As far as I can reckon, Good Willebee's hunting (as he created this thread) tracked all my of my posts on this subject. I think I've sufficiently owned my words by any fair measure.

Not exactly. I will agree that allegory gives the opportunity to look at a situation separate from any baggage the recipient may feel the presenter brings with the problem. But it is no guarantee of that, and it does not divorce the presenter from the argument. Said presenter still owns the burden of their argument. One of the problems of allegory is that the presenter also owns any miscommunication the allegory "brings with."

dfwtinman
10-01-2013, 02:10 AM
Not exactly. Said presenter still owns the burden of their argument. One of the problems of allegory is that the presenter also owns any miscommunication the allegory "brings with."


Here's the thing:

One can read, re-read, deconstruct and commit to memory each and every post in this thread and yet not find a single post arguing that my allegory does not square with reality or is in any manner materially flawed, far less a post presenting an argument as to why. Not one. I am being 100% genuine in stating this.

Instead, each and every post (at least any that address the allegory) has been solely about the nature of allegory, the attending strengths and weaknesses, and proffered opinions about the burdens of argument. And for each and every one of these posts, I have responded to the best on my ability.

I say this with absolute earnestness and respect. If anyone can find an example of an affirmative criticism of my allegory in this thread, then, by all means, point it out. Similarly, if anyone can find an instance where I have not responded to an argument concerning "allegory theory" or any actual argument, again, kindly cite the textual support. I do not say this as an affront to anyone or to throw down a gauntlet or anything of the sort.

Let me also be clear that I am not in any way defending my allegory as having lived up to even the loosest standard that anyone cares to judge it by. As an objective matter, I've already said the allegory may have been "apt or awful." I haven't moved from that stance. As a subjective matter, the allegory itself is sand in my shorts.

I'll end this post by saying I have zero desire to respond now to some argument not already made in the several days since the allegory was first posted. There may have been a thousand valid objections. But I can't see how I can be faulted at this point for not rising to the challenge of an argument as yet unmade.

robjvargas
10-01-2013, 02:18 AM
As with any other form of modeling an allegory can and should be judged not just on its artistic merits but on how well it models the aforementioned real world beings, objects, circumstances, and actions.

I haven't read beyond this response, so maybe I'm repeating a question. If so, sorry.

It's important, I think, to give *some* allowance in an allegory, isn't it? It can provide a avenue for agreement. In dfw's example, keeping the ship from falling over the edge is something we all can agree with. And we really *are* arguing back and forth about which direction to turn.

So that allegory doesn't account for the politicking around Obamacare, or for the GOP party politics with the Tea Party movement. It represents a good, broad model of the problem faced in the government funding debate(s), doesn't it? If not why does it not? Perhaps the issue can be used back on the allegory to judge the fitness of the latter?

Williebee
10-01-2013, 02:20 AM
Here's the thing:

One can read, re-read, deconstruct and commit to memory each and every post in this thread and yet not find a single post arguing that my allegory does not square with reality or is in any manner materially flawed, far less a post presenting an argument as to why. Not one. I am being 100% genuine in stating this.


I don't think anyone is arguing that point, are they? I thought that portion was left over in P&CE. I thought we were discussing whether or not, by using an allegory to make a point, one could actually separate oneself from the argument.

I could be wrong about that being the discussion. I've napped.

dfwtinman
10-01-2013, 02:58 AM
I don't think anyone is arguing that point, are they?...
I could be wrong about that being the discussion. I've napped.


Well, hmm. I guess it was my net takeaway from the following:


from Richard
I see no reason to accept your thesis.

...people should own their words.

You wrote it, you are responsible for it.


from ColoradoGuy
A debate, or argument, is a debate or argument...All the dancing around doesn't change that.
...

You've been dancing and pirouetting for pages and pages.




by dfwtinman

As far as I can reckon, Good Willebee's hunting (as he created this thread) tracked all my of my posts on this subject

I think I've sufficiently owned my words by any fair measure.


from Williebee
Not exactly.
...

...the presenter also owns any miscommunication the allegory "brings with."


So....that's roughly how I got there. I took your comment through the filter of what had preceded. My bad and my apologies.

Williebee
10-01-2013, 05:57 AM
No worries. I was hoping to avoid the confusion by separating the discussion of allegory from the topic that raised it.

Looks like I was not completely successful.

dfwtinman
10-01-2013, 08:18 AM
Looks like I was not completely successful.

So few things in life are ever completely successful. Not in the long run. Somewhere along way I was taught that entropy was time's arrow. Sounds about right. ;)

RichardGarfinkle
10-01-2013, 03:59 PM
So anyway. Allegory has two functions: pedagogy and propaganda. They are both tied into allegory as model and allegory as moral lesson.

The pedagogic function relates to the use of allegory as teaching a proper course of action. In this function, the purpose of the allegory is to impart a procedure by which to do things with warnings about the dangers of doing them wrong.

Pilgrim's Progress has a great deal of pedagogy in that it is trying to teach how to live a Christian life and what dangers will come along.

The Journey to the West does the same for a particular branch of Buddhism (although it has much better special effects than Pilgrim's Progress).

The reader of such an allegory ends up with a map of proper actions with vivid warnings signs for what to do and not to do, as well as some guidance in individual circumstances.

The purpose of the moral in pedagogic allegory is to make clear what the end result of following the path laid out will do.

Allegory as propaganda is not so much concerned with getting people to follow a way as it is with seeking that people take up a certain allegiance. It will tend toward focusing on the moral rather than actual process. It will tend to lack particulars and focus only on reward and punishment. It often amounts to an attempt to create virtual behavioral conditioning.

The Ship of State example in Antigone fits this pattern. The purpose of the allegory there is to tell everyone to shut up and do what the king wants. For a Broadway version of the same idea, see the Guys and Dolls song Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat.

ETA: These two purposes create venues and aspects of allegory that open up ranges of argument. It is rational, indeed often necessary, to challenge the allegory in either or both of its pedagogic and propagandistic aspects. The necessity comes from the fact that readers are more accepting of stories than they are of direct arguments. Suspension of disbelief is a part of the act of reading a story, but a critical eye is more often used in direct argument.

Propaganda allegory therefore often relies upon the suspension of disbelief to bring its ideas across.

MetaGodwining: There was an intriguing SF novel entitled the Iron Dream written in 1972 by Norman Spinrad. Most of the book is a pulp SF story about an invasion by dangerous mind controlling creatures. The hero is a classic pulp hero type (tall, blond, strong, smart, inherently moral, etc).

But framing this pulp novel is a discussion of the novel's author. A German named Adolph Hitler who emigrated to the US and became an SF writer. There is discussion of the writer's attitudes, and SF fandom's positive reaction to the work.

By framing the story thusly, Spinrad is revealing the pulp novel as an allegory for the Nazi world view. He is also critiquing the pulp attitudes as inherently Nazilike because of how much his pulp hero resembles the standard pulp heroes and his villains (blatant allegories for Nazi attitudes toward Jews) resemble standard pulp villains.

He is also bringing the reader's critical mind to bear while reading a story that might otherwise be read with suspension of disbelief.

Maxx
10-01-2013, 11:00 PM
Looks like I was not completely successful.


Once upon a time there was an Allegory. It supposed a flat world and seemed to reference a con-artist named Amerigo (Vespucci I presume).

Complete success seems unlikely. As the I ching Says:

The first SIX, divided, shows the caldron overthrown and its feet turned up. (But) there will be
advantage in its getting rid of what was bad in it. (Or it shows us) the concubine (whose position is improved) by means of her son. There will be no error.

Poet of Gore
08-29-2014, 08:13 AM
It would seem logical that allegory can have a place in an argument -- if only because it can be a tool to help all parties frame a point in a reference(s)

I predict with the rash of people telling other people how to think and because groupthink trying to push its own morality on everyone else, i think that allegory will become more popular than ever. with people getting fired over tweets and fb posts and etc, the smart people who want to say something that goes against what is currently allowed, will use allegory.

cool thing about allegory is that you can say whatever you want. usually the people who are sympathetic to your view will understand you, but the people you are kind of taking shots at will not get it. Like writing in code.

rwhegwood
10-31-2015, 07:54 AM
Relevant Quotes (I think) from Sculpting In Time

“We can express our feelings regarding the world around us either by poetic or by descriptive means. I prefer to express myself metaphorically. Let me stress: metaphorically, not symbolically. A symbol contains within itself a definite meaning, certain intellectual formula, while metaphor is an image. An image possessing the same distinguishing features as the world it represents. An image — as opposed to a symbol — is indefinite in meaning. One cannot speak of the infinite world by applying tools that are definite and finite. We can analyse the formula that constitutes a symbol, while metaphor is a being-within-itself, it's a monomial. It falls apart at any attempt of touching it.”
― Andrei Tarkovsky (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16014.Andrei_Tarkovsky)

“In theater actual blood cannot be convincing as a demonstration of poetic truth if it merely has meaning on one level, as a natural function. Blood in cinema, on the other hand, is blood, not a sign, not a symbol of anything else. Therefore when the hero of Wajda’s Ashes and Diamonds is killed surrounded by sheets hanging out to dry, and he presses one of these to his chest as he falls, and his scarlet blood spreads across the white linen to make a red and white symbol of the Polish flag, the resulting image is more literary than cinematic, even though it is extraordinarily powerful emotionally.”

“There are people who want to know about everything in the minutest detail, like accountants or lawyers. But show a toe sticking out of a hole in a sock to a poet and it is enough to produce an image of the whole world in him.”

“It is obvious that art cannot teach anyone anything, since in four thousand years humanity has learnt nothing at all. We should long ago have become angels had we been capable of paying attention to the experience of art, and allowing ourselves to be changed in accordance with the ideals it expresses. Art only has the capacity, through shock and catharsis, to make the human soul receptive to good. It’s ridiculous to imagine that people can be taught to be good…Art can only give food – a jolt – the occasion – for psychical experience.”