E. C. Large’s “The semantic discipline”

Featuring E. C. Large’s “The semantic discipline” 

Tuesday, 09 August 2011
Seoul Country Korean Restaurant (215 Banff Avenue), Banff AB
8 PM

As a project within the framework of Dexter Sinister’s From the Toolbox of a Serving Library summer residency at the Banff Centre, this iteration of No Reading After the Internet will feature E. C. Large’s “The semantic discipline.” Large’s review of Stuart Chase’s The Tyranny of Words was originally published in the New England Weekly in 1938, and was republished in Dot Dot Dot in 2010.

The core proposition of Chase’s work is “the deflation of all words and all statements the meaning of which cannot be established by reference to operations and events in the world of tangible things” and in reading to replace those words and statements with the word “blab.” The effect is to situate language in particular experiences of people, and to deflate the impossible universal claims of absolute statements. In Chase’s worldview, abstraction is permitted so long as it references experience and observation, and is not instrumentalized to cerebration nor fervour. But Large disagrees with Chase’s claim to the uselessness of semantic blanks in that they contribute to an accurate reading of a person’s character, revealing their relationship to the world through language. Or, as Large would put it: “Experience is slowly teaching me that all utterances are really meaningless except in reference to the persons who make them.” For this salon, participants will be encouraged to semantically translate their own writing, and others to judge what remains (or not) of the translator’s person is the detritus.

Participation in No Reading After the Internet is free and open to everyone, regardless of their familiarity with a text or its author. Texts will be handed out at the salon. No pre-reading or research is required.