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Humanist Archives: March 27, 2020, 7:52 a.m. Humanist 33.703 - we continue

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 703.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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        Date: 2020-03-26 10:41:42+00:00
        From: Francois Lachance 
        Subject: epithets and vectors Re: [Humanist] 33.679: we continue


Susan Sontag in the beginning of Illness as Metaphor in her second paragraph
states her purpose

I want to describe, not what it is really like to emigrate to the kingdom of
the ill and live there, but the punitive or sentimental fantasies concocted
about that situation: not real geography, by stereotypes of national character.

There is here an invocation of the geographic and the cultural which puts me
in mind of a set of epithets to describe cities. One place is described in terms
of another. For example, Edinburgh as the Athens of the North or Wuhan as the
Chicago of China.

What strikes me in these epithets is their vectorial nature. They reflect a
perspective "from" to bring a "to" closer to that "from". I am struggling to
remain as neutral as possible in this description because I believe that there
is something more than cultural imperialism at play. A desire to make familiar
and bridge a distance?

I realize that my struggle to grapple with these vectorial epithets is because
I am located at neither end (being for the time being in Toronto).

Vectors have direction but how to account for magnitude in epithets? The
vector may be a limited analogy unless, perhaps, its coordinates are read off a

A little Longfellow to accompany your musings:

I shot an Arrow into the air
It fell to earth I knew not where,
For so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

Francois Lachance

to think is often to sort, to store and to shuffle: humble, embodied tasks

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