Friday, February 24, 2006

Misreading or Mis-writing?

In yesterday's blog entry, I summarized the argument in Andrei Lankov's recent article (pdf) on North Korea's 'decline' from Stalinist state to authoritarian state, then noted his policy suggestion and raised a question:
Most interesting for me is his policy suggestion, namely, that small-scale economic ventures be encouraged in the North because these would enhance the independence of people from the North Korean state apparatus and increase the population's knowledge of the outside world.

How this policy suggestion would be implemented is left unsaid. North Korea might be no longer Stalinist, but as an authoritarian state, it still has the wherewithal to obstruct official economic ventures from the outside. But perhaps Lankov means unofficial ventures?

Even so, the suggestion is a bit like belling the cat -- who's going to do it?
In other words, I liked the suggestion about encouraging small-scale economic activities that would benefit the North Korean population but openly wondered how to go about accomplishing this.

A reader signed in as "Anonymous" then quoted me but either badly misread me or badly expressed my same question:
"Small-scale economic ventures [should] be encouraged in the North because these would ... increase the population's knowledge of the outside world."

Care to explain how?
Anonymous appears to be asking me if I would "[c]are to explain how" I intend to see the policy suggestion put into effect. I don't know if Anonymous was misreading or mis-writing. Anyway, after a momentary interrobang, I responded to this comment with a comment of my own:
Anonymous, I posed the same question:

"How this policy suggestion would be implemented is left unsaid."

Perhaps we should both ask Lankov.
Probably, I should assume that Anonymous had understood me and was simply repeating my same question but in a way that inadvertently sounded as though it were directed at me even though it was really intended for Lankov.

Okay, I'll assume that. I doubt that Lankov reads my blog, so I'm not anticipating him to respond here, but he does post comments on the blog formerly known as Marmot's Hole, so the question could easily be posted there and likely get a reply from Lankov.

Maybe this has already happened.

17 Comments:

At 6:39 AM, Blogger Joel said...

I could be wrong, but I think you have misinterpreted the question of your "anonymous" poster. I think he/she is challenging the idea that small economic ventures will bring knowledge of the outside world. So when he/she says, "Care to explain how?" He wants you to provide logical process or proof that small economic ventures bring knowledge not otherwise accessible to the citizens of North Korea.

 
At 6:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Joel, that could be right. Even so, the query should be directed more to Lankov than to me. I guess that we'll just have to hope that Anonymous posts a clarification.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:29 AM, Anonymous James said...

I had never heard of the interrobang before. Thanks for that gift.

 
At 8:31 AM, Anonymous James said...

By that I mean, thanks for sharing that bit of knowledge with the world.

I wasn't implying you invented it. That would be like thinking you would be putting policy into effect.

 
At 8:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

James, I had no difficulty reading your remark, despite the smidgen of ambiguity.

Gifts circulate anyway, you know. See Marcel Mauss, The Gift.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Brendan Wolfe said...

Allow me to second James. Interrobang caused a kind of weird, eponymous experience by which I learned the meaning of and experienced interrobang simultaneously.

I also checked out the comments thread over at Marmot's. It's disappointing to see the discussion devolve, instantaneously, into accusations of being on Dear Leader's payroll. While I have not read Dr. Lankov's piece yet, your description of it suggests that his is an honest & sincere take on the North Korean crisis, by which I mean one that is not ideologically driven. Even if one does not choose to endorse his suggestions, that alone is a gift in today's political climate.

 
At 1:09 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Brendan, I'm glad that the 'interrobang' was good for you, too.

Oops ... that didn't come out quite right.

As for the discussion at Marmot's Hole, some of it was disappointing, but I notice that USinKorea quickly apologized for his slur about Lankov.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery:

The words I quoted are yours, not Lankov's: are you seriously suggesting that you are not responsible for your own words?

But suffice to say, Joel is right: I am asking you to provide proof that small economic ventures can bring knowledge of the outside world.

Go ahead, please! Don't slough the task off on someone who probably doesn't even read your blog!

In the meantime, if you have time, look over carefully what I did to your words. Through a careful logico-rhetorical analysis of the original structure, you may discover why it is that you consistently have to disown your own words and claim that I "misread" you!

 
At 5:54 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, yes, the words are mine. I was summarizing Lankov's position and explicitly wondering how supporting small-scale economic activities would be possible.

Joel has correctly interpreted your comment? Fine, I have no problem with that. I admit to misreading your question, and I apologize for that.

However, I also do not know the answer to your question, which should be directed to Lankov, not to me.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:06 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

P.S. Lest there be any ambiguity, let me clarify that my misreading of your question was unintentional.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Brendan Wolfe said...

Anonymous,

What does this mean exactly, "The words I quoted are yours"? Was it not clear that Jeffery was paraphrasing Dr. Lankov? (His words, Lankov's ideas, &c.) He attributed the policy suggestion of initiating "small-scale economic ventures" to Dr. Lankov. He attributed confusion over how to do such a thing to himself. So why now must we demand--and with a certain ruffled hostility to boot--that Jeffery promptly unconfuse himself on this point or be branded irresponsible?

Be that as it may, why must anyone--the proprietor of this blog or Dr. Lankov--be obliged to provide "proof" that a policy "suggestion" would be applied successfully? It may or may not take a logico-rhetorical analysis for you to understand this, but "proof" is in the pudding. No proof is to be had until one can actually go ahead and do something. In the meantime, there might be evidence & argument, but the obligation for providing those belongs to Dr. Lankov who, all paraphrasing aside, actually came up with the idea in the first place.

 
At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brendan Wolfe wrote:

"It may or may not take a logico-rhetorical analysis for you to understand this, but "proof" is in the pudding."

That sounds like some strange pudding you are eating, Brendan!

But despite all this quoting and summarizing and paraphrasing and clarifying and smidgeoning and misreading and apologizing and pudding proofing, I note with a certain ruffled sadness that neither you nor Jeffery have taken upon yourself the task I set.

Thus, I conclude:

Small economic ventures will NOT bring knowledge of the outside world to the citizens of North Korea.

 
At 8:47 AM, Anonymous James said...

This is getting odd.

Anonymous, I am not a pudding eater, just a regular reader of this blog. I also comment frequently (without trying to hide my identity, by the way) and I must say you seem to have missed the boat here. It's silly to expect a person to argue in support of another person's idea simply because he reported that the idea was being discussed.

Just under the title of this blog, you'll notice that the first word is brainstorming, which is cool because it implies that the writer of this blog is interested in posing questions and searching for answers. The question he posed was how to go about what Lankov suggests. It's quite clear he's looking for the answer himself and would like to know more.

Now you conclude that small eco ventures will NOT bring knowledge of the outside world to the citizens of North Korea. OK. You are making a statement more in need of explanation and justification than Jeffery's original question. Perhaps more insight into this could be found on your blog. No wait, you're anonymous...

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous is a troll because no one could really be so invincibly ignorant as to continue misunderstanding what Brendan and I have written.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Brendan Wolfe said...

Anonymous, You may indeed be right. But I don't particularly care whether "small-scale economic ventures" will bring outside knowledge to North Koreans. I mean, I didn't write the paper. Jeffery didn't write the paper. Dr. Lankov wrote the paper. Dr. Lankov made the suggestion. Argue with him! In the meantime, what would you suggest? And how would you feel about putting your name next to that suggestion? Or would that pudding be a little too strange?

 
At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog is called Gypsy SCHOLAR, so it is only fair that some of us hold its author to this SCHOLARLY standard.

Unfortunately, however, some of us have noted that this is not a standard that is rigorously enforced. Indeed, it is my observation that the Gypsy Scholar practices a double-standard: to wit, high scholarly standards for others; low scholarly standards for himself. High scholarly standards for Koreans, Muslims and others he attacks; low standards for himself.

I will now proceed to prove my point.

Take, for example, this original admission of the author:

"I've rather quickly read Lankov's article and found it very interesting."

The author says that he has "rather quickly read" the article. Not a good start for a scholar!

Nevertheless, he then proceeds to SUMMARIZE this article in order to INFORM others what he understands by something that he's "rather quickly read".

He goes on to suggest:

"Most interesting for me is his policy suggestion, namely, that small-scale economic ventures be encouraged in the North because these would enhance the independence of people from the North Korean state apparatus and increase the population's knowledge of the outside world."

To this, I raise a simple question relating to the second point, which concerns increasing the population's knowledge of the outside world:

HOW?

At this point, the author becomes confused and says that I have "misread" him.

Another blogger then suggests that my question related to the need for clarifying the logical process in the assertion about outside knowledge.

At this point, the author suggests "that could be right". I then confirm that it is right!

At this point, the author suggests that I am a troll, suggests that “nobody could really be so invincibly ignorant as to continue misunderstanding what … I have written” --- and fails to answer the question at all!

Small proof: one high standard for others; one remarkably low standard for himself. Abuse and invective for perfectly straightforward questions!

That is the method of the Gypsy Scholar.

Now, let us examine the method of a genuine scholar.

Let's reread the article and find out why the author became confused.

If we do this, we will find that there are in fact TWO mentions of the point under contention.

The first appears on page 96, where Lankov writes:

"small-scale activities, on the other hand, would help engage the North Korean people and expose them to the outside world" (96).

This is what Jeffery summarizes, and it appears ON THE VERY FIRST PAGE OF THE ARTICLE.

However, it does not settle the question I raised, which is how small-scale ventures can increase North Korean knowledge of the outside world.

But let us continue to read the article, carefully and diligently.

If we do this, we will discover almost at the very end of Lankow's article, an elaboration of the original point. It appears on page 121:

"Small-scale activities spearheaded by the United States and other foreign businesses in the North would actually be quite a positive development. Such exchanges would teach the North Koreans how capitalism works, and would also expose them to the outside world".

To me, this explains how North Koreans would be exposed to the outside world.

But it is not a point about "small-scale ventures". It is a point about "small-scale ventures spearheaded by the United States and other foreign businesses in the North."

On the basis of this evidence, I want to suggest a new name for this blog:

The Great Big Billy Goat Gruff: Butting Heads With Others About History, Politics, Literature, Religion, and Other Topics

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, you are a troll.

It's clear from your comments that you are intelligent, so you cannot possibly have misunderstood what I wrote.

Rather, you simply don't like what I write.

Since you don't like my posts, there's a very simple solution. Don't read my blog.

Jeffery Hodges

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