Re: explination of feminist perspective

Gary F. Blanchard (
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 07:25:54 -0800

Dear Bob-

Thanks for the brief note. First and foremost, I apologize if I have --
as I interpret you as saying -- misinterpreted your earlier comments. I
would appreciate you letting me know where you feel I was incorrect, so
I can either explain myself or correct myself.

As to your main point, in my view you are even more correct than you may
realize when you say: "Your comments illustrate one of your major points
- that is, you are free to construe my comments in any way you wish."

As best I can tell, we are not only free to construe any way we wish, we
have no choice but to do so. That's how 'free' people make sense of
life. Dominated, controlled people construe within parameters acceptable
to their masters.

However, it does not follow that because we are free to construe, we can
just construe any old way we want. Crazy people do that; that's why we
call them 'crazy.' Effectively communicating (i.e., coordinating) people
always seek to match their interpretation/construal of a matter up with
the interpretion/construal of their partner(s)-- hence the oft-repeated
question/comment: 'know what I mean?'

But because linguistic interpretation (hermeneutics?) is such an
ineffable, substle phenomenon, subject to so many possible sources of
disortion, events we refer to as communication breakdowns often occur.
In fact, for some of us, they are common.

I gather from your note that we have encountered such a breakdown.

Obviously we can be upset about it, ignore it, or seek to resolve it.

Mature people like you and me know that the first two options are not
satisfactory. Only resolution is appropriate for us. What then to do?

The thing to do in such a case, I believe, is to enlighten your hearer
(me) as to how, when and where they have interpreted you in a way you
did not intend, and then for you to speak again in a way that you
believe more precisely specifies your intended meaning.

The rule of thumb I learned, from 'languaging,' is twofold:

- Breakdowns are constitutive of life. That is, life is made up of
them, and/or preparations to deal with them, such as a MacDonald's on
the corner. Hence breakdowns can never be completely avoided, only
dealt with appropriately when they occur.

- In order to be able to deal with them, it essential to keep on
communicating (i.e., constructing and reconstructing), through the
breakdown, and do your best not to attach negative significance to your
partner's actions. This leaves the door open to achieving/constructing a
breakthrough. While not guaranteed, it is achievable by skillful,
sensitive speakers and hearers in a continuing conversation.

RSVP? Gary
Robert Parks wrote:
> Gary,
> Your comments illustrate one of your major points - that is, you are free
> to construe my comments in any way you wish. You have construed my comments
> in a way that make them consistent with your impression of what I might
> have meant. Your interpretation is not consistent with my intented
> meanings. But, according to your ideology of interpretation, I can only
> trigger others' interpretations. They are responsible for those
> interpretations. Enjoy your freedom.
> Bob