News and blog posts from our students and faculty

Out for a Walk with Charles S. Pierce

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 | Posted by Eli Robinson

For this position diagram, I attempted to translate “The Three Cotary Propositions,” a 1931 lecture by Charles S. Pierce, into contemporary language. I wanted Pierce’s views, which I consider quite transcendent, to be accessible to someone with a modern attention span and understanding of language. This is why I chose to illustrate a few of Pierce’s points, generously seasoned with my own views, in the format of a comic strip. Given the nature of the argument Pierce makes, I feel comfortable not only modernizing his points, but adding to them, as the frontier of these concepts have expanded considerably since 1931. Nonetheless, his work continues to be relevant and clarifying the polemics’ stance was a refreshing, fun, and engaging process.

Above is a random sample snapshot of Pierce’s lecture, which, at around twelve pages,  demonstrates the need for translation. Fortunately for me, my grandfather, the poet and St. John’s professor Charles G. Bell, who was friends with Einstein and was barfed on by Dylan Thomas one wild night, actually spoke like this. I was exposed to this type of language from an early age and understand it. However, in an effort to not default into the same highfalutin wordage, I translated the lecture, paragraph by paragraph, into Spanish and then back into English using Google Translate. I knew that translating it this way was crude, but I wanted to see what other word choices surfaced and be forced into articulating it myself.

My favorite part of this process was that “Abduction” consistently becomes “Kidnapping,” which is hilarious because I don’t think I could define the intended meaning of the word anyway. This process made distilling paragraphs into sentences very simple, I suppose because it was now a foreign language, the essence of which I understood. Like listening in on a Scottish conversation about something you are familiar with. I then started a comic strip from the paragraph sentences and presented it to the class last Tuesday.

The feedback was that it was too verbose (STILL!) and could better utilize illustration and the comic strip medium. It was also going to end up being insanely long and meandering. So, I continued the distillation process and came down with a few points that I wanted to illustrate. I got braver about my illustrating and more particular about the execution. I became clearer about my ideas and more comfortable sharing them in this way.  I would love feedback about the work and continued editorial suggestions from anyone who is interested in giving it. The final product is below….

 

No Comments »