Context

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Thinking Tools / Information / Macroinformation / Views
@ K. 2005 10 17

“What fools these mortals be,” says Puck in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. In his recent novel, Magic Street Orson Scott Card made me seethe by quoting the line without emphasizing that in its dramatic context the full meaning of the line is very different from its face value. Puck is servant to Oberon, king of the fairies. The play features a pair of young couples. Oberon, a king of mischief, has instructed Puck, a mischief specialist, to apply a love potion to the eyes of an inappropriate individual, messing up four lives. Puck gets it wrong and the mischief backfires. Oberon chastises him, and he covers his gaff, first by blaming fate, then by mocking mortals.

A meaning is visible in the phrase, but the principal meaning is invisible, can be seen only by sensitivity to the full complications of the context. There are riches within riches. The mischief makers intend ill, but by accident (by incompetence), do good: then blame fate! Everything is twisted till it’s backwards: that is, forwards.

The phenomenon relates to but is not the same as irony. Context is an essential part of irony; irony is not essential to context.

Note again: the information, the macroinformation, is far richer than the data.

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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