Friday, July 23, 2010

Intersubjectivity of Literary Techniques

The intersubjectivity of literary techniques in narrative nonfiction = the use of such literary techniques perforce transforms the journalist from a mere reporter of the objective world whose story runs along the “horizontal” and instead delves into the “vertical” – as Capote described it –in which readers are able to connect to other lived lives on a subjective level. The use of such techniques demands what the renowned New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell is reported to have described as a “wild exactitude” on the part of the reporter. “Neither mere exactitude – the dreary procession of facts – nor wildness itself – the kind of language bending rhetorical overkill that many people mistake for originality – but the two together.”[1]
The “foundations of knowledge” = “the objectivations of subjective processes (and meanings) by which the intersubjective commonsense world is constructed.”[1]

“The reality of everyday life further presents itself to me as an intersubjective world, a world that I share with others. This intersubjectivity sharply differentiates everyday life from other realities of which I am conscious. I am alone in the world of my dreams, but I know that the world of everyday life is as real to others as it is to myself.”[2]

[1] Berger, Peter L., and Thomas Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality; A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1967, 20.
[2] Ibid., 23
In a review of four seminal books on the ethics of journalism, Clifford Christian notes that in the 1920s a “nonfunctional approach dominated in which passion for righteousness, duty, communal welfare, trust, decency and honesty of purpose were common exhortations signaling deep connectedness with others.”
However, that intersubjective and communal stance was soon eclipse by a competing notion that held that journalistic ethics was “equivalent to an objective, i.e. unbiased, reporting of facts.” Thus, the height of workmanlike professional journalism was publishing as many unvarnished, unbiased, non-partisan facts about the subject. “The ideology of objective reporting emerged,” Christian observes, “with the press declaring as virtuous the impartial transmission of pure information.” [i]

[i] Clifford G. Christian, “Fifty Years of Scholarship in Media Ethics,” Journal of Communication 27, no. 4 (Autumn 1977), 20-21.
[1] James Thurber, The Years with Ross. New York: Perennial Classics, 2001, xix.

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