Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

degrees of realism and consistency

July 21st, 2005

I’m more than halfway through Goffman’s Frame Analysis, subtitled “An Essay on the Organization of Experience” (described by Brian as “not an essay, that’s a f*cking tome!”). Robin’s recommendation was right on target. (As was the other text by Deborah Tannen, Framing in Discourse.)
Goffman uses the obvious changes in stage props over time as evidence to “alert us to the expectation that framing does not so much introduce restrictions on what can be meaningful as it … open[s] up variability” (emphasis added, 238). Here I am chafing against the limits when the natural capacity to adjust to all manner of framings and transformations indicates possibility! “Differently put, persons seem to have a very fundamental capacity to accept changes in organizational premises which, once made, render a whole strip of activity different from what it is modeled on and yet somehow meaningful . . .” (238). To wit, teaching “experientially” instead of traditionally, and the capacity of Jeff at UNH to apply communication theory in practice vs the inability of others to recognize the possibility of recasting teaching in an as yet meaningful way. Others (going unnamed to protect the innocent and the guilty) mistrust: “. . . that these systematic differences can be corrected for and kept from disorganizing perception, while at the same time involvement in the story line is maintained” (238). Right? Goffman is saying that the differences between the model and its reorganization are systematic and therefore sensible. “Correcting for” doesn’t indicate “fixing”, rather it indicates the ability to adjust to a different logic without losing one’s perceptive connectivity to the situation and persons in it.
I’m thinking of the degrees of realism and consistency imposed as standards for interpreting practice. In the enactment of interpreting, there seems to be a quite narrow range of acceptability (a tight frame?): EP interpreters and SL interpreters both talk about realism (as measured by the disappearance of the interpreter). To become visible, to appear as one’s own person (or even as the character of the interpreter?), is a violation of consistency, marked in SL interpreting by natural criticism of INTERRUPTING and TAKING OVER.

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Categories: Interpreting, phenomenology, teaching
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