Sunday, March 20, 2005

Critique of Violence

Recall that Fort Kant is a misspelling of Fort Kent, which denotes a town in Maine, and a fort within that town.

If one proceeds in the opposite direction and conducts a search for Immanuel Kent, among the many misattributed quotations the search engine turns up, one will find a page that includes with a brief biography a list of several so-called common misspellings of Immanuel Kant. Presumably the intent is to attract students who misgoogle the master’s name while working on a report.

I cannot begin to unpack all that is inherent in this strategy, other than to note that it treats graphemes as though they operate in a space of physical force rather than a space of orthographic norms. This phenomenon is parallel to a trend in contemporary national-level political discourse, in which language is treated not as the medium of rationality but simply as a force that has psychological effects (see my remarks on Bush’s second inaugural, which remarks John was kind enough to post at commonplacebook). Indeed, such an attitude toward the public use of language is not uncommon in the history of political discourse.

Here’s the list. If you are interested in the source, you know what to do.
Common misspellings
kanti mmanuel, kantt immanuel, kant immannuel, kat immanuel, kant immanule, kant immanuell, kant immauel, aknt immanuel, kantimmanuel, kant immanuuel, kant mmanuel, kant immnauel, kan immanuel, kan timmanuel, kant immaanuel, kant imamnuel, knat immanuel, kant immaneul, kant immanel, ant immanuel, kant immanuel, kant mimanuel, kkant immanuel, kant immaunel, kant immanueel, kant immanue, katn immanuel, kant immmanuel, kant immanul, kant immnuel, kaant immanuel, kent immanuel, kant iimmanuel, kant imanuel, kannt immanuel, knt immanuel


Blogger SquirrleyMojo said...

but language _is_ psychological force; those who know how to "play the game," as Derrida would suggest, know this . . .

3/20/2005 9:30 PM  

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