chapter  10
22 Pages

Setting an Example

WithFrederick Turner

The methods and constraints under which linguistic meanings emerge impose common boundaries and themes upon their products. The poststructuralist turn, in which different "culture worlds" or "epistemes" are thought of as being radically incommensurable and arbitrary, confined within their respective dictionaries, is now itself under question - and rightly so, in the light of the insight of the epic composers. The most basic value terms cannot be defined in the manner of dictionary or a philosophical argument. Laws seem, as many philosophers have opined, to be based on one of two foundations: what is good and what is right. Much epic plays with the relative valuation of firstness and secondness, in various senses: the primitive versus the advanced, the naive versus the sophisticated, the original versus the perfected, and so on. English, uncharacteristically, does not have commonly accepted current words for this distinction, which is very important in epic.