The Third Thing: Context as Connection in Gnomic and Nature Poetry
"This side" and "beyond" are faint repetitions of the dialectics of "inside" and "outside." . . . Man's being is confronted with the world's being.
-- Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
Anthropologist Edward T. Hall examines the linguistic confusion that arises among cultures which do not share a context that fills in discursive gaps.1 "Context" he defines as information that is assumed and therefore not expressed on a verbal level but that nonetheless gives essential dimension to the linguistic "code."2 The "contexting process" allows us to "pay attention to the right things";3 it acts as a screening process which "provides structure for the world and protects the nervous system from information overload."4Each culture decides what it will relegate to assumed knowledge and what is to be emphasized or pointed out. Meanwhile, Hall provides us with another set of terms for describing the distinctions I have been trying to illuminate: a "highcontext communication" is one where "most of the information is either in____________________