No, not the existentialist concept.  Bill and I are engaged (or not!) in a comment thread discussion about the word 'fictional'.   We seem to be agreed that in phrases such as 'fictional alcoholic' or 'fictional man' (our canonical example is George Harvey Bone in Patrick Hamilton's Hangover Square) the word 'fictional' is alienating.  That is, a fictional man is not a man.  Bill seems to hold that 'fictional man' is a concept term, possibly a kind term, but my view is that this is incoherent and we need some other way of elucidating the phrase.

We touched on this topic briefly once before, here.  Bill offered some examples.
  • former wife
  • decoy duck
  • negative growth
  • faux marble
  • ex-priest
  • putative father
  • artificial leather
  • legally dead
  • male chauvinist
  • generational chauvinist
  • quondam inamorata
  • socially contagious
'Former wife', 'ex-priest', and 'quondam inamorata' all involve a tense shift.  These are examples of an important class of alienating formations that I claim involve disguised semantic ascent.  'Decoy duck', 'faux marble, and 'artificial leather' are examples from another class where visual similarity or 'looking like' is a common feature.  The key idea here is that of a representation.  A decoy duck is a model of a duck, and a model is a representation.  Faux marble is a paint effect that resembles or represents marble, and artificial leather is a material that resembles leather in appearance and some physical properties like elasticity and flexibility.  This puts 'decoy duck' et al in the same class as 'fictional', I think.  We have a representation of a duck, albeit in material form, alongside a representation of a man, this time in words.  Neither representation need be of a particular real duck or man.

No comments:

Post a Comment