JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 322
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drawing out its significance for our time. But in order to be understood,
the text requires a contact point with the present, for without this contact
point, without a medium that is intelligible to the present, the text will not
be understood, and so will remain at a distance and perhaps be forgotten.
According to this scheme, the contact point is to be found in the
interpreter's presuppositions ("prejudices"), which constitute the initial
directedness of the interpreter's ability to approach and eventually grasp
the text. As the interpreter projects or transfers the language-world that
he or she already understands onto the text, the interpreter comes to
provide a contact with the text that renders it intelligible in the present.
Like the translator who works within the language-world of an audience
in order to make the text meaningful to them, the interpreter brings
into play presuppositions (which are the fore-judgments ofthe present)
and so manages to translate the text's distance into the meaningful
terms of the present.
Since the interpreter's present world is projected onto the text, it is
evident that there will be no recovery or transmission of the text in its
pristine state. In fact the text will be, at all times, selected, ordered, and
accented in different ways by different presents. Gadamer sees this as a
"productive endeavour," but this translation into the present "does not, of
course, mean that [the interpreter/translator] is at liberty to falsify the
meaning of what the other person says. Rather, the meaning must be
preserved, but since it must be understood within a new linguistic world,
it must be expressed within a new way ..." (346). So the interpreter/
translator must simultaneously "respect the character of his or her own
language, into which he or she is translating, while still recognizing the
value of the alien, even antagonistic character of the text and its expres-
sion" (349). It is all too evident that in order to avoid the critique that
hermeneutics is only concerned with how the present (interpreter) appro-
priates and subsumes the past (text) into its presuppositions, Gadamer
must provide a reciprocating (circular) explanation of understanding.
That is, hermeneutics must account for how the present and the past
modify and act on each other so that they fuse and give rise to understand-
ing. Understanding then is not to be conceived as a unilateral process, but
as a reciprocal application of the past to the present and the present to the
past. Allow me to unfold the workings of this proposal.
A Reciprocal Proposal: The Fusion of Horizons
Although the interpreter always already starts from his or her present
presuppositions, the interpreter's desire in wanting to overcome the
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/68/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .