JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 325
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Mario DiPaolantino 325
(constrain) the interpreter's reading/writing. The ways in which the text
has been previously discussed, analyzed, questioned, and annotated in
books and other media necessarily affects the interpreter's understanding
of the text and subsequently transmits the tradition into the present. Here,
both the "effects" of the text (the old interpretations) and the present
understanding to be achieved are the (pro)creators of the tradition.
Concentric Circles: The Continuous Center of the Tradition
The (concentric) circles that I have been sketching seem to provide the
annotator with a model that takes into account his or her concerns to
define, maintain, understand, and hence transmit the text into the present,
for the hermeneutical laws, which see understanding as a reciprocal
transference between past and present, seem to provide a way for the
annotator to understand and transmit something other than him or herself
and the annotator's present, and yet define this other in a way that
contributes to and expands not only the annotator's present understand-
ing but the continuity of understanding in the tradition. The annotator
who works within the laws of hermeneutics does not assume that the
text's horizon is identical with the annotator's present horizon. However,
the annotator's will to transmit and understand can "only [be] something
laid over a continuing tradition, and hence it immediately recombines
what it has distinguished in order, in the unity ofthe historical horizon that
it thus acquires, to become one with itself' (273; emphasis added). This
circular (self-contradictory) proposal, which moves from difference to
identity and back, is what allows the annotator to simultaneously avoid
the naivete of historicism (the claim that the interpreter can objectively
recover some supposed meaning ofthe text outside of his or her own time)
and the problematics of a self-enclosed present (the belief in no other time
outside of the present). But this circular scheme is concentric precisely
because its laws lead to and depend upon an all-encompassing and
inescapable tradition, for notice that the movement from difference to
identity and back is initiated in order to bring about a fusion of horizons
that allows us to more fully understand not only ourselves and the text, but
ultimately our tradition. In this way, understanding takes place in one
direction: toward the common and continuous grounds of the tradition:
"Something distant has to be brought close, a strangeness overcome, a
bridge built between the once and now" in order to ensure an understand-
ing that allows for the continuity of the tradition (Gadamer qtd. in
Ormiston and Schrift, Transforming 33) . Here, the tradition forms the
evolving matrix through which all signs must pass on their way to
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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/m1/71/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .