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I often have problems keeping what an author actually said straight, especially when reading more philosophical texts. The ideas I associate with a book or article are the most significant or insightful thoughts that came to my mind as I was reading it. But these aren't necessarily the arguments that the author was intending to convey. They can be suggestions that come to me from looking in a direction that the author only pointed, or by reshaping the author's concepts in the context of my other thoughts, beliefs, and experiences. Today we were discussing the concept of authentic and inauthentic places in Edward Relph's Place and Placelessness. I talked about how I saw authentic places working out in the world, and was frustrated when people countered with "but that's not what Relph said about place." While I understand the importance of having a firm grasp of what influential thinkers and schools actually said, I'm more comfortable working out the lines of thought that a theory suggests. A preoccupation with what a theorist really meant seems to imply that the theorist has a unique claim to genius.


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