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I.A. Richards Terms 'Radar of Perception' Key to Understanding

By Susan M. Rogers

"All dramatic utterances are cloaked and wear masks," I. A. Richards, University Professor Emeritus, proclaimed yesterday afternoon.

A large audience responded warmly to his humorous anecdotes and examples as he delivered the Theodore Spencer Memorial Lecture on "Principles of Dramatic Utterance" in the Loeb Drama Center.

Richards distinguished dramatic utterances from those "incidental to everyday existence" and then turned to consider the "prepossessive screens" through which we see a play. He illustrated individual differences in perception by using his famous diagrammatic slides.


He discussed drama in terms of a radar image or a signal which is perceived from an object and returned to it in a cyclical stream.

Instead of disputing the real nature of an object, Richards suggested we engage in the "comparison of sustained echoes." He called for a "patient endeavor to explore individual differences in the radar of perception."

Richards ended optimistically by noting the growth of "people's sense of the diversity of prepossession" and the role it plays in understanding what we see.

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