josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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6 Jan '13 03:21:46 AM

Adorno calls Schopenhauer a 'malicious heir of the great speculators'. I distrust any of Schopenhauer's commentators who fails to appreciate that malice, that delight in almost surreptitiously inverting as much of the tradition as possible.

5 Jan '13 02:53:45 AM

'… authentically grubby dork compassion…'

4 Jan '13 01:24:29 AM

'In the end hope, wrested from reality by negating it, is the only form in which truth appears. Without hope, the idea of truth would be scarcely even thinkable, and it is the cardinal untruth, having recognized existence to be bad, to present it as truth simply because it has been recognized.'

3 Jan '13 07:53:25 AM

Nerd vérité is when Peter Bishop sits down at a computer and then asks someone, 'where does this print?'.

2 Jan '13 04:44:33 AM

'The most remarkable thing is the involuntary nature of the image, the metaphor; you do not know what an image, a metaphor, is any more, everything offers itself up as the closest, simplest, most fitting expression. It really seems (to recall something Zarathustra once said) as if things approached on their own and offered themselves up as metaphors…'

1 Jan '13 03:14:00 AM

'…a disposition, a small, powerful idea well embodied…'

30 Dec '12 01:18:24 AM

'…to live a merely excusable life…'

26 Dec '12 01:40:22 AM

Shaftesbury, from Section 1 of the 'Letter Concerning Enthusiasm':

'How much the imagination of such a presence must exalt a genius we may observe merely from the influence which an ordinary presence has over men. Our modern wits are more or less raised by the opinion they have of their company, and the idea they form to themselves of the persons to whom they make their addresses. A common actor of the stage will inform us how much a full audience of the better sort exalts him above the common pitch. And you, my Lord, who are the noblest actor and of the noblest part assigned to any mortal on this earthly stage, when you are acting for liberty and mankind, does not the public presence, that of your friends and the well-wishers to your cause, add something to your thought and genius? Or is that sublime of reason and that power of eloquence, which you discover in public, no more than what you are equally master of in private and command at any time alone or with indifferent company or in any easy or cool hour? This indeed were more godlike; but ordinary humanity, I think, reaches not so high.

For my own part, my Lord, I have really so much need of some considerable presence or company to raise my thoughts on any occasion that, when alone, I must endeavour by strength of fancy to supply this want and, in default of a Muse, must inquire out some great man of a more than ordinary genius, whose imagined presence may inspire me with more than what I feel at ordinary hours. And thus, my Lord, have I chosen to address myself to your Lordship, though without subscribing my name, allowing you, as a stranger, the full liberty of reading no more than what you may have a fancy for, but reserving to myself the privilege of imagining you read all with particular notice, as a friend, and one whom I may justifiably treat with the intimacy and freedom which follows.'

Cavell, from the Foreword to Must We Mean What We Say? (pp. xxxiii–xxxiv):

'I do assert a distinction throughout these essays which, because it may seem either controversial or trivial, I want to call attention to from the beginning—a distinction between the modern and the traditional, in philosophy and out. My claim is not that all contemporary philosophy which is good is modern; but the various discussions about the modern I am led to in the course of these essays are the best I can offer in explanation of the way I have written, or the way I would wish to write. The essential fact of (what I refer to as) the modern lies in the relation between the present practice of an enterprise and the history of that enterprise, in the fact that this relation has become problematic. Innovation in philosophy has characteristically gone together with a repudiation—a specifically cast repudiation—of most of the history of the subject. But in the later Wittgenstein (and, I would now add, in Heidegger's Being and Time) the repudiation of the past has a transformed significance, as though containing the consciousness that history will not go away, except through our perfect acknowledgment of it (in particular, our acknowledgment that it is not past), and that one's own practice and ambition can be identified only against the continuous experience of the past.… But "the past" does not in this context refer simply to the historical past; it refers to one's own past, to what is past, or what has passed, within oneself. One could say that in a modernist situation "past" loses its temporal accent and means anything "not present." Meaning what one says becomes a matter of making one's sense present to oneself.…'

18 Dec '12 09:16:43 PM

Only those who would compel you say the truth compels.