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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17 Sep '12 11:23:28 PM

You kind of suspect that people who do text-critical scholarship on Thoreau are extra eager to use the word 'leaf'.

17 Sep '12 03:00:53 PM

Richardson quotes a salutary thought from the first draft of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers:

'though nature's laws are more immutable than any despots yet to our daily life they rarely seem rigid, but permit us to relax with license in summer weather'

Circumstances change, are various; laws are known, their effects experienced, only ever in circumstances. Circumstances are usual, but not uniform.

Usually usual, at least.

16 Sep '12 12:11:26 AM

Quotation is a way of framing your relation to what you quote (and to what you don't).

15 Sep '12 07:15:05 AM

Richardson, quoting Thoreau: 'it is not easy to write in a journal what interests us at any time, because to write it is not what interests us'.

14 Sep '12 05:41:06 AM

'aware that he is nowhere, has no clue as to what he is about'

14 Sep '12 05:34:36 AM

The Counterforce!

14 Sep '12 05:30:42 AM

There are things more disheartening than thinspo tumblrs, but not lots.

13 Sep '12 07:44:25 AM

How can there be so many Cavellians who never write themselves into their work?

13 Sep '12 02:07:07 AM

Barbara Packer:

'Emerson's rhetoric is nearly always unsettling, but the problem is particularly acute in Nature, where the succession of competing styles—rhapsodic, lapidary, lyrical, detached—is often so rapid as to leave the reader giddy. In part this confusion of tongues is the natural result of Emerson's habits of composition. Every one of his longer works is a kind of anthology of passages taken from the journals. And as anyone who has read the early journals knows, Emerson was a tireless imitator of prose styles he admired. His tastes were catholic; he liked the sonorities of Everett, the pungency of Jonson or Bacon, the lucid impersonality of the natural scientists whose works he encountered in the periodicals of the day, the marmoreal calm of Browne, the elephantine metaphysical humor of Carlyle. In the journals themselves this multiplicity of styles is rarely confusing, since each single paragraph (Emerson's natural unit of composition) is usually consistent in style, however much it may differ from the passages that surround it. We accept the blank space separating one journal passage from another as a kind of signifier in its own right, rather like a glottal stop in phonemics: it stands for a presumed lapse of time in which a change of mood or attitude seems decorous. In the published works this hiatus is eliminated, and what in the journals is merely a change of mood acquires the formal status of a problematic transition.'