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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5 Sep '12 08:18:34 PM

I don't know anything about Robert Service, at all, but one of my prejudices is that I think people who like Robert Service's writing must do so because of some vague uplift of spirit they feel because of his name. Why, yes: Service. A fine thing!

5 Sep '12 04:15:10 PM

Autumn leaves in summer.

5 Sep '12 03:00:28 AM

'people should listen to this instead of working because this is better than their lives' —YouTube commenter

3 Sep '12 08:10:01 PM

'Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate circumstances?'

1 Sep '12 09:30:02 PM

'10. What of a poetry that lacks surprise? That lacks form, theme, development? Whose language rejects interest? That examines itself without curiosity? Will it survive?'

1 Sep '12 08:40:14 AM

'I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life, which some would call impertinent, though they do not appear to me at all impertinent, but, considering the circumstances, very natural and pertinent. Some have asked what I had got to eat; if I did not feel lonesome; if I was not afraid; and the like. Others have been curious to learn what portion of my income I devoted to charitable purposes; and some, who lave large families, how many poor children I maintained. I will therefore ask those of my readers who feel no particular interest in me to pardon me if I undertake to answer some of these questions in this book.'

1 Sep '12 08:32:46 AM

Mulhall writes of a sentence of Cavell's: 'it does not directly answer the preceding question, but rather restates it—as if this investigation neither begins nor ends with theses but is rather a matter of continuously renewed questioning, as if this sentence itself constitutes a new beginning to the investigation, as if every sentence in this book aspires to be a new beginning (and so, a new end)'.

1 Sep '12 08:28:47 AM

'In one sense, this is simply the culmination of a single, radically reflexive movement of thought, the starting-point to which Heidegger is compelled by his attempt to render the grounds or presuppositions of inquiry into Being and its meaning as minimal, as explicit and as transparent as possible—by working out in a preliminary way his preconception of Being (as that which determines entities as entities, that on the basis of which entities are always already understood), of questioning, and of the being who questions (i.e. ourselves). In doing so, the task of inquiring into the Being of the being who questions appears as an essential preliminary to the task of inquiring into Being and its meaning—a prologue or introduction to, and hence essentially separable from, Heidegger's central inquiry. Furthermore, that preliminary inquiry's only two presuppositions about its object are that questioning is one possibility of its Being, and that its Being is our Being—in other words, that in questioning Dasein with regard to its Being, we are questioning ourselves about our ability to question. The term 'Dasein' thus does have a positive content that goes beyond its non-identity with the myriad other terms that the history of philosophy and human culture have generated for the Being of human beings; but it is difficult to see how an inquiry which finds (and cannot avoid finding) its initial orientation in the aim of reawakening our ability to question could presuppose a more minimal preconception of a human being. Heidegger's distinctive gift lies in his capacity to allow that tiny seed to germinate, elaborating from the idea of Dasein as questioner an articulation of his inquiry that will provide him with food for thought not only throughout Being and Time, but far beyond it.'

1 Sep '12 07:47:42 AM


'As if signalling these revisions, and prompting us to question them, a significant portion of the Journal's passages are explicitly interrogative. Therefore, although when I consider a passage it may seem as if I am asking rhetorical questions to which I know the answers, in the Journal, as I shall explain in a moment, questions are integral to the meaning of the passages which often seem at once catechistic and confusing. It might have been strategic to conduct my discussions as if this were not the case, but the fact is that the unsettling of perspective—specifically by raising the question of how part of a phenomenon is related to the whole of that phenomenon or to another phenomenon—is not just the Journal's practice; it is often the Journal's subject.

The Journal does, however, provide hints about interpreting its meaning, first, as I have noted, by making statements consistently interrogative, and therefore by suggesting that to understand the work we must keep their interrogative form intact; secondly, by composing the Journal discourse of what Thoreau variously calls "pictures" and "views." Here we might add the word "illustrations" to describe what the Journal anthologizes, for as the idea of serially collected "pictures" and "views" (which aspire to the formation of a composite whole) implies, renditions of a natural phenomenon exemplify its aspects. The Journal further insists that illustrations of nature are tainted by, and further made to participate in, the questions that surround them. This is true partly because questions and illustrations are often syntactically inseparable. It is true partly because the very impulse to continue regarding a single landscape—to record multiple instances of it—implies questions about its meaning. I therefore understand Thoreau's propensity to ask questions, to see the landscape as a series of pictures, and to regard pictures as potential illustrations (of what, it is unclear) to be related.…'