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 '05 12:12:00 PM

we / should / kill / time

6 Jan '05 11:59:54 AM

'As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.'

6 Jan '05 11:58:16 AM

'To be bought and sold in this way, time had to be neutralized. Customary ways of spending days had to be deprived of significance so that one day was much like another, and time could thus be spent in one activity as well as another. Days, hours, and minutes become interchangeable like standard parts. It was helpful that in countries that were about to become industrial, Protestantism refused to recognize the saints, thus taking away the 100 days assigned to their celebration. Before this, one could not work on such days. Essentially, as the French Revolution made clear, the process was one of secularizing the calendar. When the year has its religious and other celebrations, certain activities are to be done at certain times and in a certain order. They take up time, but no matter how much they take, they must be done. And they are not interchangeable. At a given time one goes to market or to church, to work, to bed, to festivities, to the tavern or back home. One cannot work at a time for feasting or dancing, for church or the siesta. Something remains of this time in the notion of excusable absence from work - if a close member of the family dies, if a new one is born, or perhaps if one gets married - but the time allowed is cut to the bone, leaving nothing like the fat festivities that once were the rule on such occasions. The payment nowadays of time and a half for overtime or double time on Sunday indicates that one is dealing with a kind of time that bears the imprint of an earlier day. In European languages generally one still does not speak of "spending" time but of "passing" it, a usage reminiscent, too, of an earlier epoch.

With time well secularized, the possibilities of choice seem to increase. One has a whole 24 hours a day and can fill them as one pleases. The lone obligation is to give the first and best part of the day to work. After that - freedom. In this way free time came to be called what it is. The calendar has been secularized, however, but not really neutralized. By and large, work takes first place in time, while other activities partake of work's time characteristics. In olden days what one had was "spare" time, not free time, time unexpectedly left over, as might happen if one got help from a neighbor or found working materials unusually pliable, or if things just went right. If this happened one could properly engage in a pastime, perhaps play cards. But unless circumstances were particularly difficult - a storm having wrecked part of the house or the like - one was not supposed to work in this time, was not to engage in what we would call productive activities. In rural parts of the world today, in Burma, for example, one can see the pattern. After a man's tasks for the day are finished, he is not supposed to be busy. He goes to sit and smoke, gossip and drink "rough tea," or he visits. In Greek villages they say about work done after dark, "The day takes a look at it and laughs."

In the cities of the industrial world, once his debt to work is paid, a man is said to be off duty. He can fill his time as he chooses. He has a decision to make, though: which alternatives to choose for each hour or half or quarter thereof: play, work, chores, moonlighting?

He does have some rules as to how that time should be spent. A man should first of all spend it on things that give visible evidence of doing something. In some parts of the world, sitting or standing still, whether thinking or not, is considered an activity. In the United States it is not. Secondly he should do things to better himself. "To better" usually means to do something that will improve his own or his property's position, appearance, or money-making qualities. One should keep one's house in good condition (keep up the property) and should also try to increase its value by improvements. One should not just read (an activity still somewhat suspect because the only moving organs involved are the eyes) but should shun trash for books that are instructive, informative, useful. In short, a man off work should (1) do something and (2) do something productive. An American could not have written the lines that follow, because only to him or to the egocentric species to which he belongs could time be so busy and dear.

Don't waste precious time
Now, tagging along with me . . .
Little butterfly.

The Haiku is one of Issa's (1763-1827)'

6 Jan '05 06:44:57 AM

Poets reading poetry: at PENNsound and Ubuweb.

5 Jan '05 10:35:37 AM

The middle of this one is the one that actually gave me pleasure today, though:

Aaliyah - Try Again
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
Fabolous f. Jay-Z - Breathe (Remix)
The Notorious B.I.G. - I Got A Story To Tell
Charlie Parker - KoKo
R. Kelly - Step in the Name of Love (Remix)
AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
Sascha Funke - Strassentanz
Aesop Rock - Fascination
Al Green - Let's Stay Together
JT Money feat. Sole - Who Dat
Lambchop - Something's Going On
The Magnetic Fields - Either You Don't Love Me Or I Don't Love You
Superpitcher - Happiness
T-Bone Walker - I Got a Break Baby
David Bowie - Sound and Vision
Willie Nelson - You Were Always On My Mind
Atmosphere - Suicidegirls

In the middle of 'Strassentanz' I realized that the title probably translated as 'Street Dance' or something like that and it transformed what I heard.

I'm not going to check to see if it doesn't translate to that.

My capitalization is erratic but my fingers are cold.

5 Jan '05 10:21:33 AM

Nine things I thought about today:

Bad:
1. not caring
2. calling asking about jobs they don't have
3. no help for my malfunctioning computer

Good:
4. the submarine scene in Life Aquatic
5. a playlist worth coming back to a few more times [1]
6. 'pays off for the hungry investor'

Neutral:
7. staying asleep tempting more and more
8. salsa band
9. hermeneutics from the point of view of the verbum interius

[1]: That playlist:
1. Richard Hell & the Voidoids - (I Belong To The) Blank Generation
2. Ghostface - Beat The Clock
3. Rex Garvin - Sock It To 'Em J.B. - Part 1
4. Diamanda Galas - At The Dark End Of The Street
5. DJ Koze - Brutalga Square
6. DMX feat. Sean Paul and Mr. Vegas - Top Shotter
7. Goodie Mob feat. Mystikal - Dirty South (Remix)
8. The Ex - In The Event
9. The Specials - A Message To You Rudy
10. Duke Ellington - My Little Brown Book
11. Spiritualized - Lord, Can You Hear Me?

The 'J.B.' refers to James Bond, the titles of whose movies they shout out during the song, not James Brown. The Spiritualized song is the giant-ass version.

3 Jan '05 09:51:37 AM

With some friends I have always supposed that I would run into them again and again as the years passed. With some in particular I hoped that these recurring meetings would be a chance for the easy familiarity of intellectual affinity to deepen.

I apologize. I wanted to write something better here, but I can't get it to come out right. With some friends, not very close friends but friends nonetheless, I looked forward to those meetings because I knew that intellectual life is special: the weakest seed can stay alive in its soil.

Matt Cvijanovich died of acute pancreatitis today. He was maybe five years younger than me at most. I last saw him when he was choosing a graduate school. I thought I would surely see him again, no matter where he went. He didn't come here.

3 Jan '05 04:00:32 AM

'Dude.'

31 Dec '04 07:49:50 AM

Art and the criticism of it are still just beginning to come under the democratic impulse.