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.
'Slipping away', 'becoming damaged': as if I really encountered my memories of the past in any other way than post-mortem, so that I would be justified in talking as if I knew what the memories were like, before. The things I end up missing the most are the ones I never knew were going to be missed because I was already well on the way, never having cause to give them the one or two momentary thoughts that would call them forth, keep them alive.
There's this track on Kesto, which it turns out is called 'Telemiitit' (or 'Telemites' in English), that's been tugging at me every time it goes past. It took me a while to figure out why. My college girlfriend (I could just as well say, high school girlfriend; at this point I can hardly even believe the whole thing was real) Anna went to China twice in college. (Or three times?) What I remember, hearing this Pan Sonic track, is sitting up in my room, my old room at 1234 Michigan Avenue in Ames, up all night while Anna slept. She fell asleep but I stayed up, at her request, so that she would be able to get to her shuttle to the eventual plane to China on time. At some point I put on A, which is both fitting and a totally stupid choice of record for someone who hasn't slept. And that's what 'Telemiitit' draws out in me, now, that feeling: of holding yourself up, of being alone no matter who's around, because everyone else is dead to the world. Of waiting while the rays of sun shine through the shades. Of having to restrain yourself from waking up someone who's right there, who could keep you company, because you're thinking of her now, not yourself. But now, the deliberate desolateness of 'Telemiitit' is overwhelming. I've actually cried while listening to a Pan Sonic 'song'; for all that they seem to encourage emotional failure of some sort with their scrupulous (but pointedly not heavy-handed, or complete) removal of the human element, I wouldn't have thought they could get that out of me. This is not to say that I expect the same from anyone else. Thinking about that early morning, I realize something that makes the bottom drop out. The first time Anna went to China, we were together. The second time, we weren't. But I can't even remember which time I'm associating with the Pan Sonic record; I had to be lucky enough to find that mention of her first trip in June 2000 to figure out that the first trip must have been in the summer of 1999. And I need to know which trip it was, because after we broke up, for a while, though I wouldn't say we remained friends, we remained something - something enough for her to maybe have needed this favor and me to have missed her so badly that I would have agreed to even favors that tore my heart out. And I feel just the slightest tinge of the obligatory in my memory to be unsure - was I seeing her off as a boyfriend, or a still broken apart (it took months and months after that, I might even say years) ex-boyfriend? Even what bits I had left of my past are slipping away from me. No. Not even that. They're becoming so damaged that I can't salvage them; the inability to know, alongside the awareness that it's maybe a 'good' memory, maybe a 'bad' one, is worse than just having forgotten. It never fucking stops.
What I've been reading (in some sustained bursts, some scattered glances, some stolen respites from proper work, some recurrent fascinations):
Stanley Cavell - The Claim of Reason
George Levien and David Leverenz (eds.) - Mindful Pleasures: Essays on Thomas Pynchon
Herman Melville - Moby Dick
Lewis Mumford - The City in History
Hannah Pitkin - Wittgenstein and Justice
Thomas Pynchon - Gravity's Rainbow
Ishmael Reed - The Free-Lance Pallbearers
Max Weber - The Protestant Ethic and the 'Spirit' of Capitalism
Every book I touch makes me wish I could read ten more.
That would be, of course, on my iPod. At home, a bit of this and that (Pan Sonic's Kesto, strangely - or not so strangely, I guess - drawing me five or six years toward my past; Charlie Parker doing the same even if I never properly heard his officially approved good stuff before; Mingus from the seventies), but to be honest, I seem to be bent on wearing out my Junior Boys record, even to the point of consciously becoming tired of it and then leaving it repeating anyway, just to see what happens. The other day I dropped back to sleep after waking up, having put the stereo on; by the time I woke up again in the early evening, every song had this amazing texture to it, and at every point it seemed I was hearing something I had never heard before.
Songs I've been listening to often in the past few weeks:
Aaliyah - Try Again
AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
David Banner - Cadillac on 22s
David Bowie - Sound and Vision
De La Soul - Shopping Bags (She Got From You)
Dexy's Midnight Runners - I Love You (Listen To This)
Fabolous - Breathe
Sascha Funke - Strassentanz
JT Money feat. Sole - Who Dat
Junior Boys - Under the Sun
Justus Köhncke feat. Meloboy - Frei / Hot Love
R. Kelly - Step in the Name of Love (Remix)
Ludacris feat. Pharrell - Southern Hospitality
Mouse on Mars - Send Me Shivers
Charlie Parker - Koko
The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
Superpitcher - Happiness
Trick Daddy feat Trey Songz - Ain't a Thug
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
Young Gunz - Friday Night
(Some more often than others.)
I had thought I could get through my current (long-suffering, many times changed) Wittgenstein paper, er, uh, Wittgenstein and Cavell (mostly Cavell) paper, without absolutely having to read all of The Claim of Reason. But the further I get in it, the more I doubt that. Tonight I was surprised by how, as he moves from Part One to Part Two, it becomes apparent that the sympathies he has earlier and elsewhere expressed with Freud, mainly, it seems, out of respect for the basic idea of depth psychology (that some of the things we do, we might do for reasons we don't know about, and moreover, reasons that might be covered over, that we might hide from ourselves because of what they reveal) and Freud's basic insight about how to solve depth-psychological problems ('the talking cure') - these sympathies aren't just incidental similarities between psychoanalysis and Cavell's Wittgenstein, but signs of the more pervasive affinity of Cavell's whole line of thought for the basic scheme of depth-psychological work.
This is probably not very intelligible to others, but I felt like I had to note something down for myself. I'm not sure I've put it clearly enough to help myself any, either.
Seeing how much more pervasive this element of Cavell's thought is worries me a little; one might say that it makes The Claim of Reason, in the overall style of its argument, that much more like literary criticism, say, than what many of Cavell's professional colleagues would count as philosophy. Which is to say, it makes it harder to prosecute Cavell's case for him, to take after him (i.e. to steal his ideas). At least, as far as speaking to one's audience is concerned.
I'm not so much concerned with foundations per se at the moment as I am with foundations for myself, or as it might be better to put it: a base camp from which to strike out periodically in the future while looking for place to set down some foundations (not to last forever, but to live in). But even that's modest enough for me to attain, it seems.
Or at least, has seemed, for the past couple of weeks.
Also: one of the employees at Booksmart, talking to one of the other employees (were the ten employees really necessary?), pronounced 'Wittgenstein' in the naive but perfectly understandable American way, with a 'wuh' sound. This I have grown to accept without disdain; feeling at all better because I knew the 'right' way to say it was really only inescapable when I was, say, 20. And yet: book nerd girl did pronounce it correctly, which I was happy to treat, in my elaborate internal accounting scheme, as a sign of her fated perfect suitability to be mine.
Oh, that's just exaggeration. I know full well that the way I took it was with a momentary flash of that strangely chaste lust that goes along with glasses, awkward haircuts, headphones, and the over-idealized hopes of living out our advanced years in some sort of union of the minds, with dirty nasty fucking conveniently left implicit so as not to ruin the ideality of it all.
There is no internal accounting scheme. Just the passing lusts, dreams.
As if the offputting lack of definition regarding newness were not enough, Magers & Quinn puts on the fronts of their books price tags of the sort normally put on the backs of books. Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one who pays attention to the rules anymore?