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 Aug '03 11:37:04 AM

'My main discovery is that pleasure cannot be described.'

16 Aug '03 10:57:38 AM

Also, also, also.

16 Aug '03 10:53:37 AM

I extract methodological ideas not just from philosophy; Finnegans Wake gives me all kinds of ideas, though I haven't actually tried any of them yet because it's all too easy to see myself quitting (temporarily, of course) sometime in the week after I start.

Interesting that many of my ideas seem far more scientific than usual. It must have to do with my trying to come up with formal and material strategies and techniques - ways to organize what I get from the book so that I can try to integrate some things together when I stand back a bit. Also just ways to force myself to do some of the scratchwork that the pun-language style seems to demand (in order to have a chance to see 'everything' all at the same time). I don't usually like things like that. I mean things that have a definite plan to them, even if one with minimal content to it. (That's probably not true, somehow, but I can't think of how right now.)

(Oh, also, there's the matter of the dozen other books I'm reading right now. I only have uh almost all of Volume II of The Man Without Qualities left! And maybe half of A Thousand Plateaus! Also the last third-to-quarter of the not-as-boring-as-I-initially-feared-but-still-kind-of-boring Kant biography. I really ought to finish at least one book this summer.)

15 Aug '03 08:41:19 AM

One possible title: 'The Journal of Desultory Thought'.

Some variation on 'Fuck You: A Journal of the Arts' would be nice, but irony being what it is, the people behind 'Fuck You' probably have copyright lawyers.

14 Aug '03 12:06:10 PM

Apparently I know at least a whole verse of 'El Scorcho' but can't understand the chorus, because in my head at that point I start mumbling. It turns out it's actually kind of hard to mumble without talking.

14 Aug '03 12:02:44 PM

The other day the 'California Love' beat appeared in my head and I couldn't get it to leave the entire day or the entire night, when my insomnia didn't need any help from Dr. Dre. Any time I was doing nothing in particular at all, it was as if I had basically started singing it out loud: duuuuh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duuuuuh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh (I expect a reader to correct me on that). It kind of blocks the capacity for any useful or even quotidian thought.

Since it went away, probably partly due to having Monk melodies that share some of the same qualities as the beat stuck in my head instead (this was better because I always lose Monk melodies quickly), I've been kind of scared: my mind keeps wandering back to 'California Love', and I don't think the beat but I know it's there, and I'm afraid I'll accidentally think it and get trapped again.

14 Aug '03 11:49:27 AM

You have no idea how long that one little paragraph took me to write. (I only had the first sentence yesterday.) This is why I have not finished any of these papers yet.

14 Aug '03 11:46:55 AM

Recognize this? I hope so. If you know anything about Monk, please write me and let me know if you think there's anything to complain about. I've listened to a lot of Monk lately but I haven't written this against any particular piece of music, the way I usually do. (I'm trying to take my own advice from below, and write off the top of my head.)

The recordings I'm talking about (the only ones I've heard from the time I'm talking about) are Straight, No Chaser, and the live sets from the It Club and the Jazz Workshop - all on Columbia.

I know there's a problem getting from the second to last sentence to the last sentence. I don't know how to get there right now. Also, I know 'duration' sounds funny. I don't like it. I probably need more words there. 'Duration' comes from the Deleuze stuff floating around in my head, since originally this paper had something directly to do with plateaus, and I can't get away from the attractive fit between some of Deleuze and Guattari's explicit statements about what a plateau is (like 'a continuous, self-vibrating region of intensities whose development avoids any orientation toward a culmination point or external end') and the stuff from the cinema books about the time-image. But 'duration' of some sort will have to be in there, although I suppose maybe I really had better spend some time talking about how the time spent listening to something like this (my next example is house, hello) sort of disappears when it's done that certain special way. Paradoxes, how philosophical of me. Or of Deleuze, probably. Anyway, here it is. Please comment.

'When you're swinging, swing some more.'

This aphorism of Thelonious Monk's takes on special significance in light of his later recordings, especially those of the quartet with Charlie Rouse (ts), Larry Gales (b), and Ben Riley (d). Monk's compositions always seemed particularly self-similar, but in this period the band often seems to be performing variations on the same small fragment of music, over and over again. (The ballads are an exception.) More than in the past, everyone's solos stick close to the melody - even Riley's. But unlike on the ballads, where Rouse and Monk in particular (more often the only soloists on ballads) tend more toward embellishing the melody, soloing on the other songs becomes a process of continual variation. Continual, not continuous: the variation is not necessarily cumulative or progressive. It's better to consider it a sequence of independent variations on a static prototype (though of course even the statement of the melody in the head of the song may vary from the original in any given performance). The most fascinating and joyful thing about the process is that, rather than tending toward monotony, it makes it seem as if the band could go on playing around with the same theme forever. Every new way of rebuilding it somehow carries some of the wonder that comes from hearing a (uniquely different) great melody, even though each one bears an undeniable resemblance to the original melody. And so Monk's aphorism has the sense not only of intensity (swing harder), but duration (keep swinging).

14 Aug '03 08:43:38 AM

Of course, I can't think of any way to run such a journal (obviously I would have to run it myself) other than despotically.