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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7 Aug '01 10:40:23 AM

The preceding is Ludwig Wittgenstein, from Philosophical Investigations. Note to self: don't forget, you want to walk.

7 Aug '01 10:37:18 AM

107. The more narrowly we examine actual language, the sharper becomes the conflict beetween it and our requirement. (For the crystalline purity of logic was, of course, not a result of investigation: it was a requirement.) The conflict becomes intolerable; the requirement is now in danger of becoming empty. -- We have got on to slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to walk: so we need friction. Back to the rough ground!

6 Aug '01 09:35:23 AM

Alex commented recently on how I seem to be 'listening with my brain' rather than with my ears lately. I don't really think that's accurate (and the possibly implicit anti-intellectualism bothers me slightly, mostly because it makes me think I am being misunderstood, and I do want to be understood). But it would be accurate to say that lately I have preferred to write more abstractly about music and listening, if that means to write less about jumping up and down and sweating and whatever else it is I am supposed to be properly writing about. I am listening differently, too, but not a whole lot differently - I'm just not writing about it in the same way.

So what's the difference? For a while before, but especially after moving, I think that I've felt a little down, and especially not in the mood to do the kind of listening or thinking that I am more accustomed to. Almost everything I have listened to has been for comfort, and hearing it has made me comfortable, without much desire to disrupt things. When I do think, it's about things that I've been thinking about for a while, with time to turn them over in my head, thinking about thoughts rather than what-I'm-hearing-and-experiencing-right-now. Maybe.

So anyway, hang tight.

5 Aug '01 09:39:57 PM

Yes that's right this is a song about a superhero named Tony. Can you guess what it's called?

3 Aug '01 10:04:01 AM

Imagine what it would be like if the fussiness, the daintiness, on Larks' Tongues in Aspic were replaced by the kind of messy noisiness that the music seems it could accomodate easily. (Variously: tiny-instrument quiet-music, monster funk, 'shrieking' guitar leads, cod-eastern grooves...) But the fussiness is what makes it prototypical art-rock, I guess.

3 Aug '01 09:48:29 AM

Even though I think John Wetton is a bad singer, 'Book of Saturday' still sounds beautiful.

2 Aug '01 09:52:17 AM

Another answer (see last entry): it's not just a matter of 'I like this' or 'I don't like this,' full stop: there are complex relationships between the things I like and don't like, between different genres, artists, songs, and so on and on. Imagine what it was like when you first started liking a kind of music that you never liked before - maybe even hated. Then imagine what it was like on down the road. Now imagine that with a whole bunch of different kinds of music, together.

2 Aug '01 09:35:12 AM

Just before I moved I got some email from an old friend:

you know, i always did respect your hyper-ecumenical tastes in music, with one nagging caveat: to me, there has never been any underlying ascetic in your tastes, it just seems to boil down to 'i like this' or 'i don't like that.' where is the common thread? i never could see the essence.

The gnomic answer is: my life is the essence.

But of course that won't do. How could your life be so fragmented, etc. etc. My brief answer to that is that I don't think it's any more fragmented than anyone else's. It's just that I emphasize that fragmentation a little more than some people who don't devote as much of their time to music as I do. (I might also say, than some people who spend even more time on music than I do. But explode the fragmentation the same way: haven't you ever known anyone who liked jazz and (gasp) rock? Rap and classical?) Or rather, it's naturally emphasized by how much music I listen to.

Another gnomic answer: isn't it the same as with art, or food?

The question seems to assume that either this 'essence' would be guiding me to prefer certain music over other music ('this music is more rocking,' 'I like music with the funk'), or that it would just be something that I naturally uncovered in the music I liked, like a statue in a block of marble, as long as I was liking the right kind of music.

But aren't I? This is human life, other people's experiences, tangled up in the masses of sound they record onto discs for other people to hear. This is experience. Existence. Look at everything that goes into making music. Why shouldn't I try to, and be able to, get that everything back out?

Another one: it's all just vibrations, isn't it?

Or: it's all just melody, harmony, and rhythm, isn't it? (Ans: no.)

Another one: this is what it means to be a fan of pop music.

Or: this is what it means to be a fan of music.

My favorite gnomic answer: keep reading, your question will be answered (or seen to be irrelevant) eventually.

1 Aug '01 11:50:17 PM

On 'To Be of Use', Bill Calahan sings 'come' like he's still kind of embarrassed to be using the word in a song, which is refreshing given how often singer-songwriter confessionalism is taken to be a license for unchecked brashness and sexual honesty.

Most of my
are of
someone else come