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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11 Oct '02 06:01:30 AM

So I'm grading and listening to Monk (who always works great for grading - I should remember that the next time I can't get started, which is every time), and on "Epistrophy" (the live Jazz Workshop version) the drummer starts doing this thing where he's hitting lots of eighth notes really straight, and then it keeps going for like 20 seconds while Monk and Gales are still swinging behind him, only it settles into something that's not so rhythmically complicated, just really straight eighth notes, bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop, and then I realize that Riley stopped 20 seconds ago and I've been tapping my foot on the straight eighths so hard that my chair is making a noise that sounds kind of like the drums coming from the right speaker. It was the greatest thing I've heard all week.

8 Oct '02 09:40:13 AM

When Mehldau does "Alone Together" I have trouble finding a rhythm to it - there's a pulse, in some sense, but it never seems to lock in.

8 Oct '02 08:13:49 AM

(That was Wittgenstein in the Investigations, at 133. What if we said the same thing about doing criticism?)

8 Oct '02 08:13:02 AM

The real discovery is the one that makes me capable of stopping doing philosophy when I want to. - The one that gives philosophy peace, so that it is no longer tormented by questions which bring itself into question. - Instead, we now demonstrate a method, by examples; and the series of examples can be broken off. - Problems are solved (difficulties eliminated), not a single problem.

8 Oct '02 08:08:40 AM

Yes, it's commonplace book week (month?) here on josh blog.

7 Oct '02 07:13:28 AM

Two similar ideas I've picked up from philosophy of science stuff lately:

One, from my philosophy of biology seminar, says something like: geneticists used their focus on genes, and gene talk, to get a foothold on investigations into fundamental questions in biology. (Oppose this to using genetics to provide explanations, something that there are good criticisms against its ability to do while remaining gene-focused.)

Two, from a history of science talk about how Newton changed science in the Principia: Newton intended the idealizations involved in his laws (and the results derived from them, like statements about the motion of the moon) to be a response to the inevitable parochiality of our observations. If the laws turn out to be incorrect because of some bias in our ability to see the world (as happened when Newton's theory of gravitation was corrected by Einstein's), that's OK because they're designed in such a way that, as long as they're true of the way the world would be under certain ideal conditions, any deviations from predictions provided by the laws tell us things about the way the world is different from the ideal. Thus the laws provide an investigative tool, and were intended to, aside from whatever explanatory power they have.

I'm sure ideas like this next one have been advanced before, but I don't know if they've been put like this. Either way, I'd like to find out who thinks things like this so I can read them:

When we give readings or interpretations of artworks, an important purpose isn't to get it "right", but to use the interpretation as a tool to investigate how things are not the way the interpretation says they are. What things? Not just the artwork. But us: how we react to the artwork, how we feel and think and live in general.

Lately I think (a lot) that people forget this and would like too much to have interpretations be right. Maybe a view like this sort of deflates interest in interpreting, though, makes it seem like pointless work to come up with really developed readings. But even if they only help us get at everything else that won't normally fit into nice readings of artworks, we have to do them. We have to.

7 Oct '02 06:34:16 AM

"when love congeals / it soon reveals / the faint aroma of performing seals"

From "I Wish I Were in Love Again".

What the hell? Gross.

I mean, really. What the fuck?

Congeals? Seals? Love?!

7 Oct '02 05:48:10 AM

So I picked up the Capitol Years Sinatra comp today. "Love and Marriage" sounds totally wrong without the ball and chain (or jail cell door closing? I can't remember) sound from Married with Children.

6 Oct '02 07:37:40 AM

Kierkegaard from "Rotation of Crops" in Either / Or Part I, p. 298 in the Hong edition:

Just as one varies the soil somewhat, in accordance with the theory of social prudence (for if one were to live in relation to only one person, rotation of crops would turn out badly, as would be the case if a farmer had only one acre of land and therefore could never let it lie fallow, something that is extremely important), so also must one continually vary oneself, and this is the real secret. To that end, it is essential to have control over one's moods. To have them under control in the sense that one can produce them at will is an impossibility, but prudence teaches us to utilize the moment. Just as an experienced sailor always scans the sea and detects a squall far in advance, so one should always detect a mood a little in advance. Before entering into a mood, one should know its effect on oneself and its probable effect on others. The first strokes are for the purpose of evoking pure tones and seeing what is inside a person; later come the intermediate tones. The more practice one has, the more one is convinced that there is often much in a person that was never imagined. When sentimental people, who as such are very boring, become peevish, they are often amusing. Teasing in particular is an excellent means of exploration.

Arbitrariness is the whole secret. It is popularly believed that there is no art to being arbitrary, and yet it takes profound study to be arbitrary in such a way that a person does not himself run wild in it but himself has pleasure from it. One does not enjoy the immediate object but something else that one arbitrarily introduces. One sees the middle of a play; one reads the third section of a book. One thereby has enjoyment quite different from what the author so kindly intended. One enjoys something totally accidental; one considers the whole of existence from this standpoint; one lets its reality run aground on this. I shall give an example. There was a man whose chatter I was obliged to listen to because of the circumstances. On every occasion, he was ready with a little philosophical lecture that was extremely boring. On the verge of despair, I suddenly discovered that the man perspired exceptionally much when he spoke. This perspiration now absorbed my attention. I watched how the pearls of perspiration collected on his forehead, then united in a rivulet, slid down his nose, and ended in a quivering globule that remained suspended at the end of his nose. From that moment on, everything was changed; I could even have the delight of encouraging him to commence his philosophical instruction just in order to watch the perspiration on his brow and on his nose.