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.
Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says, "Go over," he does not mean that we should cross to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something that he cannot designate more precisely either, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.
Concerning this a man once said: Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid of all your daily cares.
Another said: I bet that is also a parable.
The first said: you have won.
The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.
The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.
- Franz Kafka, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir
More on Deleuze and the image of thought - this time Deleuze himself, from p. 153 of Patton's translation of Difference and Repetition:
Teachers already know that errors or falsehoods are rarely found in homework (except in those exercises where a fixed result must be produced, or propositions must be translated one by one). Rather, what is more frequently found - and worse - are nonsensical sentences, remarks without interest or importance, banalities mistaken for profundities, ordinary 'points' confused with singular points, badly posed or distorted problems - all heavy with dangers, yet the fate of us all. We doubt whether, when mathematicians enage in polemic, they criticize each other for being mistaken in the results of their calculations. Rather, they criticize one another for having produced an insignificant theorem or a problem devoid of sense. Philosophy must draw the conclusions which follow from this.
I need to think about this more, but when trying to push an idea related to this (about music affording certain kinds of experiences and activities) in a seminar, I met resistance related to the usual line of criticism of secondary properties. James O. Young is supposed to have something to do with this in Art and Knowledge, which I cannot at the moment recommend, but at the moment I also can't say what it has to do with it. But. My intuition is that this affordance thing works despite it possibly not working to think of say the affective qualities of music as secondary properties. Why? Not sure right now. But it should have something to do with the entrance of function on the scene, even (especially) in the case of a song affording certain emotonal experiences. That is, the trick is to put it in terms of what the listener is doing, not what it is about the song that the listener can come to know (i.e. attribute to it in some intersubjectively valid way).
Yeah, I know. Just pretend like you skipped this entry.
Another quote, this one from Raimond Gaita's A Common Humanity, p. 26. He is writing in part to argue for a richer understanding of the worth of others than traditional talk of obligations seems to support. The book seems to me very deep and thoughtful so far, and I'm taken enough by what the quote says indirectly about love that it seems a little crass to post it for the reason I originally intended, which is that I think understanding how we value art depends heavily on recognizing the ways in which our relationships with records are often much like the ways we interact with people, most importantly the ones we love. I don't really think it's that crass, though, since I would rather understand this with people, first. Anyway.
"Our sense of the preciousness of other people is connected with their power to affect us in ways we cannot fathom and in ways against we can protect ourselves only at the cost of becoming shallow. There is nothing reasonable in the fact that another person's absence can make our lives seem empty. The power of human beings to affect one another in ways beyond reason and beyond merit has offended rationalists and moralists since the dawn of thought, but it is partly what yields to us that sense of human individuality which we express when we say that human beings are unique and irreplacable. Such attachments, and the joy and the grief which they may cause, condition our sense of the preciousness of human beings. Love is the most important of them."
A reason why to often not put much emphasis on whether or not a person is right about what they think about a record: if we're interested in understanding why the record is important to them, why it's meaningful, how it affects them, then often the "wrong" things that they think are just as or more important than the "right" ones. If I hear a record as sad, quibbling with me over whether or not I am really experiencing sadness or some other more subtle or esoteric emotion because of some independent characterization you can give of the music ("when listening objectively others agree that this record sounds reservedly hopeful") seems to implicitly denigrate its importance for me.
The other week a student (a conducting major I think) in my philosophy of music seminar asked me to list my favorite records. I actually tried to list them - in the past year or two I have tried to avoid doing so. But I mostly just tried to recall what I put down the last time I wrote a list (this one here I think). I did a poor job, but adequate I suppose. I think I might have said these: The Curtain Hits the Cast, Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew, Crescent, Emergency & I, Change, Music for 18 Musicians, the Musical Offering with Neville Mariner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and I think Outkast. The thing I am most disappointed at leaving off is 69 Love Songs, because I have been thinking about and listening to them a lot lately.
He said it was a broad range of stuff. Oh, it gets broader.
Sometimes I aspire to have this blog be a kind of improvisation.
But maybe it's more like the kind of improvisation on the Monk track from the Riverside box where you can hear him practicing "Round Midnight" in the studio for about twenty minutes. He's improvising, but it's not for a record or a performance, so he gives himself more opportunities to test things, to start over, to double back.
If you think of records as (at least tentative or provisional or suggested) answers to questions, then one question for Emperor Tomato Ketchup - at least at times - might be "How much can a record sound like a rock record while being as fundamentally non-rock as possible?"
(Dots and Loops seems to me to not care about answering that question.)