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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9 Aug '03 11:02:45 AM

Don't take what I said about Gravity's Rainbow very seriously, as far as textual analysis goes. I can't be bothered now.

9 Aug '03 10:59:57 AM

I never noticed before (or maybe I did and forgot, it's a big book) how Gwenhidwy's dialogue in Gravity's Rainbow sounds so much like the narration, relative to the other characters' speech - I mean in the way that, like the Duino Elegies, the narration regularly takes these fantastic turns into abstraction, in the movement of a sentence, then keeps moving at the same speed, with Pynchon's incredible sensitivity for the strains on syntax that semantics can accomodate, while still in the absract. I don't recall Gwenhidwy appearing much after the first section, so perhaps I'm fixing on this without giving due consideration to the fact that the speech I have in mind, during Pointsman and Gwenhidwy's Christmas celebration, is almost at the end of the section. That might grant some latitude anyway, narrative-wise, but Gwenhidwy's made out to be especially distinctive anyway, so it's as if it's built into his character. (And the dialect writing! I have no idea what Welsh speaking sounds like, so whatever Pynchon was going for here I can make no sense of it - but I find it hilarious, much like the Hungarian guy's dialogue - but I'm not up to finding R-something's name right now. Rosie, only like Hungarian.) Contrast to The Man Without Qualities where even for the subject matter and the setting and such (early twentieth century Viennese intellectuals debating big important shit), I find it implausible that almost every character would produce such vigorously elevated and abstracted dialogue with such frequency. But I give Musil a pass anyway because it's not as if he's up on some realism shit. (Or Pynchon, ha.)

It's fortunate that I came across the Gwenhidwy passage tonight, because it helps me express a thought I had earlier today. It seems to me - I would gladly consider examples to the contrary - that in ordinary, day-to-day life, nobody ever calls anyone else out for talking total, utter nonsense. I mean nonsense in the sense that people use it when referring to others' writing, especially. When people do use the epithet in conversation, particularly when using it on someone present (it's different when it's someone else, like the president or something, or Derrida), it can be extremely serious. And not too much like the way Wittgenstein characterizes it - 'nonsense' marking something as not part of the language, something "taken out of circulation", though that happens too. No, more like an insult, if the circumstances are serious enough, or a vocalization of now more clearly recognized differences - how could you say that? what on earth is wrong with you? (Maybe questions there make it too charitable - why give someone so fucked up a chance?) Something that may well lead to a break, or a rupture, or the digging of a moat, or the building of a fence. A casting out, a regrouping, an abandoning. Writing off, dissociating, distancing. I have no preference - I don't know what I mean.

Compare to philosophy?

5 Aug '03 10:07:36 PM

It's still there!

4 Aug '03 08:42:34 PM

For some reason "The Flame" came into my head when I woke up.

For some reason it sounds pretty nice.

In my head.

If I were to hear it outside my head I think my opinion might change.

2 Aug '03 09:08:03 AM

I want to keep listening to this. Turn that off. Turn it up. I can't work with this on. Put something on, it's too quiet in here. Can you put something else on? I can't do this without music. They'll hear us, turn on the stereo! I'd like to hear that again. It's 'interesting'. That's on my list. I hated them for a long time. I need something to keep me going. I need something to get me going. Listen to this. I need to listen to it some more. It took me a long time to like that record. It took me a long time to get that record. I can't follow what they're doing there. Put it on repeat. Turn it up! Just leave it on this station, there's nothing else on. I need to listen to it more carefully. I played that record every day. God, this sucks. Go back! Oh, what just happened? Quiet, I'm trying to hear this! These are the records I want to keep. I tried, but it didn't do anything for me. It's interesting. Did you hear that? Don't delete those, I still want them. I'm waiting to find it used. It's my favorite record. It's my favorite record right now. I can't listen to that record anymore. It's not as good as it used to be. Yeah, I've heard that. It's... interesting. Yeah, I used to listen to that. Yeah, I used to like that. I never listen to it anymore. I haven't pulled it out in a while. I've grown out of that. I used to love them. I love that song! I love this song!

"Interest"

31 Jul '03 08:13:30 AM

The small deviations from regularity in house music, like a few extra hi hat hits every eight measures, even when they occur as part of a larger regularity, can sometimes become especially surprising - charged - just because there are always other regularities (ultimately always the kick drum, regardless of what else changes) to fix on. And once I do fix on them, and I become locked in somehow, eventually I hear one of the (regular) deviations - which can be so small - as enormous.

31 Jul '03 07:54:21 AM

I was listening to Kompakt Total 3 today (it would be more appropriate to say that I made the house have Total 3 in it, because it's not as if I was sitting in front of the stereo), and when I went into the bathroom adjacent to my room and shut the door, the midrange and high range sounds were mostly filtered out, leaving behind just thump thump thump thump through the wall. It occurred to me then that maybe some part of my early antipathy toward the house beat was due to the fact that I often only heard the house this way - playing off in the distance, in someone else's room, muffled and reduced to mostly a beat. That's not the sole source of my antipathy, but it makes sense to me that it would not help me understand house any better. Early on I could do little more than hear that beat.

30 Jul '03 06:52:49 AM

My god, I can't read my handwriting.

Well, it's hard.

I found some old notes trying to find analogues in rap for the codes from Roland Barthes' S/Z. Findings were inconclusive. These were from some of my leisure time, oh yes.

29 Jul '03 11:26:35 AM

One of the diverting causes I alluded to below is my inability to keep up with my shifting taste. It's been frustrating to find just how much my critical skills are wedded to the kind of music I grew up listening to. I would like to write more entries that, as in the past, attend closely to the connection between what I feel and what the music sounds like. (I don't know if I have a reason for that, I'm probably just an unreformed autonomy-of-the-work slut.) But with music that's substantially different from rock music, two things falter. I'm less likely to feel the music as anything, as far as ho-hum preschooler emotions go (happy, sad). Then it has more to do with lyrics, if there are lyrics, or it feels as if my responses are more formal somehow, in the sense that some classical music formalists prefer (oh no no lame everyday emotions for us, this is some abstract shit): being excited by rhythms, tensions and releases, structure. This thing is minor, though, because I do still respond to the music emotionally. The bigger problem is that I don't know how to describe lots of the things I feel, particularly when I want to describe them in close relation to the sounds. 'Describe' is probably not the right word. My reactions aren't to ineffable things - it's just that I don't have the right way of talking at my disposal. Some of that's down to experience. I've had an enormous amount of time to pick up the nuances of the conventions of both rock music and rock discourse, compared to music that's newer to me. But I suspect more of it's due to the way the rest of the world treats other kinds of music (partly because the music is made differently, sounds different, but also just becasue they regard it differently). The language isn't out there for me to pick up somehow.