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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24 Nov '03 09:34:58 AM

Athenäum Fragment 116

Romantic poesy is a progressive universal poesy. It is not only destined to reunite the separated genres of poesy and to bring poesy into contact with philosophy and rhetoric. It wants to - and also should - blend and merge poesy with prose, geniality with critique, the poesy of art with the poesy of nature, give life to poesy and render it sociable, make life and society poetic, poeticize wit and fill up and saturate the forms of art with every kind of genuine cultural material, and animate them through the oscillations of humor. Romantic poesy comprises everything that is in the least poetic, from the greatest systems of art that themselves contain multiple systems to the sigh, the kiss breathed out in artless song by the poetizing child. It can lose itself in what it represents to such an extent that one could conclude that its one and all is to characterize poetic individuals of all kinds, and yet no form exists as yet that would be suitable for fully expressing the spirit of the author. For this reason, many artists who merely wanted to write a novel end up more or less presenting themselves in rough approximation. Only romantic poesy can, like the epos, act as a mirror of the entire world that surrounds it, and become an image of the age. And yet it is also romantic poesy that can hover on the wings of poetic reflection between the presented and the presenting, free from all real and ideal interest, and continually raise this reflection to a higher power, thus multiplying it as in an endless row of mirrors. It is capable of the highest and the most multifaceted cultural refinement [Bildung] possible, and not only from the inside out, but also from the outside in; for romantic poesy organizes all parts of each thing, whose product is to be a whole, along similar lines, out of which arises the prospect of a boundlessly growing classicism. Romantic poesy is to the arts what wit is to philosophy and what society, interaction, friendship, and love are to life. Other genres are fixed and are capable of being classified in their entirety. The romantic genre is, however, still in the process of becoming; indeed, this is its essence: to be eternally in the process of becoming and never completed. No theory can exhaust romantic poesy, and only a divinatory critique might dare attempt to characterize its ideal. It alone is infinite, just as it alone is free, and it recognizes this as its first law, that the willfullness of the poet tolerates no imposition of laws. The romantic genre is the only one that is more than a genre and that itself typifies poetic production; for, in a certain sense, all poesy is or should be romantic.

24 Nov '03 06:44:12 AM

And, contra Jess, I'm happy to say '99 Problems' is the best track on the new Jay-Z. Its relative simplicity (blown-out 'live' beat + buzzzz + 99 problems - bitch) makes it relatively refreshing, but I'm a little worried the chorus, too. Why is it that I can sing along with such relish? I do in truth have 99 problems, and a bitch ain't one, but when I say 'a bitch ain't one', regarding my problems, it just sounds factual. I don't mean to opt in to Jay's second-nature misogyny when I say it. But. I can feel it rising up, unbidden. The phrase is so compact, flawlessly efficient: 'ain't one' dismisses her, and 'bitch' makes it clear why. She can't even be a problem - she's only a bitch. And 'a' bitch is the same as any other one, so it doesn't matter which one. None of them are problems. In fact, 'bitch' in this sense is so virulent that it encompasses every woman, resulting in the casual one-line syllogism: women = bitches = not problems. No wonder the misogyny comes on so easily. The phrase reduces more than half the world to almost nothing in four words. I want that to be the reason that it's so easy for me to sing with a momentary suspension of - or maybe even reversal of - character. The power is so easy to assume, to slip into, to enjoy, since it's not raw physicality, but something far more powerful: a priori indifference to the ineffectual, the unimportant, the powerless. Could it be that, perversely, there's something that feels liberating about denying the power of others so effortlessly?

I'm reminded of Wittgenstein's cloud, condensed into a drop of grammar. Ironically, I feel especially transfixed by a grammatical picture, the ever-persistent inside-my-head-or-out-there-in-the-world, I think because I want an easy explanation, somewhere convenient to dump the problem that absolves me of any malice. So, preferably out-there-in-the-world, which is where 'bitch' was before it and its cloud got into my head.

24 Nov '03 04:27:19 AM

'Writing means JACK SHIT in the face of someone hating you.'

24 Nov '03 04:13:54 AM

Wu-Tang are a lot more potent when you're already anxious and jittery, but then the words all blur by.

23 Nov '03 06:35:26 PM

I spent ten minutes in front of the mirror last night, making faces. I make good faces. With practice, though, I could make great faces.

23 Nov '03 05:45:50 AM

'he on some now you see me now you don't, you know what I'm sayin?'

18 Nov '03 07:34:00 AM

'Every profound thinker is more afraid of being understood than of being misunderstood. The latter might hurt his vanity; but the former hurts his heart and his sympathy which always says: "Oh, why do you want things to be as hard for you as they are for me?"'

18 Nov '03 07:32:42 AM

'In a hermit's writings, you can always hear something of the echo of the desert, something of the whisper and the timid sideways glance of solitude. A new and more dangerous type of silence, of concealment, rings out in his strongest words, even in his cries. Anyone who has sat alone with his soul in intimate dispute and dialogue, year in, and year out, day and night, anyone who has become a cave bear or treasure hunter or treasure guard and dragon in his cave (which might be a labyrinth but also a gold mine): his very concepts will come to acquire their own twilight color, the smell of depth just as much as of mildew, something uncommunicative and reluctant that blows a chill on everything going past. The hermit does not believe that a philosopher - given that a philosopher was always a hermit first - has ever expressed his actual and final opinions in books: don't people write books precisely to keep what they hide to themselves? In fact, he will doubt whether a philosopher could even have "final and actual" opinions, whether for a philosopher every cave does not have, must not have, an even deeper cave behind it - a more extensive, stranger, richer world above the surface, an abyss behind every ground, under every "groundwork." Every philosophy is a foreground philosophy - that is a hermit's judgment: "There is something arbitrary in his stopping here, looking back, looking around, in his not digging any deeper here, and putting his spade away - there is also something suspicious about it." Every philosophy conceals a philosophy too: every opinion is also a hiding place, every word is also a mask.'

18 Nov '03 07:24:42 AM

'With hard people, intimacy is a source of shame - and something precious.'