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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6 Jan '04 08:01:18 AM

I received an invitation to vote in the Voice poll again this year, but I never turned in a ballot. The deadline was 5 PM today. I had been idly considering it, but I took so long idly considering that when I sat down to make a list at ten til midnight and read the instructions, I found I was about seven hours late. That's just as well, I suppose. The reason I was so idle is that I really didn't listen to enough new albums for their places on a year-end list to matter to me. At least, not enough to move me into making the list. Perhaps later I will write some about why this is so. (So, given my record, I will probably not write about this later. But I should.)

The reason I considered voting despite my lack of enthusiasm is that, in principle, I think lack of enthusiasm is just as worthy a core critical attitude as any other that will guide Pazz and Jop ballots, and thus should be - needs to be - represented. For what the representation's worth (little). My level of enthusiasm would be apparent from just the content of my albums list, I hope:

Basement Jaxx - Kish Kash
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home
Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
John Fahey - Red Cross
Thelonious Monk - Criss-Cross
Thelonious Monk - It's Monk's Time
Thelonious Monk - Solo Monk
Mouse on Mars - Glam
Outkast - Big Boi's Speakerboxxx
S PRCSS - MNML

I know that's eleven records. I don't really know whether I would end up choosing the Mouse on Mars album, a reissue I enjoyed earlier in the year but then never played again, or the Outkast album (one half of it, really, since Dre's half just annoyed me when I first played it, so I never put it on again), which I played a lot more and enjoyed but found a bit... thin, let's say. If I had played it any I might list the Dizzee Rascal album, which was nice but which I didn't really feel drawn to, or the Michael Mayer mix, which I think Gff made me a copy of but which I haven't even listened to yet. As far as rarely listened to records go, I haven't played the Fahey much since the spring, preferring to play an old record of his that I acquired later instead, but I would still rather leave it on than make space for something else because it captured my attention with less attenuation. Which unfortunately may be my primary way of sifting through records, this year.

The main thing about the list displaying my narcosleepy, though, is the presence of six reissues (seven if you count the Mouse on Mars, which is a different kind of reissue and which really I think I'm excessively pedantic for counting as a 2003 release). But. The Dylan remasters really do sound better, and I hear things in them I never heard before, and I have been listening to them ever since they came out. The Monk reissues are basically the same, but I had never heard those albums at all before. In either case, once I decide to count reissues, and since I don't care about letting artists on my list more than once, I don't even really need to think about including the records: imagine if six great records by two of any of your favorite artists came out in the same year. I was slightly disconsolate about my apathy before I had those reissues late in the fall. But only before.

I suppose I could stick the 'deluxe edition' of Dirty in there too, then, but aside from the fact of its being released during the year I can't think of anything at all new about the original album tracks. They might sound better than the old issue but this never occurs to me. (In fact I think they're just not remastered at all, but I'm too lazy to check again.) The b-sides are alright and the demos are interesting, but I never listen to them. I did listen to the album a lot, though, along with more other Sonic Youth records than ever before.

And Stereolab. Maybe this means someday I'll be able to listen to Cobra Phases and Sound-Dust again.

Speaking of reissues, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted was remastered this year.

The Basement Jaxx record and the S PRCSS record, then, are the only ones that felt like what in a normal year would be records vying for spots on my list. I like both a lot, the S PRCSS more than the Jaxx, but then the Jaxx is a lot more interesting than the S PRCSS, which probably lucked out by comforting me and being catchy. Pop-cultural lyrical references never hurt, either.

Now. Singles are a slightly different matter, since I can honestly say I did enjoy them this year and did care about them. But since I did it casually and informally, and without buying anything, mostly just hearing them on the radio and BET (i.e., the way singles were meant to be heard), I don't know what I liked well enough to make a list at the moment. Maybe later. I would include the 'Tessio' remix on the Luomo album just because I listened to it so compulsively (the rest of the album made me ever so slightly uneasy which was enough to drive me away this year) - and loved it. 'Crazy In Love' would probably go down as my favorite single, but not like eyes bugging out jumping up and down favorite. More hey oh is it hey turn the radio up to an impolite level making other passengers wince but then grin infectiously favorite. Which doesn't put it far from whichever Sean Paul single it is that I liked so much. (I always get 'Get Busy' and 'Shake That Thing' confused in some way that has nothing to do with what any idiot could use to distinguish between them on a cursory listen.) Others, too, like 'Right Thurr', 'Milkshake', 'Beautiful', 'The Jump Off', 'Pump It Up', maybe 'Belly Dancer' but I have trouble feeling shit that I only see on TV once in twelve months, certainly 'I Luv U', whatever I can get by the rules lawyers from Kish Kash, 'Never Scared' (most awesome thing seen on TV, musically: maybe the entire 106 & Park audience shouting along, totally amped up, totally happy), and then, you know, whatever.

5 Jan '04 10:35:19 AM

'It is chuckleheaded to desire a way through every difficulty.'

4 Jan '04 08:36:17 AM

Last week I insisted to Lora that despite appearances, there really are rules one must follow when doing philosophy, in particular academic philosophy. Rules like 'good writing is suspicious' and 'distrust metaphors'. Here's another: no concepts allowed. (Picture it painted on an old board and nailed up outside the clubhouse a la 'no girls allowed'.) Maybe it needs to be written teutonically to make sense: no Concepts allowed.

31 Dec '03 06:03:49 AM

'the poetic truths of high-school journal-keepers'

31 Dec '03 06:02:35 AM

'Having defined Wilkins' procedure, we must examine a problem that is impossible or difficult to postpone: the merit of the forty-part table on which the language is based. Let us consider the eighth category: stones. Wilkins divides them into common (flint, gravel, slate); moderate (marble, amber, coral); precious (pearl, opal); transparent (amethyst, sapphire); and insoluble (coal, fuller's earth, and arsenic). The ninth category is almost as alarming as the eighth. It reveals that metals can be imperfect (vermilion, quicksilver); artificial (bronze, brass); recremental (filings, rust); and natural (gold, tin, copper). The whale appears in the sixteenth category: it is a viviparous, oblong fish. These ambiguities, redundancies, and deficiencies recall those attributed by Dr. Franz Kuhn to a certain Chinese encyclopedia called the Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. In its distant pages it is written that animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the emperor; (b) embalmed ones; (c) those that are trained; (d) suckling pigs; (e) mermaids; (f) fabulous ones; (g) stray dogs; (h) those that are included in this classification; (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; (j) innumerable ones; (k) those drawn with a very fine camel's-hair brush; (l) etcetera; (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; (n) those that at a distance resemble flies. The Bibliographical Institute of Brussels also exercises chaos: it has parceled the universe into 1,000 subdivisions, of which number 262 corresponds to the Pope, number 282 to the Roman Catholic Church, number 263 to the Lord's Day, number 268 to Sunday schools, number 298 to Mormonism, and number 294 to Brahmanism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and Taoism. Nor does it disdain the employment of heterogeneous subdivisions, for example, number 179: "Cruelty to animals. Protection of animals. Dueling and suicide from a moral point of view. Various vices and defects. Various virtues and qualities."'

30 Dec '03 04:20:56 AM

'We can at least see what philosophy is not: it is not contemplation, reflection, or communication. This is the case even though it may sometimes believe it is one or other of these, as a result of the capacity of every discipline to produce its own illusions and to hide behind its own peculiar smokescreen. It is not contemplation, for contemplations are things themselves as seen in the creation of their specific concepts. It is not reflection, because no one needs philosophy to reflect on anything. It is thought that philosophy is being given a great deal by being turned into the art of reflection, but actually it loses everything. Mathematicians, as mathematicians, have never waited for philosophers before reflecting on mathematics, nor artists before reflecting on painting or music. So long as their reflection belongs to their respective creation, it is a bad joke to say that this makes them philosophers. Nor does philosophy find any final refuge in communication, which only works under the sway of opinions in order to create "consensus" and not concepts. The idea of a Western democratic conversation between friends has never produced a single concept. The idea comes, perhaps, from the Greeks, but they distrusted it so much, and subjected it to such harsh treatment, that the concept was more like the ironical soliloquy bird that surveyed the battlefield of destroyed rival opinions (the drunken guests at the banquet).'

30 Dec '03 04:13:27 AM

189. Is lying a particular experience? Well, can I tell someone "I am going to tell you a lie" and straightaway do it?

30 Dec '03 04:09:22 AM

328. In philosophy it is significant that such-and-such a sentence makes no sense; but also that it sounds funny.

30 Dec '03 04:06:13 AM

From the Zettel:

447. Disquiet in philosophy might be said to arise from looking at philosophy wrongly, seeing it wrong, namely as if it were divided into (infinite) longitudinal strips instead of into (finite) cross strips. This inversion in our conception produces the greatest difficulty. So we try as it were to grasp the unlimited strips and complain that it cannot be done piecemeal. To be sure it cannot, if by a piece one means an infinite longitudinal strip. But it may well be done, if one means a cross strip. --But in that case we never get to the end of our work! --Of course not, for it has no end.

(We want to replace wild conjectures and explanations by quiet weighing of linguistic facts.)