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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30 Nov '04 03:37:21 AM

It seems as if writing in fragments (such a poorly chosen word, thoughtlessly chosen), remarks, could be seen to make a work of thought more forceful than if it had been written in continuous prose, as a single line of argument; there is less exposure, greater intensity throughout. The parts do not depend nearly so much on one another for their correctness, validity, or significance; if one fails, or fails to take hold, it might possibly hardly be missed. (The relation between fragmentary - augh! - texts and networks is probably deeper than the glibness of that formulation implies.) And when this is so, it seems, somehow (I'm recording my impulses, hunches, here; regarded soberly the situation feels like it can be brought exactly into line in every way with that of continuously argued prose, by someone so inclined to argue), as if each remark gets to say more because it is allowed to presume so many other things have been said so securely.

(I am thinking of Wittgenstein.)

29 Nov '04 09:11:09 AM

What is it?
What is it like?
What does it sound like?
Why am I listening to it?
Should I listen to it?
Should I keep listening to it?
Why do I keep listening to it?
Will I keep listening to it?
Why do I want to listen to it?

I keep forgetting the simplicity of some of the basic questions.

29 Nov '04 09:08:29 AM

Each separate section - it looks as if they're meant to seem like separate entries not consistently dated, so that most are set apart only by the blank space - of Rilke's Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge begins, in the 1964 Norton edition of Norton's translation (no relation?), with a drop cap.

It rather detracts from the conceit that the thing is made up of Malte's notebook entries.

27 Nov '04 07:35:12 AM

Things come out somewhat on their own; and I look at them and wonder, why am I writing that?

27 Nov '04 07:34:25 AM

The funny thing is, it's never like I took to that role wholly, unreservedly, even when a real teenager. (Or maybe I should have used the word 'adolescent' before.) Which makes my recognition of this feeling even more internal, I think; I'm noticing a similarity between the response Kesto can draw, and a response I have (in my past, and now and then later) felt inside but come to connect with the external, stereotyped behavior of others. And probably engaged in, a bit, myself. But mostly it feels like it's far down on the 'private' end of the scale.

27 Nov '04 07:24:03 AM

If one of Pan Sonic's goals is to draw selfless responses from their listeners - take for example the wonder that comes from simply being in the presence of something, nothing more - then it might be said that Kesto is four hours long simply because some listeners are very dogged in sticking to their selves when responding. The howling sheets of noise on disc one (and some on disc two) sometimes make me giggle with glee, with an inescapable feeling of still being a teenaged boy impressed by technological gadgetry and anything that might potentially annoy other people (especially adults and girls). But the eventual monotony, or perhaps just subjective monotony due to my acclimatization, serves to let the real moment occur: to make me surprised by the swoop and stop giggling and feel as if I am in the presence of more than my stupid old dumbass still-yet-teenage self.

27 Nov '04 06:55:52 AM

Below I know I suggested basically that the depths I wanted revealed in the new Magnetic Fields record would be lyrical and formal, and that the possible flaws I wanted to be saved from by that revelation are musical; that's exactly why I want the depths to come from the lyrics.

27 Nov '04 06:23:17 AM

The recent discussion of Galen Strawson's TLS article at The Reading Experience, Waggish, and Leithart is making me regret not having trudged over to the library when Christopher came by asking me about Charles Taylor's views on narrative selfhood. At the moment I'd especially like to see what more, if anything, Strawson says on Dostoevsky; Daniel Green notes that Strawson lists him as an author who might be seen as diachronic rather than episodic. I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov right now but I don't yet know if what I've taken from Mikhail Bakhtin's Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics will be borne out by my reading. Bakhtin discusses the (dialogic) presentation of character in Dostoevsky as the sort of thing that must be done through recurrent conflict in conversation; the people always have something more in reserve, unknown even to themselves, that can be revealed to them (and the others) by what they say when existing in conversation, when answering to the other person. Now, it's certainly true that one of the characters' means of dealing with the consequences of their periodic meetings and conflicts with one another is to set themselves into narratives; I can't think of a character yet who hasn't, when given any opportunity at all to reflect on their situation or relate it to another. But the impression I have from my (not close) reading of Bakhtin is that this narrative situating can be seen as secondary, as just the kind of thing that is meant to complement a more essentially episodic relation to others and life. From what I've gleaned about Strawson's essay from others, though, I take it that the way of reading Dostoevsky that I'm sketching maintains the distinction Strawson draws, and just suggests that some apparently narratively maintained selves (or characters) may only think they need narrative, or tend to think of themselves in terms of narratives. Or maybe I could say that I'm suggesting (I don't know, really) a reading of Bakhtin that says: to be dialogic is to be, ultimately, episodic. But this junk about episodic selves requiring an assumption of continuity gives me pause, which I guess is why I now need to read the article.

26 Nov '04 06:59:03 PM

(Let me dignify that by calling it a 'note'.)