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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29 Dec '04 08:05:58 AM

An effect on consciousness is at base an effect in time. Think of Wittgenstein's reference to Augustine on time - it's something we think we know, until somebody asks us about it. One sort of tactic of Wittgenstein's in response to the pull to make time substantive is to redirect lines of questioning so that they're aimed not at figuring out what time is, exactly, or which thing, where, we might call 'time', but at uncovering the role that time plays in various ways of talking about it. Maybe this is helpful to remember when presented with the temptation to start locating certain effects in consciousness. I am thinking in particular of the sort of thing mentioned by Ron's questioner here - any kind of recalcitrant artwork for which an explanation in terms of simulation or stimulation of consciousness is supposed to satisfy people who are unsure what exactly the work is good for, or what it means, or how to tell whether it's any good or not. (Think of a reaction to drone music that Tom had, however many years ago - 'how can I tell whether I'm listening to something that's good or not'?) Some of these are suggestive because we can see plainly that they lend themselves to unusual conscious experiences, like music that's at all entrancing, or even maybe the much-vaunted similarity between impressionist painting and 'the way people really see things'. The suggestion of explanations in terms of consciousness is exciting - as a clue to a mistake, for me - in the case of literature just because the relatively less temporal (less directly temporal) character of the medium makes it easier to see that one might just as well look to other ways that an experience of time shows itself - different scales on which it shows itself.

- motion, as Silliman mentions
- interaction with others
- change in general
- history and the historical

In particular the reader may change in unforeseen ways that only show themselves with time, which is to say, when other things have had the chance to change, either with the person or with the circumstances. Ordinary experiences may acumulate so that a phrase like 'exploding honey' sticks out in a way it never did to Silliman. This might be in relation to other texts, new texts, old texts, or no texts at all, but rather just: life. Reading a certain text (hearing a certain piece of music, experiencing a painting a certain way) may lead a person to find that they can do things a different way for themselves, that they can see other things.

This may seem to leave the object itself in the background, having only indirect effect; it may be hard to see how to divine the object's secrets, to elucidate it, to decode it, explain it, pin it down. Yes, and?

28 Dec '04 01:20:31 AM

'Josh Kortbein, your votes have been recorded.

Your Pazz & Jop albums ballot was submitted as follows:
1. Junior Boys - Last Exit - Kin/Domino (30 points)
2. Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse - DGC (15 points)
3. Madvillain - Madvillainy - Stones Throw (15 points)
4. De La Soul - The Grind Date - Sanctuary (10 points)
5. Mouse on Mars - Radical Connector - Thrill Jockey (5 points)
6. Pan Sonic - Kesto (234.48:4) - Blast First/Mute (5 points)
7. - Kompakt 100 - Kompakt (5 points)
8. Ex - Turn - Touch and Go (5 points)
9. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Shake the Sheets - Lookout (5 points)
10. Ghostface - The Pretty Toney Album - Def Jam (5 points)

Your Pazz & Jop singles ballot has been recorded as follows:
1. Xzibit - "Hey Now (Mean Muggin)" - Sony
2. Fabolous - "Breathe" - Desert Storm/Atlantic
3. R. Kelly - "Happy People" - Jive
4. Usher feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris - "Yeah!" - Arista
5. Petey Pablo - "Freek-A-Leek" - Jive
6. Alicia Keys - "If I Ain't Got You" - J-records
7. Memphis Bleek feat. Freeway - "Just Blaze, Bleek & Free" - Roc-a-Fella
8. Jay-Z - "99 Problems" - Roc-a-Fella
9. Houston feat. Chingy, I-20, and Nate Dogg - "I Like That" - Capitol
10. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - "Me and Mia" - Lookout'

23 Dec '04 06:21:21 AM

Best with cartoon wads of meat, of course.

23 Dec '04 06:20:51 AM

I will never tire of gags premised on arbitrary people spontaneously saying 'my anaconda don't want none'. Better with cartoon people, too. Of course.

21 Dec '04 11:10:52 AM

One way I know now that Sonic Youth might actually be one of my actual real-live favorite bands is that when say I go by their records on the shelf or my computer and think, oh, hey, I wanna listen to Sonic Youth, I'm then paralyzed with the indecision caused by not wanting to pass anything up. I don't think I would feel quite that way if I didn't also derive distinctly different (not much different) experiences of pleasure from each of their records - if the records felt at all interchangeable. I realize this is a dubious-sounding thing to say about Sonic Youth. And still I feel it more intensely than most of the judgments I care to voice about music.

I'm not saying I'm about to go out looking for a fight or anything, but, you know.

21 Dec '04 10:53:16 AM

I've just spent hours downloading the songs mentioned in Donald Larsson's companion to Weisenburger's companion to Gravity's Rainbow and yet I (1) still have a big list of things I couldn't find (some annoyingly so, like 'Lady of Spain' which you would think would pop up even if obscure British musichall numbers don't), and (2) have found little in the way of what I really sat down to look for, a list of songs that serve as the models for Pynchon's own songs. Sigh.

21 Dec '04 08:24:52 AM

The sounds on Call Me are surprisingly metallic for such an intimate-sounding record. Maybe that's why it doesn't always seem to stand being turned up that well. The balance comes undone.

21 Dec '04 07:35:48 AM

Clive on the Junior Boys.

21 Dec '04 12:53:53 AM

I'm still trying to figure out if there's something I'm missing that would redeem 'The Makings of a Perfect Bitch' - or is it really just as unreflectedly conflicted about the virtues of women as it sounds?

(Hey Maya Angelou and Angela Davis, you're really great and admirable, here, hold on, just gotta finish this suture. There, now I've stitched together a slutty obedient intellectual black woman that I can be happy with forever. What the fuck?)