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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15 Apr '12 04:22:12 AM

'You do not murmur in so many words, I know this doomed to fail and yet persist. No. For the first person singular and a fortiori plural pronoun had never had any place in your vocabulary.'

14 Apr '12 08:40:44 PM

'In order to be company he must display a certain mental activity. But it need not be of a high order. Indeed it might be argued the lower the better. Up to a point. The lower the order of mental activity the better the company. Up to a point.'

12 Apr '12 01:40:17 AM

'Q: Why didn't you make it larger so that it would loom over the observer?

A: I was not making a monument.

Q: Then why didn't you make it smaller so that the observer could see over the top?

A: I was not making an object.'

31 Mar '12 08:43:01 PM

'There are all sorts of reasons that people have for stating the absolutely obvious. The obvious truth may be important, as when two people have both been looking out for the same thing ("Here he is!"). Again, an exchange may be merely companionable, as when two people comfortingly rehearse that they do see the same things, share the same familiar scene. It is true, of course, that a primary use of language is to tell people things they do not know—it is the point from which we started—but it is a mistake, one predictably made by instructors, to forget the immense importance that human beings find in exchanging assertions which offer no news to any of them. The point is not confined to comments on what is immediately obvious; human beings notoriously love being told stories they already know.'

20 Mar '12 02:27:12 AM

Here's a new one: a mother says to her child, 'He looks like a sherpa, doesn't he?'.

8 Mar '12 02:21:49 AM

'And the question to be asked is not: What is my opinion of all this? That question is easily answered, but those who ask only that have fallen into the trap, for it is precisely the greatest error of our intellectual life to assume that the most effective way of dealing with any phenomenon is to have an opinion about it. The real question is: What is my relation to all this?'

6 Mar '12 04:15:15 PM

'I can do that by another which I cannot do alone. I can say to you what I cannot first say to myself.'

24 Feb '12 10:11:33 PM

'...a slave is a tool with a soul, while a tool is a slave without a soul.'

15 Feb '12 02:13:47 AM

'Most of the occasions for the troubles of the world are grammatical.'