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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23 Jul '12 06:50:24 PM

It's not that I dislike 'Sweet Home Alabama', I just don't like it when people like it.

20 Jul '12 06:25:38 PM

Cavell's writing is deeply humane; but unsociable.

He does what he can to be inviting to the reader, but - probably unintentionally - does little to help the reader become a writer, a talker. (I mean: a vector for Cavell's thoughts, carrying them into new conversations, venues, adapting them to new occasions.)

This is one affinity his writing has to literature, which also sometimes hopes to, or does not see anything wrong with, leaving the reader quiet, with nothing (yet) to say to others.

But philosophy is so often sociable.

19 Jul '12 08:30:09 PM

You get the impression that Wizard Rifle think that Lightning Bolt are awesome, maybe sort of annoying, definitely not heavy enough, and decided to do something about it.

19 Jul '12 06:17:43 PM

'... a shift in what we are asked to let interest us...'

18 Jul '12 06:24:27 PM

Maura's best phrase on Idler Wheel is unobtrusive: 'how those emotions came to be'.

18 Jul '12 03:18:52 PM

Socratic resentment is like the Socratic question, only directed at teachers, books:

'Why won't you tell me how to live??'

18 Jul '12 03:04:48 PM

I imagine that painters just think of their paintings as 'this one', 'that one', 'the one of...', 'the one from...'.

17 Jul '12 10:42:57 PM

That something needs saying is not a matter of degree, so much as it is of what would be said, and when. Dorothy Wordsworth, May 19th [18th], 1800:

'The mountains from this window look much greener & I think the valley is more green than ever.'

This much is enough.

17 Jul '12 09:42:43 PM

'The correct method in philosophy would really be the following: to say nothing except what can be said...'

'I once wrote, the only correct method in philosophy consists in not saying anything...'

These dicta continue, of course. The interest of later philosophers is almost always in their continuations, in the ways they specify what you can say or how to critique what is said wrongly or the attitude to strike toward someone whose lot or good fortune it is to receive your critique. Authors who indulge this interest often seem to have an apologetic air, aware that the pages they fill trying to explain, or get clear on, the specifics are embarrassed by something else you can hear - something Wittgenstein brought out plainly in his paraphrase of himself - in that line from the Tractatus: 'not saying anything', 'to say nothing'.

I'm drawn to the idea of saying only what needs to be said. I find it hard to read almost anything and think that it needed to be said. It's not that I think there's nothing to say. I just rarely feel that I've read words that had to be said, that were called for, that someone was drawn to say, had to get out, needed to put on the page.

One of the most remarkable ways to write is to write to a friend. It's as if the friend frees your thoughts. Where you might otherwise have nothing to say, the expectation that somehow, your words would be reflected, or inflected, back toward you so as to surprise you, can make you eager, voluble. The friend makes your own words fresh, thoughts new.

The writing the world expects one to do is rarely directed toward a friend.