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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16 Aug '12 08:16:48 PM

'Shall I allow myself to be forever tossed about by the specious arguments of the eloquent whose opinions, which they preach and which they are so keen for others to accept, I am not even sure are their own? Their passions, which determine their opinions and their interest in making people believe this or that, make it impossible to discover what they themselves believe. Can one look for good faith in the leaders of parties? Their philosophy is for others; I need one for myself.'

16 Aug '12 01:09:33 AM

In 1859, 'new thoughts' are on Emerson's mind again:

'I have now for more than a year, I believe, ceased to write in my Journal, in which I formerly wrote almost daily. I see few intellectual persons, & even those to no purpose, & sometimes believe that I have no new thoughts, and that my life is quite at an end. But the magnet that lies in my drawer for years, may believe it has no magnetism, and, on touching it with steel, it shows the old virtue; and, this morning, came by a man with knowledge & interests like mine, in his head, and suddenly I had thoughts again.'

16 Aug '12 12:57:58 AM

Emerson begins keeping a journal (Jan. 25, 1820) while at school; his first entry is a little burst of epideixis, running down the tropes of benefit and purpose and genre and issuing formulaic entreaties to fantastic, mythical, imaginary, or elemental figures cast mainly as sources of the writing he will do. It's fitting that he identifies two of the journal's purposes—a record of reading and an aid to memory—as being 'usually comprehended under that comprehensive title Common Place book', since nearly the whole entry is populated by commonplaces. But the other specific purpose he identifies is attractively plain: 'a record of new thoughts (when they occur)'.

15 Aug '12 06:26:44 PM

Sidewalk sign, outside an insurance firm: 'Let us quote you!'

15 Aug '12 05:10:31 PM

Or a computer programmer, using it as a verb.

15 Aug '12 05:10:00 PM

You shouldn't need to say 'unquote', ever, unless you're an editor or talking to one.

15 Aug '12 09:20:14 AM

I hate it when people try to read quote marks aloud.

15 Aug '12 12:55:50 AM

'Let us consider the praying mantis, a formidable, voracious insect. These creatures have a nature fascinating to many people. Mating is part of their self-realization, but some males are eaten when performing the act of copulation. Is he happy; is he having pleasure? We don't know. Well done if he does!'

13 Aug '12 09:27:33 PM

'I asked him if he ever wished to write his thoughts. He said that he had read and written letters for those who could not, but he never tried to write thoughts, —no, he could not, he could not tell what to put first, it would kill him, and then there was spelling to be attended to at the same time!'