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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31 Mar '16 04:02:34 AM

'Also, the relaxation of the demands of decorum both justifies and encourages literary experiments as the principle of decorum fosters a strong connection between literature generally and rhetoric. When the principle of decorum governs simply the appropriate matching of style and genre, it functions conservatively to protect a literary status quo. When, however, the doctrine of decorum refers to the social world outside the literary system—that heroes should talk like heroes and fools act like fools—it fosters literary innovation. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries we find this social definition of decorum increasingly urged to defend the use of prose in tragedies as well as comedies; prose speaks more directly to contemporary audiences, and its basis in ordinary usage makes it a more accurate instrument for recreating human actions on the stage. Ben Jonson's Sejanus might have fared better had he curbed the artificial effulgence of his language to this new rule of custom. Shakespeare left no critical record other than the plays themselves; examination of his use of dramatic prose, however, would dispel the critical shibboleth with which this essay began [viz., that his rustics, clowns, peasants, and other corrupters of language speak in prose; his heroes descend to it when, clouded in confusion or distracted by evil, they forego the high talk of poetry]. Certainly the stylistic transformations we witness between the self-conscious artifice of Richard II and the more naturalistic prose and poetry of the later tragedies and romances indicate Shakespeare's incorporation of this principle.

A new definition of decorum, then, emerges in response to such anticlassical techniques as the use of prose in drama, a definition that clearly shows the influence of rhetorical theory on poetic theory. In this version decorum establishes a social contract between writer (or work) and reader: a decorous work operates through the forms most readily accessible to the audience. Defining decorum and hence communication of literary meaning as a function of "what without dishonor the place and the time require" assigns the audience a determining position with regard to a literary work. That the audience maintains such a position is, of course, a commonplace of rhetorical theory. The orator must establish a contract of style and subject with his audience if, as Sidney says, he is to "winne credit of popular eares… the nearest steppe to perswasion, which perswasion, is the chiefe marke of Oratorie." The application of this rhetorical doctrine to all literary art makes of decorum a means rather than an end and thus sanctions a good deal of literary experiment—not only in the use of vernacular models for the drama but more generally in the development of literary styles less obviously artificial, more directly communicative. In prose we see the fruits of this development in the movement from Ciceronian to Senecan styles in the seventeenth century. The Senecan style, precisely because it is less ornate, is capable of a more flexible response to the demands of its audience.'

24 Mar '16 09:13:49 AM

Nothing. That's what's happened.

23 Mar '16 07:45:15 AM

I went to the store last week and bought things I needed, but as I was leaving I felt unsatisfied. So I bought a little bowl.

I set it on a shelf and now I look at it and think, hey, look at that bowl.

I couldn't tell you what will happen next.

23 Mar '16 03:38:24 AM

'Здравствуй! Легкий шелест слышишь
Справа от стола?
Этих строчек не допишешь -
Я к тебе пришла.
Неужели ты обидишь
Так, как в прошлый раз,-
Говоришь, что рук не видишь,
Рук моих и глаз.
У тебя светло и просто.
Не гони меня туда,
Где под душным сводом моста
Стынет грязная вода.'

21 Mar '16 09:24:04 PM

'And yet something about the word "betters" is at odds with the spirit of this film, which Kubrick concludes with this epilogue: "It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarreled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now." They are all equal in death; and more importantly, they have all been equalized by the camera. Some of the characters in Barry Lyndon are objectionable. We can say that Quin is smug and cowardly, that Runt is a bloodless toady, that Mrs. Barry is harsh and insensitive; but the experience of the film makes any such judgments sound lame. The film transforms life into something arrestingly unfamiliar. We watch it with curiosity and care, until we sense the inexhaustible nuances of every image and encounter. Barry Lyndon incites us to tolerance by preserving the full integrity of experience, which is always more truthful than the conclusions it inspires. We learn to disregard authority and see for ourselves.'

21 Mar '16 02:57:46 AM

I'm not sure whether the years do.

21 Mar '16 02:57:04 AM

Although the street doesn't go through.

21 Mar '16 02:56:24 AM

But further down.

21 Mar '16 02:55:55 AM

I mean, I do again. I did, then didn't, now do again.