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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20 Jul '19 06:34:49 AM

'I enjoy it, but I don't really believe it.'

19 Jul '19 04:18:30 AM

'The poets are not those who write poems, but those who know which of the things they write are poems.'

14 Jul '19 03:44:48 AM

'Although Descartes' cogito is created as a concept, it has presuppositions. This is not in the way that one concept presupposes others (for example, "man" presupposes "animal" and "rational"); the presuppositions here are implicit, subjective, and preconceptual, forming an image of thought: everyone knows what thinking means. Everyone can think; everyone wants the truth. Are these the only two elements—the concept and the plane of immanence or image of thought that will be occupied by concepts of the same group (the cogito and the other concepts that can be connected to it)? Is there something else, in Descartes's case, other than the created cogito and the presupposed image of thought? Actually there is something else, somewhat mysterious, that appears from time to time or that shows through and seems to have a hazy existence halfway between concept and preconceptual plane, passing from one to the other. In the present case it is the Idiot: it is the Idiot who says "I" and sets up the cogito but who also has the subjective presuppositions or lays out the plane. The idiot is the private thinker, in contrast to the public teacher (the schoolman): the teacher refers constantly to taught concepts (man–rational animal), whereas the private thinker forms a concept with innate forces that everyone possesses on their own account by right ("I think"). Here is a very strange type of persona who wants to think, and who thinks for himself, by the "natural light." The idiot is a conceptual persona. The question "Are there precursors of the cogito?" can be made more precise. Where does the persona of the idiot come from, and how does it appear? Is it in a Christian atmosphere, but in reaction against the "scholastic" organization of Christianity and the authoritarian organization of the church? Can traces of this persona already be found in Saint Augustine? Is Nicholas of Cusa the one who accords the idiot full status as a conceptual persona? This would be why he is close to the cogito but still unable to crystallize it as a concept. In any case, the history of philosophy must go through these personae, through their changes according to planes and through their variety according to concepts. Philosophy constantly brings conceptual personae to life; it gives life to them.'

9 Jul '19 02:36:27 AM

'By voluntarily giving up the freedom to do whatever momentarily comes to mind, we are, as a result, free of all that momentarily comes to mind.'

9 Jul '19 02:08:26 AM

'But why take from television what the medium itself all but abandoned?'

5 Jul '19 09:12:15 PM

Ingeborg Bachmann's Malina

27 Jun '19 10:25:46 PM

Ambient privacy

26 Jun '19 12:47:56 AM

'Philosophy is new every time.'

25 Jun '19 07:49:16 AM

'Two almost abstract voices in an almost abstract space. That is what strikes us first, this sort of abstraction: as if these two beings who converse in a square—she is twenty, a servant; he, older, goes from store to store selling things of little value—had no other reality than their voice alone, and in this accidental conversation exhausted whatever a living person still has in the way of chance and truth, or more simply of speech. They have to speak, and these cautious, almost ceremonious words are terrible because of the restraint that is not only the politeness of simple lives, but is made of their extreme vulnerability. The fear of wounding and the fear of being wounded are in the very words. The words touch each other, they withdraw at the slightest contact; they are assuredly still living. Slow, but uninterrupted, never stopping for fear of not having enough time: one must speak now or never; but still without haste, patient and on the defensive, calm too, the way speech is calm that if it did not restrain itself would break out into a cry; and deprived, to a painful degree, of that ease of chatter that is the lightness and freedom of a certain sort of happiness. Here, in the simple world of need and necessity, words are devoted to the essential, attracted only to the essential, and so are monotonous, but they are attentive also to what must be said in order not to avoid the brutal formulations that would put an end to everything.

It is a matter of dialogue. How rare dialogue is; we realize this by the surprise it makes us feel, bringing us into the presence of an unusual event, almost more painful than remarkable. In novels, the "dialogued" part is the expression of laziness and routine: the characters speak to put white spaces on a page and out of an imitation of life, where there is no narration, only conversation; from time to time one must give speech to people in books; the direct contact is an economy and a repose (for the author even more than for the reader). Or, the "dialogue," under the influence of some American writers, can be wrought of an expressive incommunicativeness: more threadbare than in reality, a little below the meaningless speech that suffices for us in current life. When someone speaks, it is his refusal to speak that becomes obvious; his discourse is his silence: closed, violent, saying nothing but himself, his abrupt massiveness, his desire to emit words rather than to speak. Or simply, as happens in Hemingway, this exquisite way of expressing himself a little under zero is a ruse to make us believe in some high degree of life, emotion, or thought, an honest and classic ruse that often succeeds and to which Hemingway's melancholy talent gives various resources. But the three great directions of modern novelistic "dialogue" are represented, in my opinion, by the names Malraux, Henry James, and Kafka.'