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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12 Sep '19 10:17:42 PM

'… if the fortunes are the reverse of that, the ant will return to its colony for another day at dawn.'

12 Sep '19 05:26:33 PM

'Songwriting is not about expressing something.'

11 Sep '19 12:42:03 AM

'In the autumn and winter of that year, Schumann concerned himself especially with the drama of a certain transformation, a key liminal moment in the life of the human subject. His initiative had begun in the previous decade, but it crystallised with his change of venue and status. He began, more acutely than ever, to embody in music the process by which we form a private identity – by performing our public feelings.

That last sentence should sound odd. Doesn't it get things backwards? In the modern West, it is usually feelings that we regard as private. Feelings assume their public face through expression, not performance; the feeling we perform is not our own. Public performance is a medium in which feeling, the property of the private self, must be at least partly concealed or even entirely suppressed. The public persona is always a mistranslation of the private person.'

10 Sep '19 07:37:47 PM

'Hurrah for the time man!'

30 Aug '19 04:05:29 PM

John Drabinski's seminar on Angela Davis.

30 Aug '19 03:46:54 PM

'It always has the potential of order.'

28 Aug '19 07:24:24 AM

I have been reading Deleuze and Guattari, 'for fun'. Not fun exactly, but something on that order of purposelessness, notwithstanding my inextirpable inclination to do anything nominally intellectual—read a book, watch a TV show, cook—in the light of some remote possibility that I might use it in a class someday. I was assigned something by them, probably the beginning of Anti-Oedipus, in an undergraduate survey that was important to me, and for some reason or another, quite probably Simon Reynolds' references to them in Generation Ecstasy and elsewhere, I acquired a copy of A Thousand Plateaus and a belief that it should be read. Ever since, early days of grad school, or later just off and on, once the folly of also reading over secondary literature of marginal usefulness had subsided, I would occasionally have the impulse, prompted by some memory, or a stray reference, to 'take a look at Deleuze', something like that, not to seriously make headway with it, and headway it surely sadly demanded, but just to do something like, revisit the feeling, the atmosphere, milieu if you will (har har), to get some bits of that language on my tongue again. Sometime in the past year, though, one such visit proved more illuminating than ever, I suppose because years of intervening reading in the history of philosophy had supplied the necessary supports for seeing that, to what should ultimately be no real surprise, Deleuze is just a boring old philosopher and doing more or less the same old tedious things they always do. I was definitely waylaid at some point by the bad advice in D+G's introduction about reading around in whatever order, like listening to a record, because of the way this reinforced the unavoidable perception of their terminological chaos as impenetrable or elusive, demanding a feat of total comprehension. If I had ever tried, or succeeded—I honestly can't say—at reading continuously enough to be able to piece together a structure for the book, I just must not have been able to discern it, though to my chagrin now I see that from the Wolf-Man, to Dr. Challenger, to the order-words, to the semiotic regimes, is a fairly straightforward path toward a systematic something-or-other, with enough metaphysics and philosophy of language at its core to count as virtually academic. The Body without Organs is singularly discombobulating, and perhaps the most needlessly obscurely presented, but then—and this is what might have jumped out most at me in the past year, after having spent so much time poring over Cavell's expression-centric work on other minds—the plateau on 'faciality' proves to be a thrillingly incisive account of something in the ballpark of expressiveness in relation to identity and its social formation, in full awareness of the work by film theorists and critics on e.g. the ways film unlocked strange powers for the face (something I hardly could have been struck by at 22 or 27 or 35, but finally had to be once I started writing on TV aesthetics and then actually teaching films). And it keeps going from there. At many points what I was enabled, over intervening years, to see was just due to acquaintance, not always even first-hand, with the ideas or theoretical frameworks of individual thinkers or disciplines which it is D+G's habit to absorb here and there into pieces of writing (often in such a well-partitioned way), like the use they make of Uexküll. At other points it was easier for me to perceive how what they are up to is informed by silent responses to other thinkers, like Heidegger, say as in the twist they put on impersonal or depersonalized language (cueing recollection of average everyday Dasein and das Man and idle talk) in the 'Postulates of Linguistics' plateau, or in the deliberate re-sourcing of ideas like the Umwelt from the places Heidegger got them from (all the stuff about milieus and territories). Even—at least I hope—similarities of distant relevance, like one I see between Stoic oikeiôsis and the whole operation of territorialization and de/re-territorialization, seem to have done something similar for me by way of making sense of the sentence- and paragraph-level action in the book, where intelligibility is sometimes had at a premium. Something like a picture emerges, is emerging, once one is no longer so distracted by the din of terms for flows and whatnot (I won't bother trying to convey them all artfully). But more of that some other time, since for now, this is for fun, even enjoyment.

28 Aug '19 06:22:19 AM

A member of the clergy is advising a protege of some sort; a priest and a priest, I want to say, but the latter is a woman and I am next to the Catholic school so I assume all spiritual discourse—and there is a fair bit—in the vicinity is Catholic in nature, no doubt wrongly, yet given this she can hardly also be a priest, but in any case, he advises her as if her office differs in no way from his own, as if she has embarked upon some work of a pastoral nature, writing sermons against a liturgical clock and counseling a mass of parishioners, and what he stresses most, repeatedly, is: in the mornings, read, read. Read: what they call self-care now. He sounds like someone who knows from self-neglect.

22 Aug '19 03:39:51 AM

'… almost two and a half years after his death, the sadness I once felt thinking about him has been replaced entirely by gratitude.'