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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29 Aug '12 05:50:04 PM


'By early 1841, Thoreau was having his poems accepted and published in The Dial on a more or less regular basis. Margaret Fuller might be less than wholly enthusiastic, Emerson would soon cool about his young friend's verse, but for all that, Thoreau could now regard himself as a poet. He was faring less well with his prose. His essay on Persius had been published in July of the preceding year; it would be two years before another prose piece saw print. The rejection of "The Service," on which he had worked for almost a year, was a setback, but it had one side benefit. It set Thoreau seriously to work on his writing style. In the early months of 1841 his journal began to expand considerably on this subject. He also began to keep a separate notebook for copying down passages from his reading.

The journal was for his own observations and original thoughts, the place in which he made, he said, "a huge effort to expose my innermost and richest wares to light." The other notebook was for memorable bits from his reading; he would record such things as Raleigh's "to the perfection of men three things are necessarily required; nature, nurture, and use," or from the London Monthly Magazine, "And take this with you, ye wretched doctrinaires... that all conclusions are heartless, of which the heart is not the premises." Ever attentive to both subject and expression, he noted thoughtfully in his own journal for January, "a perfectly healthy sentence is extremely rare." In addition to the new notebook and the expanded journalizing, Thoreau went back over and recopied into a new notebook all that remained or all that he wished to keep - still hundreds of pages - of his earlier journals. Mechanically at least, he did an enormous amount of writing during January and February, in the course of which he was moved frequently to reflect on the process of writing itself.'

29 Aug '12 03:30:45 PM

Some of those who continue to matter to us leave us no recourse but to pretend as if they don't.

29 Aug '12 12:22:59 PM

Nietzsche would be so pleased:

'Since time immemorial, a very specific community of organisms — microbes, parasites, some viruses — has aggregated to form the human superorganism. Mounds of evidence suggest that our immune system anticipates these inputs and that, when they go missing, the organism comes unhinged.'

28 Aug '12 06:34:59 AM

Apr. 18, 1852: 'For the first time I perceive this spring that the year is a circle.'

28 Aug '12 06:04:06 AM

'Workflow'? Really?

28 Aug '12 03:02:52 AM

Children don't usually learn 'Why are you poking yourself in the eye?!?', though.

28 Aug '12 02:59:10 AM

A language-game, 'Why are you hitting yourself?!? Why are you hitting yourself?!? Why are you hitting yourself?!?'.

28 Aug '12 02:13:30 AM

In chapter xiv of Walden, settled in for the winter, only rarely meeting people out to collect wood, Thoreau says that 'for human society I was obliged to conjure up the former occupants of these woods'; the first three he conjures up by name are the former slaves Cato Ingraham, Zilpah White, and Brister Freeman.

28 Aug '12 01:33:44 AM

I'm not sure if the band who once made Public Castration Is A Good Idea was ever hemmed in as 'some dumb rock band'.