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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2 Mar '19 04:12:30 PM

'All the way through Psycho, uncertainty is Hitchcock's little game. This may seem odd, for his usual watchword was, 'Clarify! Clarify!'. This very watchword may ring oddly, when you consider that his stock-in-trade was mystery (plus MacGuffinry). But a mystery works on controlled implication: you have to clarify what it is that you're being mysterious about, and what sort of thing might count as clues, hints, suggestions, suspicions (or red herrings). Here, Marion's impenetrably innocent behavior keeps the audience uncertain. More important still: when, eventually, we discover her decision, we realise that seeing everything, we knew nothing; that unspoken thoughts are always brewing… like those 'mental shapes' working away within the cityscape… The hotel scene uses ambiguity of the alternating type (Sam blowing hot and cold). The office scene uses ambiguity of the parallel type (spoken versus unspoken).

Howard Hawks noted another factor: Discussing the script of Rio Bravo (1959), he said, 'Television has come in and… [has] used so many thousands of plots that people are getting tired of them. They're a little too inclined – if you lay a plot down – to say, "Oh, I've seen this before." But if you can keep them from knowing what the plot is, you have a chance of holding their interest. And it leads to characters… [i.e. meaning: more detailed characters]'. The Marion story is very low on plot, very high on detail. Indeed, 1959 was to be the year of the vanishing plotline: in Psycho, L'avventura, La dolce vita.

In both Psycho and L'avventura, a woman disappears, a third of the way through, and then a couple look for her, in vain.'

28 Feb '19 11:15:17 PM

A human (but human, all too human?) measure: 'some days are worse than others'.

(The quotidian pessimist's variant: 'some days are better than others'.)

25 Feb '19 06:46:12 AM

'Statt »Ich habe ihn gemeint« kann man freilich manchmal sagen »Ich habe an ihn gedacht«; manchmal auch »Ja, wir haben von ihm geredet«. Also frag dich, worin es besteht, ›von ihm reden‹!'

24 Feb '19 06:18:39 PM

'Certainly reflective thinking has not been described accurately enough. Most likely it should have been called expansive concentration. By gauging its subject matter, and it alone, thinking becomes aware of what within the matter extends beyond what was previously thought and thereby breaks open the fixed purview of the subject matter. For its part the subject matter can also be extremely abstract and mediated; its nature should not be prejudged by a surreptitiously introduced concept of concretion. The cliché that thinking is a purely logical and rigorous development from a single proposition fully warrants every reservation. Philosophical reflection must fracture the so-called train of thought that is unrefractedly expected from thinking. Thoughts that are true must incessantly renew themselves in the experience of the subject matter, which nonetheless first determines itself in those thoughts. The strength to do that, and not the measuring-out and marking-off of conclusions, is the essence of philosophical rigor. Truth is a constantly evolving constellation, not something running continuously and automatically in which the subject's role would be rendered not only easier but, indeed, dispensable. The fact that no philosophical thinking of quality allows of concise summary, that it does not accept the usual scientific distinction between process and result—Hegel, as is known, conceived truth as process and result in one—renders this experience palpably clear. Philosophical thoughts that can be reduced to their skeleton or their net profit are of no worth. That countless philosophical treatises are philistine and count not care less about being so is more than just an aesthetic shortcoming: it is the index of their own falsity. Where philosophical thought, even in important texts, falls behind the ideal of its constant renewal through the subject matter itself, it is defeated. To think philosophically means as much as to think in intermittences, to be interrupted by that which is not the thought itself. In emphatic thinking the analytic judgments it unavoidably must use become false. The force of thinking, not to swim with its own current, is the strength of resistance to what has been previously thought. Emphatic thinking requires the courage to stand by one's convictions. The individual who thinks must take a risk, not exchange or buy anything on faith—that is the fundamental experience of the doctrine of autonomy. Without risk, without the imminent possibility of error, there is objectively no truth. Most stupidity in thinking takes shape where that courage, which is immanent to thinking and which perpetually stirs within it, is suppressed. Stupidity is nothing privative, not the simple absence of mental ability, but rather the scar of its mutilation. Nietzsche's pathos knew that. His imperialistically adventurous slogan about the dangerous life basically meant instead: to think dangerously, to spur on thought, to shrink back from nothing in the experience of the matter, not to be intimidated by any convention of received thought. Autarkic logical consistency, however, from its societal perspective has not least of all the function of hindering this idea. Wherever thinking today emphasizes an emphatic and not an agitating influence, this is probably not to be ascribed to individual qualities like talent or intelligence. The reasons are objective: one of them, for instance, is that the thinking person, favored by biographical circumstances, did not allow his vulnerable thinking to be completely extirpated by the control mechanisms. Science needs the person who has not obeyed it; what satisfies his spirit is what defames science: the memento of obtuseness, to which science inevitably condemns itself and for which it feels a preconscious sense of shame.'

8 Feb '19 01:18:10 AM

The TV Corpus

3 Feb '19 12:34:26 AM

'… the dramatic off and on.'

30 Jan '19 09:44:32 PM

'… take the idea of a maxim—as a subjective principle of a human action—as recognizing that human actions speak, that they have (interpretable) significance, something not governable by the laws of nature. The conditions of conduct—for example, that [actions] are motivated and have consequences (emphasized in every moral theory) and take place in specific contexts, more or less opaque, and can go wrong in a hundred specific ways—can no more determine what I do than the laws of grammar determine what I say. That my actions are part of the life form of talkers (as Wittgenstein characterizes the human, at Investigations [Part II, §i]) makes them open to criticism. That I am open to, perhaps responsive to, the criticism of being insensitive, cruel, petty, clumsy, narrow-minded, self-absorbed, cold, hard, heedless, reckless (careless is the marvelous charge made of Daisy and her crowd in The Great Gatsby) is as much a mystery as my being open to the charge of being imprudent or undutiful or unfair. That we are not transparent to ourselves means that such criticism demands confrontation and conversation. The mystery is not that we are impure but that we can be moved to change by speech, and (hence) by silence.'

22 Dec '18 01:58:09 AM

'They do not know it, but they are doing it.'

21 Dec '18 01:55:12 AM

Avner Baz, 'Stanley Cavell's Argument of the Ordinary'