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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4 Apr '05 07:01:05 AM

I have moved. Again.

I once again live in St. Paul.

30 Mar '05 09:18:19 PM

Robert Creeley has died.

29 Mar '05 12:01:29 AM

I am marking my calendar. Well. That is just a figure of speech. I don't have a calendar.

26 Mar '05 11:01:28 PM

'He was like those prep-school kids who interpret "coat and tie" to mean sweatpants and T-shirts with tie and coat on top.'

26 Mar '05 10:58:29 PM

There is much of interest in this post of Franklin's, but here's just a thought on the note at the end: perhaps this asymmetry results from the relatively naive way in which most people evaluate songs ('proper' songs), in just this way: that because the expectation is then created for noise or whatever to be just as naively worthwhile, and it often is not, or not in a way that extends beyond chance affinity (it works for some people, not for others), the response is to theorize, to make noise, and the appreciation of it, into a task, a challenge. To the extent that noise does not enjoy the deeply sedimented conventional matter of the tradition of songcraft, this is justified, maybe; but to the extent that people are lulled by conventionality into forgetting what is vital in songcraft, and illegitimately rejecting it, this is: weak.

26 Mar '05 10:45:48 PM

Clancy reports on a talk by Lawrence Lessig.

25 Mar '05 11:39:54 PM

A note from Waggish on copying.

I think often about this fact, that in the present day one is not likely to recopy much of anything one has written. I have been slightly impressed and vaguely ashamed to learn, as I read more about the material circumstances of writing of many of my favorite authors and thinkers, just how much time they must have spent 'just' copying. Often letters come down to us not because the originals were preserved, but because the author kept a draft. (And just think of how many letters some people wrote, copied or not!) Textual criticism thrives on manuscript copies of documents. Wittgenstein is supposed to have made out a fair copy of all his day's work every night before he could go to sleep (and think of how much more copying his own work entailed, what with its constant revision and reformulation). Much of the copying of the process of writing of the past seems to have been necessary: if you write enough by hand, you have to take time to preserve some of what you've written, even for yourself, so that it can be understood later without difficulty. But a great deal of opportunity for reflection of a sort must be provided by all this copying, too.

A great deal of the text on this blog is in the form of long quotations from other texts. Even when I am sure the text is available online somewhere, or sometimes even if I am quoting something I found online, I will retype the entire thing myself. I always understand it better as a result.

I am not really able to write in longhand at this point. I write in a somewhat careful but difficult to read print. It is slow. But, then, I am only able to write at length in an intermediate sort of way, away from the computer.

19 Mar '05 08:37:07 PM

'Like his contemporaries he witnessed the reappearance of various blues and country performers - Skip James, Dock Boggs, Son House, Clarence Ashley, among others - who had recorded in the late 1920s and had returned to obscurity when the Depression all but killed the recording of rural music, and who were tracked down by diligent young fans in the early 1960s and enjoyed a few years in the limelight of northern stages at the sunset of their lives. Those people were embodiments of a past so far removed by technological and societal changes that they might as well have emerged from Civil War graves.'

17 Mar '05 05:52:23 AM

William Carlos Williams Review back issues.