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 Apr '04 05:54:52 AM

'Taste is therefore something like a sense. In its operation it has no knowledge of reasons. If taste registers a negative reaction to something, it is not able to say why. But it experiences it with the greatest certainty. Sureness of taste is therefore safety from the tasteless. It is a remarkable thing that we are especially sensitive to the negative in the decisions taste renders. The corresponding positive is not properly speaking what is tasteful, but what does not offend taste. That, above all, is what taste judges. Taste is defined precisely by the fact that it is offended by what is tasteless and thus avoids it, like anything else that threatens injury. Thus the contrary of "good taste" actually is not "bad taste." Its opposite is rather to have "no taste." Good taste is a sensitivity which so naturally avoids anything blatant that its reaction is quite incomprehensible to someone who has no taste.'

(Gadamer early in Truth and Method; I take it that this is one of the pieces of phenomenological inquiry, so that here he's talking in some sense about what people ('out there') mean by 'taste'.)

26 Apr '04 08:41:50 AM

Some songs I mixed together tonight.

Duke Ellington - 'Ko-Ko'
Reinhard Voigt - 'Liebe Deine Musik'
Justin Timberlake - 'Like I Love You'
Christina Milian f. Fabolous - 'Dip It Low'
The Magnetic Fields - 'Queen of the Savages'
Sonic Youth - 'Kissability'
Louis Jordan - 'Ain't That Just Like a Woman'
Styles P - 'Good Times (I Get High)'
Thelonious Monk - 'Japanese Folk Song [Kojo No Tsuki]'
Johnny Cash - 'In My Life'
D'Angelo - 'Spanish Joint'
Eric B. & Rakim - 'Don't Sweat the Technique'
Count Basie - 'Topsy'
The Cure - 'Pictures of You'
Farben - 'Love To Love You Baby'
The Specials - 'You're Wondering Now'

25 Apr '04 10:23:47 AM

'The naive self-esteem of the present moment may rebel against the idea that philosophical consciousness admits the possibility that one's own philosophical insight may be inferior to that of Plato or Aristotle, Leibniz, Kant, or Hegel. One might think it a weakness that contemporary philosophy tries to interpret and assimilate its classical heritage with this acknowledgement of its own weakness. But it is undoubtedly a far greater weakness for philosophical thinking not to face such self-examination but to play at being Faust. It is clear that in understanding the texts of these great thinkers, a truth is known that could not be attained in any other way, even if this contradicts the yardstick of research and progress by which science measures itself.'

23 Apr '04 08:58:18 AM

I haven't spent much time replaying old songs since last June - here's the current top bunch on the list, with playcounts of 15, 9, and 6 for the first three, 5 for the rest:

Biggie Smalls - "Party and Bullshit"
Dexy's Midnight Runners - "Kevin Rowlands 13th Time"
Lil' Kim feat. Mr. Cheeks - "The Jump Off"
Busta Rhymes - "Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad"
Charles Mingus - "II B.S."
Dexy's Midnight Runners - "I Love You (Listen to This)"
Dizzee Rascal - "I Luv U"
Main Source feat. Nas - "Live at the Barbeque"
Missy Elliott feat. Big Boi and Nicole - "All N My Grill"
MRI - "Blue"
The Notorious B.I.G. - "Ready to Die"
Soft Pink Truth - "Satie (Grey Corduroy Suit)"
The Specials - "You're Wondering Now"

When sorted by last date played, my list (including the songs played 4 times to round out the top 25) clumps together: most of these spots on the list were achieved on a single one of five or so different days, when I must have been listening obsessively to the same songs over and over. Some of those days are in July, which must have coincided with the first time I started ripping CDs. One day a number of songs were last played was December 26, which probably means that I was at my parents' house without very much music to listen to, apart from what was on my computer.

The number one song was last played on December 26, but my computer doesn't take into account the handful of mixes I've burnt the song onto since then, or the gajillion times I've heard it from one of those CDs since then. It is the best song ever recorded ever.

23 Apr '04 04:22:29 AM

'Adorno's own pedagogical efforts were of course primarily located within the department of philosophy. One of his functions was that of an examiner of future high school teachers, who had to pass a general examination in philosophy (Philosophicum) before they were admitted to the general examinations in their field of specialization (Staatsexamen). In his capacity as an examiner for the state, Adorno had to deal with students who for the most part studied philosophy only in order to pass the Philosophicum. As he points out in his essay 'Philosophie und Lehrer', these students usually showed no special interest in and little appreciation of philosophical discourse. For them, the examination was nothing but a hurdle they had to overcome in order to receive their professional licenses. Adorno, on the other hand, thought the exam should prove that the candidate was able to understand and to discuss philosophical problems within a larger cultural context. He mentions the case of a student who chose to be examined about Henri Bergson but was completely unable to situate the texts she had selected, or to detect any link between Bergson and Impressionist painting. Adorno uses this example to demonstrate an approach to philosophy that altogether undercuts the purpose of the exam. By restricting her attention exclusively to the content, the candidate reified its meaning. Instead of relating to the text and its problems, she could at best reproduce the opinions of the philosopher. What Adorno's essay deplores more than the students' lack of extensive familiarity with the philosophical canon is their stubborn refusal to enter into philosophical dialogue with their teachers and examiners. For this reason, philosophy remains for them a mere object of study, not a mental exercise and intellectual experience. In other words, their attitude is that of specialists whose consciousness is largely ossified; they do not reach the level of active self-reflection (lebendige Selbstbesinnung).

Because Adorno wants the preliminary examination in philosophy to function as an intellectual exercise in which the candidate, through a dialogue with the examiner, demonstrates his or her grasp of the problems involved in the reading of the assigned text, he emphasizes the process of reflection rather than the factual result. The examination, he points out, is designed to find out whether the candidate, while reflecting on his or special field, can move beyond the range of the prepared material. Adorno continues: 'To put it simply, the question is whether they are spiritual human beings [ geistige Menschen], if the term "spiritual human beings" would not have certain arrogant connotations, reminding us of elitist desires to dominate, desires that prevent the academic teacher from achieving self-determination'. Indeed, terms such as geisteger Mensch and geistige Bildung (spiritual self-formation) do have problematic connotations, invoking the kind of pre-war idealism that Adorno scorned. Nevertheless, he seems unable to do without them, since they refer to a project of Bildung of which philosophers such as Johann Fichte, Friedrich Schelling, and Wilhelm von Humboldt were representative. Thus it is not accidental that the essay contains an extensive quotation from Fichte's writings. The element of German idealism that Adorno wants to rescue is the moment of reflexivity: that is, self-understanding through the understanding of cultural texts. Though he can be highly critical of the absolute claims of idealism, in his instance he almost identifies with Fichte's definition of philosophical training as an antidote to the implicit positivist tendencies of his own time.'

23 Apr '04 12:59:03 AM

One would expect that a song called 'There is a Fountain Filled With Blood' would sound less like a Sunday school choir. Ah, religion.

23 Apr '04 12:48:16 AM

Sitting here in the coffeeshop, I've noticed that the woman sitting next to me is looking too openly at the other people around her. But then again, I've also noticed that I probably had to do a bit of looking to determine that.

22 Apr '04 04:55:53 AM

Warning to writers and teachers. - He who has once written, and feels in himself the passion of writing, acquires from almost all he does and experiences only that which can be communicated through writing. He no longer thinks of himself but of the writer and his public: he desires insight, but not for his own private use. He who is a teacher is usually incapable of any longer doing anything for his own benefit, he always thinks of the benefit of his pupils, and he takes pleasure in knowledge of any kind only insofar as he can teach it. He regards himself in the end as a thoroughfare of knowledge and as a means and instrument in general, so that he has ceased to be serious with regard to himself.

14 Apr '04 07:52:15 AM

538: 'Where did the swing band come from? She's bouncing up and down, she wants to be jitterbugged, he sees she wants to lose her gravity -'