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 Aug '02 04:19:59 AM

Unless I feel that special push, writing always feels at least slightly onerous to me. Lately writing about how music makes me feel, about what I hear, how it works, has seemed a bit more onerous, though. I think Aristotle says something in the Metaphysics about how we do philosophy in order to allay a sense of confusion. Something like that seems to help drive me to write that sort of thing about music - articulating it helps me to be less confused. (Other things that drive me are excitement, joy, but those motivations do not always have the force to overwhelm apathy, laziness, distaste, depression, complacency, and so on. They don't take me all the way to being articulate.) The problem is, I am now more often confused or just lacking understanding about theories, ideas, that sort of thing. I understand better what I feel, what I hear, without having to write it down. (I might understand it better if I wrote it down, but it does seem like I understand it without writing it down.) This makes me unwilling to write as much of that sort of thing here, even though I think it's very important. Or not unwilling: unable.

1 Aug '02 09:05:32 PM

Yo Geeta. Check this out (from my students' logic textbook). I'm not sure but I think this is uh a real world uh application.

Symbolize the statements and provide a proof for the sequent.

A line from Bob Dylan's song, "Like a Rolling Stone", "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose", suggests this argument:

A thing can be {l}ost only if it is {p}ossessed. Therefore, if you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.

(Lxy = x can lose y, Pxy = x possesses y)

1 Aug '02 03:44:57 AM

Fuck. DeSoto is closing, Burning Airlines is quitting, and the Dismemberment Plan are without a label (temporarily, I'm sure their next record will easily find a home, but fuck). Fuck.

(Thanks to strangefruit for the link.)

31 Jul '02 06:02:37 PM

Guess who updated.

31 Jul '02 05:59:06 PM

I wonder if the beat to Massive Attack's "Protection" changes. I know it probably doesn't but it's hard to shake the feeling. It's steady and at the right tempo to be slightly lulling, just slightly. Fast enough that if I begin to feel lulled, things drag and I'm not keeping up, I have to exert a little more effort (on what?). So, throughout, I can feel myself not just hearing the steady beat, but being steadied, which is always better done with attentiveness and small adjustments.

31 Jul '02 08:18:03 AM

The more I think about this the harder it is to write something down, so I'm just saying screw it and writing something short and inadequate so that I'll have it to reflect on later.

How much can we get out of thinking of music as a kind of affordance? A song affords us certain experiences, feelings, ideas, actions; an album, others; a symphony, others; and so on. Some music affords some experiences better than others: happy songs vs. sad songs, fast songs vs. slow ones, songs where they say 'hootie hoo' vs. ones where there are springy noises, and so on. These distinctions are made here just for contrast: I can think of songs that afford both happy and sad feelings, and not because of some complex ranging over the emotions bullshit - no, just because sometimes I can listen to them and feel happy, and sometimes I can feel sad. Whether or not a song provides these affordances depends on the listener, too: they are affordances for a listener, perhaps a particular one. This song might afford me with memories of my dead grandmother, that one might not afford me well with dancing because I don't like to dance. Also, each piece of music affords us with multiple things, or at least, most of us.

These affordances may be well reflected in the number and variety of contexts in which we listen to music, the purposes we have for it, the pleasures we get from it.

31 Jul '02 07:54:44 AM

"It had something to do with lemon trees, or orange trees, I forget, that is all I remember, and for me that is no mean feat, to remember it had something to do with lemon trees, or orange trees, I forget, for all of the other songs I have ever heard in my life, and I have heard plenty, it being apparently impossible, physically impossible short of being deaf, to get through this world, even my way, without hearing singing, I have retained nothing, not a word, not a note, or so few words, so few notes, that, that what, that nothing, this sentence has gone on long enough."

Samuel Beckett, who wrote the above (from "First Love"), is the newest addition to josh blog's pantheon of nonmusicians (there is not one of these for musicians because it is too big and too subject to my whims). (Other members include: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thomas Pynchon, James Joyce.)

I am too amazed and his writing too difficult for me to sing the praises of simply, so for the time being, here is some critical yammering from the introduction to Samuel Beckett: The Complete Short Prose, 1929-1989.

"In these four stories what has been and continued to be one of Beckett's central preoccupations developed in its full complexity: the psychological, ontological, narratological bewilderment at the inconsistency, the duality of the human predicament, the experience of existence. On the one side is the post-Medieval tradition of humanism, which develops through the Renaissance into the rationality of the Enlightenment. Its ideology buttresses the capacity of humanity to know and adapt to the mechanism of the universe and understand humanity's place in the scheme. This is the world of the schoolroom and laboratory, the world of mathematics and proprtion, the world of Classical symmetry, of the pensum. For Beckett's narrators, the punctum, the lived, sentient experience of existence, the being in the world, punctures and deflates that humanistic tradition, the empiricism of the classroom, although the latter never loses its appeal and is potentially a source of comfort (although it apparently destroys Watt)."

29 Jul '02 06:45:36 AM


29 Jul '02 03:39:20 AM

Cee-Lo on the ethics of care:

"Hey there young man why degrade your only sister... And call them bitches and whores... What if one day someone feels the same way... About that daughter of yours"

I'm reminded of, seriously, the "Married with Children" where Kelly was going to be a slut in a rock video, and Al was angered by this and went down to put a stop to it (Al, who regularly goes to the "nudie bar").

Perhaps the position that goes something like, "this song [or movie, or TV show, or book, or whatever] may contain degrading depictions of women [or language about them, or whatever], but...", then gives some kind of excuse based on it being acceptable because the problem is part of a work of art, is drawing on the same tradition of ethical thought that's criticized by the feminist "ethics of care" position. Well, I mean, yes, it is, but maybe an "ethics of care" illuminates things somewhat. "What if one day someone feels the same way... About that daughter of yours" could be read as some kind of Kantian criticism: the maxim to mistreat women in music isn't universalizable because you wouldn't want it happening to your daughter. But already the "care" starts creeping in: does Kant think we have obligations not to hurt people's feelings? Or upset them? I don't know, but the fact that we feel them more strongly with respect to our family members and people we're close with is exactly the part of the feminist critique on which the position above ("well it's just art you see") needs an answer for.