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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12 Apr '20 07:55:32 PM

'Epicureans live convinced of the truth of Epicurus' theory of nature, which makes physical reality all the reality there is. All that is real is ultimately made up exclusively of material atoms moving in an infinite void, by chance at some places and times forming worlds, such as our own. Epicurus made major points in this theory available for memorization in his published Letter to Herodotus, a pupil. Having memorized these major points, one could readily call them to mind, thereby renewing one's convinced belief in their truth, in case something might happen to make one waver, and thus threaten one's steady and pleasure-filled state of mind by some foreboding or worry about nature's operations. In particular, this theory makes it completely clear that, though gods do exist, they do not and cannot affect human life, or the world and its operations, in any way, through any actions of their own. Their own long-lasting lives of supreme katastematic bliss, effortlessly and beautifully varied in their communal activities, make them paragons and paradigms of that immortal blessedness that we ourselves attain through the immortal good of friendship. Except in that way, that is, as models of long-lasting and continuous happiness for us to aspire to, the gods play, and can play, no role in our lives—unless, that is, we are foolish or deluded enough to imagine one for them to play, as many people, including philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics do. Likewise, Epicurus' theory of nature shows that our physical deaths are the permanent end to our consciousness, and so to our very existence, as agents and seekers of happiness.'

12 Apr '20 05:42:31 PM


9 Apr '20 04:49:50 PM


9 Apr '20 01:59:38 AM

'Either ethics makes no sense at all, or this is what it means and has nothing else to say: not to be unworthy of what happens to us. To grasp whatever happens as unjust and unwarranted (it is always someone else's fault) is, on the contrary, what renders our sores repugnant—veritable ressentiment, resentment of the event. There is no other ill will.'

3 Apr '20 06:33:17 PM


28 Mar '20 06:29:22 PM

'… if one abandons Marxism, one abandons the last hopes one has.'

14 Mar '20 06:57:55 AM

'If you have ever felt doubt about the authority of the typical ways music is made, apportioned and understood…'

5 Mar '20 09:50:56 PM

A Deleuzean Undercurrent to Foucault's "What is an Author?" (part 2)

5 Mar '20 01:39:27 AM

'The series, then, has become one of modernist painting's chief defenses against the risk of misinterpretation—a risk that has grown enormously during the past twenty years in direct proportion to the success of modernism itself. And by success I am referring not to financial success, but to what is probably the most important single aspect of modernist painting's impact on the general sensibility. This aspect has been characterized by Clement Greenberg as follows:

Under the testing of modernism more and more of the conventions of the art of painting have shown themselves to be dispensable, unessential. By now it has been established, it would seem, that the irreducible essence of pictorial art consists in but two constitutive conventions or norms: flatness and the delimitation of flatness; and that the observance of merely these two norms is enough to create an object which can be experienced as a picture: thus a stretched or tacked-up canvas already exist as a picture—though not necessarily a successful one.

One consequence of this has been the expansion of the possibilities of the pictorial; in Greenberg's words, "much more than before lends itself now to being experienced pictorially or in meaningful relation to the pictorial: all sorts of large and small items that used to belong entirely to the realm of the arbitrary and the visually meaningless." Moreover, the situation has been complicated still further by the calling into question, first by Dada and within the past decade by Neo-Dada figures such as John Cage, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg, of the already somewhat dubious concept of a "work of art." In this connection it is important to bear in mind that, at bottom, Dada in any of its manifestations and modernist painting are antithetical to one another. Where the former aspires to obliterate all distinctions between works of art and other kinds of objects or occurrences in the world, the latter has sought to isolate, assert, and work with what is essential to the art of painting at a given moment. It would, however, be mistaken to think of Dada—the most precious of movements—as opposed to art. Rather, Dada stands opposed to the notion of value or quality in art, and in that sense represents a reaction against the unprecedented demands modernist painting makes of its practitioners. (It is, I think, significant that Marcel Duchamp was a failed modernist—more exactly, a failed Cubist—before he turned his hand to the amusing inventions for which he is best known.) But there is a superficial similarity between modernist painting and Dada in one important respect: just as modernist painting has enabled one to see a blank canvas, a sequence of random splatters, or a length of colored fabric as a picture, Dada and Neo-Dada have equipped one to treat virtually any object as a work of art—though it is far from clear what exactly this means. Thus, there is an apparent expansion of the realm of the artistic corresponding—ironically, as it were—to the expansion of the realm of the pictorial achieved by modernist painting.'