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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26 May '15 06:46:21 PM

The repairmen are considerably more chatty than Wittgenstein's builders. What they do is more coordinated by what they say, too:

'I'm gonna walk under, OK?'


24 May '15 03:55:08 AM

'… if it is in the world, it can go in the book.'

21 May '15 03:20:50 PM

'It's beginning to look like I'm not gonna get the Tonight Show.'

20 May '15 04:42:31 AM

WCW on Kora in Hell:

'But what was such a form to be called? I was familiar with the typically French prose poem, its pace was not the same as my own compositions. What I had permitted myself could not by any stretch of the imagination be called verse. Nothing to do but put it down as it stood, trusting to the generous spirit of the age to find a place for it. In the same spirit I added the original prologue… entirely separated from the rest of the text, which was an intensely private avowal, to give it a public front'.

20 May '15 03:44:29 AM

Wittgenstein as a modernist. The idea was so attractive to me, whenever I first encountered it, that I was able to accept it, take it as given, without ever really troubling myself about what it meant. I was readied by what I’d heard about other modernists, other modernisms, in the arts rather than in philosophy. Which were, in part, what I counted as art. My first real encounter with poetry, early in college, came from reading either—I forget which was first—a cheap selection of William Carlos Williams that included, among others, 'This is just to say', or a slim anthology, used, pages ready to fall out, of 'imagist' verse that included probably the Williams as well as this, by Pound:


The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

I didn’t like poetry, I didn’t understand poetry; it took me many years to get to the point of feeling like I did, or could—and I did so in reverse, really, reading about poetry, reading criticism, and criticism about criticism, before much more than Williams really started to take. The little imagist anthology made a powerful impression on me because it gave me a way to alibi my simplest reaction, startled and emphatic: this is a poem. This can be a poem.

It wasn’t a reaction in the direction that the stories about modernism usually frame things from: startled by unaccountable newness, moved by the object itself to accept it as a work of art despite its evident refusal of the standards by which all works were formerly accepted, a poem despite. Those poems hadn’t done anything for me. I didn’t have an accepted background of work against which Pound’s lines could be challenging to accept. I didn’t have anything; he gave me something, and gave me poetry, by inverting (from my perspective) the official story, so that I could trust my own, private reaction enough to insist that from that point on, anything else that I would come to see as poetry, that would count, would have to count this, too—or I could discount it.

I took my license from the criticism, the manifestos, the slogans. For a while, make it new and no ideas but in things could well have condensed the essence of art for me. (Accurately? Does it matter?)

—A similar first encounter with Wittgenstein: this is philosophy.

18 May '15 09:08:58 PM

The building next door fell down last night.

The wall really.

One wall.

Part of it; the bricks.

They had been bowed out for years. Now the space between the buildings is a pile of bricks.

It was the wind. A gust blew through my apartment so hard that I thought the boom was a window falling out.

There was nothing dynamic about the scene when I went to look. Seconds after the boom it was already just a pile of bricks.

Well, that's what that was, I thought. How about that.

Then I lost interest.

18 May '15 02:06:30 PM

'"This is a university, my friend," said one representative when asked about Axact. "I have no idea what you're talking about."'

26 Apr '15 02:33:18 PM

'… establishing a habit…'

24 Apr '15 03:13:19 PM

'We have no politics of time.'