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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25 May '04 05:59:34 AM

The other day at the lesbian coffeeshop the cute girl* behind the counter was playing hip-hop and singing along to all the choruses and backup vocals; she had a nice voice, and there were like four 'soulful' songs in a row (including Kanye producing Kanye and Kanye producing Twista) that lent themselves to singing along. But then Bone Crusher came on, and he was barely done with his first line (and I quote verbatim from the archive: 'So I'm outside of da club and you think I'm a puuuuuuuunk') before she changed it to a Motown comp or something.



(*: whoever it is, she's always cute if she's playing hip-hop)

24 May '04 07:06:56 AM

Chain-thinkers. - To him who has thought a great deal every new thought he hears or reads at once appears in the form of a link in a chain.

(Notice that he doesn't say whether this is a blessing or a curse, or when it might be one rather than the other.)

24 May '04 06:54:16 AM

The great danger for scholars. - It is precisely the ablest and most thoroughgoing scholars who are in danger of seeing their life set narrower and narrower limits and, in the feeling that this is so, of becoming in the second half of their life more and more disgruntled and intolerant. At first they swim into their science with wide hopes and apportion themselves bolder tasks whose goals they sometimes already anticipate in their imagination: then there are moments such as occur in the life of the great discovering sea-voyagers - knowledge, presentiment and strength raise one another even higher, until a new distant coast dawns upon the eye. Now, however, the rigorous man recognizes more clearly year by year how vital it is that the individual items of research should be as circumscribed as possible so that they can be resolved without remainder and that unendurable squandering of energy avoided from which earlier periods of science suffered: every task is done ten times, and then the eleventh still offers the best result. But the more the scholar gets to know and practise this resolving of riddles without remainder the greater will be his pleasure in it: but the strictness of his demands in regard to that which is here called 'without remainder' will likewise increase. He sets aside everything that must in this sense remain incomplete, he acquires a repugnance and a keen nose for the half-resolvable - for everything that can yield a kind of certainty only in a general and more indefinite sense. The plans of his youth collapse before his eyes: all that remains of them is the merest few knots in the unknotting of which the master now takes pleasure and demonstrates his power. And now, in the midst of all this useful and restless activity, the older man is suddenly and then repeatedly assailed by a profound disgruntlement, by a kind of torment of conscience: he gazes upon himself as upon one transformed, as though he had been diminished, debased, changed into a skillful dwarf; he is harassed by the thought of whether his mastery in small things is not a piece of indolence, an evasion of the admonition to greatness in living and working. But he can no longer attain it - the time has gone by.

23 May '04 07:04:30 AM

'Here I would like to make a general observation concerning the nature of philosophical problems. Lack of clarity in philosophy is tormenting. It is felt as shameful. We feel: we do not know our way about where we should know our way about. And nevertheless it isn't so. We can get along very well without these distinctions and without knowing our way about here.'

22 May '04 08:25:49 PM

By chance I met Amy and Clancy last night at the Dinkytowner (which for some reason was playing drum and bass at body-churning volume, adding another layer of confusion to the place's already confusing character). They're both students in the rhetoric department, which is exciting for me since I talk about rhetoric a lot but don't actually know anything respectable about it and probably should before I start writing my dissertation. Speaking of which, Clancy has an essay that frames the problem of rhetorical persuasion in a helpful way.

22 May '04 09:33:06 AM

Recently while reading in Williams' Collected Poems I found a single poem (in the first volume, circa 1920?) with non-standard punctuation - for one thing, there was extra space between the ends of lines and the periods. In an editorial note, MacGowan says the poem was left unaltered in order to provide an example of Williams' idiosyncratic punctuation, which was usually cleaned up by journal editors and such before submitted poems were printed. This isn't quite the same sort of thing as the later double dots, but it's clearly related. Unless I run across another editorial note, I have no way of knowing whether the double dots appeared earlier than I previously noted, but were excised upon original publication, much like the unusual spacing of periods was. I would hope that the loss of actual ink on the page was considered more serious than the loss of whitespace (though of course both are terrible losses etc.).

21 May '04 07:34:37 PM

Maybe the reason I don't care that Sonic Youth's lyrics can be sometimes embarrassingly dumb is that they still make me feel things, but what things, I don't know; in that they complement the music, made as it is out of sounds I was never necessarily taught to hear as this or that emotion.

20 May '04 05:57:54 AM

John Crowe Ransom's back-cover blurb is slightly backhanded:

'Pound's Cantos is a modern classic that everybody has to know.'

19 May '04 05:17:19 AM

Are there ever any ugly girls in Kierkegaard?