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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20 Apr '05 06:37:49 PM

'To watch them play is to wonder why everyone in the audience is taking them so seriously. As refugees from the zealously ethical punk counterculture seeking asylum in the hopelessly style-obsessed indie subculture, that's their cross to bear.'


18 Apr '05 08:36:08 AM

Does it seem odd that stripping wasn't invented until the twentieth century? Does it seem odd that it was 'invented'? (Or 'discovered' maybe?) I can't decide.

18 Apr '05 08:21:53 AM

Another way of saying that might be to ask how much sense it makes to talk about the 'form', in Adorno's sense, of a joke. My intuition at the moment is that anything that could be interestingly called the 'form' of a joke will draw in so much about the joke's situation - in language, in the knowledge and affective understanding (a la Ted Cohen) of the joke-teller and the audience - that it would be missing some kind of point to insist on it being the form of the joke, as the brief event of speech or writing between people that we might be inclined to limit it to. And, if so: then wouldn't we really be looking to attribute the 'form', the sedimentation of content, to something larger, shared, and most importantly, not yet objectified, about language? Wouldn't that be nice? A reason for saying: it's not as bad as it seems. (Adorno would probably prefer to say: it could be worse, then.)

18 Apr '05 07:57:57 AM

I wonder just how surrounded by these promises we might find ourselves if we were able to locate them in creations less formally elaborated than the string quartet, the play, the painting; Ted Cohen, for example, would probably let in jokes and metaphors, having found no great reason not to. These are made of language; it's a small step from there to the possibility of hearing the promise whenever someone opens her mouth.

18 Apr '05 07:24:58 AM

'Does a philosopher give invitations to a lecture? Isn't it that, just as the sun attracts nutriment to itself, so he attracts those who will be benefited? What physician issues invitations for someone to be cured by him?'

18 Apr '05 04:21:08 AM

'all of which combine to create a cacophony that sounds like a roomful of drunks arguing with an early Steve Reich record'


17 Apr '05 06:40:54 PM

I have some kind of standard for talking about myself, and experiences I have had; often it registers as feeling held back from writing or talking, unless I feel authoritative enough. It helps to have a sense of completeness or wholeness or incisiveness about what I want to say.

This standard is for 'my' experiences but it's what I use when talking about my experiences of things, namely, other people's artworks. But then when I want to say the same sorts of things about other people that I might say about artworks, that authoritative feeling never comes. The words I want to use feel exposed.

17 Apr '05 07:17:52 AM

My new apartment is in Frogtown, just a short (kind of) walk from downtown Saint Paul. I have determined to spend more time downtown and figure it out. It needs figuring out.

I wrote something long and snide about the particular way in which the downtown area is dead after business hours, but I decided that it was too snide and probably too ignorant, and so I deleted it.

One thing I saw tonight was this memorial to Roy Wilkins, the civil rights leader. As with any piece of public memorial art these days, particularly one that is not plainly a representation of a famous or non-famous person, or a big rock with dead people's names on it, it has a big sign explaining some of its symbolic features. But, for once, I was surprised. The sign explains that the outer walls of the memorial contain quotations from Wilkins' speeches and writings; and they do, but I didn't see the point of inscribing them inside the little metal doors (you can see two in the picture I linked to, inset slightly down from the top of the wall). I tried one and found it was designed to swing closed again on its own, due to its weight. Since I didn't expect this it had closed before I actually read the quotation inside. You have to work to find out what's inside, I thought. When I walked away I thought: oh. You have to work to know what's inside.

13 Apr '05 03:14:00 AM

Every time I try to sift through my more than five years (?!) of archives, thinking that it's about time I do something helpful for my potential reader, I eventually come to a halt in horror at the natural decline in quality (so I say) of what I have written, as it spoils. And then I do nothing helpful for my potential reader. There should be indicies! FAQs! Lists of the closest thing I can offer to record reviews! Tonight, at least, I've wondered whether it might not be easier if I were to think about it in terms of genre, because at least I can agree when I put it to myself that I tend now to construct posts in a handful of identifiable types. So:

1. The exploratory redaction (which, if it were easier for anyone else to understand, would probably come out more like the discursive essay of encounter or expertise that is more common on academic and amateur intellectual blogs): e.g., these notes on Robert Creeley, or this post on Haruki Murakami, this one about William Carlos Williams (and its longer predecessor), a burst of enthusiasm for Stevie Wonder, or my first listen to Derek Bailey's 'Ballads'.

2. The sequence of critical remarks on music (where by 'critical' I almost always have in mind 'interpretive of my own experience'): e.g. these, these, these, or these.

3. The single, 'long', critical remark on music or sometimes something else (where it's usually about one thing, usually a song, and mostly out of a well-internalized intellectual conscience I try to base whatever I say that's interpretive on concrete details of the sound of the song; and, uh, somehow a lot of them seem to end up being about, like, feelings and stuff): e.g. 'Me and Mia', i (er, unless that's an exploratory redaction too), Kesto, Buffy recognizes her sister, love theme from 'Top Gun', a drunken post on 'Fulfillingness' First Finale', or some sort of manifesto.

4. The single, usually shorter, critical remark on music (where 'critical' usually means 'arguing with something some critic said about some record'): like 'I Got a Story to Tell', '99 Problems' (maybe), 'Underneath It All' (where I'm responding to myself, I guess), the 'guitar' songs on '69 Love Songs', or The Blueprint 2.

5. Quotations of lyrics, typically a couplet or less: e.g. Petey Pablo, MF Doom, or DMX.

6. Intellectually stirring quotations (that in some obscure way I think have something to do with good ways to do criticism or philosophy, usually in opposition to an ambiguously characterized BAD WAY): e.g. Mikhail Bakhtin from 'Problems of Doestoevsky's Poetics' (and right below, Adorno from 'Minima Moralia'), a little Karl Jaspers, some jokey Wittgenstein, Nietzsche on little people, or Cavell on professionalism and philosophical practice. There are so many of these that my ''' key may soon break.

7. References in some form to real actual life, so far as that goes: e.g. about my great hair, about learning, about irrepressible tendencies, about security blankets, or about this one time when I danced.

8. A group of things (like a sequence of remarks on songs, only, not): e.g. Futurama and Kill Bill. There are more, I suppose. Maybe this kind is really #3 or #4.

9. Criticism of criticism, or philosophical remarks on criticism: e.g. a question about diminishing returns (I suppose), frustration, ethics and aesthetics and people, interest, a more personal note that remains relevant to method, 'lacked a firm funk aesthetic', and a lot more that are less appealing as I sift through them.

10. Lists of records: e.g. here, here, here (one of a handful of mixtapes from the time when I had access to a tape recorder but not a CD burner), and on and on and on.

11. One-liners of various themes: e.g. Beanie Sigel, Angel and taste, Dr. Dre is old, Mozart: dead, and more, fun, or bums, drifters, Dylan, Merritt. This one probably ranges across a lot of the categories. But has more jokes.

12. Reflexive complaints and notes: e.g. one of many notes on difficulty with writing, another one, a note on disadvantages of my 'method', or another such note. This category sometimes fuses with #9.

Huh. That was a lot more satisfying than usual. And I've only hopped back to November of 2002.

I sure hope none of these links are fucked up; my post editor is broken.