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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22 Mar '06 06:24:09 AM

'I'd rather have my exuberance affirmed'...

20 Mar '06 04:06:06 AM

'Popeye is still very much alive in oral tradition, but for some reason he chiefly features in verses which are obscene.'

- Iona and Peter Opie, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren

20 Mar '06 03:48:59 AM

Critics are not the only critics.

20 Mar '06 03:36:56 AM

(The author appears to take his own words to mind: 'The 'Contents' list of any great didactic work, such as the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Ethics of Spinoza, or the Ecclesiastical Polity of Hooker, will admirably illustrate this skeleton structure.')

20 Mar '06 03:24:13 AM

Sometimes I like to think carefully about the contents page of a book. Some are more useful than others (some, because the works they introduce already have a more schematic structure):

Prose and Poetry - pure prose - interest.

Part I: Composition

I Words
Quality - sound - echo - onomatopoeia - alliteration - association - congruity - suggestion - use and disuse - jargon - affectation.

II Epithets
Appropriateness - necessity - complexity - metaphorical overtones.

III Metaphor and Other Figures of Speech
Limited function in prose - simple comparison - simile - analogy - illumination and decoration - riddles - kennings - other types of periphrasis - personification.

IV The Sentence
Its unity - construction - order of words - the period - balance - punctuation - rhythm - the aphorism.

V The Paragraph
Unity - liveliness - dignity - rhythm - configuration.

VI Arrangement
Instinctive: the essay - required effect - exordium.
Constructional: scaffolding - the novel.

Part II: Rhetoric

VII Exposition
Reasoning - arrangement of ideas - emotional bias - system.

VIII Narrative
Active and passive - visual actuality - speed - concreteness - trimness - history - biography - travel.

IX Fantasy (Fancy)
Imagination and Fancy - objectivity and arbitrariness - the fairy tale - utopias - possibilities of fantasy.

X Imagination or Invention
Primary and secondary imagination - romanticism and classicism - decoration - duration - density.

XI Impressionism
Sensation or emotion plus thought - intuition - emotion and rhythm - simulated moods - mysticism - sincerity - empathy - the interior monologue.

XII Expressionism
Idiosyncracy - sensibility - sentimentality - humours - fluidity.

XIII Eloquence
Elegance - wit - irony - words and ideas - the theme - false eloquence - persuasion - character.

XIV Unity
Unity and predominating passion - the strain of address - taste - corporate sense - pattern - discipline - uniformity - universality.

20 Mar '06 03:11:51 AM

'Comparable devices are used in military operation orders, where absolute precision of meaning is a matter of life or death.'

(Preceding, not quoted: the end of the sixes in the Tractatus, given as an example in which 'the logical structure is indicated by a system of paragraphing accompanied by an enumeration'.)

17 Mar '06 07:59:19 AM

'They took pleasure in naming aloud all the vegetables: "Look, carrots! Ah, cabbages!"'

I have been reading aloud to her in bed, from Bouvard and Pécuchet.

So now I am reluctant to read further by myself.

17 Mar '06 07:27:44 AM

I ate some fine chocolate tonight; I think it may have been the first time that it occurred to me, with full force, that I was eating something made from a plant.

17 Mar '06 04:08:14 AM

'To put up with men, to keep open house in one's heart - this is liberal, but no more than liberal. One knows hearts which are capable of noble hospitality, which have curtained windows and closed shutters: they keep their best rooms empty. Why do they do so? - Because they await guests with whom one does not have to 'put up' ...'