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 Sep '07 07:29:41 AM

Soon after he has begun keeping his notebook (in the eleventh entry), Malte Laurids Brigge has a good day, which is figured for him, retrospectively, by the newly healthy man he sees walking down the street, not needing his crutch: 'he held it in front of him lightly, and from time to time to set it down firm and loud like a herald's staff. He could not repress a smile of joy, and smiled, past everything, at the sun, at the trees. His step was bashful as a child's, but unusually light, full of remembrance of earlier walking.'

The entry ends there, with not many more sentences before that. If it were longer, if it reported on too many more things seen (Malte also describes the morning, the setting), or worse, if it had continued with further events, or another encounter, or anything Malte could have said, it would not have been a good day. By its brevity, its consisting of this lone anecdote, excluding all else, the entry stands in for any other good day: this, or something like this, is sufficient for a good day. As anecdotal, it is the kind of thing anyone might have seen, and that anyone might accept that someone else had seen. Malte states what might work as a principle for the transferability of the anecdotal, later in the fourteenth entry when he says why his juvenile verses are no good. He says more than this, but basically, he says, they were about feelings, rather than experiences. The principle, then: an anecdote is a minimally complete story about someone having an experience.

4 Sep '07 06:22:33 AM

'Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.'

28 Aug '07 04:00:46 AM

As I get off the bus, a couple is walking past the stop. 'Hello! Hello! Do you have a cigarette?' shouts the woman, waving her hands.

I tell her that I don't smoke.

'Thank you,' says the man, 'I wish I could sleep with you tonight.'

28 Aug '07 03:57:17 AM

Do I want your arm there on the back of the seat, o man on the bus?

No I do not.

4 Aug '07 08:03:06 AM


30 Jul '07 12:18:47 AM

'Every word they say chagrins us and we know not where to begin to set them right.'

13 Jul '07 05:05:23 AM

'con men guessing at the dreams of the customers'

6 Jul '07 08:52:30 AM

'Those, then, were Hans Castorp's favorite recordings.'

4 Jul '07 02:55:55 AM

Carrying my usual bag, a bag of books, and a bag of groceries, I walked past a little boy. He asked his mother: 'Is that the mailman?'