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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3 Jul '13 08:47:05 PM

(Or: can you really think through something essentially expressive without drawing on your capacity for expressiveness? Could you possibly suppress it, or treat it as separable, partitionable, as if one could allow oneself expressiveness when out in the world and require of oneself inexpressiveness when trying to be serious in the study?)

3 Jul '13 08:34:12 PM

(The effort to find satisfactory terms, to find the right words, is part of philosophy.)

3 Jul '13 08:22:10 PM

(Note ca. p. 12: if we're essentially expressive in our words, our behavior, our responses, our lives, is there a special difficulty with giving expression to the inexpressive, i.e. with instantiating for reflection occasions on which we fall short of our full capacity for expressiveness, i.e., with giving and using examples of ourselves at our most inexpressive? —The imaginative, the figurative, as stable embodiments of the expressiveness only variably manifested, sustained, throughout our day-to-day lives, throughout what we do (for example, in philosophizing).)

1 Jul '13 09:21:33 AM

'It is typical of my procedures in The World Viewed to invite words or concepts which are common, all but unavoidable, in speaking about film, and then try to discover what there is in these words and in my my experience of these objects that they should go together. This means I must often say things that will sound more or less familiar.'

1 Jul '13 08:57:50 AM

In ordinary cases, we project words on our own authority. Artworks quiet us; we do not always know what to say, but may feel compelled by something over which we would normally retain our authority (in the form of power) to speak.

1 Jul '13 08:56:34 AM

—Beginning with the question, is it ordinary? How is it not?

This is a way of calibrating, orienting us with respect to the phenomenon. It starts us back a step. Instead of talking straight off about e.g. art (morality, etc.), as if what we shall say is sure to touch its essence or our relation to it, we try to attune ourselves to the specific ways in which the phenomenon, in not being exactly ordinary, poses a challenge for any consideration of it which aims to be expressed in ordinary language. We try to acknowledge the fact that we are likely to be at a loss for words, that our words will be, at first, far from adequate or faithful to the phenomenon.

We also try to acknowledge, and be cautious about, the fact that our ‘ordinary’ talk about art is often not that satisfying. Confusing, muddled; with it we can sometimes end up seeing less and sharing less because it keeps us from listening to each other and permits us to misrepresent our own lives with art—even to ourselves.

1 Jul '13 08:48:11 AM

One thing you learn is when work stops; and how it never stops.

1 Jul '13 08:42:47 AM

Work is among the most ordinary of things. It's a fact of life, for most people, for most of their lives. But how is it (§415 again) 'a fact that no one has doubted, which has escaped notice only because it's always before our eyes'?

1 Jul '13 08:38:42 AM

One reason to ask whether art is ordinary is to try to place it in 'the natural history of human beings' (PI §415, §25).