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 '16 01:00:01 AM

'To what extent was Antony's injunction to the monks to keep a diary followed? There seems to be no other evidence indicating that keeping a diary became immediately a widespread habit among monks. It is only some two centuries later that we hear, from John Climacus, that monks used to carry a small notebook attached to their belt, on which they used to write down their thoughts (logismous) on a daily basis. Calling attention to the passage from the Vita Antonii, David Brakke notes that Athanasius articulates here "his own version of early Christianity's 'rhetoric of shame': because the monk is a mirror, he must form himself so as to be transparent to others without shame or embarrassment." It is something else, however, that this text seems to emphasize. The journal kept by the monk, in which he spells out his inner thoughts, or, more precisely, his evil thoughts (logismoi) or sins, is not meant to be shown to the other monks, but rather to externalize, as it were, these thoughts and these sins, so that they might become visible to individual himself. Through writing, then, thoughts and sins arise to the surface of consciousness, and the monk sees himself as others might see him, as if he were someone else. Writing is here a way of speaking to oneself, a kind of soliloquy—a concept and a literary form invented, at more or less the same time, by Augustine. In other words, writing is here used as a kind of spiritual exercise, and has become a method permitting one to read or decipher one's own soul. It should not come as a surprise, then, that the first Jesuits, who were to give a new life to the idea of spiritual exercises, were very fond of a figure such as Dorotheus of Gaza.'

17 Apr '16 11:34:29 PM


14 Apr '16 03:13:22 PM

'… marking them up and blocking off passages, sorting them into piles and flagging them with bits of scrap paper or colored ribbon or bubble gum wrappers.'

12 Apr '16 05:21:31 PM

'In the dark there is emphatically "nothing" to see, although the world is still "there" more obtrusively.'

12 Apr '16 08:29:53 AM

'Oh I did not say it in such limpid language. And when I say I said, etc., all I mean is that I knew confusedly things were so, without knowing exactly what it was all about. And every time I say, I said this, or, I said that, or speak of a voice saying, far away inside me, Molloy, and then a fine phrase more or less clear and simple, or find myself compelled to attribute to others intelligible words, or hear my own voice uttering to others more or less articulate sounds, I am merely complying with the convention that demands you either lie or hold your peace. For what really happened was quite different. And I did not say, Yet a little while, at the rate things are going, etc., but that resembled perhaps what I would have said, if I had been able. In reality I said nothing at all, but I heard a murmur, something gone wrong with the silence, and I pricked up my ears, like an animal I imagine, which gives a start and then pretends to be dead. And then sometimes there arose within me, confusedly, a kind of consciousness, which I express by saying, I said, etc., or, Don't do it Molloy, or, Is that your mother's name? said the sergeant, I quote from memory. Or which I express without sinking to the level of oratio recta, but by means of other figures quite as deceitful, as for example, it seemed to me that, etc., or, I had the impression that, etc., for it seemed to me nothing at all, and I had no impression of any kind, but simply somewhere something had changed, so that I too had to change, or the world too had to change, in order for nothing to be changed.'

11 Apr '16 05:57:43 AM

(—In other words, the transposability of names.)

8 Apr '16 04:29:40 PM

Snow, snow.

5 Apr '16 06:56:28 AM

'At last I began to think, that is to say to listen harder.'

4 Apr '16 05:50:14 PM