This is an experiment in which I claim no expertise. The previous sentence will be my only disclaimer.
The goal is to join together people to examine the justifications for a belief I have: progress is the nature of language. I hope this is not an original thought because if it would be its examination would have to rely on the unlikely coincidence that the right people would find me and join me in a sustained way despite my strenuous use of language. I further hope that people do join and, if so, that they join in the spirit of amateurism. Why the latter? Because my belief entails – or so I believe – that any true communication presupposes that amateurs, if sufficiently motivated, can contribute to it (call that “the grounding principle“).
Let me not get ahead of ourselves though: before we can get to the goal we have to cover our preliminaries. In this case, we have to establish a common context (a mental meeting place if you will) where we of course may see things differently but not because we see different things. This is the starting point as individuals can only come together after having established a common context i.e. after having formed a community. I know all this begs the initial question. That shouldn’t be an issue, I spoke of my belief as a belief and we have time to come back to whether it is justified or not (so I ask you to apply another corollary of my belief – one coined by Grice – “the principle of co-operation“).
The following three objectives are set for individuals aspiring to be part of this community:
[Continues from here.]
This is where it ends. Where I start yet another life filled to the brim with dreams that, if not frustrated, will get frustrating. So much is true of any tunnel: that if there is no light at the end of it, it is no tunnel (regardless of timeless logic which may always hold but which in time never applies.
“(..) you always lose at solitaire, she said, smiling a rare, mother-made smile: crosswords are never completed, only given up, and card games like these are never won; that’s why I play them.” (ibid., p. 631)
The truth in this book has been ample and like that word it feels amputated as if the truth in this book is a phantom joy, the sensation of excitement felt in what is no longer there. Cut and left wet, moist with tears for what cannot be; a be that stings, a life that stinks.
“But every dark is different. Some darks may be boundless, stratospherical, pure, but I prefer mine circumscribed like a corset, and where, if I had a soul, it would be squoozen, and where, when I’m found, I’ll be identified as the remains of a Read more »
[Continued from here.]
Dysfunctional, disaster, disabled, dyslexic, whether in its Greek or more modern version the sound ‘dis’ is a disturbing omen of what we don’t want. Except in one case: the case of being discovered. Some of us want that despite it being an omen all the same.
“Governali spent the fifties as a part of the chorus, but when that silly book of his – Character Crucified on the Cross of the Historical Chronicle – came out, and received raves from the reactionaries who wanted history turned back into biography, and biography backed into moralized little Aesopian fables of fate, fortune, and foolishness, edifying all git out, uplifting as a bra, rosy as the nipples in it, when the Times interviewed him, and public radio did a report; when his promotion came through without a hitch (we didn’t dare vote against it, revealing the envy we felt, the disappointment with our own vacant and weedy lot); Read more »
[Continued from here]
The easiest is to just pack up and go. Not quite, it is easier still to just go. Just go. Go!
“Now I remember where I happened on it: that idea of the novelist as an historian of little lives – lives lost at Cannae, etc. It’s Eliot closing Middlemarch. I’ve looked it up.
… for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
She must mean those who swell the ranks at riots, who comprise mobs, witness executions, contribute to the church. What of those, though, who were simply consumed?” (ibid., p. 246)
Fuck it. I looked it up two and what I remain with is: Fuck it! There are enough causes for hatred out there as there are for the common cold. People working for enterprises big enough to crush the lives of thousands of tough men and women at once. Said people simultaneously raving on one peculiar habit, that of coveting (an ‘y’ anyone?) a real interest in the men and women whose interest it is to be left alone. The common cold may be the commonest cold but that does not make the cold, any cold, common. What? 10 days a year, 15 tops. A characteristic of a subset of a set’s subset defines sad people. It is most common not to have the cold.
Kohler may quote Eliot but George’s fifty/fifty stands to Bill’s nihilism as something that is, unfortunately, already slightly over halfway to being close to the truth. Yes, that’s opaque (a bright kind of dark).
How many make up a royal we? One would say one. Two is a crowd. One and one subtracted from Two is vanishingly small. Take your pick; the middle is excluded. And so are we.
“I gave up poetry for history in my youth. I gave up smoking; changed handwriting; traded stamps which I’d collected in my childhood for tables of mature statistics, seldom drank; was torn between the ethics of the Stoics and the ethics of Immanuel Kant; no longer moved to music; wrote out rules for my behavior and rigorously kept them, assigning grades; though abstract thoughts and shrank from women; cultivated bibliographies in paper pots; lived in a house of heavy books. What led me once to Germany – Hölderlin and Rilke – remained pure imagery. Hölderlin went mad. Rilke’s blood decayed. I gave up youth.” (ibid. p. 78)
To this date I do not understand why anybody would want to write lines that are not fully justified. Or neglect to adapt the wording to maximally fill a line. Ill justified lines lay thoughts out. Get that? Or …
Here I am, looking at the book seeing how my dog ears are few and far between at the beginning becoming more frequent to the end where they stand together like a pack of hounds. Now I have about two hours per week to unpack them and see how they bark. If they bark. Anyway, I have no option but to howl.
“I began, I remember, because I felt I had to. I’d reached that modest height in my career, that gentle rise, from which I could coast out of gear to a soft stop. Now I wonder why not. Why not? But then duty drove me forward like a soldier. I said it was time for “the Big Book.” the long monument to my mind I repeatedly dreamed I had to have: a pyramid, a column tall enough to satisfy the sky. Duty drove me the way it drives men into marriage.” (pp. 4-5)
That wasn’t even dog-eared. Two hours per week for – who knows? – 20 weeks to go through a book which took – what? – 20 years to write. And I don’t like re-reading. The only column I ever re-read was Musil’s pyramid only to find in its chambers my supposedly original thoughts lying around like the mummified remains of my pretenses.
“I faced the four corners, cupped the bowl of my glass like a breast, began the construction of my anecdote, and let the wine die.” (p. 8) Read more »
“(..) insight can come from outside the mind.”
G. Gigerenzer, Adaptive Thinking, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. vii (a.o.).
There’s something deeply unnerving about scientists, especially neuroscientists: it is the idea that whatever there is can be located somewhere. Localized so as to make it a candidate for treatment of some sort. In this sense, neuroscience took over the world because the world is filled with people who believe things can be pinpointed and then addressed. Forget about the butterfly effect, the butterfly is in our current world view pinned down where it can be examined.
Nothing can be farther removed from the ecological point of view (this includes most people who see themselves as the ‘advocates of ecological preservation’). It may well be that this world view of pinning down, setting apart and solving is the root cause of us not applying evident solutions to the issues we have, in a broad sense, with our environment. Read more »
“7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (p. 89), Routledge Classics, 1961.
Allow me to have some innocent fun by messing up a popular quote. I attended a three-hour lecture on ‘Satz 7′ a week or so ago. The only thing I could keep on thinking was why not the other way around? – it is highly probable, by the way, that this is the side effect of an overdose of Musil ‘look for the opposite’-irony. It’s also of some value to add here that it is difficult to keep focused on what basically is just one sentence – no matter how valiant the effort is on the part of the lecturer to uncover layers and layers of deeper meaning in it.
Anyway, somewhere halfway the above ‘Satz 0′ (please try to pronounce in German) had lodged itself in my brain. It has been there ever since. I tried to Google it to find one million people who came to the same sentence and found none. So I couldn’t remove ‘Satz 0′ because of lack of originality (you might argue that not every sentence once thought is on the internet but you really shouldn’t think so blasphemous a thought).
I struggled a couple of days more. I wanted to believe that ‘Satz 0′ was at least trivial, if not just obviously grammatically incorrect. I did not succeed in convincing me of either. ‘Satz 0′ was so damned sticky that I even numbered it and slowly realized it was absolutely cool to imagine it pronounced in German.
So what is the matter with ‘Satz 0′? Let me tell ya, below the fold. Read more »