Friday, 1 August 2008

posssiblle naamees foor myy poodcasstee

Troylloyd has posted these frankly amazing suggestions ffor a title ffor my upcoming sound poetry podcast. Chanses are the finel nome de plume will be one of these.

ou snd




collapsing audiences

the body concrete


system of nonsilence

megaton by megaton

loose stooge

rong ray rupt

requiem for whisper


kill yr earhole


die silence die!

autodestructive throat


you are not listening

deadly headphone

goodbye heardwell

destroy all alphabet said teenage head

divebombers over green hell


klang for klang

i am voice exploding


before the veil

this is earhole smokings

sounds like splosions



troylloyd said...

add to the collab textpoem on vispoets please!

: )

troylloyd said...


included is extralong cutplaterings:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

n o w
o r d s c a n
s a y w h
a t
w o r d
s c a
n ' t s
a y

46 CommentsClose this window Jump to comment form
troylloyd said...
Surplus Explanations


--Christopher Dewdney

I'm not interested in giving accurate explanations.

--Charles Bernstein

(T)he poems in NICHOLODEON were written out of the conviction that we only use language because we havenít got anything that works better. Like traffic signs from a parallel world, the job of these poems is to produce a vague sense of anxiety in the reader, fueled by the mistaken belief that they house some kernel of meaning that they desperately wish to communicate, despite nearly impossible odds.

The following notes have been provided for similar reasons; misreading is probably mandatory. Imagine each page of this site as a digital cross-section of the trunk of some exotic embalmed body that has been sliced, scanned, and sintered. The black marks on the screen constitute the outlines of capillaries that perhaps once carried strange vital fluids from extremity to extremity, but now lie dry and clogged with tarry residue. This is a Manitoban Book of the Dead, leading from now/here to nowhere. I hope you enjoy the trip.

The figure is king Ubu, uttering a savage war cry not unlike Tarzan's (or Tzara's). "B.P." stands for British Petroleum, a metonym for a dying rationalist society on the verge of being eclipsed by the disorder of a postmodern "pataphysical regime.

Marcel Duchamp in drag looks almost as much like Corporal Klinger as Alice B. Toklas does.

"Deskjetsam" is either an evocation of Apollinaire's famous rain poem or what happens when you try to print to a Hewlett Packard printer that's recently run out of paper.

Language is a virtual book; its only existence is symbiotic, within the pages of other books. The question that arises is, if one had to write a user's manual for language, what would one write it in, and for whom?

The Greystoke Model of Semiotics. "It appears that, using the great-ape language from the age of a year and a day (can we go so far as to say that it is a question of his mother-tongue?), Tarzan has, as it were, no particular attitude towards the plurality of languages and the arbitrariness of the sign, nor the faintest pre-babelian and inveterate nostalgia for THE unitary language--which, for my part, I find rather attractive" (Jacques Jouet, "The Great-Ape Love-Song," OULIPO Laboratory, ISBN 0-947757-89-9").

It's extraordinarily difficult to produce a "dirty" concrete poem on a computer, because the level of pixel-by-pixel manipulation imparts at least the illusion that everything is potentially controllable. I started this on a photocopier as a dirty piece, but scanning it onto my hard drive transformed it into some sort of knobby and irreducible hybrid.

The product of an evening spent with Bill Kennedy, two large meat loversí pizzas, a case of beer and Black Sabbath's Master of Reality. Do not try this at home.

"I take pride as the king of illiterature" (Kurt Cobain, "Very Ape," In Utero, DGSCD 24607)

Eugen Gomringer, who claimed that "it is important that [concrete poetry] should not become merely playful," and that "Concrete Poetry has nothing to do with comic strips," can bite me.

The first poem that I ever liked (without anyone telling me that I had to) was bpNichol's "Blues." This is an hommage to that piece, and to the work of cool Czech concrete poet JirÌ Valoch. On another, no less significant level, it's also one of the love poems that I wrote for Bonnie.

I hate Microsoft Word. It wants me to write like a fucking accountant. The first thing that I did when I loaded Office 95 on to my computer was to turn off all the auto-correct features. This poem was produced by running bill bissett's "i was printing billy th kid" through Word's spell checker, and is a pretty good indication of what literature will be like when Microsoft finally rules the world.

Not so much a semiotic as a semi-idiotic poem. I lost the key.

Go ahead. Display your casual contempt for commodity fetishism and your commitment to a general economy by destroying this book (online readers; smash your computers. That'll help too). To paraphrase Nietzsche, that which does not kill us must have missed us.

Optional steps: Holes can be cut into the cozy and text can be stitched onto the cozy to aid visitors in the correct identification of the grave site.
--Anonymous, Tombstone Cozies for Knitters of All Ages (4)

a pillow in a coffin's just as nice as a bed o baby I love it when you fuck me dead
--Forgotten Rebels, "Fuck Me Dead"

Who actually buys books of poetry and reads them? Whart happens to all the paintings of failed artists when they die? Why do you keep smoking when you know what it is doing to your lungs?
--David Arnason, "Do Astronauts Have Sex Fantasies?" (94)


--"Cenotaph for David UU," from NICHOLODEON (insert)

considered then as a complete unit the SECRET NARRATIVE of the alphabet becomes

A ( B D E F G H I J K L N O M R S T P Q ) V = X

--bpNichol, "Re-discovery of the 22-letter alphabet: An Archaeological Report" (43)

Just say "Thanks, Man" to drugs

--T-shirt on Yonge Street

We use Plagiarism® to critically expose that we have become what we have. What does it mean to "own" an idea? The Tape-beatles maintain that this is symptomatic of a diseased culture and like to quote Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States:

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

The much-touted idea of "originality" is deeply suspect when, for the past fifty years the art world has been hurling insults at the public, and being very "original" in doing so. It isn't sufficient just to be original -- that's actually quite easy --- the important thing is to be honest and give something useful to society. (Of course, they probably won't accept it.)

According to Bob Jones:

"Art must always emphasise the 'individuality' of ownership and creation. Plagiarism, by contrast, is rooted in social process, communality, and a recognition that society is far more than the sum of individuals (both past and present) who constitute it. In practice, social development has always been based on plagiarism (one has only to observe children to realise that advancement is 99% imitation), but this reality is mystified by the ideology of 'art'. Art itself is based on pictorial traditions built up over thousands of years, and yet art historians and critics always focus on the very minor, usually negligible, 'innovations' of each 'individual' artist."

This text may be freely reproduced, translated or adapted, even without mentioning the source.

In the late 1960s, the Situationists in France called such ironic mockery "détournement," a word that roughly translates to "abduction" or "embezzlement." It was considered a revolutionary act, helping to channel the frustration of the Paris student riots of 1968. They co-opted and altered famous paintings, newspapers, books and documentary films, seeking subversive ideas in the found objects of popular culture. "Plagiarism is necessary," wrote Guy Debord, the famed Situationist, referring to his strategy of mockery and semiotic inversion. "Progress demands it. Staying close to an author's phrasing, plagiarism exploits his expressions, erases false ideas, replaces them with correct ideas."

This analysis explains perfectly why Stewart and now Colbert have had such a significant impact on our political culture (and it also explains why I'm so annoyed by Stewart's shrugging, "Hey, I'm just a comedian" disclaimers).

I think that's true, but it's not because people are stupid, which is the subtext of that argument; it's because people are smart. They're sufficiently smart and media-savvy to know that A) Stewart is an incisive political commentator, and B) the "real" broadcasts and talk shows are not only boring and patronizing, they're also at least part bullshit--they're spectacles.

To help you recognize what plagiarism looks like and what strategies you can use to avoid it, select one of the following links or scroll down to the appropriate topic.

* How to Recognize Unacceptable and Acceptable Paraphrases
o An Unacceptable Paraphrase
o An Acceptable Paraphrase
o Another Acceptable Paraphrase
* Plagiarism and the World Wide Web
* Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism
* Terms You Need to Know (or What is Common Knowledge?)

Art is either plagiarism or revolution.
Paul Gauguin

Steal from everyone and copy no one. (Charles Movalli)

Here is the novelist Julian Barnes, commenting in 1997 on the Swift/Faulkner furore:

"When Brahms wrote his first symphony, he was accused of having used a big theme from Beethoven's Ninth. His reply was that any fool could see that."

By modern standards, many grand figures are among the culpable: Picasso was so notorious that younger artists desperately kept their new work away from him, because he would re-work their ideas in days; George Harrison was successfully sued for plagiarism after he wrote "My Sweet Lord". No less upright a figure than T.S. Eliot grandly declared that "immature poets imitate; mature poets steal"; no less venerable a personage than Martin Luther King was caught out borrowing a sizeable chunk of his doctoral thesis.

"The so-called 'Festival(s) Of Plagiarism' were essentially an outgrowth of the Neoist Apartment Festivals, collective events which themselves plagiarized the Fluxus festivals of a few years before. The primary difference between the Festivals of Plagiarism and the Neoist festivals were the Plagiarists' intention to focus on a single set of ideas; plagiarism and so forth. Plagiarism had been an element of Neoist activity, but Neoist festivals had and have an omnidirectional character and involved an assortment of experimentation and exotica in presentations, politics and habitation. During the 'Festival Of Plagiarism' in London, a repetitive critique of 'ownership' and 'originality' in culture was juxtaposed with collective events, in which a majority of participants did not explicitly agree with the polemics. Many of the participants simply wanted to have their 'aesthetic' and vaguely political artwork exposed, and found the festival a receptive vehicle for doing so."

Similarly, when Cooke accuses Pope of having 'purloin'd from the immortal dead' (Battel of the Poets, ii. 73), it is likely that he has the Homeric translations chiefly in view. Of course, the notion that Pope in translating Homer was in some way stealing from him was added to by the suspicion that Pope had also stolen from the efforts of his collaborators, William Broome and Elijah Fenton, to whom much of the translation of the Odyssey had been entrusted. Leonard Welsted imagines Pope withdrawing to his seat at Twickenham, this having been funded by the efforts of 'half-paid drudging Broome',

There to stale, stol'n, stum crambo bid adieu,
And sneer the fops that thought thy crambo new. (28)

This is dangerous territory upon which to tread, particularly when critics of religion have been murdered for daring to suggest that a sacred text might not be quite as sacred as religious followers believe it to be. Take for example the murder of Theo Van Gogh on the streets of Amsterdam for producing his movie on "Submission" [the literal meaning of "Islam"], a film which graphically investigated the Qur'anic injunction to Muslim men to "scourge" or "beat" unruly wives (Qur'an, Surah 4:34). The images of the Qur'an portrayed on a woman's body in this film, and the mockery made of the teachings, inflamed tensions across religious lines in the Netherlands, tensions which still simmer even today.

Varieties of Plagiary and Pathological Commonalities Across Categories of Plagiary

I attribute Americans' lack of interest in hard facts to 50 years of very comfortable life in America.
I don't think Americans are perceived as hostile to global knowledge; we are correctly judged to be just plain ignorant. Aside from our recent inept attempts to cure the world of "Islamofacism," our isolationism is now being replaced by an unbecoming xenophobia. Put up walls. Take down the Statue of Liberty. Like the Romans of the 5th century, we are a nation in decline.The first thought that came to my mind was "This question doesn't really make much sense... Since when are Americans hostile to knowledge? And who cares?"Like an alcoholic, we are addicted to our creature pleasures and useless information- caught in a perpetual world of Pong. We have abrogated our responsibility to be truly informed to a pack of people who merely manipulate us. And like an addict, we will not discover the cure, knowledge and active participation, until we hit bottom. But we will, at any moment, be able to tell you the latest basketball scores and where Britney is spending the night.Americans are among the dumbest populations on the planet, on average.The majority of americans are anti-intellectual as a culture. They are fearful and resentful of the the well educated and intellectual. They have great respect for hard work and creativity but are averse to considering an issue from many angles and withholding judgement. They like to judge and act fast.What I learn those years is that the average america cares only for what happens in the area where they belong. Most people watch only local TV news and reads only local newspapers, in which the references to World news are almost none.Is it perhaps the Imperial Ideology propagated in the popular media? It can be summarized as follows: "all we want is to help these people to develop and establish Democratic rule -like ours in their country. We may steal their raw materials, meddle with their politics -so we can ensure the siphoning of these materials,and those who do not like that or resist, we must reform or eliminate. Our citizens, this is all they have to know -nothing else. If they know more, that could endanger their way of life." A bad picture must be painted of these people, so exploitation can go on without serious resistance in the homefront. It worked during slavery, it can work now. The result?A psycological block for any substancial knowledge for the Other.Americans can be best compared to a human baby. A baby has an egotistical sense of self, which makes him/her focus on his/her own needs. They are incapable of paying attention to anything else as they only aware of how everything revolves around them. Since they only perceive and observe their inmediate surroundings they miss out on a world beyond their natural borders.We, fellow Americans, still think of ourselves as an 800 pound gorilla, as a king of the hill in a global scene. But the paradigm is shifting, as it has been for the past several decades.There is a tradition of anti-intellectualism in the United States.Don't know. Don't care.It is fairly obvious for most of the worlds citizens that American ignorance is barely just one symptom of a nation that has an ego far above its reality.America is a culture of individuals,the focus is on self and individual responsibility for one's own actions,there is much less of a collective consciousness here and that often fractures along ethnic and religious lines.We are a terribly ignorant people. Partly because our failure in our education system, and partly because of our isolation.
Prosperity and relative geographic isolation create the illusion that we are unaffected by the affairs of our neighbors.When you grow up in a different country, as I did, you are not told by the school, media, church, family etc, that you live in the greatest place on earth. You love your land but you read literature from other countries, you listen to music in other languages, you follow sports that involve many different countries.It's self-evident. The Bush years are proof positive that a large portion of Americans are driven by fear and ignorance. Whenever I correspond with people outside our borders, I apologize in advance.A third reason is that gaining knowledge about foreign affairs inevitably leads to debates over foreign policy, economic systems, and politics, and in today's hateful, hyper-partisan environment, that leads to ferocious angry arguments. Most of the American students I've talked to say they "hate" politics and avoid any discussion of politics. So they remain amazingly ignorant.We have an indifference to world knowledge that may have roots in our position as a superpower, imagining that our superior ecomomic and military might extends to cultural superiority.anybody who has travelled to other countries can regale you with stories about the ignorance displayed by americans. it is, literally, impossible to have a conversation with an american that has anything to do with any other country or culture.For decades politicians have shoehorned themselves into being elected by disparaging "elitist, latte-drinking eggheads and academics". Anyone whose aura smacks of intelligence married to book-learning is viewed with suspicion as being disengaged from and disdainful of the common people, hopelessly out of synch with average folks' hopes and dreams. This is laughably hypocritical in a country that worships elitism when it comes dressed up as celebrity or the aristocracy of the rich (no matter how poorly those rich men may pretend to be dirt-farming good ol' boys.)I believe the problem has no solution. Rampant anti-intellectualism has been a part of American life for so long, now fostered by the complete irrationality millions of religious fundamentalists, that is only likely to grow.Pride in not knowing and not giving a damn is a venerable American tradition, particularly in Texas and the south.Somehow or other the culture in the US has cultivated, and generally accepts that the US is somehow exceptional in all respects. With US exceptionalism comes a certain hubris that (i) the rest of the world should somehow automatically accept that view, (ii) that there are no lessons to be learned by the US, (iii) that US practices are best practices, (iv) the rest of the world should automatically and immediately accept US policies and practices, and (v) there is something wrong with the rest of the world if they don't.Because it's human nature to tune out whatever has absolutely no impact on one's immediate daily concerns.People dislike us because we're free, hard-working and God-fearing people, so, to hell with them.Certainly when I travel or live abroad most expatriates share the same opinion or witness Americans as ignorant AND arrogant at the same time. America's main downfall in this arena is not that we Americans don't know many things , but rather the annoying 'defensive ignorance' that pervades our culture- as in, "Why would I want to know that? Only dorks know that stuff".Though there are stellar exceptions, Americans are infused after birth with arrogance and ignorance.Why limit it to global knowledge? Americans don't know much about anything. A very large number of American adults are functionally illiterate. By the government's own estimates, about 90 million people are either completely or functionally illiterate.I don't think that those in power are unhappy with the situation, because an ignorant electorate is easily manipulated. Witness the 'Patriot' Act and the various erosions of civil liberties in the past 7 years.It's not just perception. Americans are hostile toward knowledge. In America, opinion is king, facts mere pawns to be pushed about. Our so-called pundits slap on a label first, then conveniently skip supporting arguments. Name calling simply seems to sell better here than reason.two words...American Americans percieve themselves to be somehow above or apart from the rest of the world. Unfortunately for them, they're different all right, but not in the nice ways they think.Anyway these discussions always seem to rely solely on anecdotes, which are entertaining (and/or cringe-worthy) but totally useless.American culture has been built upon a tradition of pragmatism, with a focus on individual happiness built into the very constitution. It should not be surprising that the mainstream culture would be characterized by people who only know things that are of direct benefit to themselves.One factor is that individual Americans don't need global knowledge.I have to agree, however, that many but not all Americans appear to have a very limited degree of intellectual curiosity about the world around them and tend to believe that the U.S. is the be all and end all of everything that goes on in the world.Lamentably, it seems to me that people who are smart are often thought of as 'too smart for their own good' in the States, and it seems to be something of a sport to bring such people down. Until most people in the U.S. see the advantages of culture and knowledge rather than deprecating them, things are not likely to change.Instead of trying to get along with our global neighbors, we bully them. Instead of trying to understand the customs of our global neighbors, we force ours upon them. This does not breed love for us in the rest of the world. It breeds contempt. What is the cause of terrorism against us? We are. What is the one true weapon against such terrorism? Knowledge. That leads to understanding and compassion.The answer is simple. Americans are perceived as being hostile to global knowledge, because they are hostile to global knowledge.Culturally, we've come a long way from 1958, when we gave Harvey van Cliburn a ticker-tape parade down Broadway for winning the gold medal in the Tchaikovsky piano competition in Moscow. That would never happen today. We don't teach music anymore in most school districts. But it's comforting to see Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs in the pages of the Times, where we can read about his integration into the polite society of East Hampton and the Upper East Side.Is it any wonder that Europeans find us boorish and ignorant?Kultur? What kultur? Clearly, my friends, we live in the post-literate age, I'm afraid. Increasingly, young people are unable to express themselves articulately. Their attention span is pitiful, scattered and fragmented. Mindless nauseating trash is treated as entertainment!I get somewhat defensive -- ever tired of all the American bashing -- but this is one accusation that I sometimes wonder about myself.Perhaps it's not that Americans are becoming less informed but that technology makes it ever easier to witness our shortcomings.Unfortunately, a quick scan of the responses illustrates the point -- there's a strong, anti-intellectual tradition in American culture, and it's getting deeper and broader.Possible American Characteristics: Deep consumerism. Strong value on titiliation for entertainement. Wealth generating machine but income distribution system is failing. Used wealth & other qualities to be imperialistic, despite some attempts at spreading democracy and economic equity. Inately violent (eg 40,000 firearms deaths/yr--nowhere else is such a disaster so rampant). High value on individualism may explain some of the above, and the lack of social care (health care, pension, equity, the only country relying on property owners to fund basic education (which poor quality is a major cause of these problems). In sum, "adolescent"?Kids are lazy in the USA - it's that simple. They see celebrities, reality show stars, sports and pop stars all earning big bucks so easily. They actually believe it's all real life. Kids think earning money and what it can buy is all there is. Science, physics, geography, history - PLEASE! Since when did thesemake you rich?Many Americans have grown up with the misconception that our country is the center of the world, admired and envied by the rest of the planet as the premier working democracy. In the last 30 years, as the quality of American democracy has become increasingly compromised and the country's foreign policy has become more belligerent and self-centered, enough people around the world have come to dislike us and mistrust us that the man in the street knows that all is not well with America.Tell us "America is the greatest country on earth" from the time we are born, and we start believing it.Three principal philosophies which reinforce each other: (a)know-nothing anti-intellectualism and willful ignorance deriving from fundamentalist religious beliefs and poor education; (b)faith in the exceptionalism of America and Americans; and (c) libertarian, entrepreneurial capitalism, particularly in relations with the rest of the world.When future historians write of this time I think they will point out that American society became adept at producing a kind of simulated national reality largely divorced from the reality of the global forces that would determine the nation's future. Part and parcel of a culture of consumerism ( as Benjamin Barber has written) that has as it purpose the endless presentation of fake choices over a focus on real need.Not only do Americans know fewer (if any) facts, but they cannot assemble the facts they might know contextually, and are thus unable to come up with relevant conclusions.So why has America-bashing become such a popular pastime? As knowledge isn't profitable, it is considered non-valuable in a society obsessed with consumption. This is true in all countries, but maybe more so in the USA. As the prime exponent of materialism, it would be logical that the US is also the prime exponent of hostility to knowledge.
I vowed to myself to leave my vocabulary intact, and notice the responses, rather than edit (which I realized I *had* been doing). Since then I've been called "the culpability woman" for using the word during a discussion of Jacob and his sons, I've had a lawyer note that he'd read the word "concomitant" before, but he didn't think he'd ever heard anyone use it in conversation before, and I've had an entire classroom of adults stop to laugh when I used the word abrogate in context.Somehow, Americans are allowed to be "hard working" but not erudite. It seems that being an intellectual is considered un-American.I remember some American patrons asking me directions to some place and I was telling them how to get there and how far it was and one of them interjected "We don't know nothin about no kilometres" I was amazed at the pride with which this statement was made. It was in an accent I have come to associate now with the south but I wondered if it was emblematic of the American zeitgist then with the leading proponent being their recently appointed commander in chief, George Bush.Who on Earth wouldn't want to be a citizen of the United States?The answer to your question is: There is no answer. Each American is different. Some might be hostile to global knowledge but there are many other Americans.I'm not saying the American Way is right or wrong, just that the firm belief in its rightness which underscores American ideology, I think, tends to preclude open-mindedness about other cultures, at least in a macro sense.Hm...could it be because we don't seem to want to talk to anyone? Americans are notorious for being monolingual and proud of it; I've been embarrassed in more than one international airport because some American tourist got huffy because everyone there did not speak perfect English to accommodate him or her.Americans do however love myths. Religion is all over the place. Every turn there are self help books touting reassuring ideas that amount to a cult of beliefs.Give someone findings that do not agree with all these optimistic beliefs and you have hostility.Americans have turned into a collection of self serving comfort seekers. Generally that means the avoidance of anything difficult, like the pursuit of knowledge, and the embracing of all things that soothe the physical senses to the point of habitual over consumption.Why strive to be anyone else, or learn anything about any other society? Especially if we can “kick their a$$,” or “nuke ‘em,” should we choose to. Chest-beating is the culture.If you are poor? Oh, well. It’s your fault.I can hardly carry on an interesting conversation about politics with most people in America because the process has been so corrupted by partisan hackery that people are constantly spouting out talking points that I know they didn't learn on their own.We are a profoundly anti-intellectual culture. Though the media is hardly the only cause, it does much to enable and encourage our ignorance. The cheesy banter of Ken and Barbie television news people is particularly sickening.Global ignorance for many Americans is the net result of living in a culture and system where consuming is considered more important then learning.Because our culture is either appropriated or self-referential, our national identity or sense of self is limited. Hence our net worth or our physical selves have misappropriated value compared to our intellectual selves which are devalued. We move so easily in America from life to life, from class to class, and we shed history as easily as last years' hot phone.A large percentage of United States schoolchildren are simply taught to be consumers,by learning to read the advertising but not learning to write well enough to complain about the defective goods they're buying.The answer is a huge YES. Americans have wrapped themselves up in the fantasy that their country represents the world, and the bigger fantasy that the world is preoccupied with them. They are deeply wrong on both counts. Even the much lauded American idealism and version of democracy is in not held in awe - especially when populations around the world see elections that are decided by courts and uneducated American presidents creating chaos around the world. This isn't helped on the ground the ever-more pervasive "ugly American", which has only gotten more ignorant and more ugly.Americans over schedule their lives. The energy is admirable, but the lack of contemplation time is lamentable. Exhaustion leads them to relax by watching television.In general, I believe that American society has a short attention span, and that we as a nation become disinterested in a single subject quickly.I'm from Switzerland and I cannot tell you how many people - college educated people - have come up to me and said "Oh, you speak Sweedish" or "Oh, you speak Swiss?" Or better yet: "How come you're not blonde?"I am going to answer instead the question "Why are Americans stupid? I think that because America was hatched and nurtured in a relative wilderness rich in resources without serious impediments to its exploitation, it attracted and bred adventurous, creative, bold people who devalued the conservative intellectual traditions of Europe. Its vastness and richness and isolation from threat have made Americans increasingly arrogant toward the rest of the world and inclined to feel entitled to whatever they want. Hence the hysterically exaggerated response to 9/11-- ("What? Someone dared to attack us? God is on OUR side." ) and general lack of curiosity as to why this (certainly horrific) event occurred. This is one of a piece America's self-stupidification well-described by others here.
The problem is that folks who don't want to get a headache attempting to unravel complex problems or get bored implementing real solutions for the long term (or determine for whom they should vote) can in a matter of minutes shop across the cornucopia of media product to buttress their predetermined and sometimes baseless point of view.Yet, for a country so rich, you treat your citizens pretty badly. Low minimum wage, no universal health care and a weak public education system. Many smaller nations have all these things with much lower GDP's. Why is that? Americans should be out in the streets demanding better services from their leaders, but everybody's living in their own bubble of ignorance -- believing the U-S is the greatest place on earth. Don't get me wrong, there are many fine things about America. But when it comes to basic needs (wages, health care & education), there's a lot of room for improvement.I am just as disturbed by current trends in this country as most others here are. But I get very suspicious about all-knowing statements like "American society is..." or "Americans think..." or "the average American..." These are very crude judgments to make about any society. Contrary to the image projected by our nationalist mass media, American society is not some unified whole. It is riven by multiple hierarchies of class, ethnicity, and other structures of domination that shape the entire distribution of knowledge as well as wealth and political authority in our society.Our public education has always been devoted to creating "good citizens" which in fact means having people who will show up for work on time, do as they are told and not complain. Anything else is counted as a "frill" by the business and commercial interests who have always controlled American public education.A great example of American anti-intellectualism can be seen on Facebook.The great American rugged individual is heir to the legacy of ancestors who came here to avoid authority, to lose their traditions, to reinvent themselves, and to do it themselves. Knowledge and information are far less important than self-reliance, self-indulgence, and the appearance of success. American souls have been pawned for generations to shore up illusions. In the last 50 years, we have bought a more insidious standard: sitcom as personal values model. The rest of the world is watching USA-Tube in wonder and revulsion, laugh tracks intact, no love lost.American society and culture was built by persons who were proud they left the Old World and came to build a new society, and they to a great extent actually wanted to forget about the societies from which they originated and that had not treated them well. There is thus an inbred bias against older societies.That's why the world thinks Americans are dumb. Because Americans prove it on a regular basis.Americans don't learn about the complexity of the broader world because we think we don't need to. Then an event like 9/11 happens, and when our leaders say 'we have to attack Iraq to be safe. trust us, it's big scary complicated world out there, but we'll do what we have to be safe,' most people don't have the background to question that wisdom, or to realize that geopolitics might be a little more involved than 'you're either with us or against us.' They just go with their gut, and five years later, we see the result.So, not only is anti intellectualism and cultural ignorance a well established American tradition, it looks as though we don't even have an intellectual elite that can hold its own.Much of the International community is astonished by the abscence of rigorous public scrutiny. On a more personal level, many Americans seem unable to craft a critical view of the true intentions of their Institutional pillars, much in the same way a child cannot bear to think a parent might be fallible, so defensiveness or agressiveness often overcomes the integrity of public discourse.There's on old saying in the Netherlands, where the Reverend says to the Director: If you keep them poor I will keep them ignorant. So there's nothing new under the sun.It's true. Americans are dumb. In short, we are self-centered and cursed with an educational and informational infrastructure that indulges our most immature tendencies.To break through this self-imposed me-bubble requires sustained attention outside of oneself towards the world, which takes work. People are mocked for even discussing difficult subjects; like YOU know so much. Culturally we have become expert in mass consumption.The public intellectual is dead in America.Alas, most Americans have allowed themselves to be persuaded that they are consumers and have forgotten that they are citizens. Consumers tend to behave like mindless or single-minded zombies, and so for them, the desire to get stuff has taken the place of the desire to learn.I think that the reason Americans are so complacently ignorant is that they don't have to know anything. Think of it: is truth in the balance when we speak of the personal knowledge of faith, is truth anything more than a package of legends handed down in religion, or even the civic religion of our national history, for that matter? Does anyone need to function at any level higher than repeating and responding to platitudes?As George Bush would ask, "Is our kids learning?" America has a long tradition of anti-intellectualism. It feeds on the popular tradition of 'fat, dumb, and happy' rooted in immediate individual gratification.One area I've read that we're defficient in is geography. I'll bet most Americans know where the moon is. Since we're the only nation that's been there.This is why a lot of groups here in America hate the New York Times - because it's willing to even pose a question like this. I'm sure the right-wing blogs will be calling this discussion evidence of the NYT's "blame America first" attitude. But a little introspection never hurt anyone.Has America "dumbed down"? Well, there is an old Greek proverb, once used by Michael Dukakis to describe Bush senior, that "a fish stinks from its head". Here, we have chosen Dubya twice. Show me who you have chosen to lead you and I'll show you who and what you are. I rest my case.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:27:00 PM

troylloyd said...
bottom-up top-down
singleword domains
a set of corpora
seen as illustrative
correct procedure, no damage
on the level
of selectional constraints
For the first heap,
weighted abduction
initial needed between
buffer ff buffer
things go together
resolve anaphora

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:34:00 PM

troylloyd said...
"As I became invisible, I saw things that had been invisible to me."
Right now I'm obsessed with texture.So what's an artist to do?
Take the moral high road and watch her income dwindle, or join
the commercial rat-race?The fifth looked to be a total failure, but
I came up with a solution later in the day. "It's All Relative"
Gone was the angst and self-doubt and in its place grew contentment.
Then I realized I was getting bored with my own work.There is also
something about finding beauty in what is discarded and that we use
the materials of our life as part of our spiritual path.Rarely puts his
thoughts and feelings on screen with words. Usually, they were
blazoned across networks in passionate expressive structures which
he draws from the ever encroaching apparatus repressive. The acquisition
of a reputation is often the artist's artistic death, since feeding in the lap of
luxury destroys inclination to further efforts.I didn't recognize many critics,
but there was a small crowd of reporters there, including two video crews
with lights. The time is the present, Buffalo, N.Y. He's is a bad guy without
a place to piss. The first thing you see is a small hole in the wall with a sign
that reads "Insert Pencils Only." I've been working with the theme of artist's
diaries recently, in other mediums, film, photography and painting. There was
something of another way of seeing in some of the pictures, this other quality
of light and strangeness."The Artist Wrote This With His Own Blood,"
Notify me of new art by this artist. My time spent with these tools is my own
invitation to open myself up and engage in a kind of communion.Alongside this
absorbing of materials has been the concern to solve to question of the form that
work will take - essentially how to create something that will hold the fragments
of contributed thoughts and experiences, and the images and sounds into relationship
with each other in way that works?Whoops! Its been 3 months since I last wrote an
entry. Bad Artist. I'll be better I promise, don't leave me.But this idea of placing myself
within someone else's work applies much more readily to musicians such as Sigur Ros,
I bought the composition they wrote for Merce Cunningham's Split Sides, which I haven't
seen, and I find it really intriguing. Most of the pieces were in Norwegian which was
challenging, we only knew how to say Takk, Thank you and Snakker Du Ehngerlisk,
Do you speak English. Your eyes do not script my days,with their radiant plague,
even this a pure wind purges.I would like art and photography to be as ubiquitous,
omnipresent, and as accessible as music. Zooming technology minimizes the time it
takes to display the proportion of the image actually being looked at. So far so good.
Today I made my first approach to a top commercial art gallery to see if they are interested
in representing me. On this occasion, I am sorry to inform you that your works were not hung
in the exhibition; two of them however were shortlisted, which is a fine achievement.
It's important to establish yourself as a professional working artist if you want to use your
blog as a vehicle to sell your art.I'll gladly autograph a cocktail napkin for you!
To add to the shambolic nature of my life, I live with freaks.Nothing is ever my fault. I made
this wonderful discovery at the ripe young age of twelve.Studio visits allow the artist and
viewer to have a personal connection which is not always the case when the artist only
shows work through the gallery system.Knowing the language of images will give you
greater control over your art work, increase your ability to explain your art work to
others and enrich your understanding of your culture.Finally after two-and-a-bit months of arts bum drudgery, the socio-economic aspects of my life seem to be sorting themselves out.
I'm endeavouring not to poo on anyone (in a strictly non-literal sense), in other words,
try to be reasonably professional with people and individuals that I deal with, and think
twice about hitting the 'send' button in given cases.One self taught artist determined to
make her living as an artist. The day to days of an artists life, thoughts, and experiences.
‘Torched Laughter’ was the result of a tumultuous and sultry evening I had in an opium den
in Egypt. Involved was a farfisa organ and a stick of butter. There were monologues given to
corpses recently exhumed for Bacchanalian amusement. Amputee children throwing sewage
at passed out policemen. And cocaine. Good times were had by all involved.I am not up to the performance aspect of it yet. Just trying to capture the natural sound.Is the origin of art hidden in
the system of its creation? Many artists have been drawn to the grid. A common thread in all of
their work is the belief that they were uncovering something original, that they were tapping into the primordial essence of art. The grid is seen by many as an absolute beginning, silent and empty.
Its form seems impervious to language, narrative, and hierarchical structure.For certain people,
possessing a collection of fonts is a real kick. I am not embarrassed to admit that I fall into
that category.“The piece is meant to be big, dumb, and iconic, a moving, pulsing symbol of both
the promise and failure of technology,” Murakami likes Augur & Revok enough to remove his tagged billboard for his own collection. I’m not convinced this is the most awesome of awesome tags in the world, but I suppose it’s news.What happens when fun and games become values you can't question? That's the question I asked in Sweden when I gave my Down with Fun lecture at the Krets Gallery. What happens when even straights who collect stamps talk about "getting my stamp collection fix" or when a design website asserts dogmatically that "if it’s not fun, it’s not design!”? Fun and games, at that point,
become orb and sceptre, ball and chains. Liberation, at that point, becomes difficulty and differential calculus. It becomes emotion, idealism, seriousness, quietness, dignity.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:35:00 PM

troylloyd said...

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:37:00 PM

troylloyd said...
P. Brötzmann

Pharoah Sanders



Angus Maclise



guru guru

lightning bolt

Ono w/ Beatles

Acid Mothers Temple



UFO or Die


the Who

Sonic Youth


Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:38:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Steps to Enter Single Meaning or Verbose Mode:

o1. Shut down the dictionary if it is on.
o2. Press the power button to start the electric razor.
o 3. Immediately press and hold the Eraser key and one of the following:"x","y" or "!"
o4. To exit stutterance mode type: Jimbo Stark
o5. Press Rerun.

If you have successfully entered single-meaning or verbose mode, you will not see any text or unblank pages.

Crashlog for timesplicing is as follows:
an invalid object.

Up the sleeve with whatever joyless ones enjoy when whipping through the kernel of congruent relations to the interpretation function, okay, not anything specific.

Pay attention! Nuslux for no overdub and that the incompleteness of a semantics is only due to the richness of the structure of representable functions is so fucking obvious.

Malleability of hillbilly image in old-time modernity drawn upon authenticity or chain-gang silhouettes obscured by dirt and figured in emergence of escapes.
(Proper English ain't necessary here!)

Widespread stresstests for dereferencing a nullvoider to refault or runnable.

[ select visible ]
[ in ]

Ingest iconoscope for exciting electrical images

More complete versions are available.

You have reached the most complete version of this
article accessible without further authentication.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:39:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Of Being Numerous forges a syntax of truthfulness without recourse to the grammar of truth -"that truthfulness / Which illumines speech" [CP 173]. The poem's necessarily precarious project is the articulation of a form that would address the commonweal, a project most fully realized in the two long poems in Of Being Numerous. For Oppen, the demands of the articulation of an ideal communication situation necessitate a winnowing of vocabulary and tone that entail the exclusion of anything that would extend, displace, amplify, distort, burst - indeed, question -the vocables of an enunciated truthfulness. At his most resonant, Oppen creates a magnificent, prophetic, imaginary language - less voice than chiseled sounds. His writing evokes not the clamor of the streets nor the windiness of conversation nor the bombast of the "dialogic" but the indwelling possibilities of words to speak starkly and with urgency.

Yet Oppen's often claimed commitment to clarity, however qualified, annuls a number of possibilities inherent in his technique. He hints at this when he writes, "Words cannot be wholly transparent. And that is the heartlessness of words" [CP 186]. ("Clarity", he has just said, "In the sense of transparence" [CP 162]). In contrast, it is their very intractability that makes for the unconsumable heart (heartiness) of words. Inverting Oppen's criticism that Zukofsky used "obscurity in the writing as a tactic" , I would say that Oppen uses clarity as a tactic. That is, at times he tends to fall back onto "clarity" as a self-justifying means of achieving resolution through scenic motifs, statement, or parable in poems that might, given his compositional techniques, outstrip such controlling impulses.
Yet it is this fact, and George Oppen's honesty in face of it, that enables him, in "Of Being Numerous", to write the most penetrating poem about the possibility of poetry in our time. And all his poems exist in the awareness of this critical problem; for the possibility of poetry depends on the possibility of meaning. Questions about the poet's relationship with his people, with those with whom he shares a language, are necessarily the most important questions about what poetry is, and what it means. In George Oppen's circumstances, which are those of most poets in the West, there can be no justification for a Wordsworthian confidence that searchings of the self will penetrate the ground of humanity, and the poet looking into himself speak to and for others. Nor is it in uncritical populism that the poet will find the people, but only, perhaps, in exploring his complex and troubled relationship with them, which includes his distance from them. It is relatively easy, of course, to evade the problem of meaning altogether, by catching a poetic style from the time or writing according to the expectations of a past poetic convention. George Oppen is one of the most important modem poets because he has done neither but has tested every word for its meaning, in full awareness of the subtlety as well as the power of meaninglessness in the modem world. The truth of George Oppen's poetry is the truth of his poem "The Gesture". Whether writing of things shared or of things seen in the light of "the shipwreck/Of the singular", he has never had a bauble to sell but has always held "something/In the mind which he intends/To grasp!"

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:40:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Warning, this book is not about the X-men. It is a strangely written, poorly paragraphed book, with multiple faults and an extremely SLOW pace. i'd warn against buying it, unless you have read and for a bizarre reason, liked it.
The city is as cruel for Xman as it was for his literary predecessor Bartleby, but this latter-day anti-hero still seeks the job that will straighten out his life. After numerous fruitless interviews, he finally lands a job that involves fraud: convincing the sick that they are well. But Xman himself lands in the hospital and, from a contact made there, slowly sinks into the world of urban terrorism. As metaphors compound and sentences unwind around the questions of reality and response, Brodsky creates a novel of stunning impact. He uses his "Everyman" to explore and explode the urban world and in doing so explodes the novel form itself, piling up images in a flowing narrative that invades characters to find the story within the story. Contemporary fiction at its most robust; highly recommended.
ALMOST obscured by the mercantile banality of much that passes nowadays for fiction, there is another tradition in which, sure enough, the story gets told but only amid a flux of demoralizing brooding. This tradition, extending from Dostoyevsky's ''Notes From the Underground'' through Hesse's ''Steppenwolf,'' Sartre's ''Nausea'' and Beckett's ''Molloy,'' ''Malone Dies'' and ''The Unnameable,'' confronts us not with the hesitant artist flummoxed by his or her own arbitrariness, but one overpowered by is-ness, by the sheer surfeit of stuff in the world, among which another story is just another item, nothing special.

What we get in such fiction is less a story than the story of all the things that surround the story, from which it has to be rescued and retrieved - not just from among the incessant proliferations of nature that scared the Polish author Witold Gombrowicz, but also from among the forks and spoons, the empty bottles, the dead cars, the old-fashioned fountain pens, the razors, the paper, the orange peel, the mailboxes, the shoes, the airfields, the sanitary napkins, et cetera ad infinitum. The tradition has been called existential, for lack of a better term, but that implies some heroics of self-definition, whereas it is more properly ontological - having to do with sheer existence, with the mere presence of so much stuff.

Into this intimidating tradition there now marches - no, there slouches - Michael Brodsky, the author of plays and several previous novels. ''Dyad'' will slow you down to a slouch too and otherwise impede your gait as you try to make headway or, stepping aside for a while, try to figure out what's going on. Insofar as this novel has a conventional plot of any kind, it is about one man going in quest of another - the estranged son of a dying tycoon - and trying to retrieve him from the bohemian, improvident life he has chosen. But that is like saying ''The Odyssey'' is about bad navigation, or Proust's ''Remembrance of Things Past'' about dunking cookies. This is really a novel of the meditations that surround meditations, and an act of thought here is every bit as imposing and important as physical behavior.

But first and foremost, ''Dyad,'' as the title suggests, is about two beings joined together, which essentially is all we need on earth to begin writing serious fiction with. Beckett calls his dyads ''pseudo-couples,'' of course, but Mr. Brodsky, who is a much more freely associative writer than the intensely rigorous Beckett, lets his mind flow and go. ''Where is that grief for which I've sought in vain,'' his novel begins, ''I heard myself say for no particular reason.'' You know at once you are in the hands (the unrelenting grip) of a serious workman who reserves the right to amaze you several times on each page with sheer prose felicity. He has learned the lesson the minimalists never will: it doesn't matter how little the thing you write about is, if your prose style can conquer the vacancy. His does. In a coffee shop in Manhattan at the corner of Huron and Iroquois, the narrator orders coffee, but the counterman (who turns out to be Jamms Sr., the tycoon father of Jim, the swaggering, alienated painter son) invites him to go tour the Museum of Modern Art, where Jamms orders tea, tears ''grumpily with a fork at his muffin'' and puts down a stew of ''broccoli, cheese, stewed apricots, anchovies, olives, pinto beans and chocolate bars trampled underfoot, as well as breadcrumbs, oregano flakes, and Devonshire cream.'' Anything could go into that stew: the world is that man's portion; he is, after all, dying, as he informs the narrator: ''I got the diagnosis yesterday morning.''

Strictly speaking, that's enough story for a 300-page novel, just as it would be for a symphony; but the amazing thing is how much aggressive musing Mr. Brodsky manages to weave among his phenomena as he studies the Jamms clan: Jim and his doting Maggy (''raw with need''); the tumor-ridden father; two women called Betty and Bessy, the latter the prettier. The action or motion shifts from Manhattan to Rhinebeck and Long Island and back, a rite repeating. Unusual sentences, some with the obtuse beauty of the Austrian novelist Thomas Bernhard, abound in this narrative:. ''The sea was dead, time to return to my room and pack for the detectives calling me homeward. Walking to the elevator with [ Jamms Sr. ] was like undergoing a visitation not that he embodied the visitation, oh no, rather his presence - he waddled, yes indeed, I saw it now - somehow permitted the visitation - struggling as it emerged to draw off all sense of shame into its poison, known conversationally as sense of self.'' The sentence enacts the physical awkwardness it describes. Toward the end of the novel, he introduces a barely decipherable photograph: ''A little boy standing in front of a storefront next to his dad almost completely cut out of the frame. A boy and his truncated dad and the storefront beyond and behind furnishing just that indispensable shred of context that could hardly fail to bring a sting to the canthi.'' That last word, bringing the eyes into play, makes the whole sentence snap to seamless attention, making us wonder if indeed the narrator has been the son all along.

The main joy in this befuddled, self-deconstructing, semi-detective novel (a treatise on epistemology in disguise) is the lurch forward of the colloquial, idiosyncratic prose. ''Dyad'' is an anthem sung from an urban dump by one of those tenors who sing Bach's cantatas. In this case, the tenor has forgotten his lines, but sings improvisationally, with both poise and pain.
True to form, the playwright and novelist Michael Brodsky has produced another cerebral book in which a quirky charm -- reminiscent in equal parts of Beckett's deadpan humor and Joyce's bombast -- ably animates a rather earnest meditation on existence. While it's enough to echo either of these masters successfully, "Three Goat Songs," Mr. Brodsky's collection of interrelated novellas, isn't merely imitative; these influences have been filtered through a wry but urgent philosophic angst that's very much the author's own. Mr. Brodsky's nameless narrator tells three tales that focus with claustrophobic intensity on the time he spends sitting among the rocks along the sea, watching a herd of goats. This tightly drawn world expands to admit a wife and children whose reality feels thin and shadowy when compared to the much-described, quite palpable rocks and goats. By creating a fictional world reduced to a few hypnotically repeated elemental images -- Beckett's "Texts for Nothing" is the model here -- Mr. Brodsky can explore our systems of perception, speculating on how what we see becomes what we think and ultimately the story we tell. If the enterprise sounds dryly pedantic, it's because summary cannot reflect the author's nimbly turned comedy. Like silent film, these "goat songs" draw the subtlest insights from an apparently simple reality.
Michael Brodsky is the kind of writer reviewers tend to hail as challenging and thought-provoking. His sentences, certainly, are challenging -- they run on and on, bristling with diversionary parentheses and brackets and words unfamiliar to the average reader as well as to the average dictionary. While provocative, some of the thoughts provoked may be along the lines of ''What is he trying to say?'' and ''Why am I reading this?'' The plot centers on what Brodsky sees as the ultimate in media crassness -- the creation of a 30-second commercial for a serial killer. Bert, the commercial's director, finds that his project is hindered by rivals and meddlers, many of whom have silly names -- Gift, Flowers, GreenHurstWood -- though the significance of these names is unclear. Bert's assignment is further complicated by his attendance on not one but two dying parents. It is quickly apparent that even when the story is intelligible (not always the case) it doesn't much matter, except as a sounding board for various abstract concepts. And many of these have frequently been better expressed: the news media control our reactions to disasters; advertisers try to manipulate our emotions and commodify our experiences. Academic readers may get a charge out of Brodsky's unrelenting wordiness, and perseverance will yield the occasional insight, as, for example, this definition of lying: ''to whiplash oneself with the reminder of one's still insurmountable distance from the promised land sketched by the lie.''
It's not quite the same as the pop star Prince's abrupt decision to change his name into an elaborate symbol that even he apparently can't transliterate, but Michael Brodsky's intention to call his forthcoming novel "* * *" does present its own difficulties.

How, for instance, do you pronounce it? "Ideally, you shouldn't say anything, but just visualize the asterisks," said Mr. Brodsky, whose earlier books, with normal titles like "Three Goat Songs" and "Dyad," have been warmly received. "But I guess that saying 'Three Asterisks' is O.K."

The novel, to be published in April by Four Walls Eight Windows, a small New York publisher, is described as a post-modern detective story about the death of an industrial magnate and is filled with what Mr. Brodsky called "alternative plot development." The reader never learns what the magnate's companies manufacture, which is the point of the asterisks. "They stand for anything we produce," the author said.
Okay, let me see if I have this straight: I (the narrator) leaves Z, and Z goes down to Key West to look for X, who had known T, or more precisely had an affair with T, whom I is really interested in, but T is dead, a suicide. Am I making any sense here? Would it help if you knew that T is really supposed to be the poet Hart Crane, who leaped to a watery death off a ship cruising from Mexico to New York? And that in ''Southernmost,'' the title novella of this book of short stories -- not really short stories but riffs -- Wallace Stevens also figures heavily in the plot? It's not really a plot, it's more of a . . . Oh, the heck with it. This is experimental, abstract writing, and it has an internal logic of its own. (We know this because the book jacket warns that ''serious demands'' will be made on us.) But it would be nice if the hapless reader didn't have to reach for the nearest bottle of Excedrin or take a nap between pages or could actually connect with with a character or two in any of these frustratingly opaque stories. Language, which Michael Brodsky obviously has an affinity for, is supposed to communicate, not alienate; enlighten, not confuse. Admittedly, however, a writer who takes Beckett, Kafka and Proust for his literary forefathers can probably find some fans among the vast alphabet of potential readers. Unfortunately I (and possibly LMNOP) am not one of them.
The Back Pages: Rediscovering Allusive Novelist Brodsky
Detour is an expanded version of Michael Brodsky's first novel, of the same name, which won the PEN/Hemingway. It was published originally in 1977. Since then, Brodsky's writing has received much critical praise,but it's also had detractors, who claim his writing is too dense and difficult to follow (he often employs page-long paragraphs, and doesn't divide Detour into chapters), or that he doesn't pay sufficient attention to plot—all technique, no soul. Well, this is nonsense. True, he's a very skilled technician, but his prose is emotionally quite moving as well. As for plot, the book has one—it isn't elaborate, but it works. The protagonist in this autobiographical novel is an unnamed young man who has recently been on an extended stay in Europe. He's now in New York City, but on the verge of leaving to attend medical school in Cleveland. Before his departure, he gets involved with a young woman, Anne, a recent heroin addict now on methadone. They travel together to Cleveland, where they move into a house already inhabited by several other young people. While in Cleveland the protagonist works as a language teacher in addition to his studies. His relationship with Anne steadily deteriorates, and he begins to doubt whether he wants to make medicine his career. He takes a break, visiting Montreal and Toronto, and then returns to Cleveland to announce to his roommates that he is leaving medical school and moving.

Brodsky's writing is abstract and analytical. He spends a great deal of time pondering his motivation and that of the characters he's involved with. He devotes much attention to his landlord, Steve, who, while investigating a murder case, discovers the difference between a detail and a clue: "A clue brings the case to a close—eliminates it from consciousness—from the institutional consciousness. Every clue marks, then, the partial death of the case. . . . The detail distorts the case, deforms it, makes it move in and out of sequence, like one of those Off-Off Broadway soaps . . . "

Brodsky's writing is highly allusive. He not only employs metaphors brilliantly, but also makes frequent references to movies, analyzing portions of them, to shed light on the actions of himself and his characters. In addition to filmmakers, he cites the work of novelists, poets, philosophers, and psychiatrists. To be able to use words and write are of critical importance to Brodsky: "I felt alive when words surged inside me," his hero says. And Brodsky does make his novel come alive. He's constantly examining and defining words—sorting out the details from the clues. His characters suffer, they feel deeply, and we can easily identify with them. It should be obvious to serious readers, then, that Brodsky, more than being merely a clever technician, is a sensitive, original, and insightful writer, one of the best produced by this country in the last 30 years.
Wallace Stevens writes in his Adagia, “The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else. The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction and that you believe in it willingly.” Michael Brodsky’s new collection of stories contemplates this willingness. The novella “Southernmost” proposes the fictional meeting of Stevens and Hart Crane in Key West, the southernmost of the title. But it is also the figurative southernmost of the imagination, where both Stevens and Crane rigorously pushed themselves, that Brodsky is after.

For Brodsky, Stevens and Crane reflect two poles: Stevens the corporate man, whose willingness to dive into fictions Brodsky’s narrator often sees as a tendency for rationalization, and Crane the recalcitrant bohemian, whose intractable imagination destined him to his final plunge. The raw impulse of desire, suggests Brodsky, led Crane to language—“the language of their own transformation.” The narrator who recounts this meeting admires Crane’s insistence on the transformative power of poetry to affect the world and sees Stevens as an obese pretender. Thus is Stevens Crane’s arch rival.

What is most disturbing about this statement is the perceived gulf between these two poets, both of whom, in my mind, were after similar imaginative ends. The narrator comments that “[Crane’s] life—any life—was too brief to encompass meaning.” It is unfortunate that Stevens—who also lived a life—cannot in some way correspond to Crane, if only because he espoused that great willingness for fictions.

Southernmost serves as the groundwork for the later stories. In “Bagatelle” the fragility of narrative is encountered in the inability to unravel the mystery behind an assassination. We are told in “The Assessed,” “And that vengefully vigilant and elliptical telling will necessarily resist—parry—almost apotropaically—all paraphrase.” It is the very telling itself that is mired in fragility. Our lives, our languages, are lost in a maelstrom of Babel. And yet Brodsky is a writer, an immensely talented writer, and our willingness to believe aside, his words somehow become the imaginary line connecting the poles. And that, in the end, is the correspondence: the line written in words between Stevens, Crane, and the author of their fiction.
Michael Brodsky, Southernmost and other Stories. I've read four of his books Detour, Xman, Dyad, and the collection X in Paris, and own others. No one reviews him, and if I know anyone who's read him, it hasn't come up. Seriously -- does anyone read Michael Brodsky?
A veteran avant-garde novelist, playwright and translator of Beckett's Eleutheria, Brodsky (Detour) resurfaces with this beguiling collection of two novellas, one short story and three short-shorts. The title novella, which opens the collection, is written in that trickiest of forms, the second person (you feel excluded, snubbed, far more than you've ever been, ever allowed yourself to be), and follows the Beckettian peregrinations of Goodis (you, Goodis!) as he steals an overcoat, sits in a noirish diner and falls in with a low-end criminal gang, all the while commenting feverishly on what he sees: Among the trashcans that divvy up the eft-head glimmer of an expiring streetlamp, you choose the biggest one to hide behind. The second novella, Midtown Pythagoras, closes the book and is a similarly noirish, and very funny, play on detective fiction; a writer hires a private dick to strong-arm a reviewer into changing her views of the writer's work: if I could make her vision of him coincide with his own then at last all would be well with his posterities. All the work here is drenched in a weary angst, but Brodsky's joyful relief in writing—despite uncertain posterities—comes through on every page.
In this collection of stories, Brodsky creates a variety of tableaux, still frames that offer up miasmic surfaces while providing fascinating and depth-giving detail. Characters, often nameless or generic stand-ins for people, struggle with despair, indifference, muteness. Their progress is measured in microscopic nuances that reflect their obsessions. Brodsky has a fondness for flow-stopping multisyllabics recrudescence, matutinal, and extirpating , to name just a fewand the stories are dense, some verging on gothic. The closeness of language can make some of these stories rough goingbut, finally, they are worth it.
In a theater of coastal rocks, before an audience of goats, a man tells his story--about the impossibility of telling his story. Like the rocks, which he describes both as faces and as anal, ``hair-clogged fissures,'' storytelling, he says, consists of fronts and rears, beginnings and ends. And language avails him no devices with which to connect these ``into some single statement worthy of a whole being.'' So the man refers to himself in this trilogy of novellas through a ``cento of butt-ends,'' a patchwork of scraps from others' tales. Brodsky craftily revises the ancient Greek term for tragedy--literally ``goat song.'' He writes not of the individual's flouting of order, the theme of tragedy, but of the individual's desire for order in a unified narrative of the self. Brodsky's prose seems to proceed from the very core of his character's thinking, ``from the site of its eruption.'' Its molten flow consumes all types of language--colloquialisms, legalese, and some eminently obscure vocabulary. The result is a vigorous, eccentric style that enables Brodsky ( Xman ) to bring a Swiftian gusto to the novel of ideas and write a challenging, at times dazzling book.
A review written in Brodsky's style "The author, like his protagonistABert (producing a 30-second serial killer commercial somehow requiring as fulsome a rehearsal as a feature film, irritated by having to tend to first his dying stepfather and then his living hellion of a mother-in-law)Ain seeming to believe `the world was a circus of horrors' (God, this pedestrian journal demands those anachronistic quotation marks!) engages in an endless ontological roll in the hay of `pseudo intellectual high fashion' dispensing his favorite words (kerf, triturate, meechy, muniments, fungibility) as if to impress the thesaurus challenged, taking a stab at evil, but bogging down in the merely vile." Some critics praise Brodsky, but this reviewer agrees with Charles Salzberg: " supposed to communicate, not alienate; enlighten, not confuse" (New York Times Book Review). Recommended only for the largest collections and for dilettantes wishing to impress people at cocktail parties by pretending they have slogged all the way through this depressing miasma.
Whenever I read Brodsky, I find myself falling back on the philosophy that the critical criterion for determining the measure of value to be drawn from a particular work of literature has less to do with the meaning intended to be conveyed by the author during the act of creation and than it does with whatever insight any given reader is able to extract from the work during the process of reading it. I prefer to wander through the terrain to which his books transport me, guided by my own lights. A principal focus of his novel, We Can Report Them, is just that dynamic which exists between an artist's vision and the likelihood of an audience's ability to access that vision on the artist's terms. At what point will the erosion of compromise, made in the service of bridging that chasm, undermine and extinguish the creative motivation?

Both critical acclamation and commercial success have eluded Bert, an inveterate perfectionist and eternal journeyman plying his trade as a director in the film industry. His current project, a 30 second television spot aimed at elevating The Serial Killer role to the level of entertainment and cultural icon, may be his last chance to make good before finally accepting the mantle of failure and exiting the business. The sponsors, presumably a group whose money drives the entire entertainment world, are paying for an effective product, while Bert, driven to place his own personal artistic statement before the public, attempts to walk the line between achieving his own ends and providing his employers with the commercial they are paying him to produce. He swings between unbridled, swollen self-confidence and a flood of paralyzing self-doubt, but is always fiercely anchored in his loyalty to "the work." The intensity of interpretative effort and plot manipulation he applies to the project becomes absurd within the context of a 30 second TV commercial. He is plagued by a troupe of actors who are variously inspired in, derisive of, and clearly bored by his direction, a hostile arch-nemesis of a film critic constantly hovering around the shadows of his set, sponsors who become increasingly confused and upset with his handling of the project, and, for good measure, the outside distraction of a mother-in-law, dying of cancer and determined to make his life as miserable as possible on her way out. Still, the project proceeds to completion carried by forces within Bert of which he appears to have little control. This is when we realize that Bert's success or failure in pleasing his sponsors, capturing and touching an audience, or even crafting his film to embody the perfect fruition of his vision becomes irrelevant. The power resides in the process. When all is done, it is the doing that matters.

Evelyn Woods grads can steer clear- Brodsky is not an easy read. He demands a lot of attention and hard work on the part of the reader, but invariably rewards the extra effort. With the exception of the more contemplative Goat Songs, his novels always contain a prose that is relentlessly driven forward, creating a momentum that drags the reader along in its wake. At times, the dialogue/diatribe takes off like a great post-bop sax solo, bobbing and weaving, slowly building in intensity while chasing down a circus of tangents and mounting a full-blown assault that claws at the absolute limits of of a listener's attention span, just before apparently exhausting the fuel it feeds on, setting you gently back down in the familiar and comforting refrain.

Not having been near a university in decades, I have no idea how much purchase Brodsky's body of work has managed to gain with the academics. If the semiotic vivisectionists still hold sway in the Ivory Tower, he may have to wait a while for the recognition he deserves. I suspect that his writing may tend to frustrate and confound both their methodology and their warped take on what literature is all about. But I hope that if he is not receiving it at present, he will, in time, achieve that recognition, because, for my money, Michael Brodsky is the most important man of letters to be published since 1939.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:41:00 PM

troylloyd said...
A smashing of glass.The brick,counterpane to false transparency.Solid image.
(The brick = an antique brownish clinker blistered with embedded grog in haphazard
variation,cored with twenty small holes and stamped in the shallow oval frog with
"Ignatz Brick Co. 1919"),Krazy Kat sez, "heads I'm ebsent,tails I'm not here."
Flip flip. Coinage of deadweight anchor into thrown-ness of the way things are.
What? The next thing he knew wasn't next,but moments before : a smashing
of glass.Shards sticking in the slight space between zig and zag. Such was
zugging the fabric of tapestry which entwined fibers come to unravel until
rough edges wrinkle or unwrinkle a crest of creases releasing to the fold an
unfolding blank blanket on cover of coldest uncovering.A quilting in comfort
of unwrapping old long bones demagnetized from the shattered skeleton
of completeness.It is gone.A lack of need for enumeration.A loss of thrust
for propulsion.Zero sum total.Emptied.The nullified scrimmages of image
lactated by the strange spectacality within inhabited space claiming
placefulness as prerequisite for becoming an actuality outside or inside so
many screens projected upon magistrated massings of full streaming
informations.Outside looking in or inside looking out,he never knew which.
Up he hove detrital elements of his erosion,dreg by dross seemingly worthless
bits of himself sunk to bottomdwelling residuum in sediment of any stamp
claiming authenticity.Another atrocity for exhibiting dustily deformed on his
simple shelves of categorical confinement.Cozy enough.Howcome his lungs
suck so much staleness of stifling airs,his breathing without even thinking of inhale or exhale - desperate heaving for hell or highwattage regardless of
any wretched ramshackle to overreach boundaries binding his spine to
gravitational pullings on backbone close to breakage.(doubletalk)
Quitchyer dizzyin 'nd gettit right gummy! Spit some straight dope!
Who said that? Noticing the niceties of observation in succinct distinction,
how to begin the ending : match of actual fracture - every single word of which
was impenetrable.Upon entering the room,he glimpsed a shadowy figure
smokily standing in the corner.Step by step edging closer to the thing,it
spoke softly, "Hey man,howzit? They call me Shadfig.These stinking streets
once yielded such vastness of trove I was fully formed and ever forming,now
with its trenching drenchery of depthless dank I'm only half the asshole I once
was - reduced to scavenging gutter crust for my inexhaustible uniquity.My dark
adapted eyes are essential scanning sensory pickups : pinpointing in saccadic
fashion just those lost littered things needed to dehisce my hidden innards
and open up all and for once the stromatic intricacies which we could call my
essentialness,er,the eeing within being,uh y'know like my ontological
identity of existence,yeah,my fundamental thingness thrumming sum,cogito,um,
the is of my isness..." Mumble murmur mumble."Are you still listening?!?
You look disoriented,lemme tell you about disorientation..." He wasn't listening,
but he felt an explicable magnetism to Shadfig and he was thinking about
all the constant phenomena which cannot be fully ascertained or agitated by
any hypotheses.He wanted to unfuck the fucking and within the danger of
death a disappearance of maintenance discontinues by spoonfulls of
nothingness left none less.Nonsoma.Deathbody.Ghostsoul.He was just
another future corpse lost in fog of dreams,an instant inferred verily that
an eidolon of shadowy outlasting expresses the films peeled off surface of
all objects,thus revealing a waking nakedness beneath the idolon : as the
umbra endures and these sciamachies continue there'll always be the
pugilism between nonself and selves aspirant.He found himself again
listening to Shadfig saying something about the "...survival of a savage
exaggeration,these illusory infallibilities illustrate airy evidence,especially
ambiguous and exposed an explicit plot to instill anthropological evolutions
intent on furthering the whole stinking species yet further distant from the
ghostgod.Of course, this conclusion was reached by erroneous processes,
thus we,the erorrists,must wear this undone knowledge on our furrowed brows
emanating as darkest star between our eyes - so that we can't see, you see.
This belief in our lack of faculties to perceive is that which sweeps our
faithlessness aside from any retainment of its afterimage so fulgurated
in our many minds resounding an echolalic anthem evermore of the original
and authentic intent." There was a pause,Shadfig gesticulated with his hand
the motion of jerking off,and said slowly "...precisely striking is an isolated
example of the uniformity with biological impulse, to get off, as it were."
He nodded in response to Shadfig and skulked away from the smoky corner
thinking of some celestial supremo in skybeing guise gliding oversum and
atmospheric above any of these agents locked into temporality. He noticed
on the scribbled wall an offkilter flyer hung with a gilded toothpick, it read :
' The end of history is too often just a topic of speculative conversation,
for us it is the only true work! ' And underneath that, ' Undeath to erorrists!
Long live terror! ' He felt not as himself,he felt as if he was in character, a
character which was not himself but an oft read about man with a plan,
and he knew this couldn't be him, he never had any plans, what with his
proclivity for inactiveness and withdrawal from the way things as they are.
Things as they are.A smashing of glass, he remembered as he touched the
brick hanging around his neck, he had wanted to wear it as a solidified
metaphor of such eitherorness of his breathing or not breathing, vocal or
nonvocal. In his throat laid scattered graves of lost words,dead words,
unworded words. Buried without birth,embedded, the lodging of their
scratchy tombstones rubbing dust to dirt to which he must return.The brick
broke through.It was an emblem worth wearing,much more useful than a bloodless
crucifix.His brick was a possible crime scene, a pure potentiality, a physicality
of reflex entrenched in memory of quick flick or twist away from the
catastrophic curtains of anmesistic wakefulness.In that escapement,what
this meant was meaning must be made.The unmaking was already underway.
A prisonhouse of definition.He knew then he would become an erorrist and with
his five fingers each hand he would prod and poke forcefully into the everwatching
eyes of those judges and lawgivers and enforcement officers with such the
long arms as an undefeated army of octopi grasping in their inky beaks the
viral pestilence of the WORDS and lengthy tentacles wrapped in tightening
tangle around their delicate construct designed for binding and bound on all border of concealment, entrapment and impending acts of general skulduggery.
A smashing of glass.He returned to the first sentence in an instant.The
foundedness of his initiative reassured him.He was now involved in an active
enterprise.He felt an immediacy heretofor unfelt.His ecstatic attainment took
the shape of a bird.He felt semi-embryonic masses of half developed infants
lying in the earth beneath his feet.In this prefiguration of psychic totality, the
mathematicity of infinite possibility within the divided state of a deficient
creation layered polyfacial and polynamed was a dichotomy in its distinctiveness,
a dimension unfolded for suture to reversability of the rupture.He was spinning in
wicked shit,then he remembered what Shadfig had said, " You must develop
a soft head to become a house of dreams." He wasn't dreaming,he still felt
some sensation of being in the world and having nowhere to go. A gap in the
narrative.A shoddy prop.There's nothing happening,its already happened.
A smashing of glass. He had an immediate frightwave as an involuntary response
upon tactile contact with insect exoskeleton.Shiver,shit.Tremble. His jetztzeit
was over and gone, the worldwide hitparade of the intractable problem no
longer superseded his idee fixe of the voidless void.Such suffocating closure.
In his strange exchange with the trickstertext, he expiscated a truth truly that
it can be proved that it can't be proved.He wanted to return to the opening
sentence,to be always in action, not this shitty state of graceless confusion.
Unfounded to finding.Unable to handle such enormous torque,a stripping of
straightcut gears in the transmission of a living language cut any motion to
a standstill. The gaps between word and meaning blanks,blanks and blanks.
Velocity of a phantom gearbox in totality of concision placemarking an absence
of signifying force in inextricable particulars. All this common air sent to myriad
quarries of query.What? Never heard of such a thing as literal meaning,sensus
literalis, put into construal of an invisible idea outside any assigned value. In its
comprehensibility it obliterates the difference of embodied things.In the wordness
of words, their husk of usefulness only aids the materialism of the way things are.The detail,the detail,the detail.Degree by degree undefining itself : perish
perished perishable.Writ in the official font of wellordered settings imprinted
indepth by press,the binding of leaves fell from deformulations of nature :
this nature of naturalization so unnatural.Shadfig had warned him : "What
would you do if things as they are,aren't? You're defined by it in reactionary
fervor,it wins by proxy." Shit,again,shit again.He was hinging half-hung on
linchpin of faulty logic or incomplete argument in pivot fulcrummed only by an
inattention to the details at large within the smallness of his evershrinking head.
An impingement on his fine filters,mere specks of dust clogging any filament
from which to light his fuse.He wished he had a necklace of sparkplugs instead
of his dirty worldly brick.Never a moment of ataraxy for him,an ongoingness of
aboutness.Where?Unexplainable.The invasion began as soon as he was grunted
forth from womb, or was it the moment of ejaculation,inswimming toward his
other half in relentless instinct.A game of holes and putting something in them.
Echo of bones.He wanted to grind and polish his fulgurite heart to the thickness
of a single atom,so sharp to slice himself from his epic of emotions.Therefor
incommunicable.Winging silences.Phantasmagoria wrestled in sense of speaking : nothing ain't, if anything ain't, it can't be known, if anything ain't
and can't be known, it can't be aint'd in speech or spook.Knowable.No nevermind
nohow.Of glashing a smass.So long and seeya later sodapop and superdope!On no
connexion.So much ormolu to grace this shitless turd floating amid torrid purulence
encapsulated so strikingly in this golden toilet bowl flushing flesh thru digestion
back into and unto that cloaco maxima snaking ways under surface of ground
laying maze beneath sheer veneer of this bubblegum machine-gun pathos so
integral to the way things are.Awaken the dei otiosi and gather wrath to destroy
this state of things as they are and fill the forgotten skies with these lost gods
thundering cloud to ground and ignition with the forge of lightning strike.Rewrite
the cosmogonic narrative to reveal an indecipherable bloomday doompage always
open in action and humming not with language but with wranguage wrangling the
ranges of strange in high energy of spin-charge and mass within the riddle of
four fundamental forces.Be done with thralldom! Ditch all dissimulation! Slapdash
this spasm to highest contrast with center nowhere and contact points everywhere.
Fusedness of the primary pith.No north for southing west or easturn stars guiding
cooridinates of compass,the evershifting horizon.And not knowing what to know,he
resigned himself of all signage repleat with easy readability and ever aiming
interpretability layered upon the layers of densely packed recognitions in tight tight
bindingness.No movement.How to go forward was more a matter of smashing atoms
down to split or splice for recover or digest of any essence bound and bundled to
the original propulsion- such an origin of unattainable energy frozen in modes so static
as even to resist default entropy.He could sense the latent possibility.He had heard of
hearing,but ears needed eyes to deciper such masses as miniscule as that thisness and
his macrolens relied in no small part on an ocular integration of auralness hinting to
the hums of everhumming humes which oscillated in rythm of his heart,this mere pump
was just one slight segment of a system pushing nervy intricacies fro and forth :
such dependent relations relying on response and reaction to keep the being being.
In this bebeing lay the residuality of cause,whose effect had left lasting impact or
simply implanted in such remote tangle that any implication to authentic programming
had been lost to the evervigilant bugbear of sociocultural conditioning.There was
another long pause,then the next line appeared as if a head was a hand and eyes guide rightness left over endless zag or path which led so swiftly to this unfinished finality.
The thing is,(the thing is just the thing),that it's never finished,this will is easily
misidentified as desire but but the longing for synopsis of short shrifting ends is simply
a will to be, to do, to too - last breath left lasting where no air can invade this vacuum
of concealment and it was that exact container in which he wished not to be contained.
Constrained to the last ashes of ember when full flame has rested to a soft luminosity
of what once was,this small hot heat smelt melding into a completed object of singular
purpose something like a spoon,but unbending and sticking to the specific task at hand,
which was to eat meaning and purge the results.After that trapdoor shut so solid, an
escape seemed necessary,however,his disbelief forfeited any force for lacing upon those
superspecialized running shoes so vital to any good getaway.Such is the pits,the tarpits
of motionless fossilization waiting to lay any conclusion from rocksolid undeniability to
this amorphous mass of embalming gluck mucking muscle to surrender.It was this
unconditionality of defeat with what he finally let go any and all recipe for triumph,it
was simply to drenched in loss of propulsion to attempt semblance of any movement.
No glass for smashing.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:42:00 PM

troylloyd said...

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:43:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Digtet består, som man kan se, af et tidspunkt og nogle andre tal, en
fed tekst, og så af selve digtet.
Den elskede, der er selve digtets årsag.
Der er ingen øjensynlig sammenhæng mellem citatet og digtet.
Digtet giver konturerne af en lille poetik, som både fortæller om,
hvordan man når frem til digtet, og hvordan man mere er en
kigger end en seer.
Diktet har en fin avslutning, med et velplassert
linjeskift som bidrar til at språk og gest smelter sammen på en
eksemplarisk måte.
Diktet ønsker seg en verden hvor diktet ennå ikke finnes.
For eksempel kan du sitte og la øynene gli over ordene i diktet.
Ikke desto mindre er der nogen der har lavet digtet om, det slutter ikke
som det plejer.
Jag står och fryser i mitt namn, dess renhet, tenkte jeg, eller rettere,
diktet tenkte gjennom meg.
Man kan formode, at tidspunktet angiver, hvornår digtet er skrevet.
Den som finner flest feil i dette diktet er dette diktets sanne dikter.

Stockholm 14:23, 21/3-2007

Tip en ven
Din hilsen

Digtet/Diktet: Dikten

Stockholm 14:23, 21/3-2007

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:45:00 PM

troylloyd said...
S/T-inspired Hot Rod: 1967 Porsche 911S

17 Apr, 2008 Driver, German, Race Car, Restored

The 911S/T factory race cars were the hot ticket between the 911R and Carrera RS models. This real ‘67 911S has been flared and modified in the style of the S/T, and has many of the right components. Find it here on the Pelican Forum out of Allentown, Pennsylvania for $75k.

1967 Porsche 911S S/T Hot Rod SWB R Gruppe Coupe Rear

The SWB proportions make the big flares look even more aggressive, and we really like the look without any rear spoiler. The wheels and tires would be perfect on an RSR, but we would consider going with Mini-Lite style rear wheels to give that odd original S/T mixed aesthetic front/rear. The Cibie lamps, exhaust, and lid hold-downs are just right.

The interior features a custom wheel, a Safety Devices, and great looking RSR bucket seats. This interior is the perfect match for the car. We would possibly revert back to stock gauges, but that is an easy fix. The difficult ( and expensive) work has already been done. The R Gruppe window decal shows this cars affiliation.

The engine is an upgraded 2.7L flat 6-cylinder fed by Weber carburetors. The engine compartment is very clean, but is intended to be driven just like the rest of the car.

This is a nicely built car, and is quite pricey since it is built on a true early 911S. We love the execution, and think it would be a hit at any road rally or R Gruppe function.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:50:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Nietzsche wrote that a philosophy is always the biography of the philosopher. Maybe a biography of the philosopher by the philosopher himself is a piece of philosophy. So I shall tell you nine stories taken of my private life, with their philosophical morality... The first story is the story of the father and the mother.

My father was an alumnus of the École Normale Superieure and agrégé of mathematics: my mother an alumna of the École Normale Supérieure and agrégée of French literature. I am an alumnus of the École Normale Supérieure and agrégé, but agrege of what, of philosophy, that is to say, probably, the only possible way to assume the double filiation and circulate freely between the literary maternity and the mathematical paternity. This is a lesson for philosophy itself : the language of philosophy always constructs its own space between the matheme and the poem, between the mother and the father, after all.

Someone saw that very clearly, my colleague, the French analytic philosopher Jacques Bouveresse, from the Collège de France. In a recent book in which he paid me the horror of speaking of me, he compared me to a five-footed rabbit and says in substance: "This five- footed rabbit that Alain Badiou is runs at top speed in the direction of mathematic formalism, and then, all of a sudden, taking an incomprehensible turn, he goes back on his steps and runs at the same speed to throw himself into literature." Well, yes, that's how with a father and a mother so well distributed, one turns into a rabitt.

Now the second story : about mother and philosophy.

My mother was very old and my father was not in Paris. I would take her out to eat in a restaurant. She would tell me on these occasions everything she had never told me. It was the final expressions of tenderness, which are so moving, that one has with one's very old parents. One evening, she told me that even before meeting my father, when she was teaching in Algeria, she had a passion, a gigantic passion, a devouring passion, for a philosophy teacher. This story is absolutely authentic. I listened to it, obviously, in the position you can imagine, and I said to myself: well, that's it, I have done nothing else except accomplish the desire of my mother, that the Algerian philosopher had neglected. He had gone off with someone else and I had done what I could to be the consolation for my mother's terrible pain — which had subsisted underneath it all even until she was eighty-one.

The consequence I draw for philosophy is that, contrary to the usual assertion according to which "the end of metaphysics" you know, is being accomplished, and all that, philosophy precisely can not have an end, because it is haunted, from within itself, by the necessity to take one more step within a problem that already exists. And I believe that this is its nature. The nature of philosophy is that something is eternally being bequeathed to it. It has the responsibility of this bequeathal. Your are always treating the bequeathal itself, always taking one more step in the determination of what was thus bequeathed to you. As myself, in the most unconscious manner, I never did anything as a philosopher except respond to an appeal that I had not even heard.

The third story is about the famous notion of engagement.

I arrive in Paris in 1955, during the beginning of the war in Algeria. The horrors of this war that are today coming into the open - mass murders, torture, razzia, systematic rapes - are well known to everyone. Nevertheless, we are a small number in 1955, a very small number to want stop these horrors, to be against the war in Algeria. We demonstrate, from time to time, boulevard Saint-Michel, shouting "Peace in Algeria!", and when we get to the end of the street, the police are waiting for us, striking us with their cloaks, and we were joyfully knocked senseless. What is strange is that we could not say anything but this: we have to do it again. And yet, I can tell you this, the "pelerine" cloak is not particularly gay. I even think I prefer to be clubbed. But we had to do it again, because that's what the pure present is: wanting the end of this war, as few as we were to share this wanting. I drew the conviction that philosophy exists if it takes charge of the quick of the contemporary. It is not simply a question of engagement, or a question of political exteriority, but that something of the contemporary is always raw, and philosophy must testify to this raw or take place within it, however sophisticated its intellectual production be.

The story number four is about love and religion.

Before coming to Paris, I lived in a province, I am a provincial who came to Paris a bit late. And one of the traits that characterized my provincial youth is that a majority of the girls were still raised in religion. These girls were still kept or reserved for an interesting destiny. Which gave an important figure to the masculine parade: the different manners to shine in front of these girls still pious, the principal of these being to refute the existence of God. This was an important exercise of seduction, both because it was transgress! ve, and rhetorically brilliant when one had the nieans of doing it.

Before conquering their virtues, the souls had to be yanked out of the Church. Which of the two is the worst, that's for the priests to decide. But out of this conies the idea, that I had very early, that the most argumentative, the most abstract philosophy also always constitutes a seduction. A seduction whose basis is sexual, no doubt about it. Of course, philosophy argues against the seduction of images and I remain Platonist on this point. But it also argues in order to seduce. We can thus understand the Socratic function of corruption of the youth. Corrupting youth means being seductively hostile to the normal regime of seduction. I maintain and I repeat that is the destiny of philosophy to corrupt the youth, to teach it that immediate seductions have little value, but also that superior seductions exist. In the end, the young man who knows how to refute the existence of God is more seductive than the one who could only propose to the girl. a game of tennis. It's a good reason to become a philosopher.

This is what has become the place of the question of love, as a key question of philosophy itself, exactly in the sense it already had for Plato in Symposium. The question of love is necessarily at the heart of philosophy, because it governs the question of its power, the question of its address to its public, the question of its seductive strength. On this point, I believe I have followed Socrates's very difficult direction: "the one who follows the path of total revelation must begin at an early age to be taken by the beauty of bodies".

The fifth story is a marxist one.

Naturally, my family tradition was to the left. My father had bequeathed to me two images: the image of the anti-nazi resistant during the war, and then the image of the socialist militant in power, because he was mayor of a big French town, Toulouse, for thirteen years. My story is the story of a rupture with this sort of official left.

There are two periods in the history of my rupture with the official left. The last, well known, is May 68 and its continuation. The other, less known, more secret and so even more active. In 1960 there was a general strike in Belgium. I will not give the details. I was sent to cover this strike as a journalist - I was often a journalist, I have written, it seems to me, hundreds of articles, maybe thousands. I met mine workers on strike. They have reorganized the entire social life of the country, by constructing a sort of new popular legitimacy. They have even edited a new money. I assisted at their assemblies, I spoke with them. And I was from then on convinced, up till this day I am speaking to you, that philosophy is on that side. "On that side" is not a social determination. It means: on the side of what is spoken orpronounced there, on the side of this obscure part of common humanity. On the side of equality.

The abstract maxim of philosophy is necessarily absolute equality. After my experience of mine workers strike in Belgium, I have give a philosophical order to myself : "transform the notion of truth in such a way that it obeys the equalitarian maxim, this is why I gave the truth three attributes:

1) It depends on an irruption, and not on a structure. Any truth is new, this will be the doctrine of the event.

2) All truth is universal, in a radical sense, the anonymous equalitarian for-all, the pure for-all, constitutes it in its being, this will be its genericity.

3) A truth constitutes its subject, and not the inverse, this will be its militant dimension.

All that, in a still total obscurity, is at work when I meet in 1960 the Belgium mine Workers.

The story number six is a very moral story.

After 68, during what we can call the red years, when we invented new things, when we created bonds with peoples that we did not know, when we were in the conviction that an entirely other world than that of our academic destiny awaited us, we entered into a political enterprise with a good many people, - and some of them, me included, continue this new political enterprise.

But what really struck me, the experience I wish to speak of here, is the experience of those who, starting with the middle of the 1970s, renounced this enterprise. Not only did they renounce this enterprise, but they entered into a systematic renegation that, starting with the new philosophers, from the end of the 1970s, little by little establish themselves, spread and dominate. And this is planted in philosophy like an arrow. It is a question in itself: How is it possible that one can cease being the subject of a truth? How is it possible that one return to the routine of the world This question nourishes my conviction that what is constitutive of philosophy is to stay not only within the vividness of the event, but within its becoming, that is, within the treatment of its consequences. Never to return to structural passivity : That is properly constitutive of philosophy as thought. It is what I simply called fidelity. And fidelity forms a knot, it is a concept that brings together the subject, the event and truth. It is what traverses the subject with regard to an event capable of constituting a truth.

Here again I think of Plato. At the end of Book IX of the Republic, Socrates responds to the objection that the ideal city which he had traced the plan of would probably never exist. This is a massive objection that the young people make: "All that is magnificent, but we don't see it coming!". Socrates responds more or less like this: that this city exists or may one day exist is of no importance, because it is only its laws that must dictate our conduct. That is the principle of consequence. And it is not a question that is inferred from a problem of existence or inexistence. It's our philosophical duty : to continue.

It's my story seven which is an erotic story. This is what is expended by all biographers. Will you be disappointed? I will stay within the discreet erotic genre. A "soft" story.

Just like everyone, in the 50s and 60s, we were tormented by sexuality. This torment is certainly stil very perceptible in my first novels, Almagestes, in 1964 and then Portulans in 1967. But literature is a filter here. In the end, this trouble is foreign to philosophy strictly speaking., in conformity to its great classical tradition. I would say that I learned little by little why. It is certain that sexual situations are fascinating, and it is also certain that the formalism of these situations, the erotic formalism is extraordinarily poor. And all its force depends on a repetitive injunction, with variations of little amplitude. I would say then that little by little in life a relation of charmed connivance is established with this formalism. Finally neither transgressive fascination, nor the repression of the superego are really at their place in this affair. All that is delicious, and, after all, without great consequence for thought. I have come to conclude philosophically, that as acute as this pacifying charmed connivance might be, at least for me, desire is not a central category for philosophy, and cannot be. Or rather desires only touches philosophy - just as well as jouissance - as bodies are seized in love. That is why, from this long crossing through sexual torment the final result is, as I had already said for other reasons, that love, and not desire, must instantly return into the constitution of the concept.

The story number eight is a formal story, or a story concerning forms.

I said, on the subject of the erotic injunction, "formalism", and I said it as a philosopher. Because I deeply believe that what permits a singular truth - amorous as well as political — to touch philosophy is, in the end, its form. In this sense, I would sustain that the only philosophy is formalist. Perhaps in the sense of Plato when he says: "the only veritable thought is in forms" — what is often translated by "Idea" is better rendered by "form". And I believe that the creation of concepts lies in this: philosophy conceives the singularity of theorms of truth. And there again, we have a Platonic program. Why Platonic? Dialectics is the science of forms. And form is, in philosophy, singularity. It is, as Socrates says in Phaedo, "the unique form of what remains identical to itself."

From this we have an intimate tie between philosophy and mathematics (a tie strongly thematized by Plato himself.) If the philosophic concepts are in the end the form of the concepts of truth, then they must support the proof of formalization. Whatever this proof be. All the great philosophers have submitted the concept to an overwhelming, speculative form of formalization. I think this is why mathematics must have remained a passion for me? I scrutinize this precisely - in mathematics: What is thought capable of when it is devoted to, pure form? As the literality of form? And the conclusion I have progressively drawn is that what it is capable of, when it is ordained as pure form, is thinking being as such, being as being. Which gives my provoking formula according to which effective ontology is nothing else than constituted mathematics. Which, obviously, in the eyes of the psychoanalyst, means that my desire is only there to sublimate the image of my mathematician father.

The final story, the story number nine, is about my masters.

Philosophy is a question of mastery, and this in a triple sense. First because it belongs in effect to what Lacan called the discourse of the master. Then because it supposes, in its very subjectivity, the encounter with a master. Finally and lastly, because if we look closely at it, philosophy always ends up by constituting a discourse that is ordained to a principal signifier, a master signifier, such as is, in my thought, the signifier "truth. In the three cases, philosophy is a question of mastery; So, biographically, who were my masters?

During the decisive years of my education, I had three masters: Sartre, Lacan and Althusser. They were not masters of the same thing.

What Sartre taught me was simply, existentialism. But what does existentialism mean? It means that you must have a tie between the concept on the one hand and on the other the existential agency of choice, the agency of the vital decision. The conviction that the philosophic concept is not worth an hour of toil if, be it by mediations of a great complexity, it does not reverberate, clarify and ordain the agency of choice, of the vital decision. And in this sense, the concept must be, also and always, an affair of existence. That is what Sartre taught me.

Lacan taught me the connection, the necessary link between a theory of subjects and a theory of forms. He taught me how and why the very thinking of subjects, which had so often been opposed to the theory of forms, was in reality intelligible only within the framework of this theory. He taught me that the subject is a question that is not at all of a psychological character, but is an axiomatic and formal question. More than any other question!

Althusser taught me two things: that there was no object proper to philosophy — this is one of his great theses —, but that there were orientations of thought, lines of separation. And, as Kant had already said, a sort of perpetual fight, a fight that was constantly begun again, in new conditions. He taught me consequently the sense of delimitations, of what he called the demarcation. In particular the conviction that philosophy is not the vague discourse of totality, or the general interpretation of what there is. That philosophy must be delimited, that it must be separated from what is not philosophy. Politics and philosophy are two distinct things, art and philosophy are two distinct things, science and philosophy are two distinct things. Finally, I was able then to keep all my masters. I kept Sartre despite the disregard he was object of for a long time. I kept Lacan despite what must really be called the terrible character of his disciples. And I kept Althusser despite the substantial political divergences that opposed me to him starting with May 68. Crossing through the possibility of oblivion, the dissemination of disciples and the political conflict, I succeeded in conserving my fidelity to three disparate masters.

And I maintain today that in philosophy masters are necessary; I maintain a constitutive hostility to the tendency towards democratic professionalization of philosophy and to the imperative that is rampant today and humiliates youth: "Be little, and work as a team." I would also say that the masters, must be combined and surmounted, but finally, it is always disastrous to deny them.

It's the end, now. And when I am at my wits' end, my trick is to pass the stick on to the poet. I have chosen the poet of my adolescence. Saint John Perse. With him, I can speak of another dimension of life, the companions, the companions of existence.

The companions of the poet are different from the companions of the philosopher. The companions of the philosopher are the different societies within which the question of a truth is at least posed. The companions of the poet are often the companions of his solitude, which is why Saint John Perse enumerates them as companions in exile, at the moment when he himself must go into exile. And aftet the enumeration of his companions, he returns to his solitude, and he says that:

Stranger, on all the beaches of this world, with neither audience nor witness, press to the ear of the West a seashell without memory:
Precarious host on the outskirts of our cities, you will not cross the sill of Lloyds, where your word is not honored and your gold has no title...
'I shall inhabit my name' was his response to the questionnaires of the port;
And on the tables of exchange, you have nothing but trouble to produce,
Just as these great moneys in iron exhumed by lightning.

"I shall inhabit my name": this is precisely what philosophy tries to render possible for each and every one. Or rather, philosophy searches for the formal conditions, the possibility for each and every one to inhabit his name, to be simply there, and recognized by all as the one who inhabits his name, who, by right of this, as inhabiting his name, is the equal of anyone else.

That is why we mobilize so many resources. That is also what our monotonous biography can be used for: to constantly begin again the search for the conditions by which the proper name of each one can be inhabited.
©(for personal use only.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:52:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Das NSU TT/TTS Rennsportzentrum bietet immer eine Auswahl an gepflegten, gebrauchten NSU TT oder TTS.
Vom Restaurationsprojekt bis zum „schlüsselfertigen“, toprestaurierten Komplettfahrzeug wollen wir in jeder Preisklasse Ihren Ansprüchen und Vorstellungen gerecht werden.
Original oder breit + tief mit Motorsportextras oder als reinrassige Rennversion.

Ausstellungshalle, Ansicht rechts
Aufgrund der grossen Nachfrage und der ständig geringer werdenden Auswahl an restaurations-
lohnenden Fahrzeugen ist der NSU TT und TTS ein sehr interessanter Youngtimer geworden, der bei guter Pflege sicher keinen Wertverlust zu erwarten hat.
Diese Tatsache haben mittlerweile auch alle führenden Oldtimer-Magazine erkannt und ihr in ihren Marktwert-Analysen Rechnung getragen!
Das Fahrzeugangebot gilt solange der Vorrat reicht.
Rechte Seite der Halle

Werfen Sie weiter unten einen Blick auf unsere Auswahl an Gebrauchtfahrzeugen.
Ausserdem haben Sie Möglichkeit auf dem folgenden Angebots-Formular einen NSU TT oder TTS individuell nach Ihren Wünschen, mit den passenden Extras und im Farbton Ihrer Wahl, selbstversändlich mit neuer TÜV-Vollabnahme und allen Sondereintragungen, zusammenzustellen.
Dies ist natürlich auch für Ihr angeliefertes, zu restauriendes Fahrzeug möglich.
Bitte sprechen Sie uns an, wir machen Ihnen gerne ein Angebot.

Trotz grösster Sorgfalt sind alle folgenden Angaben ohne Gewähr



Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:54:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Fidelity vs Intelligibility

Posted by transubstantiation on April 3, 2008

The age old problem.

Should the translator focus on being as faithful to the original as possible or should his/her job be to make the translation as comprehensible as possible? The translator’s path, which might be elegantly rendered into Japanese as 訳道 (yákù-dō), is a difficult route fraught with danger but at the same time littered with gleaming jewels and precious stones. The path is narrow and is often bisected by what appear to be easier, more well-trodden roads. Sometimes other routes run parallel to our path but we must always stay true and keep on our path. The glittering jewels we sometimes find are priceless gems that need to be collected and cherished but more often than not they are cheap baubles that may seem beautiful at first glance but are of little worth and merely spoil the view.

The yákù-dō is not easy. Most of the time the way is hard to spot, is overgrown or littered with debris and only the more experienced travellers will be able to find the correct path. Initiates and novices of yákù-dō are taught to find the path using a variety of methods and tools so that in later life the yákù-dō master is able even to find his/her way blindfolded. Yákù-dō requires many years of training, dedication and learning and no one ever attains perfection.

Experience is crucial. Only with experience can the translator be sure that he/she has the correct balance, the yin-yang harmony of translation that is fidelity-intelligibility. Only then can the decision be made, depending on each text, which way the balance should be tipped - towards faithfulness or comprehensibility.

Posted in Translation Theory | 2 Comments »
Arabic Explosion

Posted by transubstantiation on March 19, 2008

The next great quantum leap in translation will most surely take place in the Arabic-speaking world. Throughout history religious upheaval, military conquest and foreign domination have often had immense implications on the linguistic point world.

When the nations of Europe began to feel the need to express themselves, it was only when the Christian religion caved in and allowed the use of the vernacular that these national identities (together with their languages) really took off allowing for a veritable blossoming of literature written in the vernacular as well as a new flourishing of translation.

The liberalisation of religious shackles in Judaism had an analogous effect on Ashkenazi Jewry allowing for the flowering of Yiddish, in much the same way that Luther and the Reformation affected the languages of Christendom.

Similarly, the future of translation in North Africa and the Near East and many other countries (that use Arabic) may be dependent on a similar liberalising movement. It is difficult envisaging such a movement in Islam due to the important position Arabic holds in the religion of Muḥammad, but should such a change occur, the repurcussions will be huge.

If and when the nations under Islam get the urge to begin translating the Qur’ān into their own varieties of Arabic (be they dialects or languages) we will most certainly see a linguistic explosion the like of which we have not seen for a long time.

There are over twenty known, widely spoken varieties of Arabic including Maghrebi, Egyptian, Sudanese, Iraqi, Hijazi, Chadian, Nigerian and Judeo-Arabic to name just a few. The question really is not if but more when, how and where the language explosion will take place. The effects of this Arabic linguistic renaissance will most certainly rock the world.‎‎

Posted in Translation Oddities, Translation Practice | 4 Comments »
Mission Impossible II

Posted by transubstantiation on March 6, 2008

Complex concepts often lead to questions such as why does one particular culture possess a word that another does not? Language always seeks to be as efficient as possible. If a concept is used enough in a particular culture, it begins to stick. Here are some more odd words that could prove to be difficult to translate:

Dai Lu maozi (Chinese): his wife is sleeping with someone else (literally, he wears the green hat)

Gwarlingo (Welsh): the rushing sound a grandfather clock makes before striking the hour

Setja upp gestaspjot (Icelandic): a phrase denoting the action taken by a cat when cleaning itself, with its body curled tightly in a circle with one back leg sticking up directly in the air and when a cat was seen doing this it was supposed to indicate that visitors would be turning up (literally, put up a guest-spear)

Pisan zapra (Malay): the time needed to eat a banana

Geisterfahrer (Austrian German): one travelling the wrong way up an autobahn (literally, ghost driver)

Mouton enragé (French): someone calm who loses their temper (literally, an enraged sheep)

Mamihlapinatapai (from Tierra del Fuego): two people looking at each other each hoping the other will do what both desire but neither is willing to do

Iets door de vingers kijken (Flemish): allow something illegal or incorrect to happen by conscious inaction (literally, to look at something through the fingers)

Yupienalle (Swedish): a mobile phone (literally, yuppie teddy)

Schürzenjaeger (German): someone who chases after women (literally, a hunter of aprons)

Amoureux d’une chevre coiffée (French): a man who is attracted to every woman he sees (literally, a love of a goat whose fur is combed)

Translators beware…

Posted in Language Quirks | 7 Comments »
Mission Impossible I

Posted by transubstantiation on February 28, 2008

Cultural terms are all the more difficult to translate when there is almost no known social equivalent. This post is dedicated to those terms which are almost completely impossible to transfer across without some sort of loss (and gain):

Buaya darat (Indonesian): a man who fools women into thinking he is a very faithful lover when in fact he goes out with many different women at the same time (literally, land crocodile)

Okuri-okami (Japanese): a man who feigns thoughtfulness by offering to see a girl home only to try to molest her once he gets in the door (literally, a see-you-home wolf)

Traer la lengua de corbata (Latin American Spanish): to be worn out; to be exhausted (literally, to have your tongue hanging out like a man’s tie)

L’esprit d’escalier (French): used to describe the precise moment a person comes up with a clever retort to an embarrassing insult (literally, spirit of the staircase)

Tantenverführer (German): a young man with suspiciously good manners (literally, aunt seducer)

Nito-onna (Japanese): a woman so dedicated to her career that she has no time to iron blouses and so resorts to dressing only in knitted tops

Faire du leche-vitrines (French): window-shopping (literally, to lick the windows)

Amakudari (Japanese): describes the phenomenon of being employed by a firm in an industry one has previously, as a government bureaucrat, been involved in regulating (literally, descent from heaven)

Harami (Arabic): an electrical plug adapter that allows more than one plug to be plugged into the same socket (literally, a thief)

Handschuhschneeballwerfer (German): coward (literally, somebody, who wears gloves to throw snow balls)

Pune-ti pofta-n cui (Romanian): forget about getting something (literally, hang your craving on a nail on the wall)

More to follow…

Posted in Language Quirks | 7 Comments »

Posted by transubstantiation on February 17, 2008

How does a translator know which equivalent to choose? When faced with a list of possibilities how does the translator make the vital choice? Appropriacy is as important as equivalence and relevance. Knowing how to make the ‘correct’ choice is just as valuable as the choice itself.

A fine illustration of this point are the problems faced by translators attempting to translate Polish geographical-administrative/local government terms into English. Let us list the terms most often faced by the translator:

gmina, wójt, burmistrz, powiat, starosta, województwo, wojewoda, sejmik

On consulting a range of source including dictionaries, glossaries, EU websites, the most common equivalents/translations appear to be:

Polish - English equivalent
gmina - commune, district, municipality
wójt - voyt, commune head, mayor
burmistrz - mayor, provost
powiat - district, county, poviat
starosta - starosta, district governor, county head, president of the county
województwo - voivodeship, province, region
wojewoda - voivode, provincial governor, governor
sejmik - provincial assembly, regional council

So how does the translator make the choice and decide which of these equivalents is more appropriate than the other? There are certain situations that call for the use of one equivalent rather than another. For example, the use of voyt or voivode may be appropriate in a historical context as opposed to mayor or governor. The bottom line, however, is the ability to know which equivalent is appropriate in a particular context and this comes with experience. Quite simply, experience is one of the most important tools for translators.

Posted in Translation Practice | 5 Comments »
Ephemeral Translation

Posted by transubstantiation on February 2, 2008

One of the most difficult aspects in translation is understanding and dealing with ephemeral expressions and concepts. How do we cope with phrases that may only last for a week, month and then disappear never to be heard of again? How do we even begin translating something which is scribbled down on a scrap of paper and has a useful life of thirty minutes at the most?

The successful translation of ephemera relies, obviously, on the translator’s ability to nigh on perfectly understand the source text and culture. More importantly, understand the sociolect or jargon that is being used. Ephemera are often used in specific environments and are often particular to a given field or domain. The understanding of context is therefore paramount and perhaps more important than his/her knowledge of the target text.

Within corpus linguistics the study of ephemera is seen as both important but at the same time one of the most difficult tasks in the creation of corpora. How does one systematically collect ephemera? What is/are ephemera? Post-it notes? Memos? Text messages

Ephemeral language and the study of it (what we might term ephemero-linguistics) would give us valuable insights into the day-to-day working of language. Knowledge of the structure of ephemera (thats is once we have reliably defined the term) would help us understand how ephemeral language is formed and, in turn, would help us in its translation.

Examples might include Back in 5, CU l8r, Gr8 idea. Language always seeks economy and the language of post-it notes, memos and text messages are great evidence of this. In everyday speech what do we delete? Verb? Nouns? Other parts of speech? How is grammar affected? Can we define an ephemeral grammar in much the same way that we can talk of the headline grammar of newspapers?

Knowledge of everyday language and a future ephemero-linguistics could give us valuable insights into the real working of language. We all concede that the translation of idioms are difficult but ephemera are perhaps the most difficult nut to crack. Research into the subject is scarce and published material on the subject is practically non-existent. Does this mean there is no such thing as ephemera or does it mean we need to invest more time into this area?

Posted in Language Quirks, Translation Oddities | 6 Comments »
Creative Translation

Posted by transubstantiation on January 22, 2008

Is it a crime to be creative? In some professions, perhaps, yes. Let us take the phrase creative accounting which is a euphemism for cooking the books or illegal accounting. Here, creativity is seen to be negative.

Is creativity something to be avoided in translation? Some may say that a healthy dose of creativity is important. As we established in a previous post (see here), the translator can often be regarded as an co-author and so without creativity any form of translation could prove difficult.

There are those, however, who believe over-creativity to be a danger to translators. Knowing when to use a dictionary equivalent and when to throw caution to the wind and choose something unique is the difference between an average translator and innovative translator (perhaps also between a safe translator and maverick translator). The line between neologism and creative equivalent is indeed a fine one. A few examples will serve to illustrate the point

Let us take the Polish word łże-elity which has been variously translated as ‘lying elite’, ‘false elite’ or even ‘decepto-eltite’ (see previous post). Both all and none of these can be regarded as appropriate yet the word needs an equivalent. We can form a contiuum of equivalents from safe through to maverick (creative) and then choose which one best serves our purposes.

Another example which is often difficult to translate into English is the Polish skrót myślowy whose equivalents, when placed on a continuum, can range from ‘brachylogy’, ’shortcut in thinking’, ‘mental shortcut’ to the (creative) ‘thought-cut’.

Our ability as translators to be creative is most certainly what sets us apart, and likewise, what differentiates the average (mundane) translation from the interesting (maverick) one.

Posted in Translation Practice, Translation Theory | 6 Comments »
Is Translation Interpretation?

Posted by transubstantiation on January 15, 2008

As we know, translation metaphors abound. Some bring us closer to the truth, some confuse and confound. The nature of translation makes it difficult to understand the phenomenon, hence the countless number of metaphors which are often contradictory. On the one hand, translators are asked to be as faithful as possible, but on the other hand, they are told to never translate word-for-word. Translators are told to mirror the text often in an almost mechanical way, yet the very task of translation is itself extremely creative.

Thus, the question that really interests translation theorists is whether the translation process is a ‘primary’ or ’secondary’ process. Is translation ‘creation’ or is it ‘recapitulation’? If, on the one hand, we assume that translation is a ‘primary’ process then the question of authorship is paramount - the translator is the ‘creator’ of the text, a ‘co-author’ of sorts. If, on the other hand, the process is ’secondary’ then the ‘creativity factor’ is of less import and, in effect, the focus is on the source rather than the target text.

This is not necessarily an ‘either-or’ choice. Translation theorists and translator practitioners tend to favour one approach over the other often basing their judgements on the kind of text being translated, rather than on the translation process per se. The paradox within translation studies is that general theories are not always able to encompass all texts and a more detailed approach often exemplifies the true intricacies involved.

So, is translation interpretation? Regardless of whether we believe the process to be primary or secondary, it is difficult to not agree with deconstructionists who maintain that all forms of reading a text are forms of interpretation and re-interpretation and thus ‘creation of a new meaning’. If this is the case, every reading of a text (that is, every translation) can also be classified as an interpretation (or re-interpretation) of a source text in which case we can also conclude that there is an element of creation involved. If so, translation IS primary and therefore the translator is both a (co-)creator and (co-)author.

Posted in Translation Theory | 28 Comments »
The Nature of Language

Posted by transubstantiation on January 5, 2008

The status of a language is often reflected by the number of translations undertaken into and out of that language. A prime example is English which is the leader in this field with the greatest number of translations undertaken both into and out of it. This includes academic articles, scientific texts and literature. For example, a large proportion of literature published in non-English countries is translated from English - one has only to compare the Finnish and English publishing markets. In Finland, a large percentage of literature found in the homes of the average Finn is translated from English whereas the bookshelves of the average English or American citizen will contain a mere handful of books translated from other languages (and these will all tend to be European languages). This state of affairs reflects the global status of English.
In fact, it would not take long to create a ‘league table’ of the languages which are most translated. These statistics would allow us to accurately calculate the current worldstatus of each language. Of course, the respect allowed any one language has nothing to do with the syntax or semantics of the language but the political or economic strength of the country attached to this language. Can a language be ‘more’ of a language than another tongue? Global languages such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, German, Japanese and French are often regarded as superior to other non-global (’lesser’) languages due to the superior economic or political (or religious) status attached to the respective states that use these languages. There are people who believe that English ’suits music better’ and has thus been able to conquer the world of pop music. French ’sounds beautiful’ and is still regarded as the language of diplomacy by many. Arabic is the language of the Qur’an and is thus ‘holy’.

Language reflects culture and society. It cannot be manipulated or generated, although this does not stop people having opinions about any particular tongue being more ‘natural’ than another. Linguists and translators know otherwise and recognise the unfounded and groundless nature of these beliefs. But where is the fine line? Where is the border that delimits a global language from a ‘lesser’ language? Subjective opinion or objective book sales?

A more important distinction is perhaps not between ‘greater’ or ‘lesser’ but between language and dialect, language and jargon, language and variety. When a language awakens, the dialect continuum that exists within the language needs to solidify at one point. The paradox of language is that tongues change both horizontally and vertically (temporally and spatially) but the language always remains the same. The English of the 1850s is very different from today’s English yet the two are still called English. The Polish of the 1500s and today’s Polish might be regarded as utterly different but the two are still called ‘Polish’. Languages are in fact vessels that contain a whole variety of mini-languages, that is dialects, sociolects and idiolects. The language becomes a language when the society begins to identify with it and work begins on the solidification process. One dialect is chosen above all others and becomes ‘The Language’. In effect, the push towards language creation (through the choice of a variety to become the prime vessel for the other dialects) is an empowerment process. Translation reflects this process of empowerment. A language is a dialect with an army. How true is this?

Linguists can easily note which tongues (varieties and dialects) are discrete and distinct languages by the number of translations into and out of them. Do we see a large number of texts translated into and out of the Lancashire dialect of English? How about the Highland (Góralskie) variety of Polish? Can the same be said of Scots or Kashubian? Perhaps the status of these four varieties is different but they can be tangibly defined in an almost hierarchical fashion. The need to read something in a variety of a language or read something written in this variety and have it translated into or out of that variety is surely a mark of its status. The more often translation surrounds the variety, the greater the empowerment. An interesting example here is the rise (and fall) of Yiddish, which was initially seen as a corrupt form of German (at which point little translation into and out of it was undertaken). Later, it came to be seen as an eloquent amalgam of German, Hebrew and Aramaic representative of the highest achievement of Ashkenazi culture (at which point, masses of religious and political manifests and literature were translated into and out of Yiddish). However, through negative pressure from Hebraicists who soiled the reputation of Yiddish, this language became synonymous with Ashkenazi indifference (as opposed to Zionist state regeneration). Translation reflects the status of a language.

Posted in Language Quirks, Translation Theory | No Comments »
Another Translation Metaphor

Posted by transubstantiation on December 17, 2007

As we all know translation studies abounds in translation metaphors (see previous post). Comparisons with mirrors and shadows are frequent. Metaphors which talk about the invisibility of the translator or the translation as a reflection of the original can be found in most academic material on the subject.

It it time translators and translation scholars began to approach their subject form a different perspective. Many experts believe that there can only be evolution through revolution and so it may be appropriate to suggest some alternate metaphors which will allow us to think again and look again at this subject of ours. One alternate suggestion (see previous post) has already been put forward. However, there can never been enough suggestions and ideas.

An interesting suggestion which has crept into the literature several times is the idea that translation is a thoroughly alien beast roaming around in a native country. In fact, the idea has also been put forward that the translated text itself is a resurrected ‘native’ creature in an alien body. Taken further we might say that the translation contains (or should contain) a native (text) heart but is enveloped by an alien body.

The idea can be both grotesque and thoroughly off-putting. But that, in essence, is what translators do. They perform linguistic neuro-surgery attempting to re-animate a creature that is not entirely suited to life in a new environment. The linguistic neuro-surgeon needs also to ensure that the new beast not only ‘looks’ like a native but ‘feels’ like a native. Not an easy task.

Posted in Translation Theory | 2 Comments »

Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:55:00 PM

troylloyd said...
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Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:58:00 PM

troylloyd said...
foot bullet n.

A friend of mine was handed an assignment that I often refer to as a “foot bullet.” It’s the kind of thing that no one pays any attention to until they go to review the budget versus spend for the quarter and find that they’re off. And the person who gets nailed in the blamestorm that ensues is generally the person with the least guilt.

Filed under: English, Slang / Posted Apr-19 / comments? / more details…
racking n.

Police point out that spray paint used in vandalism is usually shoplifted from stores, a practice known as “racking.”

Filed under: English, Crime & Prisons, Slang / Posted Apr-19 / comments? / more details…
lukewarmer n.

I make no claim (or suggestion) that greenhouse warming isn’t the driver behind global warming over the last three decades. I simply don’t know. (Also, I am a “lukewarmer” who thinks that the world is warmer than it would otherwise be due to anthropogenic gases (but doubts that the impact will be extreme).

Filed under: English, Environment, New or Nonce / Posted Apr-19 / comments? / more details…
ventiport n.

Its styling, says GM interior design chief Dave Lyon, will feature modern interpretations of the Buick portholes (or “ventiports” as they were called in the “50s) and the “sweepspear,” the asymmetric v-shaped profile accent found on many of the brand’s cars in the ’50s and ’60s.

Filed under: English, Automobiles & Transportation, Jargon / Posted Apr-19 / comments? / more details…
flex v.

Hagood wrote that he pointed the man to a known crack dealer and later the man drove back by to say that he had been “flexed,” a street term referring to tricking someone into buying a drug that is counterfeit.

Filed under: English, Drugs, Slang / Posted Apr-19 / comments? / more details…
pay-as-you-drive insurance n.

A few years later, Edlin was serving on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers when he floated an idea that economists had long found attractive: pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) insurance. It seemed like an obvious solution. Since no one expects to pay the same price for, say, a 60-minute massage as they pay for a 15-minute massage, why should people pay the same for insurance no matter how many miles they drove?

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Droste effect n.

At my grocery store I could only find three examples: Land O’Lakes Butter, Morton Salt and Cracker Jacks. These packages each include a picture of the package itself and are often cited by writers discussing such pop-math-arcana as recursion, strange loops, self-similarity, and fractals. This particular phenomenon, known as the “Droste effect,” is named after a 1904 package of Droste brand cocoa.

Filed under: English / Posted Apr-19 / comments? / more details…
goldfishing n.

The day I am in the studio, the report on the opposition’s activities features just one politician talking in an interview. But you don’t hear his words. He is, in TV parlance, goldfishing: you can see his lips move but only hear the reporter’s words. The report on Mr Berlusconi’s day has a rather long clip of him speaking.

Filed under: English, Media, Slang / Posted Apr-18 / comments? / more details…
thermal roughening n.

In February, crews started blasting the sidewalks with a blowtorch—or “thermal roughening,” as they call it—to burn away the slippery top layer of stone.

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marathonitis n.

“Marathonitis” is the term used to describe the litany of gruesome and painful injuries affecting long-distance runners.

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ploddledygook n.

Such terms are among a long list of needless police jargon—or “ploddledygook”—which should be ditched, according to the Plain English Campaign.

Filed under: English, United Kingdom / Posted Apr-17 / comments? / more details…
zombie n.

Investments which last for much longer than the five-year standard nowadays often go one of two ways: either the company is killed off by the weight of its borrowings or it becomes what is known as a “zombie”—a business that still manages to generate enough profits to pay down debt, but is too highly leveraged to attract the buyer needed to provide a necessary exit.

Filed under: English, Money & Finance, Slang / Posted Apr-17 / comments? / more details…
journo-lobbying n.

In the US, the integration of journalism and PR is further advanced, and a recent trend has been labelled “journo-lobbying.” Tech Central Station, a Washington-based project pioneered by the journalist James Glassman, is a cross between a website and a magazine that acts like a lobbying company. The DCI Group, a prominent Washington lobbying firm, not only publishes the site, it shares most of the same owners, staff and offices.

Filed under: English, Media, Politics / Posted Apr-17 / comments? / more details…
soul boarding n.

Riding the steep aspects and deep powder of the backcountry are what many snowboarders call “soul boarding,” and it is by far the most popular form of the sport.

Filed under: English, Sports & Recreation / Posted Apr-17 / comments? / more details…


Saturday, April 19, 2008 11:00:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Consensus reality (rarely or mistakenly called "consensual reality")[1] is an approach to answering the question 'What is real?', a profound philosophical question, with answers dating back to prehistory; it is almost invariably used to refer to human consensus reality, though there have been mentions of feline and canine consensus reality.[2]
It gives a practical answer - reality is either what exists, or what we can agree by consensus seems to exist; the process has been (perhaps loosely and a bit imprecisely) characterised as "[w]hen enough people think something is true, it... takes on a life of its own."
The term is usually used disparagingly as by implication it may mean little more than "what a group or culture chooses to believe," and may bear little or no relationship to any "true reality", and, indeed, challenges the notion of "true reality". For example, Steven Yates has characterised the idea that the United States Federal Reserve Notes (not "backed" by anything) are "really worth a dollar" as "part of what we might call our consensus-reality... not... real reality."[3]

The difficulty with the question stems from the concern that human beings do not in fact fully understand or agree upon the nature of knowledge or knowing, and therefore (it is often argued) it is not possible to be certain beyond doubt what is real.
Accordingly, this line of logic concludes, we cannot in fact be sure beyond doubt about the nature of reality. We can, however, seek to obtain some form of consensus, with others, of what is real.
We can use this to practically guide us, either on the assumption it seems to approximate some kind of valid reality, or simply because it is more "practical" than perceived alternatives.

Consensus reality therefore refers to the agreed-upon concepts of reality which people in the world, or a culture or group, believe are real (or treat as real), usually based upon their common experiences as they believe them to be; anyone who does not agree with these is sometimes stated to be "in effect... living in a different world."[4]

I agree with the above.
There is no 'real' reality independent of human mind(s).

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Old April 16, 2008, 04:07 AM #5276485 / #2

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I represent a human mind and I disagree with you about all your statements concerning reality. According to the above quoted, and your often expressed, views, this means that you and I, as a society of two, have no reality. Accordingly, the above passage and it's conjecture is unreal, so I'll ignore it.
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Old April 16, 2008, 04:33 AM #5276497 / #3

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In Ancient times a majority of the Greek believed in the Greek Pantheon, Zeus etc. Now, the majority believes in the Christian god, and believe the Greek Pantheon doesn't exist. So, I suppose their beliefs altered reality, right?

I'd say the idea is wrong, but according to it it won't be wrong unless we agree it's wrong, so why bother?
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Old April 16, 2008, 04:38 AM #5276499 / #4

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edit: I think it's to simplistic approach? Even if we agree on a reality, how does either of us know what we agreed on?
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Old April 16, 2008, 04:39 AM #5276500 / #5
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Originally Posted by ughaibu View Post
I represent a human mind and I disagree with you about all your statements concerning reality. According to the above quoted, and your often expressed, views, this means that you and I, as a society of two, have no reality. Accordingly, the above passage and it's conjecture is unreal, so I'll ignore it.
Probably the concept Consensus Reality needs to be defined more clearly. It reminds me of truth coherence criterion.

Consensus can be reached in various ways in my opinon, such as implicitly, by proxy, etc. I think the fact that two people post on the same board makes that board a consensus reality (i.e. which both agree with), for example.
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Old April 16, 2008, 04:57 AM #5276512 / #6

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Originally Posted by Laurentius View Post
I think the fact that two people post on the same board makes that board a consensus reality
So, TruthPrevails and I have a real board on which we share unreality? "Shared unreality", how are we going to agree to disagree about the reality of the unreal? I think it's a consensus reality, on this board, that the idea of consensus reality is unsupportable. In fact, the only poster, I'm aware of, who isn't part of that consensus reality, is the perennial champion of consensus reality, TruthPrevails himself.
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Old April 16, 2008, 05:06 AM #5276514 / #7

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Originally Posted by ughaibu View Post
Originally Posted by Laurentius View Post
I think the fact that two people post on the same board makes that board a consensus reality
So, TruthPrevails and I have a real board on which we share unreality? "Shared unreality", how are we going to agree to disagree about the reality of the unreal? I think it's a consensus reality, on this board, that the idea of consensus reality is unsupportable. In fact, the only poster, I'm aware of, who isn't part of that consensus reality, is the perennial champion of consensus reality, TruthPrevails himself.
You seem to be very bothered about this reality, which is the only reality available to humans.
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Old April 16, 2008, 05:13 AM #5276518 / #8

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Originally Posted by TruthPrevails View Post
this reality, which is the only reality available to humans.
I've been on the north of Tarawa with no indication by sight, sound, footprints or whatever, that there are any human beings living on Earth, I've fallen asleep and woken up walking naked along the corridors of an unfamiliar hotel. I know from experience that reality has nothing to do with consensus or human minds.
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Old April 16, 2008, 05:19 AM #5276523 / #9

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Originally Posted by Simen View Post
In Ancient times a majority of the Greek believed in the Greek Pantheon, Zeus etc. Now, the majority believes in the Christian god, and believe the Greek Pantheon doesn't exist. So, I suppose their beliefs altered reality, right?

I'd say the idea is wrong, but according to it it won't be wrong unless we agree it's wrong, so why bother?
Why bother?

IMO, once humans understand that the only reality available to them is the one they co-create themselves, they can then take the trouble to work consensusly to create a better reality to live with.

When humans accept the above, then humans can be in control of their own destiny via the individual human mind and the collective consensus mind.

Otherwise, humans will subject themselves to or be at the mercy of some independent entity or reality (act of god or nature) which they do not have control.
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Old April 16, 2008, 08:32 AM #5276761 / #10
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Originally Posted by TruthPrevails View Post
Consensus reality (rarely or mistakenly called "consensual reality")[1] is an approach to answering the question 'What is real?', a profound philosophical question, with answers dating back to prehistory; it is almost invariably used to refer to human consensus reality, though there have been mentions of feline and canine consensus reality.[2]
It gives a practical answer - reality is either what exists, or what we can agree by consensus seems to exist; the process has been (perhaps loosely and a bit imprecisely) characterised as "[w]hen enough people think something is true, it... takes on a life of its own."
The term is usually used disparagingly as by implication it may mean little more than "what a group or culture chooses to believe," and may bear little or no relationship to any "true reality", and, indeed, challenges the notion of "true reality". For example, Steven Yates has characterised the idea that the United States Federal Reserve Notes (not "backed" by anything) are "really worth a dollar" as "part of what we might call our consensus-reality... not... real reality."[3]

The difficulty with the question stems from the concern that human beings do not in fact fully understand or agree upon the nature of knowledge or knowing, and therefore (it is often argued) it is not possible to be certain beyond doubt what is real.
Accordingly, this line of logic concludes, we cannot in fact be sure beyond doubt about the nature of reality. We can, however, seek to obtain some form of consensus, with others, of what is real.
We can use this to practically guide us, either on the assumption it seems to approximate some kind of valid reality, or simply because it is more "practical" than perceived alternatives.

Consensus reality therefore refers to the agreed-upon concepts of reality which people in the world, or a culture or group, believe are real (or treat as real), usually based upon their common experiences as they believe them to be; anyone who does not agree with these is sometimes stated to be "in effect... living in a different world."[4]

I agree with the above.
There is no 'real' reality independent of human mind(s).

It does not seem to me that "reality is either what exists, or what we can agree by consensus seems to exist", since hallucinations and dreams exist, but hallucinations and dreams are not real. And, if you ask why hallucinations and dreams are not real, the answer seems to be that it is because hallucinations and dreams exist only because there is a mind. An hallucination or dream would not exist unless there was a mind which was hallucinating or dreaming. So, it seems, far from its being true that there is no reality independent of the mind, reality is exactly what is independent of the mind, since hallucinations and dreams are not real because they are dependent on minds.

Consensus, especially by experts, is certainly evidence of existence. But it cannot be the same thing as existence, since there is no contradiction in the idea that there is consensus that something exists, but that the thing does not exist. And, as we all know, there have been times in the past that there was consensus that something existed, even by experts, and the alleged thing did not exist. Mermaids, gods, phlogiston, the luminiferous ether, and so on.
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Old April 16, 2008, 10:23 AM #5277009 / #11

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Originally Posted by kennethamy View Post
It does not seem to me that "reality is either what exists, or what we can agree by consensus seems to exist", since hallucinations and dreams exist, but hallucinations and dreams are not real. And, if you ask why hallucinations and dreams are not real, the answer seems to be that it is because hallucinations and dreams exist only because there is a mind. An hallucination or dream would not exist unless there was a mind which was hallucinating or dreaming. So, it seems, far from its being true that there is no reality independent of the mind, reality is exactly what is independent of the mind, since hallucinations and dreams are not real because they are dependent on minds.
Who say hallucinations and dreams are not real?

Mental cognitions in hallucinations and dreams are within the same realness continuum as normal waking cognitions by a normal person.

"In a sense, we are all hallucinating all the time," Dr. Ramachandran said. "What we call normal vision is our selecting the hallucination that best fits reality."

Dreams are real (in various degrees) enough to trigger wet-dreams and caused some to wake up sweating.

Consensus, especially by experts, is certainly evidence of existence. But it cannot be the same thing as existence, since there is no contradiction in the idea that there is consensus that something exists, but that the thing does not exist. And, as we all know, there have been times in the past that there was consensus that something existed, even by experts, and the alleged thing did not exist. Mermaids, gods, phlogiston, the luminiferous ether, and so on.
Consensus Reality is not absolute reality or existence. It vary in degrees of realness relative to one's mental state and degrees of collective consensus.

The consensus reality of an apple, the moon is thus more real than gods and unicorns.
Last edited by TruthPrevails : April 16, 2008 at 10:26 AM.
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Old April 16, 2008, 11:10 AM #5277124 / #12

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I think that this is a complex and contentious subject.

Firstly there are so many concepts of reality out there, that by talking about consensus reality, and putatively agreeing that one exists, two individuals may in fact be talking of two different things.

Ambiguity abounds.

Imagine I started a thread called "what is reality?". Now would there be a consensus on it? I doubt it, as we come from different traditions with different learning experiences. Some might think that reality was of the distal stimulus, some of the percept, and others perception, and others still of the conception.

Personally I see reality in two or three ways at least.

#1. Firstly it refers to the mind independent distal stimulus.

#2. Then it refers to the part of the percept which mediates senotry information about that stimulus to the experiencer, to the psychological ego.

#3. Then there is the cultural element of perception, like seeing a knife as a tool or a banknote as having monetary value.

#4. Then there are individual concepts and philosophies, or claims to reality which might deviate from some form of norm. This post might be an example.

Now I think that the idea of consensus reality refers, if it is a sensible concept, to cultural concepts of reality (#3). Now as we have seen these can be commonly held social constructs like money and knives as conventional "real" tools with a specific purpose, but I will add that consensus reality might also refer to firstly other more scientific things like sensations, and alternatively to mythological things like Gods and devils. I think this is also the realm of deconstruction and postmodernism, and it "contains" the other realities as it were, or is the condition and fabric of their conception.

Now, a philosopher might have a unusual definition of reality which nobody agrees with, but really, does everyone have a single concept or list of conceptions of reality which everybody agrees with? I for one doubt it.

Therefore, though the idea of concensus reality might be useful in certain circumstances, I think that it is something of a subjective invention, or expedient sociological tool, rather than a certain, well defined and well evidenced, pervasive transpersonal "reality" (or conception of it), especially in postmodern globalised times.
Last edited by LukeS : April 16, 2008 at 11:28 AM.
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Old April 16, 2008, 11:45 AM #5277204 / #13

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Originally Posted by LukeS View Post
I think that this is a complex and contentious subject.

Firstly there are so many concepts of reality out there, that by talking about consensus reality, and putatively agreeing that one exists, two individuals may in fact be talking of two different things.

Ambiguity abounds.

Imagine I started a thread called "what is reality?". Now would there be a consensus on it? I doubt it, as we come from different traditions with different learning experiences. Some might think that reality was of the distal stimulus, some of the percept, and others perception, and others still of the conception.

Personally I see reality in two or three ways at least.

#1. Firstly it refers to the mind independent distal stimulus.

#2. Then it refers to the part of the percept which mediates senotry information about that stimulus to the experiencer, to the psychological ego.

#3. Then there is the cultural element of perception, like seeing a knife as a tool or a banknote as having monetary value.

#4. Then there are individual concepts and philosophies, or claims to reality which might deviate from some form of norm. This post might be an example.

Now I think that the idea of consensus reality refers, if it is a sensible concept, to cultural concepts of reality (#3). Now as we have seen these can be commonly held social constructs like money and knives as conventional "real" tools with a specific purpose, but I will add that consensus reality might also refer to firstly other more scientific things like sensations, and alternatively to mythological things like Gods and devils. I think this is also the realm of deconstruction and postmodernism, and it "contains" the other realities as it were, or is the condition and fabric of their conception.

Now, a philosopher might have a unusual definition of reality which nobody agrees with, but really, does everyone have a single concept or list of conceptions of reality which everybody agrees with? I for one doubt it.

Therefore, though the idea of concensus reality might be useful in certain circumstances, I think that it is something of a subjective invention, or expedient sociological tool, rather than a certain, well defined and well evidenced, pervasive transpersonal "reality" (or conception of it), especially in postmodern globalised times.
Humans will attempt to explain reality via various concepts, but there is only one reality, i.e. consensus reality in various degree of realness.

Note your types of reality in 1-4 would require some sort of intersubjective consensus amongst human group (large and small).
Even your supposedly individual's reality is subject to an embedded collective mind inherited from our evolutionary ancestors.
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Old April 16, 2008, 12:27 PM #5277307 / #14
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Originally Posted by TruthPrevails View Post
Originally Posted by kennethamy View Post
It does not seem to me that "reality is either what exists, or what we can agree by consensus seems to exist", since hallucinations and dreams exist, but hallucinations and dreams are not real. And, if you ask why hallucinations and dreams are not real, the answer seems to be that it is because hallucinations and dreams exist only because there is a mind. An hallucination or dream would not exist unless there was a mind which was hallucinating or dreaming. So, it seems, far from its being true that there is no reality independent of the mind, reality is exactly what is independent of the mind, since hallucinations and dreams are not real because they are dependent on minds.
Who say hallucinations and dreams are not real?

Mental cognitions in hallucinations and dreams are within the same realness continuum as normal waking cognitions by a normal person.

"In a sense, we are all hallucinating all the time," Dr. Ramachandran said. "What we call normal vision is our selecting the hallucination that best fits reality."

Dreams are real (in various degrees) enough to trigger wet-dreams and caused some to wake up sweating.

Consensus, especially by experts, is certainly evidence of existence. But it cannot be the same thing as existence, since there is no contradiction in the idea that there is consensus that something exists, but that the thing does not exist. And, as we all know, there have been times in the past that there was consensus that something existed, even by experts, and the alleged thing did not exist. Mermaids, gods, phlogiston, the luminiferous ether, and so on.
Consensus Reality is not absolute reality or existence. It vary in degrees of realness relative to one's mental state and degrees of collective consensus.

The consensus reality of an apple, the moon is thus more real than gods and unicorns.
Well, if you really think that when the drunk hallucinates a pink elephant, that the pink elephant is real, I don't suppose we have much to talk about. But if that pink elephant is real, and doesn't "go away' when the drunk becomes sober, then I wonder what you think is the difference between the pink elephant and the real elephant in the zoo. For instance, do both of them like peanuts?

The concept of something being more real than something else escapes me. How is the moon "more real" than unicorns. What has the moon that unicorns haven't? I would imagine that the answer is everything, since unicorns have no properties at all. Reason: there are no unicorns.

I don't usually use the phrase, but in your case I'll make an exception: Get real!
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Old April 16, 2008, 12:54 PM #5277383 / #15

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Originally Posted by kennethamy View Post
Well, if you really think that when the drunk hallucinates a pink elephant, that the pink elephant is real, I don't suppose we have much to talk about. But if that pink elephant is real, and doesn't "go away' when the drunk becomes sober, then I wonder what you think is the difference between the pink elephant and the real elephant in the zoo. For instance, do both of them like peanuts?

The concept of something being more real than something else escapes me. How is the moon "more real" than unicorns. What has the moon that unicorns haven't? I would imagine that the answer is everything, since unicorns have no properties at all. Reason: there are no unicorns.
I don't usually use the phrase, but in your case I'll make an exception: Get real!
Many neuroscientists (e.g Ramachandran) and cognitive scientists had done research to demonstrate that reality is in a continuum.

The 'external' elephant has external stimuli, the pink elephant is stimulated within the brain. The realness of the 'objective' elephant and the pink elephant is manifested from the same cognitive process within the brain/mind. Note Ramachandran's quote above.

I think you should get more real as you are stuck with achaic knowledge and is ignorant of the new sciences. You should throw away your fears & blinkers and venture out to that no-man's-land as Russell had suggested for the study of philosophy.
Last edited by TruthPrevails : April 16, 2008 at 01:00 PM.
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Old April 16, 2008, 01:07 PM #5277420 / #16

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TruthPrevails, you declined to answer: has the changing consensus among the Greek people changed reality? Did Zeus really exist in antiquity, only to whisk out of existence the moment the consensus changed to Christianity? And did the Christian god appear out of nothing once the consensus was Christian, travel back in time and create the universe to fit with the "consensus reality"?

Originally Posted by kennethamy View Post
Originally Posted by TruthPrevails View Post
Who say hallucinations and dreams are not real?

Mental cognitions in hallucinations and dreams are within the same realness continuum as normal waking cognitions by a normal person.

"In a sense, we are all hallucinating all the time," Dr. Ramachandran said. "What we call normal vision is our selecting the hallucination that best fits reality."

Dreams are real (in various degrees) enough to trigger wet-dreams and caused some to wake up sweating.

Consensus Reality is not absolute reality or existence. It vary in degrees of realness relative to one's mental state and degrees of collective consensus.

The consensus reality of an apple, the moon is thus more real than gods and unicorns.
Well, if you really think that when the drunk hallucinates a pink elephant, that the pink elephant is real, I don't suppose we have much to talk about. But if that pink elephant is real, and doesn't "go away' when the drunk becomes sober, then I wonder what you think is the difference between the pink elephant and the real elephant in the zoo. For instance, do both of them like peanuts?
You're playing word games here. The hallucination is real, in the sense that there really exists a hallucination, located in the mind of the person hallucinating. The pink elephant, or any other sensory experience that is at odds with reality, isn't real. That might be the distinction TruthPrevails is making (though I can't say for sure; he's not making much sense).
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Old April 16, 2008, 01:15 PM #5277440 / #17
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Originally Posted by TruthPrevails View Post
Many neuroscientists (e.g Ramachandran) and cognitive scientists had done research to demonstrate that reality is in a continuum.

The 'external' elephant has external stimuli, the pink elephant is stimulated within the brain. The realness of the 'objective' elephant and the pink elephant is manifested from the same cognitive process within the brain/mind. Note Ramachandran's quote above.

I think you should get more real as you are stuck with achaic knowledge and is ignorant of the new sciences. You should throw away your fears & blinkers and venture out to that no-man's-land as Russell had suggested for the study of philosophy.
No idea what it means to say that reality is a continuum, nor how a scientist could demonstrate such a thing.
What you call the "external elephant" is just an elephant. And there is no pink elephant. However, some people may have an hallucination of a pink elephant. The hallucination of a pink elephant, let me assure you, is not a pink elephant.There are no pink elephants. What may be in the brain when someone hallucinates a pink elephant is come brain event. A neural firing. And neural firings are not elephants, pink or otherwise. Whatever happens in the
brain, and even if the brain event of seeing an elephant, and the brain event of hallucinating an elephant (let alone a pink elephant!) we the same, which I seriously doubt is true, that would not mean that an hallucinatory pink elephant and a real elephant were even similar, let alone, the same. The reason is that there are no, I repeat, no, pink elephants, and so what does not exist cannot possibly be similar to what does exist, let alone be the same as what does exist.

The remainder of what you write is just pointless ad hominem and begs the question, because it assumes you are right. And you are wrong.
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Old April 16, 2008, 01:36 PM #5277492 / #18

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Originally Posted by Simen View Post
TruthPrevails, you declined to answer: has the changing consensus among the Greek people changed reality? Did Zeus really exist in antiquity, only to whisk out of existence the moment the consensus changed to Christianity? And did the Christian god appear out of nothing once the consensus was Christian, travel back in time and create the universe to fit with the "consensus reality"?
Missed that.

Note, objective existence is mind-dependent and fundamentally subjective.

The objective existence of Zeus is dependent on the mind(s) of the Greeks relative to the degree of consensus (confidence level) amongst the Greek people.

If the consensus changed to Christianity, the objective existence of the Christian god would be a consensus reality to Christians.

The above consensus reality is no difference from the intersubjective consensus of scientific reality which changes as new evidence are produced.
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Old April 16, 2008, 01:38 PM #5277495 / #19

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So, do you consider consensus reality and reality to be two different things? And do you think they coexist?
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Old April 16, 2008, 01:40 PM #5277497 / #20

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Originally Posted by kennethamy View Post
Originally Posted by TruthPrevails View Post
Many neuroscientists (e.g Ramachandran) and cognitive scientists had done research to demonstrate that reality is in a continuum.

The 'external' elephant has external stimuli, the pink elephant is stimulated within the brain. The realness of the 'objective' elephant and the pink elephant is manifested from the same cognitive process within the brain/mind. Note Ramachandran's quote above.

I think you should get more real as you are stuck with achaic knowledge and is ignorant of the new sciences. You should throw away your fears & blinkers and venture out to that no-man's-land as Russell had suggested for the study of philosophy.
No idea what it means to say that reality is a continuum, nor how a scientist could demonstrate such a thing.
What you call the "external elephant" is just an elephant. And there is no pink elephant. However, some people may have an hallucination of a pink elephant. The hallucination of a pink elephant, let me assure you, is not a pink elephant.There are no pink elephants. What may be in the brain when someone hallucinates a pink elephant is come brain event. A neural firing. And neural firings are not elephants, pink or otherwise. Whatever happens in the
brain, and even if the brain event of seeing an elephant, and the brain event of hallucinating an elephant (let alone a pink elephant!) we the same, which I seriously doubt is true, that would not mean that an hallucinatory pink elephant and a real elephant were even similar, let alone, the same. The reason is that there are no, I repeat, no, pink elephants, and so what does not exist cannot possibly be similar to what does exist, let alone be the same as what does exist.

The remainder of what you write is just pointless ad hominem and begs the question, because it assumes you are right. And you are wrong.
Why don't you read up on findings of Ramanchandran and others and prove them wrong before you comment.

ad hominem?.... or a case of pot calling the kettle black
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Old April 16, 2008, 01:51 PM #5277525 / #21

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Originally Posted by Simen View Post
So, do you consider consensus reality and reality to be two different things? And do you think they coexist?
Consensus reality and reality is the same thing. IMO, there is no reality existing out there independent of human mind(s) or human consensus.

There are many concepts of reality, e.g. what is real, existence, virtual reality, etc. and all these different forms of reality are fundamentally arrived by consensus.

Btw, i just came across the wiki's "consensus reality" a few hours ago and it is in agreement with my concept of reality.
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Old April 16, 2008, 02:17 PM #5277591 / #22

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Well, that's a foolish notion. That suggests that nothing is real except what we agree is real. Needless to say, that's untrue. It wasn't true that the Greek Pantheon existed in antiquity, even though the Greek believed it. It wasn't true that the Earth was the center of the universe, even though people used to believe that. These are all facts I'm convinced you know, yet make a curious effort to unlearn.
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Old April 16, 2008, 02:19 PM #5277601 / #23

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Originally Posted by TruthPrevails
Humans will attempt to explain reality via various concepts, but there is only one reality, i.e. consensus reality
Well, saying so does not make it true. Nor does assuming it is true.

i.e. consensus reality in various degree of realness.
Well that would depend upon your definitions of "reality" and "degree of realness". If you posit that reality is democratic or something like that , then you might be making sense. However you seem to be ignoring other people, and pressing tin a totalitarian manner for adherence to your view.
Note your types of reality in 1-4 would require some sort of intersubjective consensus amongst human group (large and small).
Even your supposedly individual's reality is subject to an embedded collective mind inherited from our evolutionary ancestors.
Well, thats why I said that all realities, or conceptions of it, were grounded in culture which I supposed is to some degree shared, but that does not mean that everyone means the same thing by "reality" which the consensus model would seem to simplistically imply.

If I can mean at least 4 things by "reality" and you cant agree, where is this so-called consensus?
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Old April 16, 2008, 02:21 PM #5277609 / #24

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Note, objective existence is mind-dependent and fundamentally subjective.
Perhaps oxymoron would like to comment, I can't be bothered.
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Old April 16, 2008, 02:35 PM #5277657 / #25

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Originally Posted by LukeS View Post
Note, objective existence is mind-dependent and fundamentally subjective.
Perhaps oxymoron would like to comment, I can't be bothered.
Commenting that you can't be bothered to comment is an oxymoron in and of itself
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Saturday, April 19, 2008 11:03:00 PM

troylloyd said...
April 17, 2008

Conrad, who (like Finnegan himself) has risen from the dead, has favored us with a tour-de-farce post that begins with The Plain People of Ireland—I mean to say, Ben Watson—pontificating on how the Wake is not at all the mysterious text bourgeois scholars pretend it is so that they can explicate it with their drafts and their allusions and their hypotheses, not at all, it's as plain as the nose on your face, if only you have an honest proletarian consciousness! When you "read the Wake to the average person,... not necessarily intellectual, academic types, but just ordinary people with life experience, they get it immediately." So Conrad takes him at his word and goes out to read the Wake to the average person, with hilarious results ("Unuchorn! Ungulant! Uvuloid! Uskybeak! I barked at a passing Rastafarian, who gave me such a terrifying look that I decided to stick to gentler passages from then on").

From there he moves to the trope that "the academics have it all wrong, and that we have only to open our eyes to see the truth," exemplifying it with M. J. Harper's The History of Britain Revealed, which he bought and read after being enticed by my post about it. He quotes my conclusion "But equivalent nonsense about language is reviewed respectfully, and it makes me despair," and reassures me as follows: "The fact is, Mr. Hat, nonsense about every subject under the sun has been reviewed respectfully. There's really no need to despair!" And quite right he is, too. I urge anyone interested in populist blowhards and/or crackpot theories to refresh themselves with Conrad's sly and unflappable prose.
Posted by languagehat at 08:57 AM | Comments (32)


Ah, merci!
Posted by Conrad at April 17, 2008 09:13 AM

Pas de quoi, mon vieux! The Dargle shall run dry the sooner I you deny.
Posted by language hat at April 17, 2008 09:35 AM

As far as nonsense-'x' goes, it's hard to beat nonsense-physics. 'Relativity', 'quantum', and (saints preserve us!), 'entropy' are all misused all the time-- and with a force and a certainty that leaves linguistics in the dust.
Posted by MattF at April 17, 2008 11:19 AM

But misused terms are a far cry from complete denial of the basis of the science. It's more as if everyone but physicists denied the very existence of relativity and entropy and insisted the world was flat, the sun revolved around the earth, and heavy objects fell faster than light ones, because it's OBVIOUS.
Posted by language hat at April 17, 2008 11:47 AM

@MattF: don't forget "chaos" and "nonlinear".
Posted by dearieme at April 17, 2008 11:57 AM


Y'know, I was thinking that mathematics was comparatively nonsense-free, but you've got a couple of good ones. 'Chaos' and 'nonlinear' do show up in physics (both with and without quotes) but I'd flag them as nonsense-mathematics.


I suspect there's some deformation professionelle going on here. It's the uneasy sensation you get when reading the newspaper and finding that the things you actually know about are always all wrong.
Posted by MattF at April 17, 2008 01:34 PM

But do you dispute my point that the wrongness is more serious when it comes to language? Believe me, I know how irritating the misuses you're talking about are—I started out as a math major, and took some pretty advanced physics—but there's a huge difference between misunderstanding the technical definitions of scientists whose authority you acknowledge and refusing to accept that there is such a thing as a science involved, denigrating the specialists as crusaders out to destroy the language and drag us all down to the level of savages (or whatever it is the prescriptivists are so afraid of).
Posted by language hat at April 17, 2008 03:27 PM

I'll agree that it's unacceptable that M.J.Harper's Completely Bananas History of the English Language is given prominent display in major bookstores. But Jeremy Rifkin on Entropy isn't much better.

As far as prescriptivists go, I think they're just unnerved by the fathomless and ever-mutating subtleties of everyday language. Their arguments come (IMO) from a need to hold on to something solid, and not so much from a pro- or anti- scientific attitude.
Posted by MattF at April 17, 2008 04:09 PM

But they constantly attack linguists as destructive elements. It's not like they basically accept the authority of linguists but get confused about details, or think they go too far, or something. They deny the very validity of linguistics; "linguists" and "descriptivists" are red-flag words like "communists" and "water fluoridation." I don't understand it, but there it is.
Posted by language hat at April 17, 2008 04:25 PM

Pity the biologists, too! They have to put up with the creationist crackpottery, too. They even have movies made about how wrong and EVIL evolution is.
Posted by Bourgeois Nerd at April 17, 2008 05:42 PM


The "special status" of linguistics as a BETE NOIRE from journalists' or teachers' point of view strikes me as easily explicable: journalists and teachers enjoy high status in society because of their mastery of the standard, and for them it is natural (and self-serving) to regard the standard as indeed being inherently better/clearer/more logical than non-standard varieties: after all, doesn't this imply that those who (like them) master the standard are indeed more intelligent/logical/whatever than the unwashed vernacular-speaking masses? From their vantage point linguistics and its core message (standard varieties are not inherently better than non-standard ones) is VERY threatening, in a way physics is not.
Posted by Etienne at April 17, 2008 05:42 PM


The "special status" of linguistics as a BETE NOIRE from journalists' or teachers' point of view strikes me as easily explicable: journalists and teachers enjoy high status in society because of their mastery of the standard, and for them it is natural (and self-serving) to regard the standard as indeed being inherently better/clearer/more logical than non-standard varieties: after all, doesn't this imply that those who (like them) master the standard are indeed more intelligent/logical/whatever than the unwashed vernacular-speaking masses? From their vantage point linguistics and its core message (standard varieties are not inherently better than non-standard ones) is VERY threatening, in a way physics is not.
Posted by Etienne at April 17, 2008 05:44 PM

Hey! I can TALK! I know as much about language as you do!

Or thoughts to that effect...
Posted by The Ridger at April 17, 2008 05:53 PM

I guess for a lot of people, common-sense_schoolroom_grammar is to modern_linguistics what old-time_religion is to wishy-washy_syncretism.

Turning to abuse of mathematics, I vote for "exponentially".
Posted by mollymooly at April 17, 2008 06:09 PM

IMHO reporters' abuse of science is exponentially more chaotic when the science in question is a virtually non-linear one, like physics, than when it's an extrinsically relativistic one, like linguistics. After all, what goes up must come down, and in no field is that more true than in the art and science of correct English punctuation.
Posted by Ran at April 17, 2008 06:59 PM

"linguists" and "descriptivists" are red-flag words like "communists" and "water fluoridation."

Have you ever seen a linguist take a drink of water? Vodka, that's what they drink, isn't it?

You just keep your decriptivist hands off our precious bodily fluids.
Posted by rootlesscosmo at April 17, 2008 07:35 PM

Aargh... "deScriptivist."
Posted by rootlesscosmo at April 17, 2008 07:36 PM

In everything close to individual experience there will be people who insist on their own theories. Language and all social sciences are examples, but one that just popped into my head was a moderately successful dog-breeder I knew who'd go on and on about his ludicrous ideas on genetics.
Posted by John Emerson at April 17, 2008 07:48 PM

Oh, sure, there are crackpots everywhere, but when it comes to language, practically everyone who hasn't studied linguistics is a crackpot. That makes it very hard to have serious discussions.
Posted by language hat at April 17, 2008 07:59 PM

Fine words from a Darvidian-denialist, Hat!
Posted by John Emerson at April 17, 2008 09:56 PM

Hey, I'm not anti-Dravidian, I'm a Dravidian-realist.
Posted by michael farris at April 18, 2008 04:34 AM

Pity the biologists, too! They have to put up with the creationist crackpottery, too. They even have movies made about how wrong and EVIL evolution is.

This is true, but there is an important difference. Biological crackpottery is indeed a major problem (and today is the day the propaganda film opens for paying audiences), but it tends not to get much support from serious journalists. Even Fox News agrees about how awful the film is. Linguistic crackpottery, by contrast, tends to get written up in serious newspapers and magazines.
Posted by Athel Cornish-Bowden at April 18, 2008 05:01 AM

I think part of the problem is that people have a hard time imagining the practical impact of linguistics on their daily lives -- other than the assumption that they intimidate others and are killjoys at cocktail parties. Math can predict and "prove" "things", physics brings us a thinner television sets, biology is dimly connected to medicine, they have the internet on computers now, and so on. But the average person probably assumes that linguists (a) make children cry; (b) Are Fluent In All Languages; and (c) where is that Star Trek universal translator, anyway? As a result, they may tend to assume that linguistics is highly politicized and unscientific, in the same way that political science is politics but not "science", anthropology is imperialism by another name, sociology is political science for liberals, economists, chiropractors, and psychologists are all quacks with different licenses, and the practice of law empowers bullies, liars, and cheats. If the answer to a question is perceived to be political, as in the above (a creeping field in these anti-intellectual times), then accuracy and methodology tend to take a back seat to glib slogans, smug sneers, and sanctimonious posturing.
Posted by SnowLeopard at April 18, 2008 07:20 AM

You may have something there, SnowLeopard. I'll have to cogitate upon that.
Posted by language hat at April 18, 2008 08:11 AM

When people have a hard time imagining the practical impact of linguistics on their daily lives, I tell them that it's linguists who make video games talk. Works on the young, anyway.
Posted by Nichim at April 18, 2008 10:08 AM

I too was seduced into buying M.J. Harper's magnum opus. I enjoy a good piece of crankery, but found this one disappointing. Harper is a crank, but a lazy one. He doesn't know enough about his subject to fake it well.

Compare this with Holy Blood, Holy Grail (still pulling in royalties a quarter century after first publication!) It is complete bollocks, but it starts plausibly and builds upward. Someone with a decent amateur knowledge of history could read the part linking the Masons with the Templars and be persuaded. There are impressive footnotes, and the gaps in the chain of logic are disguised. The book builds on this credibility toward its real lunacy. I can only stand back and admire.

This is, however, a lot of work. Harper doesn't put anything like this much effort into his crankery. It is all quite vague, and he barely even tries to disguise his misrepresentations of standard scholarship. The result is that anyone who has even a superficial knowledge of historical linguistics will realize what he is doing.

He is also far too slapdash about the gaps in his reasoning. He has a digression about Beowulf. Digressions can be used to good effect. You go off on a tangent for a few pages with some entertaining aside, and return to you main argument a few steps advanced from where you left off. This can be an effective smokescreen. But in his digression about Beowulf he explains that it is a Tudor forgery, making the argument that it is only found in one manuscript, which was "discovered", and this is utterly implausible. The trouble is that it is actually pretty easy to imagine this sort of thing happening, which leaves the reader wondering if perhaps Harper isn't a bit dim.

He has a website which is mostly message boards, mostly private, and apparently dead. But there is a public section: It is worth a look, for those who enjoy such things.

In the meantime, I note my all-time favorite crankery: Before such a work I can only stand in humility and awe.
Posted by Richard Hershberger at April 18, 2008 10:34 AM

Jaynes' book is clearly a masterpiece.
Posted by Conrad at April 18, 2008 10:43 AM

Recent research disproves the cockamamie theory in Holy Blood, Holy Grail:

The Templars' Secret Island

Does the remote Baltic island of Bornholm hold the key to an ancient secret? A secret that links it to the enigmatic village of Rennes-le-Chateau in the French Pyrennes and the tunnels beneath Mount Sion in Jerusalem? What is its connection with the Templar Knights, and what were they trying to hide on such a distant isle? THE TEMPLARS' SECRET ISLAND is a journey of awe-inspiring breadth and complexity, a journey that spans Europe and reaches into ancient Palestine, that first takes us thousands of years into the past and then back to our own time. It is a journey that casts new light on some of the most important enigmas of modern science.

Posted by John Emerson at April 18, 2008 11:49 AM

Seems ridiculously unfair to put Jaynes in the same ranks as real cranks such as Harper, Rifkin or creationists. Jaynes theory is probably unprovable and certainly a little out there but it doesn't radically contradict anything we currently know about neuroscience, biology or evolution. It's more on the level of the "aquatic ape" theory - an intriguing theory that would explain quite a lot if it were true, but for which there just isn't any evidence.
Posted by vanya at April 18, 2008 11:51 AM

Erm..... apparently "disproves" should read "proves".
Posted by John Emerson at April 18, 2008 11:52 AM

For sheer volume of vitriol, accusations of dishonesty and corruption, and lack of intellectual seriousness, I think the diatribes aimed at medical chemistry are unmatched.

"Vaccines cause autism."

"The pharmaceutical companies are hiding the good drugs so they can make money off the palliatives."

"They're all just dirty price gougers."

FWIW, I'm in an entirely different industry; this isn't special pleading. I just get really angry at people who are trying to destroy an industry that has helped most of us many times.
Posted by Doug Sundseth at April 18, 2008 12:06 PM

Compare this with Holy Blood, Holy Grail

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed that book. If you're going to distort history to make a buck, that's the way to go! Remember, folks, entertainment combined with plausible pseudohistory works better than pure balderdash.
Posted by language hat at April 18, 2008 01:34 PM
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Saturday, April 19, 2008 11:05:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Elu ideoloogiad

Kollektiivne mälu ja autobiograafiline minevikutõlgendus eestlaste elulugudes

Ene Kõresaar

Eesti Rahva Muuseumi sari 6

Tartu 2005. 240 lk

"Elu ideoloogiad" on uurimus, mis keskendub mälu ja ajaloo suhete probleemistikule omaeluloolise minevikutõlgenduse vaatevinklist. Autor küsib, mida mäletatakse ja tõstetakse esile Eesti keerulise lähiajaloo kogemusest, miks ja millised "mälupildid" tekivad ning mida nad ütlevad identiteedi ja mäletamise kohta nõukogudejärgses Eestis.

Uurimise allikaks ja meetodiks on elulood. Vaadeldavad tekstid on Eesti Kultuuriloolisele Arhiivile ja ühendusele "Eesti Elulood" aastatel 1989-1999 saatnud 1920. aastatel sündinud eestlased. Elulood on inspireeritud kogumisvõistlustest "Eestimaa elulood" (1989), "Minu ja minu pere saatus ajaloo keerdkäikudes" (1996) ning "Sajandi sada elulugu" (1998).

Elulood ja neis avalduv mäletamise viis on üks etapp eestlaste kollektiivses mälus. Ühelt poolt kujundavad nad teatud pildi 20. sajandi ajaloosündmuste kogemisest. Teiselt poolt peegeldub neis lugudes see, kuidas läbielatud sündmustest kirjutamise ajal mõeldi. Tulemuseks on pilt Teisest maailmasõjast kui rahvuslikust katkestusest. Olgugi et need elulood esindavad teatud aega ja mõtteruumi, on nad mõjutatud ka teistest aegadest ja mõtteruumidest, mõjutades omakorda viimaseid. Sellisena on vanemate eestlaste elulugude "mälukultuur" kindlasti laiema kandepinnaga kui nende endi põlvkonnamälu - sellest on saanud traditsioon

Saturday, April 19, 2008 11:07:00 PM

troylloyd said...
by jUStin!katKO
download quicktime player













Saturday, April 19, 2008 11:10:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Everything is Miscellaneous - how the Web destroys categories, disciplines and hierarchies
Posted by Cory Doctorow, May 2, 2007 4:27 PM | permalink
David Weinberger's "Everything is Miscellaneous" is the kind of book that binds together innumerable miscellaneous threads and makes something new, coherent, and incontrovertible out of them. Weinberger's thesis is this: historically, we've divided the world into categories, topics, and hierarchies because physical objects need to be in one place or another, they can't be in all the places they might belong. Computers and the Internet turn this on its head: because a computer can "put things" in as many categories as they need to be in, because individuals can classify knowledge, tasks, and objects idiosyncratically, the hierarchy is revealed for what it always was, a convenient expedient masquerading as the True Shape of the Universe.

It's a powerful idea: from org charts to science, from music to retail theory, from government to education, every field of human endeavor is tinged with hierarchy, and every hierarchy is under assault from the Internet. One impact of this change is that it reveals the biases lurking underneath the editorial carvery of our systems. From the Dewey Decimal system's laughable clunkers (mentalist bunkum gets its own category, but Islam has to share a decimal with a couple competing "Eastern" faiths) to the Britannica's paring away at "old" biographies to make way for the new, Weinberger makes a compelling case for a new kind of knowledge that more faithfully represents the messy, glorious hairball of the real world.

This celebration of hairiness is just the tonic for the fights being waged today over whether bloggers are real journalists, whether Wikipedia is a real encyclopedia, even whether chaotic guerrilla armies are real armies or mere "enemy combatants." Weinberger shows that Internet messiness has a special quality that distinguishes it from meatspace mess. On the Internet, messiness can be used to make sense of the world: Flickr tags can be grouped (people lump "rome" and "italy" together, so they must be related) with other characteristics ("lots of people call this picture their favorite") and combined with search terms ("more people search for "italy" than "itayl," so the latter is probably a typo) and the most interesting pictures of Rome, Italy can be automatically surfaced, thanks to all the messy, uncoordinated, unchecked, unintentional meaning that the Internet's users infuse its pages with.

Everything is Miscellaneous is the latest inspiration from Weinberger, whose Small Pieces, Loosely Joined and Cluetrain Manifesto were important contributions to our understanding of the Internet. Weinberger's conversational style, excellent examples, and extensive legwork (the places he visits and people he interviews can best be described as wonderfully miscellaneous) give this the hallmarks of an instant classic. And unlike many business/tech books, whose simple thesis could be stated in a single New Yorker article, but which are nevertheless expanded to book-length for commercial reasons, every chapter in Everything is Miscellaneous brings new insight to the subject. This is a hell of a book. Link

See also: Cory interviewed by David Weinberger about metadata
Older New Tootsie Pop commercial sucks compared to old
Newer Zero and her Origin


Saturday, April 19, 2008 11:13:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Hi, guys,
I think there exists such words, but I just can't figure out:

Respectively, what's the word to describe a man who:
* dislike human?
* hate human?
* is afraind of human?

do they have something to anthro-, or human-, or -phobia, or -phile affixes?

Do inform me if you see any corrections needed in my written English.

Misanthrope, misandrist, and misogynist for haters of humans, men, and women respectively.

For someone who 'dislked humans' in the sense of disliking the company of other humans, 'agoraphobic' would do. Not sure what other distinction callithump means between hating and disliking?

Yes, 'misanthropic' for hating humanity.
Humans fearing other humans? Perhaps 'Anthropophobic'? Or again, 'Agoraphobic.'
Edited by The Pook (03/28/08 11:38 PM)

Hey Pook, I always thought agoraphobia was the fear of open places...
But you are correct with anthropophobia, fear of people or society.
Edited by twosleepy (03/30/08 11:02 PM)

Hi Calli, haven't seen you around for a while, welcome back.

Originally Posted By: twosleepy
Hey Pook, I always though agoraphobia was the fear of open places...

But you are correct with anthropophobia, fear of people or society.
No, agora is from the Greek for marketplace, that is, a place where lots of people gather together. Agoraphobia is not fear of open spaces but fear of society. In its most extreme form it causes people never to leave their door, hence the misconception that it is open spaces or going outside they are afraid of. Normally it isn't, it's just that 'outside' is where all the scary people are.
Edited by The Pook (03/29/08 02:09 AM)

agoraphobia |ˌagərəˈfōbēə|
extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places.
agoraphobic |-ˈfōbik| adjective & noun
agoraphobe |ˈagərəˌfōb| noun
ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from Greek agora ‘place of assembly, marketplace’ + -phobia .

What dictionary is that from, eta?
AHD has "An abnormal fear of open or public places. Even the B&M OED has it as the fear of squares or open spaces with no mention of people or crowds.

What do you think public means? It's not the space itself an agoraphobic fears, but the public nature of the space. Maybe there is a condition of fearing being in a wide open space, the opposite of claustrophobia, but it isn't agoraphobia. A marketplace is a busy place full of people, not an empty space.

It just seems to me that if it were a fear of crowds per se the definitions would have that in there somewhere. Dictionary definitions are explications not hints. Market places have price tags scattered all about but agoraphobia isn't a fear of knowing the price of something. AHD gives ochlophobia for fear of crowds

Originally Posted By: Faldage
What dictionary is that from, eta?
AHD has "An abnormal fear of open or public places. Even the B&M OED has it as the fear of squares or open spaces with no mention of people or crowds.
it's the dictionary on my Mac. not sure of the source dictionary.
after checking OneLook(OED, M-W, Encarta), and Wikipedia there seems to be some ambiguity around the definition, and interpretation of "public spaces".

Wow! Pandora's Box exploded while I was gone! LOL! I was just saying that I'd always thought that was the def. I know there are many interpretations, and this one obviously has a bunch. Here's what you get if you google "fear of open areas":
There is a number of "phobia" sites. One has this: "Fear of crowds or mobs- Enochlophobia, Demophobia or Ochlophobia", a list not including agoraphobia. A marketplace has to be empty much of the time, and even in that state, absent the people, would be fearful to an agoraphobic. JMHO :0)

I like the word 'panic disorder' coming from zmjezhd's link.
A cool clean word for a disastrous feeling:
" Are you scared out of your wits?"
" No, it's just a little panic disorder."

Thanks for the welcome.
Last year I just got a job in another city. So kinda busy working(and wooing). You can see from how poor my English becomes that how long I have been away from this forum.
Very happy to be back to the family... And I often read the articles on the forum. They are very informative.
So thanks again for all you guys' help.

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 79
What's the word to describe a person who likes to be with or before a crowd of people, e.g., one who likes to go where people gather or to go on a stage where a log of people watch.
Do inform me if you see any corrections needed in my written English.

-ron o.

Re: Ask for some words about how one reacts towards human being [Re: callithump]
BranShea BranShea Offline
Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1748
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
Originally Posted By: callithump
What's the word to describe a person who likes to be with or before a crowd of people, e.g., one who likes to go where people gather or to go on a stage where a log of people watch.
This question is not totally clear to me.
You seem to want one word for two different things.
1.) Enjoying to be with a crowd is something quite different from enjoying to be before a crowd.
2.) To go where people gather or to go on stage where people watch you, are also two different things.
*A person can enjoy being in a crowd but be scared to death if he/she would have to face that crowd.
*A person can love to go where people gather but be too shy to ever go on stage and have people watching.
Some people may feel happy in both circumstances.
But then should the 'or ' in the question not be replaced by 'and ' ?

wooing Ooh! I hope it turns out the way you want it to. ("turns out" means that some final conclusion has been reached: someone finds out that the illness is curable...or not; the new recipe worked, or failed; you and your current love will either decide to make a future together...or not.)
I've never heard of ochlophile. Gregarious is a good word for a person who enjoys being in a crowd of people and talking with them. "Ham" is a slang term for someone who enjoys being on a stage in front of people--though it usually refers to acting with great emotion, and not to someone who plays or sings music--unless they make exaggerated faces, etc. I can't think of a single word that covers all types; I would just refer to them as "a person who enjoys performing", or "loves to be up on stage".
Oh! Did you mean, perhaps, someone who loves to have peoples' attention on them, whether they can act/sing/dance well or not, or perhaps a child who misbehaves because any attention is better than no attention? The person who is certain that everyone at the party thinks his old jokes are hilarious? Someone who constantly refers to their: beautiful hair, expensive new car, or the fact that they do their work better than anyone else in the office?
This kind of person is a showoff. (Show-off; they like to show off their whatever.)
Good luck in your new job!
Edited the first ex., having realized it might give the wrong impression.
Edited by Jackie (03/31/08 04:33 PM)

J, ochlophile was meant to be a jochular counterpart to the earlier suggested ochlophob(e).
-ron o.

Ah. Merci.
Edit: I never heard of ochlophobe, either! :-)
Edited by Jackie (03/31/08 04:34 PM)

Originally Posted By: Jackie
Ah. Merci.

Edit: I never heard of ochlophobe, either! :-)
From Greek ochlos meaning crowd and phobos fear.
I suppose you could also coin laophobe for someone afraid of people, from laos people.

Not to be confused with lalophobia.

Originally Posted By: zmjezhd

Not to be confused with lalophobia.
...or lalaphobia, which is fear of the third teletubby ...
PS: zmjezhd - did you mean laleophobia/laliaphobia - fear of talking? Our daughter has the opposite - laleophilia.

In my native language, there is a word literally meaning "Gone mad when people gathereed" to describe a person who will get excited when people gather around him and he tries to get attention by, say, performing.
Is there a english word for this?_________________________
Do inform me if you see any corrections needed in my written English.

I'm not sure. I just saw the word in an article and used it here to try to show off my increasing glossary of English .
I checked again for its connotation. Maybe it turned out not the meaning i want.
Any way, just take fun at it. \:\) Thanks for your explanation..

Originally Posted By: callithump
In my native language, there is a word literally meaning "Gone mad when people gathereed" to describe a person who will get excited when people gather around him and he tries to get attention by, say, performing.
Is there a english word for this?
Interesting. I try to imagine this moment of " anticipation to get attention "?
In my language there is no such word and I'm no expert on English. Dutch manners are known to be not particularly refined. \:\)
We just shout and wave or raise hand for attention.
For the person who waits for attention to perform, we have no special word.

On one occasion i read a book which classified guys into 3 categories:
1. People Smart, who feels more at home with people than with books or than being left alone;
2. Book smart, who feels at easy with books;
3. Self smart, who likes being left alone and shy of seeing people.
Maybe I failed to express exactly what I mean. I mean the word to define a person who likes being with people and is confident or even excited when at the attention of others.
Oh, god. Are we unclear, still? \:\)

I mean the word to define a person who likes being with people and is confident or even excited when at the attention of others. Then, I think the word extrovert fits this description best.
A person who likes being left alone and shy of seeing people is an introvert. (Extro- indicating outward, intro- indicating inward.)

Originally Posted By: etaoin
lonely? needy? insecure?
I think etaoin hit the nail on the head with those. A person who needs attention like that probably has more than one underlying emotional issue. Someone who doesn't need it, per se, but just likes to take advantage of an audience, would be back to my original response, a "ham".

Originally Posted By: Jackie
I mean the word to define a person who likes being with people and is confident or even excited when at the attention of others. Then, I think the word extrovert fits this description best.
A person who likes being left alone and shy of seeing people is an introvert. (Extro- indicating outward, intro- indicating inward.)
I respectfully disagree with these characterizations. I consider myself an extrovert (along with many others on these boards!), but unless I was very, very good at whatever I was going to do in front of the crowd, I would probably not. Example: At a D&D convention many moons ago, I attended a "Pun Dungeon", participated, and won. You'll never catch me at a karaoke machine, though, even though I do sing in a choir. Believe, I'm doing the world a favor!
By the same token, I know some introverts who may not want attention from people, but they do enjoy being around people and being part of a group, just not very actively. I must say, I have trouble understanding this, and if I am alone with an introvert, s/he will tend to make me nervous from lack of feedback, unless I know the person well, and where I stand with him/her. :0)
PS My extroversion builds up on me, though, and I need "down time" for my "inner introvert", or I'll go nuts!

There is in Australian idiom the word 'poser' which comes close.
Or two words borrowed from opera: primadona and diva

Can anybody let me know the exact meaning of the below sentences and their usage:

1. What kind of grass are you smoking?
2. What kind of water are you drinking?

Thanks in advance.

They have no absolute meaning outside of their relationship context. They are questions directed at a person by a person in a particular social setting. The meaning of the sentences may change completely according to who says it to whom and where and when and why.
But, in a general sense, they would most often mean... what he said...

on the chance that Ilango needs more basic info ...
In sentence 1, the "grass" is a slang term for marijuana.
In sentence 2, the "water" is implied to be alcohol.

Thank you very much for the quick response.
In fact, I found this sentence in a heated dispute. Can I guess, after all these explanations, these sentences mean the other person cranky/stupid. Its a kind of insulting the person involved in a dispute, isnt it?

these sorts of comments are often used sarcastically, as in:
What have you been smoking? You make as much sense as a crack addict.
but you can also find them used with a softer brush:
A question, good sir: what have you been drinking, and where can I get some ?

Is the grain related to the grass?

Intimidly acquainted. Unless you mean the grain of a woven cloth or a grain of sand.

Originally Posted By: belMarduk
Yup, but then our newbie wouldn't know where to go looking for the question he asked and we might lose him. I like Jackie's way, seems gentler.

Please move the thread.

moved Waaay off topic

Threads are like language: they change.

Language is like grass: endless diversity.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 11:32:00 PM

troylloyd said...
Crumbling Paper: Majic Pictures and Cut-Outs by Prof. Bughouse
February 02nd, 2008 | Category: Ye Olde Comics and Stuffe, COMICS, CRUMBLING PAPER, Unidentified Cartoonists

Here’s a wonderfully funny strip I scanned titled Majic Pictures and Cut-Outs by Prof. Bughouse by an unknown artist from 1905. If you can identify the artist, please let me know… his signature is in the lower right panel.

Click the image to view the full strip.

UPDATE: Troylloyd in the comments pointed out something obvious I forgot to mention… the cartoonist’s last name signed in the last panel appears to be Anderson. He also pointed out that there was a Professor Bughouse strip by John A. Lemon in 1904, which is likely to be related to this feature. Thanks, Troylloyd!

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5 Comments so far

rassy23 February 2nd, 2008 5:33 pm

‘Drop a little gasoline on “x”…’
Dude! WTF? This would have so many present day nannies wetting themselves….
Excellent scans though, will be spending a wee bit of time here methinks.
Some of this art is GORGEOUS.
thrillmer! February 2nd, 2008 7:14 pm

Wow! I wonder how many kids burned down the house after trying out some of these tricks?! Watch the dude smoke, indeed…
STWALLSKULL February 2nd, 2008 10:25 pm

Glad you guys enjoyed the scan! Thanks much for commenting. Rassy23, if you think this site is fun, you should really check out Thrillmer’s…
troylloyd February 16th, 2008 3:50 pm

: ) great stuff! Lil buttercup girl looks slightly kin to Alfred E. Newman,eh? Being that bughouse was a fairly common term,this may be of no help, but John A. Lemon did a strip called “Professor Bughouse”,also for McClure…the sig here appears to be Anderson tho…anyway,I wanted to thank you for taking the time to scan all these ephemeral treasures & sharing them with the world,it is noble work!
I especially enjoy such the glorious patina of age,along with the little rips & tears & these funnypapers in their original state are rarely seen. salut !
STWALLSKULL February 18th, 2008 7:52 am

Thanks so much, Troylloyd! I updated the information in the post above.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 11:45:00 PM

troylloyd said...
A Chronotope of Revolution: The Palindrome from the Perspective of Cultural Semiotics

By Erika Greber (Univ. of Munich / UC Irvine)

"Take the word ropot [murmur]," Cincinnatus' brother-in-law,
the wit, was saying to him, "and read it backwards. Eh?
Comes out funny, doesn't it?" [--› topor: the axe]

- Voz'mi-ka slovo ropot, - govoril Cincinnatu ego shurin,
ostriak, -- I prochti obratno. A? Smeshno poluchaetsia?

Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading (1)

In the following abstract, I propose to analyze the palindrome in terms of cultural semiotics and to explore the subliminal semantic concepts and metaphorological implications which are involved in the genre's postmodern renaissance and which articulate certain political anxieties (something which applies especially to the recent rise of palindrome writing and criticism in Russian, German and Serbo-Croatian literatures). (2)

The palindrome, a special, restricted case of anagram, foregrounds the principle of letter permutation by its strictly sequential proceeding and thus has become the prototype and symbol of anagrammatic letter revolution (in Greek: anagrammatismos, in Latin: revolutio). The permutational 'revolutional' principle seems to be inscribed as an archi-semantic matrix into the symbolic structure of the palindrome genre, into its unconscious -- a potential which is being activated in crucial situations of cultural change.

The idea of the palindrome is closely associated with the material and corporeal aspect of verbal signification. Animal images are used for symbolizing the palindromic processes of regression and circularity: the crab or cancer, and the snake biting its own tail (the gnostic image of Ouroboros). Likewise, the mirror metaphor has been applied to palindrome structures. Largely a visual phenomenon, the palindrome epitomizes the spatiality of language and scripture, something indicated already on the metaphorological plane of classical terminology: "running back again" (palindromos), "stepping back" (versus retrogradus) -- a temporal motion in space. Allowing for reversibility of the linear discourse, the palindrome represents the very idea of transformation and metamorphosis. Palindromic reversion is a device for breaking up the linearity of speech and, by implication, the irreversibility of time. Irreversibility "thematizes itself in the palindrome form by eating itself up" (a quotation from Oskar Pastior, the outstanding contemporary German palindrome poet). Sequentiality and causality of time and space are annihilated in the palindromic motion. Thus, the palindrome can be conceived of as a chronotope of revolution. ('chrono-topos': time-space).

In anagrammatic and palindromic readings of words, the regular referential meaning is dismissed and signification emerges from the pure signifier, the material letter. Associations with alphabet soup letters (or with the so-called Russian bread letters) are quite to the point and underline the aspect of play and pleasure inherent in the genre. Food and eating are prominent motifs in palindrome texts, and palindrome discourse is essentially on eating and incorporation. (Cf. e.g. the Lucullan palindrome by Semyon Kirsanov, 1966, 77, and its intertextual counterpart by Aleksandr Bubnov, 1992, 17, displaying cannibalistic motifs).

The genre of the palindrome, playful and ludic as it is, nonetheless has a strong implication of violence. In the work of its foremost practitioners, Velemir Khlebnikov and Vladimir Nabokov, as well as some of their postmodern successors, the palindrome is closely linked to death, cannibalism, beheading, and murder. That violence has long been attributed to letter permutation is explicitly testified to by a 17th century German and Latin riddle poem on the anagram, as well as by the combinatorial literature of German Baroque writers, such as Justus Georg Schottel's linguistic treatise with the martial title Horrendum bellum grammaticale / Der schreckliche Sprachkrieg (The Horrible Language War) referring to the times of the Thirty Years' War. A palindromic reading of the term 'palindrome' itself in its German form (Palindrom / Mordnilap) points to the idea of murder, Mord.

The palindromic letter play produces a 'poetic cannibalism' of a mostly grotesque type, but there are also instances of frightening or macabre uses of the genre. Such a semantic double-sidedness is quite in line with the palindrome's old Baroque name: versus diabolicus (a name which also indicates the ancient affinity of the palindrome to magic and sorcery).

Violence in palindrome texts has doubtlessly quite different motivations, but can possibly be attributed to a common ground. Letter permutation is an operation presupposing the cutting up of the whole word into parts, it is an operation in the surgical sense. And the dismemberment of the word is prefigured, as Vladimir Toporov has postulated in carrying on Ferdinand de Saussure's anagram theory, in the sacral act of the priest dismembering the sacrificial creature. By anagrammatic dismembering and dissemination of the divine name(s) into the sounds and letters of poetic speech, the priest-poet and primeval grammarian imitated symbolically the dismemberment of the body and the rearrangement of the parts on the sacrificial altar. This mythopoetic Urszene of anagrammatic practices contains the idea of mimetic correspondence between name and thing, between language sign and signified object, and accounts for the Cratylic conception regularly implied in anagrams and palindromes (nomen est omen).

From this perspective, it seems significant that Toporov's own telling name contains the very omen of palindrome violence: the axe (topor). Incidentally, the name of Khlebnikov, recognized initiator of today's palindrome poetry, is a telling name with the connotation of bread, khleb, and has been cut up and sliced by later poets' letter operations: a sacred name sacrificed on the altar of the palindrome. (As the self-reflexive palindrome invites self reflection, I may add that my own name represents a "cyclical self-contained palindrome," something I was unaware of until the Russian palindrome poet Aleksandr Bubnov dedicated a metareflexive palindrome to me playing on the name and the letters mordnilap and dealing, incidentally, with the then vital topic of putsches).

In the aesthetic system of Russian Futurism -- and probably of the classical avant-garde movements in general --, cut-up plays a major role (with frequent use of corresponding chiffres like cut, axe, etc.) and connects to the concept of montage and collage. The eminent status of the cut-up code in avant-garde thought might be the reason why an avant-garde palindrome writer like Khlebnikov serves as relay for postmodern palindrome writers, Russian or non-Russian.

Significantly, symbolic killing and extermination is a central aspect in Baudrillard's anagram concept: as the stock of letters is to be consumed without any rest, the name is annihilated so that for Baudrillard anagrammatic poetry is in effect a mode of extermination rather than manifestation of the name and the anagrammatic process is linked to the principle of self-consuming.

In palindrome discourse, self-consumption combines with self-generation. Characteristically, the palindrome is an old symbol of the idea of perpetuum mobile, the autopoietic force that keeps itself going.

In accordance with these conceptual traits, the palindrome can become an apophatic figure, the verbal possibility of non-speaking. The paradox Jacques Derrida is approaching in Comment ne pas parler is expressed by the cover cartoon: a mirror-shaped NON that marks the evacuated centre of negativity, the evacuated circle or zero. Similarly, Edmond Jabès makes use of a meaningful palindrome in the context of cabbalistic book mysticism: NUL - L'UN, whereby progressive-regressive readings form the idea of eternal mutability of Zero into One and vice versa.

As a means of simultaneously doing and undoing, the palindrome genre seems to stand for autopoiesis, paradox and undecidability, something which possibly accounts for its boom in postmodern literature.

Khlebnikov was the first to choose revolt as a subject for a palindrome text, his long poem Razin (1920) with the cossack Sten'ka Razin as a symbolic figure of the revolutionary. After the defeat of the Communist regime, this poem's palindromic pattern was interpreted as an early anticipation of the revision of history eventually to come (Andrei Voznesenskii in 1990). It seems that palindrome writers and critics in the nineties tend to thematize revolution and change due to their increasingly conscious recognition of the 'revolutionary' semantics of the genre.

Contemporary Russian palindrome writers have brought forth lively poetic milieus in Moscow and Kursk with numerous activities such as a palindrome concourse, a palindrome festival (creating even a drama and sonnets in palindromic form), a conference on the "culturological, linguistic, literary, mathematical, magical, philosophical and other aspects of the palindrome" at a palindromic date 21.12.1991 (the next conference is scheduled for 2002), and a special fanzine named AMFIRIFMA (amphibic rhyme), featured by the Kursk "Club of Palindromes and Palindromaniacs" and its main activist Aleksandr Bubnov, a well-versed author of intricate palindromes who recently received a Ph.D. with a dissertation on the linguistic features of the Russian palindrome.

It seems that in post-Soviet Russia, in a cultural situation in which people would like to reverse history and make a whole era disappear, an artistic form like the palindrome which can demonstrate the reversibility of time by retrograde devices of letter magic has its own fascination and attraction. Furthermore, the apotropaic effect of ancient palindrome rites would be welcome -- an incantation of the symmetry of form directed against the imponderabilities of social change, an exorcism of political and economical disorder through the order of alphabet letters.

The cultural and political framework in which the palindrome genre could flourish was often one of rapid and unpremeditated change, of revolutionary situations. In Russian literary history, this would apply to the times of the leftist revolutions in 1917 and the following Civil War, the brief thaw of the Khrushchev era, the Perestroika period and the present Post-Communist era. But even the first Russian palindromes emerged during a period of radical change, namely in the Baroque period during the reign of Peter the Great and his far-reaching reforms.

What accounts for much of permutational poetry in these periods is, it must be conceded, the interest in ludism shared by the Baroque, Avant-garde, and Postmodernism, yet a comparative perspective adds specific evidence that there is more to the intensity of palindrome phenomena than just word play.

In two other contexts of enormous political and cultural upheavals in the wake of the Communist breakdown the palindrome has become topical: in Germany around 1989 and the immediate post-unification years, and in Serbo-Croatian literature between 1991 and 1995 in connection with the post-Yugoslav cultural split and war.

In German feuilletons, the palindrome suddenly became a topic of broader public interest with the unexpected participation of people outside literary and academic circles (cf. FAZ Nov. 1989 immediately after the fall of the Berlin wall, SZ June 1990, ZEIT July 1993, Herbert Pfeiffer's Wende-Köpfe 1993): a celebration of the 'velvet revolution' or already the symptom of a desire for reversal of unification?

In the Croatian capital Zagreb there arose a debate on the palindrome's meaning as a symbol of cross-cultural interaction referring to the two dialects involved in the Serbo-Croatian language, one argument being that palindromic devices are in fact two-faced speech and represent an illusionary and utopian pseudo-monolingualism, and an opposite argument that palindrome poetry might symbolically keep up the promise of dialogue and double-/pluri-vocal coexistence in a once multicultural context (Dubravka Oraic -Toli Oraic: Palindromska apokalipsa, 1992/1993; Dubravka Ugrešic, Die Kultur der Lüge, 1995). Oraic-Tolic criticizes the conception that the palindrome's two parts are identical as utopian and questions whether the meaning must be the same in both the left-right and right-left direction, from the West and from the East. Here, the space of scripture is interpreted geographically and culturally, in relation to the cultural opposition between Croatian (Western) and Serbian (Eastern) languages, alphabets and cultures, whereby the palindrome form is seen as false aesthetic medium of leveling the two different branches into the artificial construct of Yugoslav newspeak. From this follows in her argument, explicitly, the announcement of the apocalypse and, implicitly, the project of dissociation of the two cultures, decontamination and purification. At this point, the project turns out to be itself utopian, as this supposed cultural purity is a dangerous illusion. Also, this conception neglects the third party, the Bosnian culture which is historically defined by syncretism.

For a semiotic analysis of the palindrome in cultural terms, the stance of Juri Lotman is preferable, also because his argumentation is more precise. Palindromic symmetry is of an enantiomorphic type, i.e. mirror symmetry where as a matter of fact no part can be superimposed on the other. From this Lotman derives a dialogic conception of the palindrome, where the left and right side are recognized as similar yet different. The common palindromic form may illustrate this: although the signs are materially identical (containing the same letters), they differ semantically and have different meanings. Lotman, too, translates this concept into cultural terms (e.g., "cultural communities like 'occident' and 'orient' become enantiomorphic pairs with an operating functional asymmetry"). Such a dialogic conceptualization of the palindrome's generic structure can be taken as a project of cultural dialogue operating in conditions of hybridity. This could also apply to different phases within a culture which can be understood as engaging in mutual dialogue, before and after a revolutionary turn.

Palindromic letter revolution and reversion is readable as an artistic form of cultural critique and as a culture's desire for reorganization and reversal.

(1) Literal translation. In the authorized English version of Nabokov's novel, translated by his son Dmitrij, an anagram is used instead of the palindrome to convey the desired connotations and result in the word 'axe': "Take the word 'anxiety'," Cincinnatus' brother-in-law, the wit, was saying to him. "Now take away the word 'tiny', eh? Comes out funny, doesn't it?" (Penguin ed. P. 88)

(2) Synopsis of a paper given in the Zagred Avantgarde Symposia series (Russian version to appear in Russian Literature 1998; Serbo-Croation translation cf. Greber 1996).

Saturday, April 19, 2008 11:53:00 PM

troylloyd said...
12 avril 2008
‘“Dear God, will this never be done?” cries the Master. “Quel lourdeau! But why do I trouble you with French expressions, which are lost on such an ignoramus? A lourdeau, my dear brother, is as we might say a bumpkin, a clown, a clodpole: a fellow without grace, lightness, quickness; any gift of pleasing, any natural brilliancy: such a one as you shall see, when you desire, by looking in the mirror.’
Robert Louis Stevenson, Works, vol 5, The Master of Ballantrae (1889) Chapter V. Account of All That Passed on the Night on February 27th, 1757 (C. Scribner's Sons 1896) p. 134.
Publié par bastiaandavidvandervelden à l'adresse 15:32 0 commentaires Liens vers ce message
Le brevet d'invention de quinze ans, dont la demande a été déposée, le 30 avril 1856, au secrétariat de la préfecture du département de la
Seine, par le sieur Troccon (Charles-Paulus), rue Bellefond, no 25, à Paris,
pour un systeme de serrure.
Bolʹshai︠a︡ sovetskai︠a︡ ėnt︠s︡iklopedii︠a︡ - Pagina 640
door Otto I︠U︡lʹevich Schmidt - Encyclopedias and dictionaries, Russian - 1926
... Русские народные сказки, -VV 102 и 103, М., 1914 Ж. принадлежит также несколько
романов н книга «Geste» et opinions du docteur Faustroll. ...
Publié par bastiaandavidvandervelden à l'adresse 19:56 0 commentaires Liens vers ce message blog
Dagboek van een herdershond is een Nederlandse televisieserie in zestien delen, onder regie van Willy van Hemert en uitgezonden door de KRO tussen 16 januari 1978 en 29 januari 1980. De serie werd geproduceerd door Joop van den Ende. Het eerste seizoen van acht delen is een vrij nauwgezette bewerking van De kraai op den kruisbalk, het eerste deel van de trilogie Kroniek eener parochie van de priester-schrijver Jacques Schreurs. De serie verhaalt over de jonge en naïeve kapelaan Erik Odekerke die in een Limburgse gemeente wordt geplaatst. Door zijn sociale bewogenheid en zijn verlegenheid steekt hij sterk af bij zijn baas, pastoor Bonhomme. De laatste is conservatief, en een Bourgondisch levensgenieter. Odekerke komt als gevolg van zijn naïviteit regelmatig in botsing met de lokale bevolking, maar weet zich gesteund door zijn Engelbewaarder, en door zijn vriend Lumens.
De buitenopnames voor de serie werden gemaakt in het dorp Eijsden in Limburg. Het verhaal heeft zich in werkelijkheid afgespeeld in Geleen, ten tijde van de opkomst van de steenkolenmijnen in Limburg, in Geleen was dat de staatsmijn Maurits.
Van de serie verschenen twee boeken in romanvorm. De muziek, van Ruud Bos, werd uitgebracht op een plaat, waarop tevens fragmenten uit de serie te beluisteren zijn.
De vraag is in welke familieverhouding pastoor Bonhomme en de heer en mevrouw Bonhomme (Jacques), eigenaren van het huis gelegen aan de Rue Richer 100bis te Parijs staan.
1858 p. 121
Publié par bastiaandavidvandervelden à l'adresse 15:07 0 commentaires Liens vers ce message
Libellés : troccon
09 avril 2008
A consulter:
le tampographe Sardon
Publié par bastiaandavidvandervelden à l'adresse 11:21 0 commentaires Liens vers ce message
L’AS est un sorte de yole à un, trés plate et peu stable (L'Aviron. (J. MANCHON) 1912) Le Musée national de la Marine de Romainville est en possession d’un yole à un rameur.
"Betty" Yole à un rameur, un barreur et un passager
Yole de Renoir
Publié par bastiaandavidvandervelden à l'adresse 12:13 1 commentaires Liens vers ce message blog
26 mars 2008
en tout vingt-sept volumes dépareillés
Dans une propriété ci-dessus dénommée, et après ouverture faite par M. LOURDEAU, serrurier à Paris, n° 205, rue Nicolas Flamel, réserves faites d’un lit en toile de cuivre vernie, long de douze mètres, sans literie, d’une chaise d’ivoire et d’une table d’onyx et d’or, vingt-sept volumes dépareillés, tant brochés que reliés, dont les noms suivent :
‘….. les Mystères du Cloître, la Nouvelle Héloïse, le Juif Errant, les Aventures de Monte-Cristo: en tout vingt-sept volumes dépareillés.’ Masson-Forestier, Mille francs de récompense!, La revue de Paris (15 April 1894) p. 117-137, ici p. 122.
Publié par bastiaandavidvandervelden à l'adresse 11:28 0 commentaires Liens vers ce message
Ce matin-là, il prit son sponge-bath quotidien, qui fut d’un papier peint en deux tons par Maurice Denis, des trains rampant le long de spirales; dès longtemps il avait substitué à l’eau une tapisserie de saison, de mode ou de son caprice.
The functions and disorders of the reproductive organs in childhood, youth and advanced life, considered in their physiological, social and moral relations.
William Acton
(London : Churchill, 1862)
3rd ed
Publié par bastiaandavidvandervelden à l'adresse 10:06 0 commentaires Liens vers ce message
Libellés : sponge-bath

Plaster de Paris. Catalogue Item #61.
Nichol, b p [bpNichol; bp; Barrie Phillip]
[Toronto, "Pataphysical Hardware Company, 1985]., 1985. Dada piece. First edition. Leaflet. (Curry 214). Without the bag of talcum powder described in Curry.

Critical Frame of Reference. Catalogue Item #22.
Nichol, b p [bpNichol; bp; Barrie Phillip]
[Toronto, "Pataphysical Hardware Company, 1985]., 1985. Visual poem. First edition. Leaflet and acetate sheet in envelope with printed label. (Curry 213).

Closed Verse.
Nichol, b p [bpNichol; bp; Barrie Phillip]
[Toronto, "Pataphysical Hardware Company, 1985]., 1985. Visual poetry. 2 sheets (information sheet, label). (Curry 217).

Open Verse.
Nichol, b p [bpNichol; bp; Barrie Phillip]
[Toronto, "Pataphysical Hardware Company, 1985]., 1985. Dada piece. First edition. 2 sheets (information sheet and label).

Nichol, bp.
Toronto: "Pataphysical Hardware Company, nd. broadside (14 x 21); rubber-stamp.

Tho(ugh)t Ballon.
Nichol, bp.
Toronto: "Pataphysical Hardware Company, May 1985. small round ballon; silkscreen; 200 copies in 5 colours. green or orange copies.

Tho(ugh)t Suppressant.
Nichol, bp.
2nd revised edition. Toronto: "Pataphysical Hardware Company, nd. broadside (5 x 6) with pin; rubber-stamp.

Nichol, bp.
Toronto: "Pataphysical Hardware Company, nd. envelope (12 x 17) containing seeds & stick; rubber-stamp.
Publié par bastiaandavidvandervelden à l'adresse 17:27 0 commentaires Liens vers ce message blog
Libellés : Pataphysical Hardware Company

# Patapar Paper (2)
# Pataphysical Hardware Company (1)
# Pataphysical Machine (1)
# pataphysical T-Shirts and Gifts (1)
# Pataphysics Lab (1)
# pataphysique (7)

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Velemir Khlebnikov
Once again, once again,
I am a star for
Woe to the sailor who has taken
The wrong angle of his ship
On a star:
He will be shattered on the rocks,
On the underwater sandbanks.
Woe to you also who have taken
The heart's wrong angle on me.
You will be shattered on the rocks,
And the rocks will laugh
At you,
As you laughed
At me.

Translation from The Heritage of Russian Verse. Ed. Dmitrii Obolensky. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965, p.289-290.

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:04:00 AM

troylloyd said...
a. causing decay; produced in decaying matter. saprogenous, a.
© From the Hutchinson Encyclopaedia.
Helicon Publishing LTD 2008.
All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:06:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Do you know how lucky you are that PUNKS IS HIPPIES exists, for you to be able to come here and casually grab lots of free zines?

This is the complete run of DAMAGING NOISE newsletter / fanzine made by the one and only Sean "Seanocide" "Noizepug" Hogan (are you trying to become Snotlewd with your cool names or what? LOL). Intense fascination with music, vastly elaborated tracts on obscurities and commonbodies alike -mirrored perhaps only by the likes of Kugelberg and whatshisface. Ok I am exaggerating but whatever, this damn Seonocide dude is a genius -here he takes the same format of GAME OF THE ARSEHOLE and twists it to a fuzzbox. You will imagine that there is a grey tunnel at the end of the dark light (or some other type of obvious biased nonsense).

Added bonus 3 page article on Japanese noisepunk as well as a 2-pager CHAOS CHANNEL interview.

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:08:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Appeared as "Edible Art," Artforum (November 1989): 20-23. Please
see published version for illustrations.
The Futurist Cookbook, by F.T. Marinetti, introduction by Lesley
Chamberlain, translation from the Italian by Sue Brill, San
Francisco, Bedford Arts, 1989, 160 pp. 40 photographs and line
drawings. $29.95 cloth, $19.95 paper.

...we think, dream and act
according to what we eat and

Futurist cuisine was launched by F.T. Marinetti from a
little radio microphone on the table of the Penna d'Oca restaurant
in Milan in 1930. His Manifesto of Futurist Cooking quickly
followed. Culinary experiments and lively debates that ensued in
the press culminated in La Cucina Futurista in 1932. Authored by
the "caffeine of Europe" (Marinetti) and "a saucepan always on the
boil" (Fillia), this brash assemblage of manifestos, ideology,
polemic, descriptions of banquets, and recipes extended Futurist
performance to new thresholds of zany illogic and sensory riot.
Exploiting all the means of promotion for which the movement had
become famous, Marinetti and his coterie made Futurism edible. They
used their ideas about food to extend the physiology of aesthetic
response to the deep interior recesses of the body.
As an eating machine, the Futurist body was subject to
its own anatomy. Accounts of Futurist meals spoke of exciting the
enamel on the teeth, filling the nostril with heaven, choking the
esophagus with admiration. The face, genitalized, was composed of
"organs of adoration": the Futurist palate, tongue, and mouth were
voluptuous, insatiable, and attentive. Imagining the body from the
inside, Marinetti condemned the passist stomach as a sack filled
with pasta, an archeological midden, in contrast with the Futurist
body, ready in its emptiness for an artistic intervention: White
and Black was the poet Farfa's recipe for "A one-man-show on the
internal walls of the Stomach consisting of free-form arabesques of
whipped cream sprinkled with lime-tree charcoal. Contra the
blackest indigestion. Pro the whitest teeth." Envisioning the
stomach as a surface to inscribe, not a vessel to fill, Futurists
lobbied for a body that was light, agile, and acutely sensitive to
aesthetic experience. Laughter was the laxative of the Futurist
The full stomach was the enemy, for it set a limit on
the duration and acuteness of gastronomic attention. Much Futurist
writing on food was a critique of satiety and its dulling
consequences. The first step in a Futurist gastronomy was to
separate hunger and nutrition from the pleasure of eating, to
dissociate food as fuel from food as art. Futurists proposed
meeting daily dietary needs by pills distilled and synthesized
scientifically in the laboratory and distributed free of charge by
the State. They wanted to confine eating proper to artistically
conceived dinners and banquets. In this way, Futurist gastronomes
dispersed the sites of appetite and shifted the scene of digestion
from the growling gut to the imagination.
From a Futurist perspective, once food hits the lips
and vanishes down the hatch, the event is over before it has been
experienced. The second step was to extend the gastronomic
experience by staving off satiety. Futurists advocated light food,
structured eating events around small units like the mouthful, and
eliminated or delayed swallowing. In the recipe for "Raw Meat Torn
by Trumpet Blasts," mouthfuls of electrified beef alternated with
"vehement blasts on the trumpet blown by the eater himself." In
what might be termed gustatory foreplay, Futurists elaborated
"prelabile tactile pleasure" by banning the knife and fork and
encouraging diners to touch food with their hands before putting it
to their mouth. They also passed food around to be smelled and
seen, but not eaten, a technique suggestive of gastronomus
Though Marinetti declared in his 1921 "Manifesto on
Tactilism" that "the distinction of the senses is arbitrary," The
Futurist Cookbook began to address their differences. Taste, an
analytic sense, consists of four primaries--sweet, sour, salt,
bitter. Smell, a holistic sense, is far more subtle, complex, and
diverse. Such differences suggest a physiological basis for the
great appeal of olfaction in Futurist theorizing about painting,
performance, and cuisine. They found in smell an atavistic sensory
experience that resisted analysis, evoked unpredictable
associations, and carried its concrete source in the very language
used to describe each aroma. In Marinetti's "Extremist Banquet," a
two-day orgy of pure olfaction, the guests open French windows by
means of an electrical keyboard and experience the "odours of
waterlogged grasses and old burnt reeds, giving off traces of
ammonia and a whip of phenic acid." Aerofuturists, the primary
contributors to Futurist gastronomy, also found in scent an
airborne, ambient stimulus that could be directed by small electric
fans placed in the hands of the diners. The whirring blades added a
desired kinetic element to the event. Reminiscent of propellers,
fans were a metonym for their favorite machine, the aeroplane, and
became the Futurist dining utensil par excellence.
The experience of food in the mouth is so complex, so
truly synthetic, that it defied even the most radical Futurist
efforts to fragment it. Smell and taste are so tightly bundled
that most of what we experience as flavor is actually the result of
smell, not taste. While aroma could be and was served up as an
autonomous sensory experience, the components of what we experience
as flavor are not so easily detached for Futurist reshuffling. In
addition, the sensations of food in the mouth include touch
(temperature and texture), sound (crispness is largely experienced
as sound produced and heard inside the head), and irritation (the
astringency of red wine, the burn of chili). As a result, where the
sensory experience itself could not be split into independent
parts, they dismembered the culinary system, scrambled its
components, inserted the inedible, and using an alogic of affinity,
complementarity, and contradiction, created jarring combinations.
In an effort to isolate "pure gastronomic elements," Marinetti
proposed a meal that included a bowl of tomato soup, a big yellow
polenta, and white roses complete with thorns. Or, the sense of
sight might be turned off and the hierarchy and integration of the
other senses restructured. Diners closed their eyes or sat in a
darkened room. They buried their faces in salad to activate the
skin on the cheeks and lips. They fondled a tactile device while
eating "Polyrhythmic salad," listening to music, and smelling
lavender perfume.
Smell and taste, unlike sight, hearing, and touch, are
chemical senses. As such, they are subject to relatively rapid
sensory fatigue. A Futurist cuisine had therefore to find ways of
reestablishing "gustatory virginity." To annul one set of tastes
and smells before presenting the next set, a suction fan would draw
scents out of the room. To intensify sensory acuity, they
periodically changed the lighting and room temperature, suddenly
instructed the diners to quickly move themselves and their dinners
two places to the right, released a live turkey into a room where
diners had just eaten the bird, and presented blue wine, orange
milk, and red mineral water.
Virtually all the major themes of Italian Futurism were
explored through food, including passism, machines, speed,
simultaneity, synaesthesia, words-in-liberty, art of noise, theatre
of objects, fisicofollia (body madness), a totalizing aesthetic
program of renewal, and the interpenetration of art and the
quotidien. Futurist gastronomy was consistent with the more general
tendency of Fascist aesthetics to separate objects from their uses,
as in Marinetti's aestheticization of war. Offered up as an
antidote to the suicidal tendencies of the bored palate, the
Futurist separation of eating from hunger--the heart of so many
eating disorders--was itself potentially fatal.
The alimentary target of Marinetti's perennial attacks
on passism is appropriately enough pasta, the "dictator of the
stomach" and last bastion of obstinacy, the stereotypical emblem of
Italy, "crude materialist," and culprit in obesity and lassitude.
The rallying cry, "Pasta is Dead, Long Live Sculpted Meat," touted
the signature dish of Futurism: "the Sculpted meat created by the
Futurist painter Fillia, a symbolic interpretation of all the
varied landscapes of Italy, is composed of a large cylindrical
rissole of minced veal stuffed with eleven different kinds of
cooked green vegetables and roasted. This cylinder, standing
upright in the center of the plate, is crowned by a layer of honey
and supported at the base by a ring of sausages resting on three
golden spheres of chicken." Phallic and patriotic, Sculpted Meat
was edible art for inspired cannibals.
The Futurist love of machines and industrial materials
can be seen in the scientific instruments (ozonizers, ultra-violet
lamps, electrolizers) proposed for the kitchen-laboratory, the
prediction of future "nourishment by radio" (the essence of the
best dinners would be broadcast by radio waves), the use of the
phonograph player as a lazy susan, and the flavoring of food with
steel. These Aerofuturists proposed vertiginous meals for the
cockpit, created an aviatory mise-en-scne out of aluminum for
their banquets, served rolls in the form of monoplanes and
propellers, and filled dining rooms with the sound of roaring
engines. The cape gooseberry was claimed as a Futurist fruit
because its disposable 'wings' made it resemble a parachute.
Their experiments with language resulted in what is an
artists' book and in a distinctive gastronomic discourse that
recovered the poetics of the recipe and delighted in neologisms.
Their "little dictionary of futurist cooking" offered patriotic
Italian alternatives for French culinary terminology and codified
such Futurist principles as disprofumo, a "term that indicates the
complementary nature of a given perfume with the flavour of a given
food. Example: the disprofumo of raw meat and jasmine." Fillia's
"Edible Alphabet" and Marinetti's notion of bicarbonate of soda as
"the verb in the infinitive of all food and digestive problems"
carried Futurist experiments with typography and words-in-liberty
into the belly. "Intuitive Antipasto," a Futurist version of the
fortune cookie, featured an orange stuffed with salami, pickled
mushrooms, and olives in which are hidden surprising sayings such
as "With Futurist cooking, doctors, pharmacists and grave diggers
will be out of work." At the opening in Turin of that aluminum
shrine to Futurist cooking, The Holy Palate Restaurant, Marinetti's
role was to respond in rhyme to complaints about the food. Fillia,
in his capacity as Speaker, would gastrocast, as it were, by
announcing and illustrating each course.
A postprandial offering by the inaugural movement of
the historical avant-garde, The Futurist Cookbook is a casualty of
the exclusions of art historical periods and canons. Coming too
late in the "less important" second phase of Italian Futurism,
tainted by Fascism, misogyny, and Orientalism, and using the lowly
medium of food and cookbook, Futurist gastronomical forays have all
but vanished from accounts of the movement. Had their culinary
adventures occurred early in the history of Futurism, they, like
the serate, or evenings where Futurist declamations were met with
rancid pasta flung from the audience, would have been written into
the 'origins' of Futurist performance. Futurist menus and recipes
are like sintesi, the brief scenarios and scripts on which Futurist
theatrical performances were based. Futurist restaurants and
theatres share scenographic principles. Several of the key players-
-Fillia, Depero, Prampolini, Russolo, Folgore, and Marinetti
himself--were active in Futurist theatre and cinema. Coming at the
end--a year later in 1933 Marinetti issued his last major
programmatic statement, "Total Theatre Manifesto"--The Futurist
Cookbook seemed anomalous, or even anti-climactic to later
historians. Long out of print, it occasionally appeared in lists of
ever more remote "applications" of artistic ideas that had outlived
the glorious early years of the Futurist movement. Yet, in many
ways Futurist cooking, much of it still worth eating, was the
ultimate art of the concrete and very apotheosis of Futurist
performance theory and practice.

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett chairs the Department of Performance
Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:13:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Öte yaka’nın kıyısı

Ali Ömer Akbulut tarafından 15. Mart 2008 - 23:58 tarihinde gönderildi.

Neredeyiz? Bir kimsenin veya bir şeyin kendi doğru yeri neresidir? Verilecek cevabımız yok; yerimizi bilmiyoruz. Bilseydik değişmekten, gelişmekten söz etmezdik. Vazgeçişlerimiz olmazdı; peşine düşmüşlüklerimiz; inanç, bilim, makine… Yerinde-yurdunda olmayan, bir ağrı gibi boynumuza asılmış dünyanın neresinde oturacağız? Söylemin baştan çıkardığı retorik cambazı herkesin gayretini boşa çıkaracak bir kıyı var mıdır? Evet ve hayır. Cevaptan önce ve sonradır, burada giz’liden giz’liye ve sükut ederek konuşulur. İki türden ses çıkaran bir tür gizli göçmenler olarak. İsmi olmayan bu yerde, “artık bilinmeyen ve henüz konuşmadığımız dillerde”, bir ilkismin takma ismi olan kendi ismini çağırarak: Khora.

Khora[1], Derrida’nın her biri bağımsız bir kitap oluşturan Çile ve İsmi Hariç’le eşzamanlı olarak yayımlanan denemelerinden biri ve en eskisi. Platon’un Timaios’ta ifadesini bulan Khora yerin kendisini, mutlak dışsallık yerini konumlasa da bir kıstaktır belki. İki çöl arasındaki ayrılma yerini de konumlar; çöldeki çöl, en ilk çöl. “Bu yer eşsizdir, adı olmayan Bir'dir.”* Khora bütün karşıtlıkların, ikiciliğin ötesindedir. Metafor ya da düz bir adlandırma da değildir, ne duyumsanabilir ne kavranabilir çok özel bir yer adıdır. Yerde yersiz bir yer.

Khora deneyimi, felsefenin, düşünüş biçimlerinin, hiçbir tanrıbilimsel, varlıkbilimsel veya insanbilimsel iktidarın belirlemesine, keyfiliğine izin vermez. “Hiçbir zaman bir dine girmeyecek ve kendini kutsallaştırmaya, kutlulaştırmaya, insancıllaştırmaya, tanrıbilimselleştirmeye, kültürleştirmeye, tarihselleştirmeye izin vermeyecektir. Sağ ve salimle, aziz ve kutsalla kökten bir şekilde ayrışık yapıda olaraktan, {dokunulmadan kalmak, ayniyetini korumak için} kendisine diyet ödenmesine {indemniser} asla izin vermez. Böyle bir şey şimdiki zaman kipinde bile söylenemez, çünkü khora asla kendisini olduğu gibi mevcudiyete sunmaz.”* Khora deneyimi çoğulluğun, çifte dilliliğin ya da dilsizliğin çoklu haykırışının, hep ötekini çağıran gizin oyununa katılan bakir geçirimsizliktir.

Hazır cevapların yeri değildir khora. Filozofların çelişmezlik mantığına, ikilik mantığına meydan okur. Logos mantığından da farklı bir mantıktır. Onunla ilgili söylenebilecek hiçbir şey yeterli değildir. Hakim söylemin yeteneksizliği onu ifadeden acizdir. Khora başka bir başa [başlangıca], üçüncü bir türe ait bir çağrıdır. Bu çağrı kendisini ancak hak edene verir. Hem onu her zaman aynı şekilde çağırmak gereklidir.

Burada doğrudan konuşmak, hatta herhangi bir türden konuşmayı sürdürmek neredeyse imkansızlaşır. Bu devasa zorluğun kıvrımında yer açmak, [bir] yerden konuşmak bir masala [sığınmak ya da] mitolojik eğretilemelere başvurmakla olabilir [mi?]. Kendi yeri olmayan bir yerde yer edinen logos, ancak mythos’la eğretilenebilir. Kendini ifade etme “iktidarsızlığı” ölçüsünde söylenceye başvurulur. Bu hem bir yetersizlik, hem bir ustalık işareti gibi görülebilir. Platon’un esas konuya geldiğinde başvurduğu yoldur bu. Oysa felsefenin değeri söylencesel olmayan karakteri doğrultusunda ölçülür. Ya Derrida ”belli türden bir kahkaha, belli türden bir dans” istemez mi? Yine felsefe, düşünme güçlüğünün giderek artan bilinci [olmalı] değil midir aynı zamanda? Khorayı, khora üzerine söylemin duyumsanabilir ve kavranabilir arasına açtığı bu yarığa da yaklaştırmamak lazımdır. Bu ikilikten uzak durmalı. Dolayısıyla Platon’un ayağıyla khora’ya gitmek Timaios’ta sarih bir izlek bulmakla mümkün olabilir. Bunu Sokrates’in stratejisinde buluyoruz. Kendini ve önlerinde söz aldığı kişileri silerek yol alan Sokrates, onları konuşturduğu ve onların önünde konuştuğu, hem de onlardan olmadığını söylediği için “üçüncü türde, yersiz bir yerin yansız uzamında, her şeyin kendini belli ettiği”, diğerlerinin sonradan khora olarak adlandıracakları bir yerden konuşur ve bundandır onlar sözü ondan alır. Khorada bir emanet ve konukseverlik ilişkisinin olduğunu da anlıyoruz böylece. “Bir armağan ve borç sistemi.” O halde olası söylenceyi kabul etmemiz ve daha fazlasını aramamız gerekiyor. Dinlenme anlarıdır bunlar ve bu anlarda “ebedi varlıklar hakkında akıl yürütmeler terk edilir”, hatta “aşırıya kaçmadan ve makul bir şekilde oyundan keyif alınabilir”; çocukluğu alıp sürdürerek. Böylece zamansal olmayan bir silinmezlik, bir giz anısı yakalanabilir. Bununla “söylencesel şiirselliğin zincirini koparıyormuş gibi” yapsak da bu, “onu daha güçlü bir şekilde yeniden başlatmak içindir.”

Bin bir tehlike altında dört bir yana saçılmış tohumların alanında her şeye sirayet etmiş gizin dipsiz dibindeyiz. Parlak ışıklar altında sunulan söylemin ayartıcılığına boyun eğmeye meyyal dikilişler yakınındayız. Güneşe çıplak gözle bakınca görme yeteneğinizi yitirebilirsiniz. Işık her şeyi örtebilir. Her şeyi ortada gibi görmek, göstermek bir gizlemedir/bir gizlemeyi gizler. Görünürlüğün görünemezliğinin ta kendisi bir ışığa, karaşın bir ışığa ihtiyacımız var o zaman: “Demek, giderek daha karanlık olan gecesel bir ışık. Bitirmek için adımlarımızı sıklaştıralım: Üçüncü yer’e, arşi-kökensel’den daha fazlası olmuş olabilecek bir yere, adaya ya da vaadolunan toprağa değil, ama belli bir çöle –vahiy çölüne değil-, çöldeki çöle, ötekiyi olanaklı kılan, açan, oyan veya sonsuzlaştıran çöle doğru…”*

İşin başındayız ve anısı bile unutulmuş gizin kalın tabakasıyla örtülü olarak şafakta yaşlı ve yorgun olarak kalkan genciz. “Mukaddimedeyiz” der Derrida. “Girişlerde felsefe olmaz, en fazla mitoloji olur, diyordu Hegel.” diye ekler. Derrida Öteki Hedef (Başka Baş)’ta[2] Timaios’taki Mısırlı rahibi yansılayarak öte yaka’nın kıyısından Avrupa için de söyler bunu. Sadece bize ait olmayan; önünde yanıt vermemiz gereken, borçlu olduğumuz başka bir baş, öteki bir hedef olduğunu hatırlamamız gerekir. Felsefe onun hakkında doğrudan konuşamaz. Bu haliyle yalnız babadan ve oğuldan söz eder. Oysa nostaljisiz bir kavrayış olmalıdır bu, “piç ve meşru babası olmayan bir akıl yürütmeyle yönlendirilen khora söylemi, kökene yeni bir dönüşle başlatılmış bulur kendisini.” [Lakin hangi] başlangıç bizi bilinmezlikten, gizden kurtarabilir [ki]? “Başlangıçta yeniden başlanmayacak” “tüm şeylerin ilk ilke veya unsurlarına geri gidilemeyecektir.” Felsefe güvenli söylemin ve köken sayılan her şeyin öncesine, kökenin ve doğumun berisine geri dönmeli, her şeyi yeniden ele almalıdır. Ne doğurucu ne de doğurulmuş olan, imgesini tarihten önceki ebedi zamandan alan üçüncü bir türü keşfetmemiz gerekiyor. Öte yaka’nın kıyısında başka bir yönelimin işaretidir bu. Nasıl Mısırlı rahip Atinalılara köklerini kendi belleklerinin ötesinden hatırlatmışsa, “khora’yı düşünmek için, başlangıçtan daha eski bir başlangıca, yani kozmosun doğumuna geri dönmek gerekir.” Uygun bir sonla taçlandırabilmek için, hikayemize başlangıcıyla uyuşan bir baş vermeye çalışalım:
“Bunun için biraz erken. Her zamanki gibi.”


[1] Jacques Derrida, Khora, çev. Didem Eryar, Kabalcı Yayınevi, İstanbul 2008.

* İşaretli alıntlar: Jacques Derrida, “İman ve Bilgi Basit Aklın Sınırlarında ‘Din’in İki Kaynağı”, çev. Melih Başaran, Toplumbilim, 10.

[2] Jacques Derrida, Öteki Hedef (Başka Baş), çev. Melih Başaran, Bağlam Yayınevi, İstanbul 2003.

* Ali Ömer Akbulut ağ günlüğü
* Yorum göndermek için giriş yapın veya kayıt olun
* Yazıcı dostu sürüm
* 311 okuma

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:21:00 AM

troylloyd said...
[Printable version]

Daniel Cordle and Philip Leonard

‘Not writing, but typing’
Truman Capote, on Jack Kerouac

Technology has frequently seemed to be antithetical to writing. When Jack Kerouac was accused of ‘not writing, but typing’, the insult implied an inhuman quality to his prose, as though the machine on which On the Road was produced had replaced the more transcendent humanity required of the writer. 1 Kerouac, it implied, had become a typewriter, and could therefore not really be considered a writer in the true sense at all. Something as quotidian, as material, as technology might feature in the world depicted by the writer but, this criticism implied, it had no place in the ethereal process of writing. Yet, the very term ‘writing’, though thoroughly naturalised as a metaphor for a particular sort of communicative mental activity, implies a relationship with technology, the pen, which is a medium that translates and directs thought as specifically as the typewriters on which Kerouac, or later William Gibson, famously tapped out their works. Before broaching these complex questions of technology, production and subjectivity, it is perhaps first worth considering the more prosaic ways in which technology is at issue in writing.

Technology does, of course, feature as a set of objects ‘in’ writing, in the sense of being invoked as part of the fabric of the world described by writers. While this may seem most obviously to be an issue in genres like science-fiction, which frequently takes technology as its subject, or procedural detective fiction, in which technologies of forensic investigation are central, it would be a mistake to assume that the most fertile ground for investigation necessarily lies in these areas. If technology is culturally significant, it is significant not only when its novelty directly impinges on our consciousness but also for the ways it is naturalised as an assumed fact of everyday life (indeed, Gibson’s search for a ‘superspecificity’ of reference in his science-fiction is in part an attempt to invest the novel technologies of the future with the everyday qualities of the everyday). 2 Without the technologies of shipbuilding, timekeeping, cartography, navigation, industrialisation, and civil and military administration and suppression, there could have been no European expansion into the wider world and no broader world of Empire into which to flee for all those characters of nineteenth-century realist fiction, like St. John Rivers in Jane Eyre, who leaves Britain to carry out missionary work, and Monks, in Oliver Twist, who gets his comeuppance far from home. 3 Unassimilable at home, many of these characters can be tidily got rid of abroad, their disruptive influences lost in the margins of Empire.
Next page

1. R.J. Ellis outlines the derivation of Capote’s offhand remark. R.J. Ellis, Liar! Liar!: Jack Kerouac – Novelist (London: Greenwich Exchange, 1999), p. 27.

2. ‘Superspecificity’ implies that future technology is rendered with the same nonchalant, and brand-oriented, terminology as we might apply to the contemporary world when we talk of, for instance, a ‘hoover’ rather than a ‘vacuum cleaner’ or an ‘iPod’ rather than a ‘portable MP3-playing device’. Gibson traced his influence in this respect to hardboiled detective fiction: ‘[Dashiell] Hammett may have been the guy who turned me on to the idea of superspecificity, which is largely lacking in most SF description. SF authors tend to use generics – “Then he got into his space suit” – a refusal to specify that is almost an unspoken tradition in SF’. Larry McCaffery, ‘An Interview with William Gibson’, in McCaffery, ed., Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction (Durham: Duke UP, 1991), p. 269.

3. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847; London: Penguin, 1966); Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (1837-38; Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999).

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:23:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Neodialectic Theories: Capitalist construction in the works of Spelling
John O. I. Reicher
Department of Sociolinguistics, University of Illinois
Thomas von Junz
Department of Sociology, Carnegie-Mellon University
1. Spelling and subconceptual socialism

“Class is responsible for class divisions,” says Foucault; however, according to Drucker[1] , it is not so much class that is responsible for class divisions, but rather the fatal flaw, and some would say the failure, of class. Debord promotes the use of socialist realism to challenge capitalism.

In the works of Spelling, a predominant concept is the distinction between destruction and creation. However, any number of modernisms concerning not theory, but posttheory may be found. The main theme of Geoffrey’s[2] analysis of capitalist construction is a prepatriarchial reality.

If one examines subconceptual socialism, one is faced with a choice: either reject capitalist construction or conclude that narrativity, perhaps surprisingly, has intrinsic meaning, but only if culture is equal to sexuality; if that is not the case, Sartre’s model of socialist realism is one of “the textual paradigm of context”, and therefore fundamentally meaningless. Thus, the subject is interpolated into a that includes narrativity as a whole. An abundance of situationisms concerning subcultural modern theory exist.

It could be said that in Gravity’s Rainbow, Pynchon deconstructs socialist realism; in The Crying of Lot 49, although, he analyses capitalist construction. The primary theme of the works of Pynchon is the common ground between class and sexual identity.

In a sense, Baudrillard suggests the use of socialist realism to modify reality. The subject is contextualised into a that includes sexuality as a paradox.

Therefore, Foucault’s model of Lacanist obscurity implies that reality is a legal fiction. McElwaine[3] states that we have to choose between capitalist construction and posttextual cultural theory.

But the subject is interpolated into a that includes narrativity as a totality. The main theme of Drucker’s[4] analysis of capitalist construction is the paradigm, and eventually the genre, of subdialectic society.
2. Socialist realism and the textual paradigm of expression

“Class is intrinsically elitist,” says Debord; however, according to Brophy[5] , it is not so much class that is intrinsically elitist, but rather the collapse, and thus the fatal flaw, of class. In a sense, the subject is contextualised into a that includes sexuality as a whole. Sontag uses the term ’socialist realism’ to denote not discourse per se, but neodiscourse.

In the works of Joyce, a predominant concept is the concept of subcultural narrativity. It could be said that the subject is interpolated into a capitalist paradigm of reality that includes language as a totality. If capitalist construction holds, we have to choose between neotextual depatriarchialism and Batailleist `powerful communication’.

Therefore, the primary theme of the works of Joyce is the bridge between society and reality. The premise of the textual paradigm of expression suggests that the purpose of the artist is significant form.

But the subject is contextualised into a that includes consciousness as a whole. Reicher[6] holds that we have to choose between the textual paradigm of expression and postdialectic discourse.

It could be said that the subject is interpolated into a that includes language as a totality. If socialist realism holds, we have to choose between the predialectic paradigm of context and conceptual feminism.

1. Drucker, B. A. U. (1998) Socialist realism and capitalist construction. O’Reilly & Associates

2. Geoffrey, K. ed. (1970) Forgetting Bataille: Socialist realism in the works of Pynchon. Schlangekraft

3. McElwaine, P. F. (1991) Socialist realism in the works of Lynch. University of Georgia Press

4. Drucker, M. Q. M. ed. (1977) Narratives of Rubicon: Socialist realism in the works of Madonna. University of North Carolina Press

5. Brophy, C. (1993) Capitalist construction in the works of Joyce. University of Oregon Press

6. Reicher, O. Q. F. ed. (1971) The Economy of Narrative: Capitalist construction and socialist realism. Schlangekraft

The essay you have just seen is completely meaningless and was randomly generated by the Postmodernism Generator. To generate another essay, follow this link. If you liked this particular essay and would like to return to it, follow this link for a bookmarkable page.

The Postmodernism Generator was written by Andrew C. Bulhak using the Dada Engine, a system for generating random text from recursive grammars, and modified very slightly by Josh Larios (this version, anyway. There are others out there).
This installation of the Generator has delivered 3124407 essays since 25/Feb/2000 18:43:09 PST, when it became operational. It is being served from a machine in Seattle, Washington, USA.
More detailed technical information may be found in Monash University Department of Computer Science Technical Report 96/264: “On the Simulation of Postmodernism and Mental Debility Using Recursive Transition Networks”. An on-line copy is available from Monash University.
More generated texts are linked to from the sidebar to the right.
If you enjoy this, you might also enjoy reading about the Social Text Affair, where NYU Physics Professor Alan Sokal’s brilliant(ly meaningless) hoax article was accepted by a cultural criticism publication.

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:28:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Ord som inte finns i engelskan
Engelskan ses, och beskrivs, som ett ordrikt språk, rikt på substantiv och adjektiv Men har de ord som motsvarar våra svenska ord? Jag tänkte att vi här skulle komma med svenska ord som inte finns i engelskan.

Man kan ju alltid börja med "farmor" och "mormor". En engelsktalande måste uttrycka begreppen annorlunda men buntar oftast ihop farmodern och mormodern till något luddigt "stormor"

"Glesbygd" verkar inte ha någon engelsk motsvarighet.

Fyll gärna på listan.
Kolla in min blogg! Starkt kontroversiell, säger vissa. Döm själv.
Grottis is offline Svara med citat
GrottiInlägg: 11 996
Enligt min Prismas engelska ordbok (engelsk-svensk och svensk-engelsk) finns ett uttyck på engelska som motsvarar vårt glesbygd nämligen thinly populated area. Samma ordbok vet att berätta att lagom motsvaras av just right (enough).
"Mycket av världens elände är resultatet av i demokratisk ordning fattade
Olof Palme
"... nicht durch Reden und Majoritätsbeschlüsse werden die großen Fragen der Zeit entschieden - das ist der große Fehler von 1848 und 1849 gewesen -, sondern durch Eisen und Blut."
Ursprungligen postat av Marcus Karlsson Visa inlägg
Enligt min Prismas engelska ordbok (engelsk-svensk och svensk-engelsk) finns ett uttyck på engelska som motsvarar vårt glesbygd nämligen thinly populated area. Samma ordbok vet att berätta att lagom motsvaras av just right (enough).
Självfallet kan engelskan uttrycka samma företeelse som det svenska ordet liksom svenskan kan uttrycka motsvarigheter till engelskan men det blir bara beskrivningar av ett ord just som "thinly populated area". Glesbygd kan även på svenska uttryckas med "glest befolkat område". Jag sökte efter begrepp som kan uttryckas med ett ord. Paternal mother är inte lika effektivt som farmor vilket uttrycks med ett enda ord.
Ursprungligen postat av
Självfallet kan engelskan uttrycka samma företeelse som det svenska ordet liksom svenskan kan uttrycka motsvarigheter till engelskan men det blir bara beskrivningar av ett ord just som "thinly populated area". Glesbygd kan även på svenska uttryckas med "glest befolkat område". Jag sökte efter begrepp som kan uttryckas med ett ord.
Det finns naturligtvis ord för "glesbygd" på engelska. Ett är "backwoods". På australisk engelska finns "outback". Det finns också en massa slangord som motsvarar den svenska slangvarianten "visjan", t.ex. "the sticks".
Svara med citat
Björn Olsson
Folkfiende ShinBets avatar
Svenskans "syskon" finns inte bekvämt i engelskan.

Man säger "Have you got any brothers or sisters?" Ordet "sibling" finns, men det låter väldigt krystat i talspråk och används primärt i lagtexter och liknande.
"förrgår" och "övermorgon" är också svenska ord som inte finns som enstaka ord i engelskan. "The day before yesterday", eller "the day after tomorrow" låter ju ganska knöligt.

För att kompensera har de ordet "Fortnight" där vi säger "fjorton dagar".
"I den allmänna föreställningen finns det färg, finns det något sött och något bittert; i själva verket finns blott atomer och tomhet." - Demokritos
ShinBet is online now Svara med citat
Avslutat konto
"förrgår" och "övermorgon" är också svenska ord som inte finns som enstaka ord i engelskan. "The day before yesterday", eller "the day after tomorrow" låter ju ganska knöligt.
Även "dygn" är lite knöligt på engelska.
Hur är det med "kvartal", förresten?
Introvert speleolog
Grottiss avatar
"Grottis". För vad skulle det bli på engelska, "cavie"?
Kolla in min blogg! Starkt kontroversiell, säger vissa. Döm själv.
Skogsfinne: "Flytta hem!"
De stal ju "Ombudsman" och "Smörgåsbord" från svenskan. Iofs skulle de kanske kunna säga Sandwich table?
"Hela världen är en rad underverk, men vi är så vana vid dem, att vi kallar dem vardagliga."
"Jag håller uppenbarligen inte med om att trådar om sverigedemokraterna hör hemma i Inrikes. Det är ju därför jag skickar dem till Nationalism, där man hittar dem lika enkelt genom att trycka på Nya inlägg."Ursprungligen postat av Björn Olsson Visa inlägg
Även "dygn" är lite knöligt på engelska.
Ja.Hur är det med "kvartal", förresten?
"Quarter" menar du? Du måste vara sällsynt akademisk om du inte stött på termerna Q1, Q2, Q3 eller Q4.

Kolla in min blogg! Starkt kontroversiell, säger vissa. Döm själv.

"Quarter" menar du?
Fan. Varför kom jag med egna förslag, istället för att leta fel i andras?

Det finns naturligtvis ord för "glesbygd" på engelska. Ett är "backwoods". På australisk engelska finns "outback". Det finns också en massa slangord som motsvarar den svenska slangvarianten "visjan", t.ex. "the sticks".
Betyder inte "backwoods" och "outback" vildmark eller ödebygder?
Innerst inne i varje sött litet flickebarn finns en sur käring som väntar på att få sista ordet.
Elak som satan!
Anglernes tungomål är som en flock lösa stenar hängandes löst i luften utan lag. Medan det svenska mål följer given lag och ligger grannt i luften som en granner hök.
71. Haltr riðr hrossi,
hiorð recr handarvanr,
da/fr vegr oc dvgir;
blindr er betri
enn brendr se,
nytr mangi náss.
Satans bolsjevikerRRRRR!
Ort: Zon 4
Vad heter husse och matte?
Man kan säga master respektive mistress, men jag tror det är vanligare att helt enkelt säga owner.
Jag kom, jag såg inte, jag skapade
Ursprungligen postat av Wicked Visa inlägg
Man kan säga master respektive mistress, men jag tror det är vanligare att helt enkelt säga owner.
Med andra ord finns det inga ord för matte och husse i engelskan som jag ser det. Ty mistress skulle låta enormt fel. Likaså ägare. Jag vill ha ord mer i stil med Mom och Dad. Annars låter det konstigt, lite som om någon skulle vara sina barns ägare.

Ursprungligen postat av Harry Schönhaar Visa inlägg
Betyder inte "backwoods" och "outback" vildmark eller ödebygder?
Ungefär, men de används i överförd bemärkelse även ibland för något i stil med "glesbygd". Men direkt överrensstämmande översättning är det inte nej.

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Gå tillbaka Debatthuset > Humaniora, konst och kultur > Språk och retorik > Ord som inte finns i engelskan

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:43:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Finnegans Wake as a Secret Agent; ....a fantasy

Arie Altena

Lastly, but mostly, in her genesic field it is all game and no gammon (FW 112,13)

I've a seeklet to sell (FW 248,26)

We had a plan: we would expose Finnegans Wake as a secret agent of language. A retranslation of the Japanese translation of the original text would do the trick. Anyway, that is what we expected.

Finnegans Wake is based on puns. The words from Finnegans Wake are not normal English, they are portmanteaus: imaginary words in which different words from various languages are present. The portmanteaus create the puns. This principle is based in and dependent on the western style of writing: a series of alphanumeric inscriptions. Finnegans Wake asks its reader not to use just one code (English, French, Dutch, etc.) to decipher the inscriptions. The reader is invited, or even forced, to follow his own associations and to use more codes at the same time, often because the word in questy does not exist. The possible sounds (and letter-combinations) that are suggested by the inscriptions would all have their say. Shuit suggests suit, but also shoot and should. Ethiquetical suggests both ethics and etiquette, blinkhards, contains the Dutch blinken (= to shine) and the English to blink, and the deeper you delve, even into very normal words, the more you find.

There is a brilliant Japanese translation of Finnegans Wake. Brilliant because the grammatical and morphological structure of Japanese is totally different from the Indo-German languages on which Finnegans Wake is principally based, and also, obviously, because the way of writing is very different. The Japanese translation turns the alphanumeric text of Finnegans Wake into characters and preserves the principle of the pun and the portmanteau in its own, uniquely Japanese, way.

What happens when the Japanese text is re-translated back into English? We presumed that the text, already so liquid and variable, would, morph via the Japanese translation into something completely different. A stone could become a turtle, an envelope a trolley bus, and a military costume a field of buttercups.

At the time we expected that the retranslation would prove that Finnegans Wake possesses the properties of a secret agent. Excuse me? we hear you say, a secret agent? Finnegans Wake is a text in which, and for which, anything is possible, it can signify anything (actually: it signifies everything!), it hides itself, perhaps behind a mask, as an innocent, invisible, who knows? With a carte-blanche and a licence to kill, an elegant, inconspicious agent ready at any moment to inflict wounds on the ideology which maintains that texts, sentences, can only mean one thing.

What innocents we were. Finnegans Wake does not function like a ticking time bomb that nestles itself in the brain of a reader only to go off, explode, days or even months later, like some poems do. No, Finnegans Wake functions like a genetic algorithm, constantly evolving, changing, developing, building on itself, adapting to the circumstances, to its life-environment, and all the while searching for an endpoint: the solution to a problem. But once this endpoint is reached, another problem has shown itself and, so the algorithm goes on building, changing, evolving. This is what Finnegans Wake does to thebrain of the reader. It uses the brain as a host. Without a host it cannot live. Finnegans Wake comes to life by attaching itself to pieces of code in the brain, eating the code, changing it, erasing bits, creating new pieces. Finnegans Wake is a series of self-evolving codes; readable, but dangerous.

This was what we wanted to prove. As if this is not visible, as if Finnegans Wake makes a secret out of it. As if it is not immediately clear to anyone who reads just one sentence of Finnegans Wake.

Finnegans Wake, page 109, looking back, perhaps we did not chose the best page to illustrate our case. We sent the corresponding page from the Japanese translation to an unsuspecting translator, with the request Would you please translate this piece for our magazine on culture and new media. She went to work and she did her job very well. Imagine the amazement and disappointment on our faces when it turned out that her translation actually did resemble the original in many ways. To be sure, her retranslation was normal English, not `Wakian', but `the gist of the story' was almost completely intact. with no sign of an irreversible metamorphosis that would prove Finnegans Wake to be a secret agent.

In retrospect this was not all that strange. It was not the fact that our idea had been totally wrong, but the fact that our strategy had been based on false presuppositions with regards to translation in general; more specifically, with regards to this particular translation of Finnegans Wake.

We had wanted to unmask Finnegans Wake. But Finnegans Wake does not wear a mask. If Finnegans Wake bears any resemblance to a secret agent, then it is a secret agent who does not have to keep up the pretence that he is, in fact, a secret agent. And so secret agent FW outsmarted us, and always will, because, although it is clear that it is a secret agent, those who, once and for all, want to expose it secret-agent-ness will never catch it.

So... is Finnegans Wake a secret agent at all? Of course! Its employer is language. (No, not James Joyce. Joyce was just a simple soul shanghaied into doing the dirty work). Its mission is: Destroy the idea that a text can and must be read according to one code - that one code being the only right code - from which follows that there is just one meaning. Harmless. Proving that language, in general, and more specifically, that every single sentence written in one language can always be read according to different codes, takes on different meanings in different contexts. It is never possible to say: this is the one and only right code, the one and only right context for this sentence. Meaning is unlimited because context is, in principle, multiple. It is a strange secret agent; admittedly, it does not gather information, but rather weaves itself into the existing fabric of language and does its job there, with disastrous effects.

Context knows no limits: in every text, in every sentence, endless perspectives unfold. An infinite number of possible worlds can be projected. The number of possible meanings knows no limits.

Finnegans Wake fulfills its mission brilliantly through portmanteaus and puns.

In the words of the third generation `Wakian' Derek Attridge: The portmanteau word is a monster, a word that is not a word, that is not authorized by any dictionary, that holds out the worrying prospect of books which... recycling the words we know, possess the freedom endlessly to invent new ones (Attridge p. 196).

The portmanteau word challenges two myths on which assumptions about the efficacy of language rest. Like the pun, it denies that single words must have, on any given occasion, single meanings; and like the various devices of assonance and rhyme it denies that the manifold patterns of similarity which occur at the level of the signifier are innocent in meaning (Attridge p. 197).

A secret agent has a carte-blanche, a licence to kill. Everything is acceptable in the pursuit of its mission. The same is true of the genetic algorithm in computer space whose mission it is to find a solution to a problem. There are no rules and no laws that are forbidden to be used, just as there are no rules and no laws that may not be broken. Every rule and every law can be used and may be broken and can be stretched to the limit and even beyond it.

Finnegans Wake asks its reader not to use only the code of English to make sense of the words, but to use other codes as well: French, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Latin, Irish, etc. While reading Finnegans Wake there is no reason not to make an association. No matter how illogical, strange or stupid that association may seem at first. Every association can yield meaning, and maybe even bring the reader to a deeper understanding of the text. Click twice on an icon in one of the menu programmes that interface with your brain, while reading FW, and the text assumes an understandable form. Click on another icon and the form changes, and the same words receive another meaning. Click on English and cant morphs into can t, click on Dutch and cant means kant (side, but also, strangely, lace). ... Luckily there's another cant to the questy meaning Luckily there is another side to the story, or even, from the Japanese version: Luckily here s another story hidden behind this adventure... in this way the reader works his way through the text. Another code or another context: another form and another meaning. It is just like using PhotoShop, isn't it?

Derrida, perhaps superfluous, asks himself, How many languages can be lodged into two words by Joyce, lodged or inscribed, kept or burned, celebrated or violated (Derrida p. 145). Museyroom is a room in a museum, but also a room to amuse oneself in, or to muse in, and why, on earth should that have nothing to do with mushrooms? Just think about bisexycle... throw it into your photoshop for language and wait and see what it does.

Nansense, you snorsted? (Click to names and this means: Nansen, were you snoring again?, click to sound and it means nonsense, you snorted?)


And, if some words can be interpreted according to different codes... why not all of them? Is there a rule that prevents that from happening? If there is such a rule, then it is the first rule that Finnegans Wake.will dispose.

This is all possible because the signifier is the lord and master in Finnegans Wake. The outer husk is not the slave of significance:The material envelope of the sign - its phonemes and graphemes - has been allowed to take the initiative and has brought about a coalescence of otherwise distinct fields of reference. This dominance of the signifier, of course, goes against all the rules. Phonemes and graphemes should be servants, not masters, and the mere coincidence of outward similarity should have no bearing on the meaning within (Attridge, p. 192).

The text of Finnegans Wake is a web in which each new interpretation of a sentence creates a new context for that sentence and for all the other sentences as well. Through this process, a sort of contextual circle is created: because the new context makes a new interpretation possible, which, in turn, creates a new context. In this way, the amount of possible meanings goes on to eternity. And this is true of every single the word in Finnegans Wake. The context is limiting, and this limitation makes the creation of meaning possible. This is the way language functions. Finnegans Wake is endless and its meanings are endless, too.

Everyone agrees on that. Well... everyone?!??!!

Someone who does not agree and who, oh so obstinately clings to the opposite view is Arno Schmidt (1914-1979), with his logarithmic tables on the Lüneburger Moorland, creator of his own Finnegans Wake: Zettels Traum. He asserts: ...denn die Sprache (of Finnegans Wake) is imgrunde doch nichts, als ein oft kunstvoll, öfters mit nichtsnutziger Erfindsamkeit verballhorntes Englisch (Schmidt p. 294). This slightly distorted English of Finnegans Wake could be made readable and understandable by using one of the two possible Lesemodelle that can be applied to the text: a mystical one and a realistic one. According to Arno Schmidt.

Arno Schmidt, the realist, and his theory of the Etym. According to Schmidt, Finnegans Wake is made up of Etyms. Jedes Etym fasst, und zwar auf akustischer Basis, eine ganze Anzahl Worte zusammen. Then surprisingly Schmidt writes, Es gibt also weniger Etyms als Worte, das Unbewusste is ja dampfer, als das Bewustsein. Schmidt is reading Finnegans Wake precisely in the same way as the first generation of Wakians (just like Campbell & Robinson in The Skeleton Key): they regard the text as the report of a dream. Schmidt reduces Finnegans Wake to a limited number of Etyms that are made visible and audible by an endless series of portmanteaus. The same is true of his own Zettels Traum, which is not a difficult book at all! Arno the Obstinate. Schmidt thinks that Finnegans Wake is an unambiguous book. It is just that the text is a little disguised, like a dream.

But listen to what Derrida says: This generalized equivocality of writing does not translate one language into another on the basis of common nuclei of meaning...; it talks several language at once... (Derrida p. 149). That is what Finnegans Wake does. And that is exactly what the retranslation does not do.

A translator who does not know that she is re-translating Finnegans Wake will choose the one language in which she thinks the text was written and will translate it into that language. Just one code. Moreover, she will try to find the most logical context, the context that makes the text a meaningful whole. She will choose the most obvious context (although that is difficult, but remember, she probably thinks that she is translating a strange essay for a magazine on culture and new media). And so what one loses are the secret agent aspects of Finnegans Wake.

One is not translating a multitude of contexts. A text can always have a multitude of contexts. It is also present in the retranslation. And, in principle, in this article as well. (But, if you read this article as a serious demonstration of an argument, then there is no multitude of contexts. There is one context. The other contexts are deactivated by a program that says this is a serious article, there is a point to it and it shall be read seriously. I am not joking!)

What remains untranslated in a retranslation of Finnegans Wake is the principle on which the text is based. The devices which allow it to function like a secret agent: the portmanteau, the pun. Of course it is possible to create a translation loaded with plethoras of puns and portmanteaus. That's what the Japanese translation does. But we did not want such a translation. It would not have helped us to clarify our point. At least, that is what we thought.

We picked out page 109 to be re-translated. This is from chapter 5, which is basically about the letter. Page 109 can, on first sight, be read, as a speech about the envelope, by a slightly dazed professor. Luckily there's another cant to the questy, he says, while examining the envelope that contains a letter.

The most obvious context for the retranslation of page 109 is that it is a speech about the nature of the envelope. Something is explained about the envelope, about the letter, the meaning of a letter and the meaning of an envelope, there are a few far-fetched comparisons, it almost makes sense. This is the gist of the story. And, not unsurprisingly, this is all that remains in the retranslation.

This is, of course, possible because this gist of the story is present on this page. It is one of the many contexts. The first generation of Wakians was usually engaged in deciphering this `gist of the story' from the text, in order to make Finnegans Wake readable.

But deciphering this gist of the story from the text in this way is like reducing Finnegans Wake to a story, whereas the story is exactly not what it is all about. The gist of the story is just one of the aspects of Finnegans Wake, and not even a very important one (according to third generation Wakians). Besides it is often not possible to figure out the gist of the story from the text, because there are two or three possible gists of the story present on one page. One reads about a drunken man who is urinating against a lamppost, another reads about the erection of a temple to some goddess, while a third reads a lyrical poem about the Liffey. Which is the true gist of the story?

The secret agent Finnegans Wake escaped under the hands of an unknowing translator. Our strategy was not all that bright. We lost something and learned something else.

The letters on the page are the envelope that contains a letter, at least: we assume the envelope contains a letter. Did this person gaze long enough at this ordinary everyday stamped and addressed envelope? or fact, ever looked sufficiently longly at a quite everydaylooky stamped addressed envelope? Is it perhaps an empty wrapper, an outer husk, which we can fill with our own imagination? Or is it an attempt to analyse a single viewpoint from a multitude of viewpoints?, as the retranslation claims. Who knows?

Stop his laysense. Ink him! (FW 373.18)


Derek Attridge, Peculiar Language, Literature as Difference from the Renaissance to James Joyce, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY 1988.

Jacques Deridda, "Two Words for Joyce", in: Derek Attridge & Daniel Ferrer (eds.), Post-Structuralist Joyce, Essays from the French, Cambridge UP, Cambridge etc. 1984.

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 1939.

Arno Schmidt, "Kaleidoskopische Kollidiereskapaden", in: Der Triton mit dem Sonnenschirm, p. 293-320.

Arno Schmidt, Vorläufiges zu Zettels Traum, 1970.

Japanese Translation

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake I / II,
translation: Yanase Maoki,
Japan 1991, ISBN 4309 20169 5, Japanese text.

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake III / IV,
translation: Yanase Maoki,
Japan 1993, ISBN 4309 20228 4, Japanese text.

some rights reserved
Arie Altena
published in Mediamatic Magazine, 9#1, summer 1998
see also:

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:46:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Van Gogh as Chump

From an economic point of view, Vincent Van Gogh is something of a paradox. During his lifetime he was penniless and absolutely dependent on his brother Theo, and he earned virtually nothing from his art. Vincent died young, and when Theo also died shortly thereafter Vincent's oeuvre was essentially worthless, and Theo's investment could only have been regarded as a bad one, motivated by feelings of charity or family solidarity.

Van Gogh painted a number of excellent sunflower pictures
Van Gogh frequently wore a felt hat, particularly in cold or rainy weather.
Nowadays single Van Gogh works sell for fifty million dollars or more, and by simple processes of multiplication we can conclude that his entire body of work is worth several billion dollars.Thus, Van Gogh's average annual value-added during his short career must have been several hundred million dollars. So you have to ask yourself -- where was this money during Van Gogh's lifetime? Where did this value come from, since it simply didn't exist in Van Gogh's time, when the paintings were actually being painted? Considering that he and Theo never saw any of it, from an economist's point of view weren't they just a couple of suckers?

People still make good livings off Van Gogh, but he couldn't make a living himself. He was a pitiful loser in the struggle for survival, whereas art dealers, as they themselves very well know, are the triumphant victors. (Kenneth Rexroth noted long ago that used-car dealers would go to jail if their business practices were as shady as those of art dealers).

Pablo Picasso learned from Van Gogh's example and capitalized himself very well. A great, prolific and extremely versatile artist, he had a fine business sense and was a pioneer both in the way he brand-named himself and in the way he reinvented himself from time to time, thus creating new product which could be sold to people even if they already owned earlier product. With Picasso the living artist hit the big time.

Andy Warhol was the third stage of the evolution of the artist. Van Gogh was a talented artist who was, in business terms, a chump. Picasso was a talented artist who had a keen sense of publicity and was alert to business trends. Warhol bypassed the talent part entirely, and while Picasso's self-invention sometimes involved gimmicks or labels, Warhol was all gimmick, all the time. His trademarks were silk screen, clashing colors, and the appropriation of images from popular culture, and he never varied them much. Warhol did not have to rely on actual artistic production; he vitalized his career with a vigorous stancing strategy in the worlds of fashion, high society and the media.

For as-yet-unknown reasons, cows had a special importance for Warhol.

Marilyn Monroe was a twentieth-century actress who was reputed to have had an affair
with one of the American political leaders of the period.

By now the commercial formulae of art have been standardized. Every new artist is a rebel rejecting the conventions of society, and it's almost always the same conventions. Ordinary life is decontextualized and disenchanted. Contraries are juxtaposed and the normal is framed to seem strange. In commercial youth culture the sexual coming-of-age, which is exciting and somewhat frightening in every society, becomes the rejection of society rather than just the ritual transition to adulthood via the violation of sexual taboos which in reality apply only to children. Generation after generation, we are continually being liberated over and over again from the same old taboos. To paraphrase Stephen Daedelus, liberation is a nightmare which we are trying to escape.

In this process, successful art revolutionaries normally end up counting their investments like Picasso, and their surviving followers, the ones that didn't take the message all that seriously, as a rule slide into forms of normalcy only slightly different those those of their parents. (Van Gogh is not really a tempting model). Commercial youth rebellion, by encouraging young people to reject the values of their parents, actually makes them more malleable and easier to fit into the newer, cheesier world which market forces are creating.

As a case in point, the late Frank Zappa was actually a skilled and talented musician, but he talked far too much about the liberating potential of his new, new ideas. No one has ever been able to tell what Zappa's new ideas were, whether on social questions or musically. Socially he seems to have thought that freedom is a good thing and that drugs are a bad thing -- not exactly bold statements. Musically, all the elements of his work -- dada, blues, bebop, neoclassical and occasionally atonal harmonies, electronic music, Bulgarian rhythm, rock and roll, cabaret, etc. -- were well-established by the time Zappa's first record came out (and in most cases, half a century before that time). He was fluent at all of these styles but revolutionized none of them. (And don't say that his genius was in the juxtaposition of these different styles, because pastiche is one of the cliches of dada). We have to give credit to Zappa for providing an escape for people who wanted get away from the vast stupidity of the youth culture of the Sixties without going completely mainstream, but it's hard to say that he changed much of anything. (But new Zappas will continue to be born forever.)

Back to the original question. When Van Gogh died a lot of cash was tied up in academic paintings done by people no one has heard of since. Not long after his death, cash started flowing away from these paintings toward Van Gogh's paintings. The academic paintings were stranded as historical curiosities, whereas Van Gogh's paintings can now be used as security to get hefty loans from major banks. So if we ask ourselves "Where was the cash value of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings during his lifetime?", the answer is simple. It was wherever the cash value of Andy Warhol's paintings will have gone a century from now, when people will be able to go to garage sales and spend $5 or so to buy one of the original prints Warhol cranked out.

Addendum: Apparently gimmicks are "intellectual property" and can be copyrighted. John Cage's " 4' 33" " consisted of four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. A nice Dada move in a concert where people expect something rather than nothing. But apparently a musician who inserted a minute of silence into a piece, (with explicit reference to Cage), is going to have to pay hefty royalties to Cage's estate.

I already knew that the world is ruled by lawyers, financiers, and the media. But I wasn't quite sure whether Dadaists were on the team. They are.

Cage / Batt lawsuit

Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:59:00 AM

troylloyd said...
April 10
stéphane mallarmé

… nominare un oggetto è sopprimere tre quarti del godimento della poesia, che è costituita dalla felicità di indovinare poco a poco: suggerire, ecco il sogno. E’ l’uso perfetto di questo mistero che costituisce il simbolo …

da: Proses diverses. Réponse à une enquete sur l’évolution litteraire, 1891. In Oeuvres complétes (Parigi, 1951)

Sunday, April 20, 2008 1:05:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
2 Objections to Reduction: Primacy and Explanation

The appeal to property dualism has not seemed to have much success in rescuing so-called higher-level phenomena from reduction to lower-levels. Non-reductive physicalism and emergentism still work with in the framework of foundationalist epistemology that drives the ordering of ontology in reductive manner. What if the assumption that the lower ontological levels provide more primacy is rejected? How might this be done?

Which ontological level provides the most primary access? Foundationalism implies that the bottom level would be the obvious choice, but as mentioned earlier this is an architectural analogy. Why assume ontology is affected by gravity? If we take identity reduction as an example, the very idea of foundations can be called into question. In identity reduction, we equate facts. Instead of heat being explained as a function of kinetic energy in particles, it is explained as “heat=kinetic energy in particles.” In identity reduction there is no such thing as ontological levels, for both “levels” are actually just different ways of describing the same thing.[1] The choice as to which “level” is the correct level seems to become arbitrary. Should heat be understood on the level of physics, biology, phenomenology, or any other way of describing the occurrence? Is physics even describing the same thing as the sensation of heat I experience when I touch a flaming grill? The phenomenological reduction of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty would seem to imply that experience is the proper fact level to begin form. As Merleau-Ponty writes: “The whole universe of science is built upon the world as directly experienced, and if we want to subject science itself to rigorous scrutiny and arrive at a precise assessment of its meaning and scope, we must begin by reawakening the basic experience of the world of which science is the second-order expression.”[2] Searle writes that “performances of . . . [Beethoven’s] Ninth can be reduced to wave motions in the air, but that is not what is interesting to us about the performance.”[3] Why should we assume the reduction to wave motions is gets us closer to an objective ontological foundation rather than take us farther away from the primacy of a subjective experience?

An even bigger problem growing out of the assumption of reductivism is the fact that to explain a phenomena is to reduce it. Higher level explanations are simply necessitated by the finite nature of human comprehension. If understanding a phenomena is done by reducing it and understanding its pieces, then does this mean that something indivisible cannot objectively be explained? This would seem to be the implication of ontological reduction, but it seems that this causes major epistemic problems. Either the reductivist could choose to say there is no such thing as an indivisible particle or he could resort to some sort of brute and unexplainable properly basic belief. If the reductivist assumes the former, then there is no ontologically prime level from which to begin explanation. Every level could be continually divided thus meaning the reductivist has to resort to the illusory higher levels for explanation. In a sense, the reductivist would never has true ontological access to the world because he is bound by his finite, subjective perception. The second option doesn’t fair much better. By resorting to a properly basic element, an indivisible ontological particle, the reductivist commits himself to an inexplicable a priori truth. As Chalmers describes it: “at some level physics has to be taken as brute: there may be no explanation of why the fundamental laws or boundary conditions are the way they are.”[4] The mystery can never be fully relieved because you can’t explain the most basic level. There is also a necessary simplicity and autonomy of the most basic level, but how can we explain this most basic level in any other way than as an a priori truth? If we cannot explain the basic level of ontology it becomes the correlate of an epistemic foundation, which most current foundationalist appeal to as intuition, and the unfortunate thing is that intuition is a matter of opinion. It is, as Holt notes, “a bare place holder, if not a simple acknowledgement of defeat, of a failure to find genuine rational foundations.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008 1:38:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Rorty, Derrida, Gadamer

Gary Brent Madison
McMaster University

[From my forthcoming book, The Politics of Postmodernity: Essays in Applied Hermeneutics]

I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous--a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.

--Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, "Why I Am a Destiny."

For us who today read Nietzsche after Heidegger, Nietzsche symbolizes the end of metaphysics (the death not only of "God" but also, as a necessary consequence, of the human "subject"). Whether or not Nietzsche actually succeeded in "overcoming metaphysics"--by means of his inventive myths, his "fictions," of the Will to Power, the Uebermensch, and the Eternal Return--or whether, as Heidegger would have had it, he was simply the "last of the metaphysicians," his own "last man" in effect, is a question still awaiting an answer. What I wish to reflect on in this essay is the meaning of what has been and is going on in the wake of Nietzsche's genealogically deconstructive critique of the Tradition. Where do we stand, where can we stand when the very concept of "ground," the metaphysical concept par excellence, has been swept away?

A quote from the literary critic Terry Eagleton might help to pinpoint the crucial cultural issue arising out of Nietzsche's all-out attack on the Tradition. Eagleton writes:

We are now in the process of wakening from the nightmare of modernity, with its manipulative reason and fetish of the totality, into the laid-back ["joyful," as Nietzsche would say] pluralism of the postmodern, that heterogeneous range of life-styles and language games which has renounced the nostalgic urge to totalize and legitimate itself....Science and philosophy must jettison their grandiose metaphysical claims and view themselves more modestly as just another set of narratives.

In other words, what as a result of Nietzsche's Fröliche Wissenschaft has been called into question in these postmodern times is that which has served always as the ultimate legitimation of the philosophical enterprise: the search for Truth, for Knowledge, for, that is to say, Science (Wissenschaft, episteme). i.e., the One (Universal), True Account of Things (Reality) (true heirs to Parmenides and Pythagoras, present-day physicists are currently expending a great deal of money and energy in search of what they call the Theory of Everything, "a single equation that describes the entire universe"). What under the inspiration of Nietzsche postmodernism has called into question is the foundational, cultural authority of Science.

The concept of Science is a Platonic invention, but it underwent a new twist at the beginning of modern times with the emergence of mathematical, experimental science of the Galilean sort. Modern philosophy can be said to have begun when, bedazzled by this new development, philosophers took the new science as the supreme model of genuine, foundational knowledge. They were, ever afterwards, to labor in the shadow cast by this great Idol. Even the "free thinking," godless philosophers of late modernity continued to pay a sort of religious hommage to it. As Nietzsche remarked in the Genealogy of Morals, "They are far from being free spirits: for they still have faith in truth." And as he went on to say: "It is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science--and we men of knowledge of today, we godless men and anti-metaphysicians, we, too, still derive our flame from the fire ignited by a faith millennia old, the Christian faith, which was also Plato's, that God is truth, that truth is divine." When at long last Nietzsche took to doing philosophy with a hammer, it was precisely this Idol that he sought to demolish.

To get a sense of what happens when the Idol comes crashing down, listen for a moment to some of what Baudrillard has to say:

All of Western faith and good faith was engaged in this wager on representation [i.e., "science"]: that a sign could refer to the depth of meaning, that a sign could exchange for meaning and that something could guarantee this exchange--God, of course. But what if God himself can be simulated, that is to say, reduced to the signs which attest his existence [cf. Nietzsche's "death of God"]? Then the whole system becomes weightless; it is no longer anything but a gigantic simulacrum: not unreal, but a simulacrum, never again exchanging for what is real, but exchanging in itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.

In other words, as Nietzsche would say, when the value of (representational) truth is called into question, everything becomes (mere) interpretation ("There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective 'knowing'"). The world itself becomes nothing more than a "sign-world," i.e., merely a semiological construct, a mere signifier signifying only itself. In a way which reminds one of the section in the Twilight of the Idols entitled "How the 'Real World' at last Became a Myth," Baudrillard lists the following as "the successive phases of the image":

1 It is the reflection of a basic reality.

2 It masks and perverts a basic reality.

3 It masks the absence of a basic reality.

4 It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum (170).

When the "real world" at last becomes a myth, a simulacrum, we are witnessing the death not only of Truth and of Science, but also of Philosophy itself. At least Philosophy with a capital P, as Rorty would say. What are we then left with? Is there anything to be found in Nietzsche's legacy ("Let us abolish the real world") other than the most abyssmal of nihilisms? What are we to do when there is no more Truth and no more Reality--and no more Philosophy (Science) to tell us what Truth and Reality really and truly are? How are we to cope with this situation which defines our postmodernity? Perhaps we could pick up some pointers by considering how three eminent thinkers of our times--Rorty, Derrida, Gadamer--have sought to cope with Nietzsche's legacy, each in his own quite distinctive way.


Rorty, it must be admitted, has not had any great trouble knowing what to do after the end of Philosophy. Of the three thinkers I shall be considering, Rorty has been the least discomforted by the heavy burden of Nietzsche's legacy. Indeed, in the light-hearted joyfulness of his new-found philosophical innocence, he has wholeheartedly embraced Nietzsche's pronouncements about the demise of Truth. If he is anything at all, Rorty is a carefree, happy-go-lucky nihilist who is not about to let himself be bothered any more by the old concerns of philosophy. Nietzsche's word about the "death of God" seems to have been the liberating news he had been awaiting throughout all of the years of his exile in the arid waste lands of analytic philosophy. He tells us now that reading philosophy books is mostly a waste of time (it doesn't contribute to human solidarity): Who, he asks, was ever convinced in ways that matter by a philosophical argument? We ought to read novels instead, people like Nabokov and Orwell, Dickens and Proust. Rorty fully endorses Lyotard's claim that philosophical metanarratives are out, mininarratives are in. What counts is not to say something "truthful" but something "interesting," something "edifying." We should also change the conversation as much as possible, lest it become boring (we do this, according to Rorty, by continually inventing new "vocabularies," "simply by playing the new off against the old"). Not Socrates' "Don't tell a lie," but Johnny Carson's "Don't be boring" seems to have become Rorty's watchword.

And indeed Rorty has many interesting, even "edifying," things to say. I have no doubt that his Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature has performed an extremely valuable service to the English-speaking philosophical community (to those, at least, who have lent it an attentive ear). I fully agree with Richard Bernstein when he says: "Richard Rorty has written one of the most important and challenging books to be published by an American philosopher in the past few decades." Bernstein is also right in remarking on how those who find it a "deeply disturbing book" and those who find it "liberating and exhilarating" are both right and wrong. It is unquestionably liberating and exhilarating, but it is also deeply disturbing, for reasons I shall indicate in a moment.

What is liberating and exhilarating about the book is the way in which it was able to open the eyes of so many people to the utter bankrupcy of traditional, foundationalist philosophizing. European philosophers (e.g., Derrida) had of course already said much the same thing, but Rorty's easy style of writing served to bring the message home with great éclat. What is announced here so effectively is the demise of modern philosophy, of, in other words, the whole epistemological project of modernity or what Rorty calls "epistemology centered philosophy." Rorty defines epistemology "as the quest, initiated by Descartes, for those privileged items in the field of consciousness which are the touchstones of truth" (210). Epistemology is a foundational discipline, not itself a science in the narrow sense of the term, but the theory of science which secures for each and every science its legitimacy by establishing for it its foundation and method. Rorty asks whether in these postmodern times, when the Cartesian-Lockean-Kantian "cognizing subject" of modernity--a subject which is nothing but a pure, disembodied gaze upon a fully object world (the mind as a "mirror of nature")--has been deconstructed, "there still remains something for epistemology to be" (210). His answer, of course, is that there doesn't. When, for just one thing, one considers all the interesting developments in postpositivist and postpopperian philosophy of science (Kuhn, Hesse, Toulmin, Feyerabend, etc.), it is hard not to agree. Epistemology is now dead, thanks in large part to Rorty.

In Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature Rorty uses the term "hermeneutics," "a polemical term in contemporary philosophy," as he calls it (357), to designate this central attempt on the part of postmodern thinking to set aside epistemologically centered philosophy. This is a most fitting term since Gadamer himself has characterized his philosophizing--hermeneutics--as an attempt to overcome the modes of thought of "the epistemological era (l'ère de la théorie de la connaissance)." In his subsequent writings, however, Rorty tends to use the term "hermeneutics" less and less, perhaps due to the influence of Derrida, who quite erroneously has insinuated that hermeneutics remains attached to the old metaphysics of presence. But this, too, is fitting since in this book Rorty gives a hint of what is to come when he says that "hermeneutics is an expression of hope that the cultural space left by the demise of epistemology will not be filled" (315, emphasis added). Unlike Gadamer who has sought, by means of hermeneutics, to provide an alternative, a postmodern option, to "epistemologically centered philosophy," Rorty does indeed leave us with a cultural void. This is precisely what makes Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature a "deeply disturbing" book.

What indeed, we may ask, are the ultimate "consequences" of Rorty's postmodern pragmatism? I think they can fairly well be summed up in two words: relativism and nihilism. Rorty has, to be sure, protested the charge of relativism, but his responses are evasive and his arguments lack the power of conviction (which I suppose is only fitting in the case of someone who no longer believes in philosophical argumentation). We are inevitably condemned to relativism when, rejecting like Rorty the metaphysical notion of Truth, we reject also all metanarratives, when, that is, we reject the legitimacy of theory, which always seeks some form of universal validity. And, similarly, we find ourselves in a state of nihilism when, rejecting the metaphysical notion of Reality, we go on to assert as well that everyone's "truths" are merely their own private "fictions," when, that is, we equate fiction with mere semblance (similacrum) and deny it the power to recreate or refigure, and thus enhance, what is called "reality."

Rorty says that in a post-Philosophical age the attempt to understand things (by means of philosophical theory) is passé. The important thing, he says, is to learn how to cope. Rorty may have something of a point here. Indeed, one fairly common characteristic of postmodern thought in general is that it insists on the primacy of the practical over the theoretical (this is reflected, for instance, in Gadamer's rehabilitation of the Aristotelian notion of phronesis: "the primacy of 'practice' is undeniable"). It is one thing to accord priority to praxis, to ethos; it is quite another, however, to deny to theory a legitimate and, indeed, central role in the formation and sustenance of life practices and socio-political modes of being-in-the-world--in other words, their justification or, as Habermas would say much to Rorty's displeasure, "legitimation." But this is something that Rorty, with his anti-theory stance, does. He ignores the fact that arriving at some (theoretical) understanding of things is a most important way in which humans manage to cope with things (and, I might add, not only cope with them, but critically and creatively engage with them).

Rorty obviously likes to view himself as a kind of social or culture critic, denouncing cruelty and promoting solidarity. One thing that flows from his postphilosophical stance, however, is the rejection of any form of universal theory (diverse cultures or "conceptual schemes" are simply "incommensurable"), and thus any form of philosophical, which is to say universal, critique; for this he would substitute a "de-theoreticized sense of community," in other words, compassionate feelings of a Rousseauian sort. Having thrown overboard the universalist claims of Enlightenment reason, the best Rorty can do when confronted with "cruelty" is to express his personal distaste for it by not admitting cruel people to his own comfy club of "we postmodernist bourgeois liberals," i.e., "people who are more afraid of being cruel than of anything else." Letting it be known that they are not "one of us" (190) is about as condemnatory as he can get. We may believe in something like human rights and the value of the individual, but if we are candid, we must admit that "this belief is caused by nothing deeper than contingent historical circumstance" (189). What right do we have, therefore, to "impose" it on people in other cultures and historical circumstances? None, it would seem, since there are no "general principles," only historical narrations whose validity (if that's the proper word) is limited to a given community at a given time. It is hard to imagine what kind of argument Rorty could address to the violators of human rights in China other than to urge them to read George Orwell. I can in fact see how the ruling clique in China could well turn Rorty's anti-universalist, "frankly ethnocentric," stance to their own good use when they feel the urge to protest Western denunciations of their barbaric practices as so much interference in their "internal affairs": Who are we Westerners, we "bourgeois liberals" (a term which is for them an invective), we non-Chinese to tell them what to do anyhow? Rorty has deconstructed the metaphysical absolutism of the Tradition only to land himself in the quagmire of a quite traditional form of ethical relativism.

What, like a number of other postmodernists of a relativist bent, Rorty fails to realize is that philosophical theory and critique need not necessarily be "foundationalist." He has not realized that in the new postmodern, globalist, multipolar or polycentric civilization which is emerging everywhere in the world, universality and particularity need no longer be metaphysical opposites. It is only for a modernist, essentialist mentality that universalism has to mean homegeneity and cultural imperialism. Like so many other anti-theorists today, Rorty has not so much overcome modernism as he has simply abandoned it for its opposite (absolutism for relativism, necessity for contingency, [essentialist] universalism for "localism"); he is not so much a postfoundationalist as he is a mere antifoundationalist who has simply (as Searle would say of Derrida) "turned the world upside down." In, as is his wont, merely "changing the subject," he has failed to work out any viable theoretical alternative to the bankrupt conceptuality of philosophical modernity. Derrida, at least, has realized that "metaphysics" is not simply something one can drop at one's pleasure, like an old, worn-out pair of shoes, or simply set aside, like a game with which one has become bored or a conversation which has gone stale. Like (as some would say) Nietzsche himself, Rorty has not succeeded in "overcoming metaphysics"--although he has at least managed, willy-nilly, to find a way of coping with the nihilism which, as Nietzsche pointed out, tends inevitably to follow upon the overthrowing of metaphysics. Rorty's writings can be of value to those who no longer have any principled way of defending the notion of value.


Derrida is one of Rorty's cultural heroes, and it is not hard to see why. As a fellow postnietzschean who also proclaims the demise of philosophy and the end of "man," Derrida has all the appearances of being a living incarnation of the Rortyan ideal of the nonchalant postphilosophical thinker, viz., the "kibitzer" and "all-purpose intellectual," the "intellectual dilettante." Derrida is clearly a child of Nietzsche's, an heir, as Rorty sees it, to Nietzsche's joyful wisdom who, beyond all metaphyscial seriousness, extols the playful "innocence of becoming." Like, you might say, the child idealized by Nietzsche who in his playfulness "constructs and destroys, all in innocence," who "builds towers of the seashore, piles them up and tramples them innocent caprice." For Rorty, Derrida is the great postphilosophical prankster, the "ironist," the indefatigable turner-out of texts which are mercifully free from the burden of having to actually mean something (qui ne veulent rien dire, as Derrida himself would say), a superb fabricator of "private fantasies." A number of Derrida's writings, especially later ones such as Glas (which even Derrida scholars seem to have difficulty making sense of) would, on the face of it at least, seem to be nothing more than elaborate jokes, philosophy just for the fun (or pun) of it, a form of gleeful, uninhibited scribbling which, as Rorty says, seeks neither to demonstrate anything nor refute anybody. Compared to the up-tight analytic philosophers Rorty grew up with, Derrida is undoubtedly a delightful jokester. And yet there is a kind of seriousness to the Derridian enterprise that escapes Rorty's notice or, to be more precise, that Rorty prefers to ignore, to which he turns a blind eye.

Derrida may indeed be a postmodern gamester, but there is more to his work than "just gaming" (to allude to the title of a work of Lyotard's). It is of course true that Derrida is no more of a believer in the traditional metanarratives of philosophy than is Rorty and is thus, like him, a kind of postmodern agnostic who sets no store by philosophy's traditional claim to "knowledge" (scientia) and is in fact out to undermine it as best he can. In some ways Derrida is even less of a "philosopher" than Rorty, since he not only does not have a "position" to defend but does not even engage in arguments against various philosophical positons. What is referred to as "deconstruction" is not a set of theses or beliefs, not even loosely articulated ones like those of Rorty, but is simply, so to speak, a method, a way of reading texts, philosophical ones in particular. Actually, it is not even a "method," at least not in the modernist sense of the term, i.e., a set of explicit rules to be followed so as to arrive at certain positive results ("the truth"). This is why Derrida insists that what he is doing is not "hermeneutics," by which he means that his reading of texts does not aim at unconvering a hidden meaning in them. Derrida quite simply does not believe in meaning--a hopelessly metaphysical concept according to him.

The task of deconstruction is in fact to show that philosophical texts do not mean what they seem to mean, do not mean what their authors wanted them to mean (what they "intended"), do not in fact have any "decidable" meaning at all. The aim of a deconstructive reading is to show how texts laying claim to knowledge are full of internal tensions and contradictions or antinomies which end up by subverting their stated goals and their own claims to truth. The purpose of a deconstructive reading of philosophical texts is frankly anti-Philosophical; it is aimed at showing how in every instance the attempt by traditional philosophers to use language in such a way as to get beyond language so as to arrive at some translinguistic, transcultural, transhistorical truth--"transcendental signified"--which language could then be said to "mirror," inevitably fails. Philosophers who aim at the Truth, at universal essences, cannot in fact escape the gravitational pull of a particular language. Philosophy's univocal concepts turn out to be nothing more than disguised metaphors of strictly local prominence and significance. There's no escaping the play of language.

Just as Rorty undermines the "epistemologically centered philosophy" of modernity, so Derrida's deconstructive undertaking calls into question not only modern philosophy but the entire philosophical tradition, or what Derrida calls the "metaphysics of presence." This is the aspect of Derrida's work which, to borrow Bernstein's words, is "liberating and exhilarating." Derrida's deconstructive attack on what he calls "logocentrism" is liberating in that, among other things, it frees us from the tyranny of two particularly insidious notions which, from the beginning, have dominated philosophy: the notions of totality and essence.

The notion of "totality," i.e, the idea that reality is One, and is, consequently, the proper object of a Unified Science, is oppressive because it invariably leads to the suppression of all sorts of loose ends to things (and to people) which cannot or will not (which refuse) to be fittled neatly into the System. This, of course, was the main point in Kierkegaard's critique of Hegel. Totality rules out both individuality and alterity (the "multiple forms of otherness" that postmodern thought seeks to safeguard). And as we have learned in our times, in late modernity, totalizing thinking is hazardous to human life because it serves to lend philosophical legitimacy to totalitarianism, i.e., the totalized society (the socio-political equivalent of the unified science dreamed of by modern rationalists). Thus, by discrediting the notion of totality, of a totalizing discourse, deconstruction serves to further the postmodern concern for particularity and difference, diversity and heterogeneity, the fragmentary and the marginal, in a word, pluralism--the kind of pluralism which is the necessary condition for genuine freedom and democracy.

The notion of "essence" is also oppressive and fully merits being deconstructed. "Essence" is the grounding notion of philosophical science, the that-without-which it could not be. Science or Knowledge is, by definition, the knowing of what something is (its "whatness" [quidditas] or essence). The metaphysical presupposition behind this epistemic endeavor is that a thing is indeed just precisely what it is and not something else; essentialism upholds the rule of the Principle of Identity, the cornerstone of logocentrism. The trouble with essentialism is that, as Sextus Empiricus already knew, it cannot but result in dogmatism (dogmatism being, as Sextus said, belief in "the substantial existence of the True"). And dogmatism is oppressive since it legitimates "expertocracy" and "rationalist terrorism," i.e., the tyranny of those who claim to be "in the know." To be constrained by essences (which, as Nietzsche pointed out, are simply what some people in the past have said things are and whose sayings have over time become fixed and canonical) is to be imprisoned in a stagnant universe of stringently limited possibilities and fixed, unalterable meanings. Essentialism provides a handy justification for the tyranny of the status quo and of established power structures.

That is the "liberating and exhilarating" side to Derrida's work. But there is another side to it which, if not "deeply disturbing" (as in the case of Rorty), is, at the very least, disappointing. The trouble with deconstruction is that it does not seem to "go" anywhere. Unlike Rorty, Derrida realizes, as I mentioned before, that one cannot simply toss "metaphysics" out the window and be done with it once and for all. The work of deconstruction is serious and demanding, requiring "the skill of the tightrope walker, tripping the light fantastic on a world-wire over the abysss." Overcoming metaphysics is thus no easy matter; it is necessary, Derrida suggests, to lodge "oneself within [the] traditional conceptuality in order to destroy it." There is an honesty here that one does not find in Rorty who seems to believe that whenever it strikes our fancy we can change ourselves overnight by simply inventing new "vocabularies." That notwithstanding, having deconstructed metaphysics but unable to get beyond it, remaining, as he might say, "on the edge," Derrida is left, and leaves us, sitting in the rubble of this once magnificent monument to human pride and presumptuousness. This is perhaps why the later Derrida, who is much more to Rorty's liking, tends more and more to just horse around, turning out texts whose philosophical significance, if any there be, is hard to detect but which are the aesthetic delight of lit crit audiences this side of the Atlantic.

But even Derrida's earlier, more "serious" works are disappointing. After having deconstructed metaphysics, we are left, in a way similar to Rorty, with an immense philosophical void, with, indeed, a kind of nihilism. Derrida seems to believe that, in the absence of metaphysical absolutes, of a "transcendental signified," all that remains is the ultimately meaningless play of words which refer not in any way to "reality" but only to more and more other words, in an endless drift, deferral, or dissemination of undecidable meaning (différance), words without end, an abyssmal labyrinth in which we are forever condemned to wander aimlessly about. "The absence of the transendental signified," he says, "extends the domain and the play of signification infinitely." "There are only, everywhere," he says, "differences and traces of traces," nothing but "a play of traces or differance that has no sense." Or as Rorty says of his hero: "For Derrida, writing always leads to more writing, and more, and still more." libido scribendi, ad nauseum, as the Romans would have said (or "logorrhea," as Allan Megill says). Because (as Derrida rightly perceives) nothing means any one thing in particular, he concludes that in the last analysis nothing means anything at all.

As Rorty realizes, Derrida is an irrepressibly "excessive" writer. For him philosophical works are all play and no work (they do not, that is, seek to produce that effect called "truth"). Philosophy is turned into a form of "literature" ("a kind of writing," in Rorty's words), i.e., fiction. Philosophy's world is but a dream world. When everything becomes textuality and intertextuality and nothing but, the real world of human concerns and human praxis vanishes into the black hole of free-floating signifiers. This is indeed nihilism, a joyful nihilism perhaps, but nihilism nonetheless. Thus, as David Hoy very pertinently remarks: "If dissemination is at times a useful antidote, in excess it may also be a poison."

I conclude that in simply reversing the pro and the con, Derrida's joyful wisdom, his response to Neitzsche's legacy, remains, as does Rorty's, a captive of the metaphyscial tradition and its tenacious oppositional, either/or mentalité.

Derrida's rejection of logocentrism is not revolutionary, and because he thinks it is, he is unable to take advantage of the sophistication that the debate on essentialist thinking has already reached; as a result, he jumps from one extreme (meaning is a matter of fixed, immutable concepts) to the other (meaning is a matter of the indeterminate, infinite play of signs). This appears very like the undeveloped response of one who has just been surprised by the realization that real essences do not exist. The conclusion of this discussion can therefore only be that Derrida's contribution to the debate on language and meaning is not substantial; it fails to establish any coherent new view of meaning or of the way language functions. In lieu of metaphysical fixity Derrida offers us nothing more than uncontrollable "slippage." A pretty meager consolation prize for so great a deconstructive effort. Carefree and Dionysian though he may appear to be, I do not believe that Derrida has succeeded in freeing himself from the bad conscience of the metaphysicians. For this reason, and because for Derrida, as for those poststructuralists who repudiate the legacy of the Enlightenment, nothing can any longer be said to be better than anything else, only different, I do not believe that Derrida has much to contribute, in a positive way, to what is most needed today now that marxist-leninist ideology has been relegated to the rubbish heap of history--by which I mean the detailed working out of a postmetaphysical, postmodern way of doing philosophy, a form of critical theory free finally of foundationalist and essentialist hang-ups, one which could, by means of theory, advance the cause of a truly universal freedom, i.e., a freedom which would be the prized possession not only of ethnocentric bourgeois liberals like Rorty but of humanity everywhere. Derrida is at least to be congratulated on having abandoned the modernist tactic of previous left-wing intellectuals who extolled confrontational politics ("revolutionism"), in line with Lenin's exhortation to "suppress the suppressors." As various postmarxists have now (finally) realized, a politics of violence of this sort contributes only to more thoroughgoing forms of tyranny überhaupt. What is needed is a philosophical defense of universal human rights and individual freedoms, a postfoundationalist reassertion of Jefferson's Enlightenment declaration that all men are "created equal" and are endowed with certain "unalienable rights." The notion of universal human rights and freedoms can, however, make sense only if you have a universalist conceptuality with which to make sense of it--only if you have a "philosophy." The "end of philosophy" and the end of "humanism" proclaimed by both Derrida and Rorty means, of course, the end of universalism, and thus the end, not only of "history," but of "humanity" itself (it must not be forgotten that the concept of humanity--a humanity--was, like that of history [history being world history, the history of humanity], an invention of the philosophers, a product of philosophical theory).


Disregarding the standard (i.e., pre-postmodern) narrative ordering according to which, as Descartes insisted, one should always begin at the beginning, I turn to Gadamer last. Even though his work antedates both Derrida's and Rorty's, its significance is perhaps best understood when viewed in the light of his wayward progeny. It is, after all, a basic hermeneutical principle that we always understand backwards, après coup. As Gadamer himself has remarked: "All beginnings lie in the darkness, and what is more, they can be illuminated only in the light of what came later and from the perspective of what followed." When examined in the context of what I have said about Rorty and Derrida, Gadamer's hermeneutics may perhaps be seen to provide valuable suggestions for doing philosophy in a postnietzschean, postmodern age, ones that are not to be found in either Rorty or Derrida.

If the writings of Rorty and Derrida can be said to be liberating, and if indeed the notion of liberation figures prominently in one way or another in what they have to say, the same is no less true of Gadamer's work. Indeed, Gadamer has no qualms about retelling one of the greatest metanarratives of all time, that of the progressive liberation of humankind. In the context (significantly enough perhaps) of a discussion of Hegel he writes:

[T]here is no higher principle of reason than that of freedom. Thus the opinion of Hegel and thus our own opinion as well. No higher principle is thinkable than that of the freedom of all, and we understand actual history from the perspective of this principle: as the ever-to-be-renewed and the never-ending struggle for this freedom.

One remarkable thing about this text is how it manages to reiterate most of those notions that postmodernists of a relativistic and nihilistic bent have felt obliged to discard, notions such as progress, humanity, reason (philosophy), and history. It would be all too easy, on the basis of a pronouncement such as this, to attribute to Gadamer a residual--or-not-so-residual--attachment to the old metaphysics of presence. Jack Caputo, a great admirer of Derrida's, does not hesitate to accuse Gadamer of being a "closet essentialist." Gadamer himself has protested Derrida's portrayal of him as (in Gadamer's words) "a lost sheep in the dried up pastures of metaphysics."

What critics like Caputo fail to notice is that Gadamer (a true postmodernist in this respect) uses Hegel against Hegel. Whereas Hegel believed that "the True is the whole," Gadamer does not subscribe to the notion of totality or closure, to the Hegelian notion of Knowledge (Wissenschaft). For Gadamer, there is only one thing we can know for sure, and that is that any kind of Hegelian absolute is irremediably beyond our grasp. "Philosophical thinking," he writes," is not science at all....There is no claim of definitive knowledge, with the exception of one: the acknowledgement of the finitude of human being in itself." To acknowledge human finitude is to acknowledge that, for us at least (for any existing individual, as Kierkegaard would say), there can be no end to history--and thus no guaranteed, transcendenally sanctioned meaning to it (i.e., no science of history). The meaning not only of what is but also of what was is always in question (en jeu) and up for renewal. Later in this book Gadamer speaks of "a progress that always must be renewed in the effort of our living" (111). In "Text and Interpretation" Gadamer writes: "[T]he special feature of historical experience is that we stand in the midst of an event without knowing what is happening to us before we grasp what has happened in looking backwards. Accordingly, history must be written anew by every new present."

As a major stream in the many-branched current of postmodern thought, hermeneutics is much closer to deconstruction than many deconstructions are prepared to admit. Indeed, Gadamerian or phenomenological hermeneutics incorporates a genuinely deconstructive strategy inasmuch as it decidedly rejects the modernistic objectivism of pre-phenomenological, romantic hermeneutics, the kind of hermeneutics which has continued to be represented in this century by Emilio Betti and E.D. Hirsch and to which Derrida's objections against "hermeneutics" do indeed apply. Richard Palmer emphasizes "the importance of seeing the unfolding of the hermeneutical problematic in terms of the philosophical critique of the metaphysics of modernity" and remarks on how such a critique generates the need for a deconstructive strategy. Palmer in fact views the relation between hermeneutics and deconstruction as similar to that of parent and child.

David Hoy paints a somewhat similar picture. "Dissemination and hermeneutics should not be contrasted so extremely," he says. According to Hoy, Derrida's deconstruction agrees with the hermeneutical critique of traditional epistemology; it also, he says, takes "that critique to its extreme limits and [applies] it against traditional hermeneutics as well." To compare the relation between hermeneutics and deconstruction to that of parent and child and to suggest that deconstruction goes beyond hermeneutics can be misleading, however. Chronology aside, deconstruction is not so much a successor to hermeneutics ("advancing" matters even further), as it is a spin off from hermeneutics--in a direction other than that which has continued to be pursued by hermeneutics itself (a spin off, as Derrida might say, into an "excentric" orbit).

Hermeneutics, I would argue, is as fully "postmodern" as deconstruction. What is often overlooked is that there are, in fact, two quite different trends in postmodern thinking. One writer distinguishes the two types of postmodernism in this way:

The first proclaims that modernity is over, that a new age has begun. The new age makes use of the past, and of modern achievements, but it has its own new freedoms and its own self-definition. The second type of thought is deconstructive, and works to undermine the unities and closures found in modernity, without escaping from them into some new age.

All things considered, this is a fairly apt description of the difference between hermeneutics and deconstruction, "the difference," as Bernstein would say, "that makes a difference." One could sum up this difference by saying that whereas deconstruction undermines the traditional notions of "truth," "reality," and "knowledge," leaving nothing in their place (nihilism), hermeneutics has sought to work out a genuinely nonfoundationalist and nonessentialist understanding of these concepts.

For hermeneutics, "truth" no longer signifies the "correspondence" of "mental states" to "objective" reality, and "meaning" is no longer conceived of as some sort of objective, in-itself state of affairs which merely awaits being "discovered" and "represented" by a mirroring mind. "Truth" and "meaning" refer instead to creative operations on the part of human understanding itself, which is always interpretive (never simply "representational"). Hermeneutical truth is inseparable from the interpretive process, and meaning, as hermeneutics understands it, is nothing other than what results from such a process, namely, the existential-practical transformation that occurs in the interpreting subject (in his or her world orientation) as a result of his or her active encounter with texts, other people, or "the world." Truth and meaning have nothing "objective" about them, in the modern, objectivistic sense of the term; they are integral aspects of the "event" of understanding itself, are inseparable from, as Gadamer would say, the "play" of understanding.

In reconceptualizing truth and meaning in this way, hermeneutics thereby also reconceptualizes the pivotal notion of "knowledge." What is called "knowledge" is not, as Derrida would say, the possession of a "transcendental signified," a translinguistic "essence" (this is the metaphysical or logocentric definition of knowledge, a definition which, it may be noted, Derrida uncritically accepts). "Knowledge," for hermeneutics, is nothing other than the shared understanding that a community of inquirers comes to as a result of a free exchange of opinions. For Gadamer, understanding "is a process of communication." In reconceptualizing matters in this way, and in insisting on the "communicative" nature of human understanding, hermeneutics offers us something more than does deconstruction, i.e., something more than the mere cacophony of everyone's parodying, fanciful interpretations of things (the "private fantasies" of Derrida that Rorty speaks of).

Accomplished though he be in exposing the "blind spots" in philosophical texts, there is in Derrida's own writings a rather curious and in any event very significant blind spot. If Derrida rejects the notion of truth altogether, it is because, like the metaphysicians themselves, he equates truth with representation. Gadamer breaks with this understanding of truth and proposes a quite different, genuinely postmodern conception of truth. Truth is not something simply to be discovered ("represented") but something to be made--through the exercise of communicative rationality. Truth is a practical concept. It is something that can exist only if we take responsibility for its existence. "Philosophy" is one name for the exercise of this kind of responsibility.

In emphasizing the importance of common agreement and mutual understanding in what is called "knowledge," hermeneutics allows us to conceive of, and to strive to realize, a society which would be something more than a deconstructed Tower of Babel. Gadamer's dialogical view of understanding (as a communication process) provides the model for a social order based not on coercion or domination (Herrschaft) but on rational persuasion, the kind of tolerant and pluralist social order envisaged by the great rhetoricians and humanists of the past.

I might note as well that because hermeneutics, unlike deconstruction, contains quite definite implications for social praxis, it promotes the exercise of critical reason. The function of hermeneutical criticism is to expose and denouce forms of socio-political organization which oppress and stifle the communicative process--fosterning thereby the development of dialogical communities. As both the theory and the practice of interpretive understanding, hermeneutics, Gadamer says, "may help us to gain our freedom in relation to everything that has taken us in unquestioningly." The hermeneutical enterprise is indeed, as Gadamer says, one of "translating the principle of freedom into reality." As Richard Bernstein has clearly perceived, there is, as he says, "a radical strain implicit in Gadamer's understanding of hermeneutics as a practical philosophy." This radical strain, he says, "is indicated in his emphasis . . . on freedom and solidarity to embrace all of humanity."

Gadamer's hermeneutics is indeed one which "makes use of the past and of modern achievements"--but in accordance with its own renewed conception of such traditional notions as truth, meaning, and knowledge. Because Gadamer does not reject the tradition of Western thought en bloc, he is not condemned to dillydallying around on the margins of metaphysics, reduced to theoretical impotence. Because, unlike Rorty's "Philosophers," Gadamer recognizes that human understanding can never transcend its limitations so as to arrive at some atemporal Archimedean point, is always culturally and historically situated, is, indeed, rooted in tradition--and because he realizes that this is not a "defect" in the make-up of human understanding but the that-without-which there would be no understanding at all--because of this, he is able to appropriate elements within the tradition--such as, precisely, the all-important notion of freedom--in order to contest and deconstruct other aspects of the tradition which have consistently led us to misunderstand understanding itself, to form, as the marxists would say, a "false consciousness" of that which we ourselves are. As Gadamer has himself recognized, his hermeneutics--a form of theory which, as he insists, has universal scope, which is concerned with "our entire understanding of the world and thus...all the various forms in which this understanding manifests itself" --is guided by an emancipatory interest and has a pronounced critical thrust to it. The whole point of the self-understanding which is the goal of hermeneutics is, as Gadamer insists, that of "saving a freedom threatened not only by all rulers but much more by the domination and dependence that issue from everything we think we control."


Contemporary hermeneuticists agree with with other postmodernists that science and philosophy must, as Eagleton says, "jettison their grandiose metaphysical claims and view themselves more modestly as just another set of narratives." This is because they all agree that what the metaphyscians worshipped under the name of "reality" (what Nietzsche refered to as the "being" of the Eleatics) is a Humpty Dumpty that can never be put back together again (though it will no doubt continue, even in its fragmentarity, to give rise to fantasies in the minds of would-be metaphysicians). If "reality" was, as Nietzsche would say, one of our longest and most tenacious of illusions, so also, accordingly, was the notion of "science" or "knowledge." "Knowledge," we now know, is but an honorific name for a certain kind of socially sanctioned narration and story-telling. What we now know is that there is no The Way It Is--and that that is indeed the way it is.

One thing that hermeneutics can do for us in this new postmetaphysical age in which the loss of "reality" and "knowledge" could, wrongly construed, lead to nihilism, is to allow us to tell stories with a good conscience--stories which could have the power of making a real difference to our lives. For once we have deconstructed the oppositional conceptuality of metaphysics (reality versus appearance, knowledge versus opinion, truth versus fiction, and so on) and have finally gotten over the bad conscience of the metaphysicians, there is no reason why we should think that fiction need be mere fiction, as Derrida nonethless still seems to think, troubled as he is by the ghost of metaphysics. That form of narration called theory--especially when it becomes metanarrative (theory with universal scope)--can actually help to bring reality into being, can, for instance, help to make of this world a freer and more democratic one.

History in the modernist sense, history as a would-be science providing for human affairs the kind of cause-and-effect explanations and "necessary laws" which were thought to be the glory of the natural sciences, history in this sense is finished. History, postmodernists realize, is a form of story telling, a kind of fiction. The disappearnce of reality in the metaphysical sense does not, however, necessarily entail the reign of the simulacrum, as Baudrillard, a lapsed marxist, so forlonly thinks it does. Fiction and reality are not, or need not be, metaphysical opposites; fiction (the exercise of the imagination) is not the same thing as simulation. New realities can in fact only be brought into being by means of new "imaginaries"; reality is, after all, simply virtuality actualized. Thus, although "history" may be a fiction, this is no reason why it ought not to be taken seriously and why we ought not to strive to write and rewrite it, to make and remake it, in all earnestness, why we should not strive to make history be the history of the struggle for freedom. As Gadamer says when speaking of the principle of which there is none higher, the principle of freedom, the "rational aspect proper to the concept" cannot be "refuted by the facts." If the "facts" do not agree with the principle, "So much worse for the facts." The "facts" will simply have to be changed--in the light of the principle, precisely. As Gadamer goes on to say, referring to Hegel:

[T]he rational need for unity is legitimate under all circumstances can be satisfied only by philosophy....Anyone who does not see that this is precisely what history is, that the freedom of all has become an irrefutable principle and yet still requires ever anew the effort toward achieving its realization, has not understood the dialectical relationship of necessity and contingency and so also the claim of philosophy to know concrete rationality.

Rorty notwithstanding, we cannot of course make history turn out to be anything we might like it to be; we are, as hermeneuticists insist, constrained by our tradition. But as hermeneuticists also insist, taking exception to both Rorty and Derrida, although we cannot hope to transcend either historical or linguistic contingency, this does not mean that we are imprisoned in them. Contingency does not rule out an appeal to universality. In contrast to the cultural and epistemological relativists, Gadamer reminds us that although understanding is inescapably language-bound, "this assertion does not lead us into any kind of linguistic relativism." Or any kind of Rortyan "ethnocentrism." As Gadamer goes on to say:

While we live wholly within a language, the fact that we do so does not constitute linguistic relativism because there is absolutely no captivity within a language--not even within our native language. ...Any language in which we live is infinite in this sense [in that it opens us to the infinite realm of possible expression], and it is completely mistaken to infer that reason is fragmented because there are various languages. Just the opposite is the case. Precisely through our finitude, the particularity of our being, which is evident even in the variety of languages, the infinite dialogue is opened in the direction of the truth that we are.

Perhaps after the demise of Reality and Truth it might therefore be possible to live, and to live well, after all. Perhaps something like a gay science, a joyful wisdom genuinely devoid of any arrière gout of despondency over the loss of metaphysics, is indeed possible.

Philosophy Today (Winter 1991), pp. 3-19.

[After Post-Modernism Conference. Copyright 1997, by the author.]

Sunday, April 20, 2008 1:45:00 AM

troylloyd said...
In their introduction to this volume, Ram and Leake usefully distinguish between task goals and learning goals. Task goals are desired results or states in an external world, while learning goals are desired mental states that a learner seeks to acquire as part of the accomplishment of task goals. We agree with the fundamental claim that learning is an active and strategic process that takes place in the context of tasks and goals (see also Holland, Holyoak, Nisbett, and Thagard, 1986). But there are important questions about the nature of goals that have rarely been addressed. First, how can a cognitive system deal with incompatible task goals? Someone may want both to get lots of research done and to relax and have fun with his or her friends. Learning how to accomplish both these tasks will take place in the context of goals that cannot be fully realized together. Second, how are goals chosen in the first place and why are some goals judged to be more important than others? People do not simply come equipped with goals and priorities: we sometimes have to learn what is important to us by adjusting the importance of goals in the context of other compatible and incompatible goals. This paper presents a theory and a computational model of how goals can be adopted or rejected in the context of decision making. In contrast to classical decision theory, it views decision making as a process not only of choosing actions but also of evaluating goals. Our theory can therefore be construed as concerned with the goal-directed learning of goals.

According to a possibly apocryphal story, an eminent philosopher of science once encountered a noted decision theorist in a hallway at their university. The decision theorist was pacing up and down, muttering "What shall I do? What shall I do?"

"What's the matter, Howard?" asked the philosopher.

Replied the decision theorist: "It's horrible, Ernest - I've got an offer from Harvard and I don't know whether to accept it. "

"Why Howard, " reacted the philosopher, "you're one of the world's great experts on decision making. Why don't you just work out the decision tree, calculate the probabilities and expected outcomes, and determine which choice maximizes your expected utility?"

With annoyance, the other replied: "Come on, Ernest. This is serious."

In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that classical decision theory as devised by such theorists as von Neumann, Morgenstern, and Savage is inadequate both as a descriptive and as a normative theory of decision making. The main assault on its descriptive adequacy has come from Kahneman, Tversky and other experimental psychologists who have shown that the basic assumptions of decision theory, for example that preferences are transitive, are often violated by humans (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; Tversky & Kahneman, 1981) . Nevertheless, decision theory remains a cornerstone of economic theorizing (Hausman, 1992; Kreps, 1990) . The intransigence of economists and other devotees of traditional decision theory would be puzzling but for the insight from history and philosophy of science that a theory is rarely abandoned just because it faces empirical difficulties; rejection of the problematic theory comes only when a new theory comes along that is visibly superior in that it can explain most of what the previous theory did and more. No theory of decision making with the precision and broad application of the classical theory has yet emerged.

We want to propose an account of the nature of human decision making that we think is more psychologically realistic than classical decision theory. In brief, decision making is inference to the best plan. When people make decisions, they do not simply choose an action to perform, but rather adopt complex plans on the basis of a holistic assessment of various competing actions and goals. Choosing a plan is in part a matter of evaluating goals as well as actions. Choice is made by arriving at a plan or plans that involves actions and goals that are coherent with other actions and goals to which one is committed. We will put forward a set of principles of coherence that govern the relations among actions and goals, and show how decisions can arise from these relations. Moreover, we show how coherence can be efficiently computed by connectionist algorithms for parallel constraint satisfaction.

Our set of principles and our computational implementation are in part derived analogically from a theory and computational model of explanatory coherence that has been applied to many cases of inference involving hypotheses . Just as theory evaluation can be viewed as inference to the best explanation, with the acceptability of hypotheses determined by a judgment of explanatory coherence, so decision making can be viewed as inference to the best plan, with the desirability of actions and goals determined by a judgment of what we call deliberative coherence.

Consider poor Howard distressed by the question of whether to accept his job offer. Why are such decisions so difficult? Important life choices such as this one involve many different and sometimes intensely conflicting goals. Perhaps Howard is attracted by the new position because it offers increased salary and prestige, but is concerned that moving would involve considerable dislocation and loss of established relations with colleagues. Moreover, he may have a family with roots in his current community. He thus has to deal with a plethora of interconnected and possibly ill-specified goals that are relevant to what choice he will make. How can he trade off security and prestige? What is the expected balance between the desire for novelty in his intellectual environment and the established comfort he has already achieved? How can he assess the relative importance of his own happiness compared to that of his family who would move with him? How should a spouse's career and social relations and the schools and friendships of children enter into the calculation? How can he balance the undoubted short term loss of intellectual productivity induced by moving against the projected gains from being at a more high-powered institution? How does increased salary balance against the various reasons for staying put? Small wonder that Howard was annoyed by Ernest's suggestion that he apply in his own case the techniques he taught to his own students.

We now propose a set of principles designed to specify the kinds of relations that exist among actions and goals and that give rise to coherence estimations that determine not only choices of actions to perform but also adoption of complex plans and revisions of goals. We make no sharp distinction between actions and goals, since what in one context is best described as an action may be best described in another context as a goal. For example, if my main goal is to travel from Waterloo to Princeton, I will set myself the subgoal of getting to Toronto airport, but this subgoal is itself an action to be performed. We will refer to actions and goals as factors in decision making. Factors are actions and goals that cohere with each other according to the following six principles.

1. Symmetry. Coherence and incoherence are symmetrical relations: If a factor (action or goal) F1 coheres with a factor F2, then F2 coheres with F1.

2. Facilitation. Consider actions A1 ... An that together facilitate the accomplishment of goal G. Then

(a) each Ai coheres with G,

(b) each Ai coheres with each other Aj, and

(c) the greater the number of actions required, the less the coherence among actions and goals.

3 . Incompatibility.

(a) If two factors cannot both be performed or achieved, then they are strongly incoherent.

(b) If two factors are difficult to perform or achieve together, then they are weakly incoherent.

4. Goal priority. Some goals are desirable for intrinsic or other non-coherence reasons.

5. Judgment. Facilitation and competition relations can depend on coherence with judgments about the acceptability of factual beliefs.

6. Decision. Decisions are made on the basis of an assessment of the overall coherence of a set of actions and goals.

As so far stated, these principles are rather vague and abstract. We can eliminate some of the abstraction by indicating how they apply in real cases, and some of the vagueness will be diminished when we show how coherence and the best plans can be computed. We are postulating that the cognitive structure of decision makers includes representations of actions and goals along with knowledge about what actions can be used to accomplish what goals. But the structure is much more complicated than just a set of actions each of which may or may not facilitate a set of goals. A plan is a set of factors that includes actions and goals. One of Howard's goals might be to further the scientific understanding of decision making. He might consider that a good way to do so would be to start a new institute for studying decision making, and perhaps moving to the new job would make possible such an institute. Then the action of taking the new job facilitates establishing the institute which facilitates the scientific understanding. Establishing the institute can be described equally well as an action to be taken and as a subgoal to the basic goal of increasing understanding. Thus principle 2, Facilitation, covers relations of coherence between subgoals and supergoals as well relations between actions and goals. Principle 1, Symmetry, notes that coherence, unlike facilitation, is a symmetrical relation. We will see, however, that the principle of goal priority introduces an important asymmetry in how coherence is actually calculated.

We assume that humans can represent many layers of actions, subgoals, and supergoals, as in the structure:

increase scientific understanding

<-- hire talented researchers

<-- start institute

<-- take job

Unlike a typical decision tree, however, Principle 2 bundles actions A1 ... An together in packages. This reflects how real world preconditions actually work. Typically, a number of actions will together be jointly necessary for the accomplishment of a goal or subgoal. For a new institute to facilitate scientific understanding, not only its establishment will be required: finding funding for it and office space will need to be done simultaneously. So the actual facilitation relation will be something like:

increase scientific understanding

<-- hire talented researchers & encourage them

<-- start institute & fund it & house it

<-- take job

Principle 2(c), according to which coherence decreases as more actions are required, is intended to encourage simpler plans. Principle 2(b) asserts that actions cohere with each other as well as with the goal they facilitate.

Figure 1 shows the sort of facilitation structure we have in mind, with actions A1 to A4 facilitating action subgoals SG1 to SG3 which facilitate more basic goals G1 to G3. Not shown are coherence relations between actions that are jointly necessary, or incoherence relations among incompatible actions and goals. The arrows indicate that facilitation is typically unidirectional; a figure showing coherence relations would have bi-directional arrows. But as the example in the next section will show, facilitation need not be a one-way relation, since there can be pairs of goals that facilitate each other.

Figure 1. Structure of a sample goal hierarchy. A1 ... A4 are actions that facilitate subgoal actions SG1-SG3 which facilitate intrinsic goals G1...G3. Not shown are coherence relations among actions or incoherence relations among actions or goals.

Principle 3, Incompatibility, establishes relations of incoherence between pairs of factors. Typically, these will be pairs of actions that are hard to do together. No one can simultaneously go to New York City and to London (strong incoherence), and for some, it is difficult to walk and chew gum at the same time (weak incoherence). Similarly, some goals are completely incompatible, while others are only moderately in conflict. It is difficult, although perhaps not impossible, for life to be both comfortable and exciting. For an interesting discussion of goal conflicts, see (Wilensky, 1983) .

Principle 4, Goal Priority, implies that different goals may have different inherent priority which should influence judgments of coherence. Inherent desirability can come from biological needs, indoctrination, social comparison, and possibly from other directions. The point is that intrinsic desirability is independent of the coherence considerations that govern acceptability of actions and subgoals, although coherence can have some effect on the ultimate impact of intrinsic goals too. An ascetic may have the same intrinsic need for food and sex as anyone else, but adoption of more spiritual goals may lessen the impact of physical goals on decision making.

Principle 5, Judgment, asserts that coherence of a plan is partly affected by the coherence in one's overall belief system of beliefs about what facilitates what. For example, Howard may believe that being at the more elite institution will make him more happy. But this belief may be undermined if he does a systematic comparison of people he knows and discovers that the people at the most elite institutions are not any happier than those at moderately elite ones. Deliberative coherence may therefore depend to some extent on belief coherence, assuming that the acceptability of beliefs is also a matter of coherence (Harman, 1976) .

Finally, the sixth principle, Decision, says that actions are chosen not in isolation, but as parts of complex plans that involve other actions and goals, with goals being partly revisable just like choices of actions.

This miscellany of complex principles may not seem to provide a very definite way of making decisions: what mental procedures might be based on the kinds of goal structures postulated? Fortunately, connectionist relaxation algorithms provide a simple and efficient means to do just the kinds of calculation needed for decision making based on coherence. Thagard showed how explanatory coherence can be assessed by a program ECHO that uses connectionist techniques to compute in parallel how various relations of coherence and incoherence affect the acceptability of hypotheses (Thagard, 1989; Thagard, 1992) . Similarly, a program called DECO (for "DEliberative COherence") works out the mutual adjustments of actions, and goals. In ECHO, competing hypotheses are evaluated on the basis of how well they cohere with each other and with the evidence. Evidence is also evaluated with respect to how well it coheres with the available hypotheses, although it is given some priority independent of coherence considerations. Analogously, in DECO, competing actions are evaluated on the basis of how well they cohere with each other and with goals whose acceptance may be affected both by coherence considerations and by intrinsic desirability.

First, actions and goals can be represented by units in a connectionist network. The representation is entirely localist, rather than distributed as is found in PDP networks using backpropagation. Second, whenever according to the above principles there is a coherence relation between actions or goals, there should be an excitatory link between the two units representing them. Similarly, incoherence relations that represent incompatible actions and goals can be represented by inhibitory links. Third, intrinsic desirability of some goals is easily implemented by linking a special unit, which is always active, to each unit representing an intrinsic goal. As with the links representing coherence and incoherence relations, there can be different weights on the links representing different degrees of desirability. Finally, with activation spreading from the special unit to the goals and then out to the subgoals and the actions, the network will update activation of the various units in parallel until all units achieve stable activation. The final activation of the units represents either the choice of particular actions or the posterior value of particular goals. Just as some actions are rejected in favor of better ones with which they compete, some goals are rejected or downplayed as part of the overall judgment of deliberative coherence. All links in this system are symmetrical, reflecting their implementation of considerations of coherence and incoherence. But the links from some of the goal units to the always-active special unit introduces an asymmetry of processing: goal units may much more of an effect on action units than vice versa, since activation can flow directly from the special unit to the units representing goals with inherent priority, and only then to units representing actions.

The computational model provides a means of testing out whether the principles of deliberative coherence can fruitfully be applied to understand real cases of complex decision making. After describing DECO in more detail, we will present a simple example to show how it makes coherence-based decisions and goal adjustments. Finally, we show how DECO is relevant to understanding some of the psychological limitations of standard decision theory.

There are four kinds of input statement to DECO, two to establish units representing the goals and actions, and two to establish links between those units.

1. Input (goal 'G description & optional priority) establishes G as a goal. This input creates a unit to represent G; the description is provided for informational purposes only. If the goal is known to have some inherent priority, then a value is given for the optional field priority, and the unit is linked with the special unit with an excitatory link proportional to the value priority, which ranges between 0 and 1.

2. Input (action ' A description) establishes A as an action, and it creates a unit to represent it.

3. Input (facilitate 'F1 'F2 degree) states that factor F1 facilitates F2 to the indicated degree, which can range between 0 and 1. To represent facilitation, an excitatory link is created between F1 and F2 proportional to the degree.

4. Input (incompatible 'F1 'F2 degree) states that F1 and F2 are incompatible to the indicated degree, which can range between 0 and 1. To represent incompatibility, an inhibitory link between F1 and F2 is created proportional to the degree indicated.

These four inputs create a set of units connected by excitatory and inhibitory links. The network can then be settled using a standard connectionist updating algorithm to adjust in parallel the activation of each unit, taking into account its links to other units and the activations of these units. (For details, see (Thagard, 1992) , p. 101). Initially, all units except the special unit have activations of 0, but in fewer than 100 cycles of updating they achieve stable activation levels between -1 and 1. After the network has settled, the final activation of each unit represents the desirability of the action or goal that it represents, with activation greater than 0 interpreted as acceptance, and activation less than 0 interpreted as rejection. Actions with high activation are the ones selected for initial performance. Goals with high activation are similarly parts of the plan to be executed. In addition, the final activation of the units representing goals represents their posterior importance, which may deviate from their initial intrinsic importance.

To be more concrete, let us consider a simulation of the dilemma facing Howard in the story at the beginning of this paper. Here is the input given to DECO:

Howard's goals:

(goal 'G1 "Increase scientific understanding." 1)

(goal 'G2 "Keep family happy." 1)

(goal 'G3 "Keep self happy." 1)

(goal 'G4 "Comfort for self." )

(goal 'G5 "Comfort for family ." )

(goal ''G6 "Prestige.")

(goal 'G7 "Salary.")

(goal 'G8 "Excitement.")

(goal 'G9 "Intellectual environment.")

This assumes that Howard has three goals of equal intrinsic importance; if we knew more about the relative importance of his goals, we could replace the occurrences of "1" with different values between 0 and 1. But it would be wrong to think of G4-G9 as simply subgoals to G1-G3, since some of the intrinsic goals can facilitate the others as well as vice versa. For example, increasing scientific understanding can produce excitement.

Howard's possible actions:

(action 'A1 "Move to new job.")

(action 'A2 "Reject job offer.")

Howard has two choices: move or stay. In this case, these are the basic actions and are clearly distinguishable from the goals. Sometimes, however, there is no real distinction between subgoals and actions, as when someone takes a bus to the airport as a subgoal to flying somewhere.

Facilitations of goals by other goals:
Different goals contribute to other goals to varying degrees. Lacking detailed knowledge of Howard's goal structure, we assume that different subgoals facilitate different goals equally. With additional knowledge, values ranging from 0 to 1 could be substituted for each 1 above. Note that goals G2 and G3 facilitate each other: his family being happy helps to make him happy and vice versa. Note also that there are complex routes through the facilitation structure: G9 facilitates G1 which facilitates G6 and G8, which both facilitate G3. Although G1 is deemed to be intrinsically desirable, it can still facilitate other goals.

Facilitations of goals by actions:

Different actions contribute directly to different goals to varying degrees, but we do not know enough about Howard's goal structure to discriminate finely. To get a crude picture, however, we have above included only facilitation statements where one of the actions clearly facilitates a goal more than the alternative action. The alternative would be to have a full set of facilitation statements with fanciful numbers. Our point here is that it is the coherence relations that matter more than the numbers, since people rarely know precisely the extent to which potential actions will contribute to their goals, although with experience they may learn to give useful estimates.

Incompatible actions and goals:

(incompatible 'A1 'A2 1)

(incompatible 'G4 'G8 .5)

The two actions are strongly incompatible, since Howard cannot both move and stay. The two subgoals are only weakly compatible, since excitement and comfort are difficult to combine but not impossible.

The input just given creates a network with the structure shown in figure 2, which makes it easy to see how the units representing A1 and A2 are linked to the subgoal units, and how the subgoal units are linked to the intrinsic goal units. All three intrinsic goal units are linked to the special unit. When the network is adjusted, activation spreads from the special unit to each of the goal units, then to the subgoals, then to the actions. But there is more to the decision than simply a downward spread of activation, since the units for A1 and A2 inhibit each other, as do the units for SG6 and SG7. Moreover, since the excitatory links are symmetrical, the action units affect the subgoal units as well as vice versa. The network is not simply selecting which action to do: it is simultaneously evaluating the goals and subgoals as well. A subgoal that coheres poorly with desirable goals and actions will be deactivated just as well as a non-preferred action. Figure 3, produced automatically when DECO is run, shows the activation trajectories of the units as the network settles. A1 is clearly preferred to A2 which is deactivated, receiving activation below 0. The various subgoals receive different degrees of activation depending on how well they cohere with actions, goals, and other subgoals. If, however, G4 and G5 are identified as being intrinsically desirable, then A2 is preferred to A1, since staying put makes a more direct contribution to comfort than moving.

Figure 2. Network created by the input to the Howard example given above. Thick lines indicate inhibitory links. Thin lines indicate excitatory links. All links are symmetrical.

The Howard example does not illustrate several properties of DECO inspired by the principles of deliberative coherence. It does not have cases where multiple actions together facilitate a goal, so it does not illustrate principles 2(b) and 2(c). And the example does not show how factual judgments can enter into decision making in accord with principle 5. DECO has been applied to several more complex cases of decision making than the basic Howard case, but rather than present more examples we want to discuss how our deliberative coherence perspective on decision making differs from the classical perspective.

The view of decision making presented in our deliberative coherence account is very different from that which is still central in economic theorizing. The fundamental notion in classical decision theory is preference, from which the notion of utility is derived. Each consumer is postulated to have preferences between any two alternatives that are asymmetric and transitive: if x is preferred to y , then y is not preferred to x, and preferences of x over y and y over z entail a preference of x over z. From a set of preferences obeying these and other simple relations, a utility function can be derived whose features include that x is preferred to y if and only if x has greater utility than y.

This notion of utility is very different from the original notion used by early theorists such as Bernoulli and Bentham, who treated utility as a matter of subjective experience rather than a mathematical construction (Cooter & Rappoport, 1984; Kahneman & Snell, 1990) . Derived utility was devised in the 1930s and 1940s in keeping with the behaviorist spirit of the times, to which experienced utility seemed to be an unjustifiable mental hypothesis. Utility became theoretically respectable once it was conceived as a numerical quantity derived from preferences that in turn could be derived from observed choices, rather than as a feature of mental experience. Unfortunately, the notion of utility thereby lost any explanatory value: on the original view of utility, we can say that someone prefers x to y because the former has greater utility than the latter, but such explanations are vacuous if utility is just a way of summarizing preferences. For classical decision theory and the microeconomics that is so heavily based on it, preferences are basic and mysterious.

In contrast, the theory of deliberative coherence (TDC) and DECO are intended to explain why we have the preferences we have. Eschewing behaviorist strictures on postulating mental representations, TDC assumes that humans have multiple interrelated goals that determine what actions are preferred. Such assumptions are of course standard in contemporary cognitive science, where intelligent behavior is explained in terms of the mental structures and processes that produce the behavior. Whereas original, pre-behaviorist utility theory explained preferences on the basis of a single mental quantity, utility, TDC invokes multiple interrelated goals to account for peoples' actions. Moreover, in contrast to theories of multi-attribute decision making that postulate people's use of various pre-established criteria, TDC allows that goals and subgoals are also up for grabs and can be adjusted during the decision making process. Goals are not given to us absolutely: we have to learn how important different goals are to us over time.

Our view of decision making runs contrary to traditional conceptions according to which we do not deliberate about ends but always about means and that deliberation is guided by a single ultimate end such as happiness or pleasure. Kolnai offers a more psychologically acute picture of human deliberation that portrays the meagreness of the means-ends conception (Kolnai, 1978) . In our terminology (in which actions and goals correspond to means and ends), we follow Kolnai in noticing that humans have multiple goals, some of them consonant with each other but others that are mutually contrary, jarring, and discordant. We not only choose actions to accomplish goals, we sometimes look round for goals to be achieved by the actions at our disposal. For example, a runner who likes to run every day may adopt the goal of running in a marathon. Running every day facilitates running the marathon, not the other way around, but here the goal is adopted to fit the means for accomplishing it. People have a deep need to adopt goals that provide them with a sense of purpose and unity to their lives (Frankfurt, 1992; Harman, 1976; Schmidtz, forthcoming) .

This kind of goal-creation does not make sense from an instrumentalist perspective on decision making, but it does from a coherentist perspective such as ours. DECO does not address the question of how new goals are introduced into the system, any more than ECHO addresses the question of how hypotheses and relations among them are discovered. But DECO does show how adopting a new goal can increase the overall coherence of a system of goals. Consider, for example, an academic who feels a conflict between the goal of being a good teacher and the goal of excelling at research. Given the time involved in these two pursuits, there is at least a weak incompatibility between the goals. But the academic might decide to write a book based on a course frequently taught. Publishing the book would facilitate the academic's research reputation, but writing the book would both facilitate teaching and be facilitated by it. The facilitation structure is shown in figure 4. Introducing the goal of writing the book introduces coherence between the goals of teaching and research that otherwise would be discordant. Similarly, many people feel a conflict between pursuing their careers and spending time with their families. Coherence can be introduced into the system of goals by supposing that career success contributes both to family income and happiness of the worker, both of which may facilitate family happiness. In the other direction, spending time with the family can be good recreation which enhances career performance. The overall structure is shown in figure 5. From an instrumentalist point of view, this looks hopelessly circular, but it is unproblematic in a coherence account such as DECO assumes, since all the facilitation relations get translated into symmetric links: everything fits together. Circularities are not a problem in a coherence account. I may start off with a goal to survive, from this acquire a goal to buy food, from this acquire a goal to get a job, but then discover that the job is so enjoyable that I want to survive so that I can still have the job (Schmidtz, forthcoming) . The original goal of surviving becomes a subgoal for the subgoal of having a job. The circle is non-vicious, however, if one simply assumes that the system is driven in the direction of increasing the coherence of its actions and goals, rather than toward some ultimate goal. We conjecture that subjective well-being is as much a matter of coherence among one's actions and goals as it is a matter of accomplishing goals. Additional philosophical issues relevant to deliberative coherence are discussed elsewhere (Millgram & Thagard, forthcoming) .
Figure 4. Incompatible goals (indicated by thick line) unified by facilitation relations (thin lines with arrows).
Figure 5. Another example of incompatible goals (indicated by thick line) unified by facilitation relations (thin lines with arrows).
We obviously have a long way to go, however, to show that the theory of deliberative coherence is a genuine alternative to the elegant and ubiquitous classical theory of decision. We have not shown in this paper how TDC and DECO can model human divergence from the axioms of utility theory, although we have rough simulations of some of the phenomena such as intransitivity of preferences. Nor have we said enough about how the goal structures and facilitation relations that go into DECO arise in the first place. Still, we have pointed the way toward further development of a non-instrumentalist, coherentist theory of decision making.

This paper has been concerned with decision making understood as essentially involving a plethora of goals. Obviously, it is legitimate for our decisions to be influenced by our personal goals. It is much less obvious that our non-practical inferences should be influenced by our personal goals. In this paper, we have developed a model of decision making by analogy to an account of hypothesis evaluation, but it is widely believed that normatively and perhaps even descriptively we should keep these kinds of reasoning sharply distinct.

Let us distinguish between three ways in which goals can affect inferences, which can be described as being goal-relevant, goal-influenced, and goal-determined. In any real system, as opposed to a logical abstraction, all inference including deductive and inductive inference must be constrained by goal-relevance (Harman, 1986; Holland, Holyoak, Nisbett, & Thagard, 1986) . Otherwise, the inferential and problem solving capacities of the system will be overwhelmed with useless junk. But to make inductive inferences goal-determined would be to risk falling into wishful thinking, believing something just because it suits our personal goals to do so. It is legitimate for decisions to be goal-determined, but deductive and inductive inferences need to be based on evidence, even if goals affect what is deemed to be relevant to infer. In fact, decisions are not exclusively goal-determined, since they will depend in part on judgements of fact as allowed in principle 5 of TDC; this is captured in DECO by the need for input statements that represent empirical estimates of what facilitates what.

The intermediate category, goal-influenced inferences, is trickier to characterize. Ziva Kunda's theory of motivated inferences shows how inductive inferences can be goal-influenced while not completely goal-determined (Kunda, 1987; Kunda, 1990) . Her experiments show that people's inferences can be biased by their personal goals, but the bias is more subtle than simple wishful thinking. Rather, if people have goals that make them want to believe P, they may do selective search of their memories that turns up evidence for P. Goals do not directly influence the inference from the evidence to the conclusion, but they affect what evidence is considered in the inference. Thus scientists arguing over alternative theories may bring different kinds of evidence to bear in favor of their preferred theories.

Our development of the theory of deliberative coherence and the computational model DECO has displayed interesting parallels between decision making (practical inference) and hypothesis evaluation (theoretical inference), where the latter is understood in terms of explanatory coherence and ECHO. Theoretical inference will necessarily feed into practical inference as judgments of fact are needed to help affect judgments of facilitation that are crucial to establishing deliberative coherence. But how deliberative coherence can or should influence explanatory coherence remains to be determined.

For helpful discussions, we are grateful to Nina Amenta, Susan Hardy, Derek Hawley, Wilfried Hinsch, Ziva Kunda, and Carol Varey. We thank Susan Hardy and Roy Fleck for programming assistance. Thagard's research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Sunday, April 20, 2008 1:48:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Ludwig Wittgenstein, “Remarks on Frazer’s Golden Bough” Philosophical Occasions 1912-51, Hackett Publishing Co, 1993 , p.133

“One must start out with error and convert it into truth. That is, one must reveal the source of error, otherwise hearing the truth won’t do any good. The truth cannot force its way in when something else is occupying its place. To convince someone of the truth, it is not enough to state it, but rather one must find the path from error to truth.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008 1:52:00 AM

troylloyd said...
Cognitive Linguistics - Semantic Approaches

Outline and discuss the main differences between formal and cognitive approaches to linguistic meaning. Which type of approach do you find most persuasive?

Since any discussion of linguistic meaning is traditionally the realm of semantics, in order to discuss the differences between formal and cognitive approaches to linguistic meaning, we must consider formal semantics and then compare its approach with that of cognitive semantics.

John Saeed defines formal semantics as follows: ‘Although any approach might be formalised, this label is usually used for a family of denotational theories which use logic in semantics analysis.’[1] Saeed compares denotational with representational approaches; where in representational approaches ‘the search for meaning is the search for mental representations’[2] and in denotational approaches meaning is directly related to the world, in this case ‘the search for meaning… is the search for how the symbols of language relate to reality.’[3] So, a logical, denotational approach is a form of formal semantics and is usually based on truth-conditional analysis. One approach of this nature would be the Millian view of language, which is a traditional correspondence theory of meaning insofar as the meaning of a word is given by its reference to the world. The meaning of a sentence is analysed by its truth-conditions which are given by the world. Although simple, and in some respects intuitive, such an approach has severe difficulties including the fact that it was unable to explain the meaning given by words which do not have a referent in reality, for example fictional characters. As a way of dealing with such problems Frege introduced the notion of sense, claiming that a word has both reference and sense. Such approaches have been subjected to a lot of modification.

Formal approaches are generally associated with the notion that cognition is separate from linguistic ability insofar as language forms an autonomous module, which is separated from, or independent of, other abilities. The language module is often broken down into further parts, where syntax is separated from semantics and so on. On this approach ‘it is good practice to investigate linguistic principles without reference to other mental faculties; and internally, to investigate, say, syntactic principles without reference to semantic content.’[4]

Another form of formal approach is one which has a representational view of cognition, modular in nature, in which representations are given meaning by their reference to the world. This is a position George Lakoff, a cognitive semanticist, in his paper ‘Cognitive Semantics’, refers to as objectivist cognition and he summarises its central claim as follows:

Rational thought is the algorithmic manipulation of arbitrary abstract symbols that are meaningless in themselves but get their meaning by being associated with things in the world.

In objectivist cognition, the symbols and algorithmic operations of symbol-manipulation are seen as constituting a language of thought. The symbols function as internal representations of external reality and the rules that manipulate the symbols do not make use of what the symbols mean.[5]

This approach can be considered to be formal, although representational in nature, because it uses a correspondence theory of truth-conditional analysis i.e. the meaning of a representation is given by the formal analysis of its components, which are given by association with the world, and the meaning of a word is given in relation to this representation. This approach became popular with the cognitive science community and is best exemplified by Fodor’s Language of Thought Hypothesis which postulates a series of abstract representations which have language-like combinatorial semantics.

In comparison to the modular nature of formal approaches, cognitive approaches to linguistic meaning deny that there is a ‘separation of linguistic knowledge from general thinking or cognition’[6] and therefore assert that language is an integrated part of cognition. This view entails that there is no formal division of cognitive abilities, and also no formal division between different areas of linguistic study. The major claim is that concepts are formed by the structured nature of our experience, combined with an innate capacity to imaginatively project from this to abstract conceptual structures. Furthermore rational thought can be considered to be the application of general cognitive processes, since a modular theory is not presumed.

Lakoff states that his theory of experientialist cognition posits:

- Concepts of two sorts that are meaningful
1. Basic-level concepts
2. Image-schemas (e.g., containers, paths, links, part-whole schemas, force-dynamic schemas, etc.). These have a nonfinitary internal structure.
- Imaginative processes for forming abstract cognitive models from these: Schematisation, Metaphor, Metonymy and Categorisation.
- Basic cognitive processes such as focussing, scanning, superimposition, figure-ground shifting, vantage-point shifting, etc.
- Mental spaces.[7]

So, what are the main differences between these two approaches? For the purpose of this comparison, I shall contrast experientialist cognition, which is held by cognitive approaches to linguistic meaning, with objectivist cognition, which is held by the majority of formal approaches to linguistic meaning.

Lakoff suggests that the formal approaches, so far discussed, involve a view of semantics that is based on objectivist metaphysics. Objectivist metaphysics is a strong form of realism and is more commonly known as ‘metaphysical realism’. In order to fully discuss the difference between formal and cognitive approaches, we must first consider what Lakoff believes is wrong with objectivist metaphysics.

Lakoff suggests that the basic tenets of this view are given by four doctrines:

Doctrine 1: The world consists of entities with fixed properties and relations holding among them at any instant. This structure is mind-free, that is, independent of the understanding of any beings.
Doctrine 2: The entities in the world are divided up naturally into categories called natural kinds. All natural kinds are sets defined by the essential properties shared by their members.
Doctrine 3: All properties are either complex or primitive; complex properties are logical combinations of primitive properties.
Doctrine 4: There are rational relations that hold objectively among the entities and categories in the world. For example if an entity x is in category A and if A is in category B, then x is in B.[8]

These doctrines are interrelated, since Putnam’s analysis of natural kind terms leads from essentialism, which in turn is based on model logic; rational relations are a consequence of logical combinations of categories etc. Lakoff suggests that if this view is denied it has some devastating consequences for objectivist cognition. There are several reasons for wanting to reject this view, among which are:

§ The concept of an objective mind-free reality is not, in itself conceivable, since we impose our own structure upon the world. This can be argued from the grouping of categories or concepts, and from the potential informativeness of identity statements. This is not to suggest that it does not exist, only that we cannot access it. This has been argued in depth by Thomas Nagel in his book The View From Nowhere.
§ In addition, such a view is based on set theory, which has itself been shown to have several problems including Russell’s paradox of a set containing all sets. Such a set cannot contain itself – which is paradoxical.
§ The status of natural kinds has been heavily debated, and has now been reduced to scientific essentialism.
§ The nature of properties which combine to form concepts or categories has been brought into question – as shall be discussed later.

Lakoff suggests a further three doctrines which lead from objectivist metaphysics, which can be seen to be the foundations of formal approaches to linguistic meaning:

Doctrine 5. The doctrine of truth conditional meaning: Meaning is based on reference and truth.
Doctrine 6. The “correspondence theory” of truth: Truth consists in the correspondence between symbols and states of affairs in the world.
Doctrine 7. The doctrine of objective reference: There is an “objectively correct” way to associate symbols with things in the world.[9]

Truth is defined as correspondence to the world; meaning is given by objective reference to the world, which can be analysed in terms of truth-conditions. So, in terms of representations, they are meaningful>[10] In this sense, meaning is given as reference to an objective reality as defined by doctrines 1-4. If the world is not structured according to doctrines 1-4 then doctrines 5-7 are not supported and therefore objectivists run into difficulty explaining meaning since meaning is fixed by fixing the reference.

There are a further two doctrines which lead from this, about which Lakoff raises issue.

Doctrine 8: Conceptual categories are designated by sets characterised by necessary and sufficient conditions on the properties of their members.[11]
Doctrine 9: A complex concept is DEFINED by a collection of necessary and sufficient conditions on less complex (and, ultimately, primitive) concepts.[12]

Conceptual categories are categories which are ‘given’ to us by the objectivist view of reality, and include natural kind terms. It is argued that something fits into one category as opposed to another according to a set of necessary and sufficient features. This has led to feature analysis, known as componential analysis, in formal linguistics. One famous example is the linguistic category BATCHELOR which can be analysed into four components [+HUMAN] [+MALE] [+ADULT] [-MARRIED]. It is considered that if any of these features are changed then the meaning will be changed. In addition, as doctrine 9 specifies, a concept is defined by a set of necessary and sufficient conditions on primitive concepts. These primitive concepts are fundamental to objectivist metaphysics as can be seen by doctrine 3. This view is appealing because it offers the potential of a structured analysis of word meaning based on component parts. It can explain concept learning with recourse to assembling features, and can be used to explain categorisation.

It has been argued that this analysis of concepts is incorrect. It suffers from several problems including: the difficulty of defining concepts according to necessary and sufficient feature (most famously Wittgenstein’s discussion of ‘game’), the problems raised by Kripke and Putnam of ignorance and error, the problems of conceptual fuzziness, and the problem of typicality effects. Cognitive semanticists instead posit ‘prototypes’ which they argue solve all of these problems, without having to resort to necessary and sufficient features.

In comparison to objectivist views of cognition stands George Lakoff’s view of experientialist cognition. His view is based on a cognitive semantic approach and is therefore diametrically opposed to many of the approaches of formal linguistics. Lakoff suggests that the objectivist picture ignores the role of human physicality, or being in the world, for the development of concepts. He calls it experientialist cognition because it considers: ‘that aspect of experience that we have simply by virtue of being human and living on earth in a human society.’[13] He also comments that research suggests the human imaginative capacity plays a major role in the determining of concepts, beyond that given by external reality. He argues:

What is needed to replace the objectivist view of meaning is an irreducibly cognitive semantics, one that accounts for what meaning is to human beings, rather than trying to replace humanly meaningful.[14]

Lakoff argues that such a cognitive semantics would avoid the metaphysical objectivism of formal theories, by placing central the role of our sensory-motor and social experience to explaining meaning. The theory is representational, although not in the sense of formal representational theories, because meaning is given in terms of human cognition. The difference is that the meaning of human cognition is not given in reference to an external, mind-free, reality. He states that the central claim of this experientialist cognition is that our concepts are formed by the structured nature of our experience, combined with an innate capacity to imaginatively project from this to abstract conceptual structures. Furthermore rational thought can be considered to be the application of general cognitive processes, since a modular theory is not presumed.

Therefore, to summarise the differences between the two approaches, objectivist cognition is based on a modular view of the mind, unlike the experientialist view. The experientialist views cognition as fundamental to our being-in-the-world, rather than disembodied. Objectivist views, as we saw, use a correspondence theory of meaning, where meaning is given in terms of reference to the world, in comparison experientialists view meaning as being formed by the structured nature of our experience, combined with an innate capacity to imaginatively project to abstract conceptual structures. In addition, objectivist views see cognition as being the formal manipulation of symbols (especially in the Language of Thought Hypothesis), whereas experientialists appeal to cognitive models in conceptual spaces.

Although the objectivist approach is appealing as an approach in metaphysics and cognition, it is suggested that the experientialist approach better fits the data. There are difficulties with the objectivist metaphysics and also difficulty with analysis based on componential analysis. In addition, since formal accounts separate cognition into distinct modules, non-linguistic evidence was ignored. In comparison, approaches in cognitive semantics have specifically looked for psychological and biological data in order to support their approach. It appears to so far be working as a thesis, but still has many years of development left before it can fully-supplant formal approach.

Fatal error: main(): Failed opening required '/hsphere/local/home/bluejoh/' (include_path='.:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/content/b/l/u/bluejoh

Sunday, April 20, 2008 1:58:00 AM

troylloyd said...
La operación de interpretación no está mostrada en este desarrollo gráfico, justamente por excederlo y requerir el establecimiento de conexiones intersemióticas con otros sectores de la cultura del perceptor. Es lo que se cumple en la mayoría de los ensayos acerca de la historieta y de otras manifestaciones plásticas. No se da cuenta aquí acerca de cómo han sido construidas estas historietas, ni del proceso mental que nos permite identificar, a partir de determinados trazos gráficos, a personajes y situaciones de la experiencia de cualquier perceptor. Las operaciones metasemióticas de identificación y de reconocimiento nos exigen enfrentar una seria tarea de investigación. La operación de interpretación es, simplemente, la que logra hacernos sonreir.

Sunday, April 20, 2008 2:09:00 AM

troylloyd said...
In the excepts of the Exegesis reworked into the "Tractates Crytptica Scriptura" that close the novel VALIS, Dick expresses the MIT computer scientist Edward Fredkin's view that the universe is composed of information. The world we experience is a hologram, "a hypostasis of information" that we, as nodes in the true Mind, process. "We hypostasize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of information. This is the language we have lost the ability to read."[4] With this Adamic code scrambled, both ourselves and the world as we know it are "occluded," cut off from the brimming "Matrix" of cosmic information. Instead, we are under the sway of the "Black Iron Prison," Dick's terms for the demiurgic worldly forces of political tyranny and oppressive social control. Rome is the eternal paragon of this "Empire," whose archetypal lineaments the feverish Dick recognized in the Nixon administration.

Just as William Blake condensed the coming horrors of industrialism into his image of "Satanic mills," Dick's Black Iron Prison imaginatively captured the "disciplinary apparatus" of power analyzed by historian Michel Foucault. Demonstrating that prisons, mental institutions, schools, and military establishments all share similar organizations of space and time, Foucault argued that a "technology of power" was distributed throughout social space, enmeshing human subjects at every turn. Foucault argued that liberal social reforms are only cosmetic brush-ups of an underlying mechanism of control. As Dick put it, "The Empire never ended."

VALIS invades this spurious world of control in order to liberate us. For Dick, this "living information...replicates itself—not through information or in information—but as information."[5] VALIS is a virus, a kind of metaphysical DNA that encodes the Logos or "Word" that opens the Gospel of St. John. Birth from the spirit occurs when the information plasmate "penetrate(s) the world, replicating in human brains, crossbanding with them and assisting them..."[6] Dick calls these hybrid humans "homeoplasmates". At one point Dick believed that when the last of the homeoplasmates were killed off with the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E., "real time ceased." The plasmate reentered human history in 1945, when jars stuffed with ancient gnostic codices were discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt.

In order to snake its way into the Black Iron Prison, "the true God" must mimic "sticks and trees and beer cans in gutters." Dick's God "presumes to be trash discarded, debris no longer needed," so that "lurking, the true God literally ambushes reality and us as well."[7] Here Dick suggests a kind of liberation info-theology, a set of guerrilla tactics for our saturated data age: stick to the fringes of the spectacle, pay attention to marginal or discarded information, and never let your beliefs get in the way of surprise. Dick knew well that the political and metaphysical search for secret orders of power invites the black iron prison of paranoia, but he also recognized that "Surprise is an antidote to paranoia."[8]

Dick was well aware of the nuttiness of 2-3-74, and when he turned to the problem of narrating the event in VALIS, he split himself into two characters: the narrator, a sober science-fiction writer named Phil Dick, and a mad visionary named Horselover Fat. The book itself is a hybrid, a melange of autobiography and fantasy that's laced with an encyclopedic range of philosophical and religious information: citations from the I Ching, Henry Vaughan, Heraclitus, Wagner, Xenophanes, the Bible, Pascal, and, of course, the science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.

The first half of the narrative is a loosely autobiographical account of Dick's/Fat's own "pink light" experiences of 2-3-74. Then Fat and his friends go to see a trashy B-movie called Valis. Like kabbalistic scholars or acidheads who see meaning everywhere they turn, Fat and his friends uncover a host of subtle symbols and puns in the flick, all of which seem to refer to Fat's half-baked theophany. Here Dick the author implies that the divine virus can infect you through the process of reading and decoding the cultural hieroglyphs scattered about the world. And since the film Valis clearly emerges from the same pulp ghetto that Dick himself wrote for throughout his mostly marginal career, he sly hints that careful readers of his own trashy paperbacks, with their lurid covers and cheesy titles, may pick up far more than they bargained for.

Once the novel VALIS is infected with the viral messages of the film Valis, autobiography gives way to fantasy. Half-convinced they've struck metaphysical gold, Fat and his friends head to Northern California to track down Mother Goose, the rock band responsible for the movie. There Fat and Phil meet the divine child Sophia (a gnostic Wisdom figure who, like VALIS, is also a sentient AI). As the SF writer Kim Stanley Robinson points out, Sophia's message to the group is not more of the hermetic esoterica we've come to expect from the novel, but a simple, humanist revision of Jesus' beautiful Sermon on the Mount. In her sane and calming presence, Fat and Phil become one person again, the split between vision and reality momentarily healed.

But this is a Dick novel, and such resolutions never last long. Sophia is killed, and Horselover Fat divides once again from Phil Dick and flies to Micronesia looking for the Messiah. At the novel's end, Dick is left alone in front of his TV, looking for secret messages from VALIS, strange symbols in ads or subliminal match-cut montages. "I sat; I waited; I watched...As we had been told, originally, long ago, to do; I kept my commission."[9]

The pathos of this image is remarkable, expressing at once a postmodern ennui and a quiet hope for the reinvestment of oracular meaning in the flickering hieroglyphs of the monitor screen. While Dick's erudite vision of living information trumps anything you'll find in New Age bookshops, the strength of VALIS and many of his other novels lies ultimately in his compassionate portrait of human suffering and the pragmatic, fragmentary, and creative measures that humans resort to when metaphysical solutions collapse before us. Though sharing some gnostic SF notions with L. Ron Hubbard's cosmology, Dick's characters are the absolute opposite of the superheros of Scientology; they are ordinary schlemiels, bumbling Joes struggling with moral ambiguity, poverty, politics, and psychological wounds. They live in worlds where faceless forces of control are dodged only through entropy and communication breakdown, where commodities have supplanted community, and where God lurks in a spraycan. In such a world, the most divine communications aren't transmitted in a pink blast of gnostic data, but in that most telepathic of human emotions: empathy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008 2:21:00 AM

troylloyd said...
proposition one was seeking to justify’
. Ich fasse zusammen: ‘Übereinstimmung mit der
Wirklichkeit’ ist kein Kriterium für Wahrheit, weil es einer zirkularen Argumentation entspricht.
Ich glaube, dass Wittgenstein der Meinung ist, dass unsere Gewissheit mit der Vernunft
übereinstimmen soll. Das schliesse ich aus ÜG 219-220: ‘Es kann für mich, als vernünftigen
Menschen, kein Zweifel darüber bestehen. – Das ist es eben (ÜG 219).

Sunday, April 20, 2008 2:35:00 AM

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