I'd like to read a pun-based joke turning on "nacre" and "knacker", but am having trouble formulating one.
I already say "shill-I-shall-I" and "will he or nill he" (and other pronouns are substituted as need arises); what, thus, could make less sense than henceforth to describe my having done something unhesitatingly by saying "nor shilled I nor shalled I"? (What, indeed?)
I stayed up in bed last night figuring what the altitude of an equilateral triangle inscribed in a
societycircle is in terms of the circle's radius. This took a frustratingly long time, as first I had to remember what cos π/6 is (I knew that it was either √3/2 or .5, but I couldn't remember which, finally determining the answer through extremely disreputable means), and then I had a very hard time holding the image in my head to keep track of what lines were hypotenuses to what right triangles. The really dumb part is that the answer is exactly what I guessed it would be before actually embarking on this enterprise, and there was no reason at all I had to do it last night. (What, you might ask, is the reason I was doing this at all? I thought such knowledge would be useful if I were ever going to want to drill three holes, corresponding to the apices of such a triangle, in a succession of boards, each board host to a triangle rotated 30 degrees in some constant direction (not that that part matters, actually) with respect to the last. Though 30 might actually be too extreme; oh well.)
Totally unrelatedly, check this shit out:
(15" was calculated as the distance between the holes - 21" - divided by 1.4. Adjust if necessary). At no point is it explained why 1.4 is the magic number, or what sort of adjustments might be necessary, or, for that matter, why the distance between the holes is the relevant measurement, all useful informations, or so one might think. (I assume the distance between the holes is measured because the holes have to line up at the top and bottom. But then one would expect the divisor to have, I dunno, more obvious trigonometric significance? 1.4 is close to √2, I guess. And actually that makes no sense; the pipes aren't rotated and the holes are drilled at 45-degree intervals, and there are three of them; the holes will never line up.)
So far (which isn't very far), Against the Day is giving me a strong John Crowley vibe (specifically Ægypt, but the talk, which I'm just getting to now, of moving at right angles to time reminds one of
Great Work of Time, though perhaps only for similarity of vocabulary—and it also puts one in mind of, I shit you not, the end of either LOTR or The Silmarillion—the part where the world is bent, or whatever the term is that's used).
(22:05:25) I: pogo is a possum who lives in okefenokee swamp
(22:05:44) she: you are intense, dude
I also mentioned that there had been an article "a few years ago" in the NYRB about Pogo, written by, as I said,
someone or other (for some reason the name I'm coming up with is brad leithauser, but I wouldn't rely on that). Now Leithauser's name didn't exactly
pop into my head, it was more as if it had been swimming around in there and happened to surface when I thought of the article (that is, before my attention turned directly to the question of authorship), so imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only did he write it, he did so in April of 2002, nearly five years ago. And yet I can never remember the word "martinet" when I want to employ it, and only half the time can I remember it when I want to comment on how I can never remember it.
Another instance of memory in action: my default idle away message in gaim comes from the proem to book three of the Georgics:
temptanda uia est, qua me quoque possim / tollere humo uictorque uirum uolitare per ora. I've got its translation more or less memorized, but on looking through a few of the lines which followed it I found myself completely unable to answer to my satisfaction whether or not I was actually translating them, or just remembering what they meant from the last time I translated them (you might ask yourself if there's a principled difference to be drawn here). The lines in question:
primus ego in patriam mecum, modo uita supersit, / Aonio rediens deducam uertice Musas; / primus Idumaeas referam tibi, Mantua, palmas, / et uiride in campo templum de marmore ponam / propter aquam, tardis ingens ubi flexibus errat / Mincius et tenera praetexit harundine ripas.
Now, I couldn't remember what "tardis", "flexibus", or the last four words meant, but I also felt as if, when I did know what was going on, I was basically just transcribing, not actually knowing what anything meant. (Though isn't that the feeling, or lack of feeling, one normally has when reading a language one actually does know? Well, maybe not.) Of old my method for preparing for exams on which translations might feature was simply to re-read everything that might be on the exam, along with my translations; generally I would have to do this at most twice in order to have things pretty well set for the next day. Faced with the exam the first line or two would indicate where one was and thenceforth attention to the actual text would only be necessary for reminders (I may be remembering inaccurately).
I've been "organizing" the printouts, papers, handouts, notes etc I've managed to preserve from classes gone by, in some cases gone quite by: the earliest are two sets of notes and some handouts from 2001. One of those was my notes for JZ Smith's class on The Golden Bough, on flipping through which I discovered the following three lines, each more indented than the last:
Frazer a patternist
finds patterns everywhere (syntax)
but you can't get meaning out of syntax!
I also discovered some truly excellent doodles. I tell you, some of my doodling really stands up.
The circle is remarkable for what it doesn't contain: signs or signals telling drivers how fast to go, who has the right-of-way, or how to behave. There are no lane markers or curbs separating street and sidewalk, so it's unclear exactly where the car zone ends and the pedestrian zone begins. To an approaching driver, the intersection is utterly ambiguous - and that's the point.
Monderman and I stand in silence by the side of the road a few minutes, watching the stream of motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians make their way through the circle, a giant concrete mixing bowl of transport. Somehow it all works.
A friend of mine taking a negotiation class in law school told me that after one multifaceted practice negotiation, most of his classmates wanted to know, essentially, how much they could cheat and still remain within the bounds of the (formal, written-out, external) code of ethics. These are not dissimilar phenomena, I assume.
Thomas Browne was a powerful writer. Here's a quotation from him: [single sentence]. I took the second half for a book title. Sometimes Hemingway just made up his titles, but sometimes he used quotations too. Browne's sentences are interesting because [a quarter-page on Browne, including a two other single-sentence quotations and several other book titles]. I often thought [Brownian phrase] should be a book title as well. [Follows eight or nine pages on the titles of contemporary books and titling; the preceding has been about one page] In conclusion, Browne was a good writer.
Here's a puzzling paragraph:
It is misleading then to talk of thinking as of amental activity. We may say that thinking is essentially the activity of operating with signs. This activity is performed by the hand, when we think by writing; by the mouth and larynx, when we think by speaking; and if we think by imagining signs of pictures, I can give you no agent that thinks. If then you say that in such cases the mind thinks, I would only draw your attention to the fact that you are using a metaphor, that here the mind is an agent in a different sense from that in which the hand can be said to be the agent in writing.
The puzzling bit is really the first three sentences, I guess; when I read it the first time I was more than a little taken aback by the expression "think by writing" (more so than "think by speaking"). But I recall that when my arm was in a cast last year I felt extremely hampered in my ability to get work done, not in typing, but in reading, since it was a lot of effort to make little notes or even underline in a book (and even now the very act of underlining often seems to be the primary point of underlining a passage; the benefit that, when I return later to the same text, I'll have my attention drawn to those passages is secondary at best (sometimes, of course, it's no benefit at all, as when I underline something stupidly)). And the demand to actually articulate something as proof of its being understood is not so uncommon—just a few weeks ago I said to someone that I'd never believe anyone's claim to be able to division without being able to see him or her not just give the correct answer to, but actually write out, a division problem. (This other someone was making some sort of argument against teaching long division that I don't claim to have followed well.) (And the volume of Husserl's writing apparently owes to his proceeding in his thinking by writing out similar texts repeatedly, with modifications where he encountered problems.)
In this I'd like to say that I'm really fond of the word äußern. People learning a language and getting all caught up in various neat-seeming "possibilities" that language affords are really insufferable, aren't they? I mean, how can you live like that? On an earlier version of this blog—in the very first post, I believe—I claimed that the conception was always better, in principle, than the realization, because the realization is always prey to flaws. (This fallen world, and all that.) But now I seem to be nearer to the idea that if the conception isn't flawed, it's only because, until, and insofar as not, externalized, it's empty.
On the back of my edition of The Joy of Cooking (yes, I have my own, limited, edition) are two separate quotations from the New York Times; the second one reads, in full,
Joy of Cooking is the bestselling retail cookbook in American history.. To this one naturally has three responses in succession, though perhaps not this succession:
I suppose one no longer talks of "best-sellers" but rather "bestsellers"; still, for the adjective, it seems the hyphen is wanted.
I sometimes worry that I'll have a decent idea in a paper for class and then never pursue it, ultimately forgetting about it completely. In order to hasten the process (since when once brought out, I can never bear again to look on something I've written, generally), I'm just going to reproduce here the last few sentences of a paper I recently got back, written about Wittgenstein's use of "grammar", which few sentences received the comment "Nice. Tell me more" (and in such a great font—the comment, I mean, which was separately typed).
So help me god, I plan on writing a brief paper whose first sentence is "John McDowell has a problem with incontinence" (even though I actually think he has more of a problem with continence).
Update: the first sentence was actually "John McDowell has a problem with incontinence, and continence, and he knows it.". Also, even though McDowell favors "here and now", I used "hic et nunc", because I figured I had to class things up after the beginning.
They are, of course, the idea, apparently discussed here (I haven't read the book, but I did overhear someone saying that the idea about to be described is found therein) that thinking something like "gosh but I'm in a heck of a lot of pain; this sure is unpleasant!" rather than saying something out loud (say, to avoid waking one's sleeping partner) is a form of learned pain behavior just as is saying one is in pain instead of crying; the process by which our Rylean ancestors, post-Jones, learn to talk/think about and respond to their inner episodes (though in the aftermath of lengthy undigested stretches of the Philosophical Investigations one is uncertain what to make of "episodes" there); and the process by which our unreflective ancestors were taught to be able to make promises in the second (IIRC) essay of On the Genealogy of Morality.
I'm told (by the same person I overheard) that Finkelstein did his graduate work at Pitt, where he might have run into one or two fans of Sellars.