Faraday, The Chemical History of a Candle:Water is one individual thing—it never changes.
Faraday in The Chemical History of a Candle:Water is one individual thing—it never changes.
The world may never know.
Faraday, The Chemical History of a Candle:Water is one individual thing—it never changes.
Faraday in The Chemical History of a Candle:Water is one individual thing—it never changes.
The world may never know.
of analogy, of Kuryłowicz:
When as a consequence of a morphological [= analogical] change, a form undergoes differentiation, the new form takes over its primary (‘basic’) function, the old form remains only in secondary (‘derived’) function.
(from page 223 of Hock, Principles of Historical Linguistics)
If it's really he, he's looking healthier than when last I saw him (sometime in 2004) and seems to have stopped dyeing his hair that ridiculous color.
The worst thing he ever did to me was reveal his uncertainty regarding his undergrad thesis, saying that, after all, it's easy just to repeat what your advisor (Pippin; he was writing about the spiritual animal kingdom section of the Phenomenology) says, but this is after all inadequate as an expression of one's own interests, since in doing so he made it harder to reflexively think of him as unstoppably inhuman and therefore dislikable. (He was in fact perfectly nice in all my dealings with him, though more than a trifle arrogant, a trait that apparently persists—he refuses to speak German to his girlfriend, the photographer, for instance, even though (though probably actually because) she needs the help.) That self-doubt didn't stop him from citing his own essays written, I can only assume, for other classes, in the draft I saw, nor from winning the unfortunately named Gaylord Donnelly fellowship, which I suppose I need not say I too wanted, to study for a year at Cambridge with a bunch of other nice benefits—after winning which he had the temerity to opine that no one in the philosophy department there really did stuff that interested him, which makes one wonder what was wrong with Raymond Geuss.
I don't think he ever knew that he was my arch-nemesis, and in fact I can no longer remember why I first designated him thus.
[E]ach book is made up of four hundred and ten pages; each page, of forty lines; each line, of some eighty black letters—this last is plainly impossible, since the symbol set of the Library consists of twenty-two letters, the period, the comma, and the space. (We will ignore incompleteness deriving solely from symbol set incompatibility as too trivial to take notice of.) Suffice it then to say that each line consists of eighty characters, and those lines that seem to terminate with fewer are in fact padded with spaces. Thus each book consists of 1,312,000 symbols (call this number s), in some order or another, and there are 25**s=a big honkin' number (1,834,098 digits!) different books. (There are also titles on the spines, but no further information is given than that they exist.)
Now it is not exactly said that all works are to be found in the library, though it is said that
the Library is total and that its shelves contain all the possible combinations of the twenty-odd orthographic symbols … that is, everything which can be expressed, in all languages. Everything is there: the minute history of the future, the autobiographies of trhe archangels, the faithful catalogue of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, a demonstration of the fallacy of these catalogues, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary on this gospel, the commentary on the commentary of this gospel, the veridical account of your death, a version of each book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books.
There couldn't be all works because there would be no way to distinguish between the Don Quixote of Cervantes and that of Menard (I have always thought that Menard's story is an allegory of reading or reception, and not a delineation of a certain kind of conceptual work, but no matter) (except, perhaps, but title, actually, now that I think of it, though the narrator of the story doesn't seem to consider the titles as possible differentiators of books in his discussion later) and we will suppose that these are different works. (Just as a gallery containing all possible arrangements of paint on canvas couldn't distinguish between the visually identical illustrations of Newton's three laws in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, except, of course, by caption.) We can accomodate texts whose length isn't s quite simply: if they are shorter than s, there will be a book in the library consisting of the text in question, followed by some number of spaces; texts of length t > s are divided into ⌈t/s⌉ volumes, the last of which will be padded with s-(t%s) spaces. With respect to very long works, then, the books of the library form something like an alphabet with extremely cumbersome letters.
But this means two things: first, some books will be part of multiple texts (which, perhaps, cannot therefore be in the library simultaneously), and second, some texts can't be in the library at all. I mean "be in the library" in the following sense: if there is a multivolume set in a library, one ought in some sense to be able to have all the volumes together. Otherwise the set isn't really in the library. Obviously in the Library of Babel it is practically impossible, for most sets, to assemble all the volumes together, because of its unwieldy hugeness (and, of course, because although a catalogue exists—which is presumably itself many many volumes long—it's impossible to tell if you've found the right one). But in most cases of long texts with which we are acquainted (say Gibbon) there will be some set of volumes which make it up to be found somewhere in the library.
Suppose, though, that there is some text that has at least s consecutive characters in common with a different text, starting in the one book at symbol number sn and in the other at symbol sm (these books are zero-indexed, of course). Then it will be impossible to have both sets simultaneously, since, each book occuring only once in the library, there will be only one book corresponding to the intersection. (This becomes much clearer when the number of symbols making up the units of the alphabet is smaller. With a one-symbol alphabet, in which there would only be 25
books, you couldn't simultaneously have
And it gets worse! Just as one couldn't have
baa in the one-symbol case, so too one could not have, in the Library of Babel, a text which had two identical sequences of s (or more) consecutive symbols starting at character positions sn and sm, n ≠ m. Such a text is not inconceivable. One could take as one's model "Franz Kafka in Riga", a story the reading of which is a postrequisite for all those who have read or intend to read "Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote" (and indeed, should I be fortunate enough to be the TA for this course, and should this most recently mentioned Borges story remain on the syllabus, I intend to force the Mathews on my students all unwary, and that even though it quite plainly isn't on the syllabus, and even though I myself don't have anything to say about it, but rather merely find it interesting, or perhaps even merely "neat"—anyway, it's short). If the text between "I decided to climb these steps" and "threatened to blow away my" were in each case much, much longer, and the text before the first appearance of the string, and the text between the two, were of precisely the right length, each bit could fall at precisely the right position to occupy the entirety of a Library of Babel volume.
Whose original title was merely Stiller, raising the question of why it was changed for translation. (Perhaps the Dalkey Archive wanted to punch it up.)
All I can really say is that I had a premonition. It is not shame that prevents me from laying my cards on the table, but sheer inability. I never felt ashamed of my action. I threw away a life that had never been a life. Even if the way I did so was ridiculous. I was left with the memory of an immense freedom: everything depended on me. I could decide whether I wanted to live again, but this time so that a real death took place. Everything depended upon me alone, as I have already said. I have never been closer to the essence of grace. And I realized that, certain of grace, I had decided in favour of life, by the fact that I began to feel a terrible pain. I had the distinct sensation that I was new being born for the first time, and with a certainty that need not fear even ridicule. I felt ready to be nobody but the person as whom I had just been born and to seek no other life than this, which I could not cast from me. That was about two years ago and I was already thirty-eight.
So Stiller, p 328, near the end of the section, by far the majority, which consists of his notebooks in prison. The public prosecutor's postscript, waxing philosophical on a topic he's already discussed with Stiller when the latter was still in prison on pp 275–8 (p 351):
The self knowledge that gradually or abruptly alienates a person from his previous life is merely the first step, indispensable but by no means sufficient in itself. How many people we know who come to a halt after this first step, who are satisfied with the melancholy that comes of mere self-knowledge and who make this melancholy look like maturity! Stiller, I believe, had already passed beyond this stage when he first disappeared. He was in the process of taking the second and much more difficult step, of emerging from resigned regret that one is not what one would so much have liked to be and of becoming what one is. Nothing is harder than to accept oneself. Actually only the naive succeed in doing it, and I have so far met few people in my world who could be described as naive in this positive sense. In my view Stiller, when we met him in custody, had already achieved this painful self-acceptance to a pronounced degree. Why did he nonetheless defend himself in such a childish way against his whole environment, against his former companions? … In spite of all his self-acceptance, in spite of all his will to self-acceptance, there was one thing our friend had failed to achieve, he had not been able to forego recognition by those around him. He felt himself a different man—quite rightly, he was a different man from that Stiller whom people immediately recognized him as—and he wanted to convince everyone of this: that was the childish thing.
I assume that it would not be too far wrong to read into these two stages of which the prosecutor speaks a reference to Kierkegaard, with whom we know him to be at least glancingly familiar (thus about as familiar as I am). (Since I know Fear and Trembling better than any other Kierkegaardian text, my thoughts first incline to the knights of infinite resignation and faith: but who knows. I understand he had a thing or two to say in other places about stages on life's way.) Presumably the prosecutor's final diagnosis is yet more evidence, of whatever sort it might be, for the proposition that amour propre everywhere, man, and it's no good.
Some music-related thoughts:
- Once when I was working in a warehouse for these people, whom it frankly surprises me to see still in existence, one of my coworkers opined that the last real Einstürzende Neubauten album was whichever one preceded Ende Neu, since in between one or some of the members left—consulting wikipedia, I believe he must have been referring to the departure of F.M. Einheit. (Also learned: there is a movie called Blixa Bargeld Stole My Cowboy Boots in which Bargeld does not appear, but he does sometimes impersonate Kylie Minogue, evidently without bothering to memorize the lyrics.) Whoever it was who espoused this opinion is presumably shocked by Alles wieder offen. Consider "Ich hatte ein Wort"—practically a pop song! (This is not a criticism; I like it, even though the way he sings the ends of the lines is kind of obvious—it's just a long way from "Vanadium-I-Ching" or "Halber Mensch", is all.)
- The Cloudland Canyons/Lichens collaboration "Exterminating Angel" sounds a hell of a lot like Achim Reichel circa Autovision with some extra droning sections put in. One section in particular is highly reminiscent of "Jay Guru Dev" from that album. I mention this solely because I want to see if I'll end up quoted on kranky's website again (presumably not). (Update several months later: Nope. And I can't believe I didn't refer to "Engel der Vernichtung/Hospitalische Kinder" in the previous section of this post, given that I refer to "Exterminating Angel" in this one. What was wrong with me?)
- The new Miasma & the Carousel of Headless Horses album, Manfauna, features, in addition to an extremely strange name, a bassoonist. This is all to the good, in my opinion, since bassoons are excellent and deserve a more prominent place in rock music. It does, of course, mean that the band risks sounding more and more like early Univers Zero (not necessarily a bad thing). UZ is, as everyone knows, sort of the grandfather, along with Art Zoyd, of a school of oddly Belgium-centric bands playing what gets called chamber rock (UZ is Belgian, but I doubt that has much to do with it; anyway, Art Zoyd is French and the Stormy Six, who were more "out" than either of those two, were Italian and seem to have had practically no influence whatsoever). Anyway. Aquarius Records loves Miasma &c., but is seemingly completely ignorant of other bands playing in a similar style, even though they saw fit to namecheck UZ in their little review of the first Miasma album. Since I was listening to the first DAAU album immediately after Manfauna, the oddity of this was made especially apparent. (Similarly, they have a "Finland" section, but what they really mean is "Finnish bands related to a small clutch of labels releasing music approved by the Wire"; you don't hear anything from them about Finnish pop or rock bands, or even, as you might have antecedently thought, about legitimately experimental or progressive bands/performers like Alamaailman Vasarat or Kimmo Pohjonen, the Merzbow of polka; similarly, they love the band from which Miasma is an offshoot, Guapo, and are at least able to recognize that they're basically ripping Magma off wholesale, but seem uninterested in Eskaton, Shub-Niggurath, or Bondage Fruit, who you'd think would have a bonus since they're Japanese.) There are a couple of obvious explanations for this fact, and I do continue to assume that the people there know next to everything about black/doom/stoner/etc metal, but it's still kind of disappointing, especially because DAAU, and Julverne, and Aranis (and Aranos!), and all that lot would probably interest the people who like Miasma and Univers Zero, and could, moreover, probably do with the help of a company that's very good at making people who want to be hip think they need to purchase this album or that, since they are not very well known, but that company is itself seemingly too beholden to trend to care. Hélas!
Completely unrelated: one of the visiting students has, as I discovered from facebook, a blog written in German, his native language, and so of course I started reading it. (It's not procrastination, it's practice.) The first sentence of the topmost post AOTW is
Es ist Samstagabend und ich bin matschbirnig., which I simply cannot help reading as "it is Saturday evening and I am masturbating.". While probably incorrect, this reading is at least more plausible than one on which the author has turned into a rotten pear.
I discovered flipping through the Sudelbücher trying to locate likely passages to distribute for collective translation practice that one of them concerns Lord Chesterfield and his letters, of which Samuel Johnson claimed that they teach a permutation of the title to this post. My father being a fan of Chesterfield, I thought it would be interesting to produce the below, or rather, I thought it would be interesting to produce a decent englishing and the below was the best I could do.
(Much of this went to Herr Professor Feder)
Lord Chesterfield certainly never thought that his letters would appear in print. One can gather from the character of the lord, which he sought meticulously to maintain before the world, that if he had published a treatise on upbringing, it would have turned out quite differently than the plan for upbringing that could be sketched from his letters. Most of the difference is in how justly they accord with the individual circumstances of the young Stanhope, and there, where he finds his nature recalcitrant, he tries to give to many of his rules a weight which they would not be able to have in a general system. Of course he insists as a man of the court on grace and good manners in a young man whom he wishes to make into a man of the court, but that he does it in such a manner as we see in his letters, where he speaks so often of dancing-masters, of carving [? vorschneiden] and nail-clipping and always brings the graces, the graces to his tongue, this must be explained by the special character of young Stanhope. Perhaps the following can contribute something to that. The anecdotes which now come are first-hand; I read Lord Chesterfield's letters in Lord Boston's country home, where at the time a certain Scottish lady, Mrs Walkingshaw, was also visiting, who not only knew the young Stanhope very well, but had also had much contact with his mother. According to the description of this lady Mr Stanhope was a good, fat, comfortable youth, who had learned much, but possessed little of the pride and burning ambition which his father, twenty years after begetting him, hoped to instill in him; nothing of the strong force of Bolingbroke, whose acts were represented to him as a model, though perhaps he had more thorough learning at a younger age. It would perhaps have been more fitting for him, I feel, to publish a few authors or Acta pacis [? Westphalia what?] as a private individual and to make himself a good father and husband, for he was in the highest degree sloppy, as many bookish men are, and was accustomed, in society, to stand with his left foot on his right, like the youngest Talbot. The following story might serve as a demonstration of how deep this tendency lay in him. When his father called him home one time to see how his son and the graces stood with each other (you [ie Feder] will remember that time from the letters), his father held a great banquet, to which all the foreign ambassadors were invited, to bring his son into contact with them. The young Stanhope, however, was more concerned with his plate than with the whole gathering, and called, and not in a polite way, three times for some of a tart which he liked, which greatly angered his father. When the servants finally were to remove the dish, he called to them and took the last large piece right off the dish with his fingers, and without first setting it on his plate bit into it and got butter on his face up to his ears. He did this despite his father's calling out to him, "the graces, the graces", and finally he married, again against his fathers will, an excellent woman (the publisher of the letters) with whom he certainly lived more happily than he would have if his father, as certainly would have happened, placed his marriage in the political firmament. Don't you find it much preferable that we have these letters, than a book on upbringing that the Lord might have prepared for Dodsley? This way we have his arcana. There is already a summary of the work in English organized into some sort of system. On this something from Lavater's Physiognomical Atlas.
(In attempting to discover if "physiognomisch" should be rendered "physiognomical" or "physiognomic" I discovered that there exists a paper called "Lavater, Lichtenberg, and the Suggestive Power of the Human Face".)
For these episodes are "in" language-using animals as molecular impacts are "in" gases, not as "ghosts" are in "machines".
Why in the world does the above not read as follows?
For these episodes are "in" langauge-using animals as molecular impacts are "in" gases, not as ghosts are "in" machines.
The introduction contains what would be an interesting juxtaposition if footnotes lived not at the bottom of the page but rather next to the text for which they constitute a note:
If a man chooses to bind the spirit of Hegel in the fetters of Carnap, how shall he find readers?
If a man choose to bind the spirit of Christ in the fetters of Euclid, how shall he find readers?
The first of the above produced and then reproduced by a denizen primarily of the 20thC, and the latter half at that; the second produced by someone who presumably lived somewhat earlier and then merely reproduced by the former: I wonder if he noticed, at the time of the reproduction, the salient difference, and if so, what he made of it, if anything.
I don't mean the concepts involved or anything, just that he's hard to read. As proof I reproduce without further comment two sentences from the Preface to the Philosophy of Right along with their translation as given here.
Es ist darum als ein Glück für die Wissenschaft zu achten,—in der Tat ist es, wie bemerkt, die Notwendigkeit der Sache,—daß jenes Philosophieren, das sich als eine Schulweisheit in sich fortspinnen mochte, sich in näheres Verhältnis mit der Wirklichkeit gesetzt hat, in welcher es mit den Grundsätzen der Rechte und der Pflichten ernst ist, und welche im Tage des Bewußtseins derselben lebt, und daß es somit zum öffentlichen Bruche gekommen ist. Es ist eben diese Stellung der Philosophe zur Wirklichkeit, welche die Mißverständisse betreffen, und ich kehre hiermit zu dem zurück, was ich vorhin bemerkt habe, daß die Philosophie, weil sie das Ergründen des Vernünftigen ist, eben damit das Erfassen des Gegenwärtigen und Wirklichen, nicht das Aufstellen eines Jenseitigen ist, das Gott weiß wo sein sollte,—oder von dem man in der Tat wohl zu sagen weiß, wo es ist, nämlich in dem Irrtum eines einseitige, leeren Raisonnierens.
Hence it is for science a piece of good fortune that that kind of philosophising, which might, like scholasticism, have continued to spin its notions within itself, has been brought into contact with reality. Indeed, such contact was, as we have said, inevitable. The real world is in earnest with the principles of right and duty, and in the full light of a consciousness of these principles it lives. With this world of reality philosophic cob-web spinning has come into open rupture. Now, as to genuine philosophy it is precisely its attitude to reality which has been misapprehended. Philosophy is, as I have already observed, an inquisition into the rational, and therefore the apprehension of the real and present. Hence it cannot be the exposition of a world beyond, which is merely a castle in the air, having no existence except in the terror of a one-sided and empty formalism of thought.
In other news I have located at least four typographical errors in the Marx-Engels Reader, and this fact has forever discredited Marx and all his works in my eyes.
An update to limerick chess: in its first, pure, form, even though the metrical requirements were a trifle loose, one had to be able to construct the entire game using only the limericks themselves; that is, each limerick was to contain a precise specification of the move to which it corresponded, either by incorporating algebraic chess notation or a description of the move or what have you. One of the chief drawbacks to this system is that it is extremely hard to maintain interest in the exercise over the course of an entire game, and the limericks themselves are rather difficult to compose. So now, without explicitly theorizing about the matter but rather diving straight in (in fact I had nothing to do with it) my previous limerick chess partner and I are playing a variant in which each move must merely be accompanied by a limerick, hopefully about the move or the state of the game, but not necessarily containing the move. Not only are these limericks easier to compose, but the freedom in terms of subject matter allows one to have limerick-exchanges on the same topic, as in a recent one about the ultimate disposition of one of my bishops. However, as yet, none of the limericks has had anything as great as "to fall for your feint / is something I deign't", though I did just rhyme "calmly" and "balm'ly".
A specification of the hybrid verse form, haikumerick: it contains three lines of five, seven, and five syllables each. The fifth, or fourth and fifth, syllable(s) of each line must rhyme, and the sixth and second, or seventh and third, syllables of the second and third lines must rhyme. In an ideal world, it should make a modicum of sense. Here is a stupid example I ginned up after utterly failing to write "Haikumerick: on the Haikumerick" on the model of that Keats sonnet during an Iva Bittová concert: "There once was a man / Who thought up the plan: drive to / Maldives in a van".