Oct 31, 2003

The peasants call her the goddess of gloom
Now if you see Saint Annie
Please tell her thanks a lot
I cannot move
My fingers are all in a knot
I don't have the strength
To get up and take another shot
And my best friend, my doctor
Won't even say what it is I've got.

Oct 29, 2003

With philosophy in both hands
If you didn’t believe me when I said I’d sold my soul and now I’m a philosopher, consider: I’ve just spent the night (midnight – 7 a.m., with breaks) reading 15 pages of philosophy, writing 160 words of notes on those 15 pages, and then writing over 560 words about that philosophy here.

I was seized, riveted through the entire process. This is not something I need to read for class and will appear on no text I am taking.

I'm not joking when I say philosophy is all I have.
Killing the Reference Theory
Killing the Author

Adventures with Jack Derrida: on reading of the first 15 pages of Limited Inc.

If a statement can be understood without reference to a referent, then referential theories aren’t necessary to explain how a statement can be meaningful.
      If I say “the sky is blue” and you don’t see the sky – or even if I don’t see the sky, am mistaken, am lying, etc. – the statement is still an acceptable (grammatical) statement. This phrase can be formed and uttered even if it is false, that is to say the statement can serve as a reference even if the referent is empty.
      If the referent is empty – the case for Santa Claus and unicorns – then our reference isn’t to a non-linguistic object and isn’t a referent on the measure of the reference theory. If “unicorn” can pick out no unicorn then it can not be designating that exists outside of language or prior to it. One can never break out of language by pointing to the object when the object does not exist outside of language. We have here a baptism without a baptized; a reference without a referent.
      A statement like “the grass greens” makes no sense/has no meaning for grammatical reasons, not referential ones. A statement like can have a perfectly acceptable sense in the grammatical system of Russian. It doesn’t have any meaning in English because English grammar has no place for a the verb “to green.” How can we say whether “greening” refers to something in the world? Is there such a thing as “greening” or not? We cannot say there is or is not something de re that is “greening” but we can approve or disapprove or the phrase as a linguistic thing, given the working linguistic economy,
     

The crisis of meaning is not the crisis of language.

A text exists only with the radical absence of the author.
      If the author is always present with the text, that text could never in any way be removed from its original context. If it could never be separated from its original context, it could never be cited and never be incorporated into another context.
      For a text to be closed totally by a context is for the text to be strangled. A fully fixed text, resisting all interpretation but the authorial intention, would not exist outside of the instant of its situation, and would not be a text.
      This is to say that the text without an absent author could not be heard/received, it could not be repeated/ retraced/ recontextualized. For the written to carry soley and fixedly carry what the writer means, is for the written to be exhausted at the instant of being written.
      It is basic to the structure of writing that it contains a “force of rupture,” a separation from the scriptor that allows it to mean allows it to be received (reiterated) in allowing it to exist outside its birth’s instant.
      The possibility of authorship is its impossibility.

Without the death of the writer there is no writing.
Words
Reading Limited Inc.

INFELICITIES: Something inappropriate, ill chosen, unhappy.

PREFORMATIVE: Forming beforehand, prefixed as aformative element.

ITER: n. The record of proceedings during a circuit, (from the circut of itinerant judges, preachers); v. to repeat, renew, (so, reiterate).
Two theories on why I exagerate personal characteristics/allow others to exagerate personal characteristics:

1) I'm a little mythomanic, and will take an interesting inaccurate story about myself over a correct but less tellable story.

2) I'm more interested in what I'm doing than who I'm preceived as, and find the details of a precise description petty and can't be bothered.

Oct 28, 2003

'Cause hell's broke loose in Georgia/ and the devil deals the cards

“So I’m thinking about Spinoza …”

“Dan, you realize that they’ve got you? They’ve taken your soul and now you’re a philosopher.”

So I guess I'm going to reconsider grad school. I've had too many projects that I'm told are doctoral level work. But then Prizio was saying that writing a groundbreaking philosophical work is great because there are like three people in the world that know what the hell you're talking about and two of them violently disagree with you. I don't know. It's not even like I wouldn't be a good teacher. I think part of me is still caught in a blue collar ethic and is having a hard time finding the ivory tower legit. I'd be good in the ivory tower though, and if I was good at it then I'd enjoy it. I'm meeting with Dr. Stephens next week to talk about it and find out what my chances actually are for getting in. So it goes.
An attempt to list the blogs in the Greater Hillsdale Blogging Community. Nice work guys.

Oct 27, 2003

A touch of Spinoza on the papers page.
Phenomenologically speaking
They can't kiss me without kissing philosophy.
Philosophical explorations
What I'm working on: A Wittgensteinian way to dissolve the mind/body problem (esp. the problem of overcausation in the mental causation of physical events) with a double aspect theory that works as a linguistic parallelism.

Claim: That the mind/body problem are resulting from confusion because we have two languages, neither of which describes the world totally. Attempting to explain/describe the world fully, we go back and forth between languages, creating this confusion. Thus, some questions are answered with one language and others with another, leading to confusion in traditional dualist and materialist talk of causation, etc. E.g., Mathematical and phenomenological descriptions of a screw.

Double aspect theory: the mental and the physical are two aspects of the same thing, irreducible to each other.

Linguistic parallelism: My name for my attempt at incorporating the linguistic functionalism (of Sellars, Quine and esp. Wittgenstein) into the mind/body debate. I think I want a parallelism in that the physical and mental always keep pace/run parallel without interacting, but argue the distinction between mind and body is a linguistic one.

(So far as I know, this is not a developed/established philosophical theory. The closest thing might be Spinoza.)
Taking on the world
My father once ran into a wall to win a race.

My grandfather once stuck his hand into a boiling pot of tar to win a $5 bet.

It wasn’t a thing of stubbornness, thought that was there, but of an underlying aggression towards the world.

I’m a lot like my father and his father.
A funny story of crying
She related a funny story at dinner and they laughed, they laughed at the table while in the story they cried and yelled, going away broken and hurt.

Oct 25, 2003

Seeing the Slide without Children

As if we were the last childhood
empty playground rusted
swing slightly swinging
the way we left it 12 years ago
but we isn’t right really since I’m alone
melancholy mostly as memory
screams and monkey bars
empty park on wet bench watching the last leaf
crumbled brown.
A cool name: Dada Typo.
The Lion who Speaks
The Hillsdale Blogging Community has become the League of Extraordinary Bloggers with Metzger’s latest contribution. A funny a mostly accurate parody/description, Metz, nice work.

My attempts at philosophy as poetry (a la Heidegger or Wittgenstein) have become my superpower - I am the Wielder of the ancient power of aphorism and have the power to shrink a normal-sized blog entry into a few sentences.

Of course, this also means my readers often ask, “What the hell did Silliman just say?”

"The poet speaks the essential word ... Poetry is the establishing of being by means of the word." - Heidegger

"Philosophy really should be written only as a form of poetry." - Wittgenstein

Blogging
The Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association Conference
at San Antonio,
April 7-10, 2004 is having a panel on blogging. They want papers analyzing some aspect of the culture of blogging or presenting critical and informative personal narratives about blogging and are open to submission from non academics. Contact Joseph R. Chaney of the English department at Indiana University South Bend. (574) 237-4870. Fax: (574) 237-4538.

A Perseus study on blog authorship patterns says:
    "66.0% of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months, representing 2.72 million blogs that have been either permanently or temporarily abandoned. ... 1.09 million blogs were one-day wonders, with no postings on subsequent days. The average duration of the remaining 1.63 million abandoned blogs was 126 days (almost four months). A surprising 132,000 blogs were abandoned after being maintained a year or more;"
    "Blogs are updated much less often than generally thought. Active blogs were updated on average every 14 days. Only 106,579 of the hosted blogs were updated on average at least once a week. Fewer than 50,000 were updated daily;"
    "the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who uses it twice a month to update her friends and classmates on happenings in her life."

New Hillsdale blogs: Erin Mac, Lee Nunn, Brandon Thornton, and Dave Frank.

The Collegian ran an article on blogging - how to and 'dale students and alumn.

Oct 24, 2003

Prayer in doubt
Fragments

To demand certainty in prayer is to demand an escape from prayer.

Prayer ought to be supplication without assumptions

Even if God didn’t exist we ought to pray to God.

The impossible prayer can be prayed impossibly with liturgy and icons.
With a famous scowl
“You can tell your good friends from everyone else in your life,” she said, “because your good friends don’t think they’re bothering you when they talk to you.”

Oct 22, 2003

Blood makes blue eyes blue
I poked myself in the eye with a fork over a girl.

Actually I just have a burst blood vessel from hard living that’s not a big deal and looks bad but will go away in a few days, but that’s not exactly interesting now is it?

Oct 21, 2003


My attempt at chokepo:
While Choking

Gasp!
    Gargle!
      Hahhhhgg!

Must
have
Heimlich
maneuver

I choked and as I choked
it grew worse. “Water,” gasped.

that one damned bone
irony of strangulation
food quid death,
or is it qua?
food qua death
eating a good meal gone bad
that punk of a
grim reaper chicken
sickle of a bone in my throat.

The sibs
My sister is coming to visit in November, from 7 to 15.

And it looks like my brother David is coming later this year.

Sweet.
Apocalytic politics
Confessions of a disgruntled young politico
sillimanThe end of the world! Apocalypse! The holocaust of every good and decent thing you've ever cared about! The final battle in the great war between all that is right, good and honorable against the dark and depraved beasts that oppose us.
     
But your gift of $25 today, committed supporter, can save us.
     
This is American politics.
     
You may not believe me but on my desk sits a small stack of fundraising letters, all of which follow this formula: 1) Terrible things will happen if those terrible people win the next election; 2) You are important and can stop terrible people and all things terrible by supporting us.
     
Some of the letters are more vitriolic and some are less.      President George W. Bush's letter only mentions stopping the liberal agenda once while the state GOP's letter speaks of a liberal invasion intent on destroying what you've worked so hard for.
     
It's a peculiarly American method because there is this constant underlying vision, a vision driving the style of every writer of political mass mailings: Common American people care, and think they have the power to shape the world.
     
The staple of United States politics on every wing is that the enemy is out there and the enemy is among us. This paranoid apocalypsism weaves through American history, showing strong in the Cold War, in the political competition between Nixon and Kennedy, in World War II, even in the Civil War and the Revolution.
     
We believe, with our best Puritan theology gone political, the greatest evil is from within. We believe-cue John Wayne pulling up his boots-we have the power of good and strong men to win.
     
But politics are like that. If one recasts the allusions to Puritans and cowboys to something Russian, one has a pretty good picture of Russian politics. Maybe we write about reactionaries, maybe about Commies, Fascists, Rush Limbaugh or Diane Fienstein, but it's all the same: stir and rally, allude to the horrific baby-eating opponent, show an image of a golden city, and tell the dear committed supporter what to do.
     
Politically, I came of age in the Clinton era and my political résumé is strong. I was the head of my county's Young Republicans, at 17 I was the youngest Bush delegate in my state convention, worked on conservative campaigns from the county to state to the national level, held office in the county party and was asked to consider running for a state seat.
     
I was a young and rising politico. Then I fell off the wagon. Because you know what? After eight years of Clinton the world didn't end. It didn't even get very bad.      

"Oh," said the radio I'd listened to for four years of intensely followed politics, "but if Gore gets in… If we don't stop them… Did you hear about the liberal-homosexual-Clinton-Communist-U.N. agenda?… If Hillary gets a shot at power…"

I saw that the world of politics is a world of ghosts and bogeymen.

In the real world things are never indubitable. In the real world no one sits in a dark tower and plots evil. In the real world $25 won't stave off doom. The political spectrum is a violent simplification of the real world.

George Bush's biggest fan in the world is my little brother, who has every picture of him the local paper ever saw fit to print cut out and pasted on his bedroom wall.      

George Bush's biggest opponent in the world is my cousin, of the same age as my brother, who has learned every snide remark and every G.W. joke. Which makes sense, because the world of 8-year-olds is a world of characters, a simplification of heroes and villains, cowboys and Indians, us and them.

But then another letter asking for a donation from my formerly political self is delivered and I realize I'm being asked to believe in a ghost, a wicked witch and a monster under the bed.

Every election campaign is like the War to End All Wars all over again and I'm a veteran. I'm a little shattered and a little frustrated at my former naiveté and little cynical about the whole system.

Every election cycle has the kick of Y2K-all the lights are on and all that chatter is just giving me a headache.

Originally published in the Hillsdale Collegian

Oct 19, 2003

The Morning After Homecoming

Prizio: “Silliman I like this bookshelf. Theology on the bottom, philosophy in the middle and poetry on top.”
Silliman: “I don’t think it was intentional, but that’s kind of cool.”
Slater: “He’s really reaching for a foundationalism there.”
Silliman: “I don’t know how that would work – are we building up from the bottom, depending from the top or working from the middle.”
Prizio: “Oh no, it’s truth versus beauty.”
Slater: “Dante would have to be on top.”
Silliman: “That’s theology and poetry: Dante’s a duck-rabbit.”
Blogging about it
“So I was thinking the other day…”
“Oh yeah, I read that on your blog.”

I don’t friends anymore. I have readers.

Oct 18, 2003

Died: Laszlo Papp, 77, the first fighter to win gold medals at three successive Olympics, the first professional fighter from the Soviet bloc, known as a skilful, hard-punching southpaw middleweight with a devestating two-fisted attack he would rain on a retreating opponent.

Oct 17, 2003

Sunday morning and I'm falling/ I've got a feeling I don't want to know
Talking about Kripke in class, I showed how his entire apparatus is unconnected to his essentialist divergence from Wittgenstein (Sellars, Quine,) and he makes his Cartesian/Augustinian move before he even gets started. Dr. Stephens said he was a damned fool because he'd thought you'd needed to listen to Kripke until he got into the mind/body arguments before you could catch him, and I’d stopped him cold at the beginning.

“He’s just Augustinian naming on crack,” I said.
“Yeah, Kripke is Descartes on crack,” Stephens said.

I brought up the proposed topic of my thesis to Stephens yesterday – the role of doubt in religion – and he said that’s a good topic, “head and shoulders above what we usually get,” as far as he knows not something that any philosopher has dealt with directly though “yeah, Derrida and Kirkegaard touch it sideways.” He said it’s doctorate level stuff to be working on and maybe I could continue it into grad school.

“But I’m trying to avoid grad school,” I said.
Anglican news
I’ve been following the Anglican primate’s meeting really closely, but am not sure what if anything I want to say about it here yet. Maybe I’ll touch the issue of homosexuality as a sin, maybe not. I think my membership in a continuing Anglican church makes my side somewhat clear. We’re probably going to write an editorial praising the third world Christians in the next Collegian. Meanwhile, here are some links to relevant documents: the American Anglican Council's "A Place to Stand: Declaring, Preparing." conference; news of the primate's meeting; the statement of the primates; statement of the Archbishops of Nigeria, Southeast Asia, Rwanda; the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement; the litany prayed by the primates
The Garvers
Since a couple of you asked… the Garver’s were great. We ate spagetti and talked about philosophy, religion and journalism while Claire toddled around handing my toys.

It’s good to see people who care about the things I do and yet have a stable life/family/job/house/etc. It’s good to see a house that houses discussions about the importance of self and other to the Trinity (e.g.) and yet isn’t filled with cold coffee, empty pizza boxes and beer bottles.

Oct 16, 2003

Tom Wolfe
The master of style has a two part series on architecture - titled "The Building That Isn't There" - in the New York Times.

From part 1:The average savant might assume Architect Cloepfil (rhymes with "hopeful") was trying to say "ethereal" or perhaps "inimitable" when his tongue slipped to "ephemeral"; but the average savant avoids the coherently challenged theoryspeak of contemporary architecture like a brain-invading computer virus — and is therefore unlikely to know that Ephemeralism was once (1994) This Year's Architectural Style of the Century.

From part 2: Mr. Hartford was a good-looking, well-brought-up rich boy who had a reputation for big woolly projects that never panned out. He didn't fit anywhere in the New York network of corporate moguls who underwrite and climb such approved social ladders as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art or even the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is, hmmmm, a bit sketchy.

Oct 15, 2003

Frayed personal ends

My best friend – since I was 17 and he was 18 – sent me an e-mail today telling me he’s in a new job and it’s been a long time since we’ve talked but he’s working ten hour days and he’s considering some major life decisions, and I realize we haven’t had a good talk since late summer and even that was too elliptical. I need to sit down with him and talk for 8 hours but can’t.

My brother turned 11 yesterday and I couldn’t find a good time to call him. He called me, but I was so harried between two meetings a paper due today and trying to help design a paper, I couldn’t give him full attention.

My dad got on the phone and was saying we need to talk – we haven’t had a full talk since I left this summer – and all I could say was “I’ve got 3 minutes but maybe this weekend.”

I was talking to a friend here and couldn’t remember the name of a close/important friend of my brothers.

I’ve finally, a little bit, got caught up with my sister and had a good talk over break. It’s been a struggle though, since we’re both too busy to match schedules.

Have been thinking about the philosophy I’m spending time on and am a little frustrated that all my work is going into projects for today or next week. I’m not really doing anything now that’s long term for me – I can have fun with Kripke and Descartes but it’s all terrible short term. I think I need to reevaluate and focus on some projects I’d still like to be working on a few years from now.

I’m trying to carry everything here and am sorry for the things I’ve dropped. Know that I’m desperately trying to take up my slack.
Why I bought the Evil Genius a Beer
“I’m the Evil Genius.”
“You?”
“Un huh. I’m the man. Sometimes they call me the Evil Dude, or TED, short for The Evil Deceiver. And I always win this game. Even if you were to beat me you wouldn’t/couldn’t know it, so I win. It’s worse than playing chess with Bobby Fischer because this is my game. I always trump. I mean, we’re playing poker and every time you get a semi-descent hand I don’t just beat you, I take away all your cards.
How come there isn’t a song about a girl from Pocono? I mean a town name like that invokes every love to appear in every Beatle’s and Beach Boys song ever.
Freaky night in the other Great American Desert
And then the road was dark, country dark, with only the lights of a distant barn and an occasional star to light the two lanes of an untraveled highway heading west.

Somewhere we’d left the wide 80-75 of middle Pennsylvania and, rather than moving to the tollway of Ohio’s 80-90, had spilled out onto 75 and then onto 400 and something and now these two lane highways. No longer in the vein of Semi truckss and road trips with giant rest stop centers, we’d come to a country where the only signs were for Amish buggy crossings.

We were driving through the other great American desert – North Ohio at night.

No sign seemed to point to anything outside itself, a little world taken over by an intense localism refusing to even acknowledge an outside world. If all roads lead to Rome these people sure as hell weren’t going to say so. They mentioned the Elks keeping this highway free from liter and there was something about the high school team – bobcat, wolverine, panther – and mention of curves in the road ahead, but no outside world.

“What are we gonna do man?” Noah asked me.
“We can’t go back,” I said. “The only thing that makes sense is just to go west. It’ll spill out into something eventually.”

So we went west, having no more specific location than Northern Ohio, knowing that the Great Lakes where somewhere on our right and not knowing if the now-mythical turnpike lay right or left.

“Go west,” I said, “go west.” The road was lined by graveyards. The dark barns and silos rose up around us. Our world was familiar and completely unpredicatble. Our only little spook show was set against a shifting backdrop, a world where everything was but shade, receeding into background, never rising above into focus.

“Dude we gotta stop and look at a map. Ask for directions,” he said.
“What are you gonna say?” I asked. “We don’t know where we are and we don’t know where exactly we want to go. I mean if they tell us how to get to Toledo, what if we’re already past that? I wouldn’t know what to ask for.”

So, like men, we continued stubbornly due west.

We passed a tall house, lightless, rising into a clapboard tower.

“That’s gotta be an Amish house,” Noah said.
“A haunted Amish castle.”

I began to play Tom Waits’ Mule Variations, reaching for some music to match the madcap mood I was in.

“Dude we gotta stop and look at a map,” Noah said.
“Okay. Fine. There are some lights up ahead we’ll stop there and you can go in.”

We pull to the crossroad, the world dark as far as the eye can see except for this one corner, to realize this light in the darkness was darkness itself: a warehouse sized adult video store with lettering a full neon 7-feet tall.

Noah looked at me sideways.

“Damn,” I said.
“Yeah, yeah. Totally.”
“Guess we’ll stop at the next place.”
“This night is so freaky. I’m expecting to see like deformed clowns come out of the windows.”

Later they asked me how the trip was.

“Fine,” I say, “we got lost for a little while in Northern Ohio and we’re attacked by Amish vampires and saw hordes of deformed clowns.

“But it was fine.”

Oct 14, 2003

Two studies
Two studies that might be interesting to philosophy:

1) Meeting with questions of language aquisition and the naming vs. syntax debate, a study that has parrots using simply language, roughly on the level of a child learning to comprehend and produce language. The birds name colors, shapes, numbers, some simply organizations and spellings.

2) Maybe with connection to mind/body debates, some monkeys at Duke can control robotic arms via electrodes planted in their brains.
Among other reasons, too bold, aggressive
Someone who says “Kripke’s naming is just Augustine on crack” shouldn’t try for the hemming and hedging of academia.

Someone who titles a paper “If I met the evil genius I’d buy him a beer” shouldn’t try and teach the balanced and measured introduction classes.

Someone who wants to work in bold juxtapositions, running together unconnected fields and random questions and watching them work off each other, should probably make it a case of private study.
Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Any opinions on the new Belle and Sebastian CD? Anyone heard it yet?

Oct 11, 2003

Aporia: An insoluble contradiction or paradox in a text's meanings; radical doubt.
Every country
"There is no oil, there is no tin, no gold, no iron - positively none," said the functionary, growing vexed at such unreasonable rapacity. "What do you want with it."

"I am going as a journalist."

"Ah well, to the journalist every country is rich."

      - from Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh

Oct 10, 2003

I have now driven accross the US five times, all of them in the last three years. I rolled to the East Coast today in my green pick-up with fellow student Noah Greene (who is fantastic to travel with), and am staying with my uncle. Will be heading back to the 'dale on Sunday after I leave the Garvers.

More posting later, right now I'm really tired.

Oct 7, 2003

A religion, not a relationship
Why I was forced to rejected Christian pietism/primitivism and accepted Christian tradionalism, restated by the sociologists Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman in The Social Construction of RealitY.

“Institutionalization is incipient in every social situation continuing in time.”

“All actions repeated once or more tend to be habitualized to some degree.”

“The Individual’s biography is apprehended as an episode located within the objective history of the society.” (“Habitualization carries with it the important psychological gain that choices are narrowed.”)

“The institutions must and do claim authority over the individual, independently of the subjective meanings he may attach to any particular situation.”

“In the process of transmission to the new generation... the institutional world ‘thickens’ and ‘hardens’ not only for the children, but, (by a mirror effect) for the parents as well. The ‘There we go again,’ now becomes ‘This is how these things are done.’”
"Who or what comes after the God of onto-theology?"
Just when we thought Caputo couldn’t get any cooler... he’s now the editorial advisor to an e-zine called Philosophy and Scripture. Berek would say “W00t!” but I think that’s Japanese for "wow," so I’ll satisfy myself with “damn.”

Cool articles in the first issue: The transfiguration and phenomenology and Exile in Levinas and Derrida.
Rooming with Stephen
My relationship with my roommate is strange (in a typical sort of way).

I mean, we argue a lot, I call him “The Apostate,” and people want to know why I’m not going out with his girlfriend. (Ummmmm. Because? What are you supposed to say?)

Last night – studying late – he told me that he fights with me more than he does with anyone, with the possible exception of his best friend since high school and anyway I fight harder than he did. Most of this has to do with the fact that I call him “The Apostate” (and, related to a long conversation comparing Job and Lucifer, "The Devil"), he thinks I’m dishonest for disagreeing with him and my thesis (The important role of doubt in faith) is related to that argument.

A mutual friend of ours came by and wanted to know how we co-exist and if we ever get anything done in our room. Stephen said yeah we do, but only when the other person isn’t there. Which is true, and I think we’re both getting to bed later since we’ve been rooming together.

Later – studying really late – we raided Bethany's kitchen (I’m not sure if the food was his, hers, or her roommate's, but we took bananas, peanut butter, chips and salsa) she stumbled out mostly asleep and was confused because we'd both been in the dream from which we'd just accidentally woken her.

I find this all funny in a mad sort of humor.
JM Coetzee
I was looking for something to read last night and found just-won-the-Nobel-prize J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace on my roommate’s shelf, which was a bit of a surprise since Stephen “The Apostate” Slater isn’t known to be up on contemporary lit.

I've started to read it, and am probably going to grab a few of his other books (maybe Life and Times of Michael K) and write a review of Coetzee for the newspaper. He’s won a bunch of awards and all kinds of accolades but with my look (80 pages) I haven’t been that that impressed. I’d depict him as letting the story roll unbidden on the blank page, i.e., I don’t particularly find myself impressed by his use of the language and am suspicious he’s just a deeper version of the pulp hack.

But that’s just a first glance and maybe his liking for the present tense (This is where he ought to end it. But he does not. On Sunday morning he drives to the campus...) is throwing my balance.

Related to his accolades, I’m not sure how impressive it is to be “the best living writer” or the “best of his generation.” It seems a little too placed; a little too temporary for greatness. Perhaps this is just a question of being defined by his generation or defining his generation, seeing as the former is especially conservative and accepting of the field as it has been imparted.

But then I’ve always been a sucker for the ambitious writer.

Update: I've picked up Life and Times of Michael K and Waiting for the Barbarians.

Oct 5, 2003

After the LW bio
What's the difference between a rule and a translation?

Can one have a rule for a game that isn't the game, or would it just be the game translated from pieces to words?

There is no theory of chess, only chess.
Portraits of old men
Ezra Pound
Jacques Derrida
Alfred Hitchcock
Pixar's Geri
Janko Bobetko
Jacques Lacan
St. Jerome
Johnny Cash

Oct 4, 2003

Four arguments I had a party
Part of an ongoing series of a weird legend...

1. Elvis isn't the king of rock and roll.

2. Bob Dylan would not have been cooler if he died young.

3. On the Road didn't lose any literary merit for being written fast. And Subterraneans, written in a few days I'm told, didn't either.

4. Late Wittgenstein is a refutation of early Wittgenstein, though his turning is a gradual one.

Oct 3, 2003

This weekend
Films to watch: Fellini's 8 1/2 and Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville.

Books to read: Monk's biography of Wittgenstein and maybe try and move towards the end of Moby Dick.
Adventures of a lit mag
Hillsdale’s lit mag had it’s first poetry reading yesterday. Went quite well. All of the poetry was decent, some of it surprisingly good.

We (Dave Frank, Dan Hugger, Luke Heyman, Will Farnham, Stephanie Adams and myself) can’t decide if those of us with modern and post-modern tastes have hijacked the mag or if it was abandoned on the side of the road and we’re the proud new owners. Anyway, they’re paying for us to produce a lit mag so we’re going to put out something we think is worth reading.
Peter Krupa is in the ring.

Oct 1, 2003

//A hat tossed//
I am the mad hatter that didn’t go mad;
madness isn’t madness if it’s a habit.
I have to work to be this obscure.
And my house slides into the sea,
when I said I’d always have art I was lying.

Normalcy becomes my house of needs.

Alice_ my Alice wait_ Alice_
I was lying.

I’m trying to see my reflection in the window
but it’s too dark in here and too light out there.
Grandmother died.
Left me his hat.
I understand the insult in your compliment
and it’s fine, I swear, I’m lying,

Ludwig’s no better than my father was: Someday I will plow the dark.
Reading is the last act of secular prayer.

My paper on Mencken was very well received when I read aloud it in class this morning. It read well, and I was impressed to find it has a well-musceld prose fitting a paper on journalism. I've been in a bit of a lethargy-depression for a bit, and writing something I'm really happy with was nice.

In case you missed the link in last post about my papers, this is a hilarious drawing of Wittgenstein that is now posted on my door.