Archive for June, 2022

Implicature

June 29, 2022

Woman bending down, hands sliding down front of jeans, to address — a child or a dog? (I change my line of sight to get a better view of the entity addressed: a child.) “Instinctively, to appear less threatening, we lower ourselves to the level of those we address,” is thought.

A shout in the street evoking briefly a moment from James Brown’s Live at the Appollo recording (heh heh! I feel alright)

Spontaneously asking a person if she needed help. Not something I usually do, even at the risk of seeming discourteous or inhumane, particularly with a young woman, where “the implicature is especially fraught” — and because people in the U.S. simply don’t want help in the absence of some exceptionally obvious desperate need …  “Need a hand?” I say, totally and honestly spontaneous. “Oh no thank you,” she says — well, of course she doesn’t, because America and “Implicature.” (“Implicature” — what is meant by this offer of assistance? Does it mean that it looks like I need help? Does it mean he thinks I can’t do without help? Does it mean he wants something other than to help?)

Workman cutting through concrete pipe segment. Making it the project of a moment to understand the drift of the dust his work creates.

Anatomy of a dad joke: what has four wheels and flies

June 28, 2022

Attendant did not know what had “four wheels and flies” despite having heard that one first maybe forty years ago. The charm of that joke, I suppose, does not only consist in the double entendre of “fly” as a verb and non, but leans also on a stereotype of garbage — that garbage will have flies. One is first surprised by the pun and then one is hit by the stereotype. It would be interesting to investigate the relationships between stereotypes and humor, which obviously have a dark side. Why are stereotypes a component of humor?

I raised this issue with a customer who thought “archetype” was a more appropriate word than “stereotype.” The idea that trash has flies touches on a universal notion of trash we had, this customer argued. If there were clip-art, or an international symbol of garbage, that symbol would be sure to include flies.

This led to me thinking about the difference between an archetype and stereotype, the former seeming more to involve the essence of a thing, the latter to involve what one can expect of a thing, a predictable but superficial facet.

It didn’t seem right to say that the flies were somehow essential to garbage; on the other hand, the idea of decay and of rotten-ness did seem essential to garbage. And it would be hard to convey that idea of decay pictorially – as a picture, trash would be hard to distinguish from mere clutter – without including in your picture something like flies, or wriggly red strands meant to indicate odor. (I remained convinced that stereotype was what I’d meant.)

Malicious Satisfaction

June 26, 2022

 “There was also a malicious satisfaction he had in the blamelessly Christian stamp his activities bore — it was so clear that on no ground whatever, either the military or the humanistic and pedagogic, were they open to any serious reproach.” (Magic Mountain, Chapter 5, “The Dance with Death.”)

June 26, 2022

Hadn’t done that before or not recently — follow through of my broom sweep into my bunion wearing a non work shoe — an old very thin running shoe.

What would the Book of Job say to Portnoy’s complaint

June 25, 2022

Looked up Sexuality in Ancient Rome (which article makes the sex of that time seem notably unfraught.) Surprised to see feature in local online publication of rug shop near where I work — “woe, I actually know those people.” Now I’m searching obituaries — I was told today a special customer had passed away — which was a shock and is still a shock, though he’d been sick — and find no evidence of this online. ( To consider — what is the special quality, if any, of local content appearing on a global forum? Could it be claimed the internet has a distorting effect upon local content?)

Portnoy’s complaint, if I recall, was why couldn’t he, Portnoy, who had been such a good and dutiful and civic person, experience pleasure without guilt, why couldn’t he be bad(Are you recalling this correctly?) Not only were bad people bad, the narrator (Portnoy) laments, but they enjoyed the fruits of their badness without feeling bad about it. So why couldn’t he, who was good, be free of conscientiousness once and a while, and be, without misgiving, a little bad? (I think Kierkegaard, Socrates, would say to Portnoy’s Complaint doing good is its own reward, doing bad its own punishment.) What would the Book of Job say to Portnoy (I’m not sure yet — yet one would feel like one of Job’s friends to say his complaint was entirely invalid. One would first need to be as good as Portnoy himself was before passing judgment.) To consider: Is Portnoy’s complaint comparable to Job’s? (Job, who doesn’t deserve suffering, suffers; Portnoy, who deserves enjoyment, isn’t permitted to enjoy.)

June 25, 2022

Customer, wanting to speak in French, could not say the number ’59’ in French. When I came downstairs, management listening to funny English language learning apps. “May I have some napkins please” said the spritely computer voice to the elderly attentive Asian face.

Revisiting ‘coprolite’

June 24, 2022

Looked up coprolite. (I had written somewhere that to know the meaning of a word like coprolite was a powerful ward against death — for how could one die while knowing something like that? — one merely held up this crystal as the vampire approached whereupon its aspect favorably changed, if it didn’t disappear entirely — and as fanciful as that was, I thought I’d better be certain of the definition, for I could easily envision a situation in which the vampire came up and I held up the crystal but no light burned from it because I’d forgotten or misremembered the definition — “fossilized dung.”)

Looked up Laurentia. Hadn’t known this ancient continent had been named after the St. Lawrence river which was in turn named after the actual Saint who I see got in trouble with the Roman authorities of his day for replying (when they asked him to turn over the wealth of the church) that the “poor of Rome constituted its wealth, its widows and virgins its pearls and jewels,” according to wikipedia, a point of view I found refreshing, as you don’t hear anyone credibly arguing it anymore, or not very often in public, that poverty is wealth and wealth poverty. (How blithely we consign ourselves to perdition, had said Melville, to paraphrase, when he contemplated the New Testament’s camel and needle metaphor.)

Looked up nozzle. Interesting. Diminutive of nose.

Looked up socket: spear head, plough share, hog snout. Hog snout ‘ploughs’ the ground? Spear head resembles plough? Spear head attached to spear by means of cavity or socket? Was prose essentially different from poetry? Proper ground on which to ask the question was Shakespeare: weren’t his prose passages as poetic as his metered ones?

Comparing fictional struggles with fiction writing struggles

June 23, 2022

Idea that the challenges a story’s protagonist faces, in overcoming their central dilemma, are analogous or even the same as, the challenges the story itself faces in being brought to a conclusion.

Or this way: the author’s writing struggle correspond’s to the character’s fictional struggle. Oedipous in Oedipous Rex faces the same hurdles as Sophocles writing Oedipous Rex. (What suggests this? How would you test this? How do you compare these — fictional action and real writing? And by ‘real writing’ I suppose we refer to the intellectual labor an author undertakes?)

June 23, 2022

as there is to be a yoknapatawpha for my room, a big two hearted river for the walk from there to the computer, or from the kitchen to the computer
Young……………….,,,…..….. A. a I .……………….v v i ,R
Gold………………..,,,…....v v ………iR ……….e a ……..,,,,,.v a v
Heli……………….,,,…..e a …..μὴ.,.a vv .. hl……………,,,,,a i
Copt….,… h…………….. hl…,,φῦναι……,a. h B…………..,,,. A R I
Young……,……………….ta…..τὸνἅπαν,. R . hE ………….,,,,,.v a
gold……….. ……………..e …..τανικᾷλ.,,.va. h L ……….,,,,,.i r
heli………….. ….,,,…..m. h όγον᾽…..alin ….. hB.o.irvair
Copt…..,…………..,,,…..d. a..………….pQ
Young……………………,,…..L……….……N
Gold………………………………..A..L.D
Heli…..,…………..,,,…..
Copt…..,…………..,,,…..….. A. a I .……………….v v i ,R
Young……………….,,,…....v v ………iR ……….e a ……..,,,,,.v a v
Gold.,………………,,,…..e a …..μὴ.,.a vv .. hl……………,,,,,a i
Heli….,,… …………….. hl…,,φῦναι……,a. h B…………..,,,. A R I
Copt……,….. …………..ta…..τὸνἅπαν,. R . hE ………….,,,,,.v a
young…,,,…….. ………..e …..τανικᾷλ.,,.va. h L ……….,,,,,.i r
Gold…,,,……….. ………m. h όγον᾽…..alin ….. hB.o.irvair
Heli…..,,,,……………….d. a..………….pQ
copt…………..,……….,,…..L……….……N
Copt……………………………….A..L.D
Young
Socrates standing barefoot in the cold, absorbed in thought, Proust gazing for an hour at a situation of flowers. (Helicopter overhead) new-to-the-neighborhood young Golden retriever meeting old-to-the- neighborhood old golden retriever.

June 22, 2022

(Question: how much listening can a mind endure? Is that why I sometimes encounter people shouting? Those are the minds of people who have heard too much already, whose minds are full).

June 22, 2022

“Jaywalking. My straight path across the street becoming increasingly hyperbolic, curving toward my goal, as I grow increasingly certain there will be no cars appearing over the hill.”

“As a penance for not seeing reality, everyday I will remove every speck of litter from this area by hand.” Which would be Herculean, as it is an Augean stables type environment.