Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another Great Divide

"By the end of the Second World War, however, the great days of Deweyan philosophy and social science were over. The strenuous reformist attitude which succeeded the genteel tradition was in turn succeeded by an urge to be scientific and rigorous … American sociology, whose early stages had been satirized as the expenditure of a five-thousand-dollar grant to discover the address of a whorehouse, came to be satirized as the expenditure of a five-million-dollar grant to plot the addresses of a thousand whorehouses against a multidimensional array of socio-economic variables."

— Richard Rorty, "Professionalized Philosophy and Transcendentalist Culture," in Consequences of Pragmatism, 63-64

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sick in Trieste

"In the end we agreed that a truly sick man and an imaginary sick man were equal. In his nephritis, in fact, a warning sign from the nerves had been absent, and still was; whereas my nerves, on the contrary, were perhaps so sensitive that they were alerting me to the sickness I would die of some decades later. So they were perfect nerves and had the sole disadvantage of not allowing me many happy days in this world. Now that he had managed to catalog me among the sick, Copler was quite content."

— Italo Svevo, Zeno's Conscience, trans. William Weaver, 172

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Franco Moretti on Joyce

"Ulysses is indeed static, and in its world nothing — absolutely nothing — is great. But this is not due to any technical or ideal shortcoming on Joyce's part, but rather to his subjection to English* society; for Joyce, it is certainly the only society imaginable, although he just as certainly condemns it, through a hyperbolic presentation of its worst features, to a future of paralysed mediocrity (a future that Joyce, with a stroke of genius, places in the past, as if to underline his consummate skepticism: one can always hope never to reach the negative utopias of science fiction, but if a negative utopia came into being twenty years ago, and no one realized it, then the die is truly cast…)" (Signs Taken For Wonders, p. 189)

I don't agree with this as an interpretation of Ulysses, but it's brilliantly formulated.

* Weirdly Moretti insists on reading Joyce as an English, rather than an Irish, writer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"I want to see how much I can take"

As in "stand," or "carry"?

Monday, August 18, 2008

My review of Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night (the first in a series on Ray's films) is up now at Notcoming.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All change!

"There were some who wanted a new Napoleonic empire, others, a return to the Orléans, others, the Comte de Chambord; but everyone was agreed on the urgency of decentralization, for which various methods were put forward, such as cutting Paris up into a mass of villages by means of large arterial roads, transferring the seat of government to Versailles, moving the principal state institutions of higher education down to Bourges, doing away with libraries, putting major-generals in charge of everything; and country people came in for very high praise, since illiterates naturally had more sense than anyone else! There was rampant hatred on all sides: hatred directed at primary school teachers and wine merchants, the philosophy classes in schools, the teaching of history, novels, red waistcoats, long beards, any kind of independence or expression of individuality, for it was essential to 'reassert the principle of authority,' no matter on whose behalf or who was exercising it, as long as it was tough and uncompromising! Conservatives were now talking the same language as Sénécal. Frédéric was completely puzzled and in his old mistress's house he was forced to listen to the same talk from the very same men!"

— Gustave Flaubert, A Sentimental Education, trans. Douglas Parmée, 424-425