Thursday, August 07, 2008

Emotional Notation

Tearing your shirt open, you drew my attention to three dogs in a knot. This served to show how something general can be recorded in unpedigreed notation. I pointed to a bench by a willow, from which we could see the gas tanks across the river, because I thought a bench was a simple possibility: one could sit on it.

Rosmarie Waldrop

"Philosophie dürfte man eigentlich nur dichten," said Wittgenstein. The German verb "dichten" means "to make a poem" (as Pound and Bunting noted, it also means "to condense"). One ought really to concentrate philosophy, to thicken it.

I think my distinction between "conceptual notation" (philosophy) and "emotional notation" (poetry) is very clearly exemplified by the difference between Wittgenstein and Waldrop. There is so much they do that is similar (not surprisingly, of course, since Waldrop used Wittgenstein as a model), and the difference is simply that Wittgenstein was noting concepts, while Waldrop is noting emotions. Writing them down.

"Philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition," renders Peter Winch. Well, perhaps poetry ought really to be written only as a philosophical composition. But what is the verb? A verb like "dichten". See, that's the struggle. Because what was it ever to "make" a poem? Poiesis. To make as such.


Presskorn said...

"Dicten" could be taken as to imply that you have to constantly imagine stuff.

That you constantly have to COMPARE the real language game with what it is not, with fictitious or even “literary” language games. This COMPARATIVE strategy is certainly pursued during parts of Wittgenstein's RFM... Oskari Kuusela recently developed such way of viewing of Wittgenstein's method in general in his "The Struggle against Dogmatism:
Wittgenstein and the Concept of Philosophy"... I don't agree entirely with his points about 'comparison' and 'dicten' and I've had the pleasure of personally informing him of my disdain for some of his theses. Nevertheless, it's worth a read.

However, I have another brief inquiry which is more pressing. In a few days, I'm due to deliver an article on Wittgenstein, his notion of a 'form of life' and universal human rights. In brief, I don’t like the connection between these concepts. I prefer semantic purity to political impurity.

Although I’m never quite in agreement with you, I always trust you to have some succinct formulations about Wittgensteinian stuff. I suppose that you would like a homology between semantics and politics, but I don’t know. Spill it to me.

PS: A few years ago, I actually used some of Waldrop’s poems to make a point about Wittgenstein’s view on ethics. I was inspired by Majorie Perloff in doing this. I suppose that not only Lerner but also Perloff lead you to Waldrop?

Thomas Basbøll said...

Perloff led me to connect Wittgenstein and Beckett many years ago (Witt/Watt, she said). But I didn't know anything about Waldrop until Ben pointed it out to me.

I'm not very strong on Wittgenstein's ethics; in many ways, I would hope he doesn't really have an ethics. I usually say that the ethical homologue of a Wittgensteinian philosophy just is poetry.

Poetry provides the data for ethics, said Pound.

Philosophy-epistemology-science (Wittgenstein's project)

Poetry-ethics-philosophy (Pound's project)

So, I'd say you actually need people like Pound, Beckett, Waldrop and Lerner (i.e., poets) to generate a set of "remarks" (i.e., strophes) on, say, the foundations of human rights.

Wittgenstein's writing (to my knowledge) does not present sufficient emotion to support an analysis of human rights, but his work can provide a model, i.e., it exemplifies a method by which one could generate "perspicuous presentations" in ethics ... actually, perpiscuity is not the homologuous desideratum: what we need is something to indicate intensity.

I think the sort of thing that Waldrop does generates imagery that could easily occasion ethical reflections on rights.

The Wittgensteinian homologue of an ethical "right"? Perhaps: epistemic "certainty"? So "universal" probably has to be abandoned on Wittgensteinian approach, but not the idea that we can run into something "inviolable" (just as there are things we can't, for all intents and purposes, doubt.)

"The inviolable." That probably gets at it. What, after all, is a poem but a presentation of the inviolable in politics? And what is politics but violence? Ethics is the space in the middle: a place to discuss the limits of legitimate (state) violence.

Wittgenstein, by comparison, was trying to get at the "the indubitable" (in On Certainty.)

One last thing: übersichtliche darstellungen. "Über" becomes "under" and "sicht" has to become something to indicate doing or handling.

A subversive presentation of the inviolable. I.e., a poem.

I don't know if that helps.

Thomas Basbøll said...

underhanded presentations
surreptitious presentations

heimliche darstellungen
getarnte darstellungen

Thomas Basbøll said...

subversive is best

one "sees" a "mark" (remark)

One "does" a "turn" (strophe)

under-turning presentation

perspicuous presentations vs. subversive ones, jottings vs. turnings, remarks vs. strophes.

Thomas Basbøll said...


NOT: Poetry-ethics-philosophy (Pound's project)

BUT: Poetry-ethics-politics (Pound's project)

Thomas Basbøll said...

hinterhältige darstellungen