Monday, October 11, 2004

Strange Admissions

Well, seems I have been left behind. I am going to continue my work on Wittgenstein, but I must distance myself from what is being done over at Bad With Titles. Jay and Thomas know how much I appreciate their conversation and company; with all due respect, I completely disagree and find somewhat absurd the attempt to claim that poetry is philosophy after their manner.

I published a comment to the post linked above. I see philosophy and poetry as dependent on the other and becoming the other--philosophy becomes poetry and poetry becomes philosophy. CONJUNCTIONS: Identity and Difference. The one becomes differentiated in itself...Heraclitus, Hyperion...states of being shift yet remain distinct. And the idea that it becomes differentiated in itself (not for itself) is important because of what it doesn't admit. It isn't "the one becomes differentiate in/with/through others." The and in poetry and philosophy needs to be there for poetry and philosophy to become differentiate in themselves.

If Jay and Thomas will allow me one critique, I'll take a truckload: Jay is somehow trying to work Deleuze and Guattari's concept of Concept from What is Philosophy into the mix. Neat idea, but it may not fit. Thomas, and I don't know if Jay knows, wrote his dissertation on Concept and Knowledge. Thomas uses homologies to get to the case. I am intrigued about a dialogue between poetry and philosophy in this way, but what it is one tries to know always becomes privileged--and Hamlet is not, I'll submit, the best example. In other words, the knowedge of a concept in this logic is always private. Knowledge doesn't simply point it is always becoming. Knowledge isn't a fact, it is a case always opening. One might bring Benjamin's theses on history into the mix here.

I am a bit dismayed about how an attempt to discuss poetry and its relationship to (use of) philosophy has turned into a flattening of the two together and ejected the poetry itself as a result. I posted my essay on Thoreau as an anchor in our developing constellation. It seems to have been dropped. So, I will go on my direction. In poetry, as in prose, the concept for the work, even the concept(s) in the work, is always a representation of the case of the work after the work. I am not satisfied with, to use Wittgenstein, spirit hovering above the ashes of culture. That kind of passive looking pisses me off. If it works, break it. Go under the ashes. Dig it. And cultivate from the ground up.

If Kleist is right: poets want to convey thought without words. We might explore the authenticity of Witggenstein's parenthetical reaction to that claim. He says it is a strange admission. W sees facts, states of being, as admissions. This is our first entry into discussion with the epitemologist. So, I ask of Jay (in particular because he writes poetry) and Thomas, for what purpose such admissions (yours, then his)?

If the concern is literary art, may I suggest ceasing to make it into an epistemological case? I think Wittgenstein is useful because his study confesses its own gaps through which we can take off or erupt/irrupt, depending on which direction we're going, into/out of the poetic...

and this is why I began almost a month ago with Nick Piombino's aphorism on thought. I saw three gaps (different interpretation for his use of the word thought) worth jumping through. Not into Concept. Not towards knowledge. But into increase.


Thomas Basbøll said...

All due respect notwithstanding I find this post baffling. We are neither equating poetry with philosophy, nor reducing poetics to epistemology, nor, finally, flattening your discussion or pulling up the anchor or leaving you behind. We're just curious about a little detail that cropped up.

If we were trying to make such an equation then all we would have to do is replace "philosophy" with "poetry" in our experiment. The fact that all core terms seem to have to be replaced says something different. We are looking at an overall tempering of grammatical form: if the result is meaningful, or even just a little bit interesting, then something, surely, has been achieved.

That said, I think Kleist's admission is exactly as a strange as Wittgenstein suggests, and that, in a sense, is what started at least my participation in this discussion. Is a poem a fact, like a proposition is a fact? Kleist seems (strangely) eager to skip over the facticity of poetry, which is to say, to ignore the detailed craftsmanship involved in the articulate concatenation of words.

I think we're just trying to flesh out what it might mean for poetry to become philosophy, philosophy to become poetry, etc.

I'm simply not sure what you're up to here, Gary.

Gary Norris said...

On Bad With Titles, Jay writes: "Thomas suggested re-writing the Tractatus by replacing certain words/concepts with other words/concepts. Below is a list of replacements made so far, and the beginning of a first draft. Find the entire document here. So far, most of the replacements are Thomas' suggestions (many from past conversation). I added a few that seemed to make sense given some of the other changes, such as thing=desire and sign=gesture."


are two other replacements made.

I am sharing why I think replacing words is absurd.

I do not think poetry and philosophy are interchangeable. I think it flattens the discussion in the way Hopper flattens the landscape in his paintings like House by the Railroad. It may be useful. But not for what I thought we were getting at. My shock was confessed on Jay's page...I think I said "I am feeling opinionated today." The replacements suggested necessarily limit the scope of Wittgenstein's statements. That's all and nothing else.

Also, I detail my critique clearly above. If you do not appreciate my rhetorical flare--my gesturing--it is highly theatrical as those who have been reading me awhile have come to expect. That probably won't change: i smiled when i typed "seems I have been left behind."

oh well.

Thomas Basbøll said...

Oh, I see, whatever, nevermind then.

But you didn't seriously read that "=" as a sign of identity did you?

Jay said...


I'm glad to know you smiled when you typed mentioned feeling left behind! All the same, I'm sorry to hear it. I've enjoyed your posts a great deal, and I'm afraid that I haven't yet digested them fully enough to respond to them. The conversation with Thomas became something of an obsession -- at first infuriating me (I'm being a bit theatrical as well: I enjoyed being infuriated) and then revealing to me that my thinking really has shifted a great deal in the past few years. But it has also taken up a lot of time and attention (which I'm short on as it is) and I'm afraid that the conversation that the 3+ of us were having suffered as a result -- for which I apologize. Still, I'm grateful for the dialogue with Thomas, for the unexpected places it has taken me.

You're quite right about my wanting to work in something like Deluze's Concept into this, which is, I admit, probably absurd and inappropriate. But it took me quite a few exchanges to even realize that's what I wanted to do -- strange as that may sound.

On the other hand, I think I could make a case (as you kindly pointed out on my blog) for a sort of combinatorial infinity with regard to Wittgenstein's world of facts. Inasmuch as I can do this, maybe I can find a way of working an equivalent of that world into a Tractarian poetics. So far, this is precisely where Thomas and I have had our strongest disagreements.

All of that said, I feel I should mention that the replacement exercise was just an exercise, a (rather whimsical) experiment, and not a statement of an kind of position. I haven't had a chance to really digest the results yet but it seemed to me something valuable -- a very vague sketch, of sorts -- might come from reading the altered text. It certainly wasn't intended to be either a finished product or the culmination of any of our discussions.

And now, unfortunately, I must run to catch my train home . . . will try to read/respond more over the next couple of days . . .

michael said...

I don't suppose Riding would have had anything to say about this...