Don’t got many thoughts nowadays but I did get a shout-out at the Paris Review for my piece on conceptual writing. Let’s read it again?
The Tomer-Peli Tragicomedy Hypothesis
Tragicomically deluded characters (like Michael Scott, Hank Kingsley, Gob) are defined not by having a belief that some false proposition p is true — they don’t, at least not in the sense of acting so as to maximize expected utility given p — but by their policy of acting so as to maximize the chance of eliciting confirmation that p is true while keeping the chance of eliciting...
The Best Sentence I Read in 2013
‘The rage of Caliban seeing the photo of someone who looks a bit like Caliban.’ (Via)
An Exercise in Coarse-reading
At North Farm Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you, At incredible speed, traveling day and night, Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes. But will he know where to find you, Recognize you when he sees you, Give you the thing he has for you? Hardly anything grows here, Yet the granaries are bursting with meal, The sacks of meal piled to the...
The (partly real, partly fake, partly vague) prog-rock/art-rock* divide as a guide to the (partly real, partly fake, partly vague) American Postmoderns/avant** divide. Core for each pair I think is the latter side’s rejection of complexity as a sufficient condition for high art*** in favor of not-fitting-known-schemata as a sufficient condition for hight art. So, two version of what...
Age as Mundane Formal Analogue for Gender
Age might be a useful mundane formal analogue for gender: everyone is clear that you can’t disentangle the roles age plays in our life (in structuring our choices, shaping our desires and our self-perception, placing social onuses implicit or explicit, playful or severe) into the strictly ‘voluntary’ and strictly ‘coercive.’ No one has the need to play dumb about why...
Are all mid 20’s friendships sublimated crushes? Haven’t made a male friend in five years*. Think people can’t get motivated to get out the house our age unless some quasi-libidinal force is at play. (I do get sublimated crushes on guys plenty but they’re sort of dead-end socially — the ‘bromance’ model only authorizes quasi-libidinal giddiness in making...
Best Rapper Alive
Melnick’s A Pin’s Fee is the best book of poems by a living author. Go make up for years you spent not knowing this.
Lost Email on 'Vibe'
I am trying to work out (for PhD) a theory of ‘mood’ or ‘vibe’ as the thing most really good art’s actually ‘about.’ It’s so weird because, like, I think that implicitly everyone knows this but explicitly it comes up mostly in turn-of-the-century German philosophy. Wes Anderson really experimented with the line between story and vibe. The thing that fucked me up about The Royal Tenenbaums when I...
To C, in Bitterness
It’s only love if after you break up ‘The Bewlay Brothers’ is the only thing that’s making sense for the next year. A love that doesn’t leave you grieving for your schizophrenic possibly-imaginary twin who’ll never live again to walk with you at night is garbage.
Prospectus Approved! →
'There Will Be Blood,' Kafka, and Dogs
I submit that ‘There Will Be Blood’ was sort of like a film of Kafka’s ‘A Report to the Academy,’ the story of the monkey that learned how to talk for purely instrumental reasons. Plainview’s basically a feral dog that figured out how to do things with words: Excepting that one conversation with his brother, Plainview never once makes use of language for its...
Anybody else remembers having basically no thoughts or feelings till turning fourteen or so?
Computational aesthetics, super-short.* [[MORE]] Jürgen Schmidhuber’s Theory Jürgen Schmidhuber, an AI theorist and theoretical computer scientist, has proposed a computational account of aesthetic judgments. On his view, a stimulus is judged to be beautiful or attractive by a subject T to the extent that the stimulus is compressible for T. Schmidhuber’s notion of compressibility is...
I used to regard the, like, blushing-buzzing-breathless agitation of the mind and body from a book or movie as peak aesthetic experience. I now think that’s a category error: it’s your body’s way of telling you your brain is reeling-in a real big fish, but all of this interoceptive ruckus hardly makes for a rich apperception of the book or movie. Like, I haven’t so much...
“‘You are old, Father Ubu’, the young man said”
My Favorite Thing
My favorite thing is non-narrative genre fiction. Like, stuff that clearly involves a made-up universe with made-up characters and made-up events but doesn’t try to do anything too much like telling me a story about it. ‘Les Chants de Maldoror’ comes to mind as the platonic form here, and also as the prototype of bitterness over non-narrative genre fiction losing out to the...
'I'm Alan Partridge'
Brit-sitcom buffoonery reinterpreted as expression of death drive?* *I’m not positive, but I think what makes IAP striking is that it produces all the regular shenanigans but via personality flaws rather than via stupidity. Partridge is reasonably intelligent but ends up doing basically what Basil Fawlty or whatever would do in a given situation — but Basil Fawlty or whatever do it...
For the Archives
Me, to Pseudopodium: An idea I just had: you know how Kolmogorov came up with non-probabilistic statistics, that deal not with the probability that a hypothesis underlies the data but with the degree of fit of the data to various structures? It strikes me that this is a good metaphor for how close-reading is practiced in a Langpo readership context vs. how close-reading is practiced in (pardon...
When it comes to how a person’s looks shape how we grasp their inner life I’d say it’s 50% a distorting factor, 25% justified by the fact that a person’s looks are partly shaped by their sense-of-self, and 25% justified by the fact that a person’s sense-of-self is partly constituted by a sense of how their looks shape how we grasp their inner life.
The Anderson/'Archer' Aesthetic
There’s this beautiful trick that is at the foundation of all of Wes Anderson’s films, and also of the best show ever ’Archer.’ It’s having all the characters have perfect common knowledge* of each other’s emotions at nearly all times. I think that it’s originally Chekhov’s?
When I am flourishing life’s about moods, when I am crashing it’s about emotions. Moods are beautiful and sacred fundamental categories of the psycho-ontological subsistence of the life-world, and emotions are a nausea with a background story.
We’re fucking blessed to be the kind of creature who can find sufficient restitution for its sadness in a good description of its sadness.
Imaginary Frenemies Sorted by Age at Which They...
14: Ecclesiastes 15-16: Wittgenstein 17-18: Nabokov 19-20: The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E scene 21: The anti-Indie vibe 22-23: Wittgenstein 24-25: The LessWrong scene
The Common Dead-end at the End of Aesthetics,...
That sinking feeling when you can’t come up with an example to back up your abstract claim.
My Version of Believing in Objective Value
I believe in implicitly defined criteria, because, you know, all definition is implicit definition. And I believe that at various times in the day you actively care about whether the world meets a particular implicit criterion, or about how to make your life meet a particular implicit criterion. So, like, there are value-facts but only in the sense that when we have an implicit criterion in mind...
Critiques Pure and Vulgar
We don’t really reject artworks — we reject a mindset implied by enjoying an artwork. It’s not like “this answer is wrong,” but like “the question for which this work is the answer sucks.”
The Black Bug Room
When I first saw this page a bell knelled in my head and I insisted/knew the Black Bug Room’s a thing that means something to me — means something serious to me — but I had no good take on what. It’s not the first supernatural metaphor for “that dark place in your mind” that I’ve seen, but it’s the only one to ever resonate with me at all....
My Side Project That I Would Have Made My Main...
A lot of aesthetic merit is explicitly about modeling one phenomenon in terms of another phenomenon or showing how two phenomena can be modelled based on a common prototype. A lot of aesthetic merit is explicitly about finding a short or elegant description that intuitively generates vast data (i.e....
The strangest visual experience I ever had is looking at a picture of a pizza and then suddenly not seeing it as “pizza” but a dish of hot specialty bread baked in grated tomatoes and cheeses.
I LOVE 'Shit Girls Say'
What makes it so amazing is the language in it is so slightly gender-correlated: the subject matter is almost invariably gender-neutral so it’s down to syntax and vocabulary, and occasionally illocution. Also the correlation is itself slight for the most part — like, most of the sentences are like “yeah, a woman’s 10% more likely to be saying that than is a man.”
Can't Ever Tell if I'm The Last Person or First...
There’s a cute way to unify verbal irony, dramatic irony, and “isn’t it ironic” irony: a thing’s ironic from perspective s if it involves a person with perspective s’ that is less well informed than s who for that reason would describe the thing in a way that is opposite of how a person with perspective s describes it. In verbal irony s is the speaker and...
The Fairest of the Seasons
When I feel strong I want ideas, people, works that satisfice rigour and maximize novelty. When I feel weak I want ideas, people, works that maximize rigour and satisfice novelty.
Y'all Know There's a Book That Makes Whoever Reads...
“Though there will later be many experiences, none of these experiences will be connected to my present experiences by chains of such direct connections as those involved in experience-memory, or in the carrying out of an earlier intention. … That is all there is to the fact that there will be no one living who will be me. Now that I have seen this, my death seems to me less...
Evolutionary Psychology: A One Act Play
Evolutionary Psychologists: The real motive behind [some behaviour] is [some Darwinist benefit]! Other People: That’s so conceptually confused! Evolutionary Psychologists: That’s why we never said it!
More Towards "Experimental Literature for Nerds"
A simple point that people forget to explain to outsiders about the consumption of random/plain/goofy/noisy artifacts is that it’s not the random/plain/goofy/noisy artifact that is doing the work but the 3000 years long acummulation of techniques for attentively scrutizing objects (which developed as a corollary of 3000 years of creating objects that intuitively solicit* new forms of...
My Favorite-Ever Things Today
Song: Après Moi Poem: Ursonate Book: Bouvard et Pécuchet
There's a Play About That Right?
I imagine mathematicians like the ancients imagined shepherds.
Had a Burst of Crazy in the Midst of Studying for...
“Just to explain what the — I think — possible alternative view is: One could theorize that suffering/pleasure is a gestalt that modulates an experience. So the idea would be, rather than that new experiences bring new pleasure, that new pleasures bring new experiences (i.e., that liking experiences you didn’t like before involves/creates novel modulations of the...
Jay-Z lyrics are so much like that song “hey boy, crazy boy” from West Side Story.
Unsure re: the amount of things in heaven and earth. (Like, the amount of discourses that are sufficiently non-arbitrary.)
I’m pretty sure that I can teach the principles of Modernist/experimental aesthetics by explaining how advice animals work.
Anyway, Wittgenstenia always just makes me so deeply depressed. It never changes my intellectual inclinations, but always convinces me my intellectual inclinations are childish and shameful. This has been a terrible week.
People Who Know Wittgenstein's Work Well Will...
Wittgenstein drastically underplays the role that simulation (I mean, like, imagining another person’s first-person perspective) plays in knowing others’ mental lives. A lot of actual real-life language games concerned with knowing others’ mental lives revolve around the capacity to have an imaginative experience that counts as a correct imaginative simulation of the other...
Now reading ’La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel.’ I’m real excited, cause for someone living in the Modernist/Avant tradition this is like the episode of Buffy in which Buffy dream-time-travels to see the creation of the Slayer-line.
Giving up on: Ever being physics-literate or economics-literate. Not giving up on: All the rest.
The Black Album
The Black Album’s still the most sublime expression ever of wanting so bad to say p, wanting so bad to say ~p, and wanting so bad to be rid of that.
Cecilia Corrigan, "A Letter Never to Be Sent From...
“But B, Walter Pater will never be our friend, he’s dead.” The Renaissance, also, is over, everyone can go home now. Or perhaps, (over theme) “Road trip!” Please I’d like to buy that massive bottle o Perrier, barkeep. You are correct, I’d like to be hated by the proles! Anyway Yeah. so I don’t remember anything more because I was still drunk (I...
A Note on Moby Dick
Is Queequeg the first Black Best Friend?
In Quaaludes and Red Wine
It’s always stunning to think Robbe-Grillet was once considered — by fans! — anti-literary. I think the rule is, it takes 50 years for a text’s heart of stone to melt?