Greg Linch's Commonplace Book

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Suggesting, rather than naming, gently stirs the reader’s mind so that he or she may arrive at the thing in question single-handedly

Creating a New Language: The Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé

This definitely presages abstraction in art, especially in terms of prompting reflection and drawing one’s own conclusion — the work give you feelings, shapes, colors, etc (in a way, the questions) and you provide your own answers

An opinion with a justification may be described as a belief. The justification that transforms an opinion into a belief may in some instances be empirical, but in many instances, in the morally and philosophically significant instances, it will not be empirical, it will be rational, achieved in the establishment of the truth of concepts or ideas by the methods of argument and the interpretation of experience. A certain kind of journalistic commentary, when it is done rightly, is a popular version of the same project, an application of thoughtfully (and sometimes wittily) held principles to public affairs, and is therefore an essential service to a free society. The intellectual predispositions that Silver ridicules as “priors” are nothing more than beliefs. What is so sinister about beliefs? He should be a little more wary of scorning them, even in degraded form: without beliefs we are nothing but data, himself included, and we deserve to be considered not only from the standpoint of our manipulability. I am sorry that he finds George Will and Paul Krugman repetitious, but should they revise their beliefs so as not to bore him? Repetition is one of the essential instruments of persuasion, and persuasion is one of the essential activities of a democracy. I do not expect Silver to relinquish his positivism—a prior if ever there was one—because I find it tedious.

You may have heard the phrase the plural of anecdote is not data. It turns out that this is a misquote. The original aphorism, by the political scientist Ray Wolfinger, was just the opposite: The plural of anecdote is data.

Wolfinger’s formulation makes sense: Data does not have a virgin birth. It comes to us from somewhere. Someone set up a procedure to collect and record it. Sometimes this person is a scientist, but she also could be a journalist.

Mallarmé would argue that this phenomenon is natural: that the language is there, ready to serve, and that ‘things exist, we do not need to create them; we only need to seize the relationships between them’ (‘Les choses existent, nous n’avons pas à les créer, nous n’avons qu’à saisir les rapports’). This is perhaps the most marked Mallarmean claim, uttered in an interview with Jules Huret at the ‘mature’ stages of his career in 1891. By this point, Mallarmé had, tortuously, achieved his dream. He was living and writing in Paris, surrounded by a horde of young disciples who would gather in his home at 89 rue de Rome every Tuesday: avid ‘mardistes’ hungry for their master’s parole. And what he did tell them was literary sacrilege: ‘To name an object is to remove three-quarters of a poem’s joy… to suggest it, that is the dream’ (‘Nommer un objet, c’est supprimer les trois quarts de la jouissance du poème… le suggérer, voilà le rêve’). Indeed, what Mallarmé is suggesting here is that we use the relationships between things to work out the things themselves. To do this, we need to avoid talking about the thing itself. We must not name it, define it nor describe it; instead, we must allude to it by its absence– only the evocative absence of the word can make up for the inadequacy, even redundancy, of language. This complex image could be likened to a spider’s web, from which the spider itself is absent. Even though the spider is not there, the web implies some anterior and inherent presence of a spider and therefore automatically conjures up the image of the spider in our minds. In fact, the spider metaphor is one of Mallarmé’s favourites, and appears throughout his work and correspondence.

Creating a New Language: The Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé

"use the relationship between things to work out the things themselves" reminds me of Benjamin’s literary montage and "__ by ___" [what’s the phrase?] method of commenting

Alos: not naming objects and, essentially meaning, no self-reference; spider’s web; implicit

the verse is musical not only because it has a certain rhythm or prosody to it, but also because it is an orchestra of sounds and meanings. All the words and ideas of the poem are interconnected, like the notes of a symphony. Together, they create the Oeuvre, the masterpiece, self-reflective and infinite poetry

And how do these suggestions take place in practice? We can rely on the different textures, hues, and intrinsic memories of the words to guide us; or we can follow the associative networks, relationships and contradictions between words: what Mallarmé calls their ‘musicality’.

Mallarmé would argue that this phenomenon is natural: that the language is there, ready to serve, and that ‘things exist, we do not need to create them; we only need to seize the relationships between them’ (‘Les choses existent, nous n’avons pas à les créer, nous n’avons qu’à saisir les rapports’).

What was it that rendered his oeuvre so enigmatically incomplete? Let us come back to the first of his idea(l)s. In his words, ‘The pure work implies the disappearance of the poet as a speaker; he gives way to the words’ (‘L’oeuvre pure implique la disparition élocutoire du poète, qui cède initiative aux mots’). By letting go of the words and erasing all trace of his existence, the poet necessarily creates an impersonal poetry, devoid of narrative interference; a poetry that can write and re-write itself without ever reaching a conclusive form, perpetually incomplete

Creating a New Language: The Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé

Makes me think of attempts by Russell, Hillbert et almto establish a “pure” and “complete” mathematics