"…We turn our attention here to a buzzing philosophical activity in post-war England, and primarily among Oxford’s young dons, animated by [philosopher J.L.] Austin, but including a number of older and already influential colleagues like Gilbert Ryle, editor of Mind. Here, Oxford seemed to be cutting a way for itself, leaving Russell and his Cambridge colleagues — including their celebrated ‘darling’ Wittgenstein — behind (and out). With Germany’s defeat in WWII, an entire page in history was felt to have been turned. During the war, Austin had been recruited to set up, and ended up heading, the ‘order of battle’ section of what became SHAEF (the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force) under Eisenhower. The section was responsible for collecting and analysing information from a variety of sources, including the top-secret Enigma at Bletchley Park, but also through the developing art of aerial reconnaissance (which later became satellite imaging) and human intelligence from the resistance across Europe, in support of the war effort generally and to prepare for the D-Day landing.
It is said that when the German army surrendered at Frankfurt, Austin was the only person amongst the Allies who knew where all of the German army was actually located. Returning to do philosophy at Oxford from this high-level Intelligence posting, it was natural for the young Austin to try applying this very special war experience in his resumed philosophical investigations. He set himself the task (again, as he preferred it, and had found more effective during the war, through team-work) of demystifying philosophical concepts in a somewhat parallel way, one imagines, to the manner he employed as scattered data (e.g., pictures) or separate pieces of information (e.g., a train movement) were painstakingly ‘put to work’ in order to interpret the data being gathered — very much a bottom-up, piece-by-piece approach to finding out what these meant.
A full appreciation of this background may help clarify Austin’s articulation of [Ordinary Language Philosophy]. It is one thing to fit pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together, where each piece is already uniquely shaped to be inserted into just one place in the overall puzzle — their meanings, one might say, already determined by the investigator to be part of one specific overall picture. It is a fundamentally different thing to try to fit together intelligence pieces of information, where each piece could be fitted with another alongside it either in one way as part of one possible overall picture, or in some other way with other pieces alongside it as part of an altogether entirely different overall picture. In the latter case, one and the same piece of information, such as a train movement, could either mean the entire army is about to move or that only a battalion is being relocated. This case requires what we might call ‘a pragmatist’s approach’ to determining meanings.
The difference between the two approaches to determining what meanings words have is staggering, and far-reaching. What Baz succeeds in showing is that its implication has not yet been fully digested even by contextualist practitioners of OLP, who continue to insist — to use the intelligence-gathering metaphor — that besides fitting the way it turns out to be actually fitted in the revealed enemy plan, that very same piece of intelligence information continues to retain its ‘fittedness’, so to speak, in one or another presumed (though disqualified) plan (or in any and all of them). Taking the intelligence metaphor one step further, one could also see how Austin and his colleagues might have come to deal with some pieces of intelligence information they suspected of being red-herrings, that is, as perlocutionary acts for which it was more important to assess what effect these were meant to produce than what truth-value their presumed information-content had…”
— Sari Nusseibeh, in his review of “When Words Are Called For: A Defense of Ordinary Language Philosophy” (via Will Wilkinson)
8:56 pm • 21 June 2012 • 7 notes • View comments
First the Dog
So first the faithful dog will go
and after it a pig or ass
through the black grass will beat a track
along it will the first man steal
who with iron hand will smother
on his glass brow a drop of fear
so first the dog honest mongrel
which has never abandoned us
dreaming of earthly lamps and bones
will fall asleep in its whirling kennel
its warm blood boiling drying away
but we behind the dog and second
dog which guides us on a leash
we with the astronauts’ white cane
awkwardly we bump into stars
we see nothing we hear nothing
we beat with our fists on the dark ether
on all the wavelengths is a whining
everything we can carry on board
through the cinders of dark worlds
name of man scent of apple
acorn of sound quarter of colour
should all be saved for our return
so we can find the route in an instant
when the blind dog leading us
barks at the earth as at the moon
— Zbigniew Herbert
Translated by Alissa Valles
The first thing to reach Earth’s orbit was Sputnik 1, a big metal sphere with a radio in it and some antennae trailing behind it. It was October, 1957. The satellite broadcast an A-flat pulse across shortwave radio, for anyone with the equipment to hear. “Here I am. Where are you?” This is what it sounded like from Washington D.C.
The second thing to reach Earth’s orbit was Sputnik 2. It was November, 1957. The satellite contained the first creature ever to leave Earth, a dog named Laika, never to return. Story goes that Laika died after only a few hours in space—from overheating—which was merciful. Nobody had, yet, thought of a way to come back down.
9:05 am • 18 June 2012 • 49 notes • View comments
Another Country XIV
I made AC XIV in New York in October 2001, when my original thoughts around the shifting cultural echoes after the Cold War were being supplanted by the advent of ‘The War on Terror’. I arrived in NY on Saturday 8 September, having gained a place on the Whitney Museum’s studio programme for artists, which is based in Lower Manhattan. Still finding my bearings in that uncanny city, I’d watched the second fireball as Flight 175 hit the south tower of the World Trade Centre that Tuesday from the rooftop of an East 7th St apartment. The composition of AC XIV is based on JMW Turner’s Millbank by Moonlight, with Turner’s moon supplanted by a fireball from one of the Antler tests at Maralinga. In the traumatised atmosphere of New York that autumn, I was particularly interested in the sublime event as rupture(s) in the social fabric as much as a single spectacle in the landscape. Nuclear test photos often contain onlookers with their backs to the viewer, akin to Caspar David Friedrich’s famous early C19th Romantic paintings.In Another Country XIV the figures were not posed as onlookers as much as ‘caught by the flash’, perhaps doing something furtive or ‘unseen’ in the manner of other nocturnes.
— John Timberlake
9:20 am • 12 June 2012 • 6 notes • View comments
“Αirport” by electroboutique
If you’d like to learn a thing or two about arrival/departure boards, blimps, or red-light districts (or skeuomorphs, modernist architecture, the city of Boston), you can read my article in Matt Novak's wonderful Paleofuture Magazine.
9:02 am • 5 June 2012 • 302 notes • View comments
Escape began in the 1960s. It was tentative & difficult at first. But later under neoliberalism & identity politics everyone escaped, even the people who were being escaped from. As a result there was nowhere left to go. Escape in that sense was finished as a paradigm & thereafter could only be attached to adverts for hair care product. Escape turned out to be an end, not a beginning. It was a brand; a version of “they lived happily ever after” tenable only as long as you didn’t try to live the other side of it.
— Mike Harrison, “freedom from" (via Robin Sloan)
9:41 pm • 29 May 2012 • 5 notes • View comments
David Palmer, Roger Neill and Brian Reitzell - Beginners Theme Suite (Beginners OST)
8:33 pm • 29 May 2012 • 1 note • View comments
Surveillance cameras observe a fox exploring the Tudor and Georgian rooms of the National Portrait Gallery at night.
(Source: aestheticanxiety, via pleasebequietplease-deactivated)
11:32 pm • 20 May 2012 • 24,413 notes • View comments
Animated Journal (Long Version) (by Paul Greer)
If I reach 700 views by breakfast time, I’ll finish a new film by August.
Paul ist rad. These are beautiful horrors.
THERE ISN’T MUCH TIME!
Paul is a goddamn master and “beautiful horrors” is is about as accurate a description as you could ask for. I could only add, “pleasantly disquieting.”
11:34 pm • 3 May 2012 • 23 notes • View comments
from Discrete Series
The knowledge not of sorrow, you were
saying, but of boredom
Is—aside from reading speaking
Of what, Maude Blessingbourne it was,
wished to know when, having risen,
“approached the window as if to see
what really was going on”;
And saw rain falling, in the distance
The road clear from her past the window-
Of the world, weather-swept, with which
one shares the century.
— George Oppen
9:21 am • 1 May 2012 • 2 notes • View comments