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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » An aside in re sense and nonsense, sparked from a lazy afternoon on the couch reading a book outside of my academic studies

An aside in re sense and nonsense, sparked from a lazy afternoon on the couch reading a book outside of my academic studies

The term “nonsense” is one of the most baffling words in our vocabulary. It has a negative quality only, like death. Nobody can explain nonsense: it can only be demonstrated. To add, moreover, that sense and nonsense are interchangeable is only to labor the point. Nonsense belongs to other worlds, other dimensions, and the gesture with which we put it from us at times, the finality with which we dismiss it, testifies to its disturbing nature. Whatever we cannot include within our narrow framework of comprehension we reject. Thus profundity and nonsense my be seen to have certain unsuspected affinities.

The passage is from Henry Miller’s Sexus, page 214. It struck me as being somewhat provocative even if it is not particularly relevant to the distinction of sense and nonsense in the Wittgensteinian paradigm. It’s only a small snippet of a larger segment where he laments the work of the artist. It begins with this:

In the beginning one wants to approach every problem directly. The more direct and insistent the approach, the more quickly and surely one succeeds in getting caught in the web.

Which echoes of Wittgenstein’s critique of philosophy’s linguistic confusions.

There may be nothing in this, but I found it interesting. I suspect that there is at least a small hint that Miller read, and incorporated, and then regurgitated more than a little bit of Wittgenstein in his own art. Whether or not it is the case, these labored digressions in the book more than make up for the frequent unerotic sex that takes place in it.

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