Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): No such file or directory in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1191

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1191

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): No such file or directory in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1194

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1194

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): No such file or directory in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1197

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1197
Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » Reclaiming the Ordinary

Reclaiming the Ordinary

Watching this makes me want to give the Philosophical Investigations another read through. I would like to read it with the idea of counter/myth in mind this time.

However, what struck me most immediately in Cavell’s talk (and prompted me to post this) was when he quoted: “Leading words from the metaphysical back to their everyday use.” This strikes me as somehow referring to poetry. Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy came to mind (admittedly because I just finished it a few days ago), specifically:

Part VIII: “Metaphor, for the authentic poet, is not a figure of rhetoric but a representative image standing concretely before him in lieu of a concept.”

My immediate inference: when a text says something like, “he was a bear,” I’m inclined to take this literally rather than as a rhetorical flourish or as a (ugh) gesture of symbolism toward the ursine (what does the bear represent, the middle-schooler asks). For that moment at least, rather, I think it’s probably best to “bring the language back to the ordinary” as Wittgenstein says, viz. lead it away from the symbolic or conceptual bear and back to, well, a bear. The conceptual leads us to something like “terrifying,” or “large” presumeably, as opposed to the ordinary: that he was a motherfucking bear. Skip the concept, present the raw, concrete image of a wild enormous beast that can rip your head off. This brings the language back to the ordinary.

Cavell notes that there is something about the ordinariness of the extraordinary and that there is something extraordinary about the ordinary. This seems particularly relevant; by bringing the language back to the ordinary, it somehow becomes more extraordinary. I’m reminded at once of both Donald Barthelme and Lydia Davis in the way they seem to write with such ordinariness that it becomes extraordinary. Particularly, Davis’ “The Caterpillar” (from Varieties of Disturbance: Stories) seems to me a good example. One could read all sorts of concepts and symbols into the story or they can let it be about a caterpillar. To my surprise, it is a much more rewarding experience (all the more extraordinary) to let it be about a woman concerned about a caterpillar.

Try it with Barthelme’s The Balloon. I think you’ll be in for a treat.

 

Share
0 comments