Here is part of a sentence I encountered in an article on mid-life suicide: "When Liz Strand’s 53-year-old friend killed herself two years ago in California, her house was underwater and needed repairs, she had a painful ankle that was exacerbated by being overweight . . ."
But if one's house were underwater, one could just swim from room to room. How then could being overweight exacerbate ankle pain?
A house fit for normal human habitation cannot be literally underwater. But it can be 'underwater,' i.e., such that the mortgagee owes more to the mortgager than the house is worth.
The marks signify a semantic stretch unto a sneer. This is not a case of mentioning the word 'city,' but of using it, but in a extended sense. Had old Koch said that, he would have been suggesting that Boston is a city in a merely analogical or even equivocal sense of the term as compared to the city, New York City.
3. So the third use of single 'quotation' marks is the semantically stretching use. The sentence I just wrote illustrates it inasmuch as this use of 'quotation' marks does not involve quotation, nor does it involve mentioning a word as opposed to using it.
This is a much trickier topic than you might think, and I can go on. You hope I won't, and in any case I don't feel like it. But I can't resist a bit of commentary on this example from the blog cited above:
This might just be an example of a misuse of 'quotation' marks. But it could be a legitimate use, an example of #3 above. They want your excrement.
If you want to emphasize a word or phrase, italicize, or bold, or underline it. Don't surround it with 'quotation' marks. Or, like Achmed the Dead Terrorist, I kill you!
You've heard of Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan, and the 'white-Hispanic' George Zimmerman whose nomen has proven to be one bad omen indeed. (Would we have heard about him at all had his name been Jorge Ramirez?)
Permit me to introduce you to Jára Cimrman whose Czech surname, if I am not badly mistaken, is pronounced like 'Zimmerman' when the latter is pronounced as it is in German.
Cimrman is quite a character with many noteworthy accomplishments to his credit. One of them is authorship of the philosophy of non-existentialism. As one reputable source has it:
Long before anyone had heard about Camus or Sartre, in 1886, Cimrman wrote pieces like 'The Essence of the Existence', which became the basis for his "Cimrmanism" philosophy, also referred to as "non-existentialism" (the main premise of this philosophy is that: "Existence cannot not exist").
But if truth be told, this Cimrman is a plagiarist. He stole the idea from me! In Does Existence Itself Exist? I defend the thesis that existence does indeed exist, and necessarily. The despicable Cimrman passed off my idea as his own and tried to hide his crime by packaging my thesis under the verbally different but logically equivalent 'Existence cannot not exist' He then falsely claimed to have developed his theory in 1886 long before my birth.
Apparently, the online magazine Slate will no longer be referring to the Washington Redskins under that name lest some Indians take offense. By the way, I take offense at 'native American.' I am a native Californian, which fact makes me a native American, and I'm not now and never have been an Indian.
But what about 'guinea pig'? Surely this phrase too is a racial/ethnic slur inasmuch as it suggests that all people of Italian extraction are pigs, either literally or in their eating habits. Bill Loney takes this (meat) ball and runs with it.
And then there is 'coonskin cap.' 'Coon' is in the semantic vicinity of such words as: spade, blood, spearchucker, spook, and nigger. These are derogatory words used to refer to Eric Holder's people. In the '60s, southern racists expressed their contempt for Martin Luther King, Jr. by referring to him as Martin Luther Coon. Since a coonskin cap is a cap made of the skin of a coon, 'coonskin cap' is a code phrase used by creepy-assed crackers to signal that black folk ought to be, all of them, on the wrong end of a coon hunt.
'Coonskin cap' must therefore be struck from our vocabulary lest some black person take offense.
But then consistency demands that we get rid of 'southern racist.' The phrase suggests that all southerners are racists. And we must not cause offense to the half-dozen southerners who are not racists.
But why stop here? 'Doo wop' is so-called because many of its major exponents were wops such as Dion Dimucci who was apparently quite proud to be a wop inasmuch as he uses the term five times in succession starting at :58 of this version of 'I Wonder Why' (1958). The old greaseball still looks very good in this 2004 performance. Must be all that pasta he consumes.
I could go on -- this is fun -- but you get the drift, unless you are a stupid liberal.
There is an old joke that goes "the Anglo-Saxon philosopher will accuse the continental of being insufficiently clear, while the continental philosopher accuses the Anglo-Saxon of being insufficiently."
The members of the philosophy department were so convinced by the lecturer's case against personal identity that they refused to pay him his honorarium on the ground that the potential recipient could not be the same person as the lecturer. This from a piece by Stanley Hauerwas:
It is by no means clear to me that I am the same person who wrote Hannah's Child. Although philosophically I have a stronger sense of personal identity than Daniel Dennett, who after having given a lecture to a department of philosophy on personal identity, was not given his honorarium. The department refused to give him his honorarium because, given Dennett's arguments about personal identity, or lack thereof, the department was not confident that the person who had delivered the lecture would be the same person who would receive the honorarium.
That has to be a joke, right? It sounds like the sort of tall tale that Dennett would tell.
My understanding of character, which at least promises more continuity in our lives than Dennett thinks he can claim, does not let me assume that I am the same person who wrote Hannah's Child. I cannot be confident I am the same person because the person who wrote Hannah's Child no doubt was changed by having done so. While I'm unable to state what I learned by writing the book, I can at least acknowledge that I must have been changed by having done so.
Hauerwas is confusing numerical and qualitative identity. Yes, you have been changed by writing your book. No doubt about it. Does it follow that you are a numerically different person than the one who wrote the book? Of course not. What follows is merely that you are qualitatively different, different in respect of some properties or qualities.
Perhaps there is no strict diachronic personal identity. This cannot be demonstrated, however, from the trivial observation that people change property-wise over time. For that is consistent with strict diachronic identity.
In the off-chance that you haven't had an occasion to bust your gut over Jeff Dunham's ventriloquy, check this out.
Mockery and derision are important weapons in the culture war. It is not enough to argue rigorously and patiently against the liberal-left enablers and apologists of radical Islam. Also needed is to make them and their clients look stupid. The young are more impressed by the cool than the cogent.
What the hell's going on in Florida? The other day an oven shot a woman, and now a dog has shot a man, with an 'unloaded' gun no less.
Tragedies like these show the need for Dog Control. Members of the Dog Lobby such as Duane LaRufus of the National Hound Association will scream in protest, but moral cretins like him and Leroy Pooch of Dog Owners of America are nothing but greedy shills for the Canine Industrial Complex. They routinely oppose all sensible Dog Control measures. Follow the money!
Reason dictates that all dogs must be kept muzzled at all times, and when transported in a vehicle containing a gun, must be kept securely locked in the trunk. Assault dogs, whose only purpose is to kill and maim, such as Doberman Ass Biters and Pit Bulls, must be banned. Such breeds are inherently evil and no one ouside of law enforcement and the military has any business owning them. Food magazines for all breeds must be kept strictly limited lest any dog become too rambunctious. Dog owners should be 'outed' and their names published in the paper. Special taxes must be levied on all things canine to offset the expenses incurred by society at large in the wake of the rising tide of dog violence.
Such reasonable measures will strike extremists as draconian, but if even one life can be saved, then they are justified. We must do something and we must do it now so that tragedies like the one in Florida never happen again.
Here: "POLICE chiefs have banned IT staff from using the word blacklist over fears it is RACIST." (Via VFR)
This sort of thing is insane, of course. And so I suspect that to argue against it is foolish: it only lends credibility to a view that ought to be mocked and derided.
But I do argue it out here. One late-night comic lampooned the 'crispy critter' tanning lady (who brought her child into the tanning booth with her) by saying that the she is so dark it's racist! That's the way to go. You PeeCee liberals are so stupid it's racist! What is the antecedent of the last two occurrences of 'it'? Don't worry, we be in PeeCee land now. We don't need to talk no sense.
Cosmologists are going to have to be careful what with their talk of black holes. Someone might take that as 'code' for 'black ho' a phrase that in PeeCee logic (and no, I'm not talking about the propositional calculus) implies that all black females are whores.
Modernist to medievalist: Medieval philosophy is substance abuse!
Medievalist to modernist: Modern philosophy is self abuse!
(And that reminds me of a marginalium Schopenhauer inscribed into his copy of Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre: Onanie! (onanism) Wissenschaftslehre translates as Theory of Science. Schopenhauer, however, referred in print to Fichte's book as Wissenschaftsleere, which sounds the same but translates as Empty of Science.
If Schopenhauer had a blog, what might he call it? The Scowl of Minerva.)
Man attempts to enter swanky restaurant. Maitre d' informs him that coat and tie are required. Man returns to car, dons coat, and tries once more to enter. Maitre d' says that a tie is also necessary. Man returns to car, opens trunk, takes out jumper cables, and arranges them around his neck. Heated discussion ensues, but maitre d' finally relents: "OK, you can go in, but just don't start anything!"
I remember exactly when and where I heard this joke. It was June of 1995. I was headed from Phoenix to Charlottesville to take part in an NEH Summer Seminar on the Philosophy of Science at the University of Virginia. As I was 'motorvatin'* in my '88 Jeep Cherokee past Knoxville, Tennessee on Interstate 40, old Paul Harvey (1918-2009) came on the air and told the above joke.
Now you know the rest of the story.
*'Motorvatin' borrowed from Chuck Berry's Maybelline.
"Study everything, join nothing." I am sometimes asked for examples. Here are some from Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary under the entry Regalia. (Borrowed from Gilleland the Erudite):
. . . Knights of Adam; Visionaries of Detectable Bosh; the Ancient Order of Modern Troglodytes; the League of Holy Humbug; the Golden Phalanx of Phalangers; the Genteel Society of Expurgated Hoodlums; the Mystic Alliances of Gorgeous Regalians; Knights and Ladies of the Yellow Dog; the Oriental Order of Sons of the West; the Blatherhood of Insufferable Stuff; Warriors of the Long Bow; Guardians of the Great Horn Spoon; the Band of Brutes; the Impenitent Order of Wife-Beaters; the Sublime Legion of Flamboyant Conspicuants; Worshipers at the Electroplated Shrine; Shining Inaccessibles; Fee-Faw-Fummers of the Inimitable Grip; Jannissaries of the Broad-Blown Peacock; Plumed Increscencies of the Magic Temple; the Grand Cabal of Able-Bodied Sedentarians; Associated Deities of the Butter Trade; the Garden of Galoots; the Affectionate Fraternity of Men Similarly Warted; the Flashing Astonishers; Ladies of Horror; Cooperative Association for Breaking into the Spotlight; Dukes of Eden; Disciples Militant of the Hidden Faith; Knights-Champions of the Domestic Dog; the Holy Gregarians; the Resolute Optimists; the Ancient Sodality of Inhospitable Hogs; Associated Sovereigns of Mendacity; Dukes-Guardian of the Mystic Cess-Pool; the Society for Prevention of Prevalence; Kings of Drink; Polite Federation of Gents-Consequential; the Mysterious Order of the Undecipherable Scroll; Uniformed Rank of Lousy Cats; Monarchs of Worth and Hunger; Sons of the South Star; Prelates of the Tub-and-Sword.
Jean-Paul Sartre put the following into the mouth of a character in the play, No Exit: "Hell is other people." What then would hell be for philosophers? To be locked in a room forever with a philosopher with whom one has little or no common ground. David Stove and Theodor Adorno, for example. Or Sartre and Etienne Gilson.
Here are my two favorite examples of telephonic foolishness.
1. Leaving a message on the wrong answering machine. This has happened more than once. One time, a guy calls and hears our message: "This is Bill and Mary. We are either unable or unwilling to come to the phone at this time. Please leave a message after the beep."
So he proceeds, "Hi Jack, this is Clyde. I'm down at the Glass Crutch bar and grill and plan to stay until closing time. Why not come down and join me? We'll hoist a few."
2. Failure to grasp the concept of a wrong number. A guy calls asking for Dave. "No Dave here," I reply, "you must have the wrong number." Guy calls again an hour or two later, asking for Dave, and I give the same response. The pattern repeats itself several times over a few days. Concluding that the caller's contact with reality is minimal and drug-mediated, I finally say, "Hey man, haven't you heard? Dave OD'd on smack about a month ago." Caller: "Wow, far out!"
I spied a composite of the above two images on the rear window of a beat-to-hell pickup truck. The decal depicted the character Grumpy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves brandishing guns in the manner of that Yosemite Sam character one sometimes sees on mud flaps with the logo, "Back off." Can I squeeze any logico-philosophical mileage out of this? But of course.
The multiple ambiguity of 'is' has been well-known to philosophers for some time, although it is only recently that an American president has put the ambiguity to work in a successful bid at saving his political hide. Said president pointed out that much rides on what the meaning of 'is' is. A key distinction is between the 'is' of identity and the 'is' of predication. The decal exploits this ambiguity to achieve its humorous effect. 'I am Grumpy' asserts the identity of the speaker with Grumpy, whereas 'I am grumpy' predicates a property of the speaker, the property of being grumpy. A key difference between identity and predication is that the former is symmetrical whereas the latter is aysmmetrical.
(Please do not confuse asymmetry with nonsymmetry. Loves is a nonsymmetrical relation: if I love you it does not follow that you love me; but it also does not follow that you do not love me.)
In previous posts I have explored the idea that many cases of humor derive from logico-conceptual incoherence, as above. The equivocation on 'is,' as between its predicative and identitarian senses, is at the root of the decal's funniness. That is why it is funny. Or so I claim. In fact, I toy with the notion that most humor stems from logico-conceptual incoherence. Another example is Yogi Berra's "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." Or: "Who was that lady I saw you with last night? That was no lady, that was my wife!" Or: "I see you got a haircut. I got 'em all cut."
The decal also alludes to a Platonic theme, that of the self-predication of Forms. Forms are not properties but paradigms. Thus the Form Wisdom is the paradigm case of wisdom. As such, Wisdom is wise, The Good is good, Virtue is virtuous -- and The Grumpy is grumpy! (Assuming, as Plato would almost certainly not assume, that there is a Form corresponding to 'grumpy.') Thus grumpy things are grumpy in virtue of participating in The Grumpy which is grumpy in virtue of participating in itself.
A self-participating Form is (identically) what it has. Here the 'is' of identity and the 'is' of predication coalesce. Wisdom is wise in virtue of being identical with itself. God is not a good thing, but Goodness Itself; thus God is not good by having goodness but by being Goodness. Here we glimpse the connection between the self-participation of Forms and the doctrine of the divine simplicity.
And all of this squeezed out of one lousy decal on the rear window of a beat-to-hell pickup truck probably owned by some illegal alien.
I'm sensitive, you're touchy. I'm firm, you are pigheaded. Frugality in me is cheapness in you. I am open-minded, you are empty-headed. I am careful, you are obsessive. I am courageous while you are as reckless as a Kennedy. I am polite while you are obsequious. My speech is soothing, yours is unctuous. I am earthy and brimming with vitality while you are crude and bestial. I'm alive to necessary distinctions; you are a bloody hairsplitter. I'm conservative, you're reactionary. I know the human heart, but you are a misanthrope. I love and honor my wife while you are uxorious. I am focused; you are monomaniacal.
In me there is commitment, in you fanaticism. I'm a peacemaker, you're an appeaser. I'm spontaneous, you're just undisciplined. I'm neat and clean; you are fastidious. In me there is wit and style, in you mere preciosity. I know the value of a dollar while you are just a miser. I cross the Rubicons of life with resoluteness while you are a fool who burns his bridges behind him. I do not hide my masculinity, but you flaunt yours. I save, you hoard. I am reserved, you are shy.
I have a hearty appetite; you are a glutton. A civilized man, I enjoy an occasional drink; you, however, must teetotal to avoid becoming a drunkard. I'm witty and urbane, you are precious. I am bucolic, you are rustic. I'm original, you are idiosyncratic.
And those are just some of the differences between me and you.
Among the jokes classified by Ted Cohen as hermetic in Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters (University of Chicago Press, 1999) are the following that he classifies as strongly hermetic: What did Lesniewski say to Lukasiewicz? "Logically, we're poles apart."
What is a goy? A goy is a person who is a girl if examined at any time up to an including t, and a boy if examined at any time after t.
One day a paleographer came into his classics department in great excitement. "There has been an earth-shaking discovery," he anounced. "The Illiad and the Odyssey were not written by Homer, but by some other Greek with the same name."
If you got those, then try this severely hermetic one on for size:
What's round and purple, and commutes to work? An Abelian grape.
These three also fall under the hermetic rubric, though they are not especially so:
According to Freud, what comes between fear and sex? Fuenf.
A young Catholic woman told her friend, "I told my husband to buy all the Viagra he can find." Her Jewish friend replied, "I told my husband to buy all the stock in Pfizer he can find."
After knowing one another for a long time, three clergymen -- one Catholic, one Jewish, and one Episcopalian -- have become good friends. When they are together one day, the Catholic priest is in a sober, reflective mood, and he says, "I'd like to confess to you that although I have done my best to keep my faith, I have occasionally lapsed, and even since my seminary days I have, not often, but sometimes, succumbed and sought carnal knowledge." "Ah well," says the rabbi, "It is good to admit these things, and so I will tell you that, not often, but sometimes, I break the dietary laws and eat forbidden food." At this the Episcopalian priest, his face reddening, says, "If only I has so little to be ashamed of. You know, only last week I caught myself eating a main course with my salad fork."
The symmetrical linker links to every site that links to him. The asymmetrical linker links to no site that links to him. The nonsymmetrical linker may or may not link to a site that links to him.
The totally reflexive linker links to all and only those sites that are identical to his site. The totally reflexive linker is also known as a windowless monad. All his links are internal or on-site. The partially reflexive linker links to himself, but only on condition that some other site links to him. The irreflexive linker links to no site that is identical to his site. All of his links are external or off-site. The transitive linker links to every site that is the target of a link of every site to which he links, and to every site that is the target of the target of every site to which he links, and so on. That way lies madness.
The moderate cyber-onanist is a person with two or more sites all of which are weakly interlinked, where two or more sites are weakly interlinked if and only if each site is symmetrically linked to one of the others. The extreme cyber-onanist is a person with two or more sites, all of which are strongly interlinked, where two or more sites are strongly interlinked if and only if each site is symmetrically linked to each of the others. The solipsistic cyber-onanist is a cyber-onanist (whether extreme or moderate) all of whose links are internal. The incorrigible cyber-onanist is an extreme solipsistic cyber-onanist.
Things are really getting bad here in the fascist state of Arizona. Why just this morning I was forced to show ID when I went to vote. I strolled into the polling place looking a fright after several hours of hiking. I introduced myself as 'King Blog' but that cut no ice with the old ladies who manned the place. They asked to see my driver's license! What chutzpah! What bigotry! A bunch of damned Nazis, if you want my opinion. What if I forgot it, or never had one? Then the Nazi bastards would have disenfranchised me! The very act of requesting ID is an act of disenfrachisement and intimidation. Besides, it prevents me from voting twice, which I have the right to do. I should have adapted a line from B. Traven's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Papers? I don't need no stinkin' papers! I'm a human being. You just hate me because I smell like I spent the night under a bridge. I have the right to do whatever I want, wherever I want, and vote wherever I want and as many times as I want.
I'm gettin' the hell out of this rattlesnake infested inferno of gun-totin' yahoos, rednecked racists, and xenophobic immigrant-bashers. I'm going where a man can be free. I'm headed for the People's Republic of China. "Live free or die," as I always say.