Delight Springs

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Diogenes at the Googleplex

How would Plato respond to the Googleplex, Rebecca Goldstein wonders? He'd be wowed, astounded, and bemused by the latest in cave technology. He'd have plenty to say.

How about Diogenes? Rebecca Solnit suggests he might have the opposite reaction.
Kierkegaard liked to cite Diogenes: “When the Eleatics denied motion, Diogenes, as everyone knows, came forward as an opponent. He literally did come forward, because he did not say a word but merely paced back and forth a few times, thereby assuming he had sufficiently refuted them. Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Solvitur ambulando, of course, is what he wasn't saying. It's not an instance of what Wittgenstein would later call passing in silence whereof one cannot speak, but more an application of the principle of parsimony or the wielding of Occam's Razor. Words only muddy an issue any fool should be able to grasp immediately.

The late great songwriter Guy Clark died yesterday. They played an interview on NPR in which he made precisely that point, that a good song is no more complicated than it has to be. Tell it straight and simple, and whenever possible show, don't say. Leave something to the listener's imagination and perceptual acuity.

Solnit goes on to mention Edmund Husserl, the phenomenologist who "described walking as the experience by which we understand our body in relationship to the world" rather than following the usual philosopher's script of emphasizing either the senses or the mind, abstracted from their motile embodied context. If Husserl's student Heidegger had payed closer attention, he might not have elevated Being over becoming. He might have walked away from the fascists, or at least distanced himself a little more, before getting bogged down in his own words.
Happy birthday Tina Fey, who understands the hubris of verbal excess. 
In response to people who claim that women are not funny, she said: "My hat goes off to them. It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that because you don't like something, it is empirically not good. I don't like Chinese food, but I don't write articles trying to prove it doesn't exist."
5:30/5:40, 56/68/51, 7:47

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