In what follows I try to show that Spinoza modelled his project of rational psychology, in some of its major respects, upon Descartes's metaphysics of matter. I argue further that, like Descartes, who paid for the rationalization of the science of matter the price of having to leave out of his description non-quantifiable qualities, so Spinoza left out of his psychology the non-rationalizable aspects of emotions, i.e. whatever in them could not be subsumed under common notions. He therefore was left (...) with the cognitive aspects of emotions, keeping outside of his report the inner feeling which accompanies them. Spinoza's psychology, I claim, disregards any non-cognitive aspect of emotions. (shrink)
Two semantic theories of proper names are explained and assessed. The theories are Burge’s treatment of proper names as complex demonstratives and Larson and Segal’s quasi-descriptivist account of names. The two theories are evaluated for empirical plausibility. Data from deficits, processing models, developmental studies and syntax are all discussed. It is concluded that neither theory is fully confirmed or refuted by the data, but that Larson and Segal’s theory has more empirical plausibility.
Despite the United States' economic abundance, "the good life" has proved elusive. Millions long for more time for friends and family, for reading or walking or relaxing. Instead our lives are frantic, hectic, and harried. In Graceful Simplicity, Jerome M. Segal, philosopher, political activist, and former staff member of the House Budget Committee, expands and deepens the contemporary discourse on simple living. He articulates his conception of a politics of simplicity--one rooted in beauty, peace of mind, appreciativeness, and generosity (...) of spirit. (shrink)
Karni and Safra  prove that the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak mechanism reveals a decision maker's true certainty equivalent of a lottery if and only if he satisfies the independence axiom. Segal  claims that this mechanism may reveal a violation of the reduction of compound lotteries axiom. This paper empirically tests these two interpretations. Our results show that the second interpretation fits better with the collected data. Moreover, we show by means of some nonexpected utility examples that these results are consistent (...) with a wide range of functionals. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 40–43. Lance Olsen is a professor of Writing and Literature at the University of Utah, Chair of the FC2 Board of directors, and, most importantly, author or editor of over twenty books of and about innovative literature. He is one of the true champions of prose as a viable contemporary art form. He has just published Architectures of Possibility (written with Trevor Dodge), a book that—as Olsen's works often do—exceeds the usual boundaries of its genre as it (...) explores his interests in narrative theory and pedagogy. The book is a kind of “anti-textbook;” a performative polemic against the stale, conservative and monolithic conception of the literary that so often dominates institutional discourse around creative writing. The following interview takes the occasion of AoP's publication as a chance to speak with Olsen about the book itself as well as to engage with larger, unanswerable, questions about the futures and intersections of literature and education. —Ben Segal INTERVIEW: 1) First, I want to start before the beginning, with the title. I’m really fascinated by the concept it conjures. Can you say something about innovative/experimental/(choose your adjective) literature in relation to both ideas around architecture and possibility? Innovative or experimental are tremendously fraught adjectives, needless to say. But for the purposes of my book, they modify a fiction concerned with the questions: What is fiction? What can it do, and how, and why? Now, of course, what looks “innovative” or “experimental” to one at 17 may not be what looks “innovative” or “experimental” to one at 27 or 57, and what looks “innovative” or “experimental” in 1812 may not be what looks “innovative” or “experimental” in 2012. A certain existential and historical perspectivism is always at work. But I think it’s fair to say that innovative and experimental usually refer to a narrativity that includes a self-reflective awareness of and engagement with theoretical inquiry, concerns, and obsessions, as well as a sense of being in conversation with fiction across space and time. One can't create challenging writing in a vacuum; it has to challenge in relation to something. So contemporary writers interested in the subject are not only in pursuit of the innovative, but are also always-already writing subsequent to it—writing, that is, in its long wake. Architectures of Possibility conceives of creativity as a possibility space, a locale just outside our comfort zones where we can and should take multiple chances in order to imagine in new ways, explore fresh strategies for finding and cultivating ideas, re-view what it is we’re doing and why, better understand what Samuel Beckett meant when he wrote: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” It reminds us that there are other ways of narrating our worlds and ourselves than those we have inherited from the entertainment industry, the government, academia, previous writing, and so on. 2) AoP seems to be directed at several audiences (and purposes) simultaneously. What I mean is that it seems at times a polemic in favor of innovative literature, at other times a creative writing textbook, and still other times a guide to the network of publishers, journals, and programs that make up the current world of non-mainstream literary art in the U.S. In my mind, Architectures is a theorized anti-textbook about writing. Most textbooks on the subject (think of Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft , taught in most creative-writing classroom across the country) orchestrate how to construct conventional stories. They instruct from a place of power how to generate familiar stories that are repeated so often that many of us begin to take them as the primary model for narrativity, if not unconsciously as a kind of truth. The result, as Brian Kiteley points out in 3 A.M. Epiphany (one of the only other alternative textbooks about innovative writing around, by the way, and a tremendous repository of exercises), is merely competent texts. Architectures problematizes that gesture by outlining what conventional narrativity looks like, urging writers to think about its ideology of form as well as content, and invites them to imagine writing, not as a set of relatively stable conventions, but, rather, as a possibility space where everything can and should be thought, tried, challenged. It thereby rhymes with Roland Barthes’s definition of literature: the question minus the answer—which is to say Architectures poses complications to the act of writing rather than solutions. 3) One of the most notable things about the book is the use of interviews. This is also one of the reasons that I think the book works so well for a variety of audiences—that anyone with even a passing interest in the state and future of literature will have an interest in your conversation with people like Ben Marcus, Samuel Delany, and Lydia Davis. I was hoping you could just talk a little about how you chose these subjects to interview, how you edited the interview material, and which answers you received struck you the most. Experimentalism , like realism , wants to appear in the plural. The idea of gathering more than forty interviews (with the help of my awesome collaborator, Trevor Dodge, himself a fine innovative author) represents an attempt to suggest that: the wide, rich, exciting opportunities inherent in the term. There are interviews with younger writers, elder statesmen in the field, publishers, editors, hypermedia artists, comic book makers, and so on: Joe Wenderoth, Carole Maso, Scott McCloud, Nick Montfort, Kathy Acker, et al. Trevor and I decided to do flash interviews: short, concentrated Q&As, each focusing on a particular troubling of writing. We only lightly edited the results to match the manuscript’s overall style, and every interview arrived as a surprise housing several unexpected insights. Three brief examples: Michael Mejia, when asked about what he dreads when setting about writing: “Dread is an interesting word here. I associate it less with loathing or aversion, I suppose, than with a kind of productive fear. Do I dread a project’s failure? Sure, who doesn’t? Who wants to waste time on something that comes to nothing, or is unreadable? But then, what do these terms mean, and who or what defines a work as a ‘failure,’ as ‘waste,’ as ‘unreadable’? Should a work actually try to interrogate and exceed these conceptual limitations? My tendency is to write into dread in order to reveal to myself, as much as to any reader that may come after, the varied complacencies that make other, mostly more conventional writings, readable. It’s at the frontier between readability (security) and unreadability (terror) that I want to live creatively.” Carole Maso, when asked what she’d like a sentence to accomplish: “I think a sentence can if allowed carry emotional and intellectual states as they flee, as they come and go, an escaping essence difficult to hold in other ways. In this way I think the sentence can work as a phrase of music does, sounding something large and elusive in us. Alternatively it can provide sometimes a stability, an essence, a moment of being. Unlike music the sentence also of course carries language with all its potential for meaning making and memory traces and association with it as well. I probably love the accretion of sentences most—those patterns, that shimmer, that resonance.” Shelley Jackson, when asked what is innovative about the innovative: “The purpose of the innovative is, I think, to wake us up. We are not quite alive, most of the time; we occupy a sort of cartoon version of our lives, its lines made smooth by repetition. Writing can open the seams in that world, reintroduce us to the real lives that we have forgotten. Maybe all good writing is innovative in some sense, in that it shows or tells or makes you feel something you never felt before—something for which you have no cartoon ready.” 4) You talk a little about N. Katherine Hayles’s concept of Media Specific Analysis and propose the supplemental notion of Medium Specific Generation—basically taking Hayles and applying her thought from the perspective of the writer. I’ve been trying to develop somewhat related theoretical frameworks, so I was really excited to come upon this section of the book. I’m wondering if you can talk a little more about this idea and, in general, about the potentials that you see as being opened up by writers engaging with and exploiting different media as literary platforms? “Lulled into somnolence by five hundred years of print,” Hayles urges in her (at least for me) transformative 2004 essay, “Print is Flat, Code is Deep,” “literary analysis should awaken to the importance of media-specific analysis, a mode of critical attention which recognizes that all texts are instantiated and that the nature of the medium in which they are instantiated matters.” She goes on to argue critics should learn to become more attuned to the materiality of the medium under investigation—which is to say a story isn’t a story isn’t a story. Rather, the “same” story remediated through film is intrinsically different from that story remediated through conventionally printed books is intrinsically different from that story remediated through hypermedia. “Materiality,” Hayles goes on, “is reconceptualized as the interplay between a text’s physical characteristics and its signifying strategies, a move that entwines instantiation and signification at the outset.” My point in Architectures is simply to emphasize Media Specific Generation: the idea that when writing you should be cognizant, not only of the thematics of the text you are working on, and, as it were, the internal components of its narrativity (character, language, plot, etc.), but also of the material embodiment those components take, and, perhaps more important, the material embodiment those components can take. The idea that the way texts matter matters isn’t something usually addressed in any significant way in creative-writing classrooms and textbooks. It may almost go without saying such experimentation with typography, layout, and white space has a long tradition—certainly one that tracks back at least as far as Guillaume Apollinaire’s early twentieth-century Calligrammes , Laurence Sterne’s textually ribald eighteenth-century Tristram Shandy , although one could arguably plot a hypothetical trajectory that reaches to ancient Greek romances like Achilles Tatius’ second-century Leucippe and Clitophon . Experiments into atomic materiality and digital immateriality bracket the definition of “book” at the same time they highlight Michael Martone’s prediction of its present future as increasingly viral, collaborative, and ephemeral. Or, as Matthew Battles points out: the future of the “book” has already arrived, and it is “ethereal and networked” rather than “an immutable brick.”While conventional writing and reading practices are conceptualized as private, individual, relatively fixed experiences, many of the new forms indicate that writing and reading—from production through dissemination—are rapidly becoming public, collective, incrementally unfixed experiences. That strikes me as an astonishing set of opportunities for a writer to investigate. 5) Another concept you elaborate in AoP is that of limit texts, basically texts that, once you read them, change what you imagine as the shape/horizon/potential of literature. You provide a fantastic reading list of limit texts at the end of AoP. I was hoping you could talk about a few of them in terms of how they specifically operate as limit texts for you—how they expand your understanding of what literature could be or do. Karl Jaspers coined the word Grenzsituationen (border/limit situations) to describe existential moments accompanied by anxiety in which the human mind is forced to confront the restrictions of its existing forms—moments that make us abandon, fleetingly, the securities of our limitedness and enter new realms of self-consciousness. Death, for example. Limit texts are a variety of disturbance that carries various elements of narrativity to their brink so the reader can never quite imagine them in the same terms again. Once you’ve taken one down from the shelf, you’ll never be able to put it back up again. They won’t leave you alone. They will continue to work on your imagination long after you’ve read them. Simply by being in the world, they ask us to embrace difficulty, freedom, radical skepticism. One of the most important for me is Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable . Instead of establishing conventional setting and building traditional character, from its first words it unsettles both: “Where now? Who now? When now?” That first trio of question marks broadcasts the thematics of the writing (“novel” may be too strong a word) that will follow: it is all about a voice (or, perhaps, voices, about the grammatical mistake of the first-person pronoun), a consciousness (maybe, again, too strong a word), often genderless, removed from place and chronology and socioeconomic reality, hovering in a state of perpetual aporia. All it knows is what it doesn’t know, and its not-knowing is blackly, sardonically comic. The Unnamable is the embodiment of an unreliable narrator—a subject position that can’t trust itself, let alone be trusted by a reader. It contradicts, takes back, digresses, undoes what it just did, forgets, lies, hallucinates gloriously. The language is abstract, disembodied, devoid of sensory data, grayish rather than painterly in texture. Without knowing this passage is from a novel, a reader might well conclude s/he were reading a patch of (anti-)Cartesian philosophy. It might be helpful to conceive of what Beckett is doing as post-genre writing, then, or perhaps what Raymond Federman referred to as critifiction—a mode that blurs conventional distinctions between theory and narrative. In completely different register, and much more recently, Anne Carson’s Nox blew me away. It takes the form of an elegy for her older brother, whom she didn’t know well and who died unexpectedly while on the run from the law in Europe. The thing itself arrives in a box that simulates a thick book, as well as the brother’s textual coffin. Open it, and inside you discover, not a codex, but an accordioned series of “pages” that folds out into an arrangement that suggests an ancient scroll (Carson is, perhaps illuminatingly, a professor of classics) made up of shards of her brother’s letters, old photographs, tickets, Carson’s observations, Catullus’ poem 101 (the one addressed to the Roman poet’s dead brother, a doubling of Carson’s situation), and extensive dictionary entries on all the words that compose that poem. The aggregate produces a collage about the impossibilities of aggregates, the impossibilities of understanding fully, of capturing absences in language. At times Nox feels less an example of what most readers consider a book than something closer to a three-dimensional work of assemblage art. It’s a beautiful mechanism for contemplating Media Specific Analysis, for urging us all to be more extreme. 6) Finally, I want to talk a little about pedagogy and institutions. I’m less interested in questions like “Are MFA programs good for writers?” than in questions about how your role as teacher informs your understanding of literature and your writing practice. I’m also very curious about your take on how commercially marginal literary art is largely patronized by large state institutions and at the same time often imagines itself as a critical and even possibly revolutionary practice. How have your own positions within universities and university-affiliated organizations shaped your thinking about them and about innovative literature? I can imagine in many ways it might make you even more critical. And (I know, another ‘and’...) how does AoP (especially given its relation to Rebel Yell , your previous text on creative writing) reflect your personal history and experience as a teacher and member of communities that are largely defined by institutions? In the classroom, I try to generate the pedagogical field I would have liked to have inhabited as a student, but didn’t. Roland Barthes has a lovely line about this: “We need to substitute for the magisterial [classroom] space of the past (the word delivered by the master from the pulpit above with the audience below, the flock, the sheep, the herd)—a less upright, less Euclidean space where no one, neither teacher nor students, would ever be in his final place.” Easier said than done, of course, but an important life project for all who think of themselves as educators. My own classroom, my own writing, and Architectures of Possibility itself attempt to create the sort of possibility space where, as I mentioned at the outset of our interview, everything should be thought, tried, challenged; where everything rhymes with Roland Barthes’s definition of literature: the question minus the answer. I’m not sure I could write what I’m writing now without the conversations I have almost daily with my students, the conversations they have with each other, the conversations we all have with the texts we study. Especially in light of the paradigm shift over the last, say, quarter century from academia as intellectual exploration to academia as McDonaldized trade school, the irony isn’t lost on me concerning the discrepancy between the safe harbor innovative authors find there and the cultural critiques those authors launch through their writing and pedagogical work. In 2001, I quit my full professorship at one institution precisely because of my disappointment over what had happened to the learning environment there. I had no intentions of reentering the field. In 2007, however, the University of Utah approached me, and I found myself in an environment much more hospitable to the sort of work I want to do—teaching experimental narrative theory and practice. It isn’t by any means a simple irony. One could easily argue innovative writing and pedagogy represents the trace of the paradigm Barthes suggests, and that trace is tremendously productive in all kinds of ways. Innovative writing has never and will never change the world in any large, macrocosmic way. But we’ve all had our lives changed, one by one, by an encounter with a difficult, rich, resonant piece of prose, poetry, music, art, you name it. We’ve all had our lives changed at the ahistorical, microcosmic moment by a class we’ve taken, a teacher we’ve studied with, to such an extent that we became, quite literally, different people. I just came across a stunning set of sentences from Derrida on the topic: “What is education? The death of the parents.” That’s what we’re all up to in the innovative, be it in written texts or the texts we call our classrooms or the texts we call our politics: trying to disrupt what both can and can’t be disrupted, trying to undo what both can and can’t be undone, continuously. (shrink)
continent. 1.2 (2011): 136-140. In early 2011, Cow Heavy Books published The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature , a compendium of catalog 'blurbs' for non-existent desired or ideal texts. Along with Erinrose Mager, I edited the project, in a process that was more like curation as it mainly entailed asking a range of contemporary writers, theorists, and text-makers to send us an entry. What resulted was a creative/critical hybrid anthology, a small book in which each page opens (...) to a new iteration of textual desire. These texts explore the material possibilities of the book. Somewhat parallel to the call of N. Katherine Hayles who, in her book Writing Machines , urges literary theorists to take up the practice of Medium Specific Analysis (to account for the way the medium in which it is presented conditions or at least bears on a literary text). I see in the imagined works of The Official Catalog a call for the innovative writers of today to become Medium-Responsive. This would mean thinking through the specific (materially constrained) possibilities offered by the media in which texts are presented, and in thinking of the literary text as a kind of art in the greater context of other arts and the book as a medium situated within the context of many other media. In doing so, the contemporary writer refutes the chorus of critics who lament the death of the book by consistently reinvigorating literary innovation. The following are selections from The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature that show possible paths for (thinking about) new writing that engages with its medium. —Ben Segal, Editor THE CUBE Even the most radical non-linear texts have tended to exploit or subvert only the sequential possibilities of print—from the continuous loop of Joyce's Finnegans Wake to the shuffled cards of Marc Saporta's Composition No. 1 —but The Cube takes such multiplicities to an entirely new level. Set in a grid, the book's words can be read conventionally, across the page, as well as down each column—with either route making complete grammatical sense. But they can also be read as stacked strata and mined like lexical core samples through the layered pages of the book. Each path tells the same story from a different perspective (the narrative, naturally, hinges on the potential outcomes of a throw of cubed dice). By opening up the z-axis to reading in this way, The Cube recognizes the book as a three-dimensional sculptural space. Taking its lead from Armand Schwerner's (If Personal) and Raymond Queneau's Cent mille milliards de poèmes , The Cube reads like a experiment by Christian Bök precision printed by Emily McVarish. Craig Dworkin is the editor, most recently, of The Consequence of Innovation: 21st Century Poetics (Roof Books, 2008), The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound , with Marjorie Perloff (U. Chicago Press, 2009), and Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing , with Kenneth Goldsmith (Northwestern UP, 2010). He teaches at the University of Utah. HE GOES In He Goes , we read notes, letters and e-mails from a scholar father to his novelist daughter. We read of the father's musings on Beckett, on Pinter, on Anne Frank; his description of a woman hanging laundry from a line. We read about his journey toward dying, followed by a brief, third person account of his death, and his obituary. Then a long series of blank pages that demand to be read in real time, non-sentence by non-sentence, blank page by blank page. Finally—and it is here that this peculiar little book begins to soar—the dead father writes to his as-of-yet-still-living daughter. He does not write from death. He does not write from life. The words unprint, unstamp, unkindle. Still, they require no translation. The father "writes" (for lack of a better word) about the serendipitous, the commonplace; he recommends another book. He jokes. He asks his daughter how her stomach is. He says forget about presence in absence, darling; screw words as memorial and the guys in garbage cans and loss as redemption and I can't go on I must go on. He goes, "Love, Fodder." He goes, "incidentally." He goes, "I thought you might like to know." Elizabeth Graver is the author of a story collection, Have You Seen Me? , and three novels: Unravelling ; The Honey Thief ; and Awake . Her work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories , Best American Essays , and Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards . She teaches at Boston College. THE PAPER ARCHIVIST A stunning package and a triumph of imagination, The Paper Archivist at times looks to be less a book than an abstract expressionist painting. Softly bound, its contents unfold to a single sheet of uneven thickness and texture—a canvas splattered with colored lines, stickers, broken sentences, and nonsense pictographs. But by following the directions to fold, dip, smell, rub, scratch, and tear the sheet according to the contingencies of the weather and using only the objects at hand, the reader slowly brings the forces hidden in the noise into a glorious sculptural convergence, processing a different story and shape each time. This is the rare book that continues to stir, whirl, and pop on every new reading. Sean Higgins blogs at BOMBlog where he is responsible for the column Volumes and Territories, as well as Ghost Island , a fledgling collaborative intellectual collective. THE SLOW BOOK The Slow Book , written by an anonymous author at the dawn of literacy, on a minor planet (otherwise notable only as the source of that exceptionally hardy, not very tasty grain called “shef” sowed on hostile planets as an early step to colonization), and encoded into a series of punctures on a strip of copper coiled inside a clever device, something between a player piano and an old-fashioned film projector, is being released into print, as was the author’s intention, at a rate of one word per century (local time). Each word is, across the Forty Galaxies, agreed to be uncannily apt for the century in which it appears—even “of,” in a century during which the highest value was attached to fidelity, whether to ideals, worlds, or romantic love; even “the,” which governed two centuries, one extraordinarily materialistic, during which advances in propulsion and navigation accelerated the exchange of exceptional objects between the remotest planets of the Forty, and one in which the central concern, both of philosophers and the common man, was whether, in an age of rapidly proliferating hypothetical worlds, anyone or anything concretely existed at all. Even those words published long before interstellar contact can be seen in retrospect to have transgalactic pertinence. As a result, attempts to abstract the machine from its publishers, Hobson & Hui, in order to “predict the future” for insight or gain by “fast- forwarding” the copper strip have been many and ingenious. While, in centuries of skepticism (“maybe”), or of unrest (“go”) the book has been nearly forgotten, in others it seems to haunt every thought, every deed, despite the fact that the subject of The Slow Book is still unclear. So far only a few sentences exist in print; everyone knows them, can quote them, offer the standard exegeses and assorted heresies; yet certainties are the stuff of adolescence; mature readers are forced to acknowledge that these sentences are probably only a preamble to the main argument. They contain no proper nouns, nor can we identify any definite theme. There is even disagreement about their tone, whether coolly ironic, as some insist, or ardent. The appearance of an unusual grammatical case, sometimes called the future pluperfect continuous, used to describe events that at some future point will have always been true (but are not yet)—hitherto known to appear only in the synthetic dogmas of the Thanatographical Society, and in certain highly circumscribed religious contexts—has suggested to some scholars that the Slow Book was originally intended for ritual use, but the proximity of the usage to a term designating a small hand plow that, as Pott and Mielcke have convincingly shown, would have borne a distinctly obscene double meaning in its culture of origin in the author’s time, argues otherwise. It is likewise unclear whether the situation that seems to be—with teasing incompleteness—sketched out in these few lines is intended as an illustration of general principles, a case study, a dramatic scene, or an extended metaphor. In short, we have no idea what The Slow Book is about. In our own time, we believe that it is almost certainly a work of fiction, but that may be because we live in the century of “if”. In each age, perhaps, we see the book we most need to read. Some have dared to suggest that the metal strip is blank until, with millennial fanfare, it advances into its new position, that no ur-text exists, that the book itself is brought into being—written—by our need. But that is exactly the sort of thing we would believe, in 7645. Shelley Jackson is the author of the story collection The Melancholy of Anatomy , the novel Half Life , and hypertexts including Patchwork Girl . The recipient of a Howard Foundation grant, a Pushcart Prize, and the 2006 James Tiptree Jr Award, she has also written and illustrated several children's books, including The Old Woman and the Wave ; Sophia, the Alchemist's Dog ; and Mimi's Dada Catifesto . Her stories and essays have appeared in Conjunctions , McSweeney's , The Paris Review , and Cabinet Magazine . In 2004 she launched her project SKIN , a story published in tattoos on 2095 volunteers. THE BOOK OF SOUNDS The Book of Sounds is just that: a book of sounds made when letters are construed in new ways to bring forth out of the alphabet new forms of speech. A book meant to be read out loud, The Book of Sounds is not unlike Laurie Anderson's O Superman or Brian Eno's Music for Airports in its attempt to make music out of the most primary and simplest of methods. It breaks language down to its barest bones and makes out of the page a drum that has never before been beaten upon. Peter Markus is the author of a novel, Bob, or Man on Boat (Dzanc Books) as well as two books of short fiction, Good, Brother and The Singing Fish , both of which were published by Calamari Press. A new collection of stories, We Make Mud , is now available from Dzanc Books. PARADISE OF THE BLIND by Celan Solen Although the reclusive Celan Solen published his first and only book in 1963—paying out-of-pocket for a limited edition of the slim collection No One May Have the Same Knowledge Again —he remained in American obscurity for almost three decades. In 1992 a micro-press in Istanbul brought out No One in Turkish. A German translation followed in 1995. Soon it became clear in literary circles Solen was a world-class (if highly unclassifiable) artist—lyrical, dense, enigmatic—who could undo the conventional short story in 397 words by inventing impossible worlds housed in impossible whirls (in “Small Sadnesses,” a single chartreuse tree frog in Borneo unknowingly holds time together by its very presence in the universe, while each letter of its tale refers, not to itself, but to the one preceding it in the alphabet). By his disappearance last year, Solen was considered master by a generation of writers and critics (except, alas, for those gentlemen in the Swedish Academy). Imagine, then, that generation’s delight at the discovery, locked away in the author’s safe-deposit box, of his second and final composition. Had Lynch’s Lost Highway been book instead of film, and had it been penned by Beckett at his least certain, revised by Barthelme at his most formally deranged, and typeset by Derrida at his most semiotically catastrophic, the result might have been something like Paradise of the Blind : interlacing narratives of a man composed of borrowed organs (whose most cheerless and difficult to locate, god, could only have been invented by an empty heart), a nonexistent medieval painting blamed for the ruin of future hope, and the spread of a philosophy that holds earth a mistake constantly recurring in the dream of a fish lying on the floor of the Atlantic (if the fish wakes, our world winks off)—all contained in a text packed with typed-over passages, torn postcards, poems that can be deciphered only when held up to a mirror, pages ornamented with trompe-l'œil paperclips and coffee stains and buzzing houseflies, some busy with illegible runes that dissolve when exposed to light, three that smell like roses or lemons (depending on whether a man or woman is reading), two that stain with the bloody fingerprints of the those who handle them, one that ignites when brushed with breath, thirteen sewn from baby skin, one that moans when touched, and one that screams—yet all without mass, unimaginable, and invisible. Lance Olsen is author of more than 20 books of and about innovative fiction, including, most recently, the novels Calendar of Regrets (2010) and Head in Flames (2009). He teaches experimental narrative theory and practice at the University of Utah. SUPERSTRUCTURE! by Barbara D'Albi As soon as I opened the third drawer of Barbara D'Albi's wooden novel, everything became hopeless. Now in Ithaca, there was no going back. And it wasn't just the intricate series of shelves, hinged doors and locked drawers which D'Albi layered into the book, no, lo, I was constructed anew by the story. Who else but D'Albi to imagine a God who becomes a carpenter and gets killed?! And makes it good! You want stories? D'Albi is a skyscraper, built with planes and levers. Momentarily I wondered where I could shelve this book, and then I thought: no matter; I couldn't put it down. Adam Robinson lives in Baltimore, where he runs Publishing Genius. He is the author of Adam Robison and Other Poems and Say, Poem. 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We discuss the challenge to truth-conditional semantics presented by apparent shifts in extension of predicates such as 'red'. We propose an explicit indexical semantics for 'red' and argue that our account is preferable to the alternatives on conceptual and empirical grounds.
Abstract: The paper begins with the assumption that psychological event tokens are identical to or constituted from physical events. It then articulates a familiar apparent problem concerning the causal role of psychological properties. If they do not reduce to physical properties, then either they must be epiphenomenal or any effects they cause must also be caused by physical properties, and hence be overdetermined. It then argues that both epiphenomenalism and over-determinationism are prima facie perfectly reasonable and relatively unproblematic views. The (...) paper proceeds to argue against Kim's ( Kim, 2000, 2005 ) attempt to articulate a plausible version of reductionism. It is then argued that psychological properties, along with paradigmatically causally efficacious macro-properties, such as toughness, are causally inefficacious in respect of their possessor's typical effects, because they are insufficiently distinct from those effects. It is finally suggested that the distinction between epiphenomenalism and overdeterminationism may be more terminological than real. (shrink)
This project continues our interdisciplinary research into computational and cognitive aspects of narrative comprehension. Our ultimate goal is the development of a computational theory of how humans understand narrative texts. The theory will be informed by joint research from the viewpoints of linguistics, cognitive psychology, the study of language acquisition, literary theory, geography, philosophy, and artiﬁcial intelligence. The linguists, literary theorists, and geographers in our group are developing theories of narrative language and spatial understanding that are being tested by the (...) cognitive psychologists and language researchers in our group, and a computational model of a reader of narrative text is being developed by the AI researchers, based in part on these theories and results and in part on research on knowledge representation and reasoning. This proposal describes the knowledge-representation and natural-language-processing issues involved in the computational implementation of the theory; discusses a contrast between communicative and narrative uses of language and of the relation of the narrative text to the story world it describes; investigates linguistic, literary, and hermeneutic dimensions of our research; presents a computational investigation of subjective sentences and reference in narrative; studies children’s acquisition of the ability to take third-person perspective in their own storytelling; describes the psychological validation of various linguistic devices; and examines how readers develop an understanding of the geographical space of a story. This report is a longer version of a project description submitted to NSF. This document, produced in May 2007, is a L ATEX version of Technical Report 89-07 (Buffalo: SUNY Buffalo Department of Computer Science, August 1989), with slightly.. (shrink)
In a number works Jerry Fodor has defended a reductive, causal and referential theory of cognitive content. I argue against this, defending a quasi-Fregean notion of cognitive content, and arguing also that the cognitive content of non-singular concepts is narrow, rather than wide.
The topic of this paper is the semantic structure of belief reports of the form 'a believes that p'. it is argued that no existing theory of these sentences satisfactorily accounts for anaphoric relations linking expressions within the embedded complement sentence to expressions outside. a new account of belief reports is proposed which assigns to embedded expressions their normal semantic values but which also exploits frege's idea of using senses to explain the apparent failures of extensionality in the reports.
This paper is principally devoted to comparing and contrasting poverty of stimulus arguments for innate cognitive apparatus in relation to language and in relation to folk psychology. These days one is no longer allowed to use the term ‘innate’ without saying what one means by it. So I will begin by saying what I mean by ‘innate’. Sections 2 and 3 will discuss language and theory of mind, respectively. Along the way, I will also briefly discuss other arguments for innate (...) cognitive apparatus in these areas. (shrink)
Truth-conditional semantics is the project of determining a way of assigning truth-conditions to sentences based on A) the extension of their constituents and B) their syntactic mode of composition. Truth-conditional semantics is the major research project of linguistic semantics and the project and its prospects are a central concern in contemporary philosophy of language.
Abstract. The topic of the March 2011 symposium in Zygon is “The Mythic Reality of the Autonomous Individual.” Yet few of the contributors even discuss “mythic reality.” Of the ones who do, most cavalierly use “myth” dismissively, as simply a false belief. Rather than reconciling myth with reality, they oppose myth to reality. Their view of myth is by no means unfamiliar or unwarranted, but they need to recognize other views of myth and to defend their own. Above all, they (...) need to appreciate the grip that any belief aptly labelled myth has—a grip that holds at least as much for a false belief as for a true one. (shrink)
The study compares Canadian and U.S. marketing researchers' attitudes, perceptions and intentions related to several areas of ethical concern. A particular focus involves salience of norms common to marketing research codes of ethics (COEs) and familiarity of such codes to marketing research professionals. Researchers' attitudes towards today's ethical climate are identified and compared between the two countries. Relationships are examined between familiarity, ethical intention and salience. Results indicate that U.S. and Canadian marketing researchers have similar perceptions of the relative importance (...) of specific ethical norms, but worldwide COEs do not reflect these perceptions. Canadian marketing researchers report having a greater familiarity with their firms' adopted COEs, but this finding is moderated by the type of researcher. Among other findings, results indicate that familiarity influences ethical intention only for highly salient issues. (shrink)
Paul Churchland argues that Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism is unsuccessful and so we need not accept its conclusion. In this paper, we respond to Churchland’s argument. After we briefly recapitulate Plantinga’s argument and state Churchland’s argument, we offer three objections to Churchland’s argument: (1) its first premise has little to recommend it, (2) its second premise is false, and (3) its conclusion is consistent with, and indeed entails, the conclusion of Plantinga’s argument.
Several philosophers have recently defended Causal Essentialism—the view that every property confers causal powers, and whatever powers it confers, it confers essentially. I argue that on the face of it, Causal Essentialism implies a form of Monism, and in particular, the thesis I call ‘Mereological Monism’: that there is some concretum that is a part of every concretum. However, there are three escape routes, three views which are such that if one of them is true, Causal Essentialism does not imply (...) any form of Monism at all. I survey the costs associated with taking these escape routes along with the costs associated with accepting Mereological Monism. (shrink)
Sceptical theism has been employed by its adherents in an argument aimed at undermining the so called ‘noseeum inference’. Erik Wielenberg (2010) has recently argued that there is an equally plausible argument for the conclusion that sceptical theism implies that we do not know any proposition that has word-of-God justification only. Thus, sceptical theists need to give up their argument against the noseeum inference or accept the conclusion that we do not know any proposition that has word-of-God justification only. I (...) claim that sceptical theists need not face such a difficult choice because the argument that Wielenberg offers is not as plausible as their argument against the noseeum inference. (shrink)
Since the terms of the health policy debate in the United States and Canada are largely supplied by biomedicine, the current “crisis” in health care is, in part, a product of biomedical rhetoric. In this essay, three metaphors widely identified as being associated with biomedicine—the body is a machine, medicine is war,and medicine is a business—are examined with a view to the ways in which they influence the health policy debate, not only with respect to outcomes, but also with respect (...) to what can be argued at all. The essay proposes that biomedical language itself be foregrounded as the constitutive material of public discourse on health policy. (shrink)
In this paper I use a distinction between the "anxiety of strangers" and the "fear of enemies" to show how uncertainty and tension experienced in the face of what is other and different need not lead to a nationalist insularity, but can be the occasion for an existential philosophical education - an education in which the resolute acceptance of strangeness allows us to reflect on our taken-for-granted about the everyday.