Friday, May 24, 2002

A recent discussion on K5 about deconstruction and postmodernism got me thinking about literary theory again. I had an interesting thought regarding Derrida's notion of differance, which involves problems of language and meaning. It seems that a lot of the literary theory I've read relates to the difficulties of expressing meaning without that meaning becoming corrupted by the language it's couched in--a deconstructionist would, maybe, argue that the language used is more important than the idea (logos) which is trying to be transmitted.

In contemplating this problem I've become interested in ways that meaning is transmitted without direct recourse to language. Painting and other kinds of visual art are the most obvious example, but my most recent idea is that irony also serves as a form of communicating meaning without being trapped in language. In a sense, the problematic, specific language used to attempt to communicate acts as a carrier wave for a further meaning which is itself explicitly unstated. I will have to think about to what degree this frees ironic meaning from differance-type problems; to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I'm understanding Derrida or his precursors very well.

At any rate, this ties in with a general interest I have in the relationship between meaning, irony, and paranoia. Here are a few quick notes to myself on this subject:

  • What about irony in, eg, a painting?
  • I ought to look into what deconstruction has to say about irony (in Culler's book?)...
  • I book I almost bought once was a discussion of irony by a female critic whose work I liked. Who was she?

This has some bearing on my ideas about telepathy and the secret world, which I may attempt to write about here at some later date.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

About Me

Not that it's any of your business

I'm a male person, in my late twenties, living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I work, on and off, as a programmer; sometimes I take classes which interest me, I read a lot, and I do a fair bit of writing offline. No, you can't see it. I do other things too, none of them terribly relevant.

I don't have any particular reason for being anonymous, but I don't really want me, personally, to be the focus of this site. I suppose I'll just go by the name "whir" for that reason. I chose that name from a line of poetry which I can no longer remember, incorrectly thinking it to be the part of Rilke's first Duino Elegy: "to endure, as the arrow endures the string" (Mitchell translation).

I suppose at some point I could set up a free email account for this site. In the meantime, you can just leave a comment on this page to contact me.

[I want an account on MetaFilter. If you would like to help me in this endeavor, you can help me construct a Google bomb by linking to this site with the words "needs a MetaFilter account", thus: whir needs a MetaFilter account.]

Update: I got an account at Metafilter (along the way I realized that constructing a google bomb is easier if anybody else knows your site exists, and if your site is linked to from anywhere else on the internet).

A Brief Apologia

Wherein I describe what it is I'm trying to get at

My interests:

  • Blogging

    I'm interested in several aspects of blogs as media, including their relationship to other existing forms (eg, journalism, essays, autobiography) and their existence as cultural artifacts. As I begin this site it's safe to say that I'm more interested in the form of blogs than their content. I'm a formalist by nature, and furthermore blogs tend towards the solipsistic, which makes them dull (vide intra).

  • Literature

    I'm also interested in literature. Coinciding with the formalism mentioned above, my interests largely go in the direction of criticism and literary/critical theory (metacriticism). I'm also interested in comics as a distinct medium, though I don't know whether I'll write about that kind of thing here.

My aspirations for the page:

  • High signal-to-noise ratio.

    One thing I dislike about many blogs is the "a link and a sentence describing it" format. If possible I'd like this site to consist more of brief essays, and little mindless link propagation (to quote K5).

  • Casual disregard to matters of audience

    I suppose I won't mind if the page is read and linked to, but my goal is not to attract a wide audience. Therefore I'll feel no obligation to post every day, set up a blogroll, etc. My aim is for each post to be fairly high quality, not to have pipin' fresh content all the time.

    This principle also directs me to avoid posting things like "I updated the about page today."

The idea for this blog has morphed somewhat over time. In its current incarnation it leaves out a few functions I'd imagined for it, one being a list of sites I'd visited and enjoyed reading (with little commentary about them) and one being a sort of loose journal. I'd almost like to include those things here, under different categories in a Slashdot-style organization, but it seems that Blogger doesn't provide that kind of thing--I suppose I can set up new blogs for that if I feel an urgent need to. In the meantime, I think a little structure is a good thing.