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[Wittrs] The language game of strikeout [message #5648] Tue, 02 November 2010 13:01 Go to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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Registered: August 2009
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(Note: this message only "works" if the link below retains the sentences in strikeout font. If it is an error that is later repaired by the webpage author, there is no sense in looking at the page. The point is that the page contains sentences in strikeout font in an about the "regular" sentences -- just as a draft might, except that it seems to be intentionally done).

Link: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/early-lead/2010/11/randy_moss_drama_goes_on_as_ch.html

... I was reading this article, which has strikeouts in it (whether intentionally or by accident), and began thinking of something.

I had earlier posted on how the arrival of html could influence the language game. You might see things take the following format: <humor> sentence </humor>. I've seen several people do something like that on occasion. Aside from html, I also notice an increased usage of parenthesis to convey something more intimate (and quick) in thought than a simple comma could. (I just did it). Something like: "I also will not be in the office during my schedule classes (of course)." And I remember (somewhere) Wittgenstein talking about the difference between a thought-bubble and a speaking thingy in comic books. You know what I mean? If a person is speaking in a comic book there is a certain kind of thing that is drawn (no idea what to call it!), but when they think it is in the shape of a thought bubble. (You can see them on the first two entries here: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=direct+quote+thought+bubble&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&biw=1280&bih=845)

But my point is this. Note what the strikeout does to the article. If you read it as an error, you might not get it. Take it as intended. People read drafts of things all the time these days. I was on a committee recently that was looking at draft language. The point is that this "mental maneuver" can be incorporated into the language game. Misspelling a name and then crossing it out to spell it correctly is a wonderful form of conveying what we might call "thought in action." You can see the discarded thoughts in the process of receiving non-discarded. How interesting this is to expression generally (and therefore to the language game).

Only a Wittgensteinian, I think, can properly appreciate this. Maybe an language or composition professor as well.

Regards and thanks.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
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[Wittrs] Re: The language game of strikeout [message #5650 is a reply to message #5648] Tue, 02 November 2010 18:21 Go to previous message
kirby urner is currently offline  kirby urner
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Registered: August 2009
Location: Portland, Oregon
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For sure HTML has had an impact on writing. I've typically gone <rant> blah blah </rant> or made other use of tags, as a sign to the reader.

As for parentheses, perhaps owing to years of computer programming, I tend to nest them, providing asides to my asides.

Sometimes I get the count wrong, have more opening than closing parentheses. Then I get to "feel stupid" (Wittgensteinian aside: as if "feeling stupid" were some actual feeling, like a tooth pain (as if it always had to be there (at which point the grammatically bewitched start looking for "brain events"))).

Poet Gene Fowler suggested we teach the pointy brackets of HTML/XML as more punctuation. It's supposed to be "human readable" after all. So in addition to semi-colons and commas, we should be learning about tagging, which tends to suggest a tree structure (once you start nesting), called the Document Object Model.

I go back to my childhood and think about learning grammar, and about outlines. An outline is a tree structure, with major topics, then subtopics, then sub-sub-topics. Structuring one's thinking comes under Rhetoric. I think of Roman senators, Cicero, oratory, debate, law. So why isn't the Document Object Model being incorporated into those kinds of subjects? There's this "not in my back yard" syndrome where the pointy brackets stuff gets fobbed off as computer science, which few people want to tackle.

Slightly different topic, of interest to Wittgensteinians: consider made-up words that basically have no denotative meaning, or an entirely artificial one, but are chosen for their connotations, their ring, their alchemical resonance in our language. Toyota has been a great source of such words: Camry, Corolla. Or all those drug words. Tylenol. It's that "ol" that makes it sound chemical. Xanax. Prozac. This is an aspect to "meaning" taken up in PI Part 2, which is a lot about how language is like music, or music like language. Pepsi.

Is "Pepsi" just a sweet-flavored colored drink? This is where dictionary definitions mislead and philosophical investigations lead to deeper insights (grammar is deep, as well as shallow). Advertising / PR is about weaving a web, a complex of associations, a gossamer fabric. But then so is language in general. The idea of a fabric is a core analogy. What gives tenor and tone to a concept is so often its mythical context, the surrounding atmosphere (Wittgensteinian aside: like imagining a gas or ghostly phenomenon -- a conventional association, like the idea of "meaning" itself (some kind of cloud, something immanent yet ethereal)).

I've used "Pepsi" over the years in my writing in just such a Wittgensteinian context (bringing awareness to the many dimensions of meaning beyond the literal-definitional), so in my own private theater (private language) there's something going between Wittgenstein and "the choice of a new generation". It'd make a funny commercial perhaps. Then there was that not-so-subtle association between the Pepsi logo and the Obama campaign... unintentional? Or crafted?


What does it all mean? (wink)


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