This is the first post concerning the book HOW TO DO THINGS WITH WORDS. The book contains twelve lectures, delivered at Harvard University by JL Austin on the nature of language. The importance of these lectures is, to me, the uncovering of language as a particular kind of instrument between people, and how literal meaning is not the only use of language.
one of the most important books to me is HOW TO DO THINGS WITH WORDS by j.l. austin. it is a book about language and how certain utterances transcend the simple description of things or the world. after reading this book, it is easier to understand other people and the import of certain conversations. the book is based on lectures austin gave at, i think, harvard university. i am going to read it for a third time and try to provide a summary and critique of each lecture in the upcoming weeks. if you a familiar with language philosophy, performative utterances or how derrida has used these theories to augment his own, feel free to help me. the main thrust of the book is that in addition to describing things (constative language, or “my shirt is red.”), language can also produce realities. for instance, when saying “i do” at a wedding, if applied to the right person, in the right situation, with no obstacles denaturing the situation, an effect is produced by the utterance. forgiveness is another example. i think many of the ideas in the book could be applied to comment threads here. for instance, if i call someone a “dipshit” in a comment thread, on account of not knowing the correct placement of a comma, and then i apologize, i have used a “behabitive” utterance. a behabitive characterizes behavioral responses. in the moment i apologize, i place myself and the other person in a situation which can either be, according to austin, not true or false, but “felicitous” or “infelicitous” based on the correct execution. my apology must be worded in such a way as to signify true regret, i must not be sarcastic, i must not whisper it quietly or not type it, and the other person must accept it, etc. i can’t remember if i wrote a post on this before, but i will try to do it more in depth here. i think this kind of book is really helpful for dealing with other people, as it uncovers the unstated context for many “language games.” thanks for reading this.
there’s a good interview with scott mcclanahan at WORD RIOT. scott has another book coming out from six gallery press, called STORIES 2. i am getting a review copy soon and will interview/review. here is a line from the interview at WORD RIOT:
(in reference to his home, west virginia)–”This is a place where arm-wrestling still has some kind of cultural importance.”
To celebrate the release of his book, “Sex Dungeon for Sale!”, Patrick Wensink is holding a coloring contest. He had a series of illustrations created based on some of the book’s stories, including a Kindergartener who thinks he’s French, a puddle of ketchup shaped like Elvis and something called, “Chicken Soup for the Kidnapper’s Soul.”
To raise the stakes a little, he is also offering an autographed stack of some of his favorite books of 2009 to the winner.
Fool- By Christopher Moore
AM/PM – By Amelia Gray
Tales Designed to Thrizzle – by Michael Kupperman
Help! A Bear is Eating Me! – By Mykle Hansen
The contest ends December 14.
For all the details visit www.patrickwensink.com/randomness
I just read NIETZSCHE: PHILOSOPHER, PSYCHOLOGIST, ANTICHRIST, by Walter Kaufmann.
November 24th, 2009 / 11:55 pm
hell yeah. noah cicero’s THE HUMAN WAR is going to be made into a movie. here’s an interesting post explaining his view on the book as it has aged.
do you ever consider the amount of time spent on a work as contributing to the quality (quality not necessarily meaning good or bad but characteristic) of a piece of writing (your own or otherwise)? meaning, is there any additional consideration to be made about a piece of writing, other than nominally, if the amount of time spent on its creation is known? or does that knowledge only refer to generalizations made about other qualities supposedly consequent to time? and if amount of time is considered to impact anything, doesn’t then the use of time become unclear? i can imagine shorter periods of time, while usually referenced as evidence of laziness, to be better for a piece in that it more fully allows one state of mind to dominate and avoid paranoia. paranoia of course, would then be the negative result of a longer period of time spent on a piece of writing, whereas most would reference longer time as evidence of hardwork. i think some of the same mentalities are applied to other bare facts like age, level of schooling et cetera. go phillies.