Rhea Myers

On “Language”

(From a discussion on Aesthetics-L)

The existence of a penumbra does not cause light and dark to wink out
of existence. Ordinary language philosophy’s obsession with edge-cases
fills lonely evenings but ignores the break-out strategy of
generating language.

I don’t know what the opposite of bootstrapping is (self-obviating?),
but linguistic arguments regarding the limit of language have an
obvious and fatal flaw, as do attempts to communicate on the limits of

Most people don’t care how language works. It usually doesn’t fail to
in some way. History and fiction are full of examples of the failure of
language and communication both tragic and amusing, the limit of
language is not a stunning philosophical insight. What is stunning
about philosophy is the failure to get with the program and accept
fuzziness, poetry, or any other continuous, combinatorial idea of
language rather than wallow in late Modernism’s dreary fascination with
pathology and bogus exactitude. Language is not discrete, and if it was
you’d hit Godel anyway. There is a signal in the noise. Get used to the
static, or ironise it into signal like Trip Hop did.

Language (and art) is (potentially) infinite. It is possible to
characterise and show the limits of infinite series (or whatever, you
can work with them anyway), but given that human experience and lives
are finite, this is unlikely to be a serious problem. At worst we have
to accept that meaning is fuzzy and lazily evaluated. Which is
potential, not limit.

If there are no ideas, no concepts, no language and no communication,
or they are broken, or we are deluded in our understanding of how they
work or that they work, something very strange is going on. That would
be an interesting focus for philosophy, and since it involves
appearance(s), aesthetics.

Linguistic enamourment is masturbatory, and linguistic reflexiveness is
historically deconstructable…