Bill Brown gave an interesting talk here the other day - about things, of course - and objects (and Man in the High Castle). Seems to me he was circling around the general/particular opposition - which is a version of the realist/nominalist opposition. He elided the terms "binary" and "dialectic," which don't hardly seem right to me. But anyway, this issue is a propos to the whole history/theory thing I've been talking about. If you get too hegelian about it, the specifics of history disappear, and it all gets religious (cf Marx on young hegelians). But if you get too specific, then, so what? Brown pointed to W. Benjamin's obsession with examples (particularity) as such - which he characterized as an unwillingness to theorize (not a totally unique reading, but, well, a propos).
There is something utopian re: the Arcades Project - the notion that voices from the past (the Great Beyond?) can "speak for themselves." Or kabbalistic, perhaps. But if you actually read a good chunk of the AP, you fancy you get a feel for the Paris of the 19th c. Self-delusion? Maybe. I guess it's a matter of which side you want to err on - the grand recit or the stuff.
I'm reading Gabriel Gudding's Rhode Island Notebook, which is nothing if not stuff (times, dates, mileages, routes, rest-stop ratings). Interspersed with hip-pocket, driver's-side theorizing. But a torrent of particularity, in any case. And of course there are a lot of books like that. Does the whole add up to more than the sum of its parts, these books seem to dare us. I'm an afficionado of trivia, and naive enough to think that, given a fundamentally sound mind, enough trivia can be processed into something like learning - even partial understanding. And, as a nominalist by disposition, I go in for trivia - or at least, stuff. Inductive, not deductive. I'm awed (and educated) by Arendt's narration of the origins of totalitarianism, but the quotations in Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke convey many (incredilbly surprising) obdurate particulars that no overarching narrative could convey.
Maybe I want the sweep of history to feel like my workaday life.
If you have any thoughts on any of this, pls speak up.
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17 hours ago