Monthly Archives: December 2015

This This Rant, or The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Possibly Unintended Ambiguity

This title’s politically incorrect usage of the term “idiot”, though clearly satirical is a reference to the series of instructional book titles whose popularity serves as proof of the embarrassing national tendency to wear ironic anti-intellectualism as a badge of honor only to complain when it rusts honor dope swag/couture young. But, does that excuse this? 

This is where this gets confusing. 

This is so problematic because it can be used as an adjective, adverb, definite article, pronoun, or (in this case) a noun. This means we are often stuck tracking the referent of this down, which invites ambiguity. To complicate this further, this is indexical. By way of definition, to be indexical means that the meaning of this (meaning a word, generally [this, in this case, being used as an exemplar]) can change depending on the speaker. That being said, that can be a problem too. 

To wit, if we aim to communicate precisely and concisely we must try to eliminate this ambiguity. This wordplay is only acceptable in creative or self-referential, pedantic didacticism. Thus, we should be careful that the meaning of this is clear everytime we use this thus. 

This thus instantiates my complaint.

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Attn: Hon 10

Odyssey final exam Mon 12/21 (multiple choice, short answer, etc.) and Tuesday 12/22 (essay).

Odyssey celebration and feast: Wed 12/23. Pot luck. Student organized!

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on authorship and style

“Obscurity and vagueness of expression are at all times and everywhere a very bad sign. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred they arise from vagueness of thought, which, in its turn, is almost always fundamentally discordant, inconsistent, and therefore wrong. When a right thought springs up in the mind it strives after clearness of expression, and it soon attains it, for clear thought easily finds its appropriate expression.”

-Arthur Schopenhauer

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The Liberal/Conservative Trap

Dear Young Scholars of AP Lang:

Some words of warning as you bring forth your Columnist Profiles:

Be careful when using terms like liberal or conservative.  They are relative and have little (or no) analytical value without very specific context.  To wit, the word “warm“:  for someone who has a chill, warm feels hot; for someone who has a fever, warm feels cold.  You must define [insert columnist] liberalism or conservatism, precisely. Simply saying [insert columnist] is a liberal WILL BE A HEAVY DEDUCTION.

Consider the following article mandatory reading before you begin writing (it will help):

Who is really radical? 

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Vanishing Point

For those of you that enjoyed the speech, but were having a bit of trouble tracking down the reference to Celan’s poem, here’s a collection of Celan’s poetry. The poem that Knausgaard refers to is on page 57, translated as “The Straitening.” It was Celan’s rewrite of his earlier, and most famous work “Todesfugue,” (which is also collected, translated as “Fugue of Death” on page 33 of the pdf) in response to Adorno’s criticism that “writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”. See for yourself if you agree with Knausgaard’s interpretation of Celan. Word of warning, both poems are a reaction to the Holocaust; so, not beach reading.

Paul Celan: Selected Poems

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Attention AP Lang

For Tuesday 12/8 (EVEN) and Wednesday 12/9 (ODD), I need you to print and bring in an editorial (from your columnist, naturally) that you are considering for your 4th and final column response. You will need it in class for group work. You will ruin everything if you don’t do this. Everything.

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electronic submissions

Please check that you have turned in your assignments. Those who have turned in a hard copy and received a grade, but have NOT turned in an electronic copy, I will be magically turning your grades into 50%s on Monday.

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