Sunday, December 02, 2007

proof of concept

"The guy who invented the wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius."--Sid Caesar

In response to this, Tim Carmody wrote: "Who am I to argue with Sid Caesar? But as William Carlos Williams knew, the wheelbarrow is a pretty genius invention. Sometimes one wheel is enough."

To which I repled: "The flaw in Sid's thinking is in the assumption of the precise number of wheels that take a concept beyond its invention. (He was such an automobile-age sachem.) But the thought about thinking is still good to me: Invention is a thing done to a concept."

To which, in turn, Tim responds as follows:

I agree. I'm also reminded of Pound's quote of Leger quoting Hegel in the ABC of Reading: "Man should be prouder of having invented the hammer and nail than of having created masterpieces of imitation." Then Pound goes on to quote Spinoza: "The intellectual love of a thing consists in understanding its perfections." And to write: "You don't sleep on a hammer or lawn-mower, you don't drive nails with a mattress. Why should people go on applying the SAME critical standards to writings as different in purpose and effect as a lawn mower and a sofa cushion?" Given that Pound refers to the latter kind of writing as an "REPOSE, dope, opiates, mental beds," and later attacks Shakespeare for having "upholstered" language, Pound does seem to be positioning himself on the hammer/lawnmower end of the spectrum. [LINK]. The Pound/Williams generation didn't just say "no ideas but in things" -- they really did seem to try to use things to think.