Monday, March 09, 2009

"I come from a family of lawyers.

A lawyer doesn’t defend what he believes, he defends his clients. A good lawyer should be able to prosecute a case one day and defend one the next, as a good actor should be able to play a comedy in the afternoon and a tragedy at night.

Abstract philosophical debates are exegetical: are arguments over ideas as constituted in texts. Arguments over the meaning of the Bible, Macbeth, The Critique of Pure Reason, or the U.S. Constitution are structurally more similar than not.

Works of art are arguments in defense of themselves, their intimate meanings unknown and unknowable to anyone but their maker, if that. What we respond to we respond to as structure. The same is true for any communicative act. The physical space between each of us is like the distance of time.

All we have of one another are artifacts, and artifacts are largely formal. To say, “I love you,” means nothing apart from inflection and cadence. Content and form are distinct but inseparable, and form leads more than it follows. Wishes oppose preference as hopes oppose facts. If one marks what we want people to think of us, the other marks what we are.

Art is the desperate defense of our preferences. It’s a defense made in rhyme when none exists in reason"

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