Today’s raisins are poetic defenses of poetry. The first two are relics from early graduate school days I found this morning preparing to discuss poetry and philosophy; the third is an excerpt from Octavio Paz’ El Mismo Tiempo (“Identical Time”), as translated by Eliot Weinberger.


I. “What are poets for?”

“What are poets for
in a destitute time?”
he asked,
chomping off
the butt end
of a Macanudo.
“Not for paying the rent,
that’s for damn sure.
I had a poet
up in 10A
for a while:
dressed in black,
fought with his girlfriend
in the middle of the night.
That guy moved out
after three months.
He still owes me fifty bucks
for the toilet.”
He spat
in a high, sanguine arc
brown saliva shimmering
like rhododendrons
against the pavement.
“No, sir.
I don’t think
I’ll ever rent
to one of those fucking poets


II. Zen Master

“A poem”
he said,
“is noise
where there ought to be quiet.
The poet hears
the holy silence of being
but can’t contain his imagination.
So he writes
where listening alone
is needful.”
We sat together
he and I
in the moonlit silence
contemplating the temptation
to speak its Name.
“These reflections too,”
he said
“are manifestations
of the same phenomenon.”


III. from Identical Time

Today I am alive and without nostalgia
the night flows
                            the city flows
I write on this page that flows
I shuttle with these shuttling words
The world did not begin with me
it will not end with me
                                          I am
one pulsebeat in the throbbing river
Twenty years ago Vasconcelos told me
“Devote yourself to philosophy
It won’t give you life
                                      but it is a defense against death”
And Ortega y Gasset
                                      in a bar on the Rodano
“Learn German
and apply yourself to thinking
                                                        Forget the rest.”

I do not write to kill time
nor to revive it
I write that I may live and be revived
This afternoon from a bridge I saw
the sun enter the waters of the river
All was in flames
the statues the house the porticoes burned
In the gardens feminine clusters of grapes
ingots of liquid light
the coolness of solar vessels
The poplars a foliage of sparks
the water horizontal unmoving
beneath the flaming earths and skies
Each drop of water
                                    a fixed eye
the weight of enormous beauty
on each open eye
Reality suspended
                                    on the stalk of time
beauty weighs nothing
                                          Peaceful reflection
time and beauty are the same
                                                        light and water

Gaze that sustains the loveliness
time enchanted in a gaze
world weightless
                                 as man is weighted
Is not beauty enough?


Philosophers’ Carnival #169

Welcome to Installment #169 of the Philosophers’ Carnival, a monthly digest of substantive philosophy posts from around the blogosphere! Many thanks to Tristan Haze and Lewis Powell for helpful suggestions of things to include.

Janice Dowell posted an excerpt from “Some thoughts on constructing and justifying semantic and metasemantic theories” on PEA Soup, which I followed back to the full piece on Meena Krishnamurthy’s blog Philosop-her. Since Professor Dowell posted there this blog has featured Christine Korsgaard on provisional rights and the state, Robin Jeshion on the semantics of slurs, and Lisa Bortolotti on the epistemic benefits of delusion.

Brandon at Siris has two beautiful posts on the virtue of temperance, here and here.

If you have time to settle in for a bit with a cup of Pu-erh, Philip Cartwright has posted an excellent discussion of the negative account of understanding in Philosophical Investigations §§138-242, titled “Understanding, States, and Correctness.”

Putnam on Wikipedia on Putnam.

Jon Cogburn’s post on the subject led me to Matthew David Segall’s discussion at Footnotes 2 Plato of “Shaviro on Harman and Whitehead: Process- vs. Object-Oriented Philosophies.” Mr. Segall bites the bullet on an infinite relational regress in ontology, championing Whitehead over Harman.

Laura Bernhardt at Ginger IS the Professor writes about music as a practice and about “the failure of most recent ontologies of music to take it seriously as a practice rather than an object.” Perhaps some Whitehead is in order?

Elizabeth Camp gets pinkalicious at Aesthetics for Birds; Mitch Hernandez analyzes Hipsterismus at Aesthetics Today.

At The Space of Reasons Avery Archer offers an objection to an otherwise strong-seeming argument of Peter Hanks’ by offering an example suggesting that uses of ‘knows’ need not be univocal to be felicitous.

Alexander Pruss, the Iron Man of philosophy blogging, has a slew of new posts since I started typing this post up this morning last month’s Carnival, including this intriguing one about Antipresentism. While briefly away from his own blog he also managed this nice post on Hiddenness and the Necessary Condition Fallacy at the Prosblogion as well.

According to Wolfgang Schwarz, microequiprobability is not enough. There always seem to be more assumptions than we think when we start applying mathematics to reality…

Kipling appears to have been premature in his assessment, as Elisa Freschi’s and Skholiast’s posts show – the meeting between East and West is underway as you read this. Check out Warp, Weft, and Way and Speculum Criticum Traditionis for the details!

Nick Byrd presents an argument to help assess whether there is a problem with contingent mental states (intuitions) providing evidence for non-contingent propositions (necessary truths).

Aaron Thomas-Bolduc gives A Philosopher’s Take on Deflationism, Conservativity, and Truth.

Gabriele Contessa at Yet Another Philosopher’s Blog?!? asks about Logic versus Rhetoric in Philosophical Argumentation.

At More Important than That, David Papineau talks about Sporting Geography, Political Geography, and the Ryder Cup; Tristan Haze at Sprachlogik has a post about Granularity and Relativism about Truth.

This month’s installment of the Philosopher’s Carnival concludes with Sam the Platopus talking about Kuhn in relation to Popper. He writes: “With its paradigm in tatters a field may become increasingly fragmented, until in the end there are as many competing theories as there are experts, each trying to reconstruct the entire field from the ground up. At some point one of the competing theories will begin to dominate, ultimately becoming established as the new paradigm.”

In most fields, we take the situation described by the first sentence as a kind of sickness, the second as the beginning of a restoration to health. I am somewhat inclined to think that just the opposite is true of philosophy.

Thanks for reading! Please submit post suggestions for next month using the form on the Carnival homepage. And don’t forget to tune in to Philosophy, et cetera next month, where Richard Chappell will be hosting Carnival #170. Enjoy!