model this

“Wittgenstein was insisting that a proposition and that which it describes must have the same ‘logical form’, the same ‘logical multiplicity’. Sraffa made a gesture, familiar to Neapolitans as meaning something like disgust or contempt, of brushing the underneath of his chin with an outward sweep of the finger-tips of one hand. And he asked: ‘What is the logical form of that?'”
(Norman Malcolm, Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir, pp. 58–59)

Faintly recall from student days long ago that N.Malcolm was hard work and unrewarding as a philosopher (trans.: I was a confused and unsatisfactory philosophy student, far as Anglo-Am Analytical etc goes). But this is a good story, and — whether or not LW drew the correct conclusions at length — Sraffa’s intervention was strong, and Wittgenstein was right to be impressed and unsettled. I’m tempted to argue that music — all music, from Blobby to Boulez — is making much the same gesture to all other intellectual activity: here’s something you can’t do. That might be too strong — other things are always going on in music (including rapprochement, or attempts at same), and of course the various forces and layers never aggregate to a single decisive intent or content anyway — but it’s definitely an element I value in music, and don’t see well grasped in its discussion.

3 thoughts on “model this”

  1. so your interest is not so much (at least here) in the thing that music can do that others can’t, but music’s gesturing re that thing to all the other er disciplines of knowledge and praxis that can’t do it?

  2. Music is “pure” rhetoric. It fucks with your head without saying anything: plausible deniability in spades. Other arts have the weight of representation, either visually or verbally. “I call archetecture frozen music” Goethe.
    “Where’s the bathroom?”
    Take it to the bridge?

    Yeah. That was bad.

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