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A New List

Like a year ago I posted a list of women who play bass guitar and were in (mostly Northeast U.S. noise-) rock bands in the 80s.  It’s been popular.  I also posted it when I was on one of my jags for romanticizing professional musicians.  At the expense of romanticizing my own “day job,” which is being a phd student in philosophy and a grader or TA in logic.  In fact, I seriously considered what my life would be like if I quit grad. school.

I got over the feeling that dredged up all that, roughly by last September.  But I wouldn’t hide the fact that I still feel weird about how my musical life and my philosophy-professional life fit together.  It’s actually worse than the problem of how my political thinking (always)  / practice (rarely) fit together with the profession, because those two at least share content via language.  There’s political philosophy, though I’m not thrilled with it, and there’s Marxian theory, and most serious people acknowledge that it’s pointless to be a leftist at least without eventually thinking about your principles.  Now you’re essentially doing philosophy– just like that. “What does it all mean? Indeed.”

There is no shared *anything* between professional philosophy and the thing that does it for me in music.  The only person I can really explain this to in less than a book is my brother.  We hashed it out one night, for a long time, and it turns out that this thing that does it for me in music is not only not exclusively present in music, or in all music, but it’s utterly hopeless to explain and probly not even traceable from any objective evidence.  That being the case, as they say, it stays separate from my professional life.  I don’t think that’s a problem you can solve, if it is a problem. OK.

But there is a legitimate problem with being this way (rock music feelings/philosophy feelings).  It’s that there are still rock star heroes (sort of), but there are no philosophy stars.  So, even if I gave both categories of stuff equal time in my life (which I can’t do right now), one of them has way more emotional pull than the other, automatically.  One of them is sexier than the other, which is a sociological fact, and it affects me too of course.
Suppose that I could totally bracket rockstarism forever, if only for my own perception and thinking.  The remaining problem with being this way (rock music feelings/philosophy feelings) is that there are still rock star heroes (sort of), but there are no philosophy star heroes.  I’m not talking about Van Halen or something, like a legitimate celebrity rock showman-guy from some era.  Think J. Mascis, or Kristin Hersh, or Kira Roessler, or Suzanne Lewis, the singer in Thinking Plague in the late ’80s.  My idea is that these people, as performing rockers, are automatically going to mesh with both non-intellectual action and non-institutional thinking *in their performance and maybe in their writing process* more than a professor’s philosophy book will mesh with them.  That’s good for them.  And then, a person can get a lot more out of a performance or a CD without knowing some background on the composer than she could possibly get from a philosophy book without knowing the literature.  Which is good for them. I don’t have the answer in this case, either.
Here’s what I do have the answer to: who are some women I admire in formal semantics, computational linguistics and that?  The secret ulterior motive of this post is revealed.  I essentially want to make another list of women I admire doing stuff I want to do.  Just like the last one, but for philosophy and philosophy-like pursuits.  Here goes!*
*Unlike last year, I don’t feel like I have time to write my own descriptions of these people’s work now.  This fact itself is probly a good sign for my work, but sorry if it makes the list less exciting.

I’ll try to update this list if I find more people, especially people closer to peers of mine.  That’d be neat.

And Now There’s No One Else

“I heard you say / You know, I hate myself / But I love everybody else / I heard you say / I can’t escape myself / And then you do / And now there’s no one else to blame”
— Sonic Youth (“Junkie’s Promise,” 1995)

I’d like to share these lines and this video to mark something that rings true for me. The people behind them have been more important to me than they or most others know. The hardest part of entering that era when there’s no one left to blame is that giving your sources adequate thanks is harder than blaming your surroundings ever was.

Bernie: Do Television practice a lot?
Tom: Yeah, we really work out. When we first started we rehearsed six days a week for four months before we even played live; then we still stuck. We were awful, y’know? Now we rehearse four nights a week if we have a job or are breaking in new stuff. If we have a month of no jobs, we might rehearse three nights a week. We have problems finding a place to rehearse, though. If we get some more money… We’ll get some money with this record deal… we probably won’t get a dime after it’s all… ya know lawyers take this, and managers take this, taxes that this, producers take this… and that’s the end of it. Then you buy a new set of drums and a couple of new guitars and you have to go play live for a year.

–Tom Verlaine on rehearsing, from interview available at http://ffanzeen.blogspot.com/2010/06/talkin-with-televisions-tom-verlaine-at.html

This Is The Difference

Last night I was talking to philosopher James Kinkaid, and he said something like this:

The difference between continental and analytic philosophy is summarized in the titles of Michael Dummett’s The Logical Basis of Metaphysics and Martin Heidegger’s The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic.

And that’s about the most succinct summary I’ve heard 🙂

What I Want


What I want
I want now
and it’s a whole lot more
than ‘anyhow’ [..]

Don’t say unconscious

No don’t say doom.
If you got to say it
let me leave this room
Cuz what I want
I want now
and it’s a whole lot more
than ‘anyhow.’

–Tom Verlaine / Television

I want to know the common structure of meaning that lets us express common information through different languages and thoughts.

I want to make powerful talkers fess up to those they talk at– what they’re really saying & what claims it entails (including myself).

I want to make Baudelaire synaesthesias appear with a thin aluminum-sound from a guitar

I want to look like Kate Bush in 1978*

“Deal with it!”




*Ok, maybe not exactly but more or less.



Interpreter of Narrow-Mindedness

In relation to the sciences, philosophy today can no longer claim an institutionally secured position of privilege, but philosophizing retains its universal power in the form of the self-reflection of the sciences themselves.  In this dimension, occupied by philosophy, the unity of theoretical and practical reason that does not hold for scientific theories themselves is preserved. Philosophy, having become circumscribed as a specific discipline, can legitimately go beyond the area reserved to it by assuming the role of interpreter between one specialized narrow-mindedness and another.  Thus, I consider it philosophical enlightenment when doctors learn from sociological and psychoanalytic studies to appreciate the influence of the family environment in the genesis of psychoses and thereby also learn to reflect on certain biologistic assumptions of the tradition of their discipline.  I consider it philosophical enlightenment when sociologists, directed by professional historians, apply some of their general hypotheses to historical material and thereby become aware of the inevitably forced character of their generalizations.  They thus learn to reflect on the methodologically suppressed relation of the universal and the individual.  I consider it philosophical enlightenment when philosophers learn from recent psycholinguistic investigations of the learning of grammatical rules to comprehend the causal connection of speech and language with external conditions and in this way learn to reflect on the methodological limits to the mere understanding of meaning.  These are not examples of interdisciplinary research.  Rather, they illustrate a self-reflection of the sciences in which the latter become critically aware of their own presuppositions.  [..] The developers of new pedagogical methods for curricula in college-oriented schools should go back to the philosophical presuppositions of the different fields of study themselves.  Thus, for example, the transmission of basic grammatical structures in a language class at the primary school level, where the bases of several languages are taught simultaneously and comparatively, cannot be meaningfully discussed without confronting the problems of the philosophy of language as they have developed from Humboldt through Saussure to Chomsky.  Similarly pedagogical problems of history instruction on the junior high school level lead to the problems connected with the emergence of the historical consciousness that has developed since the end of the seventeenth century with the tradition of the philosophy of history.


–Jürgen Habermas, “The University in A Democracy: Democratization of The University.” In: Toward a Rational Society (1968), pp.7-9.

“playground that just was all dirt”

That summer feeling That summer feeling
That summer feeling
When there’s things to do not because you gotta
When you run for love not because you oughtta
When you trust your friends with no reason not ta (nada)
The joy I name shall not be tamed
And that summer feeling is gonna haunt you
One day in your life.


If you’ve forgotten what I’m naming
You’re gonna long to reclaim it one day
Because that summer feeling is gonna haunt you
One day in your life.

And if you wait until your older
A sad resentment will smoulder one day
And Then that summer feeling is gonna haunt you
And that summer feeling’s gonna taunt you
And then that summer feeling is gonna hurt you
One day in your life.

When even fourth grade starts looking good
Which you hated,
And first grade’s looking good too,
And you boys long for some little girl
That you dated
Do you long for her of for the way you were,
That summer feeling is gonna haunt you
One day in your life.


When you’re hanging around the park with the water fountain
And there’s the little girl with the dirty ankles cuz she’s
On the swings, you know, and all the dust is kicking up
And you remember the ankle locking
And the way she flirted with you
For all this time, how come?
Well that summer feeling is gonna haunt you
One day in your life.
You’ll throw away everything for it.
You’ll throw away everything for it.
One more thing…

Well when the playground that just was all dirt
Comes haunting.
And that little girl that called you a flirt
Memory comes taunting
You pick these things apart they’re not that appealing
You put them together and you’ll get this certain feeling
And that summer feeling is gonna haunt you
One day in your life.
It’s gonna haunt you
It’s gonna taunt you
You’re gonna want this feeling inside
One more time.

–Jonathan Richman (“That Summer Feeling”)

I’ve always liked his songs, but I had not heard this and this is one of the most profound sentiments ever  in a pop song. Rock and roll may come from that summer feeling, and that’s a thing of its own value. But Jonathan describes that feeling. Then he tells you what it might mean to you as you grow old and change. You can’t stop that, any more than you can go from six to twenty years old without growing up first. You can’t stop these sentiments from changing their significance as you age, either. What Jonathan warns you of is a life set up to exclude this feeling. Which is, well, totally possible. A sad resentment will smolder; that’s also totally possible. I don’t have to tell you. I like to tell myself sometimes. 

My digital EP on bandcamp

“Runoff Copies” is going up on bandcamp at http://ahde.bandcamp.com.

Five tracks up, one to go.


Saw Epistasis last Tuesday at Yes.Oi.Si. It is a band that plays Amy Mills’ compositions on drumset, electric guitar, amplified trumpet and bassoon. The show was amazing. Jess Lynch recorded the set on video. A sample of that video is up on YT:


Nature Walk

Went hiking in Ipswich today. Saw a lot of diff. animals. Conclusion: everything is a boopsie.