Ramblings Loosely Related to Art History #3: Woodworking and Wittgenstein

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Blog entry by naomi weiss posted 10-04-2009 02:45 PM 1550 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The Carpenter and the Shadow of Death Part 3 of Ramblings Loosely Related to Art History series Part 4: Another Depiction of Jesus as a Carpenter »

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

7 comments so far

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Bob #2

3810 posts in 5306 days

#1 posted 10-04-2009 03:38 PM

Interesting read Naomi.
No Bar clamps ?
Maybe modern Hebrew should have a Google connection. ;-)
The Monty Python clip remonds me of the United Nations Assembly.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4449 days

#2 posted 10-04-2009 04:08 PM

Wittgenstein reminded me of the early 20th century logical positivists, who I really didn’t like.

Now my memory of all this is quite hazy, so correct me if I am wrong:

Wrote a paper in my ethics class tearing them down, that was in 1961. Sure enough, I looked them up on Wiki and got this quote: “The chief influences on the early logical positivists were the positivist Ernst Mach and the young Ludwig Wittgenstein.” My take on the positivists were that they were so tied up in words and their inexactitude that it seemed like they were claiming that a train couldn’t possibly be because you couldn’t describe it unambiguously, while they were standing on the tracks and got run over. What I did get from them was:

Communication is extremely difficult. So never communicate any thing of importance in innuendo, allusions, sarcasm, obscure words and quotes, etc. There is almost a zero chance that the target of your communcation will get the communcation correct. In other words, cute conversation and writing that is meant to impress, doesn’t impress me, especially when the topic is for someones important education, welfare, etc. That kind of entertainment prose is best used for… blog!!? (-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4619 days

#3 posted 10-04-2009 05:56 PM

Well said?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5247 days

#4 posted 10-04-2009 08:14 PM

Since the object of language is to communicate, it stands to reason that if your audience didn’t understand you, you were just talking to hear your head rattle. Good read, Naomi.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 5306 days

#5 posted 10-04-2009 08:41 PM

Interesting perspective Thos.
I have always been of the opinion that it is the language that defines the culture.
The more precise the language the richer the communication becomes.
The better folks understand their language(s) the richer their experience becomes.
When people do not understand their mother tongue making any overtures to them is tantamount to tossing pearls to pigs.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View naomi weiss's profile

naomi weiss

207 posts in 4679 days

#6 posted 10-04-2009 09:02 PM

That’s the funny thing about Hebrew. There exists a very rich Hebrew language which is not typically spoken, but in addition to that, Hebrew is very structured and can be very concise at times. Apparently properly written Hebrew does not technically need punctuation for that very reason. So loads of Hebrew is very rich and evocative, but modern Hebrew for very modern concepts is quite young…

Jim—you’re talking way over my head, but i will check that stuff out. That’s pretty cool that you remember your paper from 1961! i plan on a follow up post about Wittgenstein and architecture. From the little i have read of this stuff, i sense it’s the kind of thing that contributes to ppl over-thinking and getting very frustrated… It’s funny that you mention sarcasm, though, because it doesn’t exist so much here—so when i get annoyed, it’s the perfect outlet bc i can say something really deadpan that is so rude, but no one will catch it! Truth is, to a lesser degree, i found it similar in America. In England everyone’s sarcastic the whole time!

Bob-i think you are right about language defining culture—or at least informing us about it. For instance, with Hebrew, the attachment of the people to the land is indicated by the very agrarian vocabulary to be found in the Bible. For almost every fruit or plant, we have a different verb for the way we harvest it—and we still use those words today. Similarly, amongst the Inuit, there are many different words for snow.

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4449 days

#7 posted 10-04-2009 09:29 PM

Your point about sarcasm makes the point! Many people do not pick up on it there, so it is a poor means of serious communication. However, because they usually don’t, you can amuse yourself in more trivial conversation or writing, knowing that it will never be noticed. And it is missed frequently in the USA as well, as you point out. Ah, the complexities of human interaction…

I am not much into the academic discipline of language. But symbolism, the written and spoken wood, was essential to significant progress historically. So I guess we will not progress with our woodworking until we can precisely name and describe what we are doing. So to prevent a barked shin or skinned knuckle, a generic expletive will not do….... such as g..d… or s… We must enunciate it clearly:

I must not kick or hit the darn miter saw again when its strays off angle…I should use a sludge hammer to properly discipline it and save band-aids…...

...or something to that effect….....

Now here we are in a conversation about communication, and semantics, in a woodworker’s forum….

go figure


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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