Friday, February 13, 2004

life of buddy don, chaptur 105:
das referat

thay wuznt nuthin bout that year in west germany that wuz inny harder than ritin n trine to present that seminar paper they call das referat for that linguistisch und philisophie class i had with perfesser mourikis. twuz to be a paper bout the foundayshuns of linguisticks based on them greek flossofers. he had give me a book on the topick, witch i thank i dun splained how that book speckted a bidy to be able to read at lease five langwages n i couldnt hardly git no use frum it.

so i figgerd i wood develop my own idees bout thangs. n whar better to start than with pythagoras n heracleitus? that let me brang up the hole argument bout whuther pi -- or fer that matter, inny wurd ye mite find -- could be a priori, witch it seemed to me lack twuz a definit bleef of pythagorus n twuz a possibull bleef of heracleitus.

everbidy knows the name of pythagoras frum that theorum name of the pythagorean theorum, witch that splains how yer right triangle wurks. he dun sum wurk with circles n such n seemed to me lack he had cum rite near to gittin the concept of pi splained, only nobidy gives him credit fer it. that made a good startin point on a counta how the pythagoreans bleeved mos everthang could be splained usin math n musick. fer eggzample, ifn ye wuz havin health problems, gittin ye cured wuz a matter of gittin yer bidy back in tune by regulatin the hot n cold or the wet n dry lack they wuz strangs that wuz gittin out of tune with each other. thay had em equashuns n calculayshuns to splain mos everthang.

so whuther or not they discovered pi perzackly, they had the idee that the worl wuz made on laws n concepts lack pi. ifn ye could put these concepts into langwage, ye could have the buildin blocks of everthang jes frum wurds. corse the mos importunt wurd in splainin all this wuz pi its ownself n problem with pi is how tiz a irrashunul number that cant never be cumpletely solved (lease far as innybidy kin tell). twuz a point i hadnt never noticed in all the times i wuz arguin bout it with virgil. how could the a priori concept on witch the hole universe wuz dun built be a irrashunul number?

but i pushed on into heracleitus n his concept of everthang bein in a state of flux, lack a fire that dont never quit burnin, witch that makes me recolleck the idee of hell i herd in church one time. now ifn yer usin langwage lack them pythagoreans, ye at lease bleeve yer splainin how everthang wurks, almos lack ye wuz ritin down the eggzack recept lack ye wood do ifn ye were bakin a cake. but ifn ye thanks lack heracleitus whar everthang is changin all the time to whar ye cant even step into the same river twice on a counta how the waters all differnt the secunt time, then yer wurds dont seem to be in control of everthang. corse, he had this concept of logos, witch that is greek fer reason, n he bleeved mos folks couldnt see beneath the everday wurkins of thangs down to the reason that makes em keep wurkin. he figgerd twuz in the battles twixt opposits that everthang wuz wurked out, lease thats the best i kin make of it.

long story short, i used this startin point to rite down lots of them arguments me n virgil had dun cum up with. i let the pythagoras half stand fer whut virgil bleeved n let heracleitus kick off my half of the argument. frum thar i gut into plato n his ideal worls (on virgils side) n aristotle n his observayshuns of thangs, speshly his sayin that thay wuznt no reason to magine a sepert ideal worl when we had the real one rite here. by this time in my overall argument, witch ye mite bile down to jes how wurds is a weak attempt to put meanin on a universe in constunt flux, i wuz developin how langwage could be used.

frum that i wurked my way into two of the best books inny riter could ever find on the topick of ritin, witch thar bofem by aristotle. one of ems called poetics n tuthern is rhetorick. ifn ye aint made friends with these two n ye lack ritin, i couldnt hardly recommend nuthin better. a quick splainayshun mite hep ye make up yer mind.

aristotle wuz a grate one fer brakin thangs into pieces n showin how they splain the hole thang a lil better. so he tuck whut ye could do with langwage n broke it into two main pieces, witch the furst is langwage to tell stories n thats coverd by his poetics. tuthern is how ye use langwage to proove thangs, witch he splains all that in tuther book, rhetorick.

furst, thars his poetics, witch thats whar he analyzes stories that folks rites n the thangs that makes em wurk. furst thang he splains is how such ritin is the imatayshun of ackshul life. he brakes up the kinds of thangs folks rites fer poetry into a cuple of catagories, witch thays tragedy ifn the riter is rite serious minded n wonts to imitate the cumplete ackshuns of grate men n mayhap even gods. tuther half is comedy, witch thatn aint near so serious n deals with lower folk n has to do with sum kinda defeck or ugliness witch dont hurt nobidy too much. but twuz tragedy whar he sed a riter could reach the gratest possibull effeck. he spent a lil bit of time on that n whut a tragedy ritefully is.

but that wernt the part that innerested me so much. i wuz more innereted in the teckneeks he deescribed fer ritin tragedy, or once ye gut that down, fer ritin much of innythang poetic or imaginary. thats whar he cum up with the six parts ye gut to watch out fer in analyzin good ritin: (1) speckticull, (2) song, (3) dickshun, (4) care-ackter, (5) plot n (6) thought.

once he had identified the parts, he gut into ratin em. since yer tragedy is the imitayshun of a ackshun, ye cant have no tragedy ifn nuthin happens, so plot cum out number one. bleeve it or not, tiz one of the hardest thangs to larn bout ritin, witch is how sumthin has got to happen or yer reader gits too bored to keep a readin. yer plot is used to show the care-ackter of the folks yer ritin bout n care-ackter gits to be number 2 on the list. nex is thought, witch thatn is kindly the moral of the story, so to speak. after ye gut them three, tiz a questchun not of whut ye dun writ but how well ye dun writ it, so dickshun gits to cum in fourth place on a counta tiz how n witch wurds ye used thats gonna deetermin how one riters vershun of a story is so much bettern a nutherns. after that yer left with poetry, witch bes i kin tell, tiz lack the musick of the langwage yer usin as much as innythang. finely, ye gut yer speckticull, witch the modern day equivalent of that is yer car chases n splodin buildins.

i thank ye git the generull idee. that poetics hole book aint but about 50 pages, so ye could read it in one sittin n go back to read it ever time ye need remindin bout the basicks.

tuthern book wuz rhetorick n it kin be biled down to three kinds of arguments ye kin make: (1) past: ifn yer arguin bout whut dun happend, tiz a legal argument to figger out whut twuz that happend n who gits the blame; (2) future: ifn yer arguin bout whut oughta happen, then yer makin a politcull argument; n (3) present, ifn yer trine to splain how good or bad sumbidy or sumthang is rite now, then thats called epideictic or celebratory oratory -- tiz yer kissin up to them ye lack n cuttin down them ye dont. corse he gives plenty of methods to make each kind of rhetorick wurk better fer ye. tiz a nuther short book that ever riter oughta have n read now n agin.

innywho, i thank ye git my drift. twuz a way of menchunin as minny of them greek flossofers as possibull while purty much goin over the same old groun me n virgil had dun plowed to a fare thee well. by the time i rote the thang, i had cum to whar i dint care whuther innybidy lacked it or not. twuz whut i had to say on the subjeck at the time. i dint hardly use the book perfesser mourikis give me n i purty much jes put down my own idees with a nuff quotes to make ye thank i mite could know whut i wuz a'talkin bout.

i tole myself i dint care whut folks mite thank bout it. i tole myself thay wuznt nuthin i could do to make myself sound convintsin in german. i tole myself twuz a simple matter of reedin whut i rote n makin a few comments. so how bad could it be? i had dun watched one fella doin his referat n wurst thang bout it wuz how it tuck three or four weeks till twuz dun. so i figgerd i wood jes half to grin n bare it, as they say. how bad could it be?

whut i dint figger on wuz how thay wuznt no way i could keep everbidys attenchun once perfesser mourikis tuck over whut i wuz trine to say. fack is, my hole argument dint ever git splained a sangle time. in sted, i started out, made menchun of pythagorus n heracleitus, n rite thar, i lost my chants to splain whut i wuz a sayin. twuz the same problem i had dun had with that cheese name of gouda, witch yer west germans pronounses 'gowduh' with the 'g' cumin out lack yer trine to git yer throat cleard. ifn ye say 'goo-duh' lack ye do in english, ye dont git no cheese. i cum out with sumthin in german bout heracleitus n corse i pronounced it lack tiz dun in english, witch that sounds lack 'her uh clite us.' everbidy looked up lack they wunderd whut i had jes sed, so i sed it agin. turnt out thay wuz listnin fer 'heraklit,' witch ye pronounce thatn 'her uh cleet.'

twuz all it tuck. perfesser mourikis tuck over the hole splainayshun n i dint have no chants nor even good a nuff german to git a nuther comment in. not only that, he skipped talkin bout whut i had writ before he even gut to no plato n aristotle. in sted, he wonted to talk bout platos republick n aristotles politics. whut did that have to do with our topick? i wonted to ast, but lack i say, i couldnt git nobidys attenchun. wurst thang wuz how aristotle coulda dun splained it: twuz a defeck in my use of dickshun!

so i sat in that class, my long hair fallin over to cover my face, my beerd curled up on my chest, wishin i could disappear, listnin to perfesser mourikis splain how aristotle had six classifickayshuns of politics, witch thay wuz broke down thisaway: (1) one ruler, correck, wood be yer kingship or benevolent dicktater; (2) one ruler, wrong, wood be yer tyrunt; (3) jes a few rulers, correck, wood be yer aristockracy n bof aristotle n perfesser mourikis seemed to lack thisn best on a counta how twuz the form used in the golden age of greece, more or less, n twuz a bleef that the best folks oughta be the ones makin the deecishuns bout whut to do, not the richest or folks that wuz jes born equal; (4) jes a few rulers, wrong, wood be yer oligarchy, witch thats whar ye gut yer rich folk thankin theys bettern everbidy else on a counta havin money n bein better, they figger thar the ones who oughta be makin all the deecishuns, witch tiz generly used to make shore they git to hold onto thar money n keep a'gittin more of it; (5) many rulers, good, witch that wood be yer polity, witch thatn also figgerd that them makin the deecishuns wood be them that showed they had good care-ackter only thayd be a lot more of em than ye wood have in a aristockracy; n finely (6) many rulers, wrong, wood be yer demockracy.

now it mite cum as a lil sprize how aristotle dint list demockracy as bein one of the best forms. the idee wuz that everbidy born equal should git a equal say in whut deecishuns yer cuntry is spozed to make. problem with this is how thay wuznt no way to make shore folks wuz good jes fer bein born equal. wurse, the closer ye git to a pure demockracy, the closer ye git to mob rule. not only that, but ifn ye go fer demockracy, ye gut to win eleckshuns, n lack the sophists had dun prooved, folks is easy to fool n the palltishun that wins the eleckshun is the one that kin pander to the lowest common denominaytor.

finely perfesser mourikis cum to the joke he wuz makin outta his long tangent to whut i had started out a'trine to say, witch he sed the wurst thang bout demockracy wuz how yer intelleckshuls wuz cundemned to a life of frustrayshun as they stood on the sidelines of gummint n watched while clowns n farmers guverned. the hole class laffed at that n twernt hard to figger why: jimmy carter wuz a farmer.

thang wuz, i hadnt never cared much fer jimmy carter till then. it hadnt made me lack him inny better whenever i saw them studints burnin a paper maché doll of him in effigy. i hadnt never minded ifn folks picked on his neutron bomb or the lust in his hart or his sweater or whutever.

but when that perfesser lit into him fer bein a farmer n all them students laffed at him n at amurka, i wonted to defend him n amurka too, but i dint have the wurds n i wuz too upset to say much of nuthin noway. n by then perfesser mourikis wuz tellin all kinds of jokes bout demockracy n mobs n he menchuned leni riefenstahl n even them nazis, witch twuz thonly time i ever herd them menchuned in a class while i wuz thar. i wonted to splain bout jefferson n the gentlmun farmer n whut it meant to own land. in sted, he kep tellin jokes.

n wurst of all wuz how i dint even unnerstand whut he wuz a sayin, but i felt the laffs jes bilin up in me till they cum out with everbidy elses. rite then i gut whut wuz meant by the mob n how ye kin lose yer mind in the midst of one n that wuz sumthin i shore dint wont, so i gut up n walked out. perfesser mourikis wuz a lil sprized by that. he called me n tole me to cum back n finish but i tole him he wuz doin fine.

i walked over to the mense a'talkin out loud to myself. emily wuz waitin fer me. she wonted to have a lil celebrayshun only she knew sumthin wuz rong the mint she saw me but we went to macdonalds innyway. she ast how did it go n i tole her twuz over at lease. once we had our order n found a place to stand together, i sed i wonted to dedicate the meal to jimmy carter n to the idee that a farmer could be presdint.

twuz jes as irrashunul as pi n i hate to thank twuz a priori. i lack to thank we aint jes creechurs filled with irrashunul buttons that make us deecide thangs without knowin why. but i couldnt hep myself frum wonderin: could them irrashunul feelins be lack pi fer us humans n wuz they a priori? i dint wonta thank so. but i never could figger it inny bettern that.

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