Adam Katz on Maxims as Human Mind’s attempt at recovering Human Nature.

A definition of a Maxim: 

I take a maxim to be a statement on the boundary between the declarative and the imperative, a generalizable claim which can only be grasped and assessed through some singular practice, a practice advised or urged by the maxim itself.

The Declarative lags the Ostensive: 

You will know that your emotion is, to continue with Stein’s discussion, “always either behind or ahead of the play at which you are looking and to which you are listening” once you have decided to make sense of your emotion during the play in precisely those terms: there is no difference between being syncopated and knowing you are syncopated.  In other words, Stein’s maxims do not posit a mode of “verification” that could be shared.

A definition of Masterpiece: 

Masterpieces, products of the human mind, sustain the continuous present, there is no remembering or consideration of any audience.

Linguistically constructed reality is commanding: 

A sentence effects transcendence if it makes us stand before a reality that is, at least until the end of the uttering of that sentence, beyond the power of any imperative to alter.  I would propose calling this a sentence organized around a commanding name: a noun, a subject, that has its own substance to be unfolded in the predication—the name is commanding in the sense that the object world or field of semblances it opens up is invulnerable to our grasping, at least insofar as we “understand” the sentence.

Reality is transcendence embodied, and it is in the grammatically correct sentence that this embodiment is registered.  A sentence participates in continuous presence, on the other hand, insofar as it puts forth grammatical possibilities that it doesn’t itself exhaust.

Grammaticalization as chunking and de-chunking: 

In this equipoise and equidistance we can see a grammar of the scene—the gestures put forth by all members of the group would not be identical, even if they are all imitating the same gesture.  This is because each not only imitates but inflects and accentuates from their own position on the scene: someone who was about to grab a chunk would have to sign differently than one who was engaged in the beginnings of combat with another, and a third member, who was lagging behind, would have yet another way of signing on.

The scene is the articulation of all these gestures, and the transition into the sparagmos, towards consuming the object without renewing the mimetic crisis, would likewise require a continued articulation and calibration of this array of gestures.  Even more, all the possible gestures and expressions in the pre-human repertoire of the group and of each member undergo a similar “abstraction”—that is, whatever any member could do “naturally” can now be broken down into a collection of gestures that can be combined in various ways.

Continuous presencing, then, is sustaining the resentment of the center by maximally abstracting all elements of language, from the most elemental phonemes and morphemes to sheer grammatical connections devoid of meaning (for example, using a noun that rarely is used adjectivally as an adjective, and using it to modify a noun that is the nominalization of a adjective never used that way, and selecting for this operation two words without any discernable relation to each other in any combination, presents the articulation of noun and adjective without the interference of the “commanding name” embedded in an already shared and connoted reality).

Human nature is incapable of conceiving of and consciously participating in future scenes, but human mind is: 

Human mind is continuous presencing and human nature is sequenced presents—for the sequenced present, the sign emitted on the previous scene completely encloses that scene, and so the sequenced present is representation: the representation of a prior, remembered scene from a later one.

Representation, then, like transcendence, matches the scene up with the sign; presencing is interested in sustaining simultaneity across successive scenes—something on each scene co-exists with something on the next scene, and so on, so that if those somethings are articulated, regardless of their original scenic context, then no boundary separates one scene from another, at least from the standpoint of the scene upon which one continuously presences.

Writing and the originary thinking it implicates: 

The process of writing then becomes a continuous presencing of the distinction between human mind and its continual abstractions and rearrangements, on the one hand, and the expectations, questions and habits of human nature, on the other hand.

A description of Idioms: 

Love, on the grammatical level, is collocation, or the making of indivisible verbal units above the level of the word—the creation of idioms, in other words.  It is the breakdown of grammatical, semantic, and phonemic articulations that makes idiomatic constructions possible—only in that way can words be unmoored from their habitual orbits and enter unanticipated connections.

A good idiom, we might say, is an articulation of words that appear random to anyone outside the space of the idiom, and increasingly necessary, to the point of being self-evident, to the extent you have entered the space of its use and exchange, to the point of participating in its creation.  In the idiomatic space we oscillate between strained, awkward, seemingly patched-together declaratives, and imperatives and ostensives that one either gets or doesn’t.

Happiness as the idiomization of originary desire: 

Desires can be converted into happiness by turning objects of desire into means of personal ostentation, and this can be done by turning anyone’s attention to the origins of desire in some (mistaken) gesture in which the model and object are inscribed and confused—that gesture can always be articulated with others in a new idiom, with its own generative resources.

For this kind of practice and habit, this kind of ostensive gesture toward the ostensivity of the gesture and its strained inter-articulation with other gestures, Stein’s continuous presencing within language will always be a model.  Perhaps, that is a relation between the Human Mind and Human Nature.

Full text: http://anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap1502/1502katz/

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