Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Ideology and Ontology

My attempts to correct the post from earlier today didn't really work. I think I'll just leave well enough alone next time.

One thing that got lost in bits and pieces through the editing was an attempt to apply a distinction owed to W.V.O. Quine. Wanting to give "a good sense to a bad word" he proposed to distinguish the ideology of a theory from its ontology. He said that there was no clear correspondence between them: two theories could have the same ontology, i.e., the terms of the two theories could refer to the same set of things, while one theory could express an idea that the other could not. Ideology, in keeping also with its bad sense, defines limits to the expression of ideas independent of the entities that populate the world.

Now, Pound said the poet should build us his world. And the question that I have been asking, on the aspiring poet and philosopher's behalf, is, What should we build our worlds out of? The short answer, and Kitasono's answer, is language. Words, words, words. If we stick to the sample line Kitasono provided, we have a world populated by (roughly) three things:

a shell, a typewriter and grapes.

But, because there is "no further development", these terms are under no ideological constraint. They are in no "regulated order", as Dante demands, and therefore do not qualify as a "construction". And this lack of ideological direction, which I would equate with a lack of grammatical form, is what is behind the unimaginability of the line (in its isolation).

I once said that Tony's commitment to the sentence in Invisible Bride is the civil disobedience of working to rule. I still need to figure out what that means. But I'm sure it has something to do with what I'm trying to say here.

No one stands above the grammar.


Laura Carter said...

Your delineations are more useful than speculative. Thank you.

Thomas Basbøll said...

You're welcome. Useful may be my favourite word.