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· Tradition and the Individual Talent: Aristotle Does the Blog ·

It's official. Languagehat has found clear reference to Weblogging in Aristotle's Metaphysics. Although not definitively checked yet, it's clear from the style — noted in Style as a Test of Truth — that we might give grammatical, if not logical, assent to his discovery, and rhetorically, I'm sure even Aristotelians would agree: the text seems genuine. Here is Languagehat's find.

All the same, as we have said, the causes and principles which they describe are capable of application to the remoter class of websites (topoi tou histou) as well, and indeed are better fitted to these. But as to how there are to be updates, if all that is premissed is the Linked and the Unlinked, and Present and Past, they do not even hint; nor how, without updates and change, there can be generation and destruction, or the activities of the links which traverse the web. And further, assuming that it be granted to them or proved by them that blogs (blogoi) are composed of these factors, yet how is it to be explained that some are lesser, and others greater? For in their premisses and statements they are speaking just as much about virtual as about mathematical objects; and this is why they have made no mention of markups (anasemeia) or links or other similar phenomena, because, I presume, they have no separate explanation of virtual things. Again, how are we to understand that number and the modifications of number are the causes of all being and updating, both in the beginning and now, and at the same time that there is no other number than the number of which the universe is composed? Because when they make out that Opinion and News are in such and such a region, and a little above or below them Controversy and Disharmony or Flames, and when they state as proof of this that each of these abstractions is a number; and that also in this region there is already a plurality of the magnitudes composed of number, inasmuch as these modifications of number correspond to these several regions,?is the number which we must understand each of these abstractions to be the same number which is present in the virtual universe, or another kind of number?

Here are the context and reader comments, too; I can't help today but note my comment:

Ethos, Pathos, Logos, Tragos, Blogos.

Incapacitated by emotion some have dropped letters here — L's, I think (ogos, bogos) — but certainly you've honestly provided us the authoritative, virtual text.

To which Languagehat replied: "I mean, some people seem to think blogging started with Caesar."

That constitutes, I believe, a Tip o' the Hat.

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Do you have any comments about T.S. Eliot — Tradition and the Individual Talent?

Posted by Janaina Fagundes on June 28, 2003 01:04 PM

Perhaps only that in "Tradition and the Individual Talent" T. S. Eliot stresses too much the role of platinum and too little that of "pressure" in the famous chemical analogy he makes. Check the word out. Maybe you'll see what I mean.

Posted by
Styles on June 28, 2003 04:03 PM

err, no. i checked out 'pressure' and it meant exactly what i thought it meant, which means that statement makes no sense. i can only assume you were taking Eliot's metaphor of platinum as a catalyst encouraging the binding of elements as an allegory. thought i better point this out to any unwitting students lookin for advice on Eliot, who might take this goon seriously.

Posted by wiles on May 11, 2004 02:01 PM

Ah, flunked chemistry? So perhaps did T. S. Eliot, although he apparently knew that while platinum plays a necessary role chemically and metaphorically in "Tradition and the Individual Talent," it can't — whether allegorically or not — play a sufficient one. My point is quite simple, wiles: "Mind the gap."

Posted by Styles on May 11, 2004 06:34 PM

However objective a poet is, we always find in his/her poetry the traces of subjectivity. Platinum is there in the background.

Posted by mansoor on September 26, 2004 08:46 AM

Yes, with even a proper Kantian spin on the point. But "it is not the 'greatness,'" as Eliot's text says, "the intensity, of the emotions, the components, but the artistic process, the pressure, so to speak, under which the fusion takes place that counts" (my emphasis). Eliot's pressure remains in the foreground. My thanks, mansoor, for your note — you've seconded my point.

Posted by Styles on September 27, 2004 10:42 AM


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