I think I suggested earlier that we have as humans an ability to move more or less smoothly between language games, between forms of life; but it must be emphasized that this is an ability to deal with inconsistencies, aporia, contradiction & etc. We "deal with" various language games despite the fact that different games involve us in vastly different roles & demand that we take different perspectives. Just this morning, Chris, you & I were involved in a series of meetings with colleagues as we mapped out our proposals for curricular change; then both of us went off to teach. We went from talking about teaching (from an institutional if not bureaucratic perspective) to practicing teaching. These, certainly, are different forms of life. At the same time, I have mentioned to several people lately that my teaching increasingly seeks to expose students, when appropriate to the classroom situation, to the institutional & bureaucratic structures that shape the language game in which we are engaged. For personal & ethical reasons, I am seeking to allow one language game to penetrate or (to return to my tiling metaphor) overlap each other. So is the skill we possess in moving between & choosing among language games itself a language game? This, I suppose, would return us to the theory of types, which as you pointed out Wittgenstein sought to banish. Is it necessary that the interpreting-language-games language game be in a higher position of generality? (I don't think that such a game can be said to be ontologically privileged.) Do we get into logical trouble, though, if we posit any meta-game?

Laughing at a funeral: You raise the issue of appropriateness of behavior n & you also foreground with your joke the inadequacy of behaviorism. (Very funny joke, by the way. I keep looking for a language game in which I can use it.) Jokes are orchestrated mistakes, you think? Mistakes, errors, slips, as Freud pointed out in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, are revealing. For Freud, such slip-ups revealed our "true wishes" or "real selves," but can't they also be seen as revealing the structures & relationships among our language games? I want to be careful here, but when you say that you do not want to participate in a language game in which jokes about child abuse are acceptable, my perverse poet's imagination tries conjure up a language game in which such a joke would not only be acceptable but necessary. Just consider for the moment the value of some of our more vicious satirists: Swift, of course, but also someone like Jerzy Kozinski. (I am thinking in particular of The Painted Bird, in which rape & the torture of animals is presented without comment & in which the grotesque sometimes transforms itself into a very black joke.) So perhaps there are two senses of the word joke that need to be teased apart: 1) to take lightly, to make light of; but also 2) to hold up for examination a terrible moment of insight. One language game looking at another.

Okay, we don't want to live in that world, we don't want to inhabit that form of life, but we need a language game that can afford us a view of that way of life: literature?


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