The uses of tools: That's a good point you make about the useful misuse of tools. A former student of mine wrote me the other day, copying a letter of recommendation she had written for my pending academic promotion. Immodestly, I quote it here: "I recently read an article in a pedagogical review that addressed the issue of teaching inexperienced, first-year writers: writers who may hate writing and are most likely afraid to do it. The article stressed the importance of “enabling” the student. I think of supplying the beginning writer with a tool-belt, attaching more and more tools over the course of the four years, and slowly teaching the student how to use the tools. Eventually, when the student graduates, she should have a working repertoire of “tools,” and the confidence to apply them to projects in ways that are useful to her own creative conceptions. When I arrived here in North Carolina [for graduate school], I felt very “enabled.” Professor Duemer [had] introduced me to the tools I might find helpful, and encouraged me to use them however they would be useful. He watched and supported me as I successfully used a ruler to pound a nail into the wall. The result, if I may say so, is a student and writer who had no idea that she would actually have an advantage over the other MFA students upon arrival; a student who will always take a risk, who will always be thinking of how else she can do something, what else she will do; a student who is, comparatively, unaffected by the limits that product-based artists and writers impose upon themselves." Well, obviously, my life is a success (I say this with a sense or humor but without irony) because I have had one student in twenty years who got the drift. In any case, my student L. is confirming your observation that "Surprising or transgressive uses of tools are the source of metaphor in language." (I really do question, though, your assertion that a butterknife is sometimes better than the right screwdriver for turning a screw. And surely there is something right about the fact & the symbolism of the sentence, "I got the shovel out of the shed to dig a grave for the dog.")

But what we're talking about here, I think--how language allows us to get the drift. Is that a nautical term? We need to deal more fully with metaphor, but I want to highlight a few of the remarks in your last entry, motly to agree with them: 1) When you write, "The appearance of uniformity in language and world is philosophical artifice," you underscore in a sentence much of W's project. In my own small way, I have tried to write a poetry that stood in opposition to over-simplifications of experience. 2) [manana]


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