The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
Back to the Textual Analysis …
Partially a critique, partially an exposition of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus on proper names as “a metaphysical exigency and illusion…” (§55), in so far as a dogmatic position demands that proper names be fixed so that there is no possible error in them, an object cannot mistake its name (“Otherwise, says Dogmatism, how would true cognition be possible?” (§55)).
According to Lyotard, Wittgenstein’s argument proceeds thus:
The Lyotardian interlocutor, like in the voice of Wittgenstein, adds:
Here is one early suggestion of advocacy, by Wittgenstein, for the Common Language / Ordinary Language Theory, which is not stated as a goal until Philosophical Investigations, wherein it is described as the language which we normally, ordinarily live by… PI, §108 uses the word gewöhnliche, which means “ordinary” or “normal,” and means the normal way in which we live, but uses Wöhnen instead of Lebens, thus, more a sense of “to dwell” than “to live,” thus suggesting it is the language like that with which we dwell. (Note the Heideggerian ring here, yet, this is the only place that Wittgenstein uses this particular verb in this way.)
The issue that Lyotard takes with the theory of language wherein the proper name is rigidly fixed to the object, is that is proposes a picture theory of language (much like Descartes’ definition of an idea like an image of a thing) wherein the picture can be laid out over reality and used as its measure. Which, first, implies that reality is how the picture is, and second, raises the question of how one would go about verifying this commonality to be the case? There is a presupposition of form in order to present or represent the form of the picture, which requires a “biunivocal ‘correspondence’ (though feelers) between names and simple objects” (§55). These simples are neither true or false because they are less than objects of cognition.
* An aside in relation to the point of §§55ff.: There is a synchronicity here between Lyotard and what we witness in Eastern traditions like Taoism and Zen Buddhism … especially poignant is to explore the ancient Chinese Taoist Chuang Tzu, and consider whether his form and content might provide a model for testimony of the inexpressible. This synchronicity concerns their conceptions of reality. For Chuang Tzu, reality is our desperate grasp on fixed logic and needs to be broken down so that we can experience the real reality of the unity of all things. Remember that the Tao is both the harmony of all things that always already is and the way things ought to be and how we ought to achieve it, that is, through a non-active activity. There is a truth underneath the misleading logic, but it is not so rigid. For Lyotard, reality also seems to be fixed, but is really not. The phrase happens and institutes a universe and establishes four instances of addressor, addressee, referent, and sense. This makes it sound as if reality is something constant; but this is not the case. Were reality fixed, which instant(s) containing silence could be deduced and the witness could be permitted to speak by negating the negative of the silence. Instead, reality is a lot more fluid. Recall that Lyotard has already demonstrated the flexibility between these positions. For example, Kant could be the one speaking, the one spoken to, the one whom I am speaking about, or even the meaning of what is being spoken about. This flexibility is especially clear in the case of deictics: this, here, now, there, etc. For example, when I say “now,” it is not the same as “now,” and when I speak of the now, I am not speaking of the now tied to either the first or second now’s. Each of the instances, and even deictics, however, could be understood by trying out various linkages of phases to determine what was meant (“chain of communication,” l’enchaînement §57). Also, there are many systems of cross-referencing words and meanings (cf., §49’s differentiation of systems).
Proper Names seemed to be the most fixed elements in language, existing in a tight linkage to the thing named wherein the name was given by another and meant nothing more than the thing named. That is, one does not go and validate the truth of a name, for a name is not a judgment or attribute that can be true or false, it simply names. Note that the more rigid nature of Proper Names permits language to both contain a deferral of meaning or arbitrariness between signified and signifier, and yet still function as a rather reliable means of communication. There are fixed elements, things that are stable, within the flux. Thus, names become quasi-deictics wherein their “rigidity is this invariability” (§57)--Kant is always Kant, regardless of which instance he occupies. Thus, names are unique. One of the points of the Antisthenes Notice was that there is a difference between naming something and talking about something (his obscuring this fact is what permitted him his paradox about the impossibility of contradiction). This difference between naming and talking about is what §§55 to 93 predominately concerns in addition to their mutual difference from showing something. But, before we see this, let’s think about this in terms of their founding of reality. The Ereignis, the phrase happening, institutes reality insofar as it institutes a phrase universe. But, what really does it give us and how are we to interpret this reality and verify it? In §56, Lyotard establishes that reality is given, but must also be established.
(1) “Phrase” and “Presentation:” locate the appearance and reflect upon the meaning of these two ideas in the chapter—how would you explain what they are and why they are important?
(2) The presentation of a phrase presents a universe whose moments (addressor, addressee, sense, and referent) must be situated. This situation will not, however, present the presentation itself (i.e., we may ‘fix reality’ by figuring out who says what to whom about what, but this bit of narrative or knowledge does not encapsulate the whole of the event’s presentation—there is always more meaning in the presentation than our situating will capture, cf. §§111-18). How does this help to explain why linkage is necessary (§102)?
(3) Considering the Gertrude Stein Notice, the sections just before & after (§§99-104, §105), & a brief review of her writings (~here~ and ~here~), how do her ideas her ideas of linkages and divisions express the emotive force of the ‘necessity’ (§102) and offer a productive path for trying to express what eludes expression in our situation of phrase events?
selection from Tender Buttons:
A METHOD OF A CLOAK.
A single climb to a line, a straight exchange to a cane, a desperate adventure and courage and a clock, all this which is a system, which has feeling, which has resignation and success, all makes an attractive black silver.
Selection from Stanzas in Meditation, III:
Where they have been to have been come from.
It is often that they do regularly not having been.