What’s in a name?

Fredric Jameson
Hegel Variations

The problem with names is that, deeply embedded in history, after a certain time and at different rates of speed they begin to show their age. Some systems are canonized and as it were mummified, others begin to rot and stink of an intolerable past, still others give off the musty smell of archives and long-shuttered houses. There then gradually arises a new kind of philosophical ambition, not merely to invent a foolproof new system of correct names, but also somehow to elude the ravages of temporality and to invent remedies to ward off the inevitable historical reification of these historical linguistic systems (the word “reification” is of course itself just another such historical name). The prestidigitation of an operation that might be called name and variations is only one attempt to move so fast as to elude the fatal process; another is the Magritte formula (“ceci n’est pas une pipe”) in which, marked as names from the outset, the formula in question is already as it were homoeopathically secured against some later denunciation. But of course all such operations are themselves the signals of their own historicity, and condemned, like past fashions, to go into the past without the kind of immortality they desperately sought.

how to write when you know the writing will d i s s o l v e

And so for day 2932

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