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January 09, 2006


Jacob T. Levy

John, I'm disappointed in you. No reference to Kirby! Why Darkseid always "spoke" in "this way" "escaped" me.

Russell Arben Fox

A whole post on the "philosophical" uses of the "inverted" comma, and yet not one word for (de)constructive (paren)theses? How (de)limiting.

Mike Russo

I'm more or less philosphically illiterate, so when I saw the list of inverted-comma users, I thought the post was obviously a joke, inasmuch as I took "Nancy" to be a reference to the insipid comic strip. Sadly, glancing at the sidebar disabused me of the notion, but it was really hilarious for a moment there.


Have you ever questioned whether other higher mammals might have some sort of metaphysical awareness? Say a nornal, healthy housecat. Cartesians and most humans would claim Kitty to be sort of an automaton, her actions purely determined by stimulus. Yet watch Kitty out in the yard hunting a bird, say a sparrow. She doesn't simply rush up and try to attack--she stealthily creeps up, watching the bird's move closely. Isn't that an awareness of space, as well as time? She is very sensitive to how the object-prey sort of arranges itself in space and time; and seems a bit aware of how to best attack--sort of strategy, which seems a bit inductive (the older bird-hunter also having more skills than young cats). There is a "unity of apperception" in her mind as surely as in a human hunter, and possibly intention as well. That awareness of space and time, and a sort of intentionality does not mean she is necessarily conscious, but if cats are automatons, they are a very refined sort of machine.


I don't know how inverted commas are used in the US by advertisers, but over here they are typically used for emphasis: like italics, only more so. So products are "cheap" and "quality" and so on: as though within the very text of the advert a sign of their own deconstruction reveals itself. Or something.


I should probably explain: the point isn't to make fun of Heidegger, who never ascribed totemic potency to punctuation. Also, I'm pretty sure the original post is 25%+ tongue in cheek, which is perhaps enough to save its soul.

John Emerson

Inverted commas "sous rature"

John Emerson

Your HTML is inadequate.

John Emerson

My own HTML tries to put inverted commas sous rature, but the rature line is too low to cut the inverted commas. But I tried.

Ray Davis

Alice Notley wrote a huge narrative poem entirely in inverted commas. "Epic quotes". I never saw her read from it so I don't know if she made the little finger motions or not.


That's very funny, Ray. I actually made that joke myself somewhere: that I would write an entire article, putting scare quotes at the beginning and end to neatly immunize its entirety against any criticism.


Well, actually, you should put everything in quotes, because it's all you talking.

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