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21

The Broom of the System: Wittgenstein and the Rules of the Game

5
terms
1
notes

Boswell, M. (2003). The Broom of the System: Wittgenstein and the Rules of the Game. In Boswell, M. Understanding David Foster Wallace. University of South Carolina Press, pp. 21-64

28

Having declared that language is ultimately self-referential, Barth has also affirmed that novels themselves, because they do not refer directly to a knowable reality, unavoidably refer instead to other novels. This latter idea directly informs his essay "The Literature of Exhaustion," discussed at greater length in chapter 1. Briefly, Barth argues that all the advances in novelistic technique introduced by the modernist masters—from stream-of-consciousness to spatial form—were originally designed to provide a more accurate access to reality. Now that "reality" is understood to be nothing more than a construct of language. Since all literary conventions have been "exhausted" from overuse and have been undermined by recent theories concerning the relationship between language and the world, the postmodern novel would employ literary conventions self-consciously, thereby warding off the "death of the novel" by writing novels that dramatize that death. The end result would be a fiction that overcomes exhaustion by dramatizing it. Or, as Barth explains, "An artist may paradoxically turn the felt ultimacies of our time into material and means for his work—paradoxically, because by doing so he transcends what had appeared to be his refutation, in the same way that the mystic who transcends finitude is said to be enabled to live, spiritually and physically, in the finite world."'

I put a post-it flag on this page so I apparently thought this paragraph was worth saving but I'm not entirely sure why

—p.28 by Marshall Boswell 2 years, 5 months ago

Having declared that language is ultimately self-referential, Barth has also affirmed that novels themselves, because they do not refer directly to a knowable reality, unavoidably refer instead to other novels. This latter idea directly informs his essay "The Literature of Exhaustion," discussed at greater length in chapter 1. Briefly, Barth argues that all the advances in novelistic technique introduced by the modernist masters—from stream-of-consciousness to spatial form—were originally designed to provide a more accurate access to reality. Now that "reality" is understood to be nothing more than a construct of language. Since all literary conventions have been "exhausted" from overuse and have been undermined by recent theories concerning the relationship between language and the world, the postmodern novel would employ literary conventions self-consciously, thereby warding off the "death of the novel" by writing novels that dramatize that death. The end result would be a fiction that overcomes exhaustion by dramatizing it. Or, as Barth explains, "An artist may paradoxically turn the felt ultimacies of our time into material and means for his work—paradoxically, because by doing so he transcends what had appeared to be his refutation, in the same way that the mystic who transcends finitude is said to be enabled to live, spiritually and physically, in the finite world."'

I put a post-it flag on this page so I apparently thought this paragraph was worth saving but I'm not entirely sure why

—p.28 by Marshall Boswell 2 years, 5 months ago

(noun, linguistics) the thing that a word or phrase denotes or stands for

29

the correspondence of words to their referents

—p.29 by Marshall Boswell
notable
2 years, 6 months ago

the correspondence of words to their referents

—p.29 by Marshall Boswell
notable
2 years, 6 months ago

a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin

referent-based signification; truth-centric

34

what Derrida would call a logocentric view of language

—p.34 by Marshall Boswell
notable
2 years, 6 months ago

what Derrida would call a logocentric view of language

—p.34 by Marshall Boswell
notable
2 years, 6 months ago

the branch of zoology dealing with butterflies and moths

42

a clear allusion to Nabokov's lepidoptery

—p.42 by Marshall Boswell
notable
2 years, 6 months ago

a clear allusion to Nabokov's lepidoptery

—p.42 by Marshall Boswell
notable
2 years, 6 months ago

soon; shortly

47

about which more anon

—p.47 by Marshall Boswell
confirm
2 years, 6 months ago

about which more anon

—p.47 by Marshall Boswell
confirm
2 years, 6 months ago