Random train of thought [were I more on my game {moron my game?} I ‘d have a pun here]… One of the dumber and more annoying things I remember hearing in certain circles is “there is no meta-language.” In that case, what is the thing which the statement references? It addresses a way of talking. That is, it’s meta- in relationship to a particular way of talking. Taking ‘language’ to mean a vocabulary, there are a host of languages and meta-languages, meaning vocabularies that are about other vocabularies. I have an intuition that for all objects there’s always more than one vocabulary possible with which to talk about the object, but I don’t know how I’d go about proving it. I suppose I don’t need to, I’m happy to have a suspicion and to ask any claims (explicit or implicit) to be the sole vocabulary to justify themselves. (This is a dirty trick because “x is the only…” is kind of hard to prove.) Vocabularies are objects, therefore for any vocabulary there’s probably always more than one meta-vocabulary. Meta-vocabularies are vocabularies, so all of this applies for a meta-vocabulary as well. Really, meta- is a relational term, there aren’t vocabularies vs meta-vocabularies…

There isn’t any single all encompassing (meta)vocabulary, in all likelihood, that may be what “there is no meta-language” is supposed to mean. (I’ve been lazy and petty and haven’t bothered to figure out what the statement means – I took it as stupid on the face of it and so figured it was okay not to bother… I mean, if a man can’t be lazy and petty in the privacy of his own blog then the terrorists have already won….)

Anyways that was actually prompted by this thought while walking my dog.
Picture someone on a wood raft in the ocean somewhere near the equator. The sun beats down. The castaway holds a large telescopic lens, basically a giant magnifying glass. The person holds the lens to focus the sunlight into a bright spot on the wood of the raft. The spot on the wood slowly blackens and smokes.

It struck me that this is surely a potential metaphor (all images are, though, so that’s trivially true) but I drew a blank on what it could be a metaphor — on what it could be meta for. Ha! Or rather, ha. The above – my cantankerous refusal to think through what struck me as a prima facie stupid utterance (that one a metaphor for the demand that claims like ‘there is no meta-language’ performatively contradict themselves by justifying the vocabularies in which they pose [pseudo]problems, and thus to adopt a meta-language) as well as my inability to think of something to correspond to an image to make that image into a metaphor – seems to me like another potential metaphor (or maybe just an example….) as does this post as a whole, but again I don’t know for what, and this is really all too self-referential and silly anyway, far too meta and not good for much.

Ha?

Advertisements