Monday, August 23, 2010

language and the city

In the Oxford dictionary city is explained as “a large town” and the urban as “having to do with a town or city.” Of course, a dictionary is not of much help. Ultimately, language is self-referential. Moreover, Wittgenstein writes: “The power language has to make everything look the same […] is most glaringly evident in the dictionary […] (Culture and Value, 22e).” For example, the same Oxford dictionary explains building as “a structure with a roof and walls.” And as Nietzsche remarks in the Will to Power: “words dilute and brutalize; words depersonalize; words make the uncommon common (810).” And, “[t]he demand for an adequate mode of expression is senseless […] (625).” We have to make use, therefore, of the available tools without forgetting that meaning isn’t within these tools.

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