Carefully and Open to All Paths / Failed Substitutions

It’s not everyday, in the random course of one’s reading, that a quote from a Pitchfork review of Bill Callahan’s music (mentioned a few days ago on this blog) connects to an article in Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management. Such, such were my joys.

First, from Mike Powell’s review of Bill Callahan’s new album:

If anything, Callahan often seems like he’s following his songs instead of leading them, carefully and open to all paths, the way a birder follows the call from wherever it comes. (He is a meditator, no surprise.) Even ”Ry Cooder,” a tribute to the roots-rock musician and possibly the dumbest song Callahan has written in 27 years is alive with punchlines, zig-zags, and little surprises a stricter sort of attention would miss. 

Second, from Karl E. Weick on William James:

William James is famous for this sentence: ‘If my reader can succeed in abstracting from all conceptual interpretation and lapse back into his immediate sensible life at this very moment, he will find it to be what someone has called a big, blooming buzzing, confusion, as free from contradiction in its “much-atonceness” as it is all alive and evidently there’. . . . What is less well known is that a few sentences later he makes the more crucial point that ‘The intellectual life of man consists in his substitution of a conceptual order for the perceptual order in which his experience originally comes’. We do not realize how much we ignore, but we realize it when projects are interrupted and structures break down. What we then see are failed substitutions that previously concealed ambiguity that was always there.

Source: “Ambiguity as Grasp: The Reworking of Sense,” by Karl E. Weick

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