Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory (Cultural Memory in the Present)

Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory (Cultural Memory in the Present)

Stanley Cavell

Language: English

Pages: 584

ISBN: 080477014X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An autobiography in the form of a philosophical diary, Little Did I Know's underlying motive is to describe the events of a life that produced the kind of writing associated with Stanley Cavell's name. Cavell recounts his journey from early childhood in Atlanta, Georgia, through musical studies at UC Berkeley and Julliard, his subsequent veering off into philosophy at UCLA, his Ph.D. studies at Harvard, and his half century of teaching. Influential people from various fields figure prominently or in passing over the course of this memoir. J.L. Austin, Ernest Bloch, Roger Sessions, Thomas Kuhn, Robert Lowell, Rogers Albritton, Seymour Shifrin, John Rawls, Bernard Williams, W. V. O. Quine, and Jacques Derrida are no longer with us; but Cavell also pays homage to the living: Michael Fried, John Harbison, Rose Mary Harbison, Kurt Fischer, Milton Babbitt, Thompson Clarke, John Hollander, Hilary Putnam, Sandra Laugier, Belle Randall, and Terrence Malick. The drift of his narrative also registers the decisiveness of the relatively unknown and the purely accidental. Cavell's life has produced a trail of some eighteen published books that range from treatments of individual writers like Wittgenstein, Austin, Emerson, Thoreau, Heidegger, Shakespeare, and Beckett to studies in aesthetics, epistemology, moral and political philosophy, cinema, opera, and religion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

through a room that was a kitchen, but with the sink and counters lowered so as almost to suggest part of a child’s playhouse, we entered a smallish room with apparently nothing in it but walls of drawers of different sizes fitted 66 L I T T L E DI D I K N OW with large white porcelain knobs. After using some of these to pull open a number of drawers that contained neatly arranged sweaters or shirts or socks or underclothes, he pulled open what proved to be a door disguised as the surface of

from a stationary, uncomplaining beast who tirelessly supported the house with its limbs and breath. Fifty years later, when I lived, and where I continue living to this day, in another brick house, in Brookline, one street from the Boston city limits, a house built, at a guess, half a century before the brick house on Atlanta Avenue—namely, in 1870, when Atlanta would have still been occupied in reconstituting itself after the Civil War—this tale of a worthy father still occasionally would

from a stationary, uncomplaining beast who tirelessly supported the house with its limbs and breath. Fifty years later, when I lived, and where I continue living to this day, in another brick house, in Brookline, one street from the Boston city limits, a house built, at a guess, half a century before the brick house on Atlanta Avenue—namely, in 1870, when Atlanta would have still been occupied in reconstituting itself after the Civil War—this tale of a worthy father still occasionally would

somewhat boisterously, an inheritance out of history into the present, by way of the work of Austin and of Wittgenstein. My senior colleagues, perhaps with certain dissenting voices, voted to postpone their decision on my case for tenure until the following year in order to see what more I would put into publishable shape to add to my two published papers, certainly not an impressive quantity. (Two publications from the early years of graduate school in UCLA I literally had no further use for;

solely, as my having stolen a love that was justly his (that is something he had to take up with my mother, in their mysterious and frightening quarrels, something his rages doubtless regularly took up with my mother, so that I am in some part grateful for those rages, insisting upon his existence), but understood as my obviously becoming prepared for a life he was denied every day. The other claim for reparation came out of my mother’s certainty that I would accomplish a life of recognition for

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