[Ads-l] Rebecca West's remark about copying the universe

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 19 13:08:59 EDT 2018


My message below should have acknowledged the information in previous
messages posted to this list. Stephen Goranson mentioned the 1968
citation back in July 2018. Also, back in July, Ben Zimmer found a
1953 citation for a shortened version of Rebecca West's quotation.
Hence, the new piece of information in the message below is the 1928
citation.   --Garson

On Wed, Sep 19, 2018 at 12:50 PM ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Geoffrey Nunberg wrote:
> > Puts me in mind of the remark that Chomsky attributes to Rebecca
> > West, who, asked about possible worlds, replied, “One of the damn
> > thing is enough.” Hard to say which is more implausible, Rebecca
> > West being asked about possible worlds, or her having an opinion
> > on the matter. (Chomsky’s citing her would come  in there somewhere,
> > if it hadn’t actually happened.) But somebody surely said it. If it hasn’t
> > already been done, some quote sleuth might want to  track this one
> > down.
> >
> > http://tinyurl.com/y7tk7fjz
>
> I've made some progress on this question. In 1928 Rebecca West
> published a collection containing an essay titled "The Strange
> Necessity". She discussed realism in painting and criticized an undue
> emphasis on exact representation. Her comment in the following passage
> was not really about the philosophical concept of many possible
> worlds:
>
> [ref] 1928, The Strange Necessity: Essays and Reviews by Rebecca West,
> Essay 1: The Strange Necessity, Start Page 13, Quote Page 131,
> Jonathan Cape, London, England. (Verified with scans)[/ref]
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> We feel impatient with Royal Academy stuff of that sort because really
> the makers of it ought to have learned by this time that a copy of the
> universe is not what is required of art; one of the damned thing is
> ample.
> [End excerpt]
>
> West used the word "ample" instead of "enough", but the quotation and
> the attribution were garbled over time. Here is a pertinent citation
> in 1968.
>
> [ref] 1968 Copyright, Languages of Art: An Approach To a Theory of
> Symbols by Nelson Goodman, Part I: Reality Remade, Chapter 1:
> Denotation, (Quotation appears as epigraph of chapter 1, additional
> information is given in a footnote on the same page), Quote Page 3,
> The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Verified with
> scans)[/ref]
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> Art is not a copy of the real world. One of the damn things is enough.*
>
> * Reported as occurring in an essay on Virginia Woolf. I have been
> unable to locate the source.
> [End excerpt]
>
> Noam Chomsky appears to have mentioned the quotation in the 1971 work
> "Problems of Knowledge and Freedom". I am attempting to access this
> book and other citations with the goal of writing a piece on this
> topic in the future.
>
> Garson O'Toole
>
>
> > > Date:    Wed, 25 Jul 2018 13:26:41 -0400
> > > From:    Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM <mailto:hwgray at GMAIL.COM>>
> > > Subject: Re: "... there's just one of them"
> > >
> > >> would "... there's just one of it." have been better?
> > >
> > > IMO, yes, since there is just one of it.
> > >
> > > "The earth has several moons, but there's just one of them visible to the
> > > naked eye."
> > >
> > > On Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 3:05 AM Chris Waigl <chris at lascribe.net <mailto:chris at lascribe.net>> wrote:
> > >
> > >> I was just listening to the latest CBC radio broadcast of "Quirks and
> > >> Quarks" (as a podcast, but no matter). Here's how the host introduced a new
> > >> topic:
> > >>
> > >> "You've probably noticed that our planet has exactly one moon. And it's a
> > >> pretty good one, as moons go, but still, there's just one of them."
> > >>
> > >> At this point I had a weird 200 milliseconds of wondering if the "them" is
> > >> the gender-neutral singular they (referring to the Moon??), which it
> > >> obviously isn't. But it nontheless came across as ever so slightly weird.
> > >> OTOH, would "... there's just one of it." have been better?
> > >>
> > >> For people, I do hear stuff like "[She's awesome, but we need to make sure
> > >> not to overload her with work:] There's just one of her."
> > >>
> > >> Idly speculating,
> > >
> > > Chris
> > >
> > > --
> >
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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