Tag Archives: W.V. Quine

Miramar, issue No. 8: W.V. Quine and “The Paradox of Hunger”

PART ONE

Christopher Buckley’s MIRAMAR has just come out with its eighth issue, and it includes work by many of the poets on the West Coast whose work continues to deserve our attention:

Marsha de la O
Chryss Yost
Gary Young
Peter Everwine
C.G. Hanzlicek
Doren Robbins
Amy Uyematsu
Ricardo Means Ybarra
Marit Macarthur
Glover Davis
Dennis Saleh
John Olivares Espinoza
Kevin Patrick Sullivan
Candace Pearson
Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Ernesto Trejo
Timothy Sheehan
Phil Taggart
Christopher Howell
Jon Veinberg
and 70 other hard-working contributors.

Single copies: $15.
Checks payable to Christopher Buckley.
MIRAMAR
342 Oliver Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Note that submissions are only accepted via snail mail; June through August.
NO E-MAIL.

PART 2

My contribution to the eighth issue of MIRAMAR is “THE PARADOX OF HUNGER,” a short verse meditation followed by a prose paragraph. It was derived from a paradox, cited in W.V. Quine’s THE WAYS OF PARADOX AND OTHER ESSAYS, identified about a hundred years ago by Bertrand Russell as an anonymous conjecture. The paradox features a confounded barber in a clean-shaven village; in my variant the gender of the Master Razor Wielder shifts to female. It’s a two-part piece, and only the second half was published in MIRAMAR.

I am hardly the only poet who cites Quine, who make an appearance several times in Ron Silliman’s poems. THE WAYS OF PARADOX has several of my favorite passages in modern philosophy:

“As scientists we accept provisionally our heritage from the dim past, with intermediate revisions by our more recent forebears; and then we continue to warp and revise. As Neurath has said, we are in the position of a mariner who must rebuild his ship plank by plank while continuing to stay afloat on the open sea.” (page 223)

“It might be, now and forever, that the only way of guessing whether a man is inspired, or depressed, or deluded, or in pain, is by asking him or by observing his gross behavior; not by examining his nervous workings, albeit with instruments of undreamed of subtlety.” (page 243)

The first part of my response to the “village barber” paradox is closer to a “warp” than a mere revision. It could be accused of embedding itself in a prurient premise, and yet how else to break down the privileging of the male body as the vehicle for mental clarifications of barely perceivable patterns of tug and push, stir and steep, of cleaning and caressing.