Roughing It

Terry Eagleton. Saints and Scholars. A eureka moment for the character Wittgenstein. Notable for the physicality with which it is described.

Then one day a friend took his photograph on the steps of Senate House and Wittgenstein asked him where he was to stand. 'Oh, roughly there,' the friend replied, casually indicating a spot. Wittgenstein went back to his room, lay on the floor and writhed in excitement. Roughly there. The phrase had opened a world to him. Not 'two inches to the left of that stone,' but 'roughly there'. Human life was a matter of roughness, not of precise measurement. Why had he not understood this? He had tried to purge language of of its ambiguities, but this was like regarding the handle of a cup as a flaw in the pottery. Looseness and ambiguity were not imperfections, they were what made things work.
Eagleton goes on in a lovely fashion about ordinary people moving at ease in, through and around ambiguity. What for me is striking in this description is its connection to the act of producing a record. And then in the cogitation comes the sense that precision and use oppose each other. Yet the passage intimates that there are language games where precision matters. Knowing which is of course a matter of roughly knowing. In such cases the ambiguity maybe located at a metadiscursive level. The necessity of going meta is about coming to some agreement about the contours of the ambiguity.

Going meta: "To go meta is to query the products and experiences of textuality and virtuality. Going meta is a question-based activity."

And so for day 1158