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.

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was to throw light on why I was perplexed at the degree of my grandfather’s distress over his daughter’s elopement with a gentile policeman. And now I find that I have not resolved the issue. Perhaps it has to do with my early romantic sense that socialists were committed to equality, unless it was an even less realistic inference from the fact that my mother was her father’s favorite that therefore he had staked less than his happiness on each of his other children. A few years later, in the

credibly given various circumstances, such as the clarity and rarity of her talent and the family’s need of money, that she was playing in a pit orchestra for vaudeville and silent films at the age of sixteen. She was particularly proud to describe the return on her commercial work as “making a man’s salary.” August 6, 2003 Life took a distinct turn for the better during the summer after that first year of high school. We were to move back to Sacramento at the beginning of the fall, pushed and

fact, made it look brittle and feel unyielding when I kissed her goodnight. There was a photograph of an adolescent girl in a white dress with flowing hair down almost to her waist among the box of family photographs and mementoes Mary took out to show me. I felt I ought to recognize this young girl since so many of the faces in the box were the ones my mother had also put in an album, but I could not place her. As I held it up to her and before I could ask who it was she said quickly, “Yes,

death. I was later told that the navy was at that period still in various regions subject to anti-Semitism; but I had another cousin by marriage who had been inducted as a lieutenant junior grade, but then again he had a master’s degree in psychology. By the time I turned eighteen in the fall of 1944, the outcome of the war had become clarified, and when I was called in for the army physical and heard from the doctor the exact words of the navy doctor upon looking, or trying to 168 L I T T L E

bathroom first. “You’re more than half an hour late already; if I close this door now you won’t be allowed in to take the examination.” The extent of the forces the body can mobilize in an emergency is a subject I know little about, but I can here lend my testimony to my having been constrained to take, and made capable of taking successfully, a two-hour examination in less than an hour, the last to enter, the first to leave, not unaware of having made a spectacle of myself, with my tensely

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