Settling Sentences (More on Lutz)

From Gary Lutz, “The Sentence is a Lonely Place” (The Believer [Jan. 2009]):

The sentence is a situation of words in the most literal sense: words must be situated in relation to others to produce an enduring effect on a reader [my emphasis]. . . . [T]he words inside the sentence must behave as if they were destined to belong together. . . .

That is to say,

there needs to be an intimacy between the words, a togetherness that has nothing to do with grammar or syntax but instead has to do with the very shapes and sounds, the forms and contours, of the gathered words.

For Lutz, this intimacy works by affinities — and is akin to settlement (which for him is a good word):

Once the words begin to settle into their circumstance in a sentence and decide to make the most of their predicament, they look around and take notice of their neighbors. They seek out affinities, they adapt to each other, they begin to make adjustments in their appearance to try to blend in with each other better and enhance any resemblance. Pretty soon in the writer’s eyes the words in the sentence are all vibrating and destabilizing themselves: no longer solid and immutable, they start to flutter this way and that in playful receptivity. . . .

The sentence is a colony:

[The sentences] begin to take on a similar typographical physique. The phrasing now feels literally all of a piece. The lonely space of the sentence feels colonized. . . . The words of the sentence have in fact formed a united community.

There is a hint of early Wittgenstein on the logic of logical space here:

4 A thought is a sentence with sense [der sinnvolle Satz].

4.021 A sentence is a picture of reality: for if I understand a sentence, I know the situation that it represents. And I understand the sentence without having had its sense explained to me.

4.022 A sentence shows its sense. A sentence shows how things stand if it is true. And it says that they do so stand. (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus [1921])

We have to take “picture” and “understand” lutzly for the analogy to walk.

For example (taking “sentence” loosely too):

Ludwig head crazy hair.


One thought on “Settling Sentences (More on Lutz)

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