The first thing you need to know about Definition is that it was a written by a fictional character, Wayne Floyd, from Graham Guest’s debut novel, Winter Park, which, of course, means that Floyd didn’t really write Definition; Guest did.
In any case, Floyd (aka Eric “Socrates” Swanson) is a PhD student in philosophy at Rice University until fate leads him to Dude Ranch Rodeo College and Penal Camp in West Texas, where he writes Definition, a dissertation (of sorts) in philosophy (of sorts), under the tutelage of one Doc Holiday.
Definition is a book of philosophy, but, unbeknownst to Floyd (because Floyd is utterly serious), it is also satirical meta-philosophy, which is to say that Floyd makes some real philosophical points, but he also unwittingly pokes fun at philosophy and himself.
Perhaps the best way in to the book is to imagine that you’re an absolutely literal-minded logical being from another earth-like planet, an alien with Asperger’s Syndrome, like Star Trek‘s Dr. Spock, and you’ve landed on earth long after humans are gone, the only artifact you find is this one dictionary, and, for whatever reason, you begin your investigation into human life on earth by looking into the definition of “parking lot” – an open area of ground in which people can park their automobiles.
Over the course of the book, Floyd closely examines the definition ... Read More >
A Brief History of Definition
Robert Jogs, PhD
I have received an overwhelmingly large number of letters inquiring about the now famous, or, perhaps, infamous Wayne Floyd and his unusual book, Definition. Most of you know that Floyd was convicted of the murders of my friend, Dr. John “Doc” Holliday, out at Dude Ranch in West Texas, and of Old George Williams up in Winter Park, Colorado; or, to be more precise, I should say that Wayne Floyd was convicted of the murder of Holliday, and after it came to light that Wayne Floyd just is Eric Swanson, then Eric Swanson was convicted of the murder of Williams. It is intriguing, so I understand where all the letters are coming from.
And it’s true, I did know both Swanson and Floyd, though I only knew Swanson for about six months, over his first year of PhD philosophy at Rice, and I only knew Floyd through that one phone call, in which, in Graham Guest’s book Winter Park, I come off as a pretty slipshod or lazy philosopher. And I must confess, at the time of that conversation, I hadn’t read Floyd’s manuscript closely or thought about it very seriously. What I did see clearly, though, in Floyd, through Definition, was a sharp philosophical-type mind at work, one I thought would do well at Rice Philosophy. Of course, I had ... Read More >
I get my cell phone back, call Big Dave, and head off through the airport to passenger pick-up…It’s crowded, though to say that and mean it would be to go out on a limb because crowds can be relative to types of places and times and some places are always crowded whereas others are not and the airport is one of those places that is always crowded, but is that even true? Every night, especially in the wee hours, there’s almost no one there.
Crowded is a crowded municipal train at five pm when people are packed in like sardines, sardines which also I suppose in a can are crowded, but dead, which prompts the question: is crowded a live condition or can a whole crowd be dead – and I mean literally dead not just passive – and still be a crowd? A dead crowd certainly does not feel crowded so to the extent that one needs to feel to be crowded one cannot be dead and be crowded and thus by extension one cannot have a dead crowd.
So, sardines are not crowded. But that’s also not what people have been claiming about them all these years; people have been claiming that they’re packed in; but there’s a relationship between being packed in and being crowded: people, because they are alive, can be packed in and crowded; but ... Read More >
“Open” & “Ground”
The next term we’re going to deal with, for better or for worse, is “open,” of which there are numerous definitions, but the one, or several that interest us here, of course, must appositely modify “area of ground.” I found three of them relevant to our investigation. “Open,” for our purposes, could mean the following: “(1) allowing people or things to pass through freely, [or] (25) free from blockage and therefore allowing unobstructed passage, [or] (39) … that part of the field beyond the line of scrimmage where a ball carrier encounters fewer potential tacklers.”
Before we get started in earnest, though, if we want to work with (39) – and I foresee that we do – we are going to have to deal with the phrase, “beyond the line of scrimmage.” The “line of scrimmage” is, “in [American] football, an imaginary line across the field at which the ball rests and where the players of the opposing teams line up facing each other.” But if it’s “imaginary,” it “exist[s] only in the mind, not in reality,” and if it does not exist in “reality,” it does not have “actual being or existence”; therefore, “beyond the line of scrimmage” means “beyond the line that does not exist in reality, does not have actual being or existence,” and that is just total nonsense: some ... Read More >
Moses Guest at Continental Club – Houston on Saturday, March 1o, 2018, 10pm – 2am. Tix $15.
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This is a special short appearance by Guest at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, CA, as a part of the Floating Records Fall Revue. Guest will play a short solo-acoustic set in which he attempts to play banjo ON a nylon-string classical acoustic guitar. Other performances by: Mark Karan, Marble Party, and Jeffrey Halford & the Healers. Plus, there’s a fashion show at 9:30, produced by Guest’s “cousin,” Nadine Storyk. That’ll be something completely different. But don’t be late for Guest at 8pm.
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Graham Guest will be on Berkeley’s KPFA radio at 10am on August 20, 2017. Guest will do an interview with John Sandridge, play a few songs acoustic, and they’ll spin a few songs from the new Moses Guest album, Light.
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