A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
J. L. Austin brought to language
what the ethologist brings to the mating behavior of the woodcock,
what the geologist brings to the tilted seams of shale and limestone
stacked like pancakes after an earthquake;
Austin made language other, foreign, and strange,
He looked at it through the philosopher’s microscope
to expose its inner springs and outer consequences.
This is why I know that “I love you” is not about meaning,
There is no “I” and “you” and connective tissue in between
It is a performative utterance,
an action like the blunt force of a fist to the jaw,
it is the planting of a flag on newly occupied territory,
it is an invasion by one into another,
and, if the stars align perfectly,
by the other into the one.
Copyright 2017 Sandra Mitchell
Sandra Mitchell (born 1951) is an American philosopher of science and historian of ideas. She holds the position of professor and chair of the department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh.