The influence of gaslight or electric light on the growth of paraheliotropic trees

bonebrushing the edges of the res interna (upper transcend)

Month: September, 2009

My days are full of thoughts and reading — spent three hours in the library trying to reason my way to a theory of legitimacy of governments — realized whole project is built on sand — not sure why a government needs to be legitimate — later — what’s later — barely ate today — bagel for lunch — two slices of pizza for dinner — fine I guess — but was lightheaded for awhile — still exhausted — did not sleep on Tuesday — stuffed my head with Must-See TV Thursdays — still a couple hours left — beautiful girl came to my apartment — guest of my roommate, but some guest — favor for a friend I guess — Spanish — not much English — my age — smiled but did not get her name — strange strange what am I what am I the world’s dumbest man — man-bear-pig — to the extent you can trust the word of a Belgian, yes — Snippet of Simpsons — hours — legal research after — two cigarettes — the quitting is coming — pulling back — a text message received — facebook stalking — some pudpulling, sure, that happened — what is this, a list — none of your business —

List of banalities. Daily record. Flush. All the shit of the universe, the useless piling shit piling over and over and over six billion times better or worse with a few hundred adventures shoved in the mix — some adventure this is — thinking thinking always thinking now — twisty and clever — turned it back around — we begin as always with the text of the statute — I got that Sentimental Feeling, That Sympathetic Feeling — This is a Postmodern Poem — This is Playing tennis without the Net — My sister moves to Nashville — check — My brother stays in Philadelphia — check — I have several wild cards — maybe — no interest in anything — no future at all — Oh yes — An image of my hypothetical imaginary non-baby with my ex-girlfriend, sent to me by my ex-girlfriend —

I am so old and aged — I have grown blind in the service of my country — 27 — young, but at the end of my life so far — and surrounded by those younger coming up — Daft Punk is playing in my house — top of the world should be — but here I am in a city not mine lacking friends lacking connections urggh not pushing not pushing hard enough — come to late — belated — I should be working — I should be saving — procreating even, maybe, though really, get yourself together man — well anyway anyway anyway this can’t continue

Record of my madness. Final thoughts on Elsewhere. Where to tomorrow? Friendly obligation or Sunk Cost? Soulfatronic or Yo La Tengo — Yo La Tengo, Yo La Tengo — Watched Old Joy a year ago — movie about friends drifting apart — soundtrack was by YLT — would be a shame if I took the wrong message from it —

My old best friend was in town a couple weeks ago — we still get along — easy comfort of that — introduced me to my girlfriend, he did — can’t blame him, the joy I got from that was immeasurable, an infinity, a black hole’s worth — divide by zero, do not pass go —

My eyes are bleary eyed. More than five hundred words I’ve written now. Thoughts. The Trace of Mind. Left here. True Face, Here, Without Names, Public But Not Public, Idea of Publics, No Privates, No Privates Here, nevertheless clearly the Writer of this Blog Record is merely one more Character, the Character who has access to my thoughts and history and experiences but is NOT ME, no a Projection or Hologram or One More Dodge, Get Out Of, one more sleep comes melotonin pill in my system fat lot of good that will do me snippets of television snippets of writers the writers smart as the writers probably not an Einstein though unfortunately not so smart as that lack focus lack ruthlessness like to take it easy peasy pie — floating on my back down a lazy rolling river in the sun | Pictures Worth A Thousand Words, I Write This Now At Night Time In the Witching Hours of the Morn With Little Sleep and Tired Eyes | Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Sweet Juliet, A Thousand Times Good Night A Thousand Times Good Night A Thousand Times Good Night A Thousand Times Good Night —-


To the Lighthouse (Review)

Woolff (?) writes with the langue of urging and feeling and thought and calm passion — some what of the forever not knowing, the forever reaching towards another and the forever not getting there — the spaces between us and behind us and beyond us — the warm calm bosom of time, it will shake us dead eventually but till then an close and loving companion — for in that room of time, our lives our beatiful crystaline perfect (admixtures of joy and suffering and self-reflection and other-reflection) unfold like Japanese flower arrangements, like an organized picture —

Forces. There are forces. And yet a will and a mind — so as if to say if some other intelligence were to come upon these records of our lives, these empty houses, or a book left on the beach, or a painting stowed under a couch, or somethingsomething else any of it — it would detect a counter intelligence — the touch of the Rational Being

If not her, another. If not this, something else.


is when the person you hurt says “be nicer to the next one” and you realize you will.

(ergo dependent on our specific experience and understanding of time and the impossibility of return)

Mirror Neurons, Empathy, and Morality

Why be moral? Why help?

Mirror Neurons imply something revolutionary, namely that we can actually feel the pain of others. Feeling this pain, we feel an urge to alleviate that pain. Mirror Neurons, of course, require actual vision of the Other in order to be triggered.

An example:

I was fiercely hungry after this morning’s class, and went to Dunkin Donuts to get a bagel and cream cheese. I took this food to Washington Square Park and sat down on a bench near the southern entrance. Across from me was someone I could only assume to be homeless (he was too poor to even afford a shirt.) As I ate, my reason pointed to the inevitable conclusion that this man across from me was most likely hungry. I felt a great guilt, though was unsure of my next move. Should I offer him my food or some of it? While I was not sure what I should do, it was clear what I felt — namely that this man was hungry, and I could fix that.

Luckily for my own mind, he came over to me and asked me if I had anything to eat (a rhetorical question, but a respectful one). Of course I did, and gave him what was left of my bagel. I doubt I would have given it to him unless he asked (which I justified on the basis that as a beggar, he chooses when to beg and when not to beg, and just like I would not go to a store that was not open, it would be rude to force this beggar to work (beg) when he was not choosing to.)

Now, in a world where mirror neurons do not exist (or where mirror neurons are not being fired because the Other is not present), are we still moved to act?

Even where I do not actually feel the pain of the other, I can use my reason to imagine the pain of the other, knowing that the circumstances indicate that the other is hungry, and knowing from my own experience what hunger feels like. At this point, I can also feel the pain of the Other. As a human averse to pain, I want to make this pain go away, and hence am moved to act.

So I know I want to act. Should I act? What about the hard-hearts? Perhaps there is a moral obligation to use our empathetic reason to feel the pain of others and use reasonable effort to alleviate that pain. If the question is Why Not? and I have no valid reason Why Not, perhaps I am required to act. 

I suppose this implies that where one can alleviate one’s pain, one must. With a second implication that one should fully rationalize all situations, and to not fully rationalize (and therefore empathize), one is being wasteful, careless, and cruel. To not help others when we can is a failure of instrumental rationality.

(Of course, maybe we aren’t obligated to satisfy our own desires.)

But if you want to satisfy your desires, all things considered, helping others is a requirement to that end. Not helping others ignores certain of our desires.

As an aside, one justification for not giving to beggars is that there are better institutions set up to deal with the problem of hunger. However, my guess is that people use that justification but then never take care to insure that those institutions are actually there and viable.

If you’re in New York, like I am, and you’re argument for not giving is similar to that one, perhaps you should give to an organization like the NYC Food Bank.

Something I forgot to say, some other thought thought while sitting on my stoop in Greenwich Village, watching the smoke curl from my cigarette — some thought I had meant to set dwon. Ramble on, Sweet Rambler. Treat all temporal states equally — or somewhat equally — the Present is privileged as the Realm of Action, the Future privileged as the storehouse of industry — impulse meets impulse — but where does impulse come from —

My reason is simply an elaborate justifier, without normative force of its own — why do anything? why should I be good?

There is a great soul in there somewhere — echoing — though I am weak and weakling, I have a thick and heady thick and heady soul which only wants to do good — well, not only, maybe, what so only — no, I’m tempted by the edge — why — all the vagaries of human existence — not true, I try not to harm — and frankly, who have I harmed, really? None, none, none. A Saint I could be, A Saint I am, Mean to My Brother, hold him to the standard I don’t hold myself too

Murder Red, and Murder Foul; those are not men, but beasts, and have no share in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Cobwebs and Corridors

Yoohoo, he says, peering down the dark hallway.

Everything I say is just an old cliche – he thinks for a moment, who is narrating this anyway? as he walks into the corridor, looking for a lightswitch or one of those old-time-religion bulb and strings. I’m in the background, some background, watching, trying not to giggle.

What’s with all the cobwebs? he says out loud, his voice echoing almost imperceptibly as the sound wave its carried on bounces gently against the  smooth like-polished walls. Guess no one has been down here for some time.

He continues walking, his foot falls muffled by some quality of the floor, and the darkness of the corridor is both dark and not dark, like the imagined lights of dreams where we think we can see even though our eyes are closed and we are lying in a dark room — yes, just like that, he begins to see doors and doors and doors and doors rows of doors lining the corridor, and at the end of the corridor an arched passage that leads into a larger room.

He walks into it, and looks around. It is still dark but he can see. The room is empty except for a table in a corner with a half drank glass of wine on it and several books laying haphazard on the floor.

Looks like they left in a hurry, he thinks.

Brian Eno’s Big Ship

After darkness, light. After storms, calm. As we the living move through these great and mighty histories, after moments of ignorance and confusion and chaos, in the quiet stillness, there are moments of clarity and reflection — when the raging ceases, and we can look out, and take the measure of our view and know where we stand.

My father has a recurring dream where he is climbing a mountain. Always climbing.

Every generation must find this quiet moment for themselves. And as soon as it is found, History restarts its relentless march. And yet – after the calm is gone, traces of the calm remain. Memories of the calm remain.

(Interpolation from Day 9971: Zen by way of Kerouac says: when you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing)

I have been sailing dark and windy seas. Much has been given to me, and much has been taken from me. I am ragged. I am naked. I am scared.

But I am calm.