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

bonebrushing the edges of the res interna (upper transcend)

Month: October, 2009

The Problem with Democracy

There is no overlapping consensus. Not in America. (Britain might be different, where Blair’s New Left is about to be replaced by Cameron’s New Right.)

The problem is that Rawls as prophet of the progressives requires an overlapping consensus where we agree on the burdens of judgment, a largely liberal idea, that there is no one good and citizens must respect each other’s differences of opinions and private lives.

Against that is the philosopher Russel Kirk, whom Wikipedia terms the father of New Conservatism.

These are his six canons:


The six canons of conservatism

The Conservative Mind was written by Kirk as a doctoral dissertation while he was a student at the St. Andrews University in Scotland. Previously the author of a biography of American conservative John Randolph of Roanoke, Kirk’s The Conservative Mind had laid out six “canons of conservative thought” in the book, including:

  1. Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience… Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.
  2. Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and equalitarian and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.
  3. Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes…
  4. Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic leveling is not economic progress…
  5. Faith in prescription and distrust of “sophisters and calculators.” Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite…Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon man’s anarchic impulse.
  6. Recognition that change and reform are not identical..—–

When we see that this is the philosophy of the political right, is the only conclusion we can reach is that there will be no peace between Liberals and Conservatives, with Liberals affirming uncertainty and multiple goods and Conservatives believing in a divine intent?


All the sadness of the world

(Day 9981)

Standing with my father waiting for the train.

Two forty year old friends walk up.

Asks us for money. I say no. My Dad says no.

Falls down, flat on face. Spills his beer. Helped up by his friend. He asks us for money again. My Dad, feeling bad, gives him a dollar.

At some point — his friend leaves — he is crying. He tells us why. His mother is dying. Oh. Oh. Oh.

Train is coming. He wanders close to the train track. My father yells for him to come back. He does.

His mother is dying. He is crying. A grown man. Drunk in himself.

After. Sitting on the train, fear for him, will he make it home?

Did he try to take someone’s phone as he left?

Child playing with someone else’s ticket. No sense of property yet, just curiosity.

Deep and rumbling anxiety. Bouncing back and forth in my mind.

Back to New York. Television sitcoms. Baseball games. Erudite magazines. Can’t sleep. Stay up till 3 reading reading.

All the sadness of the world. His mother is dying.

not thoughts but words

Poems are not thoughts but words – WCW

Asking the Universe for another.

Asking the Universe for another. We love and we bleed and we suffer, and we say more, more, give me more.

Stephanie said “Anyone who thinks life is short isn’t paying enough attention.”

What do I even want? Curiousity, and kindness, and generosity of spirit. A fallen sad sinner, just like me. A wicked sense of humor, with a Good Little Girl inside, inside. Not Moralizing Superego but Moral Ego. A skeptic, but one who is a happy liver, or maybe spleen.

Round and round the mulberry bush.

Giles Corey at the Salem Witch Trail, saying either “Wait!” or “more weight!.” Lame joke of my father. Remember everything? Maybe — Giles Corey came flowing from the Collective Subconscious, not my own ontological being.

Being, being and time, Sein und Zeit, I’ve read a bit about Sein, not as much about Zeit, Zeit, cruel master.

Sketches. Not a post, not an entry. Exhalations of my being. Little whirlpools, and sailing past the Wandering Rocks.

Wittgenstein on Immortality

“If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.”
– Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1921). Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, pp. 6.4311.

Ten Thousand Days – Day 8645

Day 8645 was the day I finally gave it away. 23 years and 7 months. Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve?

The First Time I saw the Ocean

When I was a kid, growing up among the rowhouse duplexes of Benson St in Northeast Philadelphia, behind the rowhouses, there was what seemed to me as a child a great dark wood, and once a year, on a day between the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, my parents would take me into the wood, with bread crumbs in my hand, and we would walk along a dark dirt path until we came to a swiftly moving stream of clear water. Then, we would take the bread, and throw it in the water — the bread was supposed to represent my sins, but being three years old, I had few sins, and imagine I was more interested watching the crumbs ride the streaming water out of sight.

Walking along that stream, my legs growing longer as I walked, the baby fat falling from my cheeks, my eyes growing sharper, I followed that stream to where it joined another, and then another, and then emptied into the great gray Delaware River, north of the great industrial shipyards and refineries, where the the far distant bank was clothed in evergreen trees.

Walking farther, taller again, I take the river past the great Post-Industrial City of my youth and young adulthood. I stand over the river in a cemetary, burying my uncle in January snow and mud. Older now, full of some fiery intensity and a madness of eyes kept too wide open, I followed the river to a great long-reeded marsh. Children are calling to each other from within the long grass. Trash floats by on the water. I put a cigarette to my lips.

Farther now, over the marsh, I stand on sand, heaped up ground up rock and stardust, standing there, beneath the scattered blue starlight of day, the water dragged towards me by some great invisible satellite. I sit amongst the grains of sand, counting a few, moving some from here to there, engaged in great industry, trying to forget all I know of sandcastles, tides, and time —

I have not yet seen the ocean. Many waters, and many seas, but I have not yet seen the ocean.

Daniel Ellsberg’s Privileged view of Nuclear Weapons

A teacher asked him to think about nuclear weapons 11 months before Hiroshima. His understanding has been shaped by this privileged view ever since.

The Omnipotence Paradox

Unhappy with where I left that idea of the mind creating a stone it cannot lift — I wanted to source the paradox — Internet failed me, but — Wikipedia rescued. The “Can God create a Stone He Can’t Lift?” paradox is a variety of the omnipotence paradox, which, in its fundamental form could be, and often phrased as “what happens when an irresistable force meets an unmoveable object?” and the clarification is important — for perhaps the mind, while it is living and struggling against non-being, is the irresistable force, and the universe is the unmoveable object — and what we’re faced off with is a classic dilemma, a good old-fashioned almost Mexican stand-off —

Of course, I do have one thing going with me. I have a mind, and freedom. Therefore, though nothing can resist my thoughts, I can choose to not exercise such force. Or, if I am the unmoveable object, perhaps I can choose to move.

Islands in the stream. Why do I torment myself? The world is there, out there, waiting, waiting to begin. Raise high the roofbeam, carpenters.

Ten Thousand Days – Ten Thousand Hours

Malcolm Gladwell says it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become a master at anything. That’s three hours a day, every day, for a decade. MB has done it or almost done it — he picked up a bass somewhere around my Day 7800, in the aftermath of a drug-induced hallucination where he latched on to the dynamic reflective bass line of a Grateful Dead show. I seem to remember watching a poster dissolve on the wall, then losing my capacity for speech, and returning to my bedroom to rave one out.

Funny — I think the thing is that I’m very attached to my ego, and it’s hard for me to let it go. On the other hand, it’s also a great relief to escape from myself. Me and GS had a conversation about that once — the smart man is always thinking, always talking to himself, and whiskey or the soft smudge of marijuana smoke quiets the chattering.

I went to a Happy Jewish Law Party yesterday, Engrish translation of Simchat Toirah, some standard Pro-Bush skullcap-wearers, lots of lovely Jewesses with curly hair, my element, my element, right, except for my insane politics (insane to them), my radical free-thinking, my atheistic nihilism — how come Obama won the Nobel Prize? By not being Bush, maybe? Fat Jew with checked shirt and dumb eyes hungering for Bibi to be able to drop a bomb on Iran. Really? Really? I think that would be a terrible idea.

Ghosts and Shadows of Ourselves. Or myself, I’ll speak for myself, these things — RG’s friend was there, but unsure if her name was Laura or Lauren (not true, almost positive it’s Lauren) did not say hi. Still. Nevertheless. No interest in the OverJews. OverJews. If Hitler comes again, and rounds us up, I will march with my people proudly, with the great dignity of our race, our history, our covenant with the Unknowable Spirit That MaKes Us Real. Till then — how much intercourse can I have with them?

Oh, Josh. You consider yourself so enlightened. Like you’re the only one who has ever figured it out. How can that be so? And why are you so unhappy then? If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? (answer to that, of course, which is that riches too require a sort of an animal blindness, a privileging of the future over the past, and for us few preterite with no future at all, that would not make sense, I am happy now in my middling wealth — could I be happy with less? No doubt — )

Perhaps I am unhappy because my gaze is longer than my reach — my mental mind grapples with infinity and annihilation (annihilation — coming to nothing); yesterday, in the apartment across from me, I watched a woman or a girl get dressed. A girl — anyone my age or younger must be a girl — since I, almost ten thousand days old as I am, am clearly not a man. Where there are no men, be a man. Thank you for not making me a woman — the Orthodox Men say that, in their prayers on rising, to wet their day with the sweet liquid of misogyny — putting the pussy on a pedestal — benevolence towards women is not the same thing as respect for women — not stopping JF from annoying those girls — they’re big girls — quite capable of taking care of themselves —

Out my window a soft song is playing — a woman singing, a piano. (a little looking, a little thinking tells me that I think the song is Sunrise, by Norah Jones, from the album Feels Like Home)

The hypothesis is that my extracurricular, extramural activities creates a floor of knowledge others are not privy too, and playing in this broader realm, it is extremely limiting to come back down and speak with the hoi polloi who fill their days I don’t know how — exhausting to always be trying to catch everybody up — similar to my Days from 2000-3000 range, where continuing to play with Castle Legos and Castle Legomen, all the blocks and blockmen, after my friend went home, I gave birth to an elaborate evolving world and backstory — by the time my friend returned, cooperative play was no longer as interesting as the world of play I’d created by myself.

Such a life is lonely, for sure.

I think that is why I prefer, with a preternatural visceralness, those who share the same floor as me — where I can say Rawls and they say, yes, or Bolano, and they say yes. It makes me feel less alone, that all my vain intellectual sailing has not, at least, left me completely stranded and exiled from the Continent of Man —

(but isn’t that laziness?) (or am I now making excuses for a lover who did not know Rawls or Bolano and did not care to?)

Funny. After we had that telegraph conversation where she said Bolano and I said Bolano, Older Sister Steinsteen tells us the story of the boy who purports to reread Jack Kerouac in order to win the love of a girl who puts On the Road as her favorite book on Facebook, that Omnipresent Everchanging Yearbook in the Sky. What’s the lesson? Only that we should not do that, certainly —

The dilemma is this. There is no judgment on the hoi polloi. There is much much that I do not know. I cannot judge one who has never heard of Rawls — and if Older Sister Steinsteen had said “Who is Rawls?” or Bumblebee says “Who is Rawls?” or my own Mother Goose said “Who is Rawls?” what? I wipe my hands of them? Surely I brought up Rawls for a reason — surely I can explain the reason while standing on one foot? If not, what am I? How did we get where we are? We are not born fully formed. If what I have to say is interesting, so be it. If not, so be it. Not a criteria to judge others.

I can play. And when with someone, I can force them to listen to my rantings, and they will listen because they want to. A case in point, this record, which my Great Love, the Great Love, has read regardless of the twists, turns, and dodges I put within it, trying at hiding myself from myself.

My gaze exceeds my reach? Or is my reach only limited by my imagination? Or perhaps, like the paradox, I’ve created a stone I can’t lift? The Contemplation of the Infinite — is it good or is it bad — it must be good — it must be good — it must be good — ash I was (when) and ash I’ll be (when) —

— not me — not me — when I die, plant me in a field with an acorn in my mouth and the tree that grows, that will be me, or almost me  — and those that love me will come and sit beneath that tree — and maybe — maybe when I think about my inevitable unavoidable deceasing, instead I’ll think about that tree, about what comes after — about a beautiful wife and a beautiful son and a beautiful daughter, standing beneath an ever taller tree.