Wednesday, May 31, 2023

My cowardice explains many things.
My courage remains a mystery.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Truth is a relation between a thought and an arrangement of things.

Justice is the position of a feeling within a community of people.

"...the limitation of logic to things within the world..." (Russell on Wittgenstein's Tractatus)

Cf. the fixation of the epic on people through history.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Philosophy extricates a thought from its scientific intricacy.

Poetry extricates a feeling from its political intrigue.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

If I am lucky, I will die from lack of discipline.

Friday, May 19, 2023


I wrote two paragraphs recently that mark an important shift in my thinking. What I have been calling the Tractatus Pathetico-Poeticus would better be called the Tractatus Epico-Poeticus.

This has two important advantages. First, I've never liked the way it sounds when "logical" is replaced with "pathetic", as in "a pathetic picture of the acts". "Epic" has a nicer ring to it. Also, "epic" and "logical" can both be traced back to a root in speech. Their indication of "reason" and "passion" comes later in world-history.

* * *

“The world is everything that is the case,” Wittgenstein famously began his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, “the totality of facts, not things.” I have often imagined a, let us say, Tractatus Epico-Poeticus that begins, “History is everything that happens, the totality of acts, not people.” It is not merely the story of us all, but of all that we have done. Like the world, it is comprehensive; it doesn’t leave anyone out. Even the most marginalized people are marginalized by history; even the most forgotten are forgotten, precisely, by history. The most ordinary lives are part of history because it reaches right up the present, the present moment of our entirely practical lives. It presents itself to us through the needs and demands of the people around us. “What is the case is that there are states of affairs,” said Wittgenstein. “A state of affairs (a state of things) is a combination of objects (things).” Without facts, if things were not the case, they would just be lying around every which way, adding up to nothing. Likewise, if everyone just minded their own business there would be no history. History is everyone who is on my case.

“Writing as Freedom is therefore a mere moment,” said Barthes. “But this moment is one of the most explicit in History, since History is always and above all a choice and the limits of that choice.” Every time a writer sits down to compose a deliberate paragraph, history is articulating itself. A mind asserts its freedom to think and appreciates its finitude. For a moment, all the pressures of life (the totality of which just is History) are suspended — the desk is cleared — simply because the writer has chosen to arrange some words on a page for a few minutes. The words will be the writer’s free choice and they will be put in the order the writer chooses; anything can happen. But not everything; the writer has also, no less freely, chosen a theme and a genre, something to write about and someone to read it. This is a choice of limits, as was the practical matter of writing the paragraph between 7:30 and 8:00 in the morning. All over the world, writing like this is happening as we speak. These moments are perhaps the most explicit in history.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Let's be honest. We're all pretty comfortable with the people running things behind the scenes.

Trigger Warning

This is a work of art. Anything can happen.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Between the fact and the image
may you find your philosophy.
Between the image and the act,
                                  your poetry.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

In accordance with the strange customs of her people, she had been raised to believe in herself. Of course, in accordance with those same customs, her parents had long ago lost all faith. All of the histories of her people, and, before that, all the stories of the tribe, were histories of failure, stories of defeat, through which the only moral to be drawn could be that you will survive, despite everything. It is no wonder, then, that the word for belief in her native tongue was the same as the word for spite. In most contexts, it made no difference what she meant.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Some people like me. Some people don't. They are both right, and both wrong, about different things.

The universe uses our concepts to think.
Emotions are how it feels.

Monday, April 17, 2023

He would now set about to do deliberately
what he had once done only desperately.

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Things make facts possible.
People make acts necessary.

We know things only through the facts they make possible.
We master people only through the acts they make necessary.

In some facts, some possibilities are immediately apparent. Intuitively, we call these things objects.
In some acts, some necessities come immediately to the surface. Institutionally, we call these people subjects.

Science is to our intuitions as politics to our institutions. But

there are scientific institutions and political intuitions.

Inuitions, we might say, are essentially scientific but emergently political, while institutions are essentially political and science merely emerges from them.

The institutionalization of science threatens to politicize it. There's a danger there.

But the presence of intuition in politics opens it to science. That's the saving power.

Intuition and institution are the media of immediacy—that "through which" objects are known and subjects mastered "immediately", to use the Kantian idiom. Technology and propaganda are, of course, the corresponding "media".

(This, of course, refers to Heidegger's reading of Hölderlin.)

Thursday, March 30, 2023

You're affronted because machines now speak for you?
After everything they've already done for you?

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The people we master as subjects eventually become the emotions through which we feel them.

The things we can know about an object are contingent on the concepts we have to think them.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Some books should be given tenure.
Then let them say what they want.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

"Meanwhile, SPRING, which has been approaching for several pages, is at last here." (William Carlos Williams, 1923).