Saturday, March 30, 2019

Both my happiness and my unhappiness I owe to the love of pleasure; of sex, travel, reading, conversation (hearing oneself talk), food, drink, cigars and lying in warm water.

Reality is what remains when these pleasures, together with hope for the future, regret for the past, vanity of the present, and all that composes the aroma of the self are pumped out of the air-bubble in which I shelter. (Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave

"It is the actions of men, not their sentiments, that make history," said Norman Mailer.

Borges said our opinions are the most trivial things about us.

Nabokov said that "desire and decision [are] the two things that create a live world." Subtract the vital ("live") component, and you are left with pure perception. Not trivial--pure.

"The poet must build us his world," said Pound.

"The subject shrinks to an extentionless point," said Wittgenstein, "and there remains the reality coordinated with it."

It is the perceptions of men, not their opinions, that make a world.

Friday, March 29, 2019

I get the insight.
I just can't take
the outrage.

Understanding is to knowledge as obedience is to power. Knowledge is to insight as power, to obedience. "Get" = understand. "Take" = obey.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Secrets are one thing.
They are as you keep them.

But some things can be known
simply by comparing notes.

To obstruct this discourse
is folly. We learn nothing.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Properly speaking,
we understand (or misunderstand) reasons
but we obey (or disobey) passions.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

I am not a mind-body dualist. I am, perhaps, a mind-heart dualist, but in a sense that does not involve mind-brain identity. I think it is as silly to think of the physical brain as the "seat of thinking" as it is to think of the physical heart as, say, "the seat of feeling".

The meaning of "mind" predates the discovery of lobes and cortices. The meaning of "heart" predates the discovery of chambers and ventricles. One must grant our feelings a "location" beneath the skin, however, just as our thinking does appear to go on "in the head". That is, I'm happy to maintain a distinction between visceral and cerebral experience. But these are just surfaces and appearances, not substances.

I believe that I have a soul, that I am "animated". But I do not think there is some place within the body that my soul can be said to inhabit. Rather, I believe that my body is my real location and that my soul is my ideal temperament. I live in a place and have a rhythm. My body, we might say, is where I'm at; my soul is what time it is.

Friday, March 22, 2019

He pursued a line of thinking
that only a fictional character
could plausibly follow, while
building a structure of feeling
no living person could inhabit.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Why do we feel
for the world?
Why do we think
about history?

Why let our emotional
lives be overwhelmed?
Why let our conceptual
framework collapse?

Isn't it enough to feel
for friends and kin?
Isn't it enough to think
about the house?

The world distracts us.
History concerns us.
But our hearts and minds
are here. In our bodies.

Darkness is to the mind
as pain to the heart.

Fear is an emotion.
What is its conceptual analogue?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Some are considered reasonable, though
this reveals little about their minds.
It's not that they are able to reason;
they have to. Their hearts are broken.

Others are famously passionate. But
nor is this a testament to their hearts.
They are not driven by passion; it is
all they can do. Their minds are shattered.

What life has done to break and shatter them
is of little importance now.
What life might do to mend them, however,
is of no small moment.

Some must feel their way back to thinking.
Some must think their way back to feeling.
Some must gather their wits about them.
Some must wait for the pulse to quicken.

Monday, March 18, 2019

I understand how feelings work
but understanding doesn't cut it.
Thoughts need to be understood.
Our feelings demand obedience.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

What sort of desire is like
an irrational belief?
Is belief without reasons like
desire without passions?

Let's see.

An unreasonable belief
is not grounded
in other beliefs, nor,
ultimately, in facts.

A dispassionate desire
is not bounded
by other desires, nor,
finally, by acts.

And what of experience?

Experience can disabuse you
of even an irrational belief.
It's just that its correction
does not affect other beliefs.

A desire unbounded by passion
can be thwarted by experience.
But it's a disappointment without
suffering, without learning.

So there you have it.

To desire without having done,
to believe without having seen,
is to form your experience without
courage and without curiosity.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Leaving aside those who are born
to toil or to suffer,
some, it seems, are born to enjoy it,
others, to figure it out.

To be hurt,
or to be the one who hurts,
to be in darkness,
or cast another into it...

Are these choices we have?
Are they destinies we forge?

Is my pleasure
always another's pain?
Must my light
cast a shadow?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

When an inexpressible belief
meets an insatiable desire.
When an irrepressible desire
meets an incorrigible belief.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

For most people, time is duration.
Space is a tension between things.

But when I consider my own body
and when I consider yours, I'm struck

by the durability of the space
around us, the tenacity of time.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The moral is to the social as the causal to the material.

Material is the "what" of things. Causes are the why and the how.
Society is the "who" of a people. Morals are the how and the why.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

How everything makes you feel.
How everyone makes you think.

How you feel about everyone.
How you think about things.

The concept tells you what it is.
The emotion tells you who they are.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Wittgenstein said that the depth of philosophy is like the depth of a grammatical joke.

Eliot said that poetry is a superior amusement.

Wittgenstein said that philosophy ought to be composed like poetry.

Pound said the poet should build us his world.

Wittgenstein said the world is everything that is the case.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Consider the detachment of philosophers. They detach the concept from the emotion and let us experience the thought itself, separate from the feeling it is implicated in.

Do poets do something similar? Do they remove the emotion from the concept, so that we may experience the feeling in its pure form, without the intrusion of thought?

When your space gets you down,
Frank, remember
that time lets you out.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Ever disciplined,
my body stands
before you,
breathing calmly.

Often punished,
my soul flutters
within me
and sighs.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Philosophers will not believe what they cannot understand. Poets, though they are often less conscious of it, follow a similar principle. They cannot desire what they will not obey.

In the everyday, the artist is merely a being who feels a range of life's difficulties more acutely than the rest of us. There is no particular nobility in the difficulty; which is to say, the artist is not ennobled simply by doing the requisite suffering. Nor does the artist win our admiration by solving the problem. After all, we solve it matter-of-factly in our own lives every day. Rather, the artist contributes by articulating the suffering we all do, less intensely, less perspicuously, in our comings and goings, our doings and occasional undoings. The artist makes this suffering available to us in the work and we can then face our difficulties more precisely. Whether the artist is finally destroyed by the effort is of little importance to us on a purely technical or, let us say, aesthetic level. Morally, we may care or not care as our empathy permits, or as it demands. What matters is that the work be articulate.

Beyond the social media
there are material facts.

Between the body and the tribe,
in essence and in accident,
life emerges and then thrives,

and dies, and rots, and grows
and thrives again, immediately.