Monday, December 27, 2021

Logos shapes belief. (Logos is the form of belief.)
Pathos hones desire. (Pathos is the edge of desire.)

Keep your beliefs strong and your desires sharp.

We are inclined to think that history is either dialectical or diabolical, that it is either the ongoing resolution of tensions between impersonal forces or an occult conspiracy of highly motivated people. Given the evidence, we are not able to decide among these theories. It is even possible that there is some truth in both. What does not occur to us, however, is the possibility that history is divine, providential: that it expresses perfectly God's vision of his creation, his curiosity about what he has made. He, too, is waiting to see what happens next.

It is important, afterall,
that knowledge isn't merely
of accidental facts,
and power isn't just
for necessary acts.

Science tells us what is
actually the case, what
must be so. And politics
transforms the possible,
nowhere to otherwise.

No heart is left untouched
nor is the mind unchanged.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Nothing hinges on the philosopher's wisdom,
just as nothing hinges on the poet's love.

Beliefs are states of mind,
                            of the heart,
and the body is a place
in which to find a moment
wherein this wherewithal
we call the self compounds
whatever we already are
with what we can become.

Monday, December 20, 2021

In intuition, a belief forms immediately,
in institution, a desire. Science shapes
our intuitions, as politics, our institutions.
Philosophy and poetry give them presence,
as concepts in thought, emotions in feeling,
each remark, each strophe, on the imagination.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Let us imagine the sage, whose concepts
are clear, the lover, whose emotions are
always taut. Let us imagine a mind
stilled by wisdom, and a heart moved
by love. Let us imagine a body
whose flesh and bones are strong,
a soul whose suffering is pure.
Let us imagine a passion that is
general, and one specific reason
to believe that all that we desire
can be made small and (imagine this!)
put within the nutshell of a dream.
Imagination backs thought with feeling,
brings appearance to the surfaces.

Friday, December 10, 2021

We can no more tell someone to do something
than we can tell them to see something.

But we can get them to desire something
and we can get them to believe something.

My commands must reach your passions.
My statements must engage your reasons.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Thursday, November 25, 2021

At these lattitudes, we don't get up
before the dawn, or after it;
rather, it arrives before we rise
or after, depending on the season.

To rise is all the same to us.
In the dark or in the morning light,
we open our eyes and, each in our
way, begin to feel our needs.

Our bodies don't resent the change.
Spring to summer, fall to winter,
we understand the process must unfold,
indifferent and cold to our business.

Nor do we care what forces move the sun
or keep us here beneath its wobbly run.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Without reason and passion
our lives become frantic gesticulations
of reference and deference
without sense or motive, no indication
of inference and preference.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Concepts are to reason
as emotions to passion.

As the elements of structure
to the fibres of texture,
as the grids of logic
to the strings of pathos,

certainty is of the order
as pleasure, of the moment.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Emotions are to obedience
as concepts to understanding.

Concepts are to reference
as emotions to deference.

Power is to feeling
as knowledge to thought.

Thursday, November 04, 2021

(for David Hoinski)

Philosophy implies poetry.
As in "involves", "entwines",
"entangles", "embraces".

Poetry implicates philosophy.
As in a crime.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Disobedience is like misunderstanding
but begins with a command
instead of a statement.

Some statements are difficult
to understand, and
some commands are hard to obey.

Our obedience, like our understanding,
sometimes demands art.
And our failures, too, may be artful.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Reason predicts the causal order.
Passion recalls the moral.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Rationality is
to reason
as hilarity
to passion.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Statements indicate facts and we try to understand them.

Commands indicate acts and we must try to obey them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A Supplement to Brandom

Inference and reference are to reason and our concepts
preference and deference are to passion and our emotions.

We think a proposition is true or not.
We feel a proposal is just or not.

The thought conflates our inferences with our references.
The feeling conflates our preferences with our deferences.

Philosophy extricates our concepts from our reasons.
Poetry extricates our emotions from our passions.

They extricate us from the world and the history in which we are implicated.

Thus we make ourselves explicit.

Intellect, reason, rationality.

Volition, passion, hilarity.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Passion is to poetry as reason to philosophy.

In philosophy, reason provides both the object and the method of our studies.

In poetry, passion provides both the subject and the mandate of our striving.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

If not for
the body,
the heart
would crack
the mind.

Friday, October 15, 2021

If not for
the body,
the mind
would break
the heart.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

"The texture of thought can rub people the wrong way." (Steve Fuller)

How it feels
to think
(when we think
to feel):

The structure
of a feeling
can get
things wrong.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Your love helped me
to understand
the next one
a bit too late —
the one after that,
just in time.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Our thoughts
must answer
to our motive
for truth,
like feelings
are governed
by our sense
of justice.

Monday, September 27, 2021

"Metaphysics is the intellectual promiscuity of people who have no physics."*

It's the sort of thing that is so pithy one wants to believe it just to be able to say it with conviction.

*Adapted from a remark by Norman Mailer on the nature of sentimentality in his review of Lyndon Johnson's My Hope for America.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Truth regulates
as justice,

My poems groan
under my emotions,
which pale
beside my feelings,
which cower
before your beauty.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

God made
your body
to keep
the world
from breaking
your heart.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

As Augustine explained, no angel, good
or bad, creates. It's God alone who makes
these things from nothing, God alone who could
foresee what path our needy lives will take
and so provide the means for us to thrive,
a way for us to follow, and an end
for which the better parts of us may strive
while baser natures surely'd have us bend
our course towards the pleasures of the flesh
in hope that something new might come of sweat,
and have us work the void for something fresh.
Ever blind, ambition cannot heed the threat,
but even angels, good or bad, must see
that they, like all created things, must be.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Is love the basis
of morality
or must we treat
even those we love
with decency?

After many years of being myself, I have reached a number of conclusions about what it means to be human. Since I hope to enjoy the company of humans for many years to come, I will keep them to myself.

Alt. take

She tells me how she feels
in Russian. Because
neither of us speaks Russian.

I have no language to tell her
what I know. So we make
do with sticks and stones.

Hand drill. Bow drill. Fire
plow. Hold the tinder
to the flint. Patience now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

She tells me that she loves me
in Russian. Because
neither of us speaks Russian.

I have no language to tell her
what I know. So we make
love with sticks and stones.

Hand drill. Bow drill. Fire
plow. Hold the tinder
to the flint. Patience now.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Look for the shadows,
she tells me.
There are no lines.
They're just edges
where things end.

Monday, August 02, 2021

Light, There

(After Richard Dawkins)

We are moving, always,
towards the light.
A million million years
some tender surface
in us sought the touch
without weight, a little
warmth, from above.
What little motor
drove us from the shadows
and stopped upon
the glow, a moving spot
we chased a million
million years before
we grew a cavity
within which we could
find our bearings?
Now the light we sought
was not just here
or not, but here
or there, and we could
find our place
long before we saw
the image of the sun.

Cf. "A Tension in the Clearing"

Sunday, August 01, 2021

All right, my heart, thrice
by-passed for living well,
let's see what you can do.
I opened you up and we took
the hill easily. You were my
courage and the center of my
strength. But soft you now,
a nymph on the horizon!
Will your graft hold, with
her in your arms? Let us see.
Let us see what you can do
with this old blood of ours.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

"Love poetry" is a pleonasm,
like "wisdom philosophy."
Or ought to be.

My philosophy and my poetry
are iconoclasms:
They shatter the official imagery
of Truth and Justice
with your beauty, which
breaks the hearts
and cracks the minds
of men, their knowledge and
their power gutted.

And my love of wisdom, too,
is mere surplusage
to the wisdom of your love.

Friday, July 30, 2021

This, Again

(After Henrik Nordbrandt)

Lady, when I lost you
I thought that I could love no other.
I love you so intensely now that
I have found another.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Love is movement; wisdom, stillness.
Philosophy's the love of wisdom;
              poetry, the wisdom of love.
You see the problem. And, but for lust
and wonder
, we would choose.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Some paintings show you the shadows;
some paintings show you the light.
Philosophy sharpens the image
and poetry keeps it tight.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Some women just make you smile.
You know they'll make someone happy
for an hour or a lifetime, and
you can't help but wonder if that hour
or that lifetime has just begun.

Friday, July 09, 2021


A life combines
reasons and passions,
concepts and emotions,
in the image, where
it brings composure,
in clarity or tension,
by wisdom or by love,
to each moment.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Reason is to belief
as passion, to desire—

the conditions under which
we hold things true
and pursue people justly.

Pure reason, raw passion:
a critique, a crisis. A life.

Friday, June 11, 2021

When the poet can no longer praise the
battle, cannot sing the hero's song and
when the priest no longer prays for glory
in our struggle over evil, promising
the day's disposed to our intent,

let's not look for other poets, let
us not find other priests, and let us not
seek counsel from those who know of gods
or passions more sympathetic to our cause.
Let us not find heart to strive against a void.

No, let the soldier rest. Let the generals
pause for thought before the breach. And
let the minister of war resign her small
portfolio of conflict in the world.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

The surface is to the appearance,
as the doing, to the seeing,
      the deed, to the scene.
So began my disquisition.

To the eye, she was a beautiful body,
a structure of planes and masses,
      of weight and light.
I told her this, of course.

To the hand, she was a delicate soul,
a texture of passage and resistance;
      a tangle of flesh.
I tried to show her this was so.

"You're overthinking it," she said.
"There is no perfect resolution
      of desire and intention.
No angel here will intervene.

Let us put these beautiful bodies
where our mouths are.
Let us look back on this
                  like pillars of salt."

Sunday, June 06, 2021

How can you see? she asked me
when I told her I couldn't draw.
Not a day since then went by
without a line. I looked at things,
their shapes and shadows, and
I put them on the page. I tried
to see her, but I couldn't draw
her likeness. And when she looked
at me, I knew that I was being seen
more clearly, as if bathed in better
light. But she didn't let me see
her drawings. And so my image of
myself was safe, as was of course
the image that she had of me.

Friday, June 04, 2021

It would be fun to date a beautiful woman.
I'm sure that's not the right attitude, but
I'd enjoy the hell out of it. I don't know
very much about them — how they work,
or even smell — but I'd have a blast
taking one out for drinks, even dinner, and
watching her deal with the ordinary things
that are placed before her. And I don't know
how these things go, or how the evening ends,
but doesn't beauty speak entirely for itself,
especially at night? Like I say, I know
I'd be doing it all wrong. And I know she'd
need to get home and on with her life, but
it would be fun to date a beautiful woman.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

A thought is
a logical picture
of a fact.

Wisdom is
the clarity
in which
a thing is
what it is.

Love is
the intensity
with which
we become

The feeling is
a pathetic image
of the act.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Conceptual precision,
is thought that is revealled
                  as fact

                  just as

emotional precisision,
is felt as a pressure
                  to act.

* * *


Can one be too precise?

Is the philosopher right to reveal thoughts to us that cannot be unthought without perception?

Is the poet right to comcentrate a feeling to a point where the only relief is action?

Must they force us back upon our experiences like that? Must they make us see and do things we would otherwise avoid?

Must they make us suffer thus?

Perhaps everything in language can be suffered. No concept, no emotion, no matter how precise, is insufferable.

The philosopher moves us from confusion to clarity. It is not the fact, but the revelation of the thought, that philosophy gives us.

The poet moves us from langor to intensity. It is not the act, but the pressure of the feeling, that the poet sets before us.

We are now free to suffer it without annihilation.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The desire to let another
in is the hope that they're
simple and calm and their
needs can be satisfied. But

we don't believe it fully.
And we tremble as we slide
the bolt back, perhaps this
time to frustrate the storm.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

To challenge your intuitions
you must apply a method.

To challenge our institutions
you must obtain a mandate.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

What is the universe
of knowledge really?

What ideal paradise
does our power bring?

Monday, May 17, 2021

After Augustine

All things are done in the body.
We feel them
even when they are not present;
we suffer their images
when we are asleep or angry.

And when we suffer,
do we think our very senses, or
the images of sensible things,
are as they are?
It would not be well.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

As When We Are Asleep or Angry

"Democritus held that 'all knowledge is caused by images issuing from the bodies we think of and entering into our souls,' as Augustine says in his letter to Dioscorus (cxviii, 4). And Aristotle says (De Somn. et Vigil.) that Democritus held that knowledge is caused by a 'discharge of images.'" (Aquinas, ST, Q84 A6)

"No ideas but in things." (William Carlos Williams)

"We make ourselves pictures of the facts." (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Saturday, May 15, 2021

I have been looking
for a principle by which
our knowledge of the world
may be presented
to each other, and we
may stand (not fall)
corrected. A style,
if you will. A notation.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

It's wrong to think the heart will heal itself
and wrong to think there's something you can do.
No diet, no regimen of exercise, can fix
what love alone has wrought and sundered.

It's wrong to think the mind will rinse itself
of error and the lies it used to soothe
the stings of pride and vanity that broke
its calm complexion, thinking it was wise.

It's wrong to think the soul will reinvest
in this old husk it long had left for dead,
this broken carcass of a body life
will tally with the rest of us in time.

But three wrongs minus one are two
and minus one leaves only one to do.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

And what ideas did you expect to come
from all this dicipline, all this order
you've imposed upon your sloth and passion?
What did you think you would accomplish
with a heart your suffering couldn't reach,
a mind aloof to what it could not fathom?

Not a day went by without a line, not an
evening without music, nor a night with
too much wine. Every moment measured against
the sadness that you feared would undermine
the conceptual machinery of your body,
the emotional apparatus of your soul.

Had you only had the courage to give in
to curiosity — the proximity of sin!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Whereof One Cannot Speak

Those who talk
without wisdom
are like
those who fuck
without love.

Whereof we cannot speak,
thereof we must dance.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Can we hurt better?
Can we feel pain
           more precisely?
Can we cause pain
           more deliberately?
If so, and if I may say so,
we have a lot to learn.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Plato stands
between Pythagoras and

as an idea,
after proportion, before

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Why do you want
to believe
when you already have
your desires?

"Those who work at their studies increase day after day. Those who have heard the Tao decrease day after day." (Lao Tzu)

We study in order to learn,
hoping to gain wisdom.
We strive in order to be free,
hoping to find love.

We hope to find and gain,
but only when we lose
do we listen. And only when
we are alone do we hear.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Study & Strive

Cf. Paul Ricoeur

Science applies a hermeneutics of suspicion to our senses. Philosophy recovers them.

This is our method of study.

Politics applies a hermeneutics of suspicion to our motives. Poetry recovers them.

This is our mandate to strive.

See also: "Doctrine of Method."

See also: "Discipline and Freedom." The purpose of our studies is learning, wisdom; the purpose of our striving is freedom, love.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

We know a house confusedly
before we know its parts,
said Aquinas. So, likewise,
we know Man confusedly
before we know the part that
is his nature. Let me add:

We know ourselves confusedly
before we know our hearts.
So we grope, clumsy and unwise,
at the parts of others,
distracted by their flesh,
searching for their nature.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Life is the coordination
and deterioration
                of the hands
                and eyes,
with blood and bones,
                soul and flesh,
between them to take
the pleasure and the pain.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

It took him years to feel the loss
precisely enough to put behind him.
By then, he was involved with the next
woman he would lose to his rivalry
with his past, forever presenting
itself as though it had no future.

He walked for miles, only to find it
exactly where he threw it down.
And there he broke it to appease
the ghosts of two much younger lovers—
one dead inside him, and one interred
inside a happy woman far away.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

People exist.
Things are merely

Sunday, February 07, 2021

What are things like?
Other things.

What are people like?
Other people.