Thursday, June 08, 2023

I hate these things as much as you do.

I mean poems.
I mean reading them.
I don't mind writing them.
It's what I do.
I do it without complaining.
I put the words down.
It's lifting them off the page I could do without.
I wouldn't ask my worst enemy to do it.
I wouldn't put my words in their mouth.
It occurs to me that this is a perfect poem
to start a poetry reading with.

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).

Saturday, March 11, 2023

We are forever chasing the origin through the tradition.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Twenty years ago, I wanted to be a public intellectual because I thought some people would think I'm right and others that I'm wrong but everyone would learn something from the debate. Today, I'm glad I failed because being a public intellectual means letting some people think you're good and others that you're bad and accepting that no one has to learn anything at all from that.

Sunday, March 05, 2023

"What is behind
your facade?"

"Just me,
holding it up."

In English, the root of boredom
is drudgery.

In Danish, it is sadness.

Friday, March 03, 2023

Intuition is that through which
objects are known immediately.

Institution is that through which
subjects are mastered immediately.

Intuition and institution are
the media of immediacy.

Imagination is the immediacy
of their mediation.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

If you want your privacy, you have to keep it
like a secret.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Authenticity is not a moral center. You cannot be your own authority.

Creativity is not a causal process. The work does not become its own creation.

* * *

This one was fun to make. The first strophe about authenticity is somewhat classical, even conservative, and the rather Bergsonian romanticism of the second emerged gradually with some very deliberate pangrammatical craftiness, to yield a subtly radical result.

First, the "moral center" was transposed into a "causal process"; then "your" "being" became a "becoming" (of some as yet unspecified "it" in my notes). After a while "creativity" presented itself as the pangrammatical supplement of "authenticity" (an impersonal becoming to balance that personal sort of being).

It took a walk to identify "the work" as "your" dangerous supplement. (I considered "an art does not become its own work" but I wanted creativity/creation to match authenticity/authority.) At this point I realized that things had gotten outright anti-Oedipal. "It is at work everywhere," as I recall. "Eating, shitting, fucking. What a mistake to ever call it the Id." Not Ego-Id, then, but your-work. Your. Fucking. Work.

Do it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Courage shines.
It brightens the room.

Cowardice hangs in the air.
It stinks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Wisdom is the stillness
of the mind
in which things
are what they are.

Love is the commotion
of the heart
through which we
become ourselves.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

After Ezra Pound

I don’t know how humanity stands it
breaking up without knowing the reason
breaking up knowing the reason
the dwarf morning-glory twines round the grass blade.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Honesty in expression,
decency in comportment.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Brutal honesty with oneself,
common decency towards others.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Monday, January 30, 2023

Causes are reasons
things happen.

Morals are passions
people serve.

Without us,
the causal universe
could not imagine
the moral universe
within us.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

War is a market.

Truth is the sense
that our words can sustain
in the face of experience.

Justice is the sustainability
of our motives.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The philosopher exists
to take perception
back to being
in language,
becoming the pith
of action, giving
inspiration to the poet.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Everyone's romance just got a little harder.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

On the Bad Quarto

Our passions would be general.

May our reasons be specific.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Do not seek wisdom. Just reflect on the wisdom you have. Everything is an epiphany. There is no fact to uncover, no scam to get wise to. Everybody knows what you're looking for.

Do not seek love...

Monday, January 16, 2023

Speech is one of the least dangerous things you can do with your ideas. Writing is utterly harmless.

The goal of thinking is to stop thinking.
And begin to see.

The goal of feeling is to stop feeling.
And do something.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Philosophy seeks
precision in stillness:
clarity. Wisdom.

Poetry seeks
precision in movement:
intensity. Love.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Persist. The future
will present itself
              as the past
of least resistance.