motto lotto

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hyperion's Song of Fate

You walk up there in the light,
On floors like velvet, blissful spirits,
Shining winds divine
Touch you lightly
As a harper touches holy
Strings with her fingers.

Fateless as babes asleep
They breathe, the celestials.
Chastely kept
In a simple bud,
For them the spirit
Flowers eternal,
And in bliss their eyes
Gaze in eternal
Calm clarity.

But to us it is given
To find no resting place
We faint, we fall,
Suffering, human
Blindly from one
To the next moment
Like water flung
From rock to rock down
Long years into uncertainty.

-Hölderlin (tran Christopher Middleton)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

personalizing Sextus

[W]e say the aim of the Skeptic Mike is tranquility understanding in matters of opinion and moderation of feeling in matters forced upon us. For Skeptics Mike began to do philosophy in order to decide among appearances and to apprehend which are true and which false, so as to become tranquil understand; but they he came upon equipollent dispute, and being unable to decide this they he suspended judgement. And when they he suspended judgement, tranquility in matters of opinion generally followed. fortuitously.

Sextus Empiricus Outlines of Skepticism Mike

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the virtue of non-contention

One who excels as a warrior does not appear formidable;
One who excels in fighting is never roused in anger;
One who excels in defeating his enemy does not join issue;
One who excels in employing others humbles himself before them.

This is known as the virtue of non-contention;
This is known as making use of the efforts of others;
This is known as matching the sublimity of heaven.

from the Tao te ching

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

to you

To You

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands,
Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners,
troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me.
They stand forth out of affairs, out of commerce, shops, work,
farms, clothes, the house, buying, selling, eating, drinking,
suffering, dying.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear.
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb,
I should have made my way straight to you long ago,
I should have blabb'd nothing but you, I should have chanted nothing
but you.

I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you,
None has understood you, but I understand you,
None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to yourself,
None but has found you imperfect, I only find no imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he who will never consent
to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better, God,
beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

Painters have painted their swarming groups and the centre-figure of all,
From the head of the centre-figure spreading a nimbus of gold-color'd light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its nimbus
of gold-color'd light,
From my hand from the brain of every man and woman it streams,
effulgently flowing forever.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are, you have slumber'd upon yourself
all your life,
Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,
What you have done returns already in mockeries,
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in
mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,
I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the
accustom'd routine, if these conceal you from others or from
yourself, they do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if these
balk others they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform'd attitude, drunkenness, greed,
premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you,
There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one except I give the like carefully
to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than I sing
the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the East and West are tame compared to you,
These immense meadows, these interminable rivers, you are immense
and interminable as they,
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of apparent
dissolution, you are he or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, pain,
passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles, you find an unfailing sufficiency,
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest,
whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing
is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are
picks its way.

Whitman Leaves of Grass*

Thursday, May 19, 2011

and one to me are shame and fame


If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.
Far or forgot to me is near,
Shadow and sunlight are the same,
The vanished gods to me appear,
And one to me are shame and fame.
They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.
The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.
From The Atlantic Monthly volume 1 No. 1 1857 (gutenberg)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

dawn in the city

I've always found the awakening of a city, whether in mists or not, more moving than sunrise in the country. There is a stronger sense of rebirth, more to look forward to; the sun, instead of merely illuminating the fields, the silhouettes of trees and the open palms of leaves with first dark then liquid light and finally with pure luminous gold, multiplies its every effect in windows, on walls, on roofs [...]. Seeing dawn in the countryside does me good, seeing dawn in the city affects me for both good and ill and therefore does me even more good. For the greater hope it brings me contains, as does all hope, the far-off, nostalgic aftertaste of unreality. Dawn in the countryside just exists; dawn in the city overflows with promise. One makes you live, the other makes you think. And along with all the other great unfortunates, I've always believed it better to think than to live.

Fernando Pessoa The Book of Disquiet

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

visual aid for Democritus

"[O]ne should set one's mind on what is possible and be content with what one has, taking little account of those who are admired and envied, and not dwelling on them in thought, but one should consider the lives of those who are in distress, thinking of their grievous sufferings, so that what one has and possesses will seem great and enviable, and one will cease to suffer in one's soul through the desire for more." -Democritus of Abdera (460-370 BC)

Friday, April 1, 2011

blogger's new views

Google has rolled out a number of new ways to view blogger blogs. Like this one. Check out the new view.

Monday, March 14, 2011

a new narrative

From James Fallows' Learning to Love the (Shallow, Divisive, Unreliable) New Media in The Atlantic this month:
“But what if the answer to a false narrative isn’t fact?,” Denton says. “Or Habermas? Maybe the answer to a flawed narrative is a different narrative. You change the story.” Which is what, he said, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have done. They don’t “fact-check” Fox News, or try to rebut it directly, or fight on its own terms. They change the story not by distorting reality—their strength is their reliance on fact—or creating a fictitious narrative, but by presenting the facts in a way that makes them register in a way they hadn’t before.

Jaron Lanier, author of Digital Maoism, was blunt when I asked him about Fox’s ability to assert a “truth” and have it echo through digital media. “We have created a technology that has wonderful potential, but that enormously increases our ability to lie to ourselves and forget it is a lie,” he told me. “We are going to need to develop new conventions and formalities to cut through the lies.” Stewart and Colbert have developed one such set of new conventions; others will emerge.

The new media is terrible for addressing problems like confirmation bias but it's a new type of narrativity and the old type had its own weaknesses. I'm optimistic about the possibilities for people who really want to know what's going on and are willing to put in the time but pessimistic about the content the average person will digest. Then again, no-news seems as attractive as confirmation biased news and that's not so unsettling.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"The Genius of the Crowd" -Bukowski

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach love do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Walk into the Wild

My music library was on shuffle this morning and it started playing some Harrod and Funck (The Lion Song). It's been a while so I scoured the net a minute and came across this old performance of H&F singing Walk into the Wild (about Chris McCandless).

Eddie Vedder's soundtrack for Into the Wild was good (and brings its own nostalgia) but I primarily associate the story with this song.

"the west is the best"

essential things

Interesting letter from Einstein:

Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, i.e. in our evaluation of human behavior ... I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Unix Philosophy

It's been a while since I've posted. We moved across the country, from Newport to DC, and I start in a new position tomorrow. Maybe I'll get some time to read/write, maybe not.

The most noteworthy book I read recently was The Unix Philosophy by Mike Gancarz (looks like this is an updated version, I read the one with the 1995 copyright date). It's a great read, especially for philosopher-programmer types. If you prefer the tldr approach, wikipedia's short summary pulled from the first chapter and the second answer in this thread, taken from Classic Shell Scripting, a great example of the Unix philosophy at work.