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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Moonwalking with Einstein

I finished reading Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer a few weeks ago and learned a lot about memory from it. I was hoping to get some insight into how to improve my ordinary memory but all I learned were tricks to improve deliberate memory techniques. Not that the two are entirely unrelated but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. I do highly recommend as it's a well written narrative and educational (at least for me). It also pointed me to the Rhetorica ad Herennium among other assorted ancient and more modern books on memorization.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

your vote doesn't count (but that's no reason not to vote)

If you're like me then you realize that no matter who you vote for this election, you won't be represented on most major policy decisions.  Sure there will be some trivial things like, you know, staving the complete collapse of US society as we know it off by stopping the Republican candidate.  But then you know, a competent government can do bad things much better than an incompetent one.  So it's hard to say.

In any case, your vote not counting is no reason to not vote.  It just happens to be things are bad enough your vote might not be enough to make your vote count so you've got a bunch of other shit to also do to make sure your vote counts next time.

Some Friedersdorfian reasons you might not want to vote for either candidate:

Against Romney
Against Obama

Sunday, July 15, 2012

for narrativity (Pessoa)

Men of action are the unwitting slaves of men of intellect.  Things only acquire value once they are interpreted.  Some men, then, create things in order that others, by giving them meaning, make them live. To narrate is to create, whilst to live is merely to be lived.

Fernando Pessoa

Monday, May 21, 2012

against narrativity, part deux

Well, not sure what part it is but it's the current part, the part the I that is now is reading. Thanks Galen.

 'We live beyond any tale that we happen to enact'

Here's Strawson's earlier piece from 2004 which I encountered a couple years ago.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

the Don Juan of knowledge

The Don Juan of knowledge: he has yet to be discovered by any philosopher or poet.  He is lacking in love for the things he comes to know, but he has intellect, titillation, and pleasure in the hunt and intrigues involved in coming to know--all the way up to the highest and most distant planets of knowledge--until finally nothing remains for him to hunt down other than what is absolutely painful in knowledge, like the drunkard who ends up drinking absinthe and acqua fortis.  Thus he ends up lusting for hell--it is the last knowledge that seduces him.  Perhaps, like everything he has come to know, it will disillusion him as well!  And then he would have to stand still for all of eternity, nailed on the spot to disillusionment, and himself having become the stone guest longing for an evening meal of knowledge that he never again will receive!--For the entire world of things no longer has a single morsel to offer this hungry man.

Nietzsche Dawn §327
A Nietzschean warning for the philosopher as traveler but I don't think it's a real threat (I mean beyond the pursuit of painful knowledge (and the pain involved in the pursuit of knowledge), illusion being so much more comforting and all that). Just as Don Juan would have a hell of a time trying to conquer every woman on the planet, so too does the Don Juan of knowledge quickly encounter a nearly infinite set. The knowledge of abiding in hell would require some commitment but then in some sense he'd be abiding also in his true love, the chase.

I don't think I'm totally understanding this aphorism.  Maybe I shouldn't take the metaphor so far.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

making plans

Making plans is often the occupation of an opulent and boastful mind, which thus obtains the reputation of creative genius by demanding what it cannot itself supply, by censuring what it cannot improve, and by proposing what it knows not where to find.

Immanuel Kant - Prolegomena (1783)
If you fail to plan you plan to fail^H wait, I mean you fail to make yourself subject to Kant's criticism of planners.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

brave little thinker

I've been greeting the office folk with a little thinker Nietzsche and presenting the results at  Yeah, it's not real blogging but it'll have to do for the moment, it'll keep me sane when I need to work long hours.  

Old words for a new context --
Work and boredom.--Looking for work in order to be paid: in civilized countries today almost all men are at one in doing that. For all of them work is a means and not an end in itself. Hence they are not very refined in their choice of work, if only it pays well. But there are, if only rarely, men who would rather perish than work without any pleasure in their work. They are choosy, hard to satisfy, and do not care for ample rewards, if the work itself is not the reward of rewards. Artists and contemplative men of all kinds belong to this rare breed, but so do even those men of leisure who spend their lives hunting, traveling, or in love affairs and adventures. All of these desire work and misery if only it is associated with pleasure, and the hardest, most difficult work if necessary. Otherwise, their idleness is resolute, even if it spells impoverishment, dishonor, and danger to life and limb. They do not fear boredom as much as work without pleasure; they actually require a lot of boredom if their work is to succeed. For thinkers and all sensitive spirits, boredom is that disagreeable "windless calm" of the soul that precedes a happy voyage and cheerful winds. They have to bear it and must wait for its effect on them. Precisely this is what lesser natures cannot achieve by any means. To ward off boredom at any cost is vulgar, no less than work without pleasure. Perhaps Asians are distinguished above Europeans by a capacity for longer, deeper calm; even their opiates have a slow effect and require patience, as opposed to the disgusting suddenness of the European poison, alcohol.

Nietzsche The Gay Science §42

Monday, April 2, 2012

new comments on old posts

It's been a while since I answered email related to my blogger account and I was happy to see a couple legitimate comments come by within the sea of spam.

Someone gave some followup advice on how to read Borges and another left this alternate interpretation of Nietzsche's Mask --

Allan Innes said...
This is really late, but here is my impression - sad that all of these are merely our impressions, although I think this may be part of what Nietzsche was saying:

To wear the mask is deliberate for someone who has discovered something profound, who is on a dark path to greatness - a place where no one else dares to go - that very few will ever understand. Isolation, resulting from one's own rigorous thought experiments (genealogy - discovering truth and uprooting "truths"), from one's actual living of these experiments, is central to Nietzsche.

The mask is that which allows the profound individual to walk in public. It allows him / her to remain sane while standing within the herd. One must journey there masked if one is profound.

The mask also serves as a filter for the proper audience to greatness. When one masks their greatness (i.e., great thoughts, concepts, discoveries), one weeds out the stupid (to put it bluntly) - those literally undeserving of profundity.

Good that many should confuse your greatness with something horrible. Good that they should mistake it for something else entirely. For they are not your audience, they are not your equals. Insofar as your thought is akin to something utterly beautiful, there are some (in fact, there are many) who deserve only what is proper for their rank: mediocrity.