The view is endlessly fulfilling. It is like the answer to a lifetime of questions and vague cravings. It satisfies every childlike curiosity, every muted desire, whatever there is in him of the scientist, the poet, the primitive seer, the watcher of fire and shooting stars, whatever obsessions eat at the night side of his mind, whatever sweet and dreamy yearning he has ever felt for nameless places faraway, whatever earth-sense he possesses, the neural pulse of some wilder awareness, a sympathy for beasts, whatever belief in an immanent vital force, the Lord of Creation, whatever secret harboring of the idea of human oneness, whatever wishfulness and simplehearted hope, whatever of too much and not enough, all at once and little by little, whatever burning urge to escape responsibility and routine, escape his own overspecialization, the circumscribed and inward-spiraling self, whatever remnants of his boyish longing to fly, his dreams of strange spaces and eerie heights, his fantasies of happy death, whatever indolent and sybaritic leanings—lotus-eater, smoker of grasses and herbs, blue-eyed gazer into space—all these are satisfied, all collected and massed in that living body, the sight he sees from the window.
— Don DeLillo, ‘Human Moments in World War III’ in The Angel Esmeralda. New York: Scribner, 2011, pp. 43–4.
7:20 pm • 26 November 2011 • 1 note
She slept awhile. I floated in the pool, feeling the uneasy suspense lift off me, the fret of going somewhere in groups—documented travel. The spot was so close to perfect we would not even want to tell ourselves how lucky we were, having been delivered to it. The best of new places had to be protected from our own cries of delight. We would hold the words for weeks or months, for a soft evening when a stray remark would set us to recollecting. I guess we believed, together, that the wrong voice can obliterate a landscape. The sentiment was itself unspoken, and one of the sources of our attachment.
— Don DeLillo, ‘Creation’ in The Angel Esmeralda. New York: Scribner, 2011, p. 8.
8:01 pm • 24 November 2011 • 4 notes
Why had Shiva become a doctor? Why, to please his father, and why a psychiatrist? To please his father still more. Surely this is what Dilip Mukti had been calling upon him to do for all those miles of tarmac and steel? To use the highest faculties of reason to map out the irrational, segregate and annihilate it? The monkeys would be caged, the elephants put to work, the tigers shot and the snakes handled. The entire, ever-incholate, shape-shifting bestiary of Hindu belief would be fit meat for his heir’s career as a psychological vivisectionist?
— Will Self, ‘Dr Mukti’ in Dr Mukti & Other Stories of Woe. London: Penguin, 2009, pp. 105–6.
11:22 pm • 20 November 2011 • 6 notes
In the prefatory remarks to her magisterial essay “Illness As Metaphor”, Susan Sontag notes that we are all dual citizens of the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick – although we all prefer to use only the one passport. She goes on to observe that, of course, illness is not a metaphor at all and that “the most truthful way of regarding illness – and the healthiest way of being ill – is one most purified of, most resistant to, metaphoric thinking.” I had known this once, yet preoccupied by my own history of mental distress and blinded by my professional malaise – for does not the fiction-maker engorge himself with the similitude of disparate things? – I had looked feverishly for what my bloody disorder was like. It seemed synonymous with my addictive illness – and also to be a bizarre antonym of vampirism, which, in turn, surely, was a metaphor for venereal disease? And also for tuberculosis, which in the 1900s was still viewed as repressive of an inflamed and passionate sexual appetite. I had trafficked in illness as metaphor, dealing as a novelist especially in that romanticising of madness that Sontag sees as “reflect(ing) in the most vehement way the contemporary prestige of irrational or rude (spontaneous) behaviour (acting out) …”
… Only a culture that had misheard Sontag’s advice and instead of excising the cancerously metaphoric assumed that it took benign forms could have witnessed such terrifyingly silly metastases. We may have tried to normalise cancer with fun runs and awareness weeks – yet still we “battle” against it in a war without end. Death, the real simile for disease – for when we are ill, do we not always feel like we are dying, even if it’s only a little? – remains, despite our secularism, the most metaphoricised phenomenon of all. As fast as we could eliminate the metaphors – our science helped them to proliferate. Metaphors were the iatrogenic disease of our era.
3:30 pm • 17 November 2011 • 19 notes
The ascetic treats life as a wrong path that he has to walk along backwards till he reaches the point where he starts; or, like a mistake which can only be set right by action – ought to be set right: he demands that we should accompany him, and when he can, he imposes his valuation of existence. What does this mean? Such a monstrous method of valuation is not inscribed in the records of human history as an exception and curiosity: it is one of the most wide-spread and long-lived facts there are. Read from a distant planet, the majuscule script of our earthly existence would perhaps seduce the reader to the conclusion that the earth was the ascetic planet par excellence, an outpost of discontented, arrogant and nasty creatures who harboured a deep disgust for themselves, for the world, for all life and hurt themselves as much as possible out of pleasure in hurting: – probably their only pleasure.
— Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Third Essay’ in On the Genealogy of Morality (ed. K. Ansell-Pearson & trans. C. Diethe). Cambridge University Press: New York, 2010, p. 86.
3:40 pm • 16 November 2011 • 4 notes
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, writers offered the real thing; that was their task. In War and Peace Tolstoy describes the battleground so closely that the readers believe it’s the real thing. But I don’t. I’m not pretending it’s the real thing. We are living in a fake world; we are watching fake evening news. We are fighting a fake war. Our government is fake. But we find reality in this fake world. So our stories are the same; we are walking through fake scenes, but ourselves, as we walk through these scenes, are real. The situation is real, in the sense that it’s a commitment, it’s a true relationship. That’s what I want to write about.
— Haruki Murakami, Interview with the Paris Review
2:47 pm • 15 November 2011 • 19 notes
The Baldy Bugler, Issue 1
Created with a 30-day trial version of InDesign that I certainly have no idea how to use, welcome to The Baldy Bugler, daily newspaper from the outback town of Baldy, known for its croquet and cult activity. Sample column below. $4.90.
9:59 pm • 27 October 2011 • 12 notes
“…the body of the condemned man was once again an essential element in the ceremonial of public punishment. It was the task of the guilty man to bear openly his condemnation and the truth of the crime that he had committed. His body, displayed, exhibited in procession, tortured, served as the public support of a procedure that had hitherto remained in the shade; in him, on him, the sentence had to be legible for all.”
Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish: Birth of the Prison, p. 43
(Source: waitingonoblivion, via co-stanza)
10:51 pm • 21 October 2011 • 317 notes
Hubris today characterizes our whole attitude towards nature, our rape of nature with the help of machines and the completely unscrupulous inventiveness of technicians and engineers; hubris characterizes our attitude to God, or rather to some alleged spider of purpose and ethics lurking behind the great spider’s web of causality – we could echo what Charles the Bold said in his battle with Ludwig XI: ‘je combats l’universelle araignée’ –; hubris characterizes our attitude towards ourselves, – for we experiment on ourselves in a way we would never allow on animals, we merrily vivisect our souls out of curiosity: that is how much we care about the ‘salvation’ of the soul!
— Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Third Essay’ in On the Genealogy of Morality (ed. K. Ansell-Pearson & trans. C. Diethe). Cambridge University Press: New York, 2010, p. 82.
3:04 pm • 21 October 2011 • 5 notes
The argument that Nietzsche could not have propounded a set of statements which put him at such radical variance with traditional ways of understanding the place of logic and grammar in our discourse, because any set of statements must presuppose to some large degree just that kind of understanding, misses the point. Nietzsche’s final standpoint, that toward rather than from which he speaks, cannot be expressed as a set of statements. Statements are made only to be discarded—and sometimes taken up again—in that movement from utterance to utterance in which what is communicated is the movement. Nietzsche did not advance a new theory against older theories; he proposed an abandonment of theory.
— Alisdair MacIntyre, ‘Genealogies and Subversions’ in Nietzsche, Genealogy, Morality (ed. R. Schacht). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994, p. 298.
6:25 pm • 17 October 2011 • 11 notes
So the genre of the academic treatise is, it may be conceded, the apparent genre of Nietzsche’s writing in Zur Genealogie der Moral, but only apparent, not real, because it represents no more than a temporary stance, a mask worn only for the purposes of certain particular addressings of certain particular audiences.
— Alisdair MacIntyre, ‘Genealogies and Subversions’ in Nietzsche, Genealogy, Morality (ed. R. Schacht). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994, p. 296
6:23 pm • 17 October 2011 • 3 notes
Which great philosopher, so far, has been married? Heraclitus, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Schopenhauer – were not; indeed it is impossible to even think about them as married. A married philosopher belongs to comedy, that is my proposition: and that exception, Socrates, the mischievous Socrates, appears to have married [ironically], simply in order to demonstrate this proposition … The ascetic ideal points the way to so many bridges to independence that no philosopher can refrain from inwardly rejoicing and clapping hands on hearing the story of all those who, one fine day, decided to say ‘no’ to any curtailment of their liberty, and go off into the desert: even granted they were just strong asses and the complete opposite of a strong spirit.
— Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Third Essay’ in On the Genealogy of Morality (ed. K. Ansell-Pearson & trans. C. Diethe). Cambridge University Press: New York, 2010, p. 77.
6:19 pm • 17 October 2011 • 2 notes
I have to speak my mind in a case like this, which is embarrassing in many ways — and it is a typical case — : it is certainly better if we separate an artist sufficiently far from his work as not immediately to take the man as seriously as his work. After all, he is merely the precondition for the work, the womb, the soil, sometimes the manure and fertilizer on which it grows, — and as such, he is something we have to forget about in most cases if we want to enjoy the work … We should avoid the confusion to which the artist is only too prone, out of psychological contiguity, as the English say, of thinking he were identical with what he can portray, invent and express.
— Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Third Essay’ in On the Genealogy of Morality (ed. K. Ansell-Pearson & trans. C. Diethe). Cambridge University Press: New York, 2010, p. 71.
4:31 pm • 14 October 2011 • 3 notes
That the ascetic ideal has meant so much to man reveals a basic fact of human will, its horror vacui; it needs an aim—, and it prefers to will nothingness rather than not will. — Do I make myself understood? … Have I made myself understood?.. ‘Absolutely not, sir!' — So let us start at the beginning.
— Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Third Essay’ in On the Genealogy of Morality (ed. K. Ansell-Pearson & trans. C. Diethe). Cambridge University Press: New York, 2010, p. 68.
4:08 pm • 14 October 2011 • 2 notes
Interpretation reveals its complexity when we realise that a new force can only appear and appropriate an object by first of all putting on the mask of the forces which are already in possession of the object … We see that the art of interpreting must also be an art of piercing masks, of discovering the one that masks himself, why he does it and the point of keeping up the mask while it is being reshaped … The difference in the origin does not appear at the origin — except perhaps to a particularly practised eye, the eye which sees from afar, the eye of the far-sighted, the eye of the genealogist.
— Gilles Deleuze, ‘The Tragic’ in Nietzsche and Philosophy (trans. H. Tomlinson). Athone Press: London, 1983, p. 5.
5:24 pm • 13 October 2011 • 16 notes