July 23, 2017

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July 21, 2017

As a supplement or surrogate to whistling while I work, I will sometimes recite lines from There Will Be Blood while I work, which is the inspiration for this Mcsweeney’s-like list of There Will Be Blood lines to recite throughout your workday. (Warning: demands an uncommon familiarity with the dialogue of There Will Be Blood.)

Unprofitable Servants

July 21, 2017

As I left the house, I noticed dark storm clouds above the condos, which, as with the day before, never managed to amount to rain. The “stuckness” or repetitiveness of weather patterns has become palpable –as is, sometimes, their jerky or clumsy effort to restore balance or get unstuck– hard showers/ or days of hard showers.

I walked to the Goodwill first, where I bought for a couple dollars a book on the physical sciences, thinking to bone up for no particular reason on the physical sciences, (though I never did wind up reading it) and a copy of The Hamlet, which had recently been brought to mind. (I didn’t plan on reading it again but just thought I might need it to refer to later, but I did wind up rereading it.) From there to work, a busy day there….

Woke up early and enthused, a spring in my step. In Kierkegaard I reread the part about the “poor clothing” of The Good: how The Good doesn’t need any one person — rather, it’s individuals that need and require The Good– and it takes a long time for the Good to achieve its ends. (The Good requires “unprofitable servants”: it doesn’t require us to be profitable — it requires us to will what’s good). I translated a couple lines from The Odyssey; they referred to a land –perhaps Egypt?– where everyone was a doctor and “had knowledge of all people”, the children of Paion, a god of healing.

This was the day I saw two people at a table sitting across from each other both reading Frederick Douglass’ autobiography. It turned out that they were a mother and son who had just returned from an afternoon of volunteer work at a literacy clinic somewhere not far from his house. I recently saw the mother again –she had been reading Walter Mosely, who I hadn’t read or heard of– and strongly recommended his books. (Walter Mosely).

I haven’t seen her since then –but I did finally get around to reading and enjoying “A Devil In A Blue Dress” this past summer. (I wound up putting this book, along with a few others, in the clothes drier, as the result of bed bug scare, which more or less destroyed the book.)

Fanés

July 19, 2017

” Ils n’étaient pas des vieillards, mais des jeunes gens de dix-huit ans extrêmement fanés. Peu de chose eût suffi à effacer ces flétrissures de la vie, et la mort n’aurait pas plus de peine à rendre au visage sa jeunesse qu’il n’en faut pour nettoyer un portrait que seul un peu d’encrassement empêche de briller comme autrefois. Aussi je pensais à l’illusion dont nous sommes dupes quand, entendant parler d’un célèbre vieillard, nous nous fions d’avance à sa bonté, à sa justice, à sa douceur d’âme ; car je sentais qu’ils avaient été, quarante ans plus tôt, de terribles jeunes gens dont il n’y avait aucune raison pour supposer qu’ils n’avaient pas gardé la vanité, la duplicité, la morgue et les ruses.” [Time Regained, 94]
*

Andreas Mayor: “They were not old men, there were very young men in an advanced stage of withering. The marks of life were not deeply scored here, and death, when it came, would find it as easy to restore to these features their youthfulness as it is to clean a portrait which only a little surface dirt prevents from shining with its original brilliance. These men made me think that we are victims of an illusion when, hearing talk of a celebrated old man, we instantly make up our minds that he is kind and just and gentle; for I felt that, forty years earlier, these elderly men had been ruthless young men and that there was no reason to suppose that they had not preserved their youthful arrogance and their vanity, their duplicity and their guile.”

July 17, 2017

All of sudden wondering what Nietzsche thought of Schopenhauer, I looked into the index of Will to Power for his remarks on same. I found that, among other things, while he credited Schopenhauer for identifying “will” with Kant’s “things in themselves” he faulted him for failing to “deify” the will [1005]. (For Schopenhauer, will-lessness was the preferred state. For Nietzsche the kind of will was quite important.) Elsewhere [WTP 685] Nietzsche interestingly distinguishes between will and desire:

“Willing” is not “desiring”, striving, demanding: it is distinguished from these by the affect of commanding. There is no such thing as “willing,” but only a willing something […] The state of tension by virtue of which a force seeks to discharge itself — is not an example of “willing”.