Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts

Although I finished rereading Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts a few days ago, I picked up the book again. I am mesmerized by his philosophy of spiritual renewal and fulfillment.

Published in: on March 31, 2005 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  

First Storm

The first severe thunderstorm of spring blows through Chicago tonight. I sit in the dark, watch the lightning flash across sky, and listen to the thunder and rain.

I am soothed, almost hypnotized. The cure for my insomnia has arrived.

Published in: on March 30, 2005 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ida Lupino and Annette Benning

I was watching the 1946 movie “The Man I Love” starring Ida Lupino and I noticed she and Annette Benning look a lot alike. I mean, if you don’t take the difference in years into account.

Just thought I would mention it.

Have a great day and don’t forget to boogie.

Published in: on March 30, 2005 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Devil with the White Sox Cap On

I was nursing a beer in the local pub tonight. A reasonably attractive young woman came in and took the bar stool next to mine. She had long blonde hair and a great tan, which was out of place in Chicago at this time of year. She wore a Chicago White Sox cap. Of course, I recognized her as an angelic alien right away.

I did not say anything to her, but she kept looking at me. She eventually turned to me and said, “you’re the Big Think Dude who works on the angelic alien problem.”

“That’d be me,” I said.

“Can I buy you a shot?” she said.

“Sure,” I said.

We drank our shots.

“Thanks, for the shot. You’re an angelic alien,” I said.

“I figured you knew that,” she said.

“What’s with the White Sox hat?” I said.

“I’m going to get into a big argument tonight with some unsuspecting Cub fan about how John Garland is the best fifth starter in baseball,” she said.

“Does god allow you to do that?” I said.

“Who said god sent me?” she said.

Then she walked out.

Published in: on March 29, 2005 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dear Everybody,

How are you? I am fine.

Love,

Lynn

Published in: on March 29, 2005 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hearth

I could tell at first light the day would be brilliant and warm. The world seemed infinite in all directions as the sun rose over the lake.

Only the coldness of my heart weighed upon me. I did not care about myself in any essential or meaningful way.

I stepped into the warmth of the rising sun, then forgot about lighting a fire in my cold heart as I walked along the lake, a mass of undulating jewels strewn by the sun.

Published in: on March 28, 2005 at 6:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Happy Easter

I got out of bed at 4 this morning, which at the time seemed like a bad idea. But I found the most Easter eggs, so it worked out well.

Published in: on March 27, 2005 at 7:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Getting It Wrong About Morality and Reality

David Brooks gets it entirely wrong in his NYT op-ed piece “Morality and Reality”.

What I’m describing here is the clash of two serious but flawed arguments. The socially conservative argument has tremendous moral force, but doesn’t accord with the reality we see when we walk through a hospice. The socially liberal argument is pragmatic, but lacks moral force.

The socially conservative argument does not have moral force. The slogan “Right to Life” does not accord with what is in the Bible. Joshua put all the survivors, men, women, children, and animals, to the sword after the battle of Jericho at the command of god. Those claiming the absolute and universal moral right to life based on scripture are either ignorant of scripture or hypocrites. The “Right to Life” slogan is one of the many contradictions arising from the erratic socially conservative application of morally relativistic principles.

The prevalent attitude of social conservatives seems to be if the law meets their special interest, the law is fine. However, if the law does not suit their desires, it should be subverted by whatever pragmatic and practicable means. This is the opposite of what Mr. Brooks claims.

The “liberal argument” is anything but pragmatic. The argument points out that in a democracy the laws are created in an environment of rational moral inquiry where all points of view are discussed.

The overwhelming reaction by those questioning the meaningless slogan “Right to Life” indicates more than an commitment to process. The “liberal argument” claims moral force too, one based on both religious and reasoned inquiry into moral truths and the reality to which they will be applied.

People are growing weary with being called immoral, morally relativistic, or nihilistic whenever they point out the contradiction or hypocrisy in a socially conservative position. And people are starting to see through the mistakes about morality commonly made by certain NYT op-ed columnists.

Published in: on March 26, 2005 at 12:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

An Essential Way

The fog again shrouds the city and another chill rain falls. I drink two cups of coffee and a glass of orange juice. I am aware and conscious. I delight in the spectacle. I am alive in an essential way. For the moment, that is all I have to say.

Published in: on March 25, 2005 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Blueberry Pancakes

At the end of the day, I ate blueberry pancakes smothered in butter and syrup, and drank water. It did not lift my spirit, but it certainly elevated my body.

And that is good enough.

Published in: on March 24, 2005 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gray

I can barely tell I am awake. The view from the window is colorless. The fog hides the buildings in the neighborhood. Only the orange, green, and red stripe running across the façade of the 7 Eleven store across the street pierces the gray.

A 1941 Rita Hayworth movie plays on Turner Classic Movies. My crush on her grows stronger each time I watch one of her movies. If only I’d been born in a different place and time, we would have been lovers. Everybody deserves a pleasant daydream.

My body tells me I did not sleep last night although I fell into spells of unconsciousness several times. I did not dream and for that I am thankful.

I have written a blog posting. I have executed the first duty of the day.

Published in: on March 24, 2005 at 7:31 am  Leave a Comment  

"Campo Santo"

I started reading “Campo Santo”, the latest Sebald book. Once again, I am completely seduced by his writing.

The melancholy thought that this might be his last book published fits neatly with the overcast, wet, and chill day, the first day of Spring.

Published in: on March 23, 2005 at 9:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Big Think and Angelic Aliens

My e-mail inbox is overflowing with messages saying, “Lynn, you have been coyly retecent regarding Angelic Aliens. What’s the latest scoop, Dude. Inquiring minds want to know.”

I have gone into Big Think mode on the Angelic Aliens question. Don’t worry. I’ll be providing definitive answers in the near future. These seemingly intractable questions are grist for my mill.

Published in: on March 22, 2005 at 9:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Charity

When the mind’s awareness and self awareness are gone, the body too has the right to pass on. We must grant the body this final kindness and dignity.

“He was not mine.”

Published in: on March 21, 2005 at 2:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hypocrisy, Counter-hypocrisy, and Totalitarianism

Some events weary the imagination, defying the will to put those events aside. Such is the Schiavo case. One can debate the rightness or wrongness of pulling the tubes from Mrs. Schiavo’s body until the cows come home, but a more fruitful exercise is meditating on how the actors in the drama might have played their roles differently.

Mr. Schiavo could have announced he was taking Mrs. Schiavo home because he and Mrs. Schiavo were putting their trust in the will and goodness of the Lord. The Christian opposing Mr. Schiavo for putting his complete faith in the mercy of the lord has some explaining to do. The issue becomes what a Christian ought to do rather than the struggle of good versus evil.

There are two ways to fight hypocrisy: one, expose it, and two, become just as hypocritical. The second of these two options becomes more attractive when the drive by a few to create a totalitarian state becomes irresistible.

The Hypocritical Christian Right does not believe in Christianity. They believe in the naked exercise of power to control whatever is in their best interests. That statement does not espouse anything radical or leftist, but merely indicates a rudimentary observation and healthy skepticism when confronted with unmasked naked motives.

I will admit I am an unrepentant leftist libertarian.

Published in: on March 21, 2005 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Footnotes

I wake at two o’clock in the morning. I cannot fall back to sleep. The 1956 version of “War and Peace” has started a half hour ago on Turner Classic Movies, the version with Henry Fonda as Pierre and Audrey Hepburn as Natasha. I start watching it. I become immersed. The movie will end at 5 in the morning.

The costumes, settings, battles, and a reasonable adaptation of the story for the screen make it worthwhile.

Another night without sleep. Another night of footnotes.

Published in: on March 21, 2005 at 3:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Hypocrisy: Volume One Million

The Schiavo case works beautifully for the Conservative Republican Congressional leadership. They can’t lose, being the white knights that they are, sitting high in the saddle, and slaying another dragon.

Make hay while the sun is shining.

Published in: on March 20, 2005 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Reading

I started rereading Terry Eagleton’s “Literary Theory” yesterday. I read it 15 year’s ago. I am enjoying my second time around more than I did then. I suppose 15 years of reading and thinking make the difference. I suffered several crises in my life 16 years ago, so my head might not have been in the ballgame.

I bull forward with Heidegger. After 700 pages of his various works, I find myself understanding and agreeing with much he has to say. My strategy for grasping the whole rather than stopping to analyze the parts has paid off. I must remember this strategy when reading esoteric philosophy. Concepts and arguments are best learned from repeated exposure in different contexts.

Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right” challenges me to a two out of three falls match next, a match I most assuredly will win should I take the challenge.

I love being an independent scholar and thinker. If I could only add erudition to my resume, I’d be the total package.

Published in: on March 18, 2005 at 2:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Appeals

It would be good if monsters, humans with neither feelings nor moral sense, committed torture. History shows this rarely to be the case. I offer my own paltry take on torture.

Appeals

How can the tortured appeal
to the torturer? Morality
will not work,
for the torturer acts
from other principles
such as building utopia.
The torturer responds
he is merely an instrument
aiding the grand enterprise.

How can the tortured extinguish
the flames inside the torturer’s soul?
Ultimate freedom fuels the flames.
It’s as if the torturer is a god.

Published in: on March 17, 2005 at 11:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Video Games and Aliens

The Illinois legislature tackles video game violence. Aliens are one of the thornier issues.

Read about it here: Chicago Tribune | DEBATE ON VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES

Thanks, to Tom for passing it along.

Published in: on March 17, 2005 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  

The Snow

There is not much to say about it.
It falls from the sky
and smothers the grave stones.

It is no big deal
to die twice or more
instead of once.

Published in: on March 17, 2005 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  

The Knight’s Tale

I watched “The Knight’s Tale” for the first time tonight. It had Chaucer, cathedrals, courtly love, knights, dancing, rock ‘n roll (nice touch), and, most importantly, jousting. It was mega-awesome. I’m totally stoked.

Published in: on March 17, 2005 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  

"The Angels and Us"

I just finished reading Mortimer Adler’s “The Angels and Us”. I am writing a book review and I will post it.

Let me give you a preliminary assessment. If you are looking for a serious well written theological and philosophical discussion of angels, then this is the book for you. However, if you are looking for a book that explains how angels can help you shop for tomatoes at the supermarket, get a cool date, or heal your child after you have backed over her in the driveway with your SUV, you might want to read something else. He does not mention Angelic Aliens, but I don’t fault him for that. After all, you still have State Street for cutting edge cultural critique about Angelic Aliens.

Of course, Mortimer Adler’s scholarship and erudition goes without saying. He unfortunately died in 2001. I was a big fan of his books and I still mourn his passing.

Published in: on March 16, 2005 at 8:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

There Is No Finish Line

I would like to comment about life and death in a round about way.

I have heard several bloggers say they are blocked when trying to write their blogs. I commented about this in one of my previous postings not long ago. I put it down to post-winter angst. Whether the winter has been mild, as it has been in Chicago this winter, or brutal, the long succession of dark days, when it is not possible to spend all my time dressed in shorts and t-shirt, eventually weary me, even though I sit around most of the day in my pajamas until it is time to go to the local bar. I shudder when thinking about the days I had a real job forcing me to travel much of the time.

I write everyday; writer’s block is not my problem. Last August, I discovered blogging, another tool that helps me write. Spending the day writing pure and unadulterated shit is better than writing nothing at all. This blog posting probably qualifies as that. It’s just a blog entry someone might chance to read, but that’s a remote possibility. I don’t care about the publishing of it and its fate afterwards. I do care about writing it as well as I can in the time constraints given me. My blog gives me a public place to publish each day while I work on something “real”, something not the blog. The word count on my word processor says that as of the last sentence I’ve written over 250 words. That means I’ve already defeated writer’s block today even if this is the only thing I write.

I have written three novels since 1998. None of them are publishable, for they are flawed by failures of technique and craftsmanship. It hurts me to admit it, but I tell myself I am learning how to do it, which is true.

There are as many methods writers use to complete a good novel, as there novelists. I did not read far into the writer interview literature before arriving at this conclusion. I am using a new method to complete my next novel. The first thing I did differently was to write the whole first draft (238 pages) in five weeks. You cannot imagine how bad the first draft is. When I couldn’t think about anything to write, I wrote about my life and ascribed it to one of the characters in my novel. For instance, on days when I was blocked but felt horny, I wrote sex scenes. I like what I have written so far as bad as it is. Something genuine shines from it. That’s a good start.

I am working on the second draft of the novel. The first flaw I am trying to correct in the novel is its lack of plot. I have tried to be analytical about the plot and write an outline for it, but I am blocked. I suppose if I must be blocked on a piece of writing, the outline is the best place for it to happen. Nobody is ever going to read the outline no matter what happens. I will quit the plot outline and return to rewriting the first draft with the vague idea that the novel needs some sort of traditional plot. My dream, completing the second draft with a complete plot, was merely that, a dream.

Then there are all the other drafts where I must add and shape the other elements. Who knows how many drafts there will be? I don’t. I can at least identify the relevant elements. That’s good enough for now. I am at the one or two mile mark of a marathon, feeling rested, comfortable, and settling into the most comfortable pace and efficient stride.

On the back cover of a Seventies issue of “Runner’s World”, Nike ran an ad, a picture of a runner running alone on a country road, a road much the same as the roads I ran when I lived in Iowa. The caption to the ad was, “There is no finish line.” I cut the ad, took it to work, and hung it over my desk for many years. It inspired me and served me well.

Death is the only finish line and I ain’t dead yet.

Published in: on March 16, 2005 at 1:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Change of Reading Plan

I just finished reading Terry Eagleton’s “After Theory”, a book so good, I read it in two quick bites.

Now, I’m reading “The Angels and Us” by Mortimer J. Adler. Yes, seriously, I really and truly am. OK, believe what you want to believe, but I am.

Next, I’ll be reading Paul Auster’s “Oracle Night” and you can put that on the board.

Published in: on March 15, 2005 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment