Events and their location

A man stands on his balcony in the building across the street.  He brushes his teeth.  Why do I care to write about it?  I blame Murakami.  Small events take on significance.

In what world did I awake today?

Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  


The long days go by consumed by geometry.  Even chess goes by the wayside.  Desire is a changeable thing.

What was I going to say about clines?

Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 8:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Piano Concertos

OK, I ain’t been writing much. I’ve been listening to music, mostly Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos. I got distracted. And if you are going to get distracted, I expect that ain’t a half bad way to do it.

In fact, I haven’t written anything in so long–not even responses to e-mails–I can barely touch type this post. Oh well, typing was never my thing.

But that is not really what I want to talk about.

Let’s take two sentences: “Know thyself.”‘ and “You are who you think you ain’t.”. One is a command, the other a statement. Well, it is pretty obvious that if the second sentence is true, then the command does not matter.

Let’s leave it there for right now, for after all I am just trying to recapture my typing skills.

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 5:51 pm  Comments (1)  

Bible, Euclid, and interpretation

One of my favorite quotations is “Alone at night, I read my Bible more and Euclid less.”  Not that it is true for me.  I tend towards Euclid.  I don’t really know why the quotation has stuck inside my head, for I read it in H. S. M. Coxeter’s splendid and classic Introduction to Geometry.  Why he used it for one of his section heads I do not know.

I like the implication though.  I have a sentence that seems as though it means something, yet have no idea what the meaning is or why an author and mathematician used it in one of his books.

Interpretation is much more mysterious and elusive than we might think if we care to think of it at all.  It’s like a spell–when broken, ruins everything.

Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 1:11 am  Leave a Comment  

May, 1919 in Paris

It was May, 1919 in Paris–all manner of things happened–a collage of the old and new.  When you stepped outside your apartment, you did not know what the future would bring.  The warmth and sunlight made you forget you cared.

Not just the map of the world was being reshaped, but all of science and art too.  Reading a good book at a table outside a bistro seemed the only terra firma.

Published in: on December 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Annals of the self

I think my first real appreciation of American poetry came from the TV series Voices and Visions.  The series describes the lives and works of 13 American poets from Whitman to Plath.  There is also a beautiful companion book to the series.

I can honestly say I have purchased and read the works of those poets.  The works have a pride of place in my library equal to the classics.  The poems are something I always return to with delight and wonder.  It’s as if they are an encyclopedia of desire.

“Who are you?” is the most important question.  “I am many,” is the short answer Whitman gave.  One can prove it by Reason and from Experience, but Reason and Experience do not detract from that other way of knowing–Revelation.

Published in: on December 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm  Comments (4)  

Archimedes: the glow of faint copies

I’ve been reading the works of Archimedes, which does not generate many ideas for writing (unless you are writing a geometry book).

Archimedes wrote on papyrus scrolls none of which have survived.  What is known of his work were copied on three codices called A, B, and C.  Codices A and B are lost.  Codex C is being restored after having gone missing off and on since about the year 1000 CE.  The original text was written on parchment, then scrubbed, the leaves shuffled, and a prayer book written over it.

What I am studying is a text interpreted, translated, and copied many times.  To this I apply my own copying and interpretations.

Every reading and writing act is an act of translation, interpretation, and pastiche.  There is no absolute when it comes to the text.

Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Who are you, anyway?

At the beginning of his Shakespeare’s Philosophy, Colon McGinn highlights three major philosophical issues of which Shakespeare was concerned: appearance vs. reality, other minds, and most importantly to me, the question of personal identity.

I tend to agree with Shakespeare’s statements that we are actors on a stage playing roles until our time is up.  Those roles seem forced upon us because of social obligation.  I would take it a step or two further.  We create our own narratives and consequently the roles we play in those narratives because that is what we delight in doing.  What sets us apart from other species is that we have these incredible imaginations with the ability to create metaphors that just happen to be apt when dealing with our fellow travelers and our specific physical circumstances.

Montaigne and Shakespeare swam against the tide of philosophical thinking about self identity by positing no central identity and recommending a multiple selves interpretation of the soul instead.  Despite that spectacular thread of thought, philosophy crushed their ideas, unless you count Hume’s famous account of personal identity or get into postmodern times when all interpretation became suspect or relative to the eyes of the beholder.  I think of Whitman too–“do I contradict myself…”

Let’s say I know my roles and the narratives of which they are a part.  Does that constitute the real me?  No.  It’s all going to change tomorrow based on my emotions, circumstances, and the delight I play in making shit up and then trying to make it come true.  I’m many somebodies and nobody at the same time.  Tomorrow, another somebody will be added to the list of players.

A multitude with no discernible organization seems like chaos.  And chaos, at times, seems like nothing at all.

I will die.  No immortal soul will survive me after the event, for that single isolated nonexistent soul–my so called essence–never was.  When I think about that and realize I am many people trapped in one body, yet not just that, but also many people I have created and have yet to create–well–it’s as a jewel sparkling in the sun.

Published in: on August 14, 2010 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Annals of narrative: painting another self portrait

I’m already thinking about the future when I will have to convert my eReader apps and eLibraries to a new iPad.  Will they convert seamlessly without me having to download them again?  It would be a damned shame if I had to get into a large time consuming project.

We paint our own unique pictures of the future.  The painting creates another portrait of us.

Published in: on July 17, 2010 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  

The sacred and the relative

No text is sacred.  Sacred texts pervert truth by opening themselves to infinite interpretation, thereby, leaving themselves at the doorstep of truth relativism–the place they so vehemently despise.

We are always stuck with going our own way for good or ill.  Even when it comes to the word.

Published in: on June 7, 2010 at 11:48 pm  Comments (3)  

Postmodern death

Went to Jane’s funeral this weekend.  Came back to Chicago feeling quite sad.  All five of my parents are gone.  I’m truly an orphan now.

Read Barnes’s A History Of the World In 10 1/2 Chapters this weekend too.

I wonder whether the narrative you have created about a person close to you remains frozen in time when they die.  Do you create new narratives?  Do the current ones just decay and fall apart like a dead body?

Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

New narrative

Woke very early.  Walked to the lake.  First light spread over the water.  The waves slapped the shore.

I began creating a new narrative.  I smiled.

Published in: on April 9, 2010 at 7:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Wittgenstein: the man

Was there ever a more interesting philosopher than Wittgenstein as far as his life?  He alone matches Socrates in my mind.

Then there is his philosophical legacy: philosophy scattered about in brilliant fragments.

When you read Wittgenstein, you don’t give a damn about writing books.

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chess, being stoked, and REM dreams

I had a great chess day: nothing but won games or winning moves.  If you work hard at a game, you need those kind of days even if it is the game of life.

So, I’m totally stoked and will trundle off to my trundle bed to read for a spell.  I hope I have some REM sleep early in the morning.  Maybe, my dreams won’t be nightmares.

Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 12:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Those summer rainy days

Why is it that I can still hear the summer rain patter on the top of our trailer roof at night, hear the train rolling down the tracks, out in the distance, rolling outside our little one horse town, and remember falling asleep just because that even we were so bereft, so destitute back in those days when the only book I had to read was my mother’s white leather bound King James version of the New Testament and still, to this day, hear those sounds, and hear those words that comfort me because my mother told me I did not yet know what was true?

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 11:33 pm  Leave a Comment  


I feel as though I have been wearing a mask all my life–actually, many masks.  Somebody slips them on my head while I’m sleeping.  When I wake in the morning, I feel as though I’ve changed, but I can’t quite tell how.  It’s these damned masks.  I never get to choose them.  I can’t take them off once they’re in place.

Oh well, tomorrow morning there will be a new mask–another thing to cope with as I negotiate the world and spin the narratives of my life.

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 11:58 am  Leave a Comment  

On the other side of life

I’m meditating on reality today while drifting and dreaming. Teasing all those activities apart grows tedious at times, turns into dirty work actually, but somebody has to do it, and I did volunteer. See you on down the road. You know–on the other side of life.

Published in: on January 17, 2010 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment  


Sitting in the bar at five till midnight, studying Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals with my pocket chess set sitting on the bar in front of me, I realize how little life changes, for that is exactly what I was doing 40 years ago in California when I was a Marine.

Published in: on January 16, 2010 at 2:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Crand Canyon

It was the summer of 1998.  I was driving back to Chicago from Big Bear Lake, California. I stopped to see the Grand Canyon, for I’d never seen it.  I’ve not yet been able to put it into perspective.  Standing high above the river, as I was, seems as if a dream.

And love too.  Never in perspective because sometimes it too is Grand like a deep canyon carved ever deeper by the river as the years pass.  The river love.  The canyon loneliness.

Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 12:37 am  Comments (1)  


Some of the smartest people I know are ignorant and bigoted.  Many of them don’t even know the basics of personae and narrative.  Those concepts seem beyond their comprehension.  Or is it just beyond their patience because they have decided to live in their own small worlds without being interrupted by something beyond the banal?

Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 1:46 am  Leave a Comment  

One more demon joins the party

I shouldn’t have done it.  Started reading philosophy of mathematics stuff again, that is.  Now, an old obsession has returned to join ranks with all the other unproductive obsessions demonizing me.

Damn it, Larry.  It’s your fault.

Published in: on December 29, 2009 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment  


We have personae. Each persona has multiple narratives. I wonder how the brain copes with all that.

Published in: on December 28, 2009 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

POV: Bleak House

Point of view: let’s take Bleak House for instance.  You have this grand satirical omniscient point of view set beside the seemingly humble narrative of Esther Summerson.  Most novelists don’t attempt mixing points of view like that.

I suppose many learned papers have been written about the points of view in Bleak House and how they work.  But I will not read those learned papers and leave it for a puzzle to piece together on my own or–failing that–remain a mystery.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 9:39 am  Leave a Comment  

A long long time

During the past two weeks I watched the whole of Battlestar Galactica again.  It aroused deep emotions.  For reasons lacking explanation, each episode reminded me what it is like to spend an eternity without V.

Published in: on September 27, 2009 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Possible worlds: part one

Where would we be if Choderlos de Laclos had not concocted his Les Liasons Dangereuses?

Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment