Flipping back and forth

I finished the latest Mirakami novel this afternoon. (Two thumbs up.). Now, I’m reading In Search of Lost Time and For Whom the Bell Tolls, flipping back and forth between them. And I want to tell you it is a strange experience–like reading and writing on this iPhone right now.

Maybe I’m doing it because I’m bored, and a little melancholy too. It don’t matter.

Published in: on November 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hubris, etc.

Hubris: what does it mean?  Here’s what I think it means.  When you get lucky, you think it has to do with some wonderful attribute attached to you.  You, in all your magnificence, are the author of your good fortune unless your fortune turns ill.  Then you think the gods have conspired against your august majesty.

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 8:21 pm  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  

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)  

Time to put on your mask

Our bodies trick us.  They make us believe we have one immortal soul that resides within us–a soul, although not exactly measurable, yet measurable all the same if we only had the power to do it.

But that ain’t right.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Published in: on December 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who are you?

Trying to read Proust with a math notebook by my side. Math ideas interrupt my reading. I scribble in my notebook then return to Proust.

Like Hume, I realize there is no me, just this panorama of images that pass before my inner eye. No thoughts cross my mind that might constitute a narrative.

I can’t cop a plea, for I have no story to fall back on.

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 8:38 pm  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  

Shakespeare’s Philosophy

I’m reading Colin McGinn’s Shakespeare’s Philosophy along with the major plays he discusses in the book.  I’m about halfway through it.  McGinn tackles the philosophical aspects of Shakespeare’s work and shuns literary study of his work.  I’ve already gained a whole new appreciation of the philosophical content.

McGinn views Shakespeare as a skeptical philosopher who had read Montaigne and was very much in sympathy with his philosophy.  He sees Shakespeare concerned with many core philosophical problems and issues: appearance vs. reality and the limits of knowledge, the nature of personal identity and the self, other minds, the imagination as one of the four faculties, the nature of love, good, and evil and how they are influenced by our imaginations and created selves and abilities to interpret and know other minds, and the issue of creation, being, and nothingness as it relates to who we are and how we live out our life.

I’ve found his discussion of Shakespeare’s thoughts on personal identity and the self fascinating.  Like Montaigne and Hume, Shakespeare did not believe there was a stable core self that one could identify.  We create different characters for specific social needs.  We are like actors who are continually changing roles depending on circumstances.  We use our imaginations to create narratives that fit how we would have others see us.  In this process we easily dupe ourselves and others.  (You are who you think you ain’t.)  Character does not create actions, but actions create character.

I’ve always enjoyed McGinn as a prose stylist who makes difficult thought easier.  I can see Shakespeare’s Philosophy and the plays standing in as a good text for an introduction to philosophy course.

(This post written on the laptop. 🙂 )

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 7:28 am  Comments (1)  

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  

Truth and banality

I’ll admit it.  Most ideas and propositions bore me if no subtle or elaborate argument requiring analysis for their truth or falsity accompanies them.

Most truths are banal, yet their propositions are uttered most.

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 9:56 am  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  


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  

About face

Awake at a little past 4 AM, I procrastinate over making coffee or making one last attempt at getting a decent nights sleep.  The coffee tastes good.  I watch the sky grow light.

I’m thinking about two writing spaces: blogging and Facebook.  Over the past several months, Facebook has become my postcard place and I am in a postcard mood these days except when I work on the geometry book, the book that may have no end because of the research and expertise it requires to write it.

Sometime, I feel like a voyeur when reading Facebook entries.  Why I do not know.  People do not have to bare themselves on Facebook, which in most cases they probably don’t, but sometimes reading entries titillates.

Facebook is also more restrictive on the personae I want to project.  And these days the persona is the thing with me.  While dong my best to avoid identity issues, I remain fixated on them.

Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 7:20 am  Leave a Comment