Random neuron firing, lame philosophy, literary pontificating, movies, sex, clothes & other femme stuff

Friday, November 28, 2003

More Oz-fest

Nada kindly passes along her own Oz, published in _V. Imp._ (Faux Press, 2003):

Vanity Imperiled

Two and trunkless legacy OF stone
in vast State desert antiquely
Sunk - a shattered peanut face
whose buttery frown, and wrinkled lip,
and OF cold COMMANDS more sneer.
Its sculptor to jelly undulate OF passion
stamped one thesis survives lifeless
things. The smooth hand mocked them,
and that heart the that; and on the
crunchy pedestal thesis do the words appear:
"My name is Peanut Daisy Man Oz thing OF
things: Look on my works ye Mighty and despair!"
Beside emergency-hung remains.
Round the decay colossal butter OF that wreck,
boundless and cash The jelly OF and
level lone remote sand stretch awayŠ

(with Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Return of the Blog Sloth

Only 2+ months after I zapped it while getting my butt poked by torturesses Mariann and Sabrina, my little iBook is back in my caresses! This means I can once again blog slothfully lying on the couch rather than having to sit upright at my desktop computer (or steal Leigh's). I can bring it with me when I go to Michigan tomorrow to visit my mom and cook up a tasty Thanksgiving bouillabaisse for two. Celebration is in order. Ooooooh, a jar of peanut butter!

I should note that George, probably suffering excruciating pain from all this ozymandering, has composed a clever updated "Oz" in self-defense.
Trunkless But Not Funkless

Before you get huffy or puffed up and pious,
Let me tell you a story 'bout Ozymandias
That I heard from a fellow just passing though
From a land that's distant and far from new.
He says: "Out on the dunes where the vipers lay their eggs
There's an Olmec-size head and two smokestack legs
Been standing there alone for thousands of years
And the face on that head both frowns and sneers
-- not easy to do, but the sculptor was keen
To capture with his hands what his heart had seen --
And underneath his sandals on the plinth's displayed
This motto: "Be afraid, be very afraid,
For I'm Ozymandias and I'll take no guff
From you other despots who think you're tough;
Just look at me, fools, you'll never live up
To my power or achievements, so just give up."
Now he lays in the dust in the dunes and the heat,
Just a cracked up head and two blasted feet.
I can't say if it's Shelleyan or faintly Byronic,
But the moral of my story is: "Ain't that ironic?"�

And a while back, from the cheerfully informal formalist Mike Snider, I received Howard Nemerov's sally at it.
Ozymandias II

I met a guy I used to know, who said:
"You take your '57 Karnak, now,
The model that they called their Coup de Veal
That had the pointy rubber boobs for bumpers--
You take that car, owned by a nigger now
Likelier'n not, whith half its chromium teeth
Knocked down its throat and aeriel ripped off,
Side stitched with like bullets where the stripping's gone
And rust like a fungus spreading on the fenders,

Well, what I mean, that fucking car still runs,
Even the moths in the upholstery are old
But it gets around, you see one on the street
Beat-up and proud, well, Jeezus what a country,
Where even the monuments keep on the move."

Monday, November 24, 2003

If you don't give a flying fuck about "Ozymandias," as you value your reason skip this post!

OK, well I might as well respond to the post by Aaron Haspel, purporting to show that my critical approach to "Ozymandias" is flawed by emotivism and that the poem itself is bad, trite, and banal. The animus behind his post puzzles me. It betrays such a triumphant tone, one of catching me out, of finding in my "Ozymandias" post an exquisite example of the fatuity to which "visceral" criticism (ajemajem) such as mine is liable.

Um, you've got to be kidding. So what?

As I've said before, I don't believe there's any virtue or attraction whatsoever in the chest-thumping discourse of the "Your poet's not as good as my poet" variety. If that's a game you like to play with literature, I'm sure you'll find plenty of nice boys to play it with. But I believe poems, like songs, images, and all objects of aesthetic attention are first and foremost pleasure-giving things. Critics can certainly describe some pleasures to be had and how they go about having them. But they can't inculcate the pleasures. Nor can they inculcate the taste for a critical method. After a certain amount of education, either you're moved viscerally by a poem or critical approach or you're not. Eventually you reach bedrock and your spade is turned. If you don't see how ridiculous you look jumping up and down with Jacques Barzun and shouting "This poem's bad! That poem's trite!," then I certainly can't show you. As Eddie Izzard sagely notes, on the far side of the circle of style there's a razor-fine line between cool and looking like a dickhead:
Over here, on this side of the circle, you've got looking like a dickhead. On this other [side], you've got sort of average kind of looking. Then you've got cool, hip and groovy . . . annnnnndddd . . . looking like a dickhead! The cutting edge of cool, hip, and groovy, is right at looking like a dickhead. But the looking-like-a-dickhead people don't realize they're right next to cool and groovy.

Let me underscore that I'm in no way saying that Aaron is looking like a dickhead. I'm just making an analogy. I'm saying only that looking like a dickhead is a difficult concept to convey to someone who doesn't get it, just as certain literary pleasures are difficult to convey to those who don't feel them.

Sadly, in order to be an informed reader of the response following, you should probably read Aaron's post and mine.

Here, for convenient reference, is the poem:
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said - "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

My response to Aaron is basically this. On material questions of fact, he's wrong. Everything else he writes boils down to "aturdaturd."

To take Aaron's points one by one:

"Antique," with its orientalizing flavor, was mildly embarrassing in 1817; it is more embarrassing now. Edward Said would certainly object were he alive to do so.

How many ways can you be flat wrong in twenty-five words or fewer? "Antique" never did and does not now have an intrinsically "orientalizing flavor." If anything , it has a Greco-Roman (i.e., anti-orientalizing) one. It was not "mildly embarrassing in 1817." It is not embarrassing now. And Edward Said would have told anyone holding thus forth that he would be well advised to confirm the watertightness of his pronouncements before launching them.

"Antique," then as now, in its adjectival form means "old" and specifically "of or pertaining to the great civilizations of antiquity, especially those of Greece and Rome." That Shelley often used the word in this latter sense --for example, in Prometheus Unbound ("insurrection, which might make / Our antique empire insecure") and The Revolt of Islam ("The antique sculptured roof") won't perhaps persuade Aaron of its currency and respectability. But its frequent use by Wordsworth might --"when in the antique age of bow and spear" ("Rydal Chapel"), "As story says, in antique days" ("The Somnambulist"), "along the vista of the brook, / Where antique roots its bustling course o'erlook" ("An Evening Walk"), "two wheels she had / Of antique form" ("Michael"). Or will Keats do?-- "O brightest! though too late for antique vows, Too, too late for the fond believing lyre" ("Psyche"). Uses in English poetry are common enough through Elizabeth Barrett Browning ("I thought once how Theocritus had sung . . . And, as I mused it in his antique tongue") and A.E. ("They wove about the antique brow / A circlet of the heavenly air"). American authors using the word span the nineteenth century, including Emerson ("Give me insight into to-day, and you may have the antique and future worlds"), Hawthorne ("He soon manifested his familiarity with the ponderous and imposing machinery of antique physic"), Whitman ("powerful and populous communities of the antique world"), and James ("Henrietta Stackpole was struck with the fact that ancient Rome had been paved a good deal like New York, and even found an analogy between the deep chariot-ruts which are traceable in the antique street . . .").

Today, far from embarrassing, the classical-antiquity sense of "antique" is a staple of 20th-century academic writing. It's everywhere in the Cambridge History of English Literature ("The atheism of "Atalanta" . . . was partly veiled by its antique setting") and even in the latest edition of the Columbia Encyclopedia ("His dramas, written in Latin . . . dealing with antique or biblical subjects," "He painted picturesque scenes of antique subjects in a romantic mode").

Mister Usage, H. W. Fowler, cheerfully and unembarrassedly uses the word "antique" in 1908 in a passage (delectable irony) condemning the practice of using archaisms (and, worse, mixing them with modern slang):
. . . charmed with the discovery of some antique order of words, he selects a modern slang phrase to operate upon; he begins a sentence with ofttimes, and ends it with a grammatical blunder; aspires to albeit, and achieves howbeit.

H.W. Fowler (1858-1933). The King's English, 2nd ed.

And finally, with regard to his objecting to this use of "antique," it might be worth noting that in the last essay published in his lifetime Edward Said himself used it with no trace of embarrassment:
Literary modernism itself can be seen as a late-style phenomenon insofar as artists such as Joyce and Eliot appear to be out of their time altogether, returning to ancient myth or antique forms such as the epic or ancient religious ritual for their inspiration. The Nation 9/1/03

Ten years previously, Said had written:
As a visual, musical, and theatrical spectacle, Aida does a great many things for and in European culture, one of which is to confirm the Orient as an essentially exotic, distant, and antique place in which Europeans can mount certain shows of force. Culture and Imperialism, London: Vintage, 1993, 'The Empire at Work: Verdi's Aida,' pp.134

Nothing could be worse than "lone and level," unless it is "boundless and bare." Both pairs are applied to the sands; one would have more than sufficed.

This isn't criticism; it's waving your penis. Aaron implies that somehow these adjectives are redundant. But they aren't. Feel free to read them for yourself. They enumerate four significantly different qualities. Stretching these qualities over so many syllables has an accretive value. I think that's a good thing. Aaron doesn't. All I can say is if you don't like those lines, you certainly won't buy Burke's point about the sublimity of this famous passage of Milton's:

O'er many a dark and dreary vale
They passed, and many a region dolorous;
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death,
A universe of death.

Aaron will tell you Milton should have clammed up after "They passed."

If you can't hear the musicality in the entire last sentence of the poem ("Round the decay / Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away."), from which Aaron excerpted his two peccant phrases, then there's nothing to be done for you. Sorry. But I can let you know (as if this would help) that the musicality derives from the sequence of repeated consonant and vowel sounds (well, duh). Notice the rhythmic and vocalic echoes of "Round the decay" in "boundless and bare." Notice the rhythmic chiasmus between "boundless and bare" and "lone and level" created by varying which of the four syllables in each phrase is the unstressed "and." Notice the chiasmic weaving of r/l sounds with k sounds between "Round the decay" and "colossal Wreck." The sequence of doubled consonsant sounds -- ck, b, l, s -- acts very much like the repeated dominant chords in the final cadence of a traditional classical symphony, setting up the resolution on the tonic, here taking the form of the long a sound. Unfortunately, that you don't hear and appreciate the music in these lines is of little critical value. It only disqualifies you from saying much worth hearing about "Ozymandias."

The vast and trunkless legs of stone present a striking image. Torsi missing their appendages are common enough, but Shelley's trunkless legs and head are unique, to my knowledge, in the history of statuary.

Um, so? Again, this isn't criticism. It's attacking the donnée of the poem. "Aw that kinda shit doesn't really happen in real life." My mom doesn't like Hamlet because she thinks all ghost stories are patently silly. That's her right. But you'd be a fool to go to her for critical evaluations of literature.

The visage raises further difficulties. It's no easy trick to frown and sneer at once; try it sometime.

Well, it may not be easy, but it's a feat observable in statuary all across Asia, specifically in conventional temple guard figures. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if that's what Shelley has in mind.


A shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

The heart must belong to Ozymandias; so the passage means, "the sculptor well understood the passions that fed Ozymandias's heart, and that the sculptor mocked, and that survive both the sculptor and Ozymandias." But this is too convoluted to be impressive.

That's because you could do a better job of parsing it. "The hand that mocked [those passions], and the heart that fed [them]" are direct objects of "tell" [meaning reveal]. The passage is better summarized: the " . . . frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer . . . tell [relate] that its sculptor well those passions read which yet survive, [and tell (reveal)] the hand that mocked [those passions] and the heart that fed [them]. Zeugma. Great word.

Isn't puzzling out syntactically challenging passages the meat and potatoes of the poetry critic? Do you also fall apart in front of:
What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap
Honey of generation had betrayed,
And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape
As recollection or the drug decide,
Would think her Son, did she but see that shape
With sixty or more winters on its head,
A compensation for the pang of his birth,
Or the uncertainty of his setting forth?

But its theme is banal, and banally expressed.
Well, the whole point of my making a post on "Ozymandias" at all was that to me it's neither banal nor banally expressed. I get the full Houseman effect when I read it. If you don't, it's very much your loss.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Words do well when he that speaks them pleases those that hear

Last night we saw As You Like It for the second time this week. This afternoon will make a third. It's not inasmuch as we like it, the play; rather as Anneliese has the part of Phebe in her school's production this weekend. So Tuesday we took her to see a version put on by a roving troop of players, the Royal Theatre of Bath, directed by Sir Peter Hall. It was an odd version, in that Hall, to bring out the real emotional concomitants of love and loss, drove over laugh lines, refused to catch any paronomasia's eye, and softened pratfalls into prat-descents. And yet, strangely, the melancholy Jacques was seldom melancholy (as this interpretation of the play would seem to invite), but rather caustic, bellowing, and a-brim with sniggers. Rosalind was really excellent, though. Played by Hall's super-tall, gangling, strikingly featured daughter Rebecca, she was the first Rosalind I've seen who was absolutely convincing as a boy.

In her school production, Anneliese, I'm pleased to say (with no shred of parental bias), steals the show. The Rosalind is competent at best. Orlando is abysmal. The show belongs entirely to Touchstone, Sylvius, and Phebe.

Anneliese makes Phebe's split personality speech into a total hoot.

PHEBE. Think not I love him, though I ask for him;
'Tis but a peevish boy; yet he talks well.
But what care I for words? Yet words do well
When he that speaks them pleases those that hear.
It is a pretty youth- not very pretty;
But, sure, he's proud; and yet his pride becomes him.
He'll make a proper man. The best thing in him
Is his complexion; and faster than his tongue
Did make offence, his eye did heal it up.
He is not very tall; yet for his years he's tall;
His leg is but so-so; and yet 'tis well.
There was a pretty redness in his lip,
A little riper and more lusty red
Than that mix'd in his cheek; 'twas just the difference
Betwixt the constant red and mingled damask.
There be some women, Silvius, had they mark'd him
In parcels as I did, would have gone near
To fall in love with him; but, for my part,
I love him not, nor hate him not . . . .

Friday, November 21, 2003

This one goes to eleven
Agenda Bender posts a funny jazz riff that starts on Isaiah Berlin's hedgehog, buzzes around Robert Benchley, and ends up with a cute joke about binary numbers.
The ontology of digital photography

Leigh & I went out to dinner last night at the Watertown Not Your Average Joes (nice title for a poem, if "Watertown" were a verb), our default refuge from dinner at home. She'd given a presentation in her poetry class on Larkin's "Whitsun Weddings,": the usual antecedent sturm, drang, panic attacks, and French-Connection-car-chase reenactment culminating in glittering success. To celebrate we each had two martinis (Bombay Sapphire, up, she olives, I twist), half a bottle of Shiraz, and a Bailey's, and then went on a make-up run at the 24-hour CVS. At home we uncorked a magnum of Chardonnay, pitchforked some tacky lingerie onto each other, troweled the new make-up on, and took literally 600 pix (yay digital cams) of ourselves sloppily posing, making out, & generally being drunkenly over-in-love.

I awoke very under Leigh on the living room couch at 9:30 AM. We went to bed and slept until about two in the afternoon.

Leigh has a headache. I'm a little woozy.

Never will the pictures be displayed on any CRT anywhere, much less printed. Can the images be even said to exist?

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Empowering the Visual Woman

A plug for Visual Sensations for Women, a site full of CFNM (Clothed Female/Naked Male) pix.
The clothed-female/naked-man ("CFNM") theme is integral to this site as turning the societal tables allow women the opportunity to observe all aspects of men on display naked and vulnerable, without affording the men the same.

It is this inequity that creates a new dynamic in the traditional roles that we celebrate and promote. Such dynamics need not be confined to a sexual environment such as the bedroom, as they are frequently found in vocational activities, ceremonial rites, exotic balls, recreational activities and entertainment. All of these situations, and more, are highlighted and explored here with photographs and real stories.

I especially like the Swedish Nollningen Initiation Ritual and believe it should be instituted in this country.

Courtesy the ever-informative Amorous Propensities

Jackson Willing to Do "Whatever It Takes"
To Distract Country From Bush;
Happily Surrenders Self For "Greater Good"

Limbaugh Willing to Pitch in, Too

Hilarity at Tom Burka's Opinions You Should Have
Coincidentally, withdrawals of $10,000 or more must be reported to the federal government
ABC reported Tuesday that Limbaugh made 30 to 40 withdrawals of just under $10,000 from his bank account and that a decision on whether to prosecute him for alleged money laundering would be made in the next few weeks. The Palm Beach County, Fla., state attorney's office declined to comment on that report.

While denying that he did anything illegal, Limbaugh admitted that he had bank workers deliver wads of cash to his office and radio studio - and called it spending money.

"The money was for travel, for food, for gratuities," he said. "I did that two or three times. It was not a traditional bank."

Source: NY Daily News

George plugs someone he once supported religiously

George Stephanopolous, cutie-pie former Jesuit seminarian who journeyed from the War Room, the movie, to the Bore Room, the Sunday AM ABC-TV chat show, recommends a double bill for Time's Man of the Year™ cover: Jesus and Mohammed. Time editor Jim Kelly comments: "Traditionally, we don't do dead people, but in this case, at least one of them is coming back."

Source: NY Post

Well, at least we brought freedom of speech to the Iraqis
CLAIM: "The tradition of free speech exercised with enthusiasm is alive and well here in London. We have that at home too. They now have that right in Baghdad as well."

- President Bush, 11/19/03

FACT: "As criticism of his authority appeared in Iraqi media, occupying authority chief L. Paul Bremer III placed controls on Iraqi Media Network content and clamped down on the independent media in Iraq, closing down some Iraqi-run newspapers and radio and television stations."

- American Prospect, 10/1/03

FACT: American soldiers told Reuters they arrested an Iraqi man 'for making anti-coalition statements.' Soldiers refused to say what the man said.

- Reuters, 11/11/03

Courtesy Center for American Progress via TomPaine.com

Carefully thought out arguments from the right on the gay marriage decision

found at FreeRepublic.com, "A Conservative News Forum"

This is one of the reasons we are hated throughout the world. The world looks at us and say's they have no morals.

posted on 11/18/2003 7:31 AM PST by RobertM

This is great that Massachusett's gay judges did this. Let all the fudgepackers move there and be clients of the Dickem and Dunkem (Ted Kennedy) law firm.

posted on 11/18/2003 7:36 AM PST by Therapist

I agree. Now is the time to make this a political. Now is the time to stop it dead in it's tracks. God did not create Adam and Steve... or Andria and Eve... Constitutional ammendment or bust... Sign me up.


I see a Republican landslide comming in the NE. The press can spin this issue, but the polls say 89% of Americans are against gay marrage.
All those who are living in Mass. have to live in a gay hell forever. They're not going to be pleased by what they're about to witness. The demons will be urinating in the streets, and mothers will have to guard their children. It won't happen within a week, but by next year it will be the sodomote pit of vileness.
Things are about to change. The spirt of morality usually not found in Mass. will grow like never before.
The Lord works in strange ways. He's setting them up for their fall.

posted on 11/18/2003 8:14 AM PST by concerned about politics ( So it is. Amen.)

Ahem ... Now is the time to START IMPEACHING JUDGES.

Their abuse of the law has gone too far.

posted on 11/18/2003 8:23 AM PST by WOSG (The only thing that will defeat us is defeatism itself)


Use this issue to destroy the Democrat party in Massachusetts - The Democrats have now put in the bench judges that override common sense and the law.

Take it back by getting more conservatives in the US Senate. Take it back by knowing who you vote for in state and local races. Take it back by impeaching judges.

Anything short of that will not work. The Leftist Judges will destroy ANY LAW THAT IS WRITTEN and pervert it to their own ends. Their tyranny is now unbounded!

Want proof? Look at how California voters did what this man in Massachusetts tried to do. It didnt stop the leftists from creating "civil unions" which is marriage in all but name ... simple end run.


posted on 11/18/2003 8:32 AM PST by WOSG (The only thing that will defeat us is defeatism itself)

It's the beginning of the end for the Mass. Supreme infidels. It is now the job of the legislature to reign in their court judges, and possibly impeach those who sit on that bench.

The judges ruled in favor of perverting the institution of marriage, as was elloquently stated concerning another case, let's see them enforce their opinion.

Those judges should be impeached, disbarred, and made the laughing stock of old Mass., because their credibility just performed a CFIT.

posted on 11/18/2003 8:49 AM PST by azhenfud ("He who is always looking up seldom finds others' lost change...")

"What's the point" getting a license if anything or anyone wants to marry? Can I marry my mule?

Sorry. Next step is to give them your boys. They want the age of consent lowered to around 10 years old.
Your mule will have to wait in line.

posted on 11/18/2003 8:50 AM PST by concerned about politics ( So it is. Amen.)

There is nothing "normal" about homos. Even the wild animals know better (Except male goats. They're really filthy).

posted on 11/18/2003 8:53 AM PST by concerned about politics ( So it is. Amen.)


And until we get a few more Senators so we can stop the filibustering, it just won't happen. In order to win additional seats, you need specific issues that will resonate with the people. I think this issue only can help get 2-5 seats in the Senate and also help Bush kill Howard Dean. The GOP must take this issue by the horn and win. We are still paying the price for the damage FDR inflicted on the court system to this day. The only way I can see fixing it is to win more elections and get the courts packed with conservative-thinking judges. You propose several things, but really have no means of getting there.

posted on 11/18/2003 8:56 AM PST by Always Right

"Is this institution, this veritable cornerstone of society, so fragile that it cannot survive without governmental protection?"

Same could be said for FREE SPEECH.

Guess you want to repeal the 1st amendment after you abolish marriage, eh?

posted on 11/18/2003 9:06 AM PST by WOSG (The only thing that will defeat us is defeatism itself)

As I do not care for feminists, I do not care for homos, and also do not care for marriage as a way to regulate sex between men and women.

posted on 11/18/2003 10:40 AM PST by philosofy123

"Allowing people who are born gay to lead normal lives is not evidence of lack of morals."

"Born Gay" is Marxist propaganda. They're vile perverts, nothing more.
In the past, they were confined to mental institutions to protect the innocent. Some touchie feelie let them out. They thought they could be rehabilitated and placed back into society. They were wrong. It's too bad they can't see the damage they've done to society by their ignorant mistake.

posted on 11/18/2003 10:43 AM PST by concerned about politics ( So it is. Amen.)

"Wether you believe it or not gays are just plain born gay."

I not only don't believe it, I know for a fact that it is a lie. Being gay is a behavior. Anyone who wishes to blame 'gayness' completely on genetics is not being intellectually honest. To deny the influence of the environment and personal choice, is just that, denial. I am not gonna to argue there are not genetic and biological influences, because there are. But to flat out insist it is all genetics is crazy and flies in the face of all research in the subject.

posted on 11/18/2003 10:59 AM PST by Always Right

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Of purely lexiblographical interest

I'm sure I'm the last person to know this, but samizdata.net has a wonderful blog glossary. Some words I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't know until I landed there:
Vow of chastity

Andrew posts a revolutionary blogging manifesto, entitled Blogme 03, followed by an addendum.
Britney redux
Kasey posts the medieval antecedent of a popular song.
The criminal mind
At odd fallow moments over the past couple of days, Aaron Haspel's piece extolling Stanton Samenow's notion of the "criminal mind" has popped up in my thoughts waggling various parts of its anatomy. Finding myself disputing with it inside my head, I figured I might as well try to exorcise it by posting a response, however belated. After writing pretty much what I wanted to say, I suddenly got cold feet. I began to worry that, having posted something negative about him before, by posting this piece now I might come off as having some deep animus against him. And I really don't. I would go so far as to say Aaron and I are basically on the same page. He recto, I verso. I merely disagree with most of what he says and bristle at the supercilious tone he says it in. So before posting I thought I'd click on over to the god of the machine one more time and see if I still felt the urge to go on record as disagreeing with him.

You can't imagine how giddy I was to find that his latest 750-plus words are directed--with all their exquisite condescension--at ME!!!!! Specifically, he aims to show how my post on "Ozymandias," though evincing some rudimentary critical aptitude, hits nevertheless about as wide of the mark with respect to evaluating the poem as it is possible to get. I have nothing but kisses for my machine god! I'll respond about "Ozymandias" next time. Here's what I was going to say about his views on criminality.

With wonted grace and nuance Aaron Haspel, god of the machine, directs his effulgence on the roots of criminality. The oft-cited environmental factors --poverty, unemployment, peer pressure, parental failure, etc.-- can't be taken seriously as causes of crime, Aaron holds, for the simple reason that most people exposed to these factors don't become criminals and some never exposed to them do. In Aaron's view, this truth knocks the crime-as-disease metaphor right out the window.
If crime, metaphorically, is a disease, and its "root cause" is a virus, you can be exposed to the virus without catching the disease, and you can catch the disease without being exposed to the virus. This violates both tenets of Koch's First Postulate straightaway. Aristotle wouldn't be too happy either.
Koch & Aristotle in his pants, Aaron proceeds to marshal Stanton Samenow's The Criminal Mind to demonstrate, straightfacedly, the cause of crime is . . . criminality.

In order to humiliate the disease metaphor Aaron is compelled to misrepresent what sociologists mean when they say one or more of those environmental factors is a "cause" of criminal behavior. Poverty, disasterous parenting, etc. are risk factors; their relation to crime is undoubtedly causally indirect, not to say highly variable from case to case, but they undeniably have a statistically significant correlation with it. As I understand it (and I don't have the statistics in front of me, but then neither did Aaron), the sociological claim is that a significantly larger percentage of people exposed to one or more of those risk factors commit crimes than of those not so exposed. Eradicating those factors, therefore, is likely to be effective in reducing crime.

Take the case of AIDS. Contrary to myth, HIV isn't notably easy to acquire. Many who've been repeatedly exposed to it don't end up as carrriers. Some carriers remain asymptomatic for years. Many people with AIDS die, of course, of opportunistic infections. But many, despite a compromised immune system, live for years. Suppose the root cause of crime is like HIV and criminality itself like full-blown AIDS. Controlling the incidence of those risk factors associated with AIDS in the U.S. --having unprotected sex with numerous partners, sharing hypodermic needles, etc.-- while not directly hitting at the "cause" of AIDS --HIV-- nevertheless effectively reduces the number of new cases. Why should controlling the risk factors associated with crime not equally mitigate the spread of the metaphorical HIV causing it?

But it is the criminal mind, for Stanton Samenow and his champion, that causes crime and at which we must direct our attention (if you can read the following without laughing you are a more tolerant person than I):
All criminals think alike. It starts early: most criminals have developed their habits of thought long before adolescence. Samenow begins with what most of us could figure out if we thought about it. Criminals all fancy themselves special, more intelligent than straight people. They treat everyone, including their family and closest friends, as pawns to be moved around for the chessboard for their personal gratification. They lie, not just like most of us when they're in a tough spot, but all the time. They hate work because it's, well, work. They are impatient and seek quick rewards.
Criminals, it turns out, are bad eggs.

Samenow evidently developed his picture of the criminal mind while working with his mentor, Samuel Yochelson, who did much jailhouse "interviewing." In Samenow's words: "In his initial interview, Yochelson asked few questions of the criminal but instead presented him with so accurate a picture of himself that the criminal could do nothing but agree."

Um, is there something wrong with this picture? Not to Aaron's eye: "Hey, with a shrink like that I might go myself! Yochelson could do this . . . because all criminals think alike." Myself, I would have more confidence in Yochelson's views if he didn't habitually walk into a cell and paint for his subject the picture he wanted him to subscribe to.

Deliciously, Samenow later wields the hammer of the invariant criminal mind to take whacks at psychotherapeutic efforts to rehabilitate criminals, claiming that criminals are smart enough to feed their psychiatrists exactly the stories they want to hear!

What is a "criminal" anyway? It can't be just someone who's been convicted of a crime, since obviously zillions of people convicted of crimes (drug possession, involuntary manslaughter, isolated thefts of opportunity [Dreiser's Hurstwood], not to mention those wrongfully convicted) don't fit Samenow's stereotype. Presumably, for Samenow, a "criminal" must have committed several crimes. How many? And what of those whose recidivism is driven by compulsion rather than sociopathic calculation --kleptomaniacs, flashers, peeping Toms? What about the ordinarily kind and loving alcoholic who assaults people when he's really drunk? Must they all be crowbarred into Samenow's singular criminal-mind box?

Surely many, many, many people incarcerated have few, if any, of the characteristics Samenow trots out! So, then, which prisoners do have them? Why the criminals! Those others aren't real criminals. They're people who got convicted of crimes without actually having a "criminal mind." The criminals are those who have the criminal mindset. That's what makes them criminals.

Oh, dear. I think this is why they don't put roundabouts in playgrounds anymore.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

You still can't buy wine on Sunday

O Frabjous Day!!! (corruption fr. Latin "Frabjus Dei," opening of Turbatory Mass)
The Massachusetts Supreme Court finds no constitutional reason why gay couples can't be married!!!!

See this story in the NYT and just about everwhere else you turn.

The text of the opinion is here.

Have faith in Massachusetts. In some unimportant detail some other States may surpass her, but in general results, there is no place on earth where the people secure, in a larger measure, the blessings of organized government, and nowhere can these functions more properly be termed self-government.

Calvin Coolidge

Monday, November 17, 2003

Can't stop messin' with the danger zone
With a joyful hand we award the Jocelyn Elders Prize for Heroism in Service of the Obvious to Britney Spears for speaking out in support of masturbating women (see Evan Daze's site for story and lyrics which, though awful [certainly no match for Cyndi Lauper's] have their heart in the right spot), one of the primary preoccupations (videlicet [Latin for "let it be allowed to be seen"] here and here) of Mikarrhea (motto: carpe pudendum). Spears says
she doesn't "do it all the time," but "if you say you don't do it, then you're lying." Spears says masturbating teaches you what turns you on. Then, she says, "you're able to give more to other people."

The faster and farther she plummets away from her prissteen image, the better I like her.
Blogpond ripples
Jennifer Howard waves a soiled Houlihan-ish sour-milk-scented dishrag at literary bloggers from her window at in the Washington Post, engendering discussion at least here, here, here,here, here, here, and undoubtedly a million other places.
I enjoyed browsing through the site of Josh Greenberg, a historian of science writing his dissertation at Cornell on the history and sociology of video consumption. He points to a gratifying site run by Demotivators® (www.despair.com). If you've ever had to toil in an office festooned with those sappy posters that pair eye-nabbing photos with saccharin motivational sentiments, you'll appreciate some of these:


Sunday, November 16, 2003

A colossal wreck
OK, so if you've been reading Mikarrhea for a while you know two things: (1) I haven't posted anything in ages that has required on my part the measliest ort of literary-critical thinking and (2) I keep saying I want to say something about Shelley's "Ozymandias." So today's post is intended to rectify this situation on both counts.

But first, let me just remark on the delicious contingency of the fact that some single ancient anatomist's erroneous belief in the linearity of the terminal section of the alimentary canal has had the consequence (for me at any rate) of eternally lending a curious taint to "rectify," "rectilinear," and their cognates.

I find myself digressing again. Which itself reminds me of one of my favorite Poe stories, "The Imp of the Perverse" (if you haven't read it, do, it's really short). The narrator purposes to tell the story of his crime and confession but cannot get around to it for several pages because he becomes caught up in elaborating at absurd length about . . . procrastination! My favorite paragraph is a beautiful piece of pre-Freudian psychological insight and really captures in a nutshell my entire existence from birth till today (and undoubtedly my future as well):
We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know
that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of
our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We
glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the
anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It
must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until
to-morrow, and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse,
using the word with no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow
arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but
with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a
positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. This
craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action
is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us,
-- of the definite with the indefinite -- of the substance with the
shadow. But, if the contest have proceeded thus far, it is the shadow
which prevails, -- we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the
knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note
to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies -- it disappears
-- we are free. The old energy returns. We will labor now. Alas, it
is too late!

OK, Shelley.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
One day (or pentameterishly Stevens-like: "There came a day, there was a day, one day") in a post I used the phrase "lone and level sands," which moved me to reread "Ozymandias," which aroused The Houseman Syndrome (which if it isn't a Robert Ludlum title, should be) and I started thinking about why I like the poem and I had some of the following thoughts which I've been meaning and meaning and meaning to get down.

My first response was to be overwhelmed by the intensity of the ending, the dramatic contrast between, on the one hand, the hubristic confidence of Ozymandias' assertion of unmatched power (political power, of course, but also aesthetic power; his grandiose assertion draws attention after all to his spectacular physical "Works," his monuments, monuments that his political power enables him to commission [to concretize that power, as it were, to freeze politics in art]) and, on the other hand, the simple description of sublime barrenness (the "lone and level sands" stretching off into the infinite distance) that belies that assertion. This simple description not only demolishes Ozymandias' claim to power (specifically the power to freeze politics in art) but also hammers home the futility of even the most spectacular human efforts to thwart the ravaging of time. Shelley's juxtaposing the tyrant's categorical pronouncement of the immediacy of a despair-producing plenitude (not just awe-inspiring or marvellous, but so awe-inspiring and marvellous as to dash even the hope of ever matching it) against the traveler's perception of an absolute emptiness (a landscape barren not just of Ozymandias' monuments but of everything save sand--no plants, no animals, no water, not even geologic formations or undulations in the ground) in a mere two lines (11-12) is breathtaking. Is it possible for an assertion to be more wrong than Ozymandias'? For words to be at greater odds with the reality they purport to refer to, to be more ineffectual, more unintentionally ironic?

Recovering somewhat from the mind-exploding effect of this dramatic contrast, I started paying attention to the fact that the central experience of the poem, a person's reading Ozymandias' hubristic inscription surrounded by a landscape ironically at variance with it, is not the speaker's. It is the traveler's ("I met a traveller from an antique land / Who said '. . .'"). And I began to wonder about Shelley's reasons for narrating the experience in this way. Why not simply describe the situation in the desert directly to the reader, or at most have the speaker of the poem be the person who actually reads the inscription and views the landscape? Why take the trouble to insert a traveler between the speaker and the poem's central experience?

Puzzling this over, I began to notice (look, I'm really slow) that the poem has, in fact, a Chinese box (or Russian doll) structure. At the center of the poem is the mighty ruler, Ozymandias, who utters the challenge, "Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" But it's not he whom we see uttering these words: it's an artist's gigantic statue of him, now broken in fragments, that we are to understand as representing him uttering them. Between us readers and the blustering Ozymandias stand, first, the artist and his statue, then the traveler and his story, and, last, the speaker and his poem. These three boxes can be read as representing three different aesthetic modes. In doing so, they establish, more or less, a kind of history of aesthetic representation: most of the earliest products of art still available to us are commissioned public works glorifying religions or political leaders; later came travel-narratives and, later still, sonnets.

This is only meant as a rough chronology: of course, the ancient Greeks wrote lyric poems not so unlike sonnets, artists today still create grand works glorifying religions or political leaders, and travel-narratives will always be popular. Nevertheless, it seems that Shelley means to set up a trajectory, a kind of aesthetic caravan route (unconsciously orientalizing, in Said's sense), from the public spaces of Ozymandias' ancient Near Eastern tyranny to the private study or library of the reader in contemporary Western democratic England.

The conditions and purposes of (the freedoms available to and the limitations circumscribing) the production and reception of art are different in each of the three cases. In the first, the artist is, presumably, commanded to create and must create only what the ruler allows him to. At most, he can subtly "mock" the "passions" of his ruler, if he does so artfully enough not to be detected by him. In the second case, the traveler produces tales of curiosities he's seen on his travels: his aesthetic freedom too is limited in a sense, not by a tyrant's whims but by the contingent circumstance of the differences between his home culture and the ones he's visited, by the appetite of his audience primarily for novelty and strangeness, and by what (he can persuade his audience) he's actually seen. In the third case, however, the poet of nineteenth-century English private society, working neither at a tyrant's pleasure outdoors with a team of others in the public arena nor gathering what material he can on far-flung voyages, is free to sit in his study (or, as was Shelley's wont, in some remarkable landscape) and send his imagination where he will, to select what material serves best for the carefully wrought, refined aesthetic structure that is his lyric.

Shelley's "Ozymandias," like so much of Shelley's writing, is viscerally political and democratic. Demonstrating the spectacular absurdity, in the long run, of this tyrant's assertion of absolute power, the poet indicts tyranny generally. The tyrant's sole remaining utterance constitutes an attempt to control his presumptive audience's aesthetic response to the art he's commissioned ("Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!"). What remain from Ozymandias' self-glorifying plenitude are only enough pieces of one statue to demonstrate an aesthetic point: how well the original sculptor managed to capture in stone his ruler's savage megalomania. The artist's power over the tyrant (and over the reader-as-imaginary-viewer) outlasts the tyrant's over the artist (ditto). Tyranny is the artist's (and Shelley's) subject.
Ya learn somethin new every day
Yesterday, courtesy of the Bellona Times, I learned of the fabulous early French feminist thinker Marie le Jars de Gournay (1565-1645), protegée of Montaigne's and eventually his editor, co-founder of the Academie Francaise, and author of The Equality of Men and Women (1641), which I'm now definitely going to read.

Blogs I've recently found bursting with exhilarating ideas and rollercoaster prose performances:

Wood s Lot
Invisible Adjunct
Collected Miscellany
the Banderlog
the Eudaemonist
the Literary Saloon
ad ignorantium

and especially Nathalie Chicha's Cup of Chicha, landing on which is like winning the lottery. She writes brilliantly on depression. Viz.:
I know three or four types of depression, often as different from one another as classmates with the same name. There's depression which simply blocks action, like a finger pressing flat a vibrating string. The brain demands a bodily movement, and the signal buzzes, live, from neuron to neuron but dies before it reaches where it needs to go. I can feel action about to happen, my body preparing itself to move-- but it's just a body jumping up and falling back down on the stretcher when electricity is applied to its heart. The body moves but it's not revived.
Then, there's a more emotional and dark depression, which has some of the qualities of mania: I'm constantly thinking, and easily return to my old habits of reading and writing. But reading and writing now feels like a defensive gesture. Suddenly the world is unlike me, and I have to protect my personality with the authority of language.


Those who suffer from mental illness tend to like the madness-art association. I'm one of those people. Here's why:

1. Depression creates the type of interiority that modernism worshipped and literature continues to value. Depression might not have created the language of interiority, but depressives, borrowing from that language to explain their illness, learn that language well.
2. Mental illness can inhibit creation, but creation allows for the sense that ones mental suffering, otherwise senseless, can be redeemed.
3. Madness may be an interpretation of stimuli that fails to rely on conventional contexts for understanding stimuli. Art may be, in part, the process of making things new. Then, both rely on disassociating from convention-- but one is a partial disassociation, still able to reference itself in terms of convention, and the other is a disassociation so complete, reference is impossible.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Mom Finds Out About Blog
I could've sworn that Katie once had a post about her family's discovering her blog. I thought of it when I read this hilarious story in the Onion, courtesy of Cup of Chicha. But, try as I might, I couldn't find it. It was probably someone else. I did have a fabulous time, though, poking around her archives.
Carbon Cyclists
What is a Life Gem?

Friday, November 14, 2003

An inexcusably late thank you to baculine poet Michael Wells for his very kind words about Mikarrhea. It was a weird experience knowing that someone was not just reading my words but trying to think of something coherent to say about them. As I've noted previously, his year-end bonus will be substantial.
No sex please, we're FBI

An article in today's NYT describes the FBI cracking down on sex in their ranks. The best passage:
In yet another instance, a senior official and other employees went to a "Chili Cook-Off" on F.B.I. grounds dressed in drag as the Spice Girls, the British musical group. Before an audience that included numerous people from the bureau and several federal judges, the employees put on a comic skit that included numerous sex jokes, an apparent reference to oral sex and a lap dance, the inspector general said.

The senior official involved in the skit, who was also accused of making off-color remarks at other bureau and public events, was ordered to undergo nondisciplinary counseling as a result of the incidents.

I adore the phrase "and several federal judges," compounding the felony. Ditto "on FBI grounds." Any FBI man who dares mount the stage dressed as a Spice Girl and reel off sex jokes on FBI grounds in front of federal judges (several, no less) deserves to have the book hurled at him.

What exactly is "nondisciplinary counseling"? Since the "senior official" "was ordered to undergo . . . [it] as a result of the incidents," the counseling's at least formally disciplinary, i.e. a punishment meted out for bad behavior. So maybe the "nondisciplinary" aspect of the counseling inheres in its content--its lack of opprobrium, it's constructive quality, perhaps? Next time you do it, try a different skirt. For one thing, the blaze-orange comes off as loud against the fuchsia. For another, it's so short you keep flashing the audience. Remember, these are FBI grounds, and we've got judges out there!.

How things have changed. J. Edgar Hoover would have promoted those guys.

Don't you bet all Washington's wondering exactly which "senior official" this is? Apparently it's not Mueller, the Director. But I imagine that only someone no farther than the next level or two down would be characterized as "senior." And who gave and got the lap dance? I want John Ashcroft on the receiving end.

The closest thing to nondisciplinlary counseling I've experienced was when I was arrested for drunk driving in Ann Arbor many years ago and sentenced to six weekly meetings of Alcohol Education. Nobody in their right mind would take it voluntarily, so you'd be sentenced to it. Now it's a legitimate major at colleges everywhere and extremely popular. Clever move, making all the courses practicums.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Condolences to lovely Jean Vengua, whose mom passed away in her sleep last night.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Tough Gals
Can I say how much I love the photography of Susan Meiselas? Check out her entire collection of pix of Pandora's Box, a NYC S/M parlor (so that's where Kubrick got his weird conception sex and interior design in 90's NYC!) and of Carnival Strippers.
Seriously, when I awoke I had no idea this was the theme of the day
While Matthew Hunt writes obsessively about it these guys spend a lot of time taking it on a photoshopping spree . . . .
He undoubtedly means country matters

A Cultural History

Thursday, November 06, 2003

"A horse and carriage go together when you're a horse-drawn carriage driver"

A tsunami of gratitude to Nick Piombino for drawing attention to Ray Davis's Bellona Times, a prodigious midden of erudition, sharp writing, mordant wit, and critical acumen. Davis has something smart to say on so many of my fave topics, especially literature (he adores those two neurotic loquacious prose-genius Henrys straddling the century-mark-before-last) and movies (no make-up though; it's a butch boy-blog). Even sex.
The post quoted below, from December 30, 2000,
titled with the lovely aphorism supra, is one of the most delightful formulations I've ever read on marriage (although affirming a principle that, obviously, covers the earth, Sherwin-Williams-like).

Marriage takes a sexual relationship and publicly acknowledges it to state and church. Which is a pretty perverse thing to do with a sexual relationship unless state and church need the knowledge to properly allocate rights and responsibilities -- of citizenship, say, or of child-rearing.

Across all disciplines, experts tend to overestimate the importance of what they're focused on -- things get bigger up close -- and so blowhards encouraged to provide the most criminally unreported news or the most egregiously popular fallacies will always come up with something from their own fields. . . . And that's where theologians and priests made their entirely understandable mistake: Sex isn't solely for procreation. Procreation just happens to be the only way in which sex is of professional interest to theologians and priests.

Wherever Nick's been all this time, I must have been there too.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The Philosophical Ingredient

I always love seeing what Alli's been reading in continental philosophy! Here she posts a wonderful passage by Nietzsche. Much real estate in my commonplace book is in his name. I can't help posting some of my faves.

How did logic come into existence in man's head? Certainly out of illogic, whose realm originally must have been immense. Innumerable beings who made inferences in a way different from ours perished; for all that, their ways might have been truer. Those, for example, who did not know how to find often enough what is "equal" as regards both nourishment and hostile animals--those, in other words, who subsumed things too slowly and cautiously--were favored with a lesser probability of survival than those who guessed immediately upon encountering similar instances that they must be equal. The dominant tendency, however, to treat as equal what is merely similar--an illogical tendency, for nothing is really equal--is what first created any basis for logic.
Nietzsche, The Gay Science

In order that the concept of substance could originate--which is indispensible for logic although in the strictest sense nothing real corresponds to it--it was likewise necessary that for a long time one did not see or perceive the changes in things. The beings that did not see so precisely had an advantage over those who saw everything "in flux." At bottom, every high degree of caution in making inferences and every skeptical tendency constitute a great danger for life. No living beings would have survived if the opposite tendency--to affirm rather than suspend judgement, to err and make up things rather than wait, to assent rather than negate, to pass judgement rather than be just-- had not been bred to the point where it became extraordinarily strong. from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.111, Walter Kaufmann transl..

Cause and effect: such a duality probably never exists; in truth we are confronted by a continuum out of which we isolate a couple of pieces, just as we perceive motion only as isolated points and then infer it without ever actually seeing it. The suddenness with which many effects stand out misleads us; actually, it is sudden only for us. In this moment of suddenness there are an infinite number of processes which elude us. An intellect that could see cause and effect as a continuum and a flux and not, as we do, in terms of an arbitrary division and dismemberment, would repudiate the concept of cause and effect and deny all conditionality.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.112, Walter Kaufmann transl.

What is new, however, is always evil, being that which wants to conquer and overthrow the old boundary markers and the old pieties; and only what is old is good. The good men are in all ages those who dig the old thoughts, digging deep and getting them to bear fruit - the farmers of the spirit. But eventually all land is depleted, and the ploughshare of evil must come again and again.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s. 4, Walter Kaufmann transl.

Groundhog Day. Screenplay by Danny Rubin, based on an idea by Friedrich Nietzsche
-- What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: "This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence - even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!" Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?... Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.341, Walter Kaufmann transl.

-- Someone took a youth to a sage and said: "Look, he is being corrupted by women." The sage shook his head and smiled. "It is men," said he, "that corrupt women; and all the failings of women should be atoned by and improved in men. For it is man who creates for himself the image of woman, and woman forms herself according to this image." "You are too kind-hearted about women," said one of those present; "you do not know them." The sage replied: "Will is the manner of men; willingness that of women. That is the law of the sexes - truly, a hard law for women. All of humanity is innocent of its existence; but women are doubly innocent. Who could have oil and kindness enough for them?" "Damn oil! Damn kindness!" someone shouted out of the crowd; "Women need to be educated better!" - "Men need to be educated better," said the sage and beckoned to the youth to follow him. - The youth, however, did not follow him.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s. 68, Walter Kaufmann transl.

The greatest danger that always hovered over humanity and still hovers over it is the eruption of madness - which means the eruption of arbitrariness in feeling, seeing and hearing, the enjoyment of the mind's lack of discipline, the joy in human unreason. Not truth and certainty are the opposite of the world of the madman, but the universality and the universal binding force of a faith; in sum, the non-arbitrary character of judgements... Thus the virtuous intellects are needed - oh, let me use the most unambiguous word - what is needed is virtuous stupidity, stolid metronomes for the slow spirit, to make sure that the faithful of the great shared faith stay together and continue their dance... We others are the exception and the danger - and we need eternally to be opposed. - Well, there actually are things to be said in favor of the exception, provided that it never wants to become the rule.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s. 76, Walter Kaufmann transl.

Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.
Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, pt. II, ch. 29

The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets successfully through many a bad night.
Beyond Good and Evil

"On Truth and Lying in an extramoral sense"

If somebody hides a thing behind a bush, seeks it again and fids it in the self-same place, then there is not much to boast of, respecting this seeking and finding; thus, however, matters stand with the seeking and finding of "truth" within the realm of reason. If I make the definition of the mammal and then declare after inspecting a camel, "Behold a mammal," then no doubt a truth is brought to light thereby, but it is of very limited value, I mean it is anthropomorphic through and through, and does not contain one single point which is "true-in-itself," real and universally valid, apart from man. The seeker after such truths seeks at the bottom only the metamorphosis of the world in man, he strives for an understanding of the world as a human-like thing and by his battling gains at best the feeling of an assimilation. . . . Only by forgetting that primitive world of metaphors, only by the congelation and coagulation of an original mass of similes and percepts pouring forth as a fiery liquid out of the primal faculty of human fancy, only by the invincible faith, that this sun, this window, this table is a truth in itself: in short, only by the fact that man forgets himself as subject, and what is more as an artistically creating subject: only by all this does he live with some repose, safety, and consequence. If he were able to get out of the prison walls of this faith, even for an instant only, his "self-consciousness" would be destroyed at once. Already it costs him some trouble to admit to himself that the insect and the bird perceive a world different from his own, and that the question, which of the two world-perceptions is more accurate, is quite a senseless one, since to decide this question it would be necessary to apply the standard of right perception, i.e. to apply a standard which does not exist. On the whole it seems to me that the "right perception"--which wold mean the adequate expression of an object in the subject--is a nonentity full of contradictions: for between two utterly different spheres, as between subject and object, there is no causality, no accuracy, no expression, but at the utmost an aesthetical relation, I mean a suggestive metamorphosis, a stammering translation into quite a distinct foreign language, for which purpose however there is needed at any rate an intermediate sphere, an intermediate force, freely composing and freely inventing.

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