Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fresh Cuttings

No longer doth thy soft skin bloom as it did; 'tis withering now.

Blurred Vision

For such was the desire of love
that twisted itself beneath my heart
and poured a thick mist over my eyes,
stealing the gentle wits from my breast.


Peer Pressure?

But Desire that looseth our limbs,
my comrade,
overwhelmeth me.

Don't Cry for me Argentina

Herbert Draper - Lament for Icarus
Icarus --by Conner Dowd

Icarus the innocent,
the broken birdman felll to Earth,
who soared through sight and sound,
spellbound by the ecstacy of wind,
the zigzag tremors of the sky.

And Daedalus,
a craftsman shrewd and able,
creator of an artifice,
a labyrinth of rich and cruel geometry,
achieved a freedom through his art
but Minos, king of Crete,
spoke heavy words and imprisoned him in grief.

Father and son,
arrogance and pride are always seen
by those unseen,
the balance-sheet of life corrected,
each coin is counted, each price exacted.

Fifty years their difference
and fifty years of folly and regret,
both doomed and dooming through their love.

The father's hand upon the shoulder of his son
in a language only they could know, says:
'reassurance makes the deed assured'
and each steps forward,
each steps into the weightless air.

They compete and traffic with the sky
in bitter swirls of freedom and release,
in loops and leaps as clear and rich as vision.

And far below
a stretch of islands
glint like constellations in the sun,
winking in the deepest blue
as shadows white and black wheel far above them.

And Icarus in arrogance
will fly too high in blind and hopeless bliss
and begins to come undone
as atom follows atom
he unwinds and splinters in the golden sun.

And like a giddy meteor
that plummets without reason
uncontrollably through sky,
in the slipstream of his arrogance
he pierced the ocean far below,
a soft commotion in the waves,
then the jigsaw whole again.

And Daedalus flies calmly on,
unruffled, unobserved.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just Be Cause

Even the most courageous among us only rarely has the courage for that which he really knows.

4 The error of imaginary causes. To begin with dreams: ex post facto, a cause is slipped under a particular sensation (for example, one following a far-off cannon shot)--often a whole little novel in which the dreamer turns up as the protagonist. The sensation endures meanwhile in a kind of resonance: it waits, as it were, until the causal instinct permits it to step into the foreground--now no longer as a chance occurrence, but as "meaning." The cannon shot appears in a causal mode, in an apparent reversal of time. What is really later, the motivation, is experienced first--often with a hundred details which pass like lightning and the shot follows. What has happened? The representations which were produced by a certain state have been misunderstood as its causes.

In fact, we do the same thing when awake. Most of our general feelings--every kind of inhibition, pressure, tension, and explosion in the play and counterplay of our organs, and particularly the state of the nervus sympaticus--excite our causal instinct: we want to have a reason for feeling this way or that--for feeling bad or for feeling good. We are never satisfied merely to state the fact that we feel this way or that: we admit this fact only--become conscious of it only--when we have furnished some kind of motivation. Memory, which swings into action in such cases, unknown to us, brings up earlier states of the same kind, together with the causal interpretations associated with them--not their real causes. The faith, to be sure, that such representations, such accompanying conscious processes are the causes is also brought forth by memory. Thus originates a habitual acceptance of a particular causal interpretation, which, as a matter of fact, inhibits any investigation into the real cause--even precludes it.

5 The psychological explanation of this. To derive something unknown from something familiar relieves, comforts, and satisfies, besides giving a feeling of power. With the unknown, one is confronted with danger, discomfort, and care; the first instinct is to abolish these painful states. First principle: any explanation is better than none. Since at bottom it is merely a matter of wishing to be rid of oppressive representations, one is not too particular about the means of getting rid of them: the first representation that explains the unknown as familiar feels so good that one "considers it true." The proof of pleasure ("of strength") as a criterion of truth.

The causal instinct is thus conditional upon, and excited by, the feeling of fear. The "why?" shall, if at all possible, not give the cause for its own sake so much as for a particular kind of cause--a cause that is comforting, liberating, and relieving. That it is something already familiar, experienced, and inscribed in the memory, which is posited as a cause, that is the first consequence of this need. That which is new and strange and has not been experienced before, is excluded as a cause. Thus one searches not only for some kind of explanation to serve as a cause, but for a particularly selected and preferred kind of explanation--that which has most quickly and most frequently abolished the feeling of the strange, new, and hitherto unexperienced: the most habitual explanations. Consequence: one kind of positing of causes predominates more and more, is concentrated into a system and finally emerges as dominant, that is, as simply precluding other causes and explanations. The banker immediately thinks of "business," the Christian of "sin," and the girl of her love.

--Nietzsche, "Twilight of the Idols"

Carpe Diem


Ask not ('tis forbidden knowledge), what our destined term of years,
Mine and yours; nor scan the tables of your Babylonish seers.
Better far to bear the future, my Leuconoe, like the past,
Whether Jove has many winters yet to give, or this our last;
THIS, that makes the Tyrrhene billows spend their strength against the shore.
Strain your wine and prove your wisdom; life is short; should hope be more?
In the moment of our talking, envious time has ebb'd away.
Seize the present; trust to-morrow e'en as little as you may.

--Quintus Horatius Flaccus

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Subduing Barbarians

STRANGER: The error was just as if some one who wanted to divide the human race, were to divide them after the fashion which prevails in this part of the world; here they cut off the Hellenes as one species, and all the other species of mankind, which are innumerable, and have no ties or common language, they include under the single name of 'barbarians,' and because they have one name they are supposed to be of one species also. --Plato, "Statesman"

it happens...(out of un-expected-ness) ----FEAR

"Would that it might thus befall me to touch the hand of Neoboule"

Plato, "Laches" (On Courage)

Then courage is not the science which is concerned with the fearful and hopeful, for they are future only; courage, like the other sciences, is concerned not only with good and evil of the future, but of the present and past, and of any time?

NICIAS: That, as I suppose, is true.

SOCRATES: Then the answer which you have given, Nicias, includes only a third part of courage; but our question extended to the whole nature of courage: and according to your view, that is, according to your present view, courage is not only the knowledge of the hopeful and the fearful, but seems to include nearly every good and evil without reference to time. What do you say to that alteration in your statement?

NICIAS: I agree, Socrates.

SOCRATES: But then, my dear friend, if a man knew all good and evil, and how they are, and have been, and will be produced, would he not be perfect, and wanting in no virtue, whether justice, or temperance, or holiness? He would possess them all, and he would know which were dangers and which were not, and guard against them whether they were supernatural or natural; and he would provide the good, as he would know how to deal both with gods or men.

NICIAS: I think, Socrates, that there is a great deal of truth in what you say.

SOCRATES: But then, Nicias, courage, according to this new definition of yours, instead of being a part of virtue only, will be all virtue?

NICIAS: It would seem so.

See Life

"Paros and those drying sheds and the sea life all around "
"The Hell with it!"
--Archilochus (of Paros)
"No, no, I am a rascal; a scurvy railing knave: a very filthy rogue."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Definitely Not Painless

Attribute all to the gods.
They pick a man up,
stretched on the black loam,
and set him on his two feet,
firm, and then again
shake solid men until
they fall backward
into the worst of luck,
wandering hungry,
wild of mind.

"Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien"

...and paradoxically speaking, "Always Take from the Best and Make it Better!" Now... I may not always succeed in actually making it better, but rather than play to the bands of outsiders and/or dreamers, I at least modestly attempt at taking possession and making it my own.

Nietzsche "Gay Science"

11. Consciousness

Consciousness is the last and latest development of the organic and hence also what is most unfinished and unstrong. Consciousness gives rise to countless errors that lead an animal or man to perish sooner than necessary, "exceeding destiny," as Homer puts it. If the conserving association of the instincts were not so very much more powerful, and if it did not serve on the whole as a regulator, humanity would have to perish of its misjudgments and its fantasies with open eyes, of its lack of thoroughness and its credulity—in short, of its consciousness; rather, without the former, humanity would long have disappeared.

Before a function is fully developed and mature it constitutes a danger for the organism, and it is good if during the interval it is subjected to some tyranny. Thus consciousness is tyrannized—not least by our pride in it. One thinks that it constitutes the kernel of man; what is abiding, eternal, ultimate, and most original in him. One takes consciousness for a determinate magnitude. One denies it growth and its intermittences. One takes it for the "unity of the organism."

This ridiculous overestimation and misunderstanding of consciousness has the very useful consequence that it prevents an all too fast development of consciousness. Believing that they possess consciousness, men have not exerted themselves very much to acquire it; and things haven't changed much in this respect. To this day the task of incorporating knowledge and making it instinctive is only beginning to dawn on the human eye and is not yet clearly discernible; it is a task that is seen only by those who have comprehended that so far we have incorporated only our errors and that all our consciousness relates to errors.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Here I Come to Save the Day!

Like Odysseus under the ram
you have clung under your lovers
and under your love of lust,
seeing nothing else for this mist,
dark of heart, dark of mind.

Outlooks on Life

Be bold! That's one way
of getting through life.
So I turn upon her
and point out that,
faced with the wickedness
of things, she does not shiver.
I prefer to have, after all,
only what pleases me.
Are you so deep in misery
that you think me fallen?
You say I'm lazy, I'm not,
nor any of my kin-people.
I know how to love those
who love me, how to hate.
My enemies I overwhelm
with abuse. The ant bites!
The oracle said to me:
"Return to the city, reconquer.
It is almost in ruins.
With your spear give it glory.
Reign with absolute power,
the admiration of men.
After this long voyage,
return to us from Gortyne."
Pasture, fish, nor vulture
were you, and I, returned,
seek an honest woman
ready to be a good wife.
I would hold your hand,
would be near you, would have run
all the way to your house.
I cannot. The ship went down,
and all my wealth with it.
The salvagers have no hope.
You whom the soldiers beat,
you who are all but dead,
how the gods love you!
And I, alone in the dark,
I was promised the light.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


From the Greek amarantos (Αμάρανθος or Αμάραντος) the "one that does not wither," or the never-fading (flower).

Other Unrequited Pains

Life, Death and Music

"Whosoever lives is enchanted by song"

Soul, my soul, bemuddled with impossible cares,
stand up and defend yourself hurling your breast
right at the enemies ambushes, standing right up against them,
foot firmly planted. And if you win, be not openly rejoiced,
nor beaten grieve not collapsing in your home.
But rejoice in delightful things and in ills grieve not
overly. Just know what sort of 'rhythm' possesses human beings.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Fortune Favours the Brave

Nothing is an accident
We are free to have it all
We are what we want to be
It's in ourselves to rise or fall

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Overcoming Blindspots

Sonnet - Science

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
--EA Poe

Friday, June 11, 2010

Indian Summers

"If life deals you lemons, make lemonade" --Proverb
"As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman;
Though she bends him, she obeys him,
Though she draws him, yet she follows;
Useless each without the other!"

--Longfellow, "Song of Hiawatha"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"We must cultivate our garden"...(Voltaire, "Candide")

"I have only twenty acres, replied the Turk; I cultivate them with my children, and the work keeps us from three great evils, boredom, vice, and poverty."

Others choose to cultivate a different form of garden celebrating the fruits of their labour: intellectual stimulation, virtue and wealth.

Blog Themes

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Hitching Post

"There is in our house a working ox with crumpled horn,
who knows how to work, but he doesn't want to."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Not Movin' On

"Holding a branch of myrtle, she was glowing with joy,
and the fair flower of the rose. And her long hair
fell shadowing her shoulders and all the way down her back"

Fields fattened
by corpses.

Rage Against the Machine

"for it is at the hands of your friends that you are strangled"