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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:23 pm
by iambiguous
Steven D. Levitt

If you both own a gun and a swimming pool in your backyard, the swimming pool is about 100 times more likely to kill a child than the gun is.

Yes, but only statistically.

One thing we’ve learned is that when people, especially politicians, start making decisions based on a reading of their moral compass, facts tend to be among the first casualties.

Of course that's only "human all too human".

Most of us want to fix or change the world in some fashion. But to change the world, you first have to understand it.

In other words, as "one of us".

Ideas nearly always seem brilliant when they’re hatched, so we never act on a new idea for at least twenty-four hours.

Unless of course it's "one of ours".

The plural of anecdote is not data.

Or, more to the point [usually], the other way around.

But as history clearly shows, most people, whether because of nature or nurture, generally put their own interests ahead of others. This doesn’t make them bad people; it just makes them human.

That or [if they're assholes] both.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:11 pm
by iambiguous
Stephanie Danler

Any business transaction—actually any life transaction—is negotiated by how you are making the other person feel.

Actually, it's in how you think you are making the other person feel. How they really feel is often their own business.

It’s an epidemic with women your age. A gross disparity between the way that they speak and the quality of thoughts that they’re having about the world. They are taught to express themselves in slang, in clichés, sarcasm—all of which is weak language. The superficiality of the language colors the experiences, rendering them disposable instead of assimilated. And then to top it all, you call yourselves ‘girls.’ 

Let's describe the rendition for "boys".

BITTER: always a bit unanticipated. Coffee, chocolate, rosemary, citrus rinds, wine.

Words. Though hardly ever unanticipated. At least not here.

Aging is peculiar, she said, moving a piece of parsnip around the plate with her fork. I don’t think you should be lied to about it. You have a moment of relevancy—when the books, clothes, bars, technology—when everything is speaking directly to you, expressing you exactly. You move toward the edge of the circle and then you’re abruptly outside the circle. Now what to do with that? Do you stay, peering backward? Or do you walk away?

Like it makes any difference. As, for some of us, it didn't.

Not being able to swipe into the subway when people are backing up behind you. Waiting for him at the bar. Leaving your purse open on a stool with a mess of bills visible. Mispronouncing the names while presenting French wines. Your clogs slipping on the waxed floors. The way your arms shoot out and you tense your face when you almost fall. Taking your job seriously. Watching the sex scene from Dirty Dancing on repeat and eating a box of gingersnaps for dinner on your day off. Forgetting your stripes, your work pants, your socks. Mentally mapping the bar for corners where you might catch him alone. Getting drunker faster than everyone else. Not knowing what foie gras is. Not knowing what you think about abortion. Not knowing what a feminist is. Not knowing who the mayor is. Throwing up between your feet on the subway stairs. On a Tuesday. Going back for thirds at family meal. Excruciating diarrhea in the employee bathroom. Hurting yourself when you hit your head on the low pipe. Refusing to leave the bar though it's over, completely over. Bleeding in every form. Beer stains on your shirt, grease stains on your jeans, stains in every form. Saying you know where something is when you have absolutely no idea where it is.

At some point, I leveled out. Everything stopped being embarrassing.

Trust me: not everything.

We all walk in a cloud of mourning for the New York that just disappeared.

And not just 42nd Street.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:26 pm
by iambiguous
Malcolm Gladwell

Practical intelligence is practical in nature: that is, it's now knowledge for its own sake. It's knowledge that helps you read situations correctly and get what you want.

Amorally as likely as not.

Western communication has what linguists call a "transmitter orientation"--that is, it is considered the responsibility of the speaker to communicate ideas clearly and unambiguously...within a Western cultural context, which holds that if there is confusion, it is the fault of the speaker. But Korea, like many Asian countries, is receiver oriented. It is up to the listener to make sense of what is being said.

I know: How dumb is that?

Horchow's daughter, Sally, told me a story of how she once took her father to a new Japanese restaurant where a friend of hers was a chef. Horchow liked the food, and so when he went home he turned on his computer, pulled up the names of acquaintances who lived nearby, and faxed them notes telling them of a wonderful new restaurant he had discovered and that they should try it. This is, in a nutshell, what word of mouth is. It's not me telling you about a new restaurant with great food, and you telling a friend and that friend telling a friend. Word of mouth begins when somewhere along that chain, someone tells a person like Roger Horchow.

That's what ILP needs then: the philosophical equivalent of Roger Horchow. Well, once the Kids are gone of course.

Asian children can perform basic functions, such as addition, far more easily. Ask an English-speaking seven-year-old to add thirty-seven plus twenty-two in her head, and she has to convert the words to numbers (37 + 22). Only then can she do the math: 2 plus 7 is 9 and 30 and 20 is 50, which makes 59. Ask an Asian child to add three-tens-seven and two-tens-two, and then the necessary equation is right there, embedded in the sentence. No number translation is necessary: It’s five-tens-nine.

So, how important is this?

...he waits for the kid to decide whether to pull the gun up or simply to drop it - and all the while, even as he tracks the progress of the gun, he is also watching the kid's face, to see whether he is dangerous or simply frightened. Is there a more beautiful example of a snap judgment? This is the gift of training and expertise - the ability to extract an enormous amount of meaningful information from the very thinnest slice of experience.

Let's make this applicable here. You know, if that's even possible.

. . . it is not possible to staff a large company without short people. There simply aren't enough tall people to go around.

Apparently even in to NBA.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:29 am
by iambiguous
Jan Mieszkowski

Only a philosopher can grasp
1460: God as an infinitely simple essence
1688: the pure certainty of doubt
2017: iPhone Terms & Conditions

He means a serious philosopher.

Sociology: It looks worse than it is
Philosophy: It sounds worse than it is
Psychology: It feels worse than it is
Politics: It's a disaster

Not counting Wall Street of course.

Art History 101: The form is (in)visible!
Art History 201: The content is (in)visible!
Art History 301: It sold for how much?!?!

So, all you artists, does this seem reasonable?

"A picture is a secret about a secret; the more it tells you, the less you know." Diane Arbus

Not unlike most posts here.

Literary Criticism 101: the author said A but meant B
201: the "author" said A but meant B
301: "the" "author" "said" "A" "but" "meant" "B"

Only now on Kindle.

Ancient philosophy: I know I know nothing
Enlightenment philosophy: I can know virtually anything
Modern philosophy: Knowledge? Just say no!

Post-modern philosophy: Knowledge? Just say maybe.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:23 pm
by iambiguous
André Gide

Nothing is more fatal to happiness than the remembrance of happiness.

Though I'm sure that together we'll come up with something more fatal still.

I can't expect others to share my virtues. It's good enough for me if they share my vices.

Unless of course you're an ironist.

Welcome everything that comes to you, but do not long for anything else.

Let's file this one under, "that'll be the day".

ما أكثر الأشياء التي كان من السهل الإقدام عليها لولا تلك الاعتراضات التي يتفنن الانسان في ابتكارها لنفسه وكثيرا ما حيل بيننا وبين هذا العمل أو ذاك لأننا قد سمعنا صوتا من داخلنا او من المحيطين بنا يقول لنا :اننا لن نقدر عليه
ولو لم نسمع هذا الصوت ونستجيب له لكشفت لنا التجربة عن نيله والفوز به

So, is this worth translating?

The most important things to say are those which often I did not think necessary for me to say — because they were too obvious.

Clearly, that doesn't work here.

Poverty makes a slave out of men. In order to eat he will accept work that gives no pleasure.

They don't call it "nasty, brutish and short" for nothing.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:17 pm
by iambiguous
Roland Barthes

Language is never innocent.

Not even counting the times it is guilty as sin.

...that ambiguous area of culture where something unfailingly political, though separate from the political choices of the day, infiltrates judgment and language.

Or, for some, unambiguous.

In 1850, August Salzmann photographed, near Jerusalem, the road to Beith-Lehem (as it was spelled at the time): nothing but stony ground, olive trees; but three tenses dizzy my consciousness: my present, the time of Jesus, and that of the photographer, all this under the instance of 'reality' — and no longer through the elaborations of the text, whether fictional or poetic, which itself is never credible down to the root.

If he means what I think he means, he may well mean what I think I mean.

Freud to his fiancée: "The only thing that makes me suffer is being in a situation where it is impossible for me to prove my love to you"
Gide: "Everything in her behaviour seemed to say: Since he no longer loves me, nothing matters to me. Now, I still loved her, and in fact I had never loved her so much; but it was no longer possible for me to prove it to her. That was much the worst thing of all”

Don't be surprised however if you fall somewhere in the middle.

Now take all the delights of the earth, melt them into one single delight, and cast it entire into a single man -- all this will be as nothing to the delight of which I speak.

As you may well guess, I've never even come close.

The other's body was divided: on one side, the body proper--skin, eyes--tender, warm; and on the other side, the voice--abrupt, reserved, subject to fits of remoteness, a voice which did not give what the body gave. Or further: on one side, the soft, warm, downy, adorable body. and on the other, the ringing, well-formed, worldly voice--always the voice.

Not unlike that [at times] inexplicable [even confounding] distinction between words and worlds.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:15 pm
by iambiguous
Walter Kaufmann

Man stands alone in the universe, responsible for his condition, likely to remain in a lowly state, but free to reach above the stars.

Now that is existential!

Let people who do not know what to do with themselves in this life, but fritter away their time reading magazines and watching television, hope for eternal life.....The life I want is a life I could not endure in eternity. It is a life of love and intensity, suffering and creation, that makes life worth while and death welcome. There is no other life I should prefer. Neither should I like not to die.

Let's file this one under, "it sounded good at the time".

No other German writer of comparable stature has been a more extreme critic of German nationalism than Nietzsche.

Well, it certainly wasn't Heidegger.

Mundus vult decipi: the world wants to be deceived. The truth is too complex and frightening; the taste for the truth is an acquired taste that few acquire…The world winks at dishonesty. the world does not call it dishonesty.

Imagine then his reaction to Trumpworld.

What Pascal overlooked was the hair-raising possibility that God might out-Luther Luther. A special area in hell might be reserved for those who go to mass. Or God might punish those whose faith is prompted by prudence. Perhaps God prefers the abstinent to those who whore around with some denomination he despises. Perhaps he reserves special rewards for those who deny themselves the comfort of belief. Perhaps the intellectual ascetic will win all while those who compromised their intellectual integrity lose everything.

There are many other possibilities. There might be many gods, including one who favors people like Pascal; but the other gods might overpower or outvote him, à la Homer. Nietzsche might well have applied to Pascal his cutting remark about Kant: when he wagered on God, the great mathematician 'became an idiot'.

Wow, this complicates things considerably.

Reason may not always tell us what to believe, but it can help us on what we shouldn't believe.

Is it reasonable then to believe this? Or, rather, when is it not reasonable to believe this?

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:25 pm
by iambiguous
Mary Roach

I agree with Dr. Makris. Does that mean I would let someone blow up my dead foot to help save the feet of NATO land mine clearers? It does. And would I let someone shoot my dead face with a nonlethal projectile to help prevent accidental fatalities? I suppose I would. What wouldn't I let someone do to my remains? I can think of only one experiment I know of that, were I a cadaver, I wouldn't want anything to do with. This particular experiment wasn't done in the name of science or education or safer cars or better-protected soldiers. It was done in the name of religion.

Now that is an atheist!

Entomologists have a name for young flies, but it is an ugly name, an insult. Let's not use the word "maggot." Let's use a pretty word. Let's use "hacienda.”

Isn't that already taken?

Homo sapiens is one of the few species on earth that care if they’re seen having sex. The impala is unconcerned. The dingo roundly flaunts it. A masturbating chimpanzee will stare straight at you. To any creature other than you and I and 6 billion other privacy-needing H. sapiens, sex is like peeling a mango or scratching your ear. It’s just something you do sometimes.

Even worse: being seen taking a shit.

In a wartime survey conducted by a team of food-habits researchers, only 14 percent of the students at a women’s college said they liked evaporated milk. After serving it to the students sixteen times over the course of a month, the researchers asked again. Now 51 percent liked it. As Kurt Lewin put it, “People like what they eat, rather than eat what they like.”

Much like they know what they believe, rather than believe what they know. Well, here anyway.

No one is excluded from the astronaut corps based on penis size.

Or [one hopes] the size of their tits.

Not that there's anything wrong with just lying around on your back. In it's way, rotting is interesting too, as we will see. It's just that there are other ways to spend your time as a cadaver.

So, just how nonsensical is that?

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:39 pm
by iambiguous
Jeanette Winterson

I always say to people who want to write: Live life! Don't stand on the rim, don't sit on the sidelines. Make mistakes, make a mess, get it wrong. Read everything, and get out and be in life.

Tell that to some of the "serious philosophers" here. Like, for example, I'm doing now.

Women always bring it back to the personal, said Handsome. It's why you can't be world leaders.
And men never do, I said, which is why we end up with no world left to lead.

Let's call it a tie.

The baby explodes into an unknown world that is only knowable through some kind of a story – of course that is how we all live, it’s the narrative of our lives, but adoption drops you into the story after it has started. It’s like reading a book with the first few pages missing. It’s like arriving after curtain up. The feeling that something is missing never, ever leaves you – and it can’t, and it shouldn’t, because something is missing.

That's sort of my own point, isn't it?

I am civilised. My feelings are not.

Not many that isn't applicable to. Eventually.

I say I appear naked before you, but so often I whistle for my invisible armed guard; the gap-toothed, jeering, club-headed mob, my feelings, that are used to having me to themselves.

In other words, I don't have them so much as they have me.

I was happy but happy is an adult word. You don't have to ask a child about being happy, you see it. They are or they are not. Adults talk about being happy because largely they are not. Talking about it is the same as trying to catch the wind. Much easier to let it blow all over you. This is when I disagree with the philosophers. They talk about passionate things but there is no passion in them. Never talk happiness with a philosopher.

Not unlike, "I was miserable but miserable is an adult word."

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:16 pm
by iambiguous
Existential Comics

I'm kinda warming to the idea of 280 characters, because then it will only take 4,501 tweets to tweet all of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit.

I came to 4,502.

Epictetus: change yourself.
Hegel: change ideas.
Marx: change the world.
Camus: change women every few weeks.

No, really: ... lbertcamus

Ah October. My favorite month. It is the month of pumpkin spice, ghosts, and communist revolutions.

Any day now, right?

200 BC: virtue will guide us
600: God will redeem us
1600: reason will save us
2100: I hope Elon Musk builds a space colony & blows up Earth

Anyone here signed up yet?

Likes: mustaches that are fancy.
Dislikes: mustaches that are a bit too fancy.

Yes, even this is rooted in dasein.

Police: throws tear gas into crowd of antifa.
Antifa: throws tear gas back.
Liberal: "these antifa are dangerous, violent authoritarians."

He means the Bilderberg Democrats.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:15 pm
by iambiguous
Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

And here we all are.

I sit in my room like Miss Havisham, about whom I have been reading this week. Better the Dickens you know than the Dickens you don't know - on the whole I enjoyed it. But I should like to say something about this 'irrepressible vitality', this 'throwing a fresh handful of characters on the fire when it burns low', in fact the whole Dickens method - it strikes me as being less ebullient, creative, vital, than hectic, nervy, panic-stricken. If he were a person I should say 'You don't have to entertain me, you know. I'm quite happy just sitting here.' This jerking of your attention, with queer names, queer characters, aggressive rhythms, piling on adjectives - seems to me to betray basic insecurity in his relation with the reader. How serenely Trollope, for instance, compares. I say in all seriousness that, say what you like about Dickens as an entertainer, he cannot be considered as a real writer at all; not a real novelist. His is the garish gaslit melodramatic barn (writing that phrase makes me wonder if I'm right!) where the yokels gape: outside is the calm measureless world, where the characters of Eliot, Trollope, Austen, Hardy (most of them) and Lawrence (some of them) have their being.

So, what do you think, one man's opinion?

Life is slow dying.

Then shift gears. Or put the pedal to the metal.

In life, as in art, talking vitiates doing.

So, aside from a context what else is missing here?

One of the quainter quirks of life is that we shall never know who dies on the same day as we do ourselves.

Not counting the murder suicides of course.

I work all day, and get half drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.

This, one imagines, is why poetry was invented.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:20 pm
by iambiguous
Ernest Hemingway

The Lord is my shepherd
I shall not want him for long
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
and there are no green pastures
He leadeth me beside still waters
and still waters run deep

Not your Lord though, right?

There is no language so filthy as Spanish. There are words for all the vile words in English and there are other words and expressions that are used only in countries where blasphemy keeps pace with the austerity of religion.


Some made the long drop from the apartment or the office window; some took it quietly in two-car garages with the motor running; some used the native tradition of the Colt or Smith and Wesson; those well-constructed implements that end insomnia, terminate remorse, cure cancer, avoid bankruptcy, and blast an exit from intolerable positions by the pressure of a finger; those admirable American instruments so easily carried, so sure of effect, so well designed to end the American dream when it becomes a nightmare, their only drawback the mess they leave for relatives to clean up.

Whatever it takes I always say.

Be a damn fire eater now. He'd seen it in the war work the same way. More of a change than any loss of virginity. Fear gone like an operation. Something else grew in its place. Main thing a man had. Made him into a man. Women knew it too. No bloody fear.

Or something like that.

It wasn't by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short.

Unlike for example the war itself.

A writer’s problem does not change. He himself changes and the world he lives in changes but his problem remains the same. It is always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes part of the experience of the person who reads it.

Without resorting to groots in particular.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:53 pm
by iambiguous
The Dead Author

You don't have to be Lenin to be a little bit unnerved every time someone calls a two millimeter wider iphone screen a "revolution".

On the other hand, the suckers do still fall for it.

"Jein", the German word meaning both "yes" and "no".

And, on occasion, "maybe".

The only thing that's keeping the fascists from burning books this time around is that people now consider 280 characters too much anyway.

Let's poll the fascists here on this one.

Today is National Poetry Day, as if the few people who actually care about poetry needed a reminder to read it.

True, and then there's this:
Let's come up with something really special to do at ILP.

You owe it to yourself to be happy, and you owe it to other people to not remind them that you are.

So, how am I doing so far?

Fall is the best season because nobody expects you to be happy.

He means winter of course.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:42 pm
by iambiguous
Neil Gaiman

Because if you don't stand up for the stuff you don't like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you've already lost.

Not counting the stuff you loathe of course.

The only advice I can give you is what you're telling yourself. Only, maybe you're too scared to listen.

Don't you just hate that?

If you sit down and think about it sensibly, you come up with some very funny ideas. Like: why make people inquisitive, and then put some forbidden fruit where they can see it with a big neon finger flashing on and off saying 'THIS IS IT!'? ... I mean, why do that if you really don't want them to eat it, eh? I mean, maybe you just want to see how it all turns out. Maybe it's all part of a great big ineffable plan. All of it. You, me, him, everything. Some great big test to see if what you've built all works properly, eh? You start thinking: it can't be a great cosmic game of chess, it has to be just very complicated Solitaire.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas...

There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar's eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelry; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing at all alike.

On the other hand, they're both objectivists.

Richard did not believe in angels, he never had. He was damned if he was going to start now. Still, it was much easier not to believe in something when it was not actually looking directly at you and saying your name.

We'll need more details of course.

She said we all not only could know everything. We do. We just tell ourselves we don't to make it all bearable.

Everything isn't like that at all where I come from.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:10 pm
by iambiguous
Jonathan Safran Foer

There is nothing wrong with not understanding yourself.

Like we even can.

We need enormous pockets, pockets big enough for our families, and our friends, and even the people who aren't on our lists, people we've never met but still want to protect. We need pockets for boroughs and for cities, a pocket that could hold the universe. But I knew that there couldn't be pockets that enormous. In the end, everyone loses everyone. There was no invention to get around that, and so I felt, like the turtle that everything else in the universe was on top of.

Or, instead, he could just get to the point.

At the end of my dream, Eve put the apple back on the branch. The tree went back into the ground. It became a sapling, which became a seed.

Was that before or after the Big Bang?

I asked her why she was getting so upset about such a small thing. She said, 'It doesn't feel small to me.'

And who among us hasn't been there?

Without context, we'd all be monsters.

Among other things, define monsters.

I went to the lobby and asked Stan what he knew about the person who lived in 6A.
He said 'Never seen anyone go in or come out. Just a lot of deliveries and a lot of trash.
He leaned down and whispered Haunted.
I whispered back I don't believe in the paranormal.
He said Ghosts don't care if you believe in them.
I walked back up the steps, this time past our floor and to the sixth. There was a mat in front of the door which said 'welcome' in twelve different languages. That didn't seem like something a ghost would put in front of his apartment.

Casper, maybe.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:23 pm
by iambiguous
Terry Pratchett

Something Vimes had learned as a young guard drifted up from memory. If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you're going to die. So they'll talk. They'll gloat.

They'll watch you squirm. They'll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar.

So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.

More to the point, hope like hell you can stop him. Otherwise you're just prolonging the fear.

Once we were blobs in the sea, and then fishes, and then lizards and rats and then monkeys, and hundreds of things in between. This hand was once a fin, this hand once had claws! In my human mouth I have the pointy teeth of a wolf and the chisel teeth of a rabbit and the grinding teeth of a cow! Our blood is as salty as the sea we used to live in! When we're frightened, the hair on our skin stands up, just like it did when we had fur. We are history! Everything we've ever been on the way to becoming us, we still are.

Satyr could not have put it better if he tried. Only he wouldn't stop there, would he?

I commend my soul to any god that can find it.

Pascal on steroids.

Some pirates achieved immortality by great deeds of cruelty or derring-do. Some achieved immortality by amassing great wealth. But the captain had long ago decided that he would, on the whole, prefer to achieve immortality by not dying.

Paraphrasing Woody Allen as it were.

The sun rose slowly, as if it wasn't sure it was worth all the effort.

Every twenty four hours in fact.

Go on, prove me wrong. Destroy the fabric of the universe. See if I care.

Let's just say he's still working on it.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:59 pm
by iambiguous
Peter Matthiessen

The secret of the mountain is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself: the mountains exist simply, which I do not. The mountains have no "meaning," they are meaning; the mountains are. The sun is round. I ring with life, and the mountains ring, and when I can hear it, there is a ringing that we share. I understand all this, not in my mind but in my heart, knowing how meaningless it is to try to capture what cannot be expressed, knowing that mere words will remain when I read it all again, another day.

Or something like that. But point taken.

Soon the child’s clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions, and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers.

Seek and ye shall find. If only what you were always meant to.

The concept of conservation is a far truer sign of civilization than that spoilation of a continent which we once confused with progress.

The concept of conservation. As opposed to actual policies that will work. And that's before we get to the part about who they will work for.

We have outsmarted ourselves, like greedy monkeys, and now we are full of dread.

Let's exchange dreads.

Of all African animals, the elephant is the most difficult for man to live with, yet its passing - if this must come - seems the most tragic of all. I can watch elephants (and elephants alone) for hours at a time, for sooner or later the elephant will do something very strange such as mow grass with its toenails or draw the tusks from the rotted carcass of another elephant and carry them off into the bush. There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.

You saw one once at the zoo, didn't you?

This world is painted on a wild dark metal.

Or, sure, maybe not.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:19 pm
by iambiguous
Joseph Heller

Now you've given them hope, and they're unhappy. So the blame is all yours.

Not often thought about in that manner, is it?

'Help!' he shrieked shrilly in a voice strangling in its own emotion, as the policemen carried him to the open doors in the rear of the ambulance and threw him inside. 'Police! Help! Police!' The doors were shut and bolted, and the ambulance raced away. There was a humorless irony in the ludicrous panic of the man screaming for help to the police while policemen were all around him. Yossarian smiled wryly at the futile and ridiculous cry for aid, then saw with a start that the words were ambiguous, realized with alarm that they were not perhaps, intended as a call for police but as a heroic warning from the grave by a doomed friend to everyone who was not a policeman with a club and gun and a mob of other policemen with clubs and guns to back him up. 'Help! Police!' the man had cried, and he could have been shouting of danger.

Not often thought about in that manner, is it?

It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar. What the hell does it mean when they disappear somebody?

Let's just say that, viscerally, we know exactly what it means.

When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering.

And that was long before Trumpworld.

In a world in which success was the only virtue, he had resigned himself to failure.

You know, given his pitiful bank account.

I’m cold, Snowden said softly, I’m cold.
You’re going to be all right, kid, Yossarian reassured him with a grin. You’re going to be all right.
I’m cold, Snowden said again in a frail, childlike voice. I’m cold.
There, there, Yossarian said, because he did not know what else to say. There, there.
I’m cold, Snowden whimpered. I’m cold.
There, there. There, there.

Trust me: You've either been there or not.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:06 pm
by iambiguous
Steven D. Levitt

Few people think more than two or three times a year, Shaw reportedly said. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.

You can't help but wonder though: Think about what?

It has long been said that the three hardest words to say in the English language are I love you. We heartily disagree! For most people, it is much harder to say I don’t know.

In other words, even when you really don't.

But as incentives go, commissions are tricky. First of all, a 6 percent real-estate commission is typically split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s. Each agent then kicks back roughly half of her take to the agency. Which means that only 1.5 percent of the purchase price goes directly into your agent’s pocket. So on the sale of your $300,000 house, her personal take of the $18,000 commission is $4,500. Still not bad, you say. But what if the house was actually worth more than $300,000? What if, with a little more effort and patience and a few more newspaper ads, she could have sold it for $310,000? After the commission, that puts an additional $9,400 in your pocket. But the agent’s additional share—her personal 1.5 percent of the extra $10,000—is a mere $150. If you earn $9,400 while she earns only $150, maybe your incentives aren’t aligned after all.

Not only that but this is still argued to be the best of all possible worlds. And what if it is?

He found himself one night in a bar standing beside a gorgeous woman. “Would you be willing to sleep with me for $1 million?” he asked her. She looked him over. There wasn’t much to see—but still, $1 million! She agreed to go back to his room. “All right then, “ he said. “Would you be willing to sleep with me for $100?” “A hundred dollars!” she shot back. “What do you think I am, a prostitute?” “We’ve already established that. Now we’re just negotiating the price.”

What lesson do we learn hear?
As opposed to the lesson that we ought to learn here.

While one might expect that suicide is highest among people whose lives are the hardest, research by Lester and others suggests the opposite: suicide is more common among people with a higher quality of life. “If you’re unhappy and you have something to blame your unhappiness on—if it’s the government, or the economy, or something—then that kind of immunizes you against committing suicide,” he says. “It’s when you have no external cause to blame for your unhappiness that suicide becomes more likely.”

Confirmed here:

Prediction, as Niels Bohr liked to say, is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.

And not even counting this:

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:01 pm
by iambiguous
Jan Mieszkowski

Logic: true or false?
Epistemology: knowable or unknowable?
Ontology: being or nothingness?
Politics: hemlock or arsenic?

Or, sure, for Don Trump, the nuclear option.

French philosopher: I work in a cafe
German philosopher: I work in a wooded grove
American philosopher: I work at McDonald's

In other words, if he's lucky.

Is Twitter a waste of time?
Bataille: What is "waste"?
Kant: What is "is"?
Husserl: What is "of"?
Camus: Yes.

Seriously, though, which of them would or would not use it?

Metaphysics: Mind over matter
Physics: Matter over mind
Ethics: It matters that it matters
Politics: I don't mind that you don't matter

Let's put them in the right order.

Philosophy 101: What?
Philosophy 201: Why?
Philosophy 301: Why not?
Philosophy 401: How?
Philosophy 501: How much?

Let's put them in the right order.

Cultural Studies 101: Fetishism of the commodity
Cultural Studies 201: Commodification of the fetish
Cultural Studies 301: I ❤️ my iPhone

Let's call this the history of capitalism.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:18 pm
by iambiguous
Stephanie Danler

You know what I dislike? When people use the future as a consolation for the present. I don’t know if there is anything less helpful.

Or more helpful. You know, as the case may be.

I had a ritual—and having any ritual sounded so mature that I told everyone about it, even the regulars. On my days off I woke up late and went to the coffee shop and had a cappuccino and read. Then around five p.m., when the light was failing, I would take out a bottle of dry sherry and pour myself a glass, take out a jar of green olives, put on Miles Davis, and read the wine atlas. I didn't know why it felt so luxurious, but one day I realized that ritual was why I had moved to New York—to eat olives and get tipsy and read about Nebbiolo while the sun set. I had created a life that was bent in service to all my personal cravings.

On the other hand, don't we all?

I thought that once I got to this city nothing could ever catch up with me because I could remake my life daily. Once that had made me feel infinite. Now I was certain I would never learn. Being remade was the same thing as being constantly undone.

Not counting those of us who actually do get it right.

It’s brave if you make it, foolish if you fail.

After all, what else could it be?

A certain connoisseurship of taste, a mark of how you deal with the world, is the ability to relish the bitter, to crave it even, the way you do the sweet.

Anyone here actually done this?

There are many romantic reasons to watch the sunrise. Once it started, it was hard to leave. I wanted to own it. I wanted it to be a confirmation that I was alive. Most of the time, however, it felt condemning.

Me? Well, I know the sun is up there somewhere.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 6:46 pm
by iambiguous
Malcolm Gladwell

Words belong to the person who wrote them.

But only up to the point where they belong to the person who reads them.

Education lays the foundation of a large portion of the causes of mental disorder.

In his own obscure opinion of course.

We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that--sometimes--we’re better off that way.

A classic "general description"!

To become a chess grandmaster also seems to take about ten years. (Only the legendary Bobby Fischer got to that elite level in less than that amount of time: it took him nine years.) And what’s ten years? Well, it’s roughly how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice. Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.

So, what would you put in ten thousand hours of practice for? Obviously not philosophy.

Each of us has his or her own distinct personality. But overlaid on top of that are tendencies and assumptions and reflexes handed down to us by the history of the community we grew up in, and those differences are extraordinarily specific.

Not really though right, Mr. Objectivist?

"Affect, Imagery, Consciousness", a four-volume work so dense that its readers were evenly divided between those who understood it and thought it was brilliant and those who did not understand it and thought it was brilliant.

This: ... -vol-i-iv/
Anyone here able to sum it all up in 280 characters or less?

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:19 pm
by iambiguous
tiny nietzsche

it's beginning to look a lot like nihilism

Right, like it ever hasn't been.

I sexually identify with biting the hand that feeds me

Maybe even knocking a few off.

the scars are what hold you together

I'll bet you can't say that.

you: I love a sunny day!
me: the nuclear fusion that drives this hellish sphere is the only thing keeping us alive in the endless darkness

Not only does it work that way, it's the only way it can.

2014: ice bucket challenge
2017: blood donations for gun massacre victims

Coming to a town near you.

It's that time of year to pull out your heavy clothes and promise not to kill yourself

Trust me: This year will be no exception.

I just called to say I texted you

Expect a letter in the mail to confirm it.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:20 pm
by iambiguous
André Gide

After much searching I have found the thing that sets me apart: a sort of stubborn attachment to evil.

Or, for some of us, what more or less passes for evil here and now.

Art begins with resistance—at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.

Let's decide: Does that include the art of philosophy more or less than the philosophy of art?

The most beaten paths are certainly the surest, but do not hope to start much game on them.

On the other hand, go off the beaten path far enough and you may well end up being the game.

Understand that the only possession of any value is life.

And how comforting [or not] is that?

I exist only as a whole; my only claim is to be natural, and the pleasure I feel in an action, I take as a sign that I ought to do it.

Then there's this part: my pleasure, your pain.

Most often people seek in life occasions for persisting in their opinions rather than for educating themselves.

And though you think that you're the exception, I may well really be.

Re: a thread for mundane ironists

PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:06 pm
by iambiguous
Roland Barthes

This book has two determinants: on the one hand, an ideological critique of the language of so-called mass culture; on the other, an initial semiological dismantling of that language: I had just read Saussure and emerged with the conviction that by treating “collective representations” as sign systems one might hope to transcend pious denunciation and instead account in detail for the mystification which transforms petit bourgeois culture into a universal nature.

Marx plus as it were.

You have never known a Woman’s body!
I have known the body of my mother, sick and then dying.

Sure, that counts.

The cultural work done in the past by gods and epic sagas is now done by laundry-detergent commercials and comic-strip characters.

And let's not forget reality TV.

To read is to struggle to name, to subject the sentences of a text to a semantic transformation. This transformation is erratic; it consists in hesitating among several names: if we are told that Sarrasine had 'one of those strong wills that know no obstacle'. what are we to read? will, energy, obstinacy, stubbornness, etc.?

Or, sure, we can all just agree to accept your definitions.

The more technology develops the diffusion of information (and notably of images), the more it provides the means of masking the constructed meaning under the appearance of the given meaning.

What we call "fake news" today.

Incoherence seems to me preferable to a distorting order.

Finally, a "general description" that nails it.