May 25, 2014

Step away from your anger,
do not waste it:
use it some other day.

May 25, 2014

Bright shiny words

Master Chuang was quietly resting at a lakeside with some friends when someone started praising the age-old tree that shaded them from the sun.
— Do not be deceived by bright words, replied Master Chuang. This is not a tree.
After a baffled silence, everyone broke out at once. So the wise old man raised his voice and asked his neighbor:
— What is that soft fur you’re leaning against, my friend? Is it tree?
— It is moss and some lichen.
— And those spots scurrying all about, are they tree, too?
— No, Master, they are caterpillars and ants.
— And do you hear that sound trickling down from above? Surely trees do not chirrup and tweet?
— No, they do not. Those are hungry birdlings calling out from their nests.
After a while, Master Chuang continued: Now see how my own words grow upon your mind and scurry through your thoughts. Soon you, too, will be singing them.

April 13, 2014

Budding hopes

I met a rose-fingered elm this morning; we smiled.

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April 5, 2014

Surely i too am Othello—blind to a fault? Continue reading

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March 21, 2014

From the TV show House of Cards i learned: “Tomorrow you will still feel that anger. And you will use it. But you will not use it against X (the original source of the anger).”

March 9, 2014

On the heroic nature of capitalist societies

From Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue i learned that we might still interpret our modern lives on Aristotle’s terms, examining the final goods of our social practices and developing the virtues that sustain them — but also that the heroic world and agonistic social structure that antedated and informed the Nichomachean Ethics has been irrevocably lost: “Nobody now can become a Hector or a Gisli.” Though here i must differ, for was Steve Jobs not a contemporary Achilles? Did he not posses all the latter’s virtues? Was he not also courageous, powerful, obstinate, wealthy, successful, and almost invincible? Did he not carry Apple corp. into a stunning victory over all its enemies? Is he not a mighty hero of our age?

I submit that the social structures of the Illiad or Mahabharata are to be found little changed in the economic realm of corporations, the warring city-states of our times. And the men and women who fight on their behalf embody all the virtues that we now respect and crave: wealth, power, cunning, courage, wisdom, generosity, single-mindedness, obstinacy, pride and glory. MacIntyre, the Marxist turned Thomist, was right to see our world in terms of practices, goods and virtues; only those practices are capitalist, the highest goods power & wealth, and the virtues far from Christian.

February 11, 2014

At work i am Achilles, contending with heroes over spoils of war; at night — Odysseus, with but a god for friend.

February 11, 2014

Corporations are smallish feuding states, where citizen virtues and warriors prevail; in the world at large, however, only friends and fate await us.

January 26, 2014

From Bruno Snell i learned: Athena really did yank Achilles by the hair, for all he knew. That we, moderns, can no longer grasp such things makes us in no wise Homer’s equals, but reckless fools, which leads me to an overwhelming question…

January 1, 2014

Fait divers

Earlier this week a woman was found hanged in a bedroom at her home, a presumed suicide. Her husband had been killed during a mugging many years earlier, but she had remarried and was living with her second husband and their only child. Neither father nor daughter have yet been located by the police, though at least one of them is thought to have fled the scene wounded, as traces of blood were found in the kitchen and out the back door. The official investigation has uncovered an earlier child from the first marriage which had been given up for adoption at birth. A medical report at the time had identified genetic markers for anti-social behavior, and since the mother was depressive and the father had once killed a man in a brawl, they feared they might foster the child’s criminal tendencies. Unfortunately the adoption process was never completed, and the boy became a ward of the state. He was arrested for a number of petty crimes and a presumed murder but was never convicted. After training as an auto mechanic, he eventually settled down and married one of his clients, a widow….

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