Saturday, March 21, 2009

Solid Ground

While watching a film with one of my favorite actors--certainly not the kind of film I would have watched were it not for this actor (though my purpose here has nothing to do with the actor or the film)--I began to wonder, of his character, "Why does he care? This hocus-pocus that he's chasing, why doesn't he just let it alone? Why does he have to know?" Then I remembered something: the character was once a detective. And that pretty much solves the riddle. For asking why a detective has to "get the straight" is like asking why a philosopher--the old, the true philosopher who follows, not Kant and Hegel, not Russell and Carnap, but Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle--it is like asking a philosopher why he seeks the truth. The answer is in his very nature. If you were to ask Socrates, "Why, O bald-headed, pug-nosed Athenian, why do you seek Truth?" "Why," Socrates would answer, "because it is true!" Similarly, he who has "detectiveness" in his nature will seek the story, the explanation for whatever event he finds himself in, simply because that's what a detective does. Not only does he try to unravel mystery, he is in fact a mystery to himself: he does not know why he does what he does--it is satisfying enough just to know that it's what he's supposed to do. The philosopher must not ask "why truth?"--he must seek it. The detective must not ask "why the facts?"--he must find them. Either must stand on the solid ground of his existence, must presuppose it, so that he may realize and acquire what remains to be found.

It becomes necessary, in all reasoning, to stand on solid ground at some point. One cannot go on explaining forever, because eventually explanation itself will be called in to question; inquiry will try to step outside of itself and ask what inquiry is, but, because it made that detachment, has lost the very ability to inquire. First causes, absolute truths--they exist. They must necessarily exist. They are the ground of all reason, of all discourse. On a journey, if I have no point of origin, I do not know how far I have come; I could not really call it a journey either. If where I am is not predicated on where I was, where I am means nothing. If words are detached from their origins in reality, they lost all meaning.

I'll probably talk about this more later on. Suffice it to say, relativism, in all its forms, is the epitome of bullshittery.

Friday, March 20, 2009

More idiocies

I saw a poster at the school yesterday being toted by some moronic looking undergraduate labelling Obama as our "New War Criminal in Chief." And then today I read that the leader of some pacifist veterans thinks Obama a bigger "war criminal" than Bush.

Do these people think we have no enemies? I know one thing: no matter who you are, if you do anything involving the military, you're a war criminal. To the pacifists, "war criminal" is a redundancy.

While I disagree with nearly every action Obama has taken, the one thing I do think he has the right idea about is in trying to find new strategies to defeat Islamist terrorism. But I don't think that this is something Bush wasn't doing.

Oh, but hell. I'm so "biased" anyway. I'm the type that believes the sole function, the only conceivably justifiable function, of government is to protect its citizens from foreign aggression.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Idiocies of democracy

I was listening to a segment on the radio where they approached random people, live, asking them questions over the phone.

Basically, the questions were:

1) Do you know who the president is now? --Of course everyone knew the answer to this question.

2) Do you know who the vice president is now? --Most people couldn't remember who he was or even have his last name on the tip of their tongues.

3) The president is trying to enact as policy a strategy where each American will work according to their ability, and each American will receive from the government according to their needs. Do you agree with this? --Most did.

4) Have you ever heard of Karl Marx? --Most had no clue. One did say, as if by automatic reaction, "socialism"--as though the items from Question 3 had no relationship to that ideology (it was just a word to him apparently).

5) Did you vote for Obama? --"Oh yeah! Of course!"

Okay, this is my point about voting. If all these idiots--who don't know one goddam thing about politics--are allowed to vote, it does not matter whether I vote or not. I could not possibly win. Despite the fact that my vote would at least be informed--and, mind you, not even that well informed--my vote would be rendered meaningless by these morons who vote based on popular appeal.

It's true what Plato and Aristotle thought of democracy (which the Founders of this country also knew, but the people in government now do not seem to know): democracy is nothing more than mob rule. If the overwhelming majority of people believe that X, it does not "therefore" follow that X is true, is the best course of action, or is anything more than unreasoned response to the stimulus of propaganda.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Genius

Yeah Obama's a genius. Overturning methods which have prevented several terrorist attacks in the past six years or more. Freeing terrorists and conspirators from offshore prisons that aren't even citizens. A real genius. I just hope that blame is placed where blame is due when the next attack is successful. God knows there were plenty of successful attacks against American interests in the forty years before Bush was president. FDR-like is right. Because already, by undoing well-worn preventative measures, he has allowed to happen whatever attacks may happen. What a prodigy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Categorical Reading

So this is how I read books. I've always sort of read books this way (I'm always reading more than one at a time), but I've now been able to make my categories explicit and I think this will make things a lot more coherent.

There are "Ritual" books, and there are "Leisure" books.

- Rituals are always "repeaters," though Leisures may be either repeaters or "non-repeaters."

- In order to become a repeater, a non-repeater must pass the test of Leisure reading; if it does, it may be at the very least a Leisure-repeater.

- If after a few Leisure-repeats the book becomes Integral, it then may "graduate" to Ritual and have "tenure," as it were.

- All Rituals are repeaters, but not all repeaters are Rituals.

- Rituals may serve as Leisures when/if necessary, though they are still in essence Rituals. "Natural Rituals", in other words, may be Rituals and/or "Artificial" Leisures as needed; while "Natural Leisures" can only be Leisures. Some repeaters may never become Rituals, though they may always make great Leisures. In any case, Leisures are "safety valves."

Thus we have always at least two books to read, one Ritual, and another Leisure. Numbers may vary, but there should be no less than two at a time, so that Ritual is always grounding Leisure--and Life--and Leisure is always providing a contrast for Ritual--and stimulating new curiosities.

Not a waste

To my earlier specifications of Prufrock and Other Observations, I will also allow The Waste Land. The latter, at least, still has a profound connection with the City Streets, and provides the landscape of modern degradation, which is the essential background, in my estimation, of Hammett's work (once again, there is documented evidence that Hammett was a Eliotophile early on). Eliot's poetized City Streets became Hammett's fictionized Mean Streets. W.L. is great too because so many people don't understand it. Or rather, they think it is meant to be understood, in a logical sense, but really it is not. It is more of an impressionistic account of emotions and scenes that too often escape us.

W.L. was kind of a crossroads. There was a very surface-level element in his earliest poems; and in the later poems, there was a sort of unapologetic profundity (which is fine, just not what I'm looking for in a poet). In W.L., however, the two met and mingled. Like an existentialist's view of the world, the angst is present in objects themselves, not merely in one's mind or perception of them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

1910-ish. (-esque?)

So after doing some investigation in Inventions of the March Hare, which I introduced below, I've discovered this about the "pre-1920 Eliot": what I've liked, and, again, found to be Ideal, in Eliot was indeed all written before 1912. The poems written (not published) between November of 1909 and November of 1911 have "It" (alas, even from these, it is only the city poems that have the slightest interest to me). From the notes of the editor and the prose selections from Eliot himself, it appears that the principal--though by no means the sole--inspiration was, in fact, Jules Laforgue. And Laforgue, as it turns out, was no mere adherent to French symbolism: he was an innovator and an original. In essence, the poetry of the early-20th century experience--or as I have called it, the Poetry of the City Streets--originated in elements of Laforgue, in France, and was subsequently invented by Eliot, not in England, but in America--i.e., before he moved to England. It wasn't Paris, or even London, that provided Eliot with his "vision of the street that the street hardly understands": it was St. Louis and Cambridge.

I always find these moments of originary artistic discovery to be a relief, precisely because they extinguish hope. Perhaps "extinguish hope" sounds too drastic. It is just that I am a firm believer in answers. I believe questions have answers, by logical and metaphysical necessity. Searches and researches must not continue on forever. The idea that a journey--which implies a destination--has, in fact, no destination--that, somehow, one is supposed to be happy with the journey as an end in itself, the question for the sake of questioning--is intrinsic bullshit.

It is when we find answers, first causes, that we find things valuable in and of themselves. One ends the obsessing, the ratiocinating, the incessant wondering, and gets on with the contemplating, the enjoying, the living. It is therefore a relief when I find "narrowness." The narrow road is the right road; the wide road is easy. Questions are easy. It is answers that are hard: they demand something of you. Hence the calamities of modern "open-mindedness."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Inventions of the March Hare

T. S. Eliot wrote a lot of poems between 1909 and 1917, the year when he gained fame with the publication of Prufrock and Other Observations. I have always preferred the poems from 1917 over the poems from 1920 onward. The only parts of, for instance, "The Waste Land" or the "Four Quartets" that I even really enjoyed were those reminiscent of pre-1920 Eliot.

And so there is this Notebook of over fifty poems which is now available, things which he never wanted to see the light of day, and I feel now I have the Eliot I was always looking for but could never find. The Eliot which in Prufrock spoke to me and then in "Gerontion" disappointed so grievously has now been re-discovered. I only need One Book from a great thinker or writer; but it has to be a Great Book, ideally, it must be a Thick Book. The thinness of Eliot's books, so to speak, made me hate him. He gave you a whiff of the good stuff and then took it away. This, of course, was not his fault. The fact is that his natural impulses jib with my own. But he wanted more than that. He wanted something else, and he changed and developed. Now I care absolutely nothing for change or development. The best things to me are those which are spontaneously derived. I usually only answer a question right when I answer it off the top of my head.

In any case, the early Notebook, sardonically titled (and then scratched out) by the poet himself, Inventions of the March Hare, contains not only the principal poetry from Prufrock, but also additional episodes of Prufrock himself, and a host of other poetry in the same spirit. It's what I thought "poetry" should be before I ever read any. What a relief.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gays are Gay

People who want to go and make all the great authors homosexual, in many cases (not all) have simply forgotten the traditional understanding of love. C. S. Lewis reminded us (one of the many things he reminded us) of the "four loves" of affection, friendship, eros, and agape. It is shameless the way literary critics look for "homoerotic" elements in some great poets where the only real evidence is for friendship, affection, and agape. Our epoch has reduced "love" to erotic love. Do they relegate the male embrace of Achilles and Odysseus, Beowulf and Wiglaf, Lancelot and Arthur, to "homoeroticism"? Freud and his slaves have really bitched everything up. Even to the point where certain actions that in past ages were considered overtly masculine now represent some kind of goddam repressed femininity on one of any given two men. It really is ridiculous. Of course, the agenda is political, unfortunately. It is all political. The reasoning that no one wants to let you in on is that if great authors and great works of literature are "O.K." with homosexuality, and we regard said works as "great," then, why by God! it is certainly great and humane to be a fairy after all!

What a load of... -- oh hell, I forgot the French word for bullshit.


A lot of the time I know I come off as believing in nothing. But if a nihilist is someone who does not believe that objective values exist, I am quite at the opposite extreme from nihilism. I believe in objectivity--in values, in truth, in knowledge, in being. But the majority of the things purported by "Intellectuals" result from subjectivity and relativism. It is to those (surprisingly dogmatically held) beliefs that I say: that is meaningless.

So basically, I believe in transcendent, objective truth. But I do not believe in anything else. Why would one base one's life on fictions (e.g., the Life-Force, the collective unconscious, evolution), when one can base one's life on facts (e.g., God, reason, order)?


Friday, March 6, 2009


All this hype about Rush Limbaugh "wanting" the president to "fail" is really aggravating. For one thing, I'm not sure that that is what Limbaugh and his type "want": rather, it's what they believe is going to happen because Obama's domestic policies are based on really bad ideas.

Secondly, even if Limbaugh were guilty, how would it be any different than the liberals' attitude to Bush over the past five or so years?

The past forty or so years has done alot to put the American president into a position he was never meant to occupy. The president was never supposed to be King.

All this celebration and festivity is wholly un-American.