Saturday, November 27, 2010

"hey, how 'bout that local sports team!"

A family member, just a few moments ago, "ripped" me for the fact that I did not linger after eating on Thanksgiving with the other family members. What do I have to talk to these people about, some of whom I don't even like, let alone have nothing in common with? I "alienate" myself, it is said. An uncle from California was brought up as an example of someone who I would bullshit with in the past. Well, I said, he's a different story; he's not boring. And families--under the pretence of concern (though no doubt some are genuine)--they pry.

I have, the past year or so, nourished an idea that I might do exactly what they want: I'll talk my balls off. And how will it turn out? I can tell you: having spoken my mind--without malicious intent--I shall be put right where I would have put myself in the first place. My father is in a similar predicament as I am, except that he maintains the standards of decorum to a certain extent (but even he, by a few others, is maligned behind his back). But I really don't give a damn what they think of me, while he might.

I'm not saying that I'm right. But I am saying that, in this particular case, I do not care if I am wrong.

Monday, October 25, 2010

that 20-years-ago thing

I was just thinking about certain experiences and teachers from gradeschool for some reason. If I had a different family, and if I were in second grade now rather than twenty years ago, I would have been one of those unfortunate kids to have been thrust into taking Ritalin (and then, in my case, because of my then-undetected congenital heart valve disease, I suspect I would have pretty shortly been dead). Ms. Summers used to always bust my balls about "staring off in to space"; I guess I just wasn't interested. And more than one teacher complained that, while they wish they had a classroom full of me's, I just talked too much; i.e., I rarely did anything that required being disciplined, except for talking during class. I was serious ADD-meds material.

I also remember well the difficulty I had in the notion of "rounding up from 5"; I thought she was trying to say, in a sequence of numbers, written on a sheet of paper, one would need to begin writing the numbers vertically (i.e., "up"), rather than horizontally, if one happened to land on a 5.

Two years later, nonetheless, at another school, another lifetime, I had the highest math average in my class, and went downhill arithmetically from there. The one exception was my senior year. (In college, of course, I did much better, but here we're dealing with before that.) I had a pretty good teacher for a semester, but then she left. Then we had an African guy who was almost incomprehensible. Then we had Mrs. Spatorno who was -- as I told her husband when I met him, totally by chance, years later -- simply the best math teacher I've ever had in my life. Naturally many students called her a bitch; she was, as Mr. Spatorno accurately said of his wife, very "matter of fact." To me she was simply brilliant. Neither was she unattractive in any sense of the word; her looks were as sharp as her mind. And indeed her pedagogical wit was as refined as any good college professor's. I especially remember one junior reciting that oft-repeated mantra, "But when am I ever going to use this in life?" to which Madame replied, "Well, you have an exam to use it on next week."

I don't really have a point other than that you can't learn something that you don't find interesting (I've used math because, historically, it's been one of the most uninteresting things to me). If you find something truly interesting, you'll never even need a real "live" teacher for it; most of my principal teachers have been dead for decades, a few for centuries. But a good teacher can do the impossible: a good teacher can make interesting the uninteresting. Or rather, a good teacher brings to light that this particular lesson is simply part of, as Chesterton would say, the only "subject" there is in the whole universe.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


One of the things I really love about Hammett's The Thin Man (which, if you were thinking of the movies, I am not referring to at all -- the novel is completely different) is that it is almost an entire novel's worth of the kind of mise-en-scene and general atmosphere one gets in the chapter "The Hat Trick" in The Glass Key -- when Ned Beaumont goes to New York -- or even (in a different way) in Salinger's Franny and Zooey. It's funny, because I used to not even like The Thin Man; then again, I used to not like The Glass Key either. I'm always surprised by Hammett, no matter how much I read him; it always seems like the things I think I have to look outside of his works to find are already in his works, or rather in the works I haven't read as many times.

Friday, October 15, 2010

another recent thought...

I am often horrified by the fact that people change, and, consequently, think people who love change so much ought not to be as terrified about death as they are. For most people change so much in a decade that the person they were the previous decade is already dead. What is the difference between a corpse and an unrecognizable soul?


Some do not perceive the order underlying the chaos. Their belief that the world, the universe, is chaotic is founded on the mere surface of things. "But," you will say, "quantum mechanics..." -- and I shall preempt you: "In quantum theory, we still are only dealing with the surface."

Friday, October 1, 2010

finding the unreal city

What is the Waste Land? Where and what is the Unreal City?

I think I may have an answer within my own experience. Perhaps my greatest alienations occur when, against all odds, I discover some truth which rocks the foundations of my preconceptions on its corresponding object or event. Something which has always been, seems new to me; and it now appears so obvious, so native to the intellect, that one remains awestruck that he had never seen it before.

But then come the Men of Experience. The Men of Experience explain how this does not fit in with The Model, what they've always known, always been told, and always told everyone else. Don't think I'm discussing anything political here (though this does happen in political philosophy as well, abundantly so); I am merely talking about truths related to activities of everyday life.

To emerge from the shadows and return to the world of light -- or, more likely, vice versa -- is to find the Unreal City. Everyone is doing it all wrong. There are a few kindred souls like us, "We Few," but by and large one finds oneself in a land which engorges itself on pleasures wholly illusory. One realizes, "I, too, was once one of Them." In a zeal for the propagation of this transcendental nugget, one tells everyone he can think of. But ultimately no one really listens. Never mind that your new insight is based on rather inescapable laws of chemistry or biology, ontology or calology. No, you're just... in your own little world.

To you Few to whom I'm making sense, I bid thee well, and welcome. For you, too, live here, in Unreal City. We natives, though, in our affectionate way, we call it the Waste Land.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the trial

It just occurred to me that in The Trial (Kafka/Welles) there is a double entendre in "trial." On the one hand, yes, there's this bizarre "legal proceeding" which we call a trial. But also, the whole gamut of legal troubles hoisted upon Joseph K. are a "trial" sent by God. In the end of the Welles adaptation, a priest says something or other with the old appendage, "my son," to which K. replies, "I'm not your son," and walks out the facade of the church. This, as Welles calls it, "defiance to the end" apparently is contrary to the novel, in which K. is more or less like Job. Welles, incidentally, said that he changed this because he just could not imagine a post-Holocaust Jew just laying down and taking it, and that, had Kafka lived after WWII, he would have been under some kind of logical compulsion to write it differently.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Of late, I really like hotel stories for some reason. Probably actually several reasons.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

pieces of orson

This is what contemporary philosophy is like:

Say the great Orson Welles just died and a lot of odd necrophilic actors and directors have access to his corpse. One group cuts off a finger; one gets his head; others, respectively, get his organs, feet, etc.

Then they all argue and compete about who Has Orson. "But we have his head that he thought with!", "But I have his finger that he directed with!", "But us, over here, we have his liver for crying out loud!!" You get the idea.

But isn't it true that none of them Has Orson? Orson is dead. His life is gone. Only his corpse remains, and these lunatics are all running around with pieces of that corpse, saying that their piece is the right piece. And all the while, the pieces rot.

Substitute philosophy for Orson Welles, and contemporary "philosophers" for the necrophilic thespians (I can't decide whether this or "theatrical necrophiles" sounds better), and you have the state of contemporary philosophy.

Every one of them thinks (or believes? or knows?) they have the philosophers' stone, but they're all dealing in cement dust.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Oh much-lamented O.

The things about O. that I liked most were so simple. I don't think I was truly ever "in love" with her (whatever that means), and our relationship was as far as can be from romantic. It was almost more like a friendship between two males. But she stimulated me a great deal because her ways were so charming. And I don't know whether I am in denial, or whether I truly don't know what it is that I did to make her cut me off so successfully, so circumspectly.

These simple things often present themselves to me in the form of memories. She was a central figure of two of the most important years of my life thusfar, and these were nearly a decade ago now. I remember one night she, her sister, and I were riding around Conyers. A storm was brewing, and O. said (what we never did) we ought to "get some Sprites and sit in the car watching the thunderstorm." Not everyone would appreciate the genius of this. I mean, Sprite. Not just any soft drink, not any illicit substance -- Sprite.

And she introduced me to so much new music. It wasn't so much new artists, but a different kind of listenability, as it were, that she showed me via a few artists.

And there was the time we rode to my first college's theater to see that wretched play. She drove so fast. I don't think I've ever known anyone drive so fast, not even among notoriously fast drivers. She was dyslexic, so she couldn't take directions like left and right worth a damn, which was hilarious to me.

And one night, on the "Main" street of an historic district of a nearby city, she and I, and L. and D. had a fabulous dinner for O.'s birthday. It is one of the most significant moments of my life, one of the few times I have ever truly lived in the moment. There was nothing about this event which should have made it more significant than a thousand other moments, but memory presents it as significant. Not formatively significant: significant the way a work of art is significant the first time you really understand it.

And yet, this person who I would have traded ten run-of-the-mill friends for, at some point found me miserably disagreeable to be around. And maybe she was right. Indeed, the time when our contact began to wane was one of the most miserable periods of my life, and a time when she seemed to be changing rapidly. Who knows? Perhaps who I am now and who she is now would not harmonize at all; maybe (I'd never considered it till the beginning of this paragraph) she is a totally different person, alien to the person I knew Back When. Nonetheless our brief friendship represents a classic specimen of one of those dreaded "Things I Would Do Differently Now If I Could Go Back..."

And as I sit here reflecting, I remember other occasions. I remember once when I went out with her and R. and he made me so fucking angry about something or other and she was laughing hysterically about it, and then how that occasion made me think about, and horribly miss -- more than I ever had before or have since -- Someone Else, who at that time I loved more than anyone. As for O., my point here is simply that it baffles me that someone I knew for so short a time and who I never really knew terribly well -- and who evidently now regards me as some sort of human vermin -- could have had such an impact. The memories are few, but they have the odd advantage -- suspiciously unlike a thousand other occasions with dozens of other people -- of being memorable.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

ars gratia artis

While in the past I had no great interest in aesthetics or the philosophy of art (that's right! they are two different subjects!), of late it has been of great interest. In the past, when my main haunt was ontology, my appreciation of beauty could really go only as far as calology, which studies the beautiful, not qua beauty, but as a transcendental of being (the transcendentals of being, i.e., are the One, the True, the Good, and the Beautiful); in this case, beauty is simply one of many revelations of ipsum esse. The closest, back then, that I came to an appreciation of ars gratia artis was reading Oscar Wilde. This led to a pursuit, in fiction, that led ultimately to my beloved Dashiell Hammett, whose artistry pleases me infinitely.

But some newer experiences have opened me up to a whole new range of appreciation and philosophy of art, and below is a list of these influences. Right now I simply list them; perhaps at a later date I'll make some annotations. I make here no distinction between literature and film.

An Experiment in Criticism by C. S. Lewis

"The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot

The Arts of the Beautiful by Etienne Gilson

Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino

Citizen Kane by Orson Welles

I should also say that the entire corpus of film noir is pivotal as well. I first began watching noir films because of their underlying Weltanschauung, but they soon led me to a way of viewing art qua art -- and, of course, film especially -- which I hadn't anticipated. Color looks different, the whole world looks different, once you've resurfaced from an immersion in the realm of noir.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

on fr. john a. hardon, s.j.

For the longest time I found immense consolation--intellectual and emotional--from the Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. Hardon. I'd always assumed it was just the facts and not the mind arranging them that was so gracious. Upon beginning the same Fr. Hardon's Catholic Catechism--and being able to distinguish it from other catechisms in my mind--I can say now that Hardon's mind is largely the conduit for this spiritual satisfaction. True, he presents the most orthodox of doctrines and the most erudite of opinions, but his particular way of writing, reasoning, and being I find very stimulating and compatible to my own temperament, much as I find with my few favorite authors.

But this is all derived from Fr. Hardon's true humility and sanctity, his respect and devotion to Truth. As old Jacksie said, try to be "Original" and you will never be original; but tell the truth without giving a damn about originality, and, nine out of ten times, everyone will perceive you as "original" or "daring" anyway. The ever-ancient is the ever-new.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Canon for Right Thinking

The Science of Correct Thinking: Logic by Celestine Bittle

The Christian Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas by Etienne Gilson

Mere Christianity;
The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis

The Human Wisdom of St. Thomas;
Leisure: The Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper

Saturday, April 10, 2010


It just occurred to me, upon beginning my umpteenth re-reading of Red Harvest, that the fictional Willssons may be loosely based on the real-life Hearsts. The mining magnate father (George/Elihu) gives his son (William Randolph/Donald) a newspaper, bent on reform campaigns. Wow.

Friday, April 9, 2010


I wonder why I'm considered depraved because I have no ambition. Isn't ambition a sin? I'm blamed for having a vice that is in fact, not a virtue, but the absence of a vice. I've been ambitious, but for me ambition is like math. The harder I try the worse it gets. The only way I could live ambitiously is in a lawless society; e.g., I could have been ambitious in an old mining town because I could have simply resorted to cutting throats to get what I want.

I would be a criminal or a monk before being an employer or an employee. And I would be homeless before being a bureaucrat.

Friday, March 12, 2010

c.s. v. t.s.

The more I read about T. S. Eliot -- his thought, not his poetry -- the more sense he makes, and the more I can see why, for a long time, he made no appeal to me at all, then a vehement dislike, then a fleeting love followed by disappointment, then the view that he was just a preening culture-monger without any real respect for logic. And I think the reasons I didn't like him so much before was because I just didn't have a comprehensive enough view of him. It never occurred to me, for instance, that his literary criticism is also social criticism; i.e., that literature, being a by-product of culture, must be discussed in tandem with the cultural tradition from which any given literature has emerged.

But what is really interesting is the debate going on in my mind between C. S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot. As Lewis said, they are so much in agreement on the really important things that their disagreements on lesser things hardly seem to matter. But there is a definite tension. Where they disagree I naturally tend to agree with Lewis; not just because I am more familiar with him and that I owe him so much, but also because Lewis seems to me far more logical than Eliot (in fact, Eliot does not seem to care much for logical consistency). Many of Lewis's conclusions are Eliot's assumptions; thus Eliot is certainly bold in his adventures, but the price is that he is more often blazing trails than finally settling an issue. Lewis is more of a settler of issues. Where Eliot is a man of social conscience, Lewis is a man of personal conscience; Eliot talks much of "culture" -- Lewis thinks the invocation of "Culture" tends to precede confusion.

In a word, Lewis and Eliot are agnostic about opposite things: things Eliot seems to have an answer for, Lewis not only does not believe there is an answer for, but thinks it's pointless to even seek an answer. Similarly, there are areas common to Lewis's thought that I think Eliot would not dare to tread, probably out of humility. But here is the really interesting point: each in doing what he is doing is superbly orthodox. Eliot and Lewis both hail from the same tradition, but they are sort of working on different elements within that tradition; kind of like, say, St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure.

In any case, I'm coming to learn that Eliot is just a hard nut to crack; which is why he is widely acclaimed by people who, if they knew the "other things he said," would immediately repudiate him. It explains why it's taken me so long to get this close to him, to begin to trust him. I just needed to get some sea-legs first.

Monday, February 22, 2010

moral chaos

It just occurred to me that we do indeed live in a morally chaotic universe. Only my understanding of "moral chaos" differs from the typical secular critic, e.g., the popular critics of Hammett, and perhaps Hammett himself. They would say that we live in a morally chaotic universe because there is no natural law, because we can be wiped out by random forces at any moment.

But I say that moral chaos is only intelligible against the presupposition of moral order. The natural law is real. And events are caused by minds, whether by God, angels, or humans. But sometimes angels, and all the time humans, are fallen creatures: they adopt a standard that diverges from the natural law, and there is no way of knowing where their ultimate loyalties lie. In that respect, and in that respect only, can one accurately speak of moral chaos. The fact that there are different moralities does not prove that there is no objective morality. The fact that there are different moralities proves that we have fallen short of the demands Reality makes on us. We are rebels that must lay down their arms.

So, yes, we do live in a morally chaotic universe; but that chaos is parasitic on an originary morality of pure righteousness. We live in a morally chaotic universe precisely because we can never finally count on anyone to abide by the natural law.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

infinite comprehensibility

I wrote the following somewhere else originally as a reply to an argument that, since God, if He existed, created everything, including human consciousness, we should know intuitively -- i.e., without anyone telling us -- that God existed. But since we have no such intuition -- since everyone is "born an atheist" (that's what this person said) -- it's obvious that God doesn't exist.

On the contrary, Chesterton said: "If there were no God, there would be no atheists."

Christians never claimed that the human race wasn't flawed; hence the doctrine about Fallen Nature and Original Sin. If humanity were perfect, each human would indeed know of God's existence by direct intuition. If God exists, and if humanity is not what it ought to be, mightn't most of humanity (except for your rare Socrates) completely reject God from the outset, in favor of self? For God, so our parents "indoctrinate" us to believe, wants us to participate in the natural law. Why assume that it is on account of the non-existence of God, rather than the imperfection of Man, that Man does not achieve this perfect intuition of the Divine?

Christians believe that, given the fact of fallenness, God resorted to a more direct means, by revealing Himself in history first to the Jews, and then by the Incarnation of His Word, Christ Himself. To demand that the ways and means of God revealing Himself be limited to something strictly "spiritual" or "immaterial" is to assume alot about The Way God Ought To Be. Whence does anyone derive this assumption? It seems to presuppose that God is merely a human invention, and results in unsound argument; viz., "If God existed, then X would happen," but one must first establish that the existence of God would necessitate the occurrence of X.

In any case, how can one expect that God can be completely known and determined by the finitude of human thought when even such this-worldly sciences as quantum mechanics are considered beyond the pale for most? Something that comes crashing in from outside has to be at least as unlike anything we expected than the most rigorous of the natural sciences. Rather than alot of spiritualist mumbo-jumbo, the records that we have in fact show that it is more than a mere matter of dialectic: it is a matter of history and biography as well. Consequently, once again because of human fallenness, even many Christians (e.g., Evangelical Protestants) do not accept the glories of the material world such as you find in the originary and ancient faiths of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, which believe that God manifests Himself everyday by material means in the Sacraments, and in the very activity of the life of the Church. If God invented matter as a means for humans to communicate with one another, why shouldn't He use matter to communicate with humans?

But such is the Platonico-Cartesio-Kantianism of our epoch...

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I'm watching, or rather studying, Citizen Kane and the best documentary made about it, The Battle Over Citizen Kane. I'll have more to say about it later, but I just love Orson Welles, the man. He reminds me of myself, though a very extroverted version and unapologetically arrogant version. He's what I would be if I truly Didn't Give A Fuck.

This is especially true in how he uses a system to totally mock and deprecate the same system. In this case, the film industry. It is remarkably similar to Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, which outraged Louis B. Mayer. Both films can boast being the greatest films of their time -- Kane can boast being the greatest film of all time -- and in so doing they reveal the very motion picture system in which they work to be full of shit. It reminds me of how I function in the university. It's rather like being an intellectual spy, or, as in Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, a philosophical detective.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hammett and the Hammettesque

I don't how many times I've said this, or something just like this, or how many times I'll have to say it again. I wish I could say something new or original, but I can't. There is some deep, grotesque, spiritual doppleganger effect between me and Dashiell Hammett. Show me anything in post-1920's popular culture and I can point to origins in Hammett. I can't explain it. It's just the way I'm wired. Somehow, some way, every aesthetic value I have is in his fiction, and in many ways my personal, moral values. I feel I am exaggerating; but I feel it every time I praise Hammett. And if it's not in Hammett, it's in T. S. Eliot. And yet Hammett read and admired Eliot -- and the vicious circle continues.

What sprung this particular wonder? I'm in the middle of Citizen Kane, and I'm seeing all kinds of traces of Hammett's fictions. The newspaper reforms exhibit, and immediately send my mind to, traces Red Harvest and The Glass Key.

But maybe I'm exaggerating? But if it be so, the exaggeration is involuntary. I'm not trying to convince anyone to love or to like Hammett, certainly not as I do. I'm just trying to give credit where credit is due, praise where praise is due. I'm only trying to make clear -- largely to my own mind alone -- this phenomenon.

Also: H. P. Lovecraft is reading well. His Sense of Tale is to horror and gothic and the macabre what Hammett's is to our criminal and political fictions. And Lovecraft's fine, 18th-century prose-style is rubbing off. I certainly wouldn't read him if his writing did not bear such elegance.

And, once again: Etienne Gilson is the shit.


I am officially re-"in love" with the great Etienne Gilson, the only French philosopher of the 20th century who isn't full of shit.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"But economists!!"

From the start, Obama has flouted the notion that he has "Economists" backing him up and all of you people just have your political ideologies.There are two things wrong with this:

(1) Just because someone is an economist doesn't mean he isn't an ideologue! There are plenty of economists who want socialism, not because it will make the best economy, but because of their "ideological" motives. But in spite of that...

(2) Anyone who knows the most basic axioms of economics knows that, in principle, there simply cannot be "many economists" who agree with his policies.

He may well be basing his ideas on "what economists say": but who these economists are matters a great deal. You can't say, "Oh, but an economist said so!" and be let off the hook.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

films noir

Over the past couple weeks I have watched twenty-something noir films for the first time. Since for the moment I've pressed "Pause," I'm making a list of every one that I can remember. I've marked ones that I take to be quintessential noir with "^"; the ones marked "*" are new favorites, i.e., favorites not just of film noir, but of all movies.

The Asphalt Jungle^*
The Postman Always Rings Twice^*
The Stranger
Double Indemnity^*
Act of Violence^
Mystery Street
They Live by Night
Side Street^
The Big Heat^
Criss Cross^
Where Danger Lives
Crime Wave
The Killing
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
The Big Combo^
The Blue Gardenia
The House on Telegraph Hill
Strangers on a Train
Sunset Boulevard^*
This Gun for Hire^

It seems like there were more than that, but I think that's actually all of them.

Films I want to see in the very near future are:

Blast of Silence
Kiss Me Deadly
Night and the City
The Big Clock
Detective Story

Ultimately I want to see the entire cycle. And ultimately I am going to have many, many things to say about the most intelligent form of film ever.

Monday, February 1, 2010

ode to modern woman

Where have the ladies gone?
This familiar form which purrs before me,
A ghost's fedility, a tomcat's story,
Has all the features of what once passed for virtue.

But strap-on in one hand, fancy pills in the other,
She approaches, to smother you and laugh with decadence.

So I'm inventing a sport about this vicious new animal,
This predator of late-night watering holes;
It can't be tamed and it can't be domesticated and
(Unless you're a cannibal, alas)
It can't be made into a useful evening meal.

All that's left for any to do is mount thy loyal steed,
Strapped to the teeth with blades and gunpowdered lovelies.
All that's left, that's not fit to burn,
We leave as a feast for ravenous birds of prey--
They, at least, cannot help themselves.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

only the incarnations

I do not like "philosophy": but I love C. S. Lewis.

I do not like "fiction": but I love Dashiell Hammett.

I do not like "poetry": but I love T. S. Eliot.

I do not like "classic film": but I love Film Noir.

I've said this several times before, but it is never wrong to say it again. What makes a writer or a book, an artist or a work of art, worthwhile is not merely it's value as entertainment of transitory usefulness. What makes it worthwhile is its underlying Weltanschauung. More than that; what lies behind every work is the mind of a man. If I cannot tolerate a man's book, it is very likely I cannot tolerate the man either. I don't care about acquiring a general view of human nature. I care immensely about acquiring an intensive understanding of a few core truths. Diamonds aren't made by being out in the open air: they are made by being smothered.

Friday, January 15, 2010

the slut & the assassin

For some reason I can almost understand, I can almost rationalize, in my own mind, a life of crime in tandem with devout church-going, but not a life of promiscuity. If a woman sold narcotics for a living, it's like I'd see no problem with her; but if she's a slut or a call-girl, I feel she shouldn't receive communion.

Now in reality (though it is better to be neither), the second cannot be as bad as the first (I think), but my own mind rebels at such an arrangement.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Do Not Likes

Before I begin this list, I want to make as clear as possible that, in doing so:

1) I am not "dumping" on anyone. If what I say offends you or is in some God only knows what way felt to be an insult to you in particular, I can only guess that you find the fact that anyone would hold such a notion "insulting."

2) I am not saying that my dislikes are objectively right or wrong across the board. Many of them are, in fact, wrong -- but just as many are right. E.g., it may be "right" that I like fruits but "wrong" that I do not like vegetables. I am not thereby saying that vegetables are objectively bad: I am merely saying that I have no taste for them.

3) I am not saying that anyone who holds my dislikes to be likes are contemptible or wrong or even necessarily mistaken; as per #1 I am only saying that I do not like them.

4) By saying I do not like something I am in no way suggesting that I am better because of it, nor do my dislikes indicate that I think someone with opposite taste is "inferior" to me in any way. As per the example in #2, the not-liking of vegetables may be simply a defect in my make-up.

5) The fact that I even made up such a list is no indication of "misery." I am simply bored, and it is simply easier to make a list of what one does not like than to make a list of things I do like. And in my case, the things I do like are so specific that many wouldn't understand my liking of them until I provided very scrupulous and very detailed accounts of them -- whereas my dislikes can be painted with much broader strokes.

Do not like...

- Weddings or anything to do with them

- Between the ages of 13 and 35

- Parties

- The Olympics

- Reunions, high-school, family, or otherwise

- The premise, the very idea, of the movie Garden State

- Pharmacists

- Weather above forty degrees

- The sun

- Cops

- Postmodern theater

- Academia

- Liberalism, in any of its incarnations, in any of its forms, or eras

- Holidays

- "Goals"

- Family functions

- Marijuana

- Nightclubs

- People who cannot understand, "Declare, or shut the fuck up!"

- Telling people my real name

- People who think "reproductive rights" actually means something

- People who talk about their jobs

- Birthdays and "New Years" (a few numbers change and people go bonkers)

- People who think it's okay to be a liar, provided you're "nice"; I've always said, e.g., I would rather someone speak their beef right to my face and settle it right away than spare "my feelings" by lying to me, and/or talking about their beef with me with other people who have absolutely nothing to do with it!

....more to come.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I discussed some "Rituals" a while back (see: and, as Stark's The Score has turned out to be not at all as durable as I'd hoped, I thought I'd make a revised list of Rituals:

Surprised by Joy;
Mere Christianity;
The Abolition of Man;
The Problem of Pain; and
Miracles: A Preliminary Study by C. S. Lewis
The Continental Op;
The Big Knockover;
Red Harvest;
The Maltese Falcon; and
The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock";
"Portrait of a Lady";
"Rhapsody on a Windy Night";
"Morning at the Window";
"Gerontion"; and
"The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot

But generally speaking, any works by either C. S. Lewis or Dashiell Hammett can be read, at different times, as either Rituals or Leisures. The same goes with Eliot's early poetry; viz. "The Waste Land", "Gerontion", and the first five poems of Prufrock and Other Observations. As a general rule one might consider Eliot's later work (and some of his prose) as Leisures, but that in the strictest sense, as Eliot's post-1922 work just doesn't do it for me. Furthermore, the other poems within Prufrock and Poems (1920), i.e., poems unlisted above but published with them, may be counted as Leisures, not Rituals.