Boltzmann tried out some of his ideas on Brentano, who had the grace and sometimes the courage to take his philosophical striving seriously. But Boltzmann’s fundamental skepticism was never far from the surface. “Is there any sense at all in breaking one’s head over such things?” he asked Brentano in 1905. “Shouldn’t the irresistible urge to philosophize be compared to the vomiting caused by migraines, in that something is trying to struggle out even though there’s nothing inside?”
Yesterday Would Have Been Sam Cooke's 90th Birthday. One of the greatest singer/song stylists ever, he has & continues to influence so many. My Brother In Music & Guitarist Extraordinaire Audley Freed sent me this quote. So simple & yet so often missed. A BIG Amen. RIP SAM COOKE pic.twitter.com/eA5OjQj8cE
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) January 23, 2021
The Buddhists had a helpful analogy here. Picture the mind like a waterfall, they said: the water is the torrent of thoughts and emotions; mindfulness is the space behind the waterfall. Again, elegant theory—but, easier said than done.
The final step—“non-identification”—meant seeing that just because I was feeling angry or jealous or fearful, that did not render me a permanently angry or jealous person. These were just passing states of mind.
Harris, Dan. 10% Happier
Extreme busyness, whether at school or college, kirk or market, is a symptom of deficient vitality; and a faculty for idleness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense of personal identity. There is a sort of dead-alive, hackneyed people about, who are scarcely conscious of living except in the exercise of some conventional occupation. Bring these fellows into the country, or set them aboard ship, and you will see how they pine for their desk or their study. They have no curiosity; they cannot give themselves over to random provocations; they do not take pleasure in the exercise of their faculties for its own sake; and unless Necessity lays about them with a stick, they will even stand still. It is no good speaking to such folk: they cannot be idle, their nature is not generous enough; and they pass those hours in a sort of coma, which are not dedicated to furious moiling in the gold-mill. When they do not require to go to the office, when they are not hungry and have no mind to drink, the whole breathing world is a blank to them. If they have to wait an hour or so for a train, they fall into a stupid trance with their eyes open. To see them, you would suppose there was nothing to look at and no one to speak with; you would imagine they were paralysed or alienated; and yet very possibly they are hard workers in their own way, and have good eyesight for a flaw in a deed or a turn of the market. They have been to school and college, but all the time they had their eye on the medal; they have gone about in the world and mixed with clever people, but all the time they were thinking of their own affairs.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Apology for Idlers, Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson
You can’t turn your back on your nature. I admitted to Ravelstein that reading those Keynes documents and writing the piece had been something like a holiday. Rejoining humankind, taking a humanity bath. There are times when I need to ride in the subway at rush hour or sit in a crowded movie house – that’s what I mean by a humanity bath. As cattle must have salt to lick, I sometimes crave physical contact.
Bellow, Saul. Ravelstein
Can a man who’s warm understand one who’s freezing?
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
SATURDAY PUZZLE — It’s not really a secret that we all see, feel, smell and hear things differently. If you have ever sat through a course in philosophy, you know that our perception of what is “real” is based not on what something actually is, but what we say it is. Which is always incredibly disappointing to a teenager who has come to college to discover the “real” world (“That’s it?! That’s all there is to it? Can I go now?”)
The quote that is normally attributed to the writer ANAÏS NIN, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” is also a Talmudic idea about dream analysis: People can only dream about things they have encountered or thought about, and so their dreams consist not of reality — whatever that is — but is instead a version filtered through the lens of the dreamer’s experiences.
Let’s look at 52A, for example. I make my living on the internet. I spend a good deal of time interacting with people — most of them very nice — online. But when I first read the clue “On-line jerks?” I immediately thought that the answer must be TROLLS, because in my mental neighborhood, that’s what online jerks are called.
Whoops! Not enough squares for TROLLS. Also, I didn’t notice that hyphen in “On-line.” My bad. Maybe the clue means something else.
Do we have any fishing hobbyists out there?
Maybe you got it right the first time. If you have a fish on the line (“On-line”) and the line jerks, those are called BITES.
Deb Amlen, NYTIMES
Author’s Note: Long before Derrida and deconstruction, the Talmud said, quite sagely, “We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.” As far as I am concerned, every word of this book is the complete and total truth. But of course, it’s my truth. So to protect the innocent—as well as the guilty—I have changed most names. Otherwise, unfortunately for me, every detail is accurate.
Wurtzel, Elizabeth. Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America
Now, why do I regret that? Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it? Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her. I never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.
But still. It bothers me.
So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
George Saunders. Advice to Graduates via NYTIMES
Whenever the pulpit is usurped by a formalist, then is the worshipper defrauded and disconsolate. We shrink as soon as the prayers begin, which do not uplift, but smite and offend us. We are fain to wrap our cloaks about us, and secure, as best we can, a solitude that hears not. I once heard a preacher who sorely tempted me to say, I would go to church no more. Men go, thought I, where they are wont to go, else had no soul entered the temple in the afternoon. A snow storm was falling around us. The snow storm was real; the preacher merely spectral; and the eye felt the sad contrast in looking at him, and then out of the window behind him, into the beautiful meteor of the snow. He had lived in vain. He had no one word intimating that he had laughed or wept, was married or in love, had been commended, or cheated, or chagrined. If he had ever lived and acted, we were none the wiser for it. The capital secret of his profession, namely, to convert life into truth, he had not learned. Not one fact in all his experience, had he yet imported into his doctrine. This man had ploughed, and planted, and talked, and bought, and sold; he had read books; he had eaten and drunken; his head aches; his heart throbs; he smiles and suffers; yet was there not a surmise, a hint, in all the discourse, that he had ever lived at all.
“Of course, I wasn’t seeing it so clearly then, I was so fucked up on alcohol and heroin. You know that saying, Zesty, that at the core, the best definition of an addict is an egomaniac with low self-esteem?”
I nod, smoke.
“Well, then, you have a good picture of what I was.”
Abramowitz, Adam. A Town Called Malice
A bike messenger navigates Boston’s gritty underworld of gangsters and blood money in this novel with more twists and turns than Boston’s streets, in Adam Abramowitz’s A Town Called Malice.