What is most striking to me, and most discouraging, is that they are so apathetic while being neither blind nor unconscious. They know and deplore the oppression of thirteen million blacks, the terrible poverty of the South, the almost equally desperate poverty that pollutes big cities. They witness the rise, more ominous every day, of racism and reactionary attitudes – The birth of a kind of fascism. They know their country is responsible for the world’s future. But they themselves don’t feel responsible for anything, because they don’t think that they can do anything in this world. At the age of twenty, they are convinced that their thought is futile, their good intentions ineffective: “America is too vast and heavy a body for one individual to move it.” And this evening I formulate what I’ve been thinking for days. In America, the individual is nothing. He is made into an abstract object of worship; by persuading him of his individual value. One stifles the awakening of a collective spirit in him. But reduced to himself in this way, he is robbed of any concrete power. Without collective hope or personal audacity, what can the individual do? Submit or, if by some rare chance this submission is too odious, leave the country.
Simone de Beauvoir: On the oppressive nature of American Democracy (1947)
Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.
― Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
Today 100% of my students in one of my classes said they have never had a Black male english professor.
As corny as it may sound–this is why many of us do this work. Sometimes simply being in the room is a form of activism. Our presence matters. Our existence is resistance.
@DrFrankRoberts Tweet 10/24/22
“The earth is degenerating today. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.”
Assyrian tablet, c. 2800 BC
“Catastrophe requires multiple failures – single point failures are not enough.”
Richard I. Cook – “How complex systems fail,”
“Those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil.”
“there is value to understanding the tech tool you rely on so much. When you know how to build and tinker with the tools you need, you don’t depend on someone to fix it when it breaks. You are free to use it as you like, and free to not take the easier path of an alternate tool where your use is constrained by what you’re told”
A n00b’s guide to Mastodon by @JeremyLittau
That is, Twitter as an idea — a single social platform catering to all demographics and uses — will become like the evening nightly news or the morning newspaper: a relic from a bygone era.
The word “forgive,” in English, comes the Old English forgyfan, which translates primarily as “to give, grant, or bestow.” One Old English dictionary connects it to the Hebrew word for “gift.” It’s a present that is offered, something that is granted to someone freely, without, necessarily, a conversation about whether or not they have earned it. It’s an offering, of sorts.
Danya Ruttenberg “On Repentance And Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World”
I didn’t view my body as broken, I reasoned that a human being can never be broken. Technology is broken. Technology is inadequate.
Self -definition is a kind of prison
The eye you see isn’t an eye because you see it; it’s an eye because it sees you.
“[T]he fundamental problem of political philosophy is still precisely the one that Spinoza saw so clearly, and that Wilhelm Reich rediscovered: ‘Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?’ How can people possibly reach the point of shouting: ‘More taxes! Less bread!’? As Reich remarks, the astonishing thing is not that some people steal or that others occasionally go out on strike, but rather that all those who are starving do not steal as a regular practice, and all those who are exploited are not continually out on strike: after centuries of exploitation, why do people still tolerate being humiliated and enslaved, to such a point, indeed, that they actually want humiliation and slavery not only for others but for themselves? Reich is at his profoundest as a thinker when he refuses to accept ignorance or illusion on the part of the masses as an explanation of fascism, and demands an explanation that will take their desires into account, an explanation formulated in terms of desire: no, the masses were not innocent dupes; at a certain point, under a certain set of conditions, they wanted fascism, and it is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be accounted for.”
—Deleuze & Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, p.38
What do we like best
to be content.
We might see this
as a chip
not yet cashed in.
Rae Armantrout Itself (2015)
Fascism only talks ideology but it really is just marketing, marketing for power. It’s recognizable by its need to purge, the strategies it uses to purge and its terror of truly democratic goals. It changes citizens into taxpayers so individuals become rife with anger at the notion of the public good. It changes citizens into consumers so the measure of our value as humans is not our humanity, nor our compassion, nor our generosity — none of the virtues that human beings aspire to claim, none of that but what we own. And in so doing it produces the perfect capitalist: one who is willing to kill a human being for a product — a sneaker, a jacket, a car, a company.
Toni Morrison’s 1995 “Remarks Given at the Howard University Charter Day Convocation”
The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.
Terry Pratchett (1993) Men At Arms
We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.
Unlike cultural capital, which people acquire only through their education, travel, and access to culture and cultural institutions or venues (e.g., galleries, museums, orchestral performances, etc.), content capital is more easily acquired. You can, after all, acquire a great deal of content capital without paying for an expensive education at a private boarding school, purchasing season tickets to the opera, or spending thousands of dollars on plane tickets to visit foreign locations around the world. One builds up one’s content capital simply by hanging out online and, more precisely, by posting content that garners a response and, in turn, leads to more followers and more content.
Kate Eichhorn Content
Many people see grief as pain. They avoid it, suppress it, or race to process it so they can expel it from their lives. Here’s a beautiful alternative: grief is unexpressed love. Holding onto it is a way of staying close to the people we’ve lost.
Adam Grant on Twitter
I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him.
Étienne de la Boétie, 1564
By denying housework a wage and transforming it into an act of love, capital has killed many birds with one stone. First of all, it has gotten a hell of a lot of work almost for free, and it has made sure that woman, far from struggling against it, would seek that work as the best thing in life.
Federici 1975, 17
In actual fact, society depends for its existence on the inviolable personal solitude of its members. Society, to merit its name, must be made up not of numbers, or mechanical units, but of persons. To be a person implies responsibility and freedom, and both these imply a certain interior solitude, a sense of personal integrity, a sense of one’s own reality and of one’s ability to give himself to society–or to refuse that gift.
Thomas Merton – Thoughts in Solitude
In the past the man has been first; in the future the System must be first.
Frederick Winslow Taylor” founder of scientific management, 1911
The choice isn’t what I’m breathing in, it’s what I’m exhaling… Right now, I think with this administration, with the current circumstances, with the abdication of responsibility that we’ve seen from so many powerful people … I feel a need for all of us to breathe fire.
The first stage of the economy’s domination of social life brought about an evident degradation of being into having — human fulfillment was no longer equated with what one was, but with what one possessed. The present stage, in which social life has become completely dominated by the accumulated productions of the economy, is bringing about a general shift from having to appearing — all “having” must now derive its immediate prestige and its ultimate purpose from appearances.
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.
The function of the university is not simply to teach breadwinning, or to furnish teachers for the public schools, or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which forms the secret of civilization.
W. E. B. Dubois
Then all of a sudden came the crash! That is to say, the incorruptible kodak — and all the harmony went to hell! The only witness I have encountered in my long experience that I couldn’t bribe… Then that trivial little kodak, that a child can carry in its pocket, gets up, uttering never a word, and knocks them dumb!
Mark Twain King Leopold’s Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule (1905)
But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy.
Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favor of his image, because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.
Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.
You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
John Daniel Ehrlichman (counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Richard Nixon)
I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against.
It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.
Oscar Wilde – Soul of Man under socialism
When Cortes landed in Mexico he found roads, canals, cities, palaces, schools, law courts, markets, irrigation works, kings, priests, temples, peasants, artisans, armies, astronomers, merchants, sports, theatre, art, music, and books. High civilization, differing in detail but alike in essentials, had evolved independently on both sides of the earth.
Wright A short history of progress
If a man looks at the world when he is 50 the same way he looked at it when he was 20 and it hasn’t changed, then be has wasted 30 years of his life
I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.
…in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it”
Herbert Simon (1971), “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World”, in Martin Greenberger, Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press.
You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed.
What comes to pass does so not so much because a few people want it to happen, as because the mass of citizens abdicate their responsibility and let things be.
I try to never be satisfied; this way I will always be challenging my spirit.
The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Listening isn’t shutting up. Listening is having nothing to say. There’s a difference there. If you just shut up, it means you’re still thinking about what you wanted to say. You’re just not saying it. The second that I think about my response, I’m half listening to what you’re saying because I’m really waiting for the opportunity to tell you my story.
What you do is this: as soon as you have that story or thought that you want to share, toss it. Consciously tell yourself, “I am not going to say it.” All you should be doing is asking yourself, “What idea or thought that they mentioned do I find fascinating and want to explore?”
“Control is not discipline. You do not confine people with a highway. But by making highways, you multiply the means of control. I am not saying this is the only aim of highways, but people can travel infinitely and ‘freely’ without being confined while being perfectly controlled. That is our future.”
— Gilles Deleuze, Two Regimes of Madness, pg 322
Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable
Albert Camus – Myth of Sisyphus
Lovers of print are simply confusing the plate for the food.
Not all those who wander are lost;
J. R. R. Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings.
With people of only moderate ability modesty is mere honesty; but with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy.
Every act of communication is, in some way, an act of translation.
Gregory Rabassa – If this be Treason
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.
Leon Tolstoy – 1897
Omnia mea mecum porto (All that is mine, I carry with me)
I only sleep with people I love, which is why I have insomnia.
Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc [We gladly feast on those who would subdue us]
Addams Family Motto
The preservation of knowledge. Preservation, I say.
Not search for… because there is no progress
in the history of knowledge… merely a continuous
and sublime recapitulation.
Umberto Eco – The Name of the Rose
Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
“I don’t say we all ought to misbehave. But we ought to look as if we could.”
If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.
You and I, in fact everyone all over the world, we’re literally African under the skin; brothers and sisters separated by a mere two thousand generations. Old-fashioned concepts of race are not only socially divisive, but scientifically wrong.
In many ways, genetics makes a mockery of race
I am continuing the flight
All is normal
Everything is working fine
I feel fine, mood cheerful
The machines working normally
Jurij Gagarin during first manned space flight
perendinate (puh-REN-di-nayt) To put off until the day after tomorrow. (A.Word.A.Day)
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin perendinare (to defer until the day after tomorrow), from perendie (on the day after tomorrow), from dies (day).
NOTES: The word procrastinate is from Latin cras (tomorrow). So when you procrastinate, literally speaking, you are putting something off till tomorrow. Mark Twain once said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” In other words, why procrastinate when you can perendinate?
USAGE: “In Peterhouse the Master and Fellows might not allow a stranger to perendinate for more than a fortnight unless they were certified of his moral character and of his ability and willingness to do the College some notable service.” Thomas Alfred Walker; Peterhouse; Hutchinson & Co.; 1906.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
One Art – Elizabeth Bishop
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Saudade: “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.”
Aubrey F. G. Bell (1912) In Portugal.
No man was ever great by imitation. Samuel Johnson.
Nec spe, nec metu.
(Without hope or fear)
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far you can go.
pain is inevitable; suffering is optional
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
“It matters what ideas we use to think other ideas (with)”… It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.
Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)
Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet
Mark Twain in Mark Twain’s Notebook, Cooper Square, 1972, p. 381
I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
The Waste Land – T.S. Eliot
Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip.
A moment of shame, a lifetime of glory
Saara Taalas on thesis defence, quoted in Rehn, A. “Quick & Dirty” in Strannegård (ed) “Avhandling”
Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. so the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion.
Umberto Eco – Name of the Rose
The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.
George Orwell 1984
I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by…
Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.
no matter where you read it,
or who said it,
no matter if I have said it,
unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
Pray for the welfare of the government, since if not for the fear of it, a person would swallow his fellow man alive.
Rabbi Chanina, Pirkei Avoth 3:2
Is god willing to prevent evil but not able – then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able but not willing – then he is malevolent.
Is god both able and willing – then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing – then why call him god?
Epicurus (341-271 BCE)
If it squirms, it’s biology; if it stinks, it’s chemistry; if it doesn’t work, it’s physics; and if you can’t understand it, it’s mathematics.
Scientists are people of very dissimilar temperaments doing different things in very different ways. Among scientists are collectors, classifiers and compulsive tidiers-up; many are detectives by temperament and many are explorers; some are artists and others artisans. There are poet-scientists and philosopher-scientists and even a few mystics.
Peter Medawar (Pluto’s Republic, p. 116).
I wish to be cremated. One tenth of my ashes shall be given to my agent, as written in our contract.
I don’t pretend to understand the universe – it’s a great deal bigger than I am.
Thomas Carlyle 1868
A photograph is a moral decision taken in one eighth of a second, or one sixteenth, or one one-hundred-and-twenty-eighth. Snap your fingers; a snapshot’s faster.
The law has its own story to tell, and it silences or completely ignores the stories it does not want to hear, stories that do not conform to its protocols, stories that complicate proceedings and thus cannot be used to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
David Carroll – “Albert Camus: the Algerian”.
Life…is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So, you’re stuck with this undefinable whipped mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there’s nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while, there’s a peanut butter cup, or an english toffee, but they’re gone too fast, and the taste is…fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits filled with hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts. And if you’re desperate enough to eat those, all you’ve got left is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers.
The smoking man in the X-Files “doing” Forrest Gump.
Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.
The storyteller is deep inside everyone of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is attacked by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise … but the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us – for good and for ill. It is our stories, the storyteller, that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, what we are at our best, when we are our most creative.
A Facebook posting or a YouTube video, like an ill-considered tattoo, can linger forever.
Trying to legislate to control technological development or the ways people use technology is not perhaps ordering the tide to not come in, but it is certainly like trying to empty a bathtub with a teaspoon.
John Faulkner (Australian Senator)
There are two kinds of people in this world: Those that enter a room and turn the television set on, and those that enter a room and turn the television set off.
The Manchurian Candidate (1963)
The dream of Chuang Tzu:
Chuang Tzu dreamt he was a butterfly and, when he awoke, did not know if he was a man who had dreamt he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man.
From Chuang Tzu (1889) by Herbert Allen Giles.
Homo sum humani nil a me alienum puto (I am man, nothing human is alien to me)
Publius Terentius Afer in Heauton Timorumenos (also used as ex libris by Gustaf VI Adolf)
The English language, after all, did not need another writer. The English writer has always been alive and kicking, and if it ever becomes drowsy, there will always be an Irishman…
Carl Fuentes – Myself and Others
Legate, I come to you in tears – my cohort ordered home!
I’ve served in Britain forty years. What should I do in Rome?
Here is my heart, my soul, my mind – the only life I know.
I cannot leave it all behind. Command me not to go!
Rudyard Kipling – The Centurions Song
ett i pansar härdat släkte
i dens tjänst, som lovar mest,
trampande med breda sulor,
fridens skördar ner i smulor,
fruktat mer än eld och pest.
The vapours weep their burden to the ground,
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Me only cruel immortality consumes…
Tennyson – Tithonus
The current state of knowledge can be summarized thus: “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
På sätt och vis var historien osannolik men på sätt och vis ändå helt naturligt. Hur som helst, så kom jag till den slutsatsen att den återvändande i viss mån hade aldrig bör spela komedi i vardagslivet.
Albert Camus – Främlingen
Att skriva är bra,
Att tänka är bättre.
Klokhet är bra,
Tålamod är bättre.
The three early virtues of Siddhartha:
Jag kan tänka, jag kan vänta, jag kan fasta.
Denna sten är sten, den är ochså djur, den är ochså gud, den är ochså Buddha; att jag älskar och aktar den beror inte på att den en gång kan komma att bli det ena eller det andra, utan att den alltid har varit och alltid kommer att bli allt detta.
Herman Hesse – Siddhartha
He who reaps the profits has committed the crime.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common then unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason; if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect.
Sir Walter Scott – Guy Mannering (Chap XXXVII)
- Do not think dishonestly
- The way is in training
- Become acquainted with every art
- Know the way of all professions
- Distinguish between loss and gain in worldly matters
- Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything
- Perceive those things which cannot be seen
- Pay attention to trifles
- Do nothing which is of no use
Miyamoto Musashi – A Book of Five Rings
The purpose of life – is life.
Everything must be done as if it where a matter of life and death. As if your life depended on the outcome.
Låt den som har mod och djärvhet i sitt bröst stiga fram, sätta på sig handskar och höja sina nävar.
Knowledge is power, but information is not.
The greatest crime is to do nothing because we fear we can only do a little.
Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
Entities should not be multiplied more than necessary.
(The fewer assumptions an explanation of a phenomenon depends upon the better it is.)
Vill du vara lycklig några timmar – berusa dig!
Vill du vara lycklig några dagar – gift dig!
Vill du vara lycklig några veckor – slakta en gris!
Vill du vara lycklig hela livet – skaffa dig en trädgård!
This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitution?
What is its substance and material? And what is its causal nature (or form)?
And what is it doing in the world?
And how long does it subsist?
Marcus Aurelius – Meditations Book 8.
If you love, love madly.
If you threaten, threaten seriously.
If you hurt, hurt in anger only.
If you hit, hit with all your force.
If you argue, argue bravely.
If you punish, you should have a reason.
When you forgive, forgive with all your heart.
When you celebrate, celebrate till dawn.
After Auschwitz writing a poem is barbaric.
There are 4 dangerous faults which may effect a general
- Recklessness which leads to deconstruction
- Cowardice which leads to capture
- A hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults
- A delicacy of honour which is sensitive to shame
The seeker of glory should be careless of public opinion.
Sun Tzu – The Art of War
Pax libertas et suum cuique
Peace, liberty and to each his own.
The educated person knows that love is really about libido,
that power is all about class,
that judgement is really about politics,
that religion is really about fantasy,
that necessity is really about chance.
Marty Kaplan – Time Magazine, June 24 1996.
A man is sane only to the extent that he subscribes to a previously-agreed construction of reality.
Salman Rushdie – Grimus
Han var blek som en lik, tunn som en svepning, var gentilt klädd, men såg ut som han frös i alla leder och hade hemligt umgänge med fattigdomen.
Strindberg – Röda Rummet
The message is that there are no “knowns.” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.
Zen master Joshu was once asked: “When a man comes to you with nothing, what would you say to him?”
His instant reply was “Throw it away”
In Ann Bancroft – Zen direct pointing at reality
Begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end; then stop.
Advice from the King to the white rabbit.
Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland
Att skriva är att avstå. Konsten kräver att man ger upp vissa saker. Skriv om. En ansträngning som alltid bär frukt, av ett eller annat slag. En fråga om lättja hos dem som misslyckas.
Albert Camus – Anteckningar 1935-1942
I have outlasted all desire,
My dreams and I have grown apart;
My grief alone is left entire,
The gleanings of an empty heart.
The storms of ruthless dispensation
Have struck my flowery garland numb –
I live alone in desolation
And wonder when my time will come.
Pushkin, Untitled 1821.
Freedom is the absence of choices.
Sometimes one has frightening sensations of well-being, strong enough to move mountains; one must fight them courageously, as one would fight an enemy. And then, with the passage of time, they leave something like a drop of gall in ones heart…
Camilo Jose Cela – Journey to the Alcarria
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.
Shakespeare – Julius Caesar Act 3 Scene 2.
Jordens innevånare sönderfaller i två grupper,
De som har hjärna men ingen religion.
Och de som har religion men ingen hjärna.
Abul-Ala al Maari
Never Complain, Never Explain.
For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws,
For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws;
Wealth heaped on wealth nor truth nor safety buys,
The dangers gather as treasures rise.
How useless is painting,
which attracts admiration by
the resemblance of things,
the originals of which we do not admire!
Pascal – Pensees
By embracing the inescapable, I lost my fear of it. I’ll tell you a secret about fear: its an absolutist. With fear, its all or nothing. Either, like any bullying tyrant, it rules your life with a stupid blinding omnipotence, or else you overthrow it, and its power vanishes like a puff of smoke. And another secret: the revolution against fear, the engendering of that tawdry despots fall, has more or less nothing to do with ‘courage’. It is driven by something much more straightforward: the simple need to get on with your life.
Salman Rushdie – The Moors Last Sigh
The conventional army loses if it does not win.
The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.
The circumstances of human life have not been so arranged that man can discover what he is, what is expected of him, what he can hope for. He cannot discover these things because they have not been settled beforehand: he must invent them.
Whether or not there is a God, existentialists agree that whatever gods there be have not defined the human condition in these most critical respects. For the questions posed by life we not only cannot look up the answers in the back of the book; there is not even an author who have settled for all time what the right answers are.
Lecture three: Existentialism
The New World of Philosophy
Abraham Kaplan (1961)
“What is honour? A word. What is in that word? Air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. ‘Tis insensible, then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I’ll have none of it. Honour is a mere scrutcheon. And so ends my catechism.”
Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeare’s Henry IV
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
Wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An foolish notion.
If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution
1 – I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
2 – Borrow money from pessimists — they don’t expect it back.
3 – Half the people you know are below average.
4 – 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5 – 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6 – A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
7 – A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
8 – If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
9 – All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand.
10 – The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
11 – I almost had a psychic girlfriend, ….. But she left me before we met.
12 – OK, so what’s the speed of dark?
13 – How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?
14 – If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
15 – Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
16 – When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
17 – Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
18 – Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.
19 – I intend to live forever … So far, so good.
20 – If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
21 – Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.
22 – What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
23 – My mechanic told me, “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”
24 – Why do psychics have to ask you for your name
25 – If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
26 – A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
27 – Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
28 – The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
29 – To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
30 – The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
31 – The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.
32 – The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.
33 – Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don’t have film.
34 – If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
35 – If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?
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.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth in Macbeth
I wish to God these calculations were executed by stream
Charles Babbage ca. 1803
The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard Loom weaves patterns in silk
Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace
I would have nobody to control me; I would be absolute…
Cervantes – Don Quixote
Now that I understand this right
Let me take it to the mike
Has just begun
Our invisibility is the essence of our oppression. And until we eliminate that invisibility, people are going to be able to perpetuate the lies and myths about gay people.
Gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts.
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number –
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you –
Ye are many – they are few.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even though they bring gifts.
Virgil, The Aeneid
I wish my life and decisions to depend upon myself, not on external forces of whatever kind. I wish to be the instrument of my own, not other men’s, acts of will. I wish to be the subject, not an object…I wish to be somebody, not nobody; a doer – deciding, not being decided for, slef-directed and not acted upon by external nature or by other men as if I were a thing, or an animal, or a slave incapable of playing a human role, that is, of conceiving goals and policies of my own and realizing them.
Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty”, in Four Essays on Liberty
People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
Soren Aabye Kierkegaard
Rosa Parks: “Why do you push us around?”
Officer: “I don’t know but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.”
From Rosa Parks with Gregory J. Reed, Quiet Strength(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1994), 23.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love:
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent.
Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing
The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Law, says the judge as he looks down his nose,
Speaking clearly and most severely,
Law is as I’ve told you before,
Law is as you know I suppose,
Law is but let me explain it once more,
Law is The Law.
Yet law-abiding scholars write:
Law is neither wrong nor right,
Law is only crimes
Punished by places and by times,
Law is the clothes men wear
Law is Good morning and Good night.
Others say, Law is our Fate;
Others say, Law is our State;
Others say, others say
Law is no more,
Law has gone away.
And always the loud angry crowd,
Very angry and very loud,
Law is We,
And always the soft idiot softly Me.
From “Law Say the Gardeners is the Sun” by W.H. Auden (1939)
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
But times and tempers are changed. Rebels are everywhere to be found who no longer wish to obey the law without knowing whence it comes, what are its uses, and whither arises the obligation to submit to it, and the reverence with which it is encompassed. The rebels of our day are criticizing the very foundations of society which have hitherto been held sacred, and first and foremost amongst them that fetish, law.
Peter Kropotkin (1886) “Law & Authority” in Baldwin (ed) (1970) Kropotkins revolutionary pamphlets.
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
Space and time are always and everywhere social. Society is always and everywhere spatial and temporal. Easy enough concepts, perhaps, but the implications are only now being thought through.
Nigel Thrift “On the determination of social action in space and time” Society and Space, 1, 23-57.
I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.
William Shakespeare. Othello.
If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
We do not content ourselves with the life we have in ourselves and in our own being; we desire to live an imaginary life in the mind of others, and for this purpose we endeavour to shine. We labour unceasingly to adorn and preserve this imaginary existence, and neglect the real. And if we possess calmness, or generosity, or truthfulness, we are eager to make it known, so as to attach these virtues to that imaginary existence. We would rather separate them from ourselves to join them to it; and we would willingly be cowards in order to acquire the reputation of being brave. A great proof of the nothingness of our being, not to be satisfied with the one without the other, and to renounce the one for the other! For he would be infamous who would not die to preserve his honour.
Pascal. Thoughts nr. 147.
law..is too important to be left to the lawyers.
This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.
Phaedrus by Plato
A good reputation is more valuable than money.
Publius Syrus. 42 B. C. Maxim 108
I know not whether Laws be right,
or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in goal
is that the wall is strong;
and that each day is like a year,
a year whose days are long.
The Ballad of Reading Goal – Oscar Wilde
Corporations cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed nor excommunicated, for they have no souls.
Sir Edward Coke, Case of Sutton’s Hospital, 10 Rep. 32, 17th century
I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Elie Wiesel, Acceptance Speech on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1986
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?
Hillel in the Pirke Avot.
Not for us alone are we born; our country, our friends, have a share in us
Cicero, De Officiis, 1:22
What will an angel say that the devil wants to know?
Have you ever had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that with precious wisdom could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky to find your way to such teachers, you will find your way back, sometimes it is only in your head…
Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
On the contrary Hilary says (De Trin. IV):
The meaning of what is said is according to the motive for saying it: because things are not subject to speech, but speech to things. Therefore we should take account of the motive of the lawgiver, rather than of his very words.
Thomas Aquinas – of the power of human law, sixth article.
Book XXIV Of laws as relative to religion considered in itself and in its doctrines
Thus when a prince would make great alterations in his kingdom, he should reform by law what is established by law, and change by custom what is settled by custom; for it is very bad policy to change by law, what ought to be changed by custom…
Book XXIX Of the manner of composing laws
There very seldom happens to be a necessity of prohibiting a thing which is not bad under pretense of some imaginary perfection.
Baron de Montesquieu
It is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another…we consider those, where the intellectual faculties most developed as the highest. – A bee doubtless would [use] … instincts as a criteria.
There exists, to be sure, deep down in each of us, however coldly educated we may be, a remnant of mysticism; and there are times when nothing more than a gloomy landscape, or the ancient wall of a cemetary, or a barren wasteland, or a soft whiteness of moonlight, is required to bring this mystical depth to the surface and to make it spread like a thick fog, blanketting soul, feelings and ideas…and in this state even the most mathematical or the most critical person will remain sad, as visionary, as idealistic, as an old poet-monk.
Eca de Queiroz – Peculiarities of a fair haired girl
Do not do unto others as you would have that they do unto you. They may have different tastes.
Jag önksar att jag hade en vän att anförtro mig åt. En vän, som jag kunde rådgöra med. Men jag har ingen, och om jag hade någon – så finns det i alla fall gränser för de anspråk man kan ställa på sina vänner.
Doktor Glas – Hjalmar Söderberg
I shall assume, as requiring no argument, that there is, at least in a society such as ours, a moral obligation to obey the law, although it may, of course, be overridden in certain cases by other more stringent obligations.…a public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to the law usually done with the aim of bringing about a change in the law or policies of the government.
John Rawls Theory of Justice
The first prison I ever saw had inscribed over it “Cease to do evil, learn to do well”: but as the inscription was on the outside, the prisoners could not read it.
These were the prisoners, an audience at present but waiting there turn to be performers. They looked like the souls of the damned peeking into hell through the window slits of purgatory.
The last day of a condemned man – Victor Hugo
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.
Albert Camus – The Myth of Sisyphus
Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind.
My father always said ‘There’s no free lunch.’ My father was right. There’s no free lunch and there’s no free market. The market is rigged, the market is always rigged, and the rigging is in favour of the people who run the market. That’s what the market is. It’s a bent casino. The house always wins.
“The Permanent Way” by David Hare
Det goda hemmet känner icke till några privilegierade eller tillbakasatta, inga kelgrisar och inga styvbarn. Där ser icke den ena ner på den andre, där försöker ingen skaffa sig fördel på andras bekostnad, den starke trycker icke ner och plundrar den svage. I det goda hemmet råder likhet, omtanke, samarbete, hjälpsamhet.
Per Albin Hanssons Folkhemstal i Riksdagen 1928
To be governed is to be watched, inspected, directed, indoctrinated, numbered, estimated, regulated, commanded, controlled, law-driven, preached at, spied upon, censored, checked, valued, enrolled, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.
Omåttlighet i läsning forsätter ofta tillfölje av det spännande innehållet själen i ett slags rus, som kan fullt jemföras med det, som framkallas av starka drycker. Likasom den som med hela sin själ i dryckeslaget eller vid spelbordet, kan genomvaka en hel natt utan känna den minsta slapphet, så äfven en ivrig romanläsare, kanske på en enda afton, sluka en hel roman, innan den uppkommna tröttheten röjer sig i nervretlighet, olust och förvirring. Rusets földer aro kända, den förslappning det efterlämnar söker nya allt jemt starkare retmedel; det lemnar alltid efter sig, om det ofta upprepas, en dufvenhet och själstrotthet, som aldrig kan försvinna.
Heribert Adam Reutersköld ca 1870
Through sameness of language is produced sameness of sentiment, and thought; customs and habits are moulded and assimilated in the same way, and thus in process of time the differences producing trouble would have been gradually obliterated.
Peace Commission (1868) in a report on the condition of Indian tribes and the problem they presented to US society in Crawford, Language Loyalties, The University of Chicago Press, 1992, p.48
Prediction is extremely difficult. Especially about the future.
What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.
There is a First Amendment right to speak in a encrypted way… The right to speak PGP is like the right to speak Navajo. The Government has no particular right to prevent you from speaking in a technical manner even if it is inconvenient for them to understand.
If they can get you to ask the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
I övrigt har erfarenheten visat att lätt förvärvad förmögenhet icke med omtanke vårdas, och är det således icke förvånande att personer, som på kort tid förtjänt stora summor, trott sig i sin skicklighet eller lycka äga ett outtömligt kapital.
von Brinkman & Skogman (1818)
Kurt nickar och stryker sig over mustaschen. Det är nästan otroligt hur rik och elak man kan bli bara man har en diamant som är tillräckligt stor, sager han.
Erland Loe (1995) – Kurt blir elak.
The flow of action continually produces consequences which are unintended by actors, and these unintended consequences also may form unacknowledged conditions of actions in a feedback fashion. Human history is created by intentional activities but is not an intended project; it persistently eludes efforts to bring it under conscious direction.
Anthony Giddens – The Constitution of Society (1984) page 27.
Although the creation of a universe might be very unlikely, [Edward] Tryon emphasized that no one had counted the failed attempts.
Alan Guth in Bill Bryson – A short history of nearly everything.
There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys; they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked out the sum for themselves.
Søren Kierkegaard in The Soul of Kierkegaard: Selections from His Journals
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
Keep your intelligence white hot and your grief glistening so your life will stay fresh.
I fear we shall remain for along time in our present confusion and indigence through our own fault. I even fear that after uselessly exhausting curiosity without obtaining from our investigations any considerable gain for our happiness, people may be disgusted with the sciences, and that a fatal despair may cause them to fall back into barbarism. To which result that horrible mass of books that keeps on growing might contribute very much. For in the end, the disorder will become nearly insurmountable; the indefinite multitude of authors will shortly expose them all to the danger of general oblivion; the hope of glory aninimating many people at work in studies will suddenly cease; it will perhaps be as disgraceful to be an author as it was formerly honourable.
He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punishment. Vintage Books, New York: 1995. p 202-203
Is there anywhere on earth exempt from these swarms of new books?
[Printers] fill the world with pamphlets and books that are foolish, ignorant, malignant, libelous, mad, impious and subversive; and such is the flood that even things that might have done some good lose all their goodness
of making books there is no end
distringit librorum multitudo (the abundance of books is distraction)
One does not inhabit a country; one inhabits a language. That is our country, our fatherland – and no other.
Emile M. Coiran
A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.
Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity (1933, p. 58)
Owing to the excessive increase in traffic and the wire-networks of our telegraphs and telephones, which now span the entire globe, our trading patterns and circumstances of life have been transformed completely: All affairs are conducted in haste and excitement. Nights are used for travelling, days for doing business, and even recreational systems have turned into strains on the nervous system. Political, religious, and social battles, party politics, and the excessive dominance of clubs and societies overheat people’s heads and force their spirits to undertake ever new exertions while robbing them of the time for rest, sleep, and stillness. Life in big cities has become every more refined and restless.
Wilhelm Erb (1884)