‘To hope that the growing vulnerability of a world increasingly integrated by technology will not demand a total despotism is mere foolishness. ‘  #1,982


Kafka’s journals

‘Zeno, pressed as to whether anything is at rest, replied, yes, the flying arrow rests. ‘

Kafka – his diaries are more absorbing than his fictions. The imagery , dream-like quality …but it is true, he was a chronically unhappy man , he was unhappy,  not very happy at least. An unhappy man K. was. He could not gain inspiration from music ; he was unhappily constituted. Those sentences are the most abominable I have ever written . They say time spent in books is life lived vicariously. If only the thing itself – life – could be so natural and real as it is in books.


‘December 22. Today I don’t even dare to reproach myself. Shouted into this empty day, it would have a disgusting echo’  (1911)

‘Being alone has a power over me that never fails . My interior dissolves ( for the time being only superficially) and is ready to release what lies deeper. As light ordering of my interior begins to take place and I need nothing more , for disorder is the worst thing in small talents. ‘

‘The young, clean , well dressed youths near me on the promenade reminded me of my youth and therefore made an unappetizing impression on me’


‘February 21. My life here is just as if I were quite certain of a second life, in the same way, for example, I got over the pain of my unsuccessful visit to Paris with the thought that I would try to go there again very soon. With this the sight of the sharply divided lights and shadows on the pavement of the streets. (1911)


‘For the length of a moment I felt myself clad in steel. How far from me are – for example – my arm muscles ‘

‘By the way, last night I purposely made myself dull, went for a walk, read Diderot, then felt a little better and had lost the strength for sorrow. I still regarded the sorrow justified but it seemed to have withdrawn somewhat ‘

‘This morning, for the first time in a long time, the joy of imagining a knife twisted in my heart ‘


‘The way the boss leans back sideways in his armchair in order to get room and support for the Eastern-Jewish gestures of his hand. The interaction and reciprocal re-enforcement of the play of his hand and face… temple melodies in the cadence of his speech; the melody is led from finger to finger as through various registers , especially when enumerating several points ‘



the material of modern scholarship is by now not even the work itself but a serious kind of facsimile, an offprint made up for methodic purposes… students get this distorted “approach” and never reach the real thing‘ (p.16)


The modern student… has no cultivating encounter with the works of art he or she has been assigned. George Eliot has been read for the plight of women or for images of running water. ‘ (p.15)


The age of easy reference is one in which knowledge inevitably declines into information … our sense of boundless horizons presumably grows apace. But what we are experiencing is not the knowledge explosion so often boasted of; it is a torrent of information, made possible by first reducing the known to compact form and then bulking it up again – adding water. That is why the product so often tasted like dried soup. ‘ (p.40)


the wonder washes over [us] rather than into [us]’ ( p.127)

Excerpts taken from ‘The Culture We Deserve ‘ by Jacques Barzun -Ed. Wesleyan University Press 1989.

‘ You can have everything if you care little for what matters nothing. Nothing is sillier than to take everything seriously. It is just as foolish to let something wound you when it doesn’t concern you as not to be wounded when it does. ‘

Baltasar Gracián found on here :http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.com/


Some scattered notes of mine, no doubt drawn obliquely from forgotten , more shrewd , sources .
To be social is to forget yourself.

All maturity amounts to is an amplified awareness of death and the incommunicable self in relation to others.

Facebook is lonelier than a solitary walk in the woods.
Ageism – They are after all : Old
Sexism – When woman becomes man, man becomes woman.
Freud – Demagogue of Phallus country.
While Climbing a hill I want to die – Life’s a hill ? – On top.
The goals we set

Before our end

Do not prevent

Our waning descent

Summer of 2010, and my 21st year

To sleep, eat , read, walk, I watch sheep – 2 months spent gazing at the pugnacious wuss h. If it be saved from my carnivorous teeth, it would stand in need of cogent and strong reasons for its continued existence ; vegetarianism built on an account of a sheep’s rights (to roam), a sheep’s metaphysics? Who can tell.

Assuming that there are some truths , but that most , if not all, philosophers will never discover them : why not make it a virtue to thwart the implacable affliction of the philosopher’s disease ; to rail against the questioning mind , and live …. somehow ?!
I Loathe the wealthy not for the anodyne bulge of their wallet but for the size of their umbrageous lawns and the clatter their mowers engender to keep them trim .
Existence can be equated to a light bulb : It ceases to shine when you least expect it. Some lifes pulsate radiantly and briefly ; others dimly and laggardly. For all the same ‘ law of incandescence ‘ applies : there is a moment when a filament fizzes out and loses its joyous  heat.
No more hateful words! Improvement through action.
No more hateful thoughts!
” Optimism is false. ”
IS IT ? What can’t be proven need not be false
“I’ll Prove it right”
You prove it wrong.
All good books are ultimately about death ( the end? ) , and if they are not they unfailingly get one thinking about it. ( boredom)

Tolstoy : ‘humanity ( the positivist attempt at religion )’

( p.136 – Confession and other religious writings – Peng.Class. ed.

‘Cactus Ed’ – the man and his journals pt.2


Abbey , in a typically contrarian mood , on Jazz:

JAZZ : Music for sophisticated patriots. Night music. Midnight Music. Lonesome afternoon music. The blue sax. The squealing trumpet. The obedient drums. Amazing virtuosity exercised around a pill. Insipid. Tame. Deliberately dull. Ah, tedium! ( Who wants to live forever ? ) An idiot’s paradise . A tight narrow badly constricted kind of art. Can’t break the limits without self-contradiction, without ceasing to be jazz. A long long way from Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy. A long way down.
Jazz: The destruction of melody . The rigid meter. The elaboration and direction of deliberately banal tunes. Nightclub music. Cigarettes and boredom. The music of boredom, bored people. The urban ennui. Big-city music. American? The American Negro loose in the slums. Crafty , cunning, subtle, arid music. Cool and dry. No emotion , no passion, no blood and guts. The mechanical meter. ( Shuffle-dance) Industrial rhythm. Classicism, factory-style.
To hell with jazz!
So damned casual, urbane, smooth, sophisticated. Stylish. The casual relaxed performance. (“Look at me, I’m not scared. ” ) The casual aplause. The jazz cult : professors, monographs, addicts, puritans. The terrible fear of emotion, significance, direct statement. Music for aesthetes, purists and cold-bellied geometers.
‘ ( pp.156-157)

Edward Abbey – Confessions of a Barbarian ; Little Brown HB

H.L. Mencken

H.L. Mencken was a cranky, bedevilled curmudgeon in the fullest sense .  Here a few excerpts from a collection called ‘The vintage Mencken ‘ ( pub. Vintage – Random house ; 1955 )

The Author at work:

What keeps them from deserting it for trades that are less onerous , and , in the eyes of their fellow creatures , more respectable ? One reason, I believe , is that an author, like any other so-called artist , is a man in whom the normal vanity of all men is so vastly exaggerated that he finds it a sheer impossibility to hold it in. His overpowering impulse is to gyrate before his fellow men, flapping his wings and emitting defiant yells. This being forbidden by the police of all civilized countries , he takes it out by putting his yells on paper. Such is the thing called self-expression. ‘ (p.169)


The Y.M.C.A. and physical exercise:

All that the Y.M.C.A.’s horse and rings really accomplished was to fill me with an ineradicable taste , not only for Christian endeavor in all its forms, but also for every variety of callistehnics, so that I still begrudge the trifling exertion needed to climb in and out of a bathtub, and hate all the sports as rabidly as a person who likes sports hates common sense. If had my way no man guilty of golf would be eligible to any office of trust or profit under the United States , and all female athletes would be shipped to the white-slave corrals of the Argentine. ‘ (p.19)

‘Cactus Ed’ – the man and his journals pt.1

Edward Abbey on Literary Criticism:

the strong herd-instinct of the literary professors , who tend to move in unison like a flock of starlings or a school of fish…the transience and mutability of literary fashions… The men who make a good living writing about the work of their betters would actually be more appropriately occupied in the designing of women’s apparel…If we all allowed these people to meddle too much in literature then all litarature would soon consist of nothing but the careful , cautious, correct work of such as Austen and James. ‘ ( pp.184-185)


I despise T.S.Eliot, the biggest fraud who ever lived . ‘

My style: something almost harsh, bitter, ugly. The rough, compresed , asymmetrical, laconic, cryptic. Cactus. Old juniper. Rock, dry heat, the stark contour.
Mood , tone, feeling.
‘ (p156)

Edward Abbey – Confessions of a Barbarian ; Little Brown HB

It’s an acrid windy day . On my way to town I observe:

Old man with pipe in mouth lifts his arm every time he takes a draw – as if afraid the pipe may fall out of his mouth. His gait is woody, as is his pipe. It’s a comical effect . He moves fairly swiftly down the path and stops n’ stoops now and then to light , with trembling hands , his dwindling tobacco . The murmur of his broken steps is screened by the persistent brush of wind in ears.

‘Nothing satisfies the man who is not satisfied with a little ‘ Epicurus

An aged couple amble by; their legs move in synchronous (pleonastic) unison – almost like a military march . Their cheeks both suffused with a vital and hearty blush ; A grinning of identical grins . Their appearance betrays twin minds.  But appearances deceive, if we are to believe the wise men. Do they love each other? Or do they need each other? Both?  This riles me .  Am I afraid of becoming one with someone – something (Coarse! ) – else? No , it can’t be,  nothing as grand and romantic as that.

‘Man can say nothing of what he is incapable of feeling, but he can feel what he is incapable of putting into words ‘ (St.Augustine )

Took a detour through the woods on my way to the university library. Almost got killed by a golfer – CLANK! , right behind me- as I trotted along the borders of the golf course. He , the fool , was practising ; ball whizzed in a net – life saved by string . Golfers are a blase bunch of listless pensioned bussinessmen and mongolic superabundant ‘club-necks’. Our venerable global community is too obsessed with ball -related activities ; must be some scientific thing, probably quasi-testicular. Second attempt: Almost got run down by a reckless mountain biker . The helmet jerked his head in greeting ( a spasm) , probably felt too good to waste his voice on me. A bike has ball-bearings , I think.

Dog owners , I must confess , are not in the least my favorite human sub-species ; I profess a healthy disregard of this kind of being and this must , by unpleasant logical necessity , include my parents. The particular example I encountered today took a noxious dog whistle out of his belt pouch and began to blow desperately SHRIEK! come COME HERE he….HERE!. Dog owners , in a bid to govern their dogs , are governed by their dogs. It happens all the time . You can perceive the ‘ paradigm shift ‘ in the palour of their skin – that of an ulcerous liverish dog tongue . An existence reduced to the regular dispensation of doggy sweets on growl command ; a costly affair too. Middle-aged women with dogs usually have chemically purpled hair .

St.Augustine , I think , once wrote something like this :

We are the cause of our own sickness – seeking happiness where it is absent.