So if you use this marker to select your activities, you should feel liberated, extremely liberated: don’t write to be the best novelist in the world, don’t do math to be the best symplectic geometry, don’t earn to be the richest… ideally everything one does would escape this notion of rank, separated from sense of duty, of natural impulse.
And the bonus is that when you will listen to those who talk about others in terms of rank, hierarchy of achievement, performance, league tables (“he is in the top 11 in bariatric surgery”), or, worst, precedence of discovery (“he invented the lateral stroller equation”), etc., these people will sound like lower forms of life.
For both those who aim for rank and those who talk about it are lower forms of life.” —Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I may need to devote a tumblr solely to pictures of Greta Gerwig and punchy, pithy Don Delillo sentences.
Call it Gretopolis.
From the Collection: Yasir Qadhi Quotes (via ihatenietzsche)
the utter silence of the untranslated stars.” —E. E. Cummings, from “Summer Silence,” first published in The Harvard Advocate, 7 March 1913 (via apoetreflects)
In his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James lays the groundwork for a science of religion, trying to classify the religious experiences as accurately as possible using the tools of philosophy and psychology combined. At first I was expecting this to be a harsh critique of the mysticism of religion, but in fact it affirms many of the opinions I hold on the primacy of belief, particularly the primacy of religious belief. He argues that it has oft been an attempt by psychologists to interpret religious sentiment by way of its origins, as neurotic phenomena categorically discernible, but James insists that any sound critique must focus on the way its works on the whole of the person, (‘by their fruits ye shall know them, not by their roots’). In defense he writes:
In the natural sciences and industrial arts it never occurs to any one to try to refute opinions by showing up their author’s neurotic constitution. Opinions here are invariably tested by logic and by experiment, no matter what may be their author’s neurological type. It should be no otherwise with religious opinions. Their value can only be ascertained by spiritual judgments, directly passed upon them, judgments based on our own immediate feeling primarily; and secondarily on what we can ascertain of their experiential relations to our moral needs and to the rest of what we hold as true. p.32.
This fallacy of prescribing a rational framework to everything even that which by its very conditions presupposes an understanding outside the realm of reason, like that of religious faith, is one that continues also in the nominal arguments against relativism as a viable framework to interpret the world; both against faith and relativism, “rational” arguments neglect the innate qualities of that which they wish to input into preset equations as compatible values.
James calls the rationalist out:
In spite of the appeal which impersonality of the scientific attitude makes to a certain magnanimity of temper, I believe it to be shallow, and I can now state my reason in comparatively few words. That reason is that, so long as we deal with the cosmic and the general, we deal only with the symbols of reality, but as soon as we deal with private and personal phenomena as such, we deal with realities in the completest sense of the term. p.376
The elaboration of this thesis:
The world of our experience consists at all times of two parts, an objective and a subjective part, of which the former may be incalculably more extensive than the latter, and yet the latter can never be omitted or suppressed. The objective part is the sum total of whatsoever at any given time we may be thinking of, the subjective part is the inner “state” in which the thinking comes to pass. What we think of may be enormous–the cosmic times and spaces, for example– whereas the inner state may be the most fugitive and paltry activity of mind. Yet the cosmic objects, so far as the experience yields them, are but ideal pictures of something whose existence we do not inwardly possess but only point at outwardly, while the inner state is our very experience itself; its reality and that of our experience are one. A conscious field plus its object as felt or thought of plus an attitude towards the object plus the sense of a self to whom the attitude belongs–such a concrete bit of personal experience may be a small bit, but it is a solid bit as long as it lasts; not hollow, not a mere abstract element of experience, such as the “object” is when taken all alone. It is a full fact, even though it be an insignificant fact; it is of the kind to which all realities whatsoever must belong; the motor currents of the world run through the like of it; it is on the line connecting real events with real events. That unsharable feeling which each one of us has of the pinch of his individual destiny as he privately feels it rolling out on fortune’s wheel may be disparaged for its egotism, may be sneered at as unscientific, but it is the one thing that fills up the measure of our concrete actuality, and any would-be existent that should lack such a feeling, or its analogue, would be a piece of reality only half made up.
If this be true, it is absurd for science to say that the egotistic elements of experience should be suppressed. The axis of reality runs solely through the egotistic places–they are strung upon it like so many beads. To describe the world with all the various feelings of the individual pinch of destiny, all the various spiritual attitudes, left out from the description–they being as describable as anything else –would be something like offering a printed bill of fare as the equivalent for a solid meal. Religion makes no such blunder. The individual’s religion may be egotistic, and those private realities which it keeps in touch with may be narrow enough; but at any rate it always remains infinitely less hollow and abstract, as far as it goes, than a science which prides itself on taking no account of anything private at all. p.376-7
And a nice little coda phrase: “Individuality is founded in feeling; and the recesses of feeling, the darker, blinder strata of character, are the only places in the world in which we catch real fact in the making and directly perceive how events happen, and how work is actually done.” p.379
– James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: The New American Library, Inc., 1958.
every so very often the internet hurts my head. I might be allergic.
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul,
And your very flesh shall be a great poem,
And have the richest fluency not only in its words,
But in the silent lines of its lips and face,
And between the lashes of your eyes,
And in every motion and joint of your body.