Monday, January 30, 2006
a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence,
- Baruch Spinoza
Sunday, January 29, 2006
"Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them
because we are the only witness they have. The sea rises, the light fails,
lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we
cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the
sea engulfs us and the light goes out."
scoundrels has some truth in it,
but not nearly enough. Patriotism, in truth, is the great nursery of
scoundrels, and its annual
output is probably greater than that of even religion. Its chief
glories are the demagogue, the
military bully, and the spreaders of libels and false history. Its
philosophy rests firmly on the
doctrine that the end justifies the means - that any blow, whether
above or below the belt, is
fair against dissenters from its wholesale denial of plain facts."
perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul,
sincerity, earnestness and kindness. -Confucius, philosopher and
- 551-478 BCE
Saturday, January 28, 2006
conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, And politics
- Mahatma Gandhi
for what they are, the signs of our ideas, and not for things
-John Locke, philosopher -1632-1704
Friday, January 27, 2006
"Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of
pain, to share brokenness, fear, confusion and anguish. Compassion
challanges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those
who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us
to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable and
powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the
condition of being human." Henri Nouwen Compassion Pg 4
Thursday, January 26, 2006
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
wallowing upon the ground and—a ghastly spectacle—
heaven scowled down upon them and showed no mercy,
a Greek man was the first to raise his eyes,
daring to make a stand against it.
He took no notice at all of the thunder and lightning,
religious recitations merely incited him;
He said he would expose the secrets of nature
and so, by force of intelligence, and no other,
he pierced beyond the flaming walls of the world,
paraded up and down the whole immensity
and returned victoriously with explanations for everything
—what could happen, what not, and what were the limits,
all fixed and measured, of every nature and thing.
And so he had religion under his feet.
He won, and as a result we have no superiors.
"I wish I could subjoin [to the Philosophy of Jesus (i.e., The Jefferson Bible)] a translation of Gosindi's Syntagma of the doctrines of Epicurus, which, notwithstanding the calumnies of the Stoics and caricature of Cicero, is the most rational system remaining of the philosophy of the ancients, as frugal of vicious indulgence, and fruitful of virtue as the hyperbolical extravagances of his rival sects."
--Thomas Jefferson to Charles Thompson, 1816.
"...we ought to make statues
of the gods genial and
smiling, so that we may
smile back at them rather
than be afraid of them".
The oak in autumn is bared against a sky
as grey as that old overcoat of yours.
It seems a melancholy, lonely thing
yet underneath your shambling stride
each crackling leaf lies a memory
of promising spring
and summer's soft caress.
And those acorns!
The one that does not fatten squirrels
may yet take root
and stand, shade by shade
by this old champion.
in the barking wind
of some future day.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Author and host of public radio's A Prairie Home Companion
When you hit 50, you have to stop complaining about getting old, the strangeness of it, the fascination, the horror, etc., etc. That was okay in your 30s and 40s, but now that you're old, it's time to shut up on the subject. You shouldn't complain about aging for the simple reason that nobody gives a hoot. If you were to pay people to care, they might care a little bit for an hour or two, but you didn't and they don't. So learn to be cheerful about it. When people ask you how you are, tell them, "Absolutely great. Never better."
By 50, everyone can stand to lose 20 pounds, so do it. The simplest way is to adopt a new philosophy of eating, which is revolutionary in America but which is essential for an older person: Eat to satisfy hunger; if you're not hungry, don't eat. Stop eating when your hunger is satisfied. Except on Sunday or whichever day is your feast day. As you get older, your metabolism changes, and now you can sustain yourself quite well on one meal per day and two snacks. So that's what you do.
Fifty is the time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Especially for the aging bohemian. A young person is allowed to dress up as Desperado, Punk Princess, Noir Poet or Frontiersman, but by the age of 50 you've wised up. You've seen how ratty those old ponytails can look. What was revolutionary at 21 can be rather stringy and pitiful at 50. What works for Willie Nelson doesn't necessarily work for you.
Put the past behind you. This is even easier to do at my age (63), but you can get a start at 50. Make a pile of your regrets and put a match to them and let them blow away—the lost loves, the estranged friends, the botched education, the unwritten novel, the neglected guitar, the ruinous investments, the dear friend who committed suicide, the opportunities that sailed away without you. Put that knapsack full of rocks on the ground and walk away and find something in the here-and-now that absorbs you and take up with that—a garden, a grandchild, a choir, yoga, knitting, amassing a collection of porcelain pigs, political agitation, learning the drop-thumb style of banjo.
Start telling the truth. Do it in small doses at first and then gradually build up to one out of three, a decent batting average. When you're young, you're scared; you're trying to wend your way through the trees and not get shot at; you're trying to stay on the warm side of the various big cheeses in your life; you're wanting to be the good guy who everybody loves, not the jerk with the big mouth. But when you hit 50, you're entering a new passage of life in which you can say what you really think.
You can also dare to express simple preference. Do you want to go over to the Swansons' for dinner? No, I don't. Why not? I thought you liked them. They complain constantly about aging, and I'm tired of looking at his hair. Oh. Okay. What would you rather do? Lie on a bed with you and talk and drink a little wine and listen to Frank Sinatra with the lights out. Oh. Okay.
Fifty is an excellent age for reform of all sorts. You have enough experience and good judgment to know something about yourself, and you can see the end of your life from here, and so, gauging your desires and your strength, you adjust and straighten and balance and alter what needs altering and press on. It's a time of marvels on every hand, great richness, emotional clarity, and great sweetness. Sixty is even better, but don't hurry.
Friday, January 20, 2006
"The test of every religious, political, or educational system, is the
man which it forms. If a system injures the intelligence it is bad. If
it injures the character it is vicious. If it injures the conscience it
-- Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher
Thursday, January 19, 2006
-- Thomas Jefferson, The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, enacted on January 16, 1786
Monday, January 16, 2006
Through violence you may murder a liar,but you can't establish truth.
Through violence you may murder a hater,but you can't murder hate.
Darkness cannot put out darkness.Only light can do that…"
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
-Albert Camus: The Plague
Monday, January 09, 2006
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Poem by Mary Oliver:Wild Geese
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
My life dates from the day of my father's death
When I lay weeping and it was not for him.
Now I am to continue the degenerescence
Until I enter his dream.
There is nothing a drink cannot settle at forty Or money at fifty,
the cure of all is death.
But all lovers can remember a moment When they were not alone.
C.H.Sisson"In the Trojan Ditch" Collected Poems and Selected Translations
Carcanet Press 1974.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Friday, January 06, 2006
relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope,
without illusions, and without resignation either. He stares at death
with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him. He
experiences the "divine irresponsibility" of the condemned man."
Sartre analysis of Mersault, in Literary and Philosophical Essays,
Thursday, January 05, 2006
"How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?"
Monday, January 02, 2006
- Max Ehrmann
Sunday, January 01, 2006
"Prophetic and challenging words and deeds are not the sole possession of one exemplar long ago, or even of the more famous recent heroes and heroines of humankind. If that were so, there would be little hope for the rest of us, though we do not presume to be great prophets or aspire to heroics."
Leonardo da Vinci
Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.
Leonardo da Vinci