Sunday, July 29, 2007

Great assortment of short quotes on history, its
values its subjectivity:


Reminder to subscribe:

Full from the fount of Joy's delicious springs Some bitter o'er the flowers its bubbling venom springs.
[Lat., Medio de fonte leporum Surgit amari aliquid, quod in ipsis floribus angat.]
Source: De Rerum Natura (IV, 1,129), Lucretius
translated in Byron's "Childe Harold", canto I., st. 82

From the Existential Primer

Existentialism is about being a saint without God; being your own hero, without all the sanction and support of religion or society.- Anita Brookner

(b. 1938), British novelist, art historian.
Interview in Writers at Work, Eighth Series, ed. George Plimpton (1988).

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I assume we are talking about saving a few young men from suicide. I have in mind those who commit suicide out of disgust, because they find that others own too large a share of them. To them one should say: at least let the minority within you have the right to speak. Be poets. They will answer: but it is especially there, it is always there that i feel others within me; when i try to express myself, i am unable to do so. Words are readymade and express themselves: they do not express me. Once again i find myself suffocating. At that moment, teaching the art of resisting words becomes useful, the art of saying only what one wants to say, the art of doing them violence, of forcing them to submit. In short... Found a rhetoric, or rather, to teach everyone the art of founding his own rhetoric. This saves those few, those rare individuals who must be saved: those who are aware, and who are troubled and disgusted by the others within them.those individuals who make the mind progress, and who are, strictly speaking, capable of changing the reality of things.
- Francis Ponge, French poet

The act of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance
with the limitations and incapacities of the human
unknown observer

Who is responsible for this?

"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. …God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
-Thomas Jefferson

You know nothing for sure... except the fact that you know nothing for sure.
-- John F. Kennedy

Friday, July 27, 2007

If we must play the theological game, let us never forget that it is a
game. Religion, it seems to me, can survive only as a consciously
accepted system of make-believe. . . .
You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible
of magic and religion. . . . Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies.
Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat's meat, to wheedle the feline
spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly.
It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite
intelligent enough.?
-- Aldous Huxley, Texts and Pretexts,1932

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"When I was a student in the 1950s, I read Husserl, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty. When you feel an overwhelming influence, you try to open a window. Paradoxically enough, Heidegger is not very difficult for a Frenchman to understand. When every word is an enigma, you are in a not-too-bad position to understand Heidegger. Being and Time is difficult, but the more recent works are clearer. Nietzsche was a revelation to me. I felt that there was someone quite different from what I had been taught. I read him with a great passion and broke with my life, left my job in the asylum, left France: I had the feeling I had been trapped. Through Nietzsche, I had become a stranger to all that."
Truth, Power, Self: An Interview with Michel Foucault - October 25th, 1982.

While I complain of being able to glimpse no more than the shadow of the past, I may be insensitive to reality as it is taking shape at this very moment, since I have not reached the stage of development at which I would be capable of perceiving it. A few hundred years hence, in this same place, another traveller, as despairing as myself, will mourn the disappearance of what I might have seen, but failed to see.
Chapter 4: The Quest for Power, p.43

One must be very naïve or dishonest to imagine that men choose their beliefs independently of their situation.
Chapter 16: Markets, p.148

-Claude Levi- Strauss

It is the duty of righteous men to make war on all undeserved privilege, but one must not forget that this is a war without end.
-The Drowned and the Saved (1986) -Primo Levi

Letter to Oskar Pollak (27 January 1904)
Variant translations: If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? Good God, we also would be happy if we had no books and such books that make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us.What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.A book should be an ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us.A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.

Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence... Someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence, certainly never.
"The Silence of the Sirens" (October 1917) -Franz Kafka

"Happiness is beneficial for the body but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind."-
Valentin-Louis-Georges-Eugène-Marcel Proust (1871-07-101922-11-18) was a French novelist, essayist and critic.

I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use — silence, exile and cunning.
~ A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Laws of Philosophy

The First Law of Philosophy:
For every philosopher, there exists an equal and opposite philosopher.
The Second Law of Philosophy:
They're both wrong.

HumanistNetworkNews.orgJuly 18, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim".
-Gustave Le Bon;"The Crowd"

Saturday, July 07, 2007

"The great historic process in the development of religions, the elimination of magic from the world which had begun with the old Hebrew prophets and, in conjunction with Hellenistic scientific thought, had repudiated all magical means to salvation as superstition and sin, came here to its logical conclusion. The genuine Puritan even rejected all signs of religious ceremony at the grave and buried his nearest and dearest without song or ritual in order that no superstition, no trust in the effects of magical and sacramental forces on salvation, should creep in."
(1904/1930, p. 105) -Max Weber

“The old gods are growing old or are already dead, and others are not yet born” ([1912] 1965: 475).

“Religion is in a word the system of symbols by means of which society becomes conscious of itself; it is the characteristic way of thinking of collective existence” ([1897] 1951: 312).

-Emile Durkheim

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. Accept yourself and your actions. Own your thoughts. Speak up when wrong, and apologize. Know your path at all times. To do this you must know yourself inside and out, accept your gifts as well as your shortcomings, and grow each day with honesty, integrity, compassion, faith, and brotherhood. "
-Tecumseh, Shawnee

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Modern History Sourcebook: Olympe de Gouge: Declaration of the Rights of Women, 1791
Olympe de Gouges, a butcher's daughter, proved to be one of the most outspoken and articulate women revolutionaries. In 1791 she wrote the following declaration, directly challenging the inferiority presumed of women by the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Her attempts to push this idea lead to her being charged with treason during the rule of the National Convention. She was quickly arrested, tried, and on November 3, 1793, executed by the guillotine.
Woman, wake up; the tocsin of reason is being heard throughout the whole universe; discover your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The flame of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his strength and needs recourse to yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust to his companion. Oh, women, women! When will you cease to be blind?

Since that deluge of newspaper articles I have been so flooded with questions, invitations, suggestions, that I keep dreaming I am roasting in Hell, and the mailman is the devil eternally yelling at me, showering me with more bundles of letters at my head because I have not answered the old ones.-- Albert Einstein

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