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Posted on 2005.02.07 at 00:54
I call Estelle my spiritual grandmother, and it is not because she isn't alive. At 92 years old, she's one of the healthiest elderly people I know. I call her that because while she is not my genetic grandmother (my mother having been adopted) there is no single person in my family whom I resemble more. Estelle taught for more than twenty years kids in various villages of northern Quebec. She was already retired when I was of young age, and I got to spend many days with her (doubtlessly to afford my mother some respite from the incessant questioning). I owe her many things: an appreciation for the spiritual, eagerness for long walks (esp. by the sea), a sense of reverence towards nature, somewhat of a penchant toward painting as an art form, and surely I inherited some of her proverbial pig-headedness which is otherwise rather lacking in my family. It is in her home that I read my first scholarly book, a biography of St. Francis of Assisi. She was calmly supportive of my desire to become a priest when I was too young to be taken seriously, and gently nodded when I decided otherwise. She thinks the world of me, is extremely proud that I am the first of my family to attend university; she has read each and every paper I wrote as an undergrad. She had never asked me for anything.

Tonight, she called. She asked me to write her a letter. In that letter, she wants me to explain to her what I think happens when someone dies.

Be careful what you wish for.

Posted on 2005.02.05 at 00:41
In this context of this discussion:

> Mumper, in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch, said he believes many
> professors undermine students' values because "80 percent or so of them
> are Democrats, liberals or socialists or card-carrying Communists" out to
> indoctrinate students. He said Friday that those exact words were meant
> in jest but said he does believe the wide majority are liberal.

themaskedmedea's reply was:

There's a card?

I want one!


Enjoy ;D</div>

Kraft and Water-nymphs.

Posted on 2005.02.04 at 23:50
It's been hard to keep this up outside of entries which are basically for my own use (viz. the Epictetus stuff). I've finally wrangled enough free time to start writing the godforsaken paper on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit that has been a thorn on my side for many many months already, and expect to have it wrapped up by the end of next week. I'm also trying to get together a submission- the American Philological Association is coming to Montreal in January 2006, and they have a panel on the Neoplatonic use of myth. It so happens that I've spent some time as an undergrad on this wonderful little treatise of Porphyry, On the Cave of the Nymphs, which interprets a passage of Homer's Odyssey, viz. that of the Cave of the Naiads, in the light of Plato's Myth of Er in Republic X. We can also find there the outlines of a general Neoplatonic interpretation of the Odyssey: the nostos of Odysseus represents the homecoming to the spiritual realm of a soul cast about on the sea of materiality (water has always been a favorite representation of matter for them, because of its shapelessness). The whole account is articulated in such a way that intimates that it was pretty much canonical for Platonists of Porphyry's time, who considered Homer to be some sort of theologian in which were expressed (albeit in a confused form) the truths of Platonism, but there is a part of the myth which is wholly fascinating and could conceivably be a Porphyrian addition: Polyphemos (the Cyclops) is interpreted as a part of Odysseus, a somewhat tyrannical appetitive part which craves for the sensible (human flesh). His blinding is understood as an overly abrupt attempt by Odysseus to divorce himself from the sensible world, a quasi-suicide. One of the reasons why this is so interesting is that we know from the Vita Plotini that Porphyry himself seriously contemplated suicide, and was discouraged in doing so by his teacher Plotinus (if I remember correctly, through the standard Platonic argument which can be found in the Phaedo [edit: Not at all. He just counsels him to travel.]). At any rate, it's for a 15-20 minute presentation, nothing to fuss about, but I suspect there is enough material in/around that piece to carve something tangible out and make some basic point.

Hence I've been busy. Once this is through I'll be starting to rework my paper on Aristotle's epistemology, but it'll be a bit more laid back.

Enchiridion 8

Posted on 2005.02.04 at 10:24
Epictetus' Enchiridion.
Chapter 8. Translated by J.

'Do not seek for whatever happens to happen as you will, but will for whatever happens [to happen] as it happens, and you will live well(1).'

(1) EUROH/SEIS: lit. 'you will flow well'. By putting one's desires in line with the natural order of things, the Stoic will be unimpeded in his/her movements, as a stream following its course.

Live from the Twilight Politburo.

Posted on 2005.01.17 at 00:47
Yo, check this out.

While I'm swimming with my daughter at the YMCA, some guy busts our locker open. On the upside, he didn't take anything (but for the hinted-at busted lock). On the downside, I have to explain to my daughter why on earth somebody would bust open a locker and not take anything.

Theory #1: "Well, love, maybe he saw your cute little purple dress and couldn't find it in himself to make us sad."

Theory #1 gets shafted when some dood arrives near us and finds out that his own locker has been busted as well, that the culprit didn't take anything either (including a very prominently located cell phone), and that no cute purple dress was involved. Now I have to explain to my daughter why on earth someone would bust _two_ lockers open and not take anything, which is pretty darn irrational. So I facetiously declare:

"Well, love, maybe it was this weird struggling conceptual artist that wants to do a gigantic sculpture made out of lockers, but because he's too poor to buy all the lockers he needs, he has to resort to sneaking in YMCA locker rooms and steal many lockers from there."

She laughed, we left. And then it dawned on me:

J.'s Indubitable Law of the Unexplainable:
Every single irrational occurance can be blamed on the doings of a weird struggling conceptual artist.
(Corollary #1: Weird struggling artists make damn fine scapegoats, and illusory social peace could be easily implemented by blaming every unpleasant occurance on the opus of a weird struggling conceptual artist and publicly executing him/her after summary prosecution.)

Posted on 2004.12.20 at 16:29
General Principles Concerning How to Fix Things

I. Try the Magic Touch.
II. Try Duct Tape.
III. Try Hitting It.
IV. Try Praying.
V. Try Just Leaving It Alone For a Bit.
VI. Try Something Absolutely Random.
VII. Try Sleeping (if Not Already Tried under V.).
VIII. Try to Get Somebody Else to Fix It.
IX. Try Reading the Manual.
X. Try Hitting it Harder (esp. with a Shovel).
XI. Try the Gordian Knot Universal Solution (viz. Cutting It In Half)

Disclaimer: We claim no responsability for any harm occured in applying these methods. These methods should only be employed by trained professionals. These methods will not fix everything; in particular, with the possible exception of Principles I-V-VI (and perhaps II), they will not fix relationships.

An accidental by-product of putting back together my low-key home studio setup.

Posted on 2004.12.12 at 22:12
music: Solti - Nachtmusik I. Allegro moderato
For poetry (and/or Greek) lovers:

George Seferis - Sleep. (4:33)
(Greek version, followed by translation)

Sleep is (C) 1950 G. Seferis, translation is (C) 1971 C. A. Trypanis.

Memorable exchanges of the day.

Posted on 2004.12.10 at 22:15
S. (daughter): "And if you're nice, the Tooth Fairy takes your teeth and leaves you money."
J. (me): "Oh. What does she do with all the teeth?"
S. ponders.
S.: "She has a collection."
J.: "Oh. Maybe she has a teeth museum somewhere."
S. *looks dissatisfied, ponders some more, flash of brilliance*
S.: "She gives them to younger children! She cleans the teeth of old people with a toothbrush and gives them to young people."
J.: "So the Tooth Fairy recycles. Well, that makes sense, all these teeth can't come from nowhere."


S. *stops midthought*
S.: "Do you want to hear something weird?"
J.: "Sure."
S.:"Spiders like to eat blood."


S. *shows booboo the size of a hairpin*
S.: "That used to hurt a lot."
J.: "I bet. How did it happen?"
S.: "I can't say, it's a secret."
J.:"I'm all about secrets, dear. Shoot."
S.:"I fell from the tree house and got wood in my finger and they put glue on my head."


J.: "Love, I put you to bed half an hour ago. I did read you a story, and I left you another book to look at for a bit. Then you were supposed to sleep. Why are you wide awake and why are there about twenty books in your bed?"
J. *administers soft reprieve, rubs her back, leaves bedroom gleaming*

Who are we?

Posted on 2004.11.29 at 00:27
"But we - who are we? Are we that which draws near and comes to be in time? No, even before this coming to be came to be we were there, men who were different, and some of us even gods, pure souls and intellect united with the whole of reality; we were parts of the intelligible, not marked off or cut off but belonging to the whole; and we are not cut off even now. But now another man, wishing to exist, approached that man; and when he found us - for we were not outside the All- he wound himself round us and attached himself to that man who was then each one of us (as if there was one voice and one word and one here and another there turned their ears to it and heard and received it, and there came to be a hearing made actual, having that which acted on it present): and we have come to be the pair of them, not the one which we were before - and sometimes just the other one which we added on afterwards, when that prior one is inactive and in another way not present."

Plotinus, On the Presence of Being, One and the Same, Everywhere as a Whole I, chap. 14, 17-32. [trans. Armstrong in Loeb]


Posted on 2004.11.21 at 23:26
[I'm on a posting roll today]

"He who has not tasted the bitter does not deserve the sweet; indeed, he will not appreciate it. This is the very law of enjoyment, that pleasure does not run an even course, for this produces aversion and makes us dull, not joyful."

Leibniz, On the Radical Origination of Things,1697.

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