Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Week in Graduate School

"It could be that we are wandering about in an unnecessary delusion if we believe the essence of the negative is itself something "negative."

                           -Heidegger, from Parmenidies (trans. by Schuwer and Rojcewicz)


Since the beginning of the year I haven't been smoking. On the one hand its an effort and I miss it. On the other, and its usually the other, I have more time (8 cigarettes a day = 50 minutes of standing outside smoking contemplating standing outside smoking, chatting, watching snow fall, taking cigarette breaks, etc.). I notice that I am less patient, more irritable, hornier, hungrier, quicker to jump into a discussion, more decisive, more testosteroney. Some of this is physical, and some of this is mental. After all, when smoking, no matter how bad things are going, I can always just step outside and have a cigarette. Ahhh. That's better. Now what was I worried about? If only for a second or two I could be "Alive With Pleasure!" (Newport). A feeling I know quite well, an old friend. But without this option I kind of have to deal with things as they happen. Or be annoyed, which is also an interesting feeling.


"When God works miracles, he does not do it in order to supply the wants of nature, but those of grace."

                             -Leibniz (though I wonder if the two are necessarily distinct...)


Of all strong feelings, sexual emotion appeared the gravest threat to the hierarchical Nation-State. Novelists from Defoe to Thackeray and on knew that "love", and "falling in love" are no respecters of class distinction. A scientist who loved his Goethe, and who, like Goethe, saw no strict division between science and the humanities, Freud took pleasure in emphasizing the power of repressed sexuality in the life of "respectable" social climbers.

                  -Stephen Toulmin, from Cosmopolis, writing on some of                                            the cultural impacts resulting from assuming the mind is                                          separate from the body (Descartes, Newton, etc.)


"Live unnoticed."   
                      -Epicurean proverb

"Be concealed in the way you conduct your life."
                     -Epicurean proverb translated in closer alignment with its                                           original syntax and semantics (i.e. Greek)


As I finish this post I look out the window and it's snowing again. Again and again and again and again this week. I love it (when my heater works and I have food and the internet and don't have to drive anywhere). Last night I went to a memorial service for Linda Bergman, a professor in my program here. I did not know her but wish that I did, R.I.P. and again, our lives are short. While there is virtue in patience I do not believe that we should wait to do what we want to do. On Monday there is no school, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While in past I hadn't ever really given the "holiday" much thought, I was reading Ray Allen's take on the day, that it should not be regarded just as a day to celebrate MLK and black civil rights, but all civil rights, genders, sexual orientations, etc. and our societal push towards inclusiveness. It's crazy to think how much things have changed (in the U.S.) over the last fifty years, but it seems that institutionalizing and promoting the acceptance of others is a good thing. So yeah, MLK day as a secular spiritual holiday for all. Or as they might call it at the meditation center, Metta day. As far as I know there are two things most Americans can agree on: money is good, and discrimination is bad. I can agree with one of these things.  Man, its really snowing right now.