Donald's Blog

  This old house was only a few blocks from the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. All the neighborhood cats lived in the basement during the winter. The house has long since been torn down, but in 1972 there were AR2ax speakers in the front room, and a lot of good music was heard there.

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In the 21st century I am just as opinionated as ever, and I now have an outlet. I shall pontificate here about anything that catches my fancy; I hope I will not make too great a fool of myself. You may comment yea or nay about anything on the site; I may quote you here, or I may not. Send brickbats etc. to: dcmusicbox@earthlink.net.

 

June 3, 2017

Through the looking glass

According to the NYT, colleges are celebrating diversity by having segregated commencements, and the President of the United States especially denounced global warming on days when it was cold out. I must stop reading the papers.

 

June 2, 2017

An unprecedented presidency

Kimberley A. Strassel, in today's WSJ, writes an interesting article about the things some of Trump's cabinet are accomplishing that are not getting any column inches. Even she however, a shill for capitalism and the Republicans, has to use her last four paragraphs to describe what an asshole he is. If he is most-mocked man in the world, the fault is his own; as she writes:

      "Thus Mr. Trump’s culpability. The president knows better than most the ills of the media; he rails about them constantly. Yet he continues to be the indulger in chief. He daily provides new, explosive tweets that give reporters every excuse to keep up their obsessions about Russia, Mr. Comey, Hillary, Carter Page.
      Mr. Trump’s Twitter handle may be the most powerful communications tool on the planet. He has the awesome ability, unlike any president in history, to force the press to focus on his agenda by putting it out into the world every morning (or late night, as it may be). He could use that tool to set the daily discussion. Instead, he’s using it to undermine his own administration.
      Mr. Trump also has at his disposal an array of famous surrogates who could spread his message. He has all the free media he could ever hope for, if only he used it in a strategic fashion. He has activist groups to help push for his reforms, but they can’t compete amid the crazy headlines.
      Team Trump owes it to voters to get the real news out about its agenda and successes. But that will require doing more than complaining about the press. This White House needs to set and define the daily debate. It’s that, or Russia headlines through 2018."

Regardless of what you or I may think about whatever the adminstration is doing, if it accomplishes anything it will be despite the big baby in the White House.

 

June 2, 2017

Isn't the Internet wonderful

This week I saw the following item:

Vivax Male Supplements---Get The Erection Of Your Life / Shocking News: Angelina Jolie Reveals The All-Natural Miracle Pill That Cured Brad's ED  Permanently! / Angelina: "Special Thanks To Dr. Oz"

This was accompanied by a photo of Brad and Angie. How do these people get away with this shit?

I have also received in my email in the last week over 20 phony messages so far from "auto-confirm@amazon" or "auto-update@amazon", each from a different phony address, each claiming that my order for a book has been successfully canceled. (Where a book is named, that's phony too. I do not buy anything from Amazon; if I want anything from them my wife orders it, because she has their Prime feature: free shipping.) Unusually for such scams, these phony emails are properly written and punctuated; and of course they are full of stuff for me to click on, so that my identity can be stolen or my computer infected with something awful. How long will this go on? 

 

June 2, 2017

An accurate picture of Donald Trump

I have shared this on Facebook, but it is too good not to post it everywhere I can. San Francisco-based writer Rebecca Solnit is a contributing editor to Harper’s, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column (founded in 1851). She has written the best description of the Trumpetoon that I have seen:

The Loneliness of Donald Trump: On the corrosive privilege of the most mocked man in the world

Once upon a time, a child was born into wealth and wanted for nothing, but he was possessed by bottomless, endless, grating, grasping wanting, and wanted more, and got it, and more after that, and always more. He was a pair of ragged orange claws upon the ocean floor, forever scuttling, pinching, reaching for more, a carrion crab, a lobster and a boiling lobster pot in one, a termite, a tyrant over his own little empires. He got a boost at the beginning from the wealth handed him and then moved among grifters and mobsters who cut him slack as long as he was useful, or maybe there’s slack in arenas where people live by personal loyalty until they betray, and not by rules, and certainly not by the law or the book. So for seven decades, he fed his appetites and exercised his license to lie, cheat, steal, and stiff working people of their wages, made messes, left them behind, grabbed more baubles, and left them in ruin.

He was supposed to be a great maker of things, but he was mostly a breaker. He acquired buildings and women and enterprises and treated them all alike, promoting and deserting them, running into bankruptcies and divorces, treading on lawsuits the way a lumberjack of old walked across the logs floating on their way to the mill, but as long as he moved in his underworld of dealmakers the rules were wobbly and the enforcement was wobblier and he could stay afloat. But his appetite was endless, and he wanted more, and he gambled to become the most powerful man in the world, and won, careless of what he wished for.

Thinking of him, I think of Pushkin's telling of the old fairytale of The Fisherman and the Golden Fish. After being caught in the old fisherman’s net, the golden fish speaks up and offers wishes in return for being thrown back in the sea. The fisherman asks him for nothing, though later he tells his wife of his chance encounter with the magical creature. The fisherman’s wife sends him back to ask for a new washtub for her, and then a  second time to ask for a cottage to replace their hovel, and the wishes are granted, and then as she grows prouder and greedier, she sends him to ask that she become a wealthy person in a mansion with servants she abuses, and then she sends her husband back. The old man comes and grovels before the fish, caught between the shame of the requests and the appetite of his wife, and she becomes tsarina and has her boyards and nobles drive the husband from her palace. You could call the husband consciousness—the awareness of others and of oneself in relation to others—and the wife craving.

Finally she wishes to be supreme over the seas and over the fish itself, endlessly uttering wishes, and the old man goes back to the sea to tell the fish—to complain to the fish—of this latest round of wishes. The fish this time doesn’t even speak, just flashes its tail, and the old man turns around to see on the shore his wife with her broken washtub at their old hovel. Overreach is perilous, says this Russian tale; enough is enough. And too much is nothing.

The child who became the most powerful man in the world, or at least occupied the real estate occupied by a series of those men, had run a family business and then starred in an unreality show based on the fiction that he was a stately emperor of enterprise, rather than a buffoon barging along anyhow, and each was a hall of mirrors made to flatter his sense of self, the self that was his one edifice he kept raising higher and higher and never abandoned.

I have often run across men (and rarely, but not never, women) who have become so powerful in their lives that there is no one to tell them when they are cruel, wrong, foolish, absurd, repugnant. In the end there is no one else in their world, because when you are not willing to hear how others feel, what others need, when you do not care, you are not willing to acknowledge others’ existence. That’s how it’s lonely at the top. It is as if these petty tyrants live in a world without honest mirrors, without others, without gravity, and they are buffered from the consequences of their failures.

“They were careless people,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of the rich couple at the heart of The Great Gatsby. “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” Some of us are surrounded by destructive people who tell us we’re worthless when we’re endlessly valuable, that we’re stupid when we’re smart, that we’re failing even when we succeed. But the opposite of people who drag you down isn’t people who build you up and butter you up.  It’s equals who are generous but keep you accountable, true mirrors who reflect back who you are and what you are doing.

We keep each other honest, we keep each other good with our feedback, our intolerance of meanness and falsehood, our demands that the people we are with listen, respect, respond—if we are allowed to, if we are free and valued ourselves. There is a democracy of social discourse, in which we are reminded that as we are beset with desires and fears and feelings, so are others; there was an old woman in Occupy Wall Street I always go back to who said, “We’re fighting for a society in which everyone is important.” That’s what a democracy of mind and heart, as well as economy and polity, would look like.

This year Hannah Arendt is alarmingly relevant, and her books are selling well, particularly On the Origins of Totalitarianism. She’s been the subject and extraordinary essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books and a conversation between scholar Lyndsey Stonebridge and Krista Tippet on the radio show “On Being.” Stonebridge notes that Arendt advocated for the importance of an inner dialogue with oneself, for a critical splitting in which you interrogate yourself—for a real conversation between the fisherman and his wife you could say: “People who can do that can actually then move on to having conversations with other people and then judging with other people. And what [Arendt] called ‘the banality of evil’ was the inability to hear another voice, the inability to have a dialogue either with oneself or the imagination to have a dialogue with the world, the moral world.”

Some use their power to silence that and live in the void of their own increasingly deteriorating, off-course sense of self and meaning. It’s like going mad on a desert island, only with sycophants and room service. It’s like having a compliant compass that agrees north is whatever you want it to be. The tyrant of a family, the tyrant of a little business or a huge enterprise, the tyrant of a nation. Power corrupts, and absolute power often corrupts the awareness of those who possess it. Or reduces it: narcissists, sociopaths, and egomaniacs are people for whom others don’t exist.

We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. The rich kids I met in college were flailing as though they wanted to find walls around them, leapt as though they wanted there to be gravity and to hit ground, even bottom, but parents and privilege kept throwing out safety nets and buffers, kept padding the walls and picking up the pieces, so that all their acts were meaningless, literally inconsequential. They floated like astronauts in outer space.

Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation.

A man who wished to become the most powerful man in the world, and by happenstance and intervention and a series of disasters was granted his wish. Surely he must have imagined that more power meant more flattery, a grander image, a greater hall of mirrors reflecting back his magnificence. But he misunderstood power and prominence. This man had bullied friends and acquaintances, wives and servants, and he bullied facts and truths, insistent that he was more than they were, than it is, that it too must yield to his will. It did not, but the people he bullied pretended that it did. Or perhaps it was that he was a salesman, throwing out one pitch after another, abandoning each one as soon as it left his mouth. A hungry ghost always wants the next thing, not the last thing.

This one imagined that the power would repose within him and make him great, a Midas touch that would turn all to gold. But the power of the presidency was what it had always been: a system of cooperative relationships, a power that rested on people’s willingness to carry out the orders the president gave, and a willingness that came from that president’s respect for rule of law, truth, and the people. A man who gives an order that is not followed has his powerlessness hung out like dirty laundry. One day earlier this year, one of this president’s minions announced that the president’s power "would not be questioned". There are tyrants who might utter such a statement and strike fear into those beneath him, because they have installed enough fear.

A true tyrant does not depend on cooperative power but has a true power of command, enforced by thugs, goons, Stasi, the SS, or death squads. A true tyrant has subordinated the system of government and made it loyal to himself rather than to the system of laws or the ideals of the country. This would-be tyrant didn’t understand that he was in a system where many in government, perhaps most beyond the members of his party in the legislative branch, were loyal to law and principle and not to him. His minion announced the president would not be questioned, and we laughed. He called in, like courtiers, the heads of the FBI, of the NSA, and the director of national intelligence to tell them to suppress evidence, to stop investigations and found that their loyalty was not to him. He found out to his chagrin that we were still something of a democracy, and that the free press could not be so easily stopped, and the public itself refused to be cowed and mocks him earnestly at every turn.

A true tyrant sits beyond the sea in Pushkin’s country. He corrupts elections in his country, eliminates his enemies with bullets, poisons, with mysterious deaths made to look like accidents—he spread fear and bullied the truth successfully, strategically. Though he too had overreached with his intrusions into the American election, and what he had hoped would be invisible caused the whole world to scrutinize him and his actions and history and impact with concern and even fury. Russia may have ruined whatever standing and trust it has, may have exposed itself, with this intervention in the US and then European elections.

The American buffoon’s commands were disobeyed, his secrets leaked at such a rate his office resembled the fountains at Versailles or maybe just a sieve (this spring there was an extraordinary piece in the Washington Post with thirty anonymous sources), his agenda was undermined even by a minority party that was not supposed to have much in the way of power, the judiciary kept suspending his executive orders, and scandals erupted like boils  and sores. Instead of the dictator of the little demimondes of beauty pageants, casinos, luxury condominiums, fake universities offering fake educations with real debt, fake reality tv in which he was master of the fake fate of others, an arbiter of all worth and meaning, he became fortune’s fool.

He is, as of this writing, the most mocked man in the world. After the women’s march on January 21st, people joked that he had been rejected by more women in one day than any man in history; he was mocked in newspapers, on television, in cartoons, was the butt of a million jokes, and his every tweet was instantly met with an onslaught of attacks and insults by ordinary citizens gleeful to be able to speak sharp truth to bloated power.

He is the old fisherman’s wife who wished for everything and sooner or later he will end up with nothing. The wife sitting in front of her hovel was poorer after her series of wishes, because she now owned not only her poverty but her mistakes and her destructive pride, because she might have been otherwise, but brought power and glory crashing down upon her, because she had made her bed badly and was lying in it.

The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence. He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image, and like Dorian Gray before him, will be devoured by his own corrosion in due time too. One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him. One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall. Another dungheap awaits his landing; the dung is all his; when he plunges into it he will be, at last, a self-made man.

 

February 17, 2017

I just love road trips

Normally I don't worry much about spam, as my email provider does a pretty good job of keeping it out, and I can look at it in my spam filter. But this week I received a piece of particularly filthy fake news, apparently from someone called Rebecca Owens, at 1182 Sharon Lane, Ste B16, Warsaw Indiana 46580, via the faceless folks at 616 Corporate Way, Ste 2-9092, Valley Cottage NY 10989.

What the hell, I'm retired, and if I get any more of this garbage I could get in my pickup and drive to Indiana and find out who Rebecca Owens is.

STOP PRESS: Today comes a scurillious item about Clinton from Adam Pollard, of Newport Beach CA, which I should read because "it might save your life." I object to finding this shit in my mailbox.

 

February 17, 2017

Just for the record

From Field and Stream, 1959:
 
"Although written many years ago, Lady Chatterley’s Lover has just been re-issued by Grove Press, and this fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English game-keeper is still of considerable interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant-raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the professional game-keeper.
       Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savor these sidelights on the management of a Midland shooting estate, and in this reviewer’s opinion, the book cannot take the place of R. Miller’s Practical Gamekeeper."

 

February 5, 2017

Interesting Facts Dept.

I posted this on Facebook a year ago today:

Reviewed in the TLS, Peripheral Desires: The German discovery of sex, by Robert Dean Tobin (U. of Pennsylvania Press). In German-speaking Central Europe, the principal categories of modern sexuality were defined and named. In 1869 a lawyer in Hanover "published two pamphlets defending the legal rights of the 'urning' -- a person born with a body belonging to one gender, and a soul to the other".

I guess it ain't new, folks.

 

January 5, 2017

Thomas Sowell

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal published an editorial marking the conservative economist's retirement at age 87 from writing a column, after nearly 40 years. This morning I wrote to the WSJ:

I don’t know where Thomas Sowell’s column has been syndicated, because I haven’t seen it for many years, but the last time I saw it he was saying that people who work in retail should be satisfied with low wages, because “half of them are college kids between semesters or housewives earning pin money.” I’ve been working in a big-box bookstore for nearly 20 years, because I enjoy waiting on customers who are buying books. Fortunately my wife made more money than I did during our working years, but I have known people who supported families in retail, sometimes with two and even three jobs.

Would it be all right with Sowell if some people enjoy working in retail? The reason we never know what’s going to happen next is that our politicians and intellectuals are always writing people off: Mitt Romney and his 47%, Hillary and her basket of deplorables, Sowell and the other half... The irony of course is that I know who Sowell is, I know that we have some of his books in stock and what shelf they are on: would he and his publisher rather have me selling his books or some badly-educated kid who’s never heard of anybody?

Sowell should decide whether he is an economist or a philosopher. But it’s probably too late.

 

November 1, 2016

Bernard Levin (1928-2004)

I am reading Bernard Levin's "The Pendulum Years: Britain in the Sixties", his first book, published in 1970; I am only 75 pages into a 435-page book, and when I have to put it down I can hardly wait to get back and read another page. Why should that be so? I remember perfectly well that Christine Keeler was pretty enough so that any man might have jumped into bed with her, that Lord Denning was a pompous ass, that there were so many conspiracy theories that one couldn't keep track, and so on, and so forth; why should I wish to read about it all now? Because Levin's sentences are like a pile of cartoon serpents, slithering in and out with fiendish glee on their reptilian faces and a sting in each tail, leaving me wondering, with the Greatest Writer, What fools these mortals be.

And how unfair it was that Bernard Levin (1928-2004) should have suffered his last decade from Alzheimer's disease. Never was such a fate less deserved.

 

October 13, 2016

Does time pass slowly or quickly?

I write mostly short notes nowadays. Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dcmusicbox.

 

August 14, 2016

What Hillary Should Do

I posted a shorter version on Facebook today:

My Grandpa Schultz was a wonderful old coot. He wasn't my real grandpa -- he was my grandma's second husband -- but my brother and I loved him, and he loved us. He never went past the fourth grade, but he was a good farmer; he truly loved the land, and watching things grow. He was so tight that when he took a nickel out of his pocket Jefferson blinked at the light; but when I cried when I was a little kid because I wanted a toy and he wouldn't buy it for me, that was not just because he was cheap: he was trying to teach me that you can't always have everything you want.
         But he puzzled me when I was about ten years old. We were doing something or other together in the garage or on the farm, when he told me that he resented having to pay taxes to support the public schools, since he didn't have any kids of his own. Looking back now, I suppose what he meant was that that should have been my parents' responsibility, not his. But even at the age of ten, I thought that attitude was kind of weird.
         I am a democratic socialist. Like most Americans, I love my public schools, my Social Security, my Medicare, my United States Post Office (which knit the country together in its early years), and my group health care plans, Blue Cross and the rest. The principle is that everybody pays in because everybody benefits: even if you rarely mail a letter or go to the doctor, and have no children to send to school, you benefit from living in a literate, civilized country, where health care is there if you need it.
         (The reason Obamacare is a ragbag that nobody likes is because we can't get what we need and want, which is national group health care, like every other modern nation has.)
         A letter-writer in the Wall Street Journal was worried about "Virtual government ownership of the means of production [and] lack of private ownership", which is nonsense. Democratic socialism is what makes the American way of life possible, no more a threat to it than was domestic communism during the paranoid 1950s, when everybody knew that the Soviet Union was a place where you had to stand in line to buy toothpaste and toilet paper; anybody who thought that the USA was ever going to go that way was a nut case, but our spineless politicians bent over backward to be more anti-communist than the next guy.
         There is, however, something that so-called American "conservatives" are right about, from the Koch brothers to the tea party types. Bureaucracy grows, like a cancer; new laws are passed on top of old laws, which were passed on top of still older laws, and few of them are ever repealed. To be sure, folks like the Koch brothers want the rules changed to suit themselves, but the fact is that the government is too big, too expensive, too inefficient, and even though it is inefficient it is too intrusive. I am certainly going to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, but I agree with Paul Berman in Tablet: "I wish she would come up with something grander than a laundry-list of social reform."
         If we can set ourselves free from ourselves we will became more prosperous, and many of the social reforms will take care of themselves. Senator Clinton needs to make specific policy proposals that make sense. Yes, we need to regulate Wall Street and the big banks and the big corporations, but once the regulations are in place, we need to get the hell out of the way and let them create prosperity. Dodd-Frank had its heart in the right place, but it should have been 100 pages long, not 2300 pages, to say nothing of 26,000 pages of rules. Start-ups are discouraged and new jobs not created because of the hassle and expense of doing anything at all.
         Privatise Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. Regulate the lending business, but get the government out of the actual lending.
         Trade is good, the more of it the better. What is wrong with the Trans-Pacific Partnership? I have heard that it gives too much power to multinational corporations; no doubt it needs to be tweaked. Can we hear some specific ideas, as opposed to knee-jerk slogans?
         And meanwhile, why do we persuade multinational corporations not to bring their overseas profits home, by threatening to tax them on profits which have already been taxed overseas? We need real tax reform, and we need specific proposals, not "I'll raise someone else's taxes, not yours." Don't pretend that corporations pay high taxes; rather, lower the taxes and cut out the loopholes.
         Start phasing out agricultural subsidies. We needed them 80 years ago, but now we don't. We protect American sugar and subsidise American corn, which is why much of our food and drink contains high-fructose corn syrup, basically an industrial chemical that tastes metallic. It is the reason why the Midwest is now a monoculture, which is dangerous; it is the reason why ethanol is made from corn, which is simply foolish. And why do we support the growing of rice, a water-intensive crop, in California, which is a desert? We can't even export it to Asia, because it's the wrong kind of rice.
         Start to shrink the education department, and give the responsibility for K-12 education back to the states. If Texas wants to distribute textbooks full of superstition, some teachers will teach around that, and sooner or later parents will demand better books. Or they won't. Parents will start to insist that their kids get their noses out of their smartphones and learn something. Or they won't. There's nothing Washington can do about any of this.
         (But continue to enable local community colleges and vocational schools. I have an honors degree in education; with that and two bucks I can get a coffee at Starbucks: I am glad I went to university, but nobody needs to go to university.)
         The Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities Exchange Commission and a great many other government agencies (employing tens of thousands of bureaucrats) need to be got under control. A 200-year-old antique piano was destroyed by customs when the pianist tried to bring it back from overseas, because it had ivory keys. In August 2011 Federal paramilitaries wearing body armor and machine guns raided a guitar factory in Nashville. Lawsuits against Wall Street bigshots go nowhere, while the real sellers of worthless mortgages have disappeared back into the woodwork. If a pressure group obviously pushing an agenda is outraged at being audited, the solution is simple: abolish most of the tax-exempt categories; let the pressure groups (and the mega-churches) pay taxes like everyone else.
         We have nothing to fear except fear itself, a famous man once said, but the nation is desperately afraid of stupid. I could go on, and some of these ideas will be debated, but if Hillary would make sensible, positive, specific proposals in every area of national life, she would get independents, Republicans and libertarians voting for her, the jackass who is her opponent would not carry a single state, and we could all start to breathe again.

 

July 25, 2016

Goodish news

So Roger Ailes has left Fox News. That's the best news we've had since Antonin Scalia dropped dead.

I learned everything I needed to know about Fox News shortly after coming back to the USA after 25 years in England. I went to work for Barnes & Noble in 1998, and a customer asked me for a book by Bill O'Reilly. I fetched the book for him, and the author's name was vaguely familiar, so I asked,"Who's Bill O'Reilly, then? A talking head on TV?" "Yeah, he's got a kind of political talk show on Fox..."

After the customer left, I went to the shelf to look at the book myself, because I thought the title, The No Spin Zone, was a clever one. I opened the book at random, started reading a couple of paragraphs, and burst out laughing. It was nothing but spin!

 

July 22, 2016

Teaching English?

Chieh Huang, an Internet enterprenuer, once briefly taught English in Japan. Many years later, talking with a Japanese CEO of a gaming company, she asked him where he had lived. The Wall Street Journal quotes him: "I was like, oh it was countryside. She was like, no try me. I was like, Niigata. Her eyes lit up. She was like, I grew up there."
        I hope he did not infect Japanese children with that ugly, ignorant use of the word "like".

 

May 23, 2016

At Mahlerfest XXIX, Boulder Colorado, May 22 2016

At Mahlerfest XXIX, Boulder Colorado, May 22 2016Three composers and me: left to right, Ofer Ben-Amots, of Colorado College in Colorado Springs; in front of him, the charming Christa and her husband, Austrian composer Kurt Schwertsik; in the red shirt the guy who can't even read music; and Seattle's John David Lamb.

 

April 10, 2016

Back to the drawing board

For a year or so I've been expressing myself by using Facebook as a sort of twitter, keeping each item short because of the arbitrarily inconvenient Facebook format. But now I have lost my own Commonplace book, as well as tens of thousands of other files, thanks to a clumsy know-it-all who erased a hard disc, so I may as well post a blog now and then, even if nobody sees it.

William Gass, in his new collection of essays, Life Sentence: Literary Judgements and Acccounts, reflects on his own novel, The Tunnel, in which the protagonist excavates the Holocaust. Then Gass draws back with this:

I have taught philosophy in one or another of its many modes, for fifty years -- Plato my honey in every one of them -- yet many of those years had to pass before I began to realize that evil actually was ignorance -- ignorance chosen and cultivated -- as he and Socrates had so passionately taught; that most beliefs were bunkum, and that the removal of bad belief was as important to a mind as a cancer's excision was to the body it imperiled.

Just thought I'd toss that into the wilderness.

 

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