Diary, 1/8 to 1/9/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Pretty dull so far

{1/8/19}  Weight 221.0.

Just added to my Collected Quotations file:  “Shall I keep reconsidering whether Santa Claus exists? Shall I research the ‘Bible Codes’ to see whether there’s anything to it? Or Nostradamus? Flat fvcking Earth?? How much of my life do I have to devote to other people’s nonsense? Go to ‘Hell’, Economist!”  Twitter, 1/3/2019; in response to a tweet and linked article from The Economist:  “While atheists may call themselves freethinkers, for many today atheism is a closed system of thought,” same date [link to tweet].  The article is a review of John Gray:  Seven Types of Atheism [link to article].  The title of the article is “When atheists lack the courage of their convictions.”


{1/9/19}  Weight 221.0.  How tiresome.

Discovered that I do still have the Roman Reader.  So I looked at the Lucretius and found it just about as tedious as the GBWW version.  This is a reminder of my most recent entry in my “100 Ideas” notebook:  “71.  When I am reading poetry, the experience depends more on my mood than on the poem.”  I’m ready to give up on Lucretius (after having read a page or so), but won’t just yet.  I seriously doubt that I’ll get much out of it, though it’s considered a basic text of Stoicism.

I read #71 to Pablo, and for once he had something sensible to add, that the poem can change one’s mood.

We had another of our endless childish squabbles yesterday, this time over the meanings of “Hellenic” and “Hellenistic.”  I said they referred to two ages or periods in the history of Greek culture, while he couldn’t talk about anything but Alexandria and the Ptolemies.  That is, he seemed to think that “Hellenistic” referred to the spread of Greek culture due to Alexander’s conquests, which isn’t exactly wrong, and isn’t quite right either.  What he thought “Hellenic” means, I can’t guess.  I said that we were talking past each other, and finally made him hear what I was saying.  It was as tedious as it sounds.

Today I get this email from him:


So I guess he’s conceding defeat, but will claim victory.  One wonders whether this will put it to rest, since other squabbles seem to go on forever after I think that they’re decided.

Microsoft Word has some annoying “features”; after I pasted in the above graphic box, the cursor was sitting on the next line; but when I hit “enter,” the box moves down, not what I wanted at all.  So I tried “shift-enter,” and that worked, sort of, as you can see.

My Writers Writing “meetup” has nineteen members, counting me.  So far nobody has shown up for a meeting.  I’m inclined to kick them all out.

The Hemlock Club “meetup” has, currently, “44 philosophers,” but I’m the only one who talks about, reads, or seems to be much interested in, philosophy, though Pablo pretends.  He even calls it a “philosophy club,” incorrectly.  I may change the label from “philosophers” to “idiots.”

It seems that I’m grumpy this morning.  Um…grumpier.

I finished reading W. W. Bartley, III:  The Retreat to Commitment.  I don’t know why it is that the philosophy books that most impress and influence me get little or no attention from others.  This one seems to me incredibly important, but The Oxford Companion to Philosophy has nothing to say about Bartley, “pancritical rationalism,” or even “critical rationalism.”  Likewise, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [link] doesn’t mention Bartley or much of anything else that relates to my work

Very interesting to me was that Bartley had high praise for Walter Kaufmann’s Critique of Religion and Philosophy, which I’ve read twice and greatly loved, in part because it persuaded me that I didn’t need to read Kant.  That may have been forty years ago!  But I have seen very, very few references to Kaufmann anywhere.

What’s so “incredibly important” about Bartley’s book is that it refutes Wittgenstein’s comment about “the groundlessness of our beliefs” as well as the Christians’ claims about the need for faith.  That’s expressed badly but will have to do for now.

I have highlighted the book so heavily that it would be silly to copy all that out; I’ll pick out the most important points and add them to the CQ.

Also having finished the Gestalt Psychology, I have room for a heavyweight, but I couldn’t decide last night where to go next.  I want something relevant to the Bleak Philosophy “book,” so maybe something in pragmatism.  It would make sense to start with Peirce, or at the other end with The Oxford Handbook of American Philosophy, depending on whether I want a historical approach or to cherry-pick new ideas.  I typically go with the latter, since I’m lazy.  Copleston is another possibility, or even Durant.

On 11/2/18 I was writing about my reading of Wordsworth’s Prelude (or should it be “Prelude”?)  So what happened to that?  Why did I stop?  My “poetry ambition” now is the Faerie Queene.  I read twenty pages of Prelude, stopping with a hundred more unread.  I “should” finish that before I proceed with Spenser.  At least I can write something about why I’m quitting, if I decide it’s too dull.  As it is, I’m reading the lengthy Introduction to the FQ, after getting a taste of it and liking it well enough.  And where does all this leave Lucretius?  Back on the shelf.

It was reading Kieran Setiya:  Midlife:  A Philosophical Guide, which I bought for the full $14.95 at B&N because it looked interesting.  Anyway, J. S. Mill apparently was inspired by Wordsworth, and that reminded me.

I found someone’s Medi-Cal identification card.  I wanted an address to mail it to.  It took about eight phone calls to finally get an address; two of the state response phone lines were disconnected.  Astonishing.  As it is, by the time the card is returned to its owner, or otherwise disposed of, I suppose that a replacement will have been paid for.  Still, I’ll mail it and good riddance.

Tried watching Django Unchained; found it stupid, though not as stupid as many other movies.  From a promising beginning it degenerated into murder after murder, all without drama.  Django, it turns out, can shoot the eyes out of a fly at 1000 yards.  I was not willing to be interested in Tarantino’s fantasy gore-fest.

When I went to the library to pick up the DVD, I thought, “This isn’t the one I was expecting.”  I assumed that I was mistaken, because I knew that I had requested this one, too.  So I said nothing, and when I checked later, found that the DVD I’d seen as being ready to be picked up, had instead been sent back because I didn’t pick it up.  You see, I asked the librarian for the DVD I had on hold, but the librarian had overlooked that there were two.  So I ended up with only one, and the other was returned, and I was fined $1.  I knew that this was a possibility, but I’d kinda hoped that the librarian would recognize that I’d been in that day and that he had goofed, and so might hold the DVD until they were open again, but he didn’t (or someone else had dealt with the offending disk).

Browsing Thriftbooks, putting things in the cart, then realizing that I already have too much to read and dumping my selections.  I’d picked out Walter Kaufmann:  Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre and Bryan Magee:  Confessions of a Philosopher, and was looking at Coleman Barks:  Essential Rumi.  These are excellent books (I’m assuming about the Rumi), but I just don’t need them.  I bought nine books and a DVD today at the Beale Library for $5.  That’s great.  No need to add more to the groaning shelves.  I have literally dozens of books of poetry and about poetry and poets, almost all of which I haven’t read.

The DVD was the Orson Welles Jane Eyre, which I’ve been wanting; today I got it for fifty cents.  DVDs, unlike books, I can always find time for.

I’ve been reviewing volume 1 of Philosophy in the Twentieth Century because I need to talk a little, at least, about pragmatism in my Bleak Philosophy sketch.  I call myself a pragmatist, or say that my approach is pragmatic, but that’s not very explicit.  The book is really a pretty good anthology of pragmatism, because that’s the focus of the whole first volume.  I have additional James and Peirce if that’s not enough.

While I was in prison I “had time” for the two volumes of William James that the Library of America publishes.  I read the whole 2,000 pages, except for most of the psychology book because I’d already read the GBWW Principles.  Now I hardly “have time” for much of any reading, that is, I don’t make time for it.

Pablo met me at the Beale, and immediately resumed the tiresome rehashing of the Hellenism-Hellenistic nonsense.  Seems like that’s all he wants to do any more [argue].  I mentioned something about Alexander having conquered Greece, which he disputed, and he wanted to keep going on about it, so I “withdrew the comment” and said that he won.  My bitterness about this arguing, I might say, “knows no bounds.”  It’s always some simple matter of fact that can be settled by checking it; yet, even after we’ve checked, he still often refuses to let it alone; he’ll say that I’ve changed my words or whatever.  The fact is, he has a very poor grasp of whatever it was I said.  He may be harder of hearing than I thought.

As it turns out, it was Philip, Alexander’s father, who conquered Greece, though Alex had charge of the cavalry, at age 20.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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