Diary, 5/19 to 5/21/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Sophies World
Sophie’s World dissed below

{5/19/19}  Weight 221.0, I think.

I’m doing a lot of wandering in my reading, that is, picking this up and dropping it, then picking that up and dropping it.  Last night and today I’ve been dipping into Kierkegaard, finally decided that he’s not worth my time right now (ever), so I picked up Korzybski, again, after a layoff of a few years.  Because of Bleakspeak, naturally.  [Bleakspeak explained here]  It looks like I’ll want to spend some time with it, but reading the various Prefaces has been discouraging.  There’s just so much obscurity, and so much nonsense.  It’s a very uneven book, I think.  With the damn “Structural Differential” he lurches into pseudoscience.  Much of what he says is actually pretty sensible and useful, but is covered in a general way by the touchstone of “dragging the balloon of abstraction back to Earth.”  That’s a quote that I keep looking for in my Collected Quotations and not finding because it’s not there.  [5/21/19:  Actually, Kierkegaard is pretty interesting; I was feeling snotty at the time.]

I thought I had written about Korzybski in my diary, but it’s not in the computer diary…so maybe in the handwritten book that I started after my release.  Or maybe I got it [Science and Sanity] from the library while in prison.  Dunno.  I do know that I’ve tried twice to read it, and both times gave up at about page 300.  In browsing past that stumbling place, I see stuff that might be useful.  Of course there’s plenty that I’m pretty sure won’t be useful, like differential equations.

I bought a book by Roger Penrose called The Road to Reality.  It’s huge and likely to be horribly difficult—so why?  Because I am not content to say that “I’m never going to understand quantum mechanics because I’m not willing to take a year to learn the math.”  For once I intend to do the math, though the fifty pages I’ve read so far are not encouraging because I’m not getting Penrose’s discussion of hyperbolic geometry.  Hamilton has an affordable book, Fundamentals of Mathematical Physics, that covers a lot of the same math that Penrose covers, so I plan to get that after I get paid.  I’m not afraid of the math, though it’s not likely that I’ll master it, because lazy.  The subtitle of Penrose’s book is A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe.  Of course I’m an idiot.

I also bought a book on the E=MC² equation, purporting to explain why it is what it is.  In theory, it should be easier than Penrose, because less ambitious.  We’ll see.  I have long wondered, why is the constant exactly C²?  According to, I think, a review on Amazon, it isn’t exactly that amount.  So.

So what about The Common Good?  It’s on hold.  That’s unsatisfactory, but until I can find a local group to join, that’s how it’s going to be.  I’ll continue my whining on Twitter and here, about the end of the human experiment, but that doesn’t satisfy my need to “do something.”

Hemlock Club today was a bust because J didn’t make it, and L did.  Also, Dagny’s closed at noon because of a power problem—some very heavy rain today, and over the past 2-3 days.  So naturally I didn’t trike (which I just turned into a verb).

I was so eaten up with lust today that I had to masturbate, despite not having a pill to help it work.  You didn’t want to know that.

Took a diuretic pill this morning, which I’ve been doing pretty regularly, but today I had to pee three times in an hour at Dagny’s.  You didn’t want to know that, either, but this is life.  Just keeping it real, maybe.

I’ve been depressed, I have to admit it.  Around 6 pm I was ready to go to bed.  But I got into Korzybski, finally, and now it’s 9:00.  I stuffed myself with chocolate chip cookies instead of eating dinner.  It’s been a long time since I’ve binged like that.  How many cookies?  About eight.  Breakfast was also a mess—I felt kind of sick when I got up, so I started with two cookies and a banana.  Then a diet Dr. Pepper.  Meh.  It’s not a big deal as long as I get back to normal tomorrow.

It’s raining heavily again—unfortunately, since I like to listen to it, I can’t hear the rain here unless it’s pretty heavy.  Apologies for the inverted syntax, there.  I’ve had the TV off for hours, and haven’t even had music on since the Brahms Symphony No. 1 finished.  I got the Handel Water Music and Royal Fireworks about a week ago at the library for fifty cents.  One of the very few baroque things I like, that and the Vivaldi Four Seasons.  At least, I suppose they’re baroque.

I’m also reading Stephen Jay Gould’s super-massive The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.  I think that’s the correct title.  I’m going to need a Dictionary of Biology to understand it, or sorta understand it.  Evolution and neuroscience are the two areas that I try to keep up with, at least to a degree, unlike, say, astronomy, chemistry, physics, cosmology (until this month, i.e., Penrose), archaeology (though I watch the Egypt stuff on the National Geographic channel), and just about anything else that can be called “science.”  I pick up the occasional self-helpy book on cognitive science, too, not caring whether it counts as “neuroscience” or not.  Climate science I pretty much keep up with, too, though I make no real effort to master the details.  The general very-grim picture is enough, and more than enough.

I’d like to understand Central/South America and Israel/Palestine and the Middle East generally, but I have too little history and background, and few good sources.  I’ve gotten some books, but haven’t read them and maybe never will, because priorities.  As always, it’s “so many books (or irons), so little fire.”  The CIA and NSA I don’t even worry about.  Should I read the Mueller Report?  I toy with the idea, but don’t see any reason to drag my eyeballs over 400+ pages of exhausting detail; again, the general picture is enough.


{5/20/19}  Weight 220.0.

It’s a drag to wake before five o’clock and not get back to sleep.  The good news is that I got six solid hours, I think.  No, I woke once at around midnight, to pee.

Okay, so what is it with this depression?  The simple answer is that I’m ignoring my “mission statement”:  make the world a better place through my writing.  Somehow, I don’t think this diary (and subsequent blog posts) is quite enough in that direction.  Kick Me is supposed to be “enough,” but I’ve stopped working on it ever since I pulled the plug on Writers Writing on 4/6.  Somehow, the “commitment” or “dedication” to go to Dagny’s early to work died along with WW.  I need to restore the dedication, though perhaps “going to Dagny’s early” isn’t quite the ticket.  Perhaps it is.  But…that gets me two hours a week of actual work, and that clearly isn’t enough.  In theory, by persisting in doing some work I leave open the possibility that the work itself will engage me sufficiently to work more than that measly two hours.  When I wrote the first draft in a blaze of two months, I didn’t need “dedication.”  But I have not been able to recapture that magic, and I don’t even know how to try.  Or, make that, I don’t know how to try successfully.

Hence depression?  Per Maslow, yeah, maybe.  Somehow, I don’t think that’s quite it.  There’s too much amiss with my life and the world for me to conclude, “Yeah, I’m depressed because the book.”  So in part, I blame Weltschmerz.  But mostly, it’s my steadfast old friend, loneliness.  Which is lower down the hierarchy than the “B-value,” creativity, i.e., the book.

I recall a fragment of a dream from last night:  I had been offered $100,000 in compensation for something or other.  I negotiated for $150,000.  And I immediately wanted to give away $50,000 of that sum—to what, I can’t recall.  I think I wanted to give it to Ed, so he wouldn’t be homeless; then I thought of using the $150K to buy a house, to establish a kind of group home (because loneliness)…and then my mind wandered off somewhere else, no decision having been made.

So I was thinking of dance lessons as an enhancement to my social life; but I look like your average garden gnome, so as a dancer I would be grotesque, the “amusing, disgusting old codger pretending he can dance.”  I guess I could live with that; but having little confidence that learning to dance would change anything, I guess I’m not going to take the lessons.

Great.  Just caught about three minutes of the end of Democracy Now and they’re telling me that “our drugs aren’t safe,” in that it’s all lies, sorta.

Climate change.  Plastic in the ocean.  Loss of a million species.  Overpopulation.  Nukes.  Governmental duplicity.  Class war.  The Bloatus #Unpresident taking us to war.  Have I missed anything?  Hence, Weltschmerz.  The Band-aid is off the cancer.

Now, with the book, I feel like every time I open it to take a look, I’m looking through a cardboard tube:  I can’t see enough at one time to get a feel for whatever it is I think I need a feel for.  So:  switch to “Outline” view and read that!  A trick to try.

One thing I’m liking about Alfred Korzybski:  Science and Sanity is his identifying “elementalism.”  Speaking of space and time, body and mind, is “elementalist” because the new dispensation is space-time and body-mind.  I haven’t seen yet where K speaks of matter-energy, but that would seem to apply as well.  Having this label of “elementalist” is useful.  This is one reason why I want to read K; what I need to do this time is to cherry-pick and summarize.  And maybe the place to start is van Vogt’s “Null Abstracts.”  (Actually, I don’t believe that that’s the place to start; it’s just another task.)

Elementalism comes from the old reductionist paradigm of “carving nature at the joints.”  I suppose it started with the Greeks, like Aristotle, hmm?  It turns out that these “joints” are, in many-most-all cases, illusory.  Alan Watts would, I suppose, say “all cases.”  He uses the example of “the cat on the mat,” saying “the catting on the matting.”  In the example, he is emphasizing the process nature of cat and mat; at another time he might have said, “The universe is catting on the matting,” which is how I want to express it now.

Is it “elementalist” to speak of the cat and the mat?  We have to carve some joints if we are to communicate and think at all, otherwise we have to speak of universe1 and universe2 like:  “Universecatting is on the universematting,” which is more harmful than not.  What’s important in all this is the awareness; not every awareness needs to make its way into GS-speak or Bleakspeak.

Korzybski also stresses the “multiordinality” of words, that is, that many words have more than one meaning.  K handles this by indexing, i.e., subscripts, like Smith1 and Smith2; at least, I think that’s what this is about.

I have in the past railed against what I called “essentialism,” that is, seeking or talking about “the essence of X.”  A glance into the Oxford Guide to Philosophy revealed that I was not quite on the mark.  Some qualities of apples are essential to their being called “apples.”  If it doesn’t grow on a tree, it’s not an apple—as an example.  So the philosophical theory of “essentialism” is distinguishing between “essential” and “accidental” qualities or predicates.  The example is, it is essential of Napoleon that he be a human being; it is accidental of (all possible) Napoleons that he is Emperor of France.  I don’t have a problem with this, but I still reject essentialist-talk.

Typed the “Null Abstracts” into my Collected Quotations, tut-tutting as I went.  Some silly stuff in there.

A quote from Hermann Hesse:  Demian (other data not recorded):  “Yet, what a real living human being is made of seems to be less understood today than at any time before, and men—each one of whom represents a unique and valuable experiment on the part of nature—are therefore shot wholesale nowadays.  If we were not something more than unique human beings, if each one of us could really be done away with once and for all by a single bullet, storytelling would lose all purpose.  But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again.”

I wrote this down when I was reading the book—which I did not finish—and now I no longer have the book.  I like it rather well and think it might go well in Kick Me, but I’m also thinking that it might come across as pretentious.  (When I ask myself, “Should I care about that?” the only answer is “No.”  In context, “pretentious” should be the least of my worries, eh?)  Perhaps include it where I accuse myself of a grandiose mood which will soon pass.  So I’ll leave it here, and in my CQ.  Leaving open the possibility of including it.  It also looks like a plea for understanding or approval—in that case, it should definitely be omitted.

Although I’m doing very little toward actively revising KM, I’m always coming up with new quotes that I want to add (to a book already overloaded, perhaps).

Listening to the Bloch piano quintets.  The first sounds heavily influenced by Bartok.  It hits the ground running.

I had thought to go to Valley Plaza for Wi-Fi, but now it seems unimportant.

Listening to Shostakovich’s Twelfth Symphony.  Listened to his Eleventh earlier.  Great stuff.


{5/21/19}  Weight 220.6.  Later, 220.0.

Up at 4:00 am, yay.  But I did get six hours straight.

Came across “masturbation” in the index of Science and Sanity and took a look.  The psychology or sexology offered here is primitive, disgusting, and stereotyped even for 1933, in other words, garbage.  For example, every paraphilia is called “infantile.”  This does not, of course, reduce the other values of the book.

A thought about the Fynn novel:  the neighbor reads or has read Sophie’s World, and delivers a note to Fynn that says, “Who are you?”

As it happens, Sophie’s World doesn’t come close to holding my interest.  I also find that William James is not listed in the index, and Bertrand Russell gets one page.  I’d hazard a guess that Wittgenstein isn’t listed, either.  He’s not.  Perhaps the novel was written in 1900.  Sophie “herself” isn’t much, but then, my interest in such characters is, shall I say, warped?

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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