Diary: 5/26 to 5/29/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Korzybski by Google

Continuing {5/26/19}:

Had a troubling conversation with Pablo at a troubling meeting of the Hemlock Club.  The conversation began with Pablo saying something or other, and J arriving and interrupting him about something or other, and Pablo being outraged at being interrupted, quickly escalating to “Shut the fuck up” and “Fuck you,” repeated loudly several times, while I tried to shush him.  This was bad, but being interrupted by J and my failing to “defend” him, has been a sore spot with Pablo for just about ever (i.e., a few months).

Then Pablo made a statement comparing Tesla and Edison, and claiming that Tesla was “more intuitive” than Edison.  This astonishing claim provoked my disbelief, so I challenged him on his knowledge of these two inventors, particularly of their methods.  Specifically, I asked him, “How do you know?”  This question is a trusty weapon in the tool kit of any skeptic, and is generally a good place to start.  In response, Pablo began talking about the 1899 World’s Fair in Chicago.  He went on to explain that Tesla’s invention of alternating current was demonstrated in the lighting of the W.F.  Yes?  And?  There was no “and.”  He apparently thinks that his thesis was proved, that Tesla was “more intuitive” because he created or invented alternating current.  This is insanity.

Now, the question for me is, why did I get mad at him?  Apparently, I was expecting him to be reasonable, but he was as described, i.e., incoherent and unreasonable.  I suppose I was still emotional about the previous argument, also.

Anyway, this “discussion” wasted about thirty minutes, essentially “the whole meeting,” after which Pablo left to go receive his Sunday “shamanism training.”  J and I talked a little, with him mostly expressing vague support for whatever he thought Pablo was trying to explain, but this didn’t last long, as I was more concerned about why I had gotten so emotional.

We got to talking about the HC business cards, with J offering some suggestions about the wording and such.  He is concerned that including the word “philosophy” will scare off some potential members; I tried to make him understand that I had started the club because I wanted to discuss philosophy, but getting him to understand anything is almost as difficult as getting Pablo to understand anything.

Eventually, J was reading the newspaper while I was on the Internet.  I was more or less getting ready to leave when L showed up.  So I stuck around for a while, but ended up leaving early anyway, having said almost nothing to L, just asking a couple of questions about whatever it was he was talking about.  So:  phooey.

And my left eye has been irritated for two or three days, an old, tiresome story.

{5/27/19}  Weight 222.0.

Watched Under the Skin:  very slow, occasionally astonishing, finally a pointless, stupid downer which I’ve seen before.  You do get to see Scarlett Johansson naked, which is a sight worth seeing if you’re into that sort of thing.  Did I mention very slow?

Actually, I started the Hemlock Club because I wanted friends.

I think I’m depressed.  If I’m depressed, then I should do some work, because being depressed is even more boring than work.

{5/28/19}  Weight 222.2.  If only I’d laid off the cookies.

Two dreams last night:  First, four invisible men attempting to track a woman in a large building.  Eventually the woman goes outside and somehow acquires a man in a wheelchair, which she is pushing along the street.  Two invisible men are following, trying to separate the woman from the wheelchair by tripping her or causing her to bump into one of the men.

Second, I was at an ATM machine inside a bank.  The machine gives me too much money, a stack of new $20 bills.  I take the money and printed receipt to a teller.

Last night, while remaking my bed, I found a bedbug, in the exact same place I found the last one a couple or three weeks ago, making a total of two in about four months.  This is puzzling, and I believe that I have not been bitten during those months.

I’m continuing to read and take notes in Science and Sanity, being at about page 150.  It’s hard to read because there is so much unfamiliar terminology, like (omitting quote marks) semantic reaction, multiordinality, ∞-valued, extensional, elementalistic, additivity, psycho-logical, asymmetrical relations, and so on.  Some of this jargon seems to me useful, some rather empty.  In particular, K uses the word “semantic” as an adjective often where it seems to add nothing to the noun it modifies.  That is, “semantic reaction,” probably the most-used term in the book, often seems to mean nothing more than “reaction.”

The rest of my reading includes Neurotribes [about autism], a calculus textbook, The Meaning of Meaning (Ogden and Richards), The Structure of Evolutionary Theory [Stephen J. Gould’s magnum opus] and Why Does E=MC²?.  The Kaufmann biography and Penrose’s book on physics [The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe] are on long-term hold.  I’m reading the calculus book in preparation for a second try at the Penrose.  But my main focus is the Korzybski (Science and Sanity).  I printed out the Wikipedia article on “General Semantics,” which seems to me both fair and accurate, though rather superficial about GS itself, focusing more on its history than on the technicalities.  In other words, it’s an article for “the general reader,” not the student of GS.

Gould’s Structure of Evolutionary Theory, which is my “bedtime reading,” has been extremely technical so far, with a number of words not in my Webster’s New World College Dictionary, but I skipped the last couple of pages of the book overview to get into gentler terrain, which is a summary of Darwin’s Origin of Species, beginning Gould’s history of evolutionary theory.  I am not, at this point, concerned about the extreme technicality of the overview, because each bit will presumably be revisited and expanded in the thousand pages to come.  I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to get this like-new copy at a library book sale, for about $4, so apparently somebody else bit off more than they could chew.  I’m no scientist, but I think I’m reasonably well prepared for this challenge, and I am anticipating delivery of the now-very-necessary Dictionary of Biology that I bought from Thriftbooks.

I have an appointment today to take a polygraph exam, a now-twice-yearly requirement of my probation.  Oh, joy.

Had a long conversation with Pablo on the phone yesterday, in which he went on and on and on about Tesla and “intuition.”  After he said “fuck you” a few times I told him that if he said it again it would result in an automatic hang-up from me.  Despite this tedium, I was so bored by life that I agreed to meet him at Valley Plaza.  My purpose was to use the Internet, which I told him, and which I did, though I failed at perhaps my main purpose, which was to send a Rubik’s Cube to Z as a gift.  Unfortunately, although I had put the necessary notebook out to take with me, the one that has her address, I had moved it aside at some point and so ended up leaving it behind.  One of the many joys of being a befuddled old doofus.

I watched a long action sequence in the many-times-viewed Captain America:  The Winter Soldier before turning it off.  Directed by Anthony Russo.  Somehow, these things never get old.  However, if I had it on DVD, I’d never watch it, because these things do get old.

Old beyond recovery (maybe) are the three Iron Mans and The Lord of the Rings.  Also too-familiar and tired is the set of six Jane Austen titles from the BBC.  The Tobey Maguire Spider-man DVD trilogy I even got rid of, despite having that one wonderful scene of Kirsten Dunst in the rain (which I’m certain has been edited to cut out the ahem most titillating couple of seconds—I suppose at the actress’s request, because it really was exploitative).  I love the ferocious battles between Spidey and Doc Ock, but, eh.

U.S. politicians are content and untroubled to keep the bombs dropping in the Middle East, because money.  This is evil.

U.S. politicians are content and untroubled to keep the carbon dioxide pumping into the atmosphere, killing the biosphere, because money.  This is insanity.

So, weltschmerz.  But not apathy.

An hour this morning to write the above; alas, the enthusiasm does not extend as far as Kick Me.

{5/29/19}  Weight ?

A dream, at 1:30 am:  I am at a party, engaged in rearranging the bottles of liquor in a refrigerator while preparing for myself a generous drink.  I am with a handful of men, and as I am completing my task, one proposes that we visit a classroom (or, perhaps, another classroom, so we are in a classroom?), upstairs, where he promises there are attractive women for us to look at.  And so we go, carrying our glasses, and I enter and take the initiative and make a speech which seemed to me, in my dream, both eloquent and amusing, something to this effect:  “My friend here has told me of the bounty of beauteous ladies to be found herein, but I find that he was perhaps insufficiently voluble in his promises, but be that as it may, I propose a brief but memorable trifle, as follows:  that each blushing maid offer her smooth cheek, to receive a chaste kiss in passing from each of these young gentlemen in turn, and as I am the eldest but not wisest, propose to lead the way.  Please remain seated, ladies, we seek only these cheeks and no others.  Now, here’s a beauty indeed, is this the face that burnt the topless towers of Ilium?  With eyes that can slay a man at a hundred paces, nay, an eye that can stop a squadron of dragoons in mid-charge…”

There was something, as I recall, said about how this trifle would be more memorable than any dull lecture, but as I was pondering the exact wording and anticipating a response from the lecturer, I woke, and at once wanted to record the dream-reverie because it was amusing and unlikely.

As it happens, I went to bed early—7:30?—not caring when I might wake, with a book, Barry Stevens:  Burst Out Laughing, which I read briefly, then tented on my stomach, and dozed.  Then I put the book aside and slept, woke at 11:30 for a bathroom break, then returned to bed and dreamt as I recorded above.  My speech, as I thought in the dream, was agilely Shakespearean; but I fear that the bloom departed with the dream, and the above is but a pale imitation—I’ll shut up now.

Well, I’m in a good mood, which probably shows in this midnight writing, a welcome change after my morose morning yesterday.  I am pissing away my days, and I have too few yet to lose any.  Will my life end with nothing to show but a modest collection of books and some hundreds of thousands of empty words that will remain forever obscure?  My apparent unwillingness to do my work is troubling, meaning, of course, Kick Me, but also the neglected tricycle.  I don’t know how to overcome my reluctance other than to go ahead and do it.

But, not at 2:00 am.  (This is a good mood?)

So I went back to bed, slept, and had another dream:  I was looking at a CD which I hadn’t known that I owned (and in fact do not own).  On both sides of the case were pictures that included Charlton Heston, in one of which he was holding a brass instrument, perhaps a trombone.  The music on the CD consisted of an oboe concerto and I think a string quartet, and it may be that the composers were Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Ben Haim:  the same composers as on a CD that I played yesterday, though the pieces were different.  That’s it.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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