Diary, 7/24 to 7/31/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved


{7/24/19}  Weight 223.0.

{7/25/19}  Weight 223.6.

Yesterday I tried multiple ways to reinstall Windows, but everything failed.  Yet when I got access to WiFi, Firefox worked.  So, problem solved.

In bed this morning, I was dreaming or twilight-sleep thinking of a problem in chess:  how to mate the opposing king when you have only a bishop and a knight, and, as in “kriegspiel,” you don’t have the opposing king on your board.

Yesterday and today, sharp pains in my right ankle when I walk.  Rest overnight didn’t help much.  I’m thinking that it’s gout.  I read the relevant pages in the Merck Manual and am trying the possible responses:  stop the diuretic, take extra potassium, and add a couple of aspirin.  But it looks like I’m stuck at home today.

So I watched (again) Nanny McPhee this morning and thought it pitch-perfect, hilarious, and sweet almost all the way through, but the wedding scene was a huge letdown—seriously, after so much brilliance, a pie fight?  What a wonderful script from Emma Thompson; one hopes that the pie fight was not in the script, but was an addition by a stupid director.  But a delightful, delightful movie.

Reading Walter Kaufmann:  Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, Meridian/Penguin, New York, 1956-1975.  A quote:

“Is there nothing to be said in favor of those who are mindful of their fallibility precisely in matters of faith and morals?” (p. 85).  I am not mindful of my fallibility in the matter of my atheism; I could no more reconsider this seriously than I could seriously wonder whether I am alive.  [7/31:  A poor comparison.]  The morals question, however, is indeed difficult, and I have little confidence in any position I have espoused to date.

That’s a superficial response, but I’m in a hurry to get to the bathroom, and then to bed.

Typed up a short list of “Philosophical Questions.”

{7/26/19}  Weight 223.2.

Spent much of the day in bed, resting my (gouty?) foot and reading philosophy (skipping from book to book, settling finally on Rorty).  Today I want to go to Wal-Mart, but my ankle is not trustworthy—can I avoid stressing it?

Last night I watched The Lord of the Rings:  Fellowship of the Ring as far as the end of the Mines of Moria sequence, which sequence seems to me one of the great half-hours in the history of fantasy films.  Otherwise, I was again reminded of how weak the writing team was when they had to rely on their own abilities rather than using Tolkien’s words.  An example:  Bilbo talking to Gandalf about Frodo before the party:  “I think in his heart he’s still in love with the Shire.”  Another example:  in Bree, when the hobbits have learned that Gandalf is not there, Frodo says to Sam, foolishly, “He’ll be here.”  And Sam says regarding Strider, “He’s done nothing but look at you since we got here,” or words to that effect, when, clearly, Sam could have seen no such thing.  The whole Prancing Pony sequence is full of cheap tricks and uninspired writing.

Indeed, “cheap tricks and uninspired writing” pretty well sums up my gripes about the whole trilogy, if I may add:  the lack of chemistry, passion, and adequate acting in the Arwen-Aragorn romance.  Which amounts to nothing more than petty carping about movies that, on first viewing, are fabulous beyond one’s wildest hopes.

So I went to Wal-Mart, had breakfast there (McDonald’s), and the ankle held up.  I had a serious twinge before getting off the property here, thought about coming right back, then decided to push on—it’s okay as long as I limp without needing to.  Bought a box fan, sandals, Transformers DVDs, and a folding luggage cart, plus misc., $111.  The DVDs were $15 more than I expected, which I discovered on the bus on the way home.  Owee.

{7/27/19}  Weight 222.6.

A couple of dream fragments:  First, I was looking through a book, just flipping pages and not reading, when I noticed that pages were missing.  I examined the numbers on many pages without coming to a more substantial or detailed conclusion.

Second, I was talking to some government official, a spokesperson for someone, and I was thinking of saying, “Look, your boy got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and you tell us that he was putting cookies in.  I understand that that’s your job.”  But I didn’t actually say anything.

So I watched the first Transformers on DVD yesterday and was not disappointed.  It’s purely mind-numbing action with generally appealing actors and some surprising humor.  The sequel, which I watched this morning, was about as much fun.  The third installment, which I watched this afternoon, is hugely disappointing and very slow getting to anything interesting.  The last hour is mostly okay, but the replacement of Megan Fox sticks in the craw, killing my already minimal interest in the romance.  The fourth of the franchise comes with a completely new cast—I’ve seen much of it in bits and pieces and I’m no Mark Wahlberg fan (on the contrary), but Nicola Peltz is good as his daughter.  The fifth and sixth I haven’t seen anything of yet.

Today I did grocery shopping early and have been shamelessly indulging myself with movies and food ever since (Cheetos, a pie, and ice cream).

Hemlock Club tomorrow promises to be a total bust because J will likely still be in jail (we learned of this on Friday evening) and Pablo has said he doesn’t plan to attend.  I’ll go in anyway, since I want to use the Internet and Salomé will likely call via Skype.

I’ve been reading Richard Rorty:  Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, which I think of as “my next step in philosophy.”  I read this once before with the feeling that it was rather over my head, and have occasionally reviewed my typed quotes.  But the “Introduction” by Michael Williams seems very comprehensible and persuasive—if I can keep its lessons in mind, probably by periodic reviews, I can pretty much let the sticky parts go.

Three points remain in mind:  first, the “antirepresentationalist” approach, which I won’t attempt to summarize just yet; the thought that “truth” is not to be found by the usual methods, but rather through discussion leading to agreement (i.e., no one is willing to defend an opposing claim); and finally, that the point of philosophy is to be inspiring and edifying, not to provide some kind of “foundation” to philosophical claims.  This is expressed very badly, but, without looking back at the book and doing a proper job, it’s all I’m going to attempt today.

The “soft commitment,” being a morning thing, runs aground on my preference for avoiding the heat of the day by doing my shopping and such as early as possible, like before breakfast yesterday and today.  Between Wal-Mart and Food Maxx I’ve spent $200 in two days.  Given that it’s five weeks until my next payday, I’ll need to be careful.

When it’s as hot is it is today, even reading seems like a chore.  How hot is it?  Over 100° outside, about 85° inside at 4:00 pm.  It will not cool significantly until morning.  Probably more significant than the heat is my mood, however.

The good news is that my gout is not much of a problem right now.

{7/28/19}  Weight 223.6.

180 pages of this diary this year.  What a dull book this would be to read.

The Hemlock Club today, which looked completely unpromising, marked the surprise return of Sebastian, the one person I’ve met through the club who seems genuinely interested in philosophy, and my opinion thereof.  He’s 24, with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.  The bad news is that he’s leaving for New York soon.  But we may manage to get a correspondence going.

We talked quite a bit about Dostoyevsky’s novels, somewhat on the value of literature, and other stuff like that.  Pablo showed up after a while and added some stuff.  J did not show, as expected.  Salomé and I managed to miss each other again, primarily because I was distracted by Sebastian.

So now it’s 3:45, 86° inside, 108° outside.  It may top 90° inside tonight.  Last night was pretty miserable, with similar temps, though I did manage to sleep.

Watched the Transformers, part 4.  It was better than number 3, but had some very tiresome bits.

Now I’m sort of at loose ends, though I guess I can read some and eat some and sleep some, and probably not write anything other than this, and thus another day passes.

I blame the weather on  my self-indulgent fecklessness tonight, though I did cook dinner.  It’s 7:15, 88° inside, over 100 outside (exact temperature unknown).  That is, I watched yet another Transformers movie, The Last Knight; despite some minor eye candy, it’s the least and worst of the lot.  Well, maybe not worse than #3, but bad enough.  It’s just pieces of the first four (or first two) movies, recycled endlessly, and substantially less exciting along the way.  A C-3PO knockoff helps somewhat with the humor, but the story is really a mess.  Big fat meh.

One movie remains, 2018’s Bumblebee.  Though I dote on Hailee Steinfeld (at least her role in the True Grit remake), I’m not expecting much; I’ll watch it tomorrow.  Two doses of this mind-numbing crap is more than enough for one day.  I don’t expect to finish watching The Fellowship of the Ring and possibly nothing more of the trilogy.  I have movies on the way from the library and Hamilton Booksellers.

I can go to bed with the fan blowing right on me and try to read, but I expect I’ll sleep soon enough.  Getting through the nights is not much fun—I’m always waking up to soaked sheets, getting up to pee, then trying to get back to sleep.  Which is followed by getting through the day.  Only the mornings are cool enough to allow anything serious to take place, such as reading and writing.  I’ll be going to the Beale library tomorrow, but not before 11:00.

{7/29/19}  Weight 222.4.

When it comes to Transformers movies, apparently smaller is better.  More comedy, smaller-scale action, lots of love and probably cheap sentiment, plus Hailee Steinfeld, makes a winning combination, though hardcore Transformers fans I’d guess were disappointed.  Ms. Steinfeld has real star power.  The unfortunate thing is that she’s not likely to make another Transformers movie.

Depressing news this morning, nothing unusual there.

{7/30/19}  Weight 222.0.  Later, 221.6.

Yesterday was productive in the sense that I acquired about 50 CDs and a few books for $20 at the Beale library, and a second hefty bag of books at Bookhounds for $51.34.  The latter includes a three-volume set on the foundations of mathematics, two volumes of Turgenev, and several books of philosophy and psychology.  I couldn’t have done this without the new folding luggage cart I bought at Wal-Mart last week.  It is not obvious that I’ll get a lot of use out of any of these books, but I was glad to get them.  Various women on buses were chatty with me and Pablo, to no significant ends.

Some of the CDs are likely to get significant use, viz., three of Respighi, including the Ancient Airs and Dances that I played last night.

Now, last night I wrote on the first page of Richard Rorty’s “Introduction” to Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, “Great!  Now I can give up reading philosophy.”  This is only a slight exaggeration.  In a way, I’ve been approaching this position for years.  Popper and Bartley taught me that science is, essentially, just our best guesses; Wittgenstein persuaded me that our beliefs do not have solid foundations; and a previous reading of Rorty’s magnum opus led me further along the road to, perhaps, my current… antiphilosophy?  It’s a term I’ve seen in the titles of books on Amazon, but it is not in the index of the Oxford Guide to Philosophy.  It’s also not in the Stanford Encyclopedia (online).

In fact, I will continue reading philosophy, including Rorty, Kaufmann, and Nietzsche at least.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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