Commitment: Diary, 5/29 to 5/30/21

Walter Kaufmann (1921-1980), philosopher & translator

{5/29/21}  Weight 215.4 at 5:30 am.  I seemed unusually hungry yesterday, and topped it off with a Cheetos binge at 10:00 pm.

Hemlock Club today.

After being thoroughly disgusted with E. M. Forster:  Aspects of the Novel, I picked up Walter Kaufmann: Tragedy and Philosophy.  I read “A Note on Translations,” at the end, and found it wise and informative.  Then I read the back cover and was encouraged.  Finally, I read the very brief “Introduction” and “Prologue,” the latter ending with this:  “Hell, purgatory, and heaven are not for us, except insofar as all three are here and now, on this earth.  The great tragic poets knew all three, and their visions can illuminate our hell.”  I am very excited by this book so far.  I have forgotten what riches I found in Walter Kaufmann when I was in my twenties and thirties, and I think it would do me well to rediscover him now.

In part, I was prepared for something like Kaufmann’s words by the two-hour phone conversation I had with Nog last night, in which we both were pessimistic and despairing about the world.  If we are in hell, I would like to hear what Kaufmann thinks the great tragic poets have to say to “illuminate” it.

If nothing else, reading this book may give me more to say, something to add to my essay, “Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes and the Value of Literature,” which is on my blog and which I reread a few days ago.

The Forster was a big disappointment.  The only thing I have gotten from the first forty-two pages is a disdain for Forster and his book.  Shall I continue reading?  It’s always discouraging to have an experience like this, to buy a book I’ve previously read (or perhaps started reading—it’s hard to believe that after such a beginning I ever was able to continue) and begin reading with high hopes, only to feel that the author is not serious, that he is aiming only to impress me with his erudition and wit, that he has presented his book under false pretenses.  He had an insightful comment about War and Peace, but that’s all I’ve found to like.

{5/30/21}  Weight 216.4 at 6:30 am.

“Total Support Pouch” and “driverless pizza delivery” ads back-to-back on TV just now.  < followed by distant sounds of vomiting >

Watched a DVD, Sideways, that Pablo rented from the library.  He was eager to have Nog and L watch as well, but they weren’t interested or available, respectively.  As it happened, I didn’t like the movie much.  I was somewhat resistant going in because Pablo was pushing, even bullying, Nog about it.  As it happened, much of it annoyed me, and on the whole it was a disappointment to me, not at all to Pablo (he’d seen it before).

Somewhat at loose ends after reading a while in KM, and watching an episode of The Simpsons, I picked up The Handbook of Gestalt Therapy, which I bought some months ago, and leafed through it a bit.  I think I’ve reached the limit to my interest in GT; this book in particular irks me with a trivial error—they got wrong the title of Fritz Perls’s In and Out the Garbage Pail, insisting on “correcting” it wherever it is used, by inserting “of.”  Despite reading much about GT, especially in my formative twenties, most of it never really entered my mental tool kit, or at least, no more than Freudianism has.  “Listening to my body” is sort of GT, and I do that sometimes, most recently in my “shrugging off” my disappointment in finding Oliver, as described here on 5/18.

Offered KM to Z (on Twitter); she was enthusiastic, but she’s always enthusiastic and never follows through, like a lot of people.  I directed her to the blog and I think she looked at my latest diary entry (and nothing else); I’m not going to bother sending the book to her.

My “quest for self-mastery”—what is this but a joke?  That I happen to be dead inside, I try to interpret as “control of my emotions.”  I am blown about by winds of whim and mood.  I spend time on Twitter and call it “fighting the good fight,” and so deceive myself (or try to) that I am actually following my pathetic mission statement, “To make the world a better place through my writing.”  I am on Twitter because it entertains me and allows me to make jokes, “jokes” which often are just belittling the efforts of others.  KM is the real task.  My “efforts to lose weight” are a dismal failure:  I’ve gained ten pounds in about five months.  I don’t exercise.

Okay, so where have I succeeded?  I’ve worked on KM.  I’ve written 115 pages of diary since 1/1/21, or about twenty pages a month.  I’ve written other things also, though “never enough.”  I found Oliver—but that has almost nothing to do with self-mastery.  I’ve managed to keep my book buying within the bounds I’ve set.  So?  I’ve stopped eating potato chips and managed to avoid bingeing for quite some time (until a couple of days ago).  I’ve kept my sink clear of dishes, mostly—a large success, but not a recent one.  Looking through my “self-mastery notebook,” which I started in October, 2019, is not encouraging, but may help if I want to renew my efforts.

As for fiction writing, I should just stop all efforts at “teaching myself,” such as reading Uzzell or Forster, and put my energy into actual writing, either new stories or additional scenes of existing novel-starts, like Man and Mother Nature.  Even if these efforts go nowhere, at least I’ll be doing the right things.  The “teaching” effort may just be another form of procrastination.  I can always read the books after doing the writing.

Kat can be seeking “the god of the forest.”

I am hereby committing to fiction writing every day, before breakfast.

Watched a French film with Pablo, Augustine, an interesting and sexy “true story” of the treatment of female hysterics in 1885 France.  Often slow and dark (meaning “needing more light”), but it held my interest throughout.  Soko, a youngish singer-actress, was effective in the eponymous role.  Two music videos by Soko as extras; one was dark in the other sense, the other was lesbian-sexy and rather more cheerful.  Would I recommend it?  Only to fans of French movies. [5/31: Feminists might want to see it also.]

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