The Philosophy Club: Diary, 11/8 to 11/14/21

“My new novel”; choosing to believe; my background; dreams; Saw franchise; nausea and gastritis; Cells; Marvel’s Eternals; Herbert Read quote; critique group.

Richard Rorty (1931-2007) American philosopher, not discussed below

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{11/8/21}  Weight 210.8 at 5:40 am.

Our “philosophy club” would be more accurately called a “mysticism club.”

Pablo chooses to believe in God; what can he say, then, to someone who chooses to believe in Fox News or Donald Trump?  He finds these anathema; I do too, but I’d add God to the list.  I choose to believe in rationality, or perhaps more accurately, critical thinking.  Which is why I rate those things as anathema:  they’re liars or, in the case of God, a lie.  They’re unreliable.  My thought for the day.

Looking back in bed this morning, I see that I’ve been in war, fell in love, was married and raised a child, taught school, played in chess tournaments, wrote a book or several books, graduated from college, read Wittgenstein, solved Rubik’s Cube, created board games, programmed computers, worked in offices, spent years in prison, identified 200 birds, saw Halley’s comet, drove a car, camped out, flew in airplanes, survived the Trump presidency…need I go on?  I have plenty of background to write novels.

I am a critical thinker among the gullible.

{11/9/21}  Weight 211.0 at 6:00 am.

Read Cynthia’s first piece for the critique group.  She’s pretty terrible.  Trouble ahead, maybe.  She’s published ten books…

{11/10/21}  Weight 210.8 at 5:45 am.

{11/11/21}  Weight 209.8 at 7:42 am.  Last time I weighed this low was on 4/30/21.  Got up three or four times in the night to pee, so it’s not dehydration, it’s the result of persistent self-denial.  It seems like I’m hungry “all the time.”

An amusing dream.  I was a child and I was in a field with other boys, about to play baseball.  A couple of boys approached and told us that we must lose the game.  I grew enraged.  The boys left.  I went to the front of bleachers full of people and started yelling that I had something to say.  I was going to tell them what had happened.  Everyone was talking, paying no attention to me.  I kept yelling.  Then, some younger children on a bench to my right and somewhat behind me began to sing.  I told them, “Stop singing!”  A boy looked at me angrily and sang as loud as he could.  That’s all.

Watched Saw III and Saw IV last night and enjoyed them very much.  I think III was the best of the series, really building to a climax and not just ending with a trick revealed (though there was that, too).  Aside from the doctor being kidnapped to care for Jigsaw, it seemed very unfamiliar.  Even the death gimmicks seemed unfamiliar.  Yet I was writing about this series on 10/5/21.  I watched Saw and Saw II recently as well.  IV was quite confusing—too many characters, too much going on, but still fun.  RT critics are mostly negative, but the audiences aren’t.  The death of the Jigsaw character in the middle of the series hasn’t slowed down the producers, but the later installments have been increasingly contrived and less interesting in an admittedly contrived series.

Getting some progress, finally, on The Philosophy Club (new title).  It’s just a dialogue, rather like Plato’s, and herein lies a problem:  will Pablo and Cynthia be interested?  I’m thinking that I’ll give them “Chapter One” and let them decide if they want to read more.  If they don’t then I’ll try getting another novel started and give them those chapters, while still working on TPC.

Did laundry yesterday.  I’ve had rather full mornings lately, which always gives me an excuse to produce nothing.

Today is Veterans Day and I’ll be out to buy groceries; tomorrow is Friday and I’m meeting with Nog at 10:00, then Pablo and Cynthia at noon.  Nog wanted to discuss Russell’s “Mysticism and Logic,” which we started on last Saturday and may continue this Saturday.  I handed out copies at a previous meeting.

The nausea continues, somewhat abated.  I’ve been given pills for gastritis, and they seem to help, but it’s caused by the daily “baby aspirin” I take as a blood thinner.  Yesterday I chewed it and let it dissolve as much as possible in my mouth before swallowing—I’m hoping that this will help even more than the pills do.  It’s hard to do much when you’re feeling sick (though Nietzsche managed!).

{11/12/21}  Weight 210.4 at 6:25 am.

Long dream this morning starting with Laurel and Hardy, leading into the Our Gang troupe, ending with four enormously fat babies, all in black and white.  Somewhere along the line, I got involved and there was a lion in a cave that I “didn’t know was there.”

Waking in the 4 am hour, I wanted to go back to sleep but got to thinking about evolution and life, how cells are enormously complex and how the history of life is almost all about the growth from single-celled life to multicellular life, requiring four billion of the 4.65 billion year history.  From there I got onto the clay crystal theory of the origin of life from A. G. Cairns-Smith, from his book The Origins of Life, which I haven’t read in fifty years.  Also in there I was thinking about amino acids and proteins and the astonishing complexity of cellular metabolism.  In prison I had a massive book titled Cells which just blew my mind.  So I spent two hours thinking about this stuff and amazing myself with how much I remembered of these broad outlines.  This old brain still works goodly.

Meeting with Pablo and Cynthia today at Dagny’s; Nog had wanted to discuss “Mysticism and Logic,” but called me last night to cancel that—we’ll talk about it as previously planned, at the next Hemlock Club meeting.  We talked for almost ninety minutes about the essay and other things, mostly forgotten.  This old brain is a leaky sponge.

Watched Saw V and VI last night and enjoyed them very much.  Delightfully twisted.  No commercials.

Also reread Cynthia’s chapters, so I am prepared.

{11/13/21}  Weight 210.6 at 5:45 am.

Sat Marvel’s Eternals yesterday.  I like the overall conception and the Jack Kirby-inspired visuals, but not that much else.  The action scenes were okay, though ordinary superhero stuff (could’ve used more of Black Widow and less of Justice League, whatever that means), there was too much love story, and it tended to drag, but overall it’s okay.  I won’t bother getting the DVD.

Hemlock Club today was pretty good, with a lot of focus on Bertrand Russell’s essay, “Mysticism and Logic” (available as a free download).  I also read aloud the six pages I’ve written so far on my Philosophy Club novel.  It was well received.

I am somewhat undecided about that novel:  should I continue with the pure philosophy dialogue, or should I mix up the form a bit with more ordinary storytelling?  The feedback I get in two weeks from the critique group (i.e., Cynthia and Pablo) will be important—if they don’t want to read this stuff, beyond the “first chapter,” I’ll perhaps start a second novel.  I think I’ve said all this already, however.

A quote from Herbert Read, who I rather like: “In the history of art, the genius is finally all that matters.” To Hell with Culture and Other Essays on Art and Society, Shocken Books, New York, 1963, p. x.

{11/14/21}  Weight 210.8 at 8:00 am.

Be careful what you wish for:  I’m now in a critique group, but my current attempt at a novel has made me realize that I’m not the person to write this novel.  What I decided tonight is that I’ll type up what I’ve written and live with it for a while, maybe finding a way to continue on it this week, but in any case probably submit what I have for criticism.  Reviewing some of the 100+ Ideas notebook was somewhat encouraging, but I didn’t find anything that I like well enough to work on.

Well, I typed it and added a few words.  It prints at four pages; I’d like at least three or four more.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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