Sundry Weighty Matters and Jellyfish

Diary 7/2 to 7/3/22: Mumblecore; Johnstone on Ukraine etc.; Hemlock Club meeting; General Semantics; Frank Harris: My Life and Loves; cyclic reality and Nietzsche; reasons for religious belief; grumpy moods.

“Mumblecore”? Photo by Inge Wallumru00f8d on

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

{7/2/22} Continued.

Watched a DVD, Jellyfish (2007), an Israeli film of large ambitions that mostly go nowhere.  The movie cuts between the stories of three women, a newlywed who does something stupid, destroying her honeymoon, a fish-out-of-water Filipina nurse’s aide, and a depressed waitress on the verge of losing her job.  The waitress is sitting alone at the beach one day and a five-year-old girl comes out of the ocean to stand directly in front of her—the appealing Nikol Leidman:

Nikol Leidman of Jellyfish

She does not speak throughout the movie.  The stories all “go somewhere,” but not very far, and mostly it’s a lot of people complaining about a lot of things.  Despite good ratings from Rotten Tomatoes (87% from critics, 79% from audiences), I would recommend it only to those who dote on “mumblecore.”

From Caitlin Johnstone yesterday:  “There’s a lot going on in America and the people are very stressed out and frightened, but don’t worry, there’s nothing the US government won’t do to make sure more High Mobility Artillery Rocket systems get to Ukraine.”  From “Ukraine Is The Most Aggressively Trolled War Of All Time: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix.”

This article provides a link to The Guardian:  “Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media:  Military’s ‘sock puppet’ software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda.”  The Guardian piece is from 2011.

Johnstone’s article is full of thought-provoking stuff I haven’t seen elsewhere; I have differed with her significantly at times, but this article looks pretty solid.

The Hemlock Club meeting today was pretty good—Natalie’s Art Therapy coloring book was a hit with Tim, at least.  Nobody had produced a poem in response to my “Taoism Poetry Challenge,” including me.  Leonardo, a friend of Pablo and Tim, put in an appearance; he was talkative but not especially interesting, and hard of hearing.  I met with Neil at 8:40, about two hours before the others arrived.  He was disgruntled much of the time, but not offensively so.  He also talked a good deal about The Brothers Karamazov, which he is reading (Pablo gave him a copy a year ago; I guess I’ll read it again).  I ate too much, including an egg and cheese sandwich (my normal breakfast there these days), a cinnamon roll, then half a “grilled macaroni and cheese sandwich.”  I also bought smoothies for Neil and Pablo, and another cinnamon roll for whoever (Tim ate half of one, I think Neil had more than he wanted, Pablo had one, maybe I ate all the rest out of five).

Ordered two books from Thriftbooks, including a second volume of articles from Etc. in the ’50s, the General Semantics magazine.  I also took a look at the first volume, which I bought a year ago or longer, and found some things that look good but I haven’t read yet.

And I got packages from Hamilton Books and Thriftbooks which, added to what I bought at the library, amounts to a dozen or so new items to find (or fail to find) shelf space for.

I’ve watched about forty minutes of Carol’s Journey on DVD which so far is uninvolving, even boring, so I may not watch the rest.  It’s in Spanish, set in Spain during the Civil War there.

I’ve started reading Frank Harris:  My Life and Loves, a book that was notorious when it came out in the ’20s.  It’s very long.


I asked Neil whether he believed in a cyclic structure of existence, that is, whether he believed with the Hindus or Buddhists that time repeats itself, and he said that he does.  I neglected to ask, however, why he believes it.  Presumably it is from his reading, or possibly from a teacher; I doubt that he was raised with such a belief.  In other words, either he has an argument that he hasn’t mentioned, or he “chooses to believe,” as Pablo says he himself does.  I have restated this as “having no reason or argument.”  I’ll want to ask Neil about it.

Why pick on Neil?  Because it seems that this belief is why he tends to be apathetic about issues that to me are of serious concern, notably, the extinction of the human species.  Admittedly, I’m apathetic for other reasons:  it’s beyond my ability to influence, and I’m lazy, and so on.  I’m quite persuaded of the inevitability of “climate catastrophe,” not because nothing is possible, but nothing is politically possible on the scale that scientists tell us is necessary.

So…the outcome I seek is to persuade Neil to be apathetic for my own preferred reasons?  I guess it is, which of course is an outcome that makes no sense to pursue.

Why do I believe in science?  Because it works.  Why do I not believe in a cyclic structure of time or existence?  Because I see no evidence in favor of such a belief.  Nietzsche argues for what he calls the “eternal recurrence,” based on the conviction that time is infinite.  I don’t believe this argument for two reasons:  first, because, again, I see no evidence, and second, because I’ve seen arguments against it which I find more persuasive than his argument in its favor.

I don’t believe in God because first, I can’t make sense of the idea, second again because I see no persuasive evidence (and of course I am the judge of what is persuasive to me), and third, science offers better explanations than “God did it” and “God is a mystery.”  I do not choose to disbelieve; rather, I am compelled to disbelieve by “sundry weighty reasons” (Macbeth), as I see those reasons.

“Grumpy” Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on

Article from Neuroscience News:  “Struggling With Positive Thinking? Research Shows Grumpy Moods Can Actually Be Useful.”  A brief excerpt:  “…human psychology is evolutionarily hardwired to live in the past and the future. Other species have instincts and reflexes to help with their survival, but human survival relies very much on learning and planning. You can’t learn without living in the past, and you can’t plan without living in the future.”

If “living in the now” means something other than “living impulsively,” I’d be surprised.  I’ve never bought into it.  The article summary says, “Defensive pessimism can help individuals, especially those who are more anxious, to improve positive thinking and decision-making.”  I think it’s worth a look.

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

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