Old Philosophers and Anti-Chomsky

Diary 7/7 to 7/9/22: Bugs Bunny; Idries Shah; highest goals in life; Annabelle; cooked by the heat; extra calories sometimes necessary; books by Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper; Anti-Chomsky Reader.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

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


This morning I got up at 5:00 am, seven hours of sleep.  I wish I could sleep eight hours, but I seem to manage that about once a month at best.

So I put on the WB cartoons DVD that I mentioned yesterday (first of two in the package) and found that the listing of content shows only five (of twenty-five) cartoons on a screen, so to move through the list requires not only “clicking” on the right arrow, but first getting the cursor to the right arrow.  This is tedious.  It would be quicker to just start playing, and jump ahead by pressing the “next chapter” button on the remote, if one can remember which number was last watched.

The first of the cartoons is “The Barber of Seville,” as done by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.  This is indeed a celebrated classic, and I laughed once, I guess, though I do like it, perhaps mostly for sentimental reasons.  The second was Daffy Duck in “Duck Dodgers of the 24½th Century.”  Daffy versus the little Martian guy, fighting over Planet X, the last remaining source of “shaving cream atoms”…?  A couple of laughs but the script is thin.  The third that I watched was the one about the miserable frog who sings and dances except when anybody else is watching, aside from the luckless one who finds the frog in a “time capsule” when an old building has been demolished.  I suppose it’s a classic, but I was not amused.  I started the fourth but didn’t watch it, as it didn’t immediately appeal to me.  I suspect that I may not make it through the full fifty cartoons, though I suppose I am not very particular when watching something during a meal.  It’s good, though, to see that these are indeed old favorites.

This morning I started reading Idries ShahLearning How to Learn: Psychology and Spirituality in the Sufi Way, Harper & Row Publishers, San Francisco, 1978-1981, to decide whether to get rid of it, since I’ve had it for probably five years and never looked at it.  I encountered this:  “It is hopeless to add ideas to minds already too full of ideas.” p. 29.  I consume much, but seemingly take little time to digest or assimilate or even understand.  Or:  is this just a product of my mood this morning, probably my general pessimism?  Such questions cannot be decided; but, when it comes to books, I seem to run very fast but make little solid progress.  I write notes and quotes and ponder things here, which in some ways is just another form of burial, like donating the book.

I’ve had such thoughts before.  I turned to my “A-List,” seeking answers, and found this:  “If our life is to be a success, our working hours must be devoted to our highest goals.”  My best hours this morning have been given over to desultory reading and cartoons, plus this not-entirely-worthless writing.  A pretty typical morning.  And now I’m starving, and much of the rest of my morning is determined.  I’ll be going to the library to pick up the five items I have on hold; I haven’t finished with what I got last week.

“Annabelle” in Annabelle

Watched Annabelle (2014) which seemed to me dull, annoying, and not very scary.  Excessive sweetness-and-light and preaching until domestic bliss is spoiled by a rather gory and scary murder, to be followed by things that go bump.  The Chucky stuff is a lot more entertaining.  I don’t feel like trying to explain more; Rotten Tomatoes scores it 29% (critics) and 35% (audiences), well-earned low scores.  The baby is adorable when she’s not screaming her head off.  On to Conjuring 2, eventually.

Went to the library, got fairly cooked and worn out trudging around town and waiting for buses, came home with many cheap DVDs, a few books, and some grossly overpriced stuff from Rite-Aid that has been difficult to turn up at my usual sources.  Binged on “Cheddar and Sour Cream” Ruffles for dinner.  When I don’t control my food buying, a binge is soon to follow, usually.  What I don’t understand is why.


Or maybe I do.  On three days in the last ten I’ve taxed my body to nearly its utmost ability, both with heat and with physical exertion.  My body has responded appropriately, taking in extra calories despite my better intentions and rules, and not gaining weight.  This kind of experience reveals as nonsense most calorie counting and other kinds of diets.  The important thing is to recognize what’s happening in your life and paying attention to the so-called wisdom of the body.

Looking for a book by Bertrand Russell was interesting and frustrating.  I decided on Our Knowledge of the External World, one I believe I haven’t read before.  Well, there are many reprint editions, and therein lies the problem:  it’s out of copyright, so this 200+ page book can be “reprinted” as a 96-page paperback and sold under the same title.  Thriftbooks, for once, didn’t have one I wanted, so I went on eBay and found a good used hardcover copy and put in a bid at a reasonable price.

Karl Popper (1902-1994)

I don’t like to bid on things on eBay, but this was the cheapest alternative for something I can’t really say that I need.  But I recently finished with Russell’s Unpopular Essays, a fourth reading, and had a taste for something more meaty.  Books by Karl Popper, my first thought, are just too pricey (and the San Joaquin library system has nothing).  Anyway, it irks me the way the publishing industry has, like just about everything else in the U.S., become corrupted by people out for a fast buck.  Of course, I’m always looking for a bargain…but I’ve learned what to look for in these newly-published “classics.”  Typically this comes down to 1) get an old copy, or 2) bite the bullet and buy from a good publisher.


Noam Chomsky (still alive)

Spent 90 minutes this morning with Peter Collier and David Horowitz, editors:  The Anti-Chomsky Reader, Encounter Books, San Francisco, 2004.  I wrote a note to self, “Makes for exhausting browsing and it’s impossible to settle any questions of detail and fact. The notes on contributors do not inspire confidence. Spent about 90 minutes on it this morning—no good reason to dismiss it or to agree with it or to be impressed by it. They call it “Biography” on the back cover. It’s not that, clearly.” So, I started reading the “Introduction” but it had no sources. Each of the articles that I tried argued with specific conclusions or facts of Chomsky, citing sources, and so on, but all I could do was shrug and keep an open mind.

Hemlock Club this morning.

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

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