Kwaidan, Tasty Words, and the Perfect Map

Diary 7/31 to 8/3/22: Social Security; save money or buy books; Bernardo Kastrup and Russell Brand; Melville’s Pierre; printer revitalized; I saw Saw; Ayer’s book.

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

{7/31/22} continued.

Watched Kwaidan (1964), which I believe I saw in the sixties on TV.  It’s four traditional Japanese ghost stories, slow (almost three hours) and scareless, but generally absorbing and entertaining.  I actually nodded off at one point, briefly.  Beautiful cinematography and art direction, typical acting for the time and place, including ever-popular Takashi Shimura, i.e., modestly effective.  There’s no real soundtrack (sound effects by Toru Takemitsu) and much of the movie is completely silent, but in one of the stories, “Hoichi the Earless,” there is extensive singing and playing of the biwa by the character in relating the story of the sea battle between the Gengi and Heike clans, with battle scenes (live action and painted).  One sequence is reminiscent of The Pillow Book (1996), in which a character is painted all over with kanji (Chinese characters); I liked Pillow Book well enough to buy the soundtrack, but not the DVD.  Also notable were the colorful and weird skies in the second story, “Woman of the Snow.”  Scores of 91% and 90% from critics and audiences, respectively, at Rotten Tomatoes.  I bought the DVD for fifty cents and was glad to get it, but I can’t think of a reason to keep it.

Scene from Kwaidan

Just call me “The Fartful Codger.”  I came up with this out of my own head, but it’s so old that it has a listing in the Urban Dictionary, like most of the “clever puns” I come up with.

Additions for my Tasty Words lists:  bafflegab, crestfallen, finagle, flummox, hokum, lummox.


“Money” Photo by Pixabay on

It’s official, I am “solvent” again.  Social Security performed brilliantly (this time).

Between what I already have in my shopping carts at Hamilton Booksellers and Thriftbooks, I could spend about eighty bucks without even thinking further about it.  Shall I think further about it?  There is one DVD that I could get cheaper through eBay, frinstance.  Do I really want to spend $18 on Wittgenstein’s early diaries?  No, but I want to read it.  I’d also like to get replacement air filters (months overdue) and perhaps a new printer (monochrome laserjet), and I’d like to save $200 this month.  In theory, all of this is doable, but I think the printer could wait until the end of the month.

Looking above, I see that I said that the “weird skies” in Kwaidan were “notable”; what’s the difference between this word and “noteworthy”?  The only substantive (substantial?) difference I see is that “notable” is sometimes applied to persons, “noteworthy” is not.

Russell Brand

Watched a YouTube video of Russell Brand in a brief philosophical discussion with Dr. Bernardo Kastrup.  Brand was (or pretended to be) excited; I was not.  Kastrup was talking about the limitations of our senses and the “unreality” of what they present, that we think we’re seeing everything, which is incorrect, and so on.  No nods were given to the many “name” philosophers who have said similar things as far back as the ancient Greeks.  But at least this prompted the following thought in my “old, diseased brain”:  The quest for the “essence” of anything is just another futile quest for absolute truth.  I translate the “essence” of anything as “the perfect map of a territory,” which cannot exist (on paper, which is how I think of maps), and so I reject the reality of this quest.  “Old, diseased brain” comes from the first Pablo Reeve Superman, spoken by Gene Hackman as “Lex Luthor,” but this is a distraction.

I had another point of contention with Kastrup, but have forgotten it in my haste to score the above ego point in my own mind.  One thing I liked about him, however, is a criterion I have lately come to appreciate:  he rethought a point he had just expressed, and changed his statement.

I suppose one could argue that Google Maps come closer to “the perfect map” than any paper map could, but of course GMs don’t show temperatures, economics, vaccination rates, and any of the many other things we might want to know about.

I tried Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography, volume one, last night, and quickly gave it up.  There are too many other books…

Frinstance, Herman Melville:  Pierre, which I started a few days ago.  So far it’s dull, self-regarding, and deliberately old fashioned, but Melville is a notable author whom one should not dismiss lightly.  (In fact, I’ve never managed to get through any of his books other than Moby Dick, including The Confidence Man, Typee, and Clarel.)

Somewhere over the years I heard about replacing and/or cleaning the drum in my Brother printer.  I reviewed the information on the Brother website and I just did that cleaning, so I’m thinking that I won’t need to buy a new printer soon.  Yay!  My Brother monochrome laser printer has been “working like a champ” for five years; it originally cost $99.  Of course, I use it only for printing ordinary Word documents, and I don’t have a business, but jams have been rare and print quality was perfect for about four years.  I have been getting black specks on my output for about a year, and kept hoping that replacing the toner cartridge would fix the problem, but it didn’t.  The problem was a dirty drum, but, as in the old joke, I was looking for my keys under the street light.  I’ve previously sought info on the specific problem, but their help system was not understanding me.

Grocery shopping today, so I need to get moving on breakfast, etc.

Spent $143 at Food Maxx and got a free movie ticket promotion.  I could see Thor:  Love and Thunder, but I wasn’t going to bother with this.  An ordinary ticket would cost me $6.50.  I’ll think about it.

I printed the last two pages of this diary as a test, and the result was all I could have hoped, as clean and crisp as ever.

Saw, the DVD

Watched Saw (2004) which I’ve seen once before.  Review to follow, but I’ll say at this point that I liked it very much, even remembering ahead of time some of the final twists.


Thinking today, after a little browsing in Richard Rorty:  The Linguistic Turn, that my Bleak Philosophy is little more than arguing in favor of some of the points in A. J. AyerLanguage, Truth, and Logic, which I read fifty years ago.  It’s not quite true, because my BP includes also General Semantics and atheism/humanism.  Well, if it’s a half-truth, then it seems that to make progress I should reread Ayer.  Fortunately, I bought a copy maybe a year ago.

The other thing I want to read is Wilfred Sellars on “the myth of the given,” which Rorty makes much of in the above book.  However, Thriftbooks and my library don’t have it (or anything else by Sellars at a reasonable price).

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