Diary, 9/30 to 10/6/19

My recent episodes of binge eating and my reading of The Willpower Instinct suggest that I’m having willpower (“wp”) troubles. The thing is, I’ve been very good about some wp challenges, such as controlling my food shopping (except recently!) regarding sugar and sodium, and not overspending on books—always at best a partial success, and often a partial failure. So, I really need to work on the wp problem, and I think the easy solution, or better, the first easy test, is exercise. That, and continue focusing on cutting down sugar in my diet: no more binges (which always involve sugar), no more chocolate cream pie at Lorene’s, and keep my food shopping under control.

Diary, 9/23 to 9/29/19

... neuroses are essentially psychic bandages—how we unconsciously respond to hurt in order to prevent more hurt. But of course it is necessary eventually to get beyond that stage. This is a commonplace. Another valuable lesson is how to respond to verbal aggressions like criticism...

Diary, 2/9/19 to 3/7/19

A most pleasant surprise: Black Book, a WWII thriller with a stunning, charming, gutsy performance by 30-year-old beauty Carice van Houten. Very tense at times, with lots of twists and turns, lots of death, lots of bare bosoms. Good recreation of ’44 Holland. Happily, no concentration camps. Directed by Paul Voerhoeven of Starship Troopers … fame? I picked up this DVD somewhere cheap, perhaps the last library book sale. This one really got under my skin, well, she did, especially.

My New Diary, 11/29/2018

What did I want to say about Natalie Goldberg and meditation? Not much; more along the lines of “I have a great intolerance for boredom.” If I rush from book to book, seeking I know not what, how much more do I rush from entertainment to entertainment. I find it easy to lie in bed and let my mind roam where it will, for up to an hour; when I am up and about (which in my case means sitting in my best chair with my feet up), I must be mentally active, even if that only means watching Democracy Now or some stupid movie, or flipping through the cable TV guide trying to find some diversion. This is time wasting…but now I’m so hungry that I must interrupt this entry.

My New Diary, 11/28/2018

If I cannot rely on my calm, reasoned judgment of how the world works, but must instead follow every will-o-the-wisp twinge to its illogical conclusion, then I don’t know how to live. I neither feel a need of any god, nor can I accept any intellectual argument that pretends to prove the existence of a god or anything supernatural, or to prove the “necessity of religion in life.” I don’t claim to have “all the answers.”

My New Diary, 11/7 to 11/14/2018

Yesterday I had pretty well decided to start a Nietzsche Club; today, I’ve decided not to. Reading the Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche and finding that “experts disagree” on many important concepts in his works (including the “will to power” and the “superman”), I’m thinking that maybe he’s not worth so much attention after all. As it is, I’ve already read all his best books, and a couple of them more than once, though I am reading The Will to Power now as my bedtime reading. Perhaps I could start a philosophy reading group. I’ll think about it.

My New Diary, 11/3 to 11/6/2018

I rarely get hives, like almost never, and I’ve never been too sure about what caused them. Likewise this time. My “dinner” yesterday was thoroughly disgraceful, almost half of a Dutch apple pie plus, plus a whole package of Pepperidge Farm cookies. That was dinner. Did that cause the hives somehow? I guess so; but this is hardly the first time I’ve had total junk for dinner, not even the first time in the last month.

My New Diary, 10/31/2018

I was “always” trying to make sulfuric acid and never succeeding, and trying to make gunpowder, but it never worked. Acids were pretty easy to make: combine two dry chemicals in a retort, and add heat. This gets you nitric and hydrochloric acids, but not sulfuric. I “burned” a fingertip with nitric acid, accidentally, but all that I remember is that it changed to orange. Gunpowder is made up of three dry chemicals, but mine never burned like gunpowder is supposed to.

My New Diary, 10/9 to 10/11/2018

What I most like here is the idea that we learn to be bored. It may be possible to study our boredom to learn ways to turn it into something positive, either to increased self-understanding or as a cue to something subtle. [Mary Catherine] Bateson suggests, when bored, taking a closer look at what’s happening in the environment. But then, she wasn’t in jail. How about the Perfect Moment?

My New Diary, 10/6 to 10/8/2018

I keep starting projects and neglecting them, or even worse, forgetting about them. There was a time not that long ago when I wrote a note to myself to the effect that I needed to do certain things every day, like playing music, exercising, whatever. As often happens, writing a note is a nudge in the direction of forgetting all about it. Well, last night I piled on top of my recently-acquired tray-cart a few books related to such forgotten projects. Specifically, books on the Chinese language, and Sinclair Lewis: It Can’t Happen Here...

Getting Started in Philosophy

There are two general approaches to Western Philosophy (“WP”) for beginners, I think: review the history of philosophy from the beginnings, or jump right into discussions about the questions that most interest you. History is easier to talk about, but my own approach in this, as in all things, has been to follow my interests wherever they lead, and to hell with being systematic. My everlasting puzzle has been “the meaning of life” and a related question of “how should I live?”