Diary, 2/16 to 2/22/20

N came to the Hemlock Club today and we talked for four hours.  I told him about “the friendly voice” idea and that I thought I might give it a try.  The idea is that you publish an ad saying “A friendly voice” and your phone number, hoping to encourage lost souls to call you to talk, hopefully thus relieving some suffering in the world.  I used to worry that this would become a burden, and that indeed could happen; but I am not required to answer every call, necessarily, and I can limit calls to fifteen minutes.  I originally wanted to have a separate phone number for this, and perhaps I’ll do that, though it would be some expense.  Possibly Craigslist...

Diary, 12/1 to 12/11/19

A bleak morning, thinking of the role the United States has taken in the world throughout my lifetime and before.  Thinking of the role the greedy rich have taken in the United States throughout my lifetime.  Thinking of the ineffectual Democratic Presidents, the hope-betrayers...

Diary, 10/7 to 10/19/19, biggest post ever

Lay in bed this morning half asleep, turning over in my mind several words: acicular, acuminate, corm, carom, and maybe some others. Oh, yeah, crom, which comes from Conan the Barbarian. I looked it up; under cromlech, I found that crom is Welsh for bent or crooked. On looking in the Scrabble dictionary, I found, to my surprise, many words beginning with bh…; the only one I’d seen before was bhakti. I think there’s a book by Joseph Campbell titled Bhakti and Baksheesh, about his time in India. I think I owned a copy for a while, started reading it, and gave it up...

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, 8/18 to 8/25/19

Well, I started a Pathfinder Meetup and acquired a group member within the first hour. I doubt that J or Pablo will be interested. If I can get just two enthusiastic members, well, that’s two potential friends. I’ve also discovered just a ton of stuff on the Internet, no surprise. I haven’t found any online play yet, but surely it’s out there. I’m not sure that I want that, because I’d then want home Internet…well, I wouldn’t necessarily fall into the same black hole that I discovered previously, i.e., something like “all Twitter, all the time.” But the real point of Pathfinder is, as always, new potential friends. I wonder ...

Diary, 7/24 to 7/31/19

I’ve been reading Richard Rorty: Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, which I think of as “my next step in philosophy.” I read this once before with the feeling that it was rather over my head, and have occasionally reviewed my typed quotes. But the “Introduction” by Michael Williams seems very comprehensible and persuasive—if I can keep its lessons in mind, probably by periodic reviews, I can pretty much let the sticky parts go.

Diary, 6/15 to 6/18/19

I read some of Georges Bataille: Visions of Excess last night. As I expected, it’s quite weird, but much of it was also dull and obscure. I most enjoyed the selection “Sacrificial Mutilation and the Severed Ear of Vincent Van Gogh.” It tells not only of the famous Van Gogh incident, but also of a man who chewed off his own index finger, persons who put out their own eyes, and of human and animal sacrifice generally. The stories...

Diary, 6/9 to 6/11/19

A dream: it’s Final Jeopardy, but the middle contestant says that he doesn’t have a pen. Alex Trebek springs into action, going behind the contestant’s kiosk (lectern?) and pulls things out from underneath, including a ring about as large as a soccer ball. I think that he’s looking for a pen, but apparently not: he then rolls the kiosk away to allow another to be brought in, and I am surprised...

Diary, 5/24 to 5/26/19

What insights? “The map is not the territory.” “The word is not the thing.” I might say, a general distrust of language and perhaps of my own understanding, my own ability to understand. In a word, I might say that Korzybski helped form and reinforce the skepticism I’ve apparently had ever since that awful day, at age ten, that I “realized” that prayers are unheard by their intended audience.

Diary, 5/19 to 5/21/19

I’ve been depressed, I have to admit it. Around 6 pm I was ready to go to bed. But I got into Korzybski, finally, and now it’s 9:00. I stuffed myself with chocolate chip cookies instead of eating dinner. It’s been a long time since I’ve binged like that. How many cookies? About eight. Breakfast was also a mess—I felt kind of sick when I got up, so I started with two cookies and a banana. Then a diet Dr. Pepper...

Diary, 4/20 to 4/23/19

If the last chapter is “pungent,” which I doubt, the Prologue is something else—astonishing and touching. It tells of Emerson disinterring the corpse of his late wife, who had been seventeen at their engagement and twenty at her death, disinterring her after a year and two months of deep grief, in some Poe-esque kind of exorcism-gesture. I don’t know what to call it, but it was striking and weird.

Diary: 3/24 to 4/1/19

After listening to twenty minutes of discussion on Thom Hartmann’s program about Joe Biden’s behavior towards the woman who has come forward to complain, here’s the point that I haven’t heard made: Where has this fool been, that he is so out of touch with feminist opinion? If he had any sensitivity toward the man-woman issue, he would have stopped that hands-on business decades ago. That he needs to be educated now, after a lifetime in the Democratic Party, speaks volumes to me. Patriarchy runs in his veins, it seems, and so he is the last candidate we need now.

Diary, 1/14 to 1/18/2019

Okay. It’s good that I have expressed these thoughts, because let’s face it: Leo Tolstoy was no great philosopher, perhaps not even a great religious thinker and writer, yet he persuaded. The combination of specific writer and specific reader can work miracles, even if neither is “of the first rank.” Because books are, at bottom, communication, and it isn’t necessarily the most perfect book that changes someone’s life. We pursue our dreams because they are ours, not because they are guaranteed of success and high praise.

My New Diary, 12/15 to 12/18/18

So, up to age ten or twelve, life seemed to me entirely trouble-free and a complete pleasure of outwardly-directed activities. Yet as a teenager I was mindlessly destructive, a petty thief, and very troubled and unhappy—but also, while I thought it the best of times, I dreaded having to become an adult. Puberty was not kind to me, and I cannot begin to fathom what went wrong, if anything did. I guess that I mean physically, because everything was wrong mentally and behaviorally.

Prison Diary: Books and More Books

“The Danes in particular have made sloth a policy. Blithely unaware that Indians are working 35 hours a day [sic], the Danes average 22 hours a week. partly that’s the result of the ‘laziness’ written into law: employers must provide a minimum of 5 weeks paid vacation. The official week is 37 hours, but non-vacation weeks average 28. Worse, there’s paid maternity leave! The Danish minimum wage is $10 and health care is free…. Danes earned an average $26 an hour in 2001, a solid 61% more than Americans.”

A Discussion of To Kill A Mockingbird

Scout seems so enlightened the whole way through, although she's never quite right on the mark, she always has profound and insightful observations but they're never exactly right and I think one of the things is that kids are always wanting to understand the world in black-and- white, consistent terms where they could have a rule that would apply to everybody, and what they consistently learn is that it just never works that way.