Diary: 6/5 to 6/8/19

Reading D Wallace-Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, after I ran out to buy Dahr Jamail: The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disaster, then told myself that I needed first to read “the one I already just bought.” W-W says that extinction of the human species is pretty unlikely. I think he means as a direct result of climate change. I am, I think, more concerned about nuclear war as an extinction event than about the direct effects of climate change, which I think we might be able to cope with to a degree. But the war doesn’t have to happen, surely. In any case, it seems likely that I’ll have died before I see it happen.

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, 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.

Diary, 1/26 to 1/28/19

Watched Bram Stoker’s Dracula, finally, a very ambitious attempt to make people forget the 1931 Bela Lugosi classic. Director Coppola took the only possible approach to such an attempt, going back to the original book and trying to bring the essence of that masterpiece to fire-breathing unlife. In this he was mostly successful, but some choices seem regrettably silly. The Videohound review at two bones is ridiculous, and the criticism of Winona Ryder’s performance as “way over the top” is even moreso...

Diary, 1/24 to 1/25/19

I had asked Pablo to read a chapter in Kick Me (“I Survived the Worst Day of My Life”) and let me know what he thought: was it worth keeping in the book? Well, he read it and mostly didn’t like it, though he waffled around and later praised it, ridiculously. But mostly he just wanted to give me advice on how to write, and how to make it funny, and how to “improve it,” and so on. I wanted his reaction to it as a reader, but he wouldn’t let it rest...

Diary, 1/3 to 1/7/19

The Hemlock Club was good today, though a bit shorter than usual. Four attended. I ate too much at Dagny’s. We talked about Poe’s poem, “Alone,” which Pablo had prepared for us, I took some notes (hence these details), D sang (from his phone) “Silent Night,” a very creditable performance, I talked about how I was a lousy employee and got fired from virtually every job I ever held, Salomé worked on a watercolored bookmark which she presented to me, I asked Salomé to marry me (a joke), I talked about Norman Cousins: Anatomy of an Illness (but had the title completely wrong), D mentioned The Biology of Hope by Bruce Lipton (which sounds really interesting), and we all went for a walk around downtown Bakersfield (it was fun).

The Bleak Philosophy: A Preliminary Sketch

A book, a sentence, a proposition, a position, a truth, anything is worthless to me unless I can understand it. Sometimes it requires a great deal of time and effort to understand something, and sometimes it requires more time and effort than I am willing to expend. For instance, I have read some things about quantum mechanics, enough to know that to fully understand it would require at least a year of study, including learning some probably very difficult mathematics. Given my age and interests, learning quantum mechanics and related subjects simply isn’t worth my time, especially as I can see no practical...

Diary, 12/27 to 12/29/18

Browsing Amazon for philosophy books, I came across one called Practical Stoicism which makes me think that there might be room and an audience for “my philosophy book.” Philosophy books can become best sellers; at least, the “philosophy” books that Amazon has in their best seller lists. I had said to Pablo that I like to shop at Barnes & Noble because there I can find new books that interest me, but the Amazon lists, I see, can fulfill that function.

My Diary, 12/19 to 12/22/18

Writers Writing this morning was just me, finishing my first complete read-through/edit of my book-in-progress, Kick Me: A Lifetime of Humiliations. An easy milestone, but an important one. Next step is to edit the computer file, which will be harder and more labor-intensive. I’m hoping that that will be “enough,” but of course I’ll want at least one more reading before I’m done. It would help to get an impartial reader…

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.”

Knowledge and “Christopher Columbus”

“Columbus discovered America in 1492.” This paradigmatic bit of knowledge was taught to me in the innocent 1950s (were they “innocent”? Or was this just another of the Lies My Teacher Told Me?). It might still be taught this way somewhere in the U.S., perhaps in a few schools in Tennessee or South Carolina as required by state law, but a likelier formulation might be...

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?”

How I am Losing Weight: My “Low-Calorie, Low-Sodium, Low-Sugar” Diet

I began drastically reducing my intake of sugar. First to go was sugared sodas. While I usually had diet sodas at home, the fast-food fountain sodas use saccharine or some other sweetener that I can’t stand, so I had sugared sodas (Dr. Pepper, if you must know) whenever I ate out, and was glad to get it; now I drink strictly water when eating out.