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, 1/5 to 1/15/2020

I see here “Lisa Simpson observing the conjunction of the moon and Venus.”  I have subsequently realized that the moon is facing the wrong direction; that is, instead of “C” it should be “Ɔ”.  This “spooky” coincidence is the most surprising and remarkable I’ve ever experienced, I believe.  I see or assign no particular meaning to this “synchronicity.”

Diary, 11/1 to 11/6/19

910 words so far this morning on The New Book. So far it is a “book” of “thinking on paper,” and so far it is thinking about weight loss. Obviously, I don’t intend and could not think about weight loss every day to the tune of a thousand words; it would be nice, but I don’t expect this, if I could “think on paper” each day, thinking about self-mastery, and so get my book written.

Diary, 8/11 to 8/17/19

Morita Therapy advises, “do what needs doing.” In my case, that would be housework. Is housework self-actualizing? Is housework flying high? Do I have any excuse for not doing housework? Yes, it’s called “housework be damned.” Housework is not my goal, it’s other people’s goal. It’s society’s goal for me. I say this even though I value accomplished ...

Diary, 8/5 to 8/10/19

Last night I started reading Mark Epstein, M.D.: Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective. I was unpersuaded by the author’s delving into “the wheel of life” for insights into human psychology; what I saw was obscure metaphor after obscure metaphor, nothing I could use or even understand. Buddhism offers a way to escape the otherwise endless cycle of reincarnation...

Diary, 7/31 to 8/4/19

Colin McGinn: The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey Through Twentieth-Century Philosophy is regrettably tedious because it labors over some pragmatically useless, thus very dull, points of analytic philosophy (via Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and Kripke’s interpretation thereof). There’s only ninety pages to go, but I’m thinking that I’ll skim the rest, to see if it gets into anything I’ll find useful to my own thoughts. I was thinking early on that this would be a great introduction to philosophy for beginners...

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, 7/15 to 7/23/19

I’m thinking that the reading I do, which I called “sifting” a while back, mostly doesn’t stick except in the form of externalized memory. That is, I highlight in books and/or type out quotes in my Collected Quotations book, but I don’t often review these products. So I sift out the gems, but don’t make much use of them. I need to make more use of them. Then I won’t be feeling like I’m just wasting time. In fact, the process, which grew by itself, seems efficient...

Diary, 6/23 to 6/27/19

Even as I think of saying, “The world doesn’t need more contenders,” etc., another voice pipes up: “So you’re content to waste your gifts.” No, I guess I’m not content, it’s probably accurate to say that I’ve never been content, with the possible exception of the time after I had decided that I wanted to be a novelist. I quickly discovered that what I really wanted was to have the perks without doing the work.

Diary, 6/19 to 6/22/19

So, am I going to commit to writing, or not? Turning Pro? I think that I must—I think I’m at a “make or break” point in my life, and must make something lest I break something. It seems most natural to start each day with diary writing, unless some day I wake with an urgent need to work on another project. Of course, it would be a mistake to allow myself to be distracted by the diary to the point that I never work on anything else.

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: 5/26 to 5/29/19

Two dreams last night: First, four invisible men attempting to track a woman in a large building. Eventually the woman goes outside and somehow acquires a man in a wheelchair, which she is pushing along the street. Two invisible men are following, trying to separate the woman from the wheelchair by tripping her or causing her to bump into one of the men.

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, 4/3 to 4/6/2019

On a whim I went to see the movie Shazam! yesterday. It was terrible because they tried to make it funny and it wasn't funny on the whole (though I did laugh out loud a couple or three times). The action scenes generally involved Shazam running away, which got really old really fast. Other elements of the movie were competent but uninspired. The real problem was with the script, notably the dialogue. Marvel movies have led me to expect funny banter, alas.

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.