Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The conduct of our lives is the true mirror of our doctrine.

Michel de Montaigne 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The world is nothing but babble; and I hardly ever yet saw that man who did not rather prate too much, than speak too little.

Michel de Montaigne

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A man may say too much even upon the best subjects.

Michel de Montaigne

Monday, December 04, 2017

So many mutations of states and kingdoms, and so many turns and revolutions of public fortune, will make us wise enough to make no great wonder of our own.

Michel de Montaigne


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The disdain that so many people feel [millennials] reflects an unease about the forces of deregulation, globalization, and technological acceleration that are transforming everyone’s lives. (It does not seem coincidental that young people would be criticized for being entitled at a time when people are being stripped of their entitlements.) Millennials, in other words, have adjusted too well to the world they grew up in; their perfect synchronization with economic and cultural disruption has been mistaken for the source of the disruption itself.

Jia Tolentino, "Where Millennials Come From" (The New Yorker, December 4, 2017)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Now is now!  There is never more to experience than this single "now", which recurs at an interval exactly one second in length.

Jack Vance, Tales of the Dying Earth

 See also:   http://everythingrum.blogspot.com/2013/09/moments-in-time-and-consciousness.html

Thursday, November 16, 2017

In truth, knowledge is not so absolutely necessary as judgment; the last may make shift without the other, but the other never without this.

Michel de Montaigne

Monday, November 13, 2017

What shall we do tomorrow? What shall we ever do?...

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
                                   A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
                                   Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Weber was wrong: the modern world is not disenchanted (even if secularists pretend otherwise) but a continuation of Christianity by other means. Whether liberal, communist, fascist, or authoritarian, every polity relies to one degree or another on the persistence of charismatic authority and the (usually disguised) theological legitimation of political power.

Benjamin Nathans on Yuri Slezkine'd  The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution in the New York Review of November 23, 2017

See also Freud and Plato - The Politics of the Soul (Pt 1)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

About Filling A Commonplace Book?

I go here and there, culling out of several books the sentences that best please me, not to keep them (for I have no memory to retain them in), but to transplant them into this; where, to say the truth, they are no more mine than in their first places. 

Michel de Montaigne

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Even in our counsels and deliberations there must, certainly, be something of chance and good-luck mixed with human prudence; for all that our wisdom can do alone is no great matter; the more piercing, quick, and apprehensive it is, the weaker it finds itself, and is by so much more apt to mistrust itself.... [Given] the shortsightedness of human wisdom...the surest way, in my opinion, did no other consideration invite us to it, is to pitch upon that wherein is the greatest appearance of honesty and justice; and not, being certain of the shortest, to keep the straightest and most direct way.

Michel de Montaigne

Sunday, October 22, 2017

We are, as we have always been, dangerous creatures, the enemies of our own happiness. But the only help we have ever found for this, the only melioration, is in mutual reverence. God’s grace comes to us unmerited, the theologians say. But the grace we could extend to one another we consider it best to withhold in very many cases, presumptively, or in the absence of what we consider true or sufficient merit (we being more particular than God), or because few gracious acts, if they really deserve the name, would stand up to a cost-benefit analysis. This is not the consequence of a new atheism, or a systemic materialism that afflicts our age more than others. It is good old human meanness, which finds its terms and pretexts in every age. The best argument against human grandeur is the meagerness of our response to it, paradoxically enough.

Marilynne Robinson, New York Review (November , 2017)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine.

Ancient proverb coming down through Sextus Empiricus

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

These are the times we live in, in which men hide their truths, perhaps even from themselves, and live in lies, until the lies reveal those truths in ways impossible to foretell.

Salman Rushdie, The Golden House

Friday, September 29, 2017

The nation’s labor market continues to bifurcate, separating the workers lucky enough to get the high-skill jobs our economy has newly created (and get paid accordingly) from those stuck with jobs for which automation has taken away the need for skills and that therefore pay very little.

Benjamin M. Friedman, New York Review (October 12, 2017)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dedicated to My Brother Gyorgy

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?

Robert Browning

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The principal effect of [the] power [of tradition] is, so to seize and ensnare us, that it is hardly in us to disengage ourselves from its gripe, or so to come to ourselves, as to consider of and to weigh the things it enjoins.... we suck it in with our milk.

Michel de Montaigne

Friday, August 18, 2017

No one departs out of life otherwise than if he had but just before entered into it.... We should always, as near as we can, be booted and spurred, and ready to go.

Michel de Montaigne

Monday, August 14, 2017

All of our memories are subjective.... The loss of pleasure and pain is a loss of subjectivity, of an ability to relate to objects, to persons, and to oneself.... All of our memories are subjective—they are created from the point of view of the individual who is remembering.

Israel Rosenfield and Edward Ziff,  The New York Review, August 17.2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The same sun shines on everyone and everything, each place is as real as the next.

From an afternoon in Swaziland

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The real benefit of complex inferences like weighing uncertainty may not be apparent unless the uncertainty has complex structure.

Quoted in Science News, "There’s a long way to go in understanding the brain," 7/25/2017)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The urgent project at the moment isn’t adding more information to the cultural file; it is understanding how meaning is produced.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

That stone just keeps on rolling,
Bringing me some real bad news.
Takers get the honey,
Givers sing the blues.

Robin Trower

Sunday, July 02, 2017

A strong memory is commonly coupled with infirm judgement.

Michel de Montaigne

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Man (in good earnest) is a marvelous vain, fickle, and unstable subject, and on whom it is very hard to form any certain and uniform judgment. 

Michel de Montaigne

Friday, June 09, 2017

Virtue and ambition, unfortunately, seldom lodge together.

Michel de Montaigne

Friday, May 19, 2017

The only remedy, the only rule, and the sole doctrine for avoiding the evils by which mankind is surrounded, whatever they are, is to resolve to bear them so far as our nature permits, or to put an end to them courageously and promptly.

 Michel de Montaigne

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Many times I've wondered how much there is to know.

Jimmy Page/Robert Plant, Over the Hills and Far Away

Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Authoritarian Personality

• Rigid adherence to conventional, middle-class values.

• Submissive, uncritical attitude toward idealised moral authorities of the in-group.

• Opposition to the subjective, the imaginative, the tender-minded.

• Tendency to…condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values.

• The belief in mystical determinants of the individual’s fate….

• Preoccupation with the dominance- submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension; identification with power figures….

• Generalized hostility, vilification of the human.

• The disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world; the projection outwards of unconscious emotional impulses.

• Exaggerated concern with sexual “goings-on.”

From a March 23, 2017 New York Review piece on the Frankfurt School: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/03/23/frankfurt-school-headquarters-neo-marxism/

Friday, March 03, 2017

The real objective must always be the good life for all the people.  International machinery will mean something to the common man throughout the world only when it is translated into terms that he can understand: peace, bread, housing, clothing, education, good health, and above all, the right to walk with dignity on the world's great boulevards.

Ralph J. Bunche, Mont Tremblant, Canada (1942)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Voices in My Head

[W]hat a meditative poem contributes to the history of consciousness is a reenactment in real time of the volatile inner life of a human being. Such a poem does not present itself as plot or character portrayal or argument, but rather ... as a hypothesis .... and include[s] waverings, self-contradictions, repudiations, aspirations, and doubts; they are not offered as a philosophical system.

Helen Vendler,  The New York Review of Books (February 23, 2017)

Monday, January 16, 2017

The first step in dealing with the madness of the political world is not to let it make you crazy.... Fanaticism always seems foolish until it locks you up.

Adam Gopnik, Mixed Up: Montaigne On Trial (New Yorker, Jan 16, 2017)