January 24, 2007

Enlightenment

Enlightenment is understanding that there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nobody you have to be except exactly who you're being right now
Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone
Louis L'Armor
Posted at 08:56 AM

January 19, 2007

hmm

IN the root and stem of your own psyche, there is an accumulation of bad habits. If you cannot see through them and act independently of them, you will unavoidably get bogged down along the way
Yuansou
Posted at 09:44 AM

January 17, 2007

Quotes

Here and now contains eternity
- Taisen Deshimary
It doesn't matter what did or did not happen then. It only matters what happens NOW
- Cheri Huber
Posted at 12:33 PM

January 10, 2007

More Fortune

Our mind is like a clear glass of water. If we put salt into the water, it becomes salt water; sugar, it becomes sugar water. But orginally the water is clear. No thinking, no mind. No mind, no problem
- Seung Sahn
Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour
- Stephen Leacock
Posted at 08:51 AM

January 05, 2007

Quotes again

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone... The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials
- Lin Yutang
Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and the beauty that are available now

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

As a solid rock is not shakes by the wind, the wise are not moved by praise or blame
-- The Dhammapada
Posted at 10:09 AM

September 26, 2005

Quotes

Ideology...is indispensable in any society if men are to be formed, transformed and equipped to respond to the demands of their conditions of existence.

Louis Althusser
--For Marx

Discontent, therefore, may be considered adaptive because it encourages the use of the imagination, and thus spurs men on to further conquests and to ever-increasing mastery of the environment.


Anthony Storr
--Solitude

There are two kinds of truths: those of reasoning and those of fact. The truths of reasoning are necessary and their opposite is impossible; the truths of fact are contigent and their opposites are possible.

Gottfried Leibnitz
--Monadology

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

Max Planck
--Scientific Autobiography



Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.

Arthur Schopenhauer
--Aphorisms

Posted at 09:08 AM

August 23, 2005

Money

It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy.
-George H. Lorimer, editor (1868-1937)
Posted at 09:39 AM

August 18, 2005

Swim with the fishes

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.
Malcolm Muggeridge --Radio Times, 09/07/64
Posted at 11:27 AM

August 08, 2005

Man

The people recognize themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment.


Herbert Marcuse
--One-Dimensional Man

Posted at 09:10 AM

July 21, 2005

Zen Quotes

When we see into the emptiness or illusory nature of things, of life and death, of sickness and health, of youth and old age, then we're master of all things. We are free to be healthy, we're free to be sick, we're free to grow old
- Geoffrey Shugen Arnold
You cannot avoid paradise. You can only avoid seeing it.
Charlotte Joko Beck
Posted at 08:36 AM

July 18, 2005

Thoughts and words

There are some that only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts.
-Voltaire, philosopher (1694-1778)
Posted at 09:23 AM

July 14, 2005

Suffering

It is a glorious thing to be indifferent to suffering, but only to one's own suffering.
-Robert Lynd, writer (1879-1949)
Posted at 10:08 AM

July 11, 2005

Subjugation - Illiberal Democracy

A democracy is a state which recognises the subjecting of the minority to the majority.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
--The State and Revolution

I'm reading The future of Freedom by Fareed Zakaria and he makes this point. He believes illiberal democracies are not a good answer.

Posted at 09:15 PM

July 04, 2005

Elusive Freedom

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
-Johann Wolfgang van Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)
Te human mind has absolute freedome as its true nature. There are thousands uppon thousands of students who have practiced meditation and obtained this realization. Do not doubt the possibilities beause of the simplicity of this method
Dogen
My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate - thats my philosophy
Thornton Wilder
Posted at 05:02 PM

June 29, 2005

Love

In their early passions women are in love with the lover, later they are in love with love.

-Francois de La Rochefoucauld, writer (1613-1680)

Posted at 01:23 PM

June 28, 2005

More quotes

You are the light, You are the reguge, There is no place to take shelter but yourself
- Inscription over the Buddha's Ashes
I have always known that at last I would take this road. But yesterday I did not know it would be today.
- Narihara
Having no destination I am never lost
Ikkyu
When both body and mind are at peace, all things appear as they are: perfect, complete lacking nothing
Dogen
Posted at 11:17 AM

June 27, 2005

Conflict

Conflict is the original meaning of being-for-others.

Jean-Paul Sartre
--Being and Nothingness

Posted at 02:31 PM

June 20, 2005

Laundry and Ecstacy

After the ecstacy, the laundry

Zen Saying

Posted at 01:37 PM

June 16, 2005

Fashion

Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.
George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)
Posted at 04:09 PM

June 15, 2005

Accidental Nirvana

Gaining enlightenment is an accident. Spiritual practice simple makes us accident prone

Zen Saying

Posted at 08:55 AM

June 14, 2005

Austrian viewpoint

The truth is that capitalism has not only multiplied population figures, but at the same time, improved the people's standard of living in an unprecedented way. Neither economic thinking nor historical experience suggest that any other social system could be as beneficial to the masses as capitalism.
Ludwig von Mises

A counter point


Not every problem someone has with his girlfriend is necessarily due to the capitalist mode of production.

Herbert Marcuse
--The Listener

Posted at 11:16 AM

June 08, 2005

Freedom of common sense

It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence to practice neither.

-Mark Twain, author and humorist
(1835-1910)

Posted at 06:07 AM

May 25, 2005

Quotes

Meditation is not an escape from life... but preparation for really being in life
Thich Nhat Hanh
To find perfect composure in the midst of change is to find Nirvana
Shunruyu Suzuki
Loneliness... is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man.
-Thomas Wolfe, novelist (1900-1938)
The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.
-Stendal (Marie Henri Beyle), novelist (1783-1842)
Plato having defined man to be a two-legged, animal without feathers, Diogenes plucked a cock and brought it into the Academy, and said, 'This is Plato's man.' On which account this addition was made to the definition: 'With broad flat nails.'

Diogenes Laertius
--Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Posted at 09:33 AM

May 21, 2005

heresy

Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought.
-Graham Greene, novelist and journalist (1904-1991)
Posted at 10:13 AM

May 02, 2005

Positivism

Religion is an illusion of childhood, outgrown under proper education.


--Auguste Comte

Posted at 08:07 AM

April 25, 2005

Spring

In my hut this spring, there is nothing -- there is everything!
- Sodo

Ah, the beauty of haiku - nothing is said but nothing is left unsaid.

Posted at 10:21 AM

April 22, 2005

Art

Modern art touches a sore spot, or several sore spots, in the ordinary citizen of which he is totally unaware. The more irritated he becomes at modern art the more he betrays the fact that he himself, and his civilization, are implicated in what the artist shows him.

William Barrett
--Irrational Man

Posted at 04:16 PM

April 21, 2005

Life

One should not confuse the craving for life with endorsement of it.

Elias Canetti
--The Secret Heart of the Clock

Posted at 09:46 AM

April 20, 2005

Quotes

What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.

Salmon Rushdie
--Guardian, 10/02/90

I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.

-Jorge Luis Borges, writer (1899-1986)

Posted at 09:49 AM

April 13, 2005

Learning

Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.
-Thomas Szasz, author, professor of psychiatry (1920- )
Posted at 08:26 AM

April 12, 2005

Certitude

To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.

Cardinal Bellarmine
--Attributed (said during the trial of Galileo)

Posted at 08:40 AM

April 05, 2005

Purpose of Philosophy

Philosophy poses the question: What should we do to have the best possible lives? I'm afraid we haven't made much progress in arriving at an answer to this question.


Jacques Derrida
--L.A. Weekly 8-14 November

Posted at 09:08 AM

April 03, 2005

Causality

The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect was already in the cause.



Henri Bergson
--Creative Evolution

Posted at 06:57 PM

April 01, 2005

Opinions

I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others

Marcus Aurelius
--Meditations

Posted at 08:52 AM

March 29, 2005

Readers

Readers may be divided into four classes: 1. Sponges, who absorb all that they read and return it in nearly the same state, only a little dirtied. 2. Sand-glasses, who retain nothing and are content to get through a book for the sake of getting through the time. 3. Strain-bags, who retain merely the dregs of what they read. 4. Mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by what they read, and enable others to profit by it also.

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, critic (1772-1834)


Posted at 07:47 AM

March 26, 2005

Sartrian Koan

Consciousness is a being, the nature of which is to be conscious of the nothingness of its being.



Jean-Paul Sartre
--Being and Nothingness

Posted at 01:37 PM

March 21, 2005

Nietzsche on Suicide

The thought of suicide is a great source of comfort: with it a calm passage is to be made across many a bad night.


Friedrich Nietzsche
--Beyond Good and Evil

Posted at 08:37 AM

March 03, 2005

On insignficance

A man said to the universe: "Sir I exist!" "However," replied the universe, "The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation."
-Stephen Crane, writer (1871-1900)
Posted at 08:13 AM

March 01, 2005

Ethical basis for life

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.


Albert Einstein
--New York Times Magazine, 09/11/1930


I've been thinking about this for the last week. Some of the inputs that have colored my thoughts thus include Marx's view on morals as being artifacts imposed on us to maintain the super structure. (I know he didn't quite exactly mean this, but I'm unable to express myself with sufficient eloquence on this point).

The other source of this perturbation is Levi-Strauss' and his views on 'savages'. The idea is that the value systems implemented by the so-called less sophisticated societies can be quite elaborate. I guess the net of this is that it comes down to the Socrates Euthypro conversation - "Are things sacred because the Gods love them, or do Gods love them for they are sacred." Are morals time-less and across societal boundaries. I know, the relativistic view is that they are reflections of the time and society. This answer is not satisfying. It's almost like Kant's synthetic a priori knowledge. Are there some morals that are in fact timeless and incapable of perception in the current times and societies?

Posted at 03:43 PM

February 22, 2005

Of Laws and Men

Every law is an evil, for every law is an infraction of liberty.

Jeremy Bentham
--Principles of Morals and Legislation

And another take

The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.

John Stuart Mill
--On Liberty

And Hume's view

Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.

David Hume
--Essays


Finally look in the quotes category for one by Lenin where he says Liberty is so important that it must be rationed and state controlled!

Posted at 08:38 AM

February 16, 2005

Slavery

'He's a slave.' But he may have the spirit of a free man. 'He's a slave.' But is that really to count against him? Show me a man who isn't a slave; one is a slave to sex, another to money, another to ambition; all are slaves to hope or fear.
- Seneca --Epistulae Morales


Posted at 10:20 AM

February 07, 2005

Happiness?

To the right, books; to the left a tea-cup, In front of me, the fireplace; behind me, the post. There is no greater happiness than this.

Teiga

Posted at 12:12 PM

February 04, 2005

Philosopher

To be a philsopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor een to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.

- Henry David Thoreau

Posted at 09:00 AM

February 03, 2005

clomp clomp

Clomp clomp the monk's feet through ice and dark drawing sweet water

- Basho

Posted at 08:00 AM

January 31, 2005

Let life happen



Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.

Rainer Marie Rilke

Posted at 09:10 AM

January 12, 2005

mindless?

If you want to understand Zen easily, just be mindless, wherever you are, twenty-four hours a day, until you spontaneously merge with the way. This is what an ancient worthy called "the mind not touching things, the steps not placed anywhere"

Ying-An

Posted at 09:48 AM

January 10, 2005

Awareness

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
- Carl Jung
Posted at 08:57 AM

January 06, 2005

More Zen Quotes

How do you think of not-thinking? Nonthinking. This is the heart of zazen
-Dogen
Posted at 02:25 PM

December 30, 2004

The thing to do

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.


Eleanor Roosevelt

Posted at 10:13 AM

October 04, 2004

Some more quotes

There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.

Camille Paglia
--Sexual Personae

The Papacy is not other than the ghost of the deceased Roman empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.

Thomas Hobbes
--Leviathan



He was an embittered atheist (the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him).

George Orwell
--Down and Out in Paris and London

The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.

Peter Singer


Ethiopians make their gods black and snub-nosed, Thracians red-haired and with blue eyes; so also they conceive the spirits of the gods to be like themselves.

Xenophanes
--Attributed

Posted at 08:16 PM

The Other

For him she is sex - absolute sex, no less. She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute - she is the Other.

Simone de Beauvoir
--Second Sex


Posted at 08:12 PM

September 27, 2004

Quotes

I teach you the Overman. Man is something which shall be surpassed.

Friedrich Nietzsche
--Thus Spake Zarathustra

The thing-in-itself, the will-to-live, exists whole and undivided in every being, even in the tiniest; it is present as completely as in all that ever were, are, and will be, taken together.

Arthur Schopenhauer
--Parerga and Paralipomena

A single sentence will suffice for modern man: he fornicated and read the papers.

Albert Camus
--The Fall

Absolute justice is achieved by the suppression of all contradiction: therefore it destroys freedom.

Albert Camus
--The Rebel

Men first feel necessity, then look for utility, next attend to comfort, still later amuse themselves with pleasure, thence grow dissolute in luxury, and finally go mad and waste their substance.

Giambattista Vico
--The New Science

Michael Bakunin
--God and the State

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.

Sigmund Freud
--Letter to Ernest Jones



Man is condemned to be free.

Jean-Paul Sartre
--Existentialism and Humanism

Man is the measure of all things: of those which are, that they are; of those which are not, that they are not.

Protagoras of Adera
--Quoted in Plato's Theaetetus

Posted at 08:52 PM

August 09, 2004

Man and measurements

Man is the measure of all things: of those which are, that they are; of those which are not, that they are not.


Protagoras of Adera
--Quoted in Plato's Theaetetus

Posted at 02:59 PM

August 06, 2004

Nobody's fool

perfect by nature icons of self indulgence just what we all need more lies about a world that

never was and never will be
have you no shame don't you see me
you know you've got everybody fooled

look here she comes now
bow down and stare in wonder
oh how we love you
no flaws when you're pretending
but now i know she

never was and never will be
you don't know how you've betrayed me
and somehow you've got everybody fooled

without the mask where will you hide
can't find yourself lost in your lie

i know the truth now
i know who you are
and i don't love you anymore

it never was and never will be
you're not real and you can't save me
somehow now you're everybody's foo

Posted at 10:02 PM

July 23, 2004

The Cat

"In India, I was living in a little hut, about six feet by seven feet. It had a canvas flap instead of a door. I was sitting on my bed meditating, and a cat wandered in and plopped down on my lap. I took the cat and tossed it out the door. Ten seconds later it was back on my lap. We got into a sort of dance, this cat and I. I would toss it out, and it would come back. I tossed it out because I was trying to meditate, to get enlightened. But the cat kept returning. I was getting more and more irritated, more and more annoyed with the persistence of the cat. Finally, after about a half-hour of this coming in tossing out, I had to surrender. There was nothing else to do. There was no way to block off the door. I sat there, the cat came back in, and it got on my lap. But I did not do anything. I just let go. Thirty seconds later the cat got up and walked out. So you see, our teachers come in many forms."
Joseph Goldstein
Posted at 11:03 AM

July 19, 2004

Society

He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.

Aristotle
--Politics


This is definitely an interesting thought. I disagree with this one.

Posted at 08:41 AM

July 18, 2004

Woman

One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.


Simone de Beauvoir
--Second Sex


Posted at 10:49 AM

July 08, 2004

hmm

God may be understood to be similar to a lifeguard who sees a drowning child and, although perfectly capable of saving the unfortunate waif, does nothing and lets her drown.

Peter Fosl
--The Philosophers' Magazine, Spring 1998

Posted at 08:08 AM

June 27, 2004

Happiness

Happiness consists in frequent repetition of pleasure.

Arthur Schopenhauer
--Essays

Posted at 05:09 PM

June 11, 2004

Marriage Quotes

You are either married and bored or single and lonely

-- Chris Rock

It doesn't matter if you decide to marry or remain single; either way you'll be sorry

-- Socrates

The Atlantic | January/February 2003 | The Wifely Duty | Flanagan

Posted at 05:52 PM

May 23, 2004

Cogito Ergo Something

There can be no other truth to take off from than this: I think, therefore, I exist. There we have the absolute truth of consciousness becoming aware of itself.

Jean-Paul Sartre
--Existentialism and Human Emotions

Posted at 10:07 AM

May 04, 2004

Taming an elephant

Ancient Pali texts liken meditation to the process of taming a wild elephant. The procedure in those days was to tie a newly captured animal to a post with a good strong rope. When you do this the elephant is not happy. He screams and tramples, and pulls against the rope for days. Finally it sinks through his skull that he can't get away, and he settles down. At this point you can begin to feed him and to handle him with some measure of safety. Eventually you can dispense with the rope and post altogether, and train your elephant for various tasks. Now you've got a tamed elephant that can be put to useful work. In this analogy the wild elephant is your wildly active mind, the rope is mindfulness, and the post is our object of meditation-- breathing. The tamed elephant who emerges from this process is a well trained, concentrated mind that can then be used for the exceedingly tough job of piercing the layers of illusion that obscure reality. Meditation tames the mind.
Posted at 02:26 PM

May 02, 2004

Religious Tolerance

Religious tolerance has developed more as a consequence of the impotence of religions to impose their dogmas on each other than as a consequence of spiritual humility in the quest for understanding first and last things.

Sidney Hook
--Religious Liberty From the Viewpoint of a Secular Humanist


Posted at 08:36 PM

April 30, 2004

Nihilism

What are we to believe in, then? Nothing. That is the beginning of Wisdom. It is time to rid ourselves of 'Principles' and to espouse Science, objective inquiry.

Gustave Flaubert
--Flaubert-Sand Correspondence

Posted at 11:18 AM

April 18, 2004

Tyranny in Democracies

Under the absolute sway of one man the body was attacked in order to subdue the soul; but the soul escaped the blows which were directed against it and rose proudly superior. Such is not the course adopted by tyranny in democratic republics; there the body is left free, and the soul is enslaved. The master no longer says: 'You shall think as I do or you shall die'; but he says: 'You are free to think differently from me and to retain your life, your property, and all that you possess; but you are henceforth a stranger among your people.'



Alexis de Tocqueville
--Democracy in America

Posted at 01:52 PM

Private Civilization

Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.



Ayn Rand
--The Fountainhead

Posted at 01:50 PM

April 11, 2004

Existentialist Happiness

The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a human heart. One must imagine that Sisyphus is happy.

Albert Camus
--The Myth of Sisyphus

Posted at 06:47 PM

Women

Hence, it will be found that the fundamental fault of the female character is that it has no sense of justice. This is mainly due to the fact, already mentioned, that women are defective in the power of reasoning and deliberation; but it is also traceable to the position which Nature has assigned to them as the weaker sex. They are dependent not upon strength, but upon craft, and hence their instinctive capacity for cunning, and their incredible tendency to say what is not true.


Arthur Schopenhauer
--Gedanken uber vielerlei Gegenstande

Posted at 06:45 PM

March 29, 2004

The mind

The reason that no computer program can ever be a mind is simply that a computer program is only syntactical, and minds are more than syntactical. Minds are semantical, in the sense that they have more than a formal structure, they have a content.

John Searle
--Minds, Brains and Science

Posted at 09:18 AM

February 16, 2004

Liberty

It is true that liberty is precious - so precious that it must be rationed.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin --Attributed to Lenin in the Webb's Soviet Communism
Posted at 10:30 AM

January 20, 2004

Healthy Scepticism

Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer.

George Santayana
--Scepticism and Animal Faith


Posted at 08:48 AM

January 19, 2004

Stoic? or early Buddhist?

'A cucumber is bitter.' Throw it away. 'There are briars in the road.' Turn aside from them. This is enough. Do not add, 'And why were such things made in the world?'

Marcus Aurelius
--Meditations

Posted at 08:34 AM

January 18, 2004

Therein lies the rub

To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether ’t is nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep:

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heartache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to,—’t is a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there ’s the rub:

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause: there ’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,

The insolence of office and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? who would fardels 1 bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscover’d country from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pith and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action.

-- William Shakespeare
ATTRIBUTION: Hamlet. Act iii. Sc. 1. [text]

Posted at 09:05 PM

January 13, 2004

Life per Kierkagaard

Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backward.

Soren Kierkegaard
--The Journals of Kierkegaard

Posted at 08:07 AM

January 12, 2004

Revolution

The substitution of the proletarian for the bourgeois state is impossible without a violent revolution.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
--The State and Revolution

Posted at 06:22 PM

January 11, 2004

On what matters.

Nothing matters much! If I could find the proper classical expression for this maxim I would have it engraved on the door of the White House and embroidered on the President's pajamas.

Henry Adams
--Letters

Posted at 01:15 PM

January 07, 2004

Life like a dream

Our life is like a dream. But in our better hours we wake up just enough to realize that we are dreaming.

- Wittgenstein

Posted at 11:31 AM

January 05, 2004

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong

This brings back memories

Posted at 11:07 PM

January 04, 2004

God

Thank God? No, no, no. Let's not invent anything as curel, visciious, vengeful, intolerant, unloving, immoral and arrogant as god just to explain a stroke of dumb, undeserved luck. I don't need some multilimbed Cosmic Dancer, or white-bearded Ineffable, some virgin-raping metamorphic Maniac, to take credit for saving my skin. Nobody saved the other fellow did they? Nobody saved the Indochinese or the Angkorans or the Kennedys or the Jews

-- Salman Rushide -
The Ground Beneath Her Feet

Posted at 03:19 PM

January 03, 2004

Schopenahaeur

We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher, who chooses out first one and then another for his prey.

How shall a man be proud, when his conception is a crime, his birth a
penalty, his life a labour, and death a necessity?

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is
violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident


Schopenhaeur - Perhaps?

Posted at 09:45 PM

December 23, 2003

Prostitutes and Feminism

The prostitute is not, as feminists claim, the victim of men but rather their conqueror, an outlaw who controls the sexual channel between nature and culture.

Camille Paglia
--Sex, Art and American Culture

Posted at 10:36 AM

December 12, 2003

Capitalism

The truth is that capitalism has not only multiplied population figures, but at the same time, improved the people's standard of living in an unprecedented way. Neither economic thinking nor historical experience suggest that any other social system could be as beneficial to the masses as capitalism.

Ludwig von Mises

Posted at 06:26 AM

December 10, 2003

Frozen Sea

A book must serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us.

- Franz Kafka

Posted at 08:50 AM

December 08, 2003

Final vocation of man

I cannot think of the present state of humanity as that in which it is destined to remain; I am absolutely unable to conceive of this as its complete and final vocation....Only in so far as I can regard this state as the means towards a better, as the transition-point to a higher and more perfect state, has it any value in my eyes.

Johann Fichte
--The Vocation of Man

Posted at 09:08 AM

December 07, 2003

Akakii Akakievich's Overcoat

And Petersburg was left without Akakii Akakievich, as though he had never lived there. A being disappeared, and was hidden, who was protected by none, dear to none, interesting to none, who never even attracted to himself the attention of an observer of nature, who omits no opportunity of thrusting a pin through a common fly, and examining it under the microscope%u2014a being who bore meekly the jibes of the department, and went to his grave without having done one unusual deed, but to whom, nevertheless, at the close of his life, appeared a bright visitant in the form of a coat, which momentarily cheered his poor life, and upon whom, thereafter, an intolerable misfortune descended, just as it descends upon the heads of the mighty of this world!

The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol

In the department of … but it is better not to name the department. There is nothing more irritable than all kinds of departments, regiments, courts of justice and, in a word, every branch of public service. Each separate man nowadays thinks all society insulted in his person. They say that, quite recently, a complaint was received from a justice of the peace, in which he plainly demonstrated that all the imperial institutions were going to the dogs, and that his sacred name was being taken in vain; and in proof he appended to the complaint a huge volume of some romantic composition, in which the justice of the peace appears about once in every ten lines, sometimes in a drunken condition. Therefore, in order to avoid all unpleasantness, it will be better for us to designate the department in question as a certain department.

So, in a certain department serves a certain official—not a very prominent official, it must be allowed—short of stature, somewhat pockmarked, rather red-haired, rather blind, judging from appearances, with a small bald spot on his forehead, with wrinkles on his cheeks, with a complexion of the sort called sanguine. … How could he help it? The Petersburg climate was responsible for that. As for his rank—for with us the rank must be stated first of all—he was what is called a perpetual titular councillor, over which, as is well known, some writers make merry and crack their jokes, as they have the praiseworthy custom of attacking those who cannot bite back.

His family name was Bashmachkin. It is evident from the name, that it originated in bashmak (shoe); but when, at what time, and in what manner, is not known. His father and grandfather, and even his brother-in-law, and all the Bashmachkins, always wore boots, and only had new heels two or three times a year. His name was Akakii Akakievich. It may strike the reader as rather singular and far-fetched; but he may feel assured that it was by no means far-fetched, and that the circumstances were such that it would have been impossible to give him any other name; and this was how it came about.

Akakii Akakievich was born, if my memory fails me not, towards night on the 23d of March. His late mother, the wife of an official, and a very fine woman, made all due arrangements for having the child baptized. His mother was lying on the bed opposite the door: on her right stood the godfather, a most estimable man, Ivan Ivanovich Eroshkin, who served as presiding officer of the senate; and the godmother, the wife of an officer of the quarter, a woman of rare virtues, Anna Semenovna Byelobrushkova. They offered the mother her choice of three names—Mokiya, Sossiya or that the child should be called after the martyr Khozdazat. “No,” pronounced the blessed woman, “all those names are poor.” In order to please her, they opened the calendar at another place: three more names appeared—Triphilii, Dula and Varakhasii. “This is a judgment,” said the old woman. “What names! I truly never heard the like. Varadat or Varukh might have been borne, but not Triphilii and Varakhasii!” They turned another page—Pavsikakhii and Vakhtisii. “Now I see,” said the old woman, “that it is plainly fate. And if that’s the case, it will be better to name him after his father. His father’s name was Akakii, so let his son’s be also Akakii.” In this manner he became Akakii Akakievich.

They christened the child, whereat he wept, and made a grimace, as though he foresaw that he was to be a titular councillor. In this manner did it all come about. We have mentioned it, in order that the reader might see for himself that it happened quite as a case of necessity, and that it was utterly impossible to give him any other name. When and how he entered the department, and who appointed him, no one could remember. However much the directors and chiefs of all kinds were changed, he was always to be seen in the same place, the same attitude, the same occupation—the same official for letters; so that afterwards it was affirmed that he had been born in undress uniform with a bald spot on his head.

No respect was shown him in the department. The janitor not only did not rise from his seat when he passed, but never even glanced at him, as if only a fly had flown through the reception-room. His superiors treated him in a coolly despotic manner. Some assistant chief would thrust a paper under his nose without so much as saying, “Copy,” or, “Here’s a nice, interesting matter,” or any thing else agreeable, as is customary in well-bred service. And he took it, looking only at the paper, and not observing who handed it to him, or whether he had the right to do so: he simply took it, and set about copying it.

The young officials laughed at and made fun of him, so far as their official wit permitted; recounted there in his presence various stories concocted about him, and about his landlady, an old woman of seventy; they said that she beat him; asked when the wedding was to be; and strewed bits of paper over his head, calling them snow. But Akakii Akakievich answered not a word, as though there had been no one before him. It even had no effect upon his employment: amid all these molestations he never made a single mistake in a letter.

But if the joking became utterly intolerable, as when they jogged his hand, and prevented his attending to his work, he would exclaim, “Leave me alone! Why do you insult me?” And there was something strange in the words and the voice in which they were uttered. There was in it a something which moved to pity; so that one young man, lately entered, who, taking pattern by the others, had permitted himself to make sport of him, suddenly stopped short, as though all had undergone a transformation before him, and presented itself in a different aspect. Some unseen force repelled him from the comrades whose acquaintance he had made, on the supposition that they were well-bred and polite men. And long afterwards, in his gayest moments, there came to his mind the little official with the bald forehead, with the heart-rending words, “Leave me alone! Why do you insult me?” And in these penetrating words, other words resounded—“I am thy brother.” And the poor young man covered his face with his hand; and many a time afterwards, in the course of his life, he shuddered at seeing how much inhumanity there is in man, how much savage coarseness is concealed in delicate, refined worldliness and, O God! even in that man whom the world acknowledges as honorable and noble.

It would be difficult to find another man who lived so entirely for his duties. It is saying but little to say that he served with zeal: no, he served with love. In that copying, he saw a varied and agreeable world. Enjoyment was written on his face: some letters were favorites with him; and when he encountered them, he became unlike himself; he smiled and winked, and assisted with his lips, so that it seemed as though each letter might be read in his face, as his pen traced it. If his pay had been in proportion to his zeal, he would, perhaps, to his own surprise, have been made even a councillor of state. But he served, as his companions, the wits, put it, like a buckle in a button-hole.

Moreover, it is impossible to say that no attention was paid to him. One director being a kindly man, and desirous of rewarding him for his long service, ordered him to be given something more important than mere copying; namely, he was ordered to make a report of an already concluded affair, to another court: the matter consisted simply in changing the heading, and altering a few words from the first to the third person. This caused him so much toil, that he was all in a perspiration, rubbed his forehead, and finally said, “No, give me rather something to copy.” After that they let him copy on forever.

Outside this copying, it appeared that nothing existed for him. He thought not at all of his clothes: his undress uniform was not green, but a sort of rusty-meal color. The collar was narrow, low, so that his neck, in spite of the fact that it was not long, seemed inordinately long as it emerged from that collar, like the necks of plaster cats which wag their heads, and are carried about upon the heads of scores of Russian foreigners. And something was always sticking to his uniform—either a piece of hay or some trifle. Moreover, he had a peculiar knack, as he walked in the street, of arriving beneath a window when all sorts of rubbish was being flung out of it: hence he always bore about on his hat melon and watermelon rinds, and other such stuff.

Never once in his life did he give heed to what was going on every day in the street; while it is well known that his young brother official, extending the range of his bold glance, gets so that he can see when any one’s trouser-straps drop down upon the opposite sidewalk, which always calls forth a malicious smile upon his face. But Akakii Akakievich, if he looked at anything, saw in all things the clean, even strokes of his written lines; and only when a horse thrust his muzzle, from some unknown quarter, over his shoulder, and sent a whole gust of wind down his neck from his nostrils, did he observe that he was not in the middle of a line, but in the middle of the street.

On arriving at home, he sat down at once at the table, supped his cabbage-soup quickly and ate a bit of beef with onions, never noticing their taste, ate it all with flies and anything else which the Lord sent at the moment. On observing that his stomach began to puff out, he rose from the table, took out a little vial with ink and copied papers which he had brought home. If there happened to be none, he took copies for himself, for his own gratification, especially if the paper was noteworthy, not on account of its beautiful style, but of its being addressed to some new or distinguished person.

Even at the hour when the gray Petersburg sky had quite disappeared, and all the world of officials had eaten or dined, each as he could, in accordance with the salary he received, and his own fancy; when all were resting from the departmental jar of pens, running to and fro, their own and other people’s indispensable occupations and all the work that an uneasy man makes willingly for himself, rather than what is necessary; when officials hasten to dedicate to pleasure the time that is left to them—one bolder than the rest goes to the theater; another, into the streets, devoting it to the inspection of some bonnets; one wastes his evening in compliments to some pretty girl, the star of a small official circle; one—and this is the most common case of all—goes to his comrades on the fourth or third floor, to two small rooms with an ante-room or kitchen, and some pretensions to fashion, a lamp or some other trifle which has cost many a sacrifice of dinner or excursion—in a word, even at the hour when all officials disperse among the contracted quarters of their friends, to play at whist, as they sip their tea from glasses with a kopek’s worth of sugar, draw smoke through long pipes, relating at times some bits of gossip which a Russian man can never, under any circumstances, refrain from, or even when there is nothing to say, recounting everlasting anecdotes about the commandant whom they had sent to inform that the tail of the horse on the Falconet Monument had been cut off—in a word, even when all strive to divert themselves, Akakii Akakievich yielded to no diversion.

No one could ever say that he had seen him at any sort of an evening party. Having written to his heart’s content, he lay down to sleep, smiling at the thought of the coming day—of what God might send to copy on the morrow. Thus flowed on the peaceful life of the man, who, with a salary of four hundred rubles, understood how to be content with his fate; and thus it would have continued to flow on, perhaps, to extreme old age, were there not various ills sown among the path of life for titular councillors as well as for private, actual, court and every other species of councillor, even for those who never give any advice or take any themselves.

There exists in Petersburg a powerful foe of all who receive four hundred rubles salary a year, or thereabouts. This foe is no other than our Northern cold, although it is said to be very wholesome. At nine o’clock in the morning, at the very hour when the streets are filled with men bound for the departments, it begins to bestow such powerful and piercing nips on all noses impartially that the poor officials really do not know what to do with them. At the hour when the foreheads of even those who occupy exalted positions ache with the cold, and tears start to their eyes, the poor titular councillors are sometimes unprotected. Their only salvation lies in traversing as quickly as possible, in their thin little overcoats, five or six streets, and then warming their feet well in the porter’s room, and so thawing all their talents and qualifications for official service, which had become frozen on the way.

Akakii Akakievich had felt for some time that his back and shoulders suffered with peculiar poignancy, in spite of the fact that he tried to traverse the legal distance with all possible speed. He finally wondered whether the fault did not lie in his overcoat. He examined it thoroughly at home, and discovered that in two places, namely, on the back and shoulders, it had become thin as mosquito-netting: the cloth was worn to such a degree that he could see through it, and the lining had fallen into pieces.

You must know that Akakii Akakievich’s overcoat served as an object of ridicule to the officials: they even deprived it of the noble name of overcoat, and called it a kapota. In fact, it was of singular make: its collar diminished year by year, but served to patch its other parts. The patching did not exhibit great skill on the part of the tailor, and turned out, in fact, baggy and ugly. Seeing how the matter stood, Akakii Akakievich decided that it would be necessary to take the overcoat to Petrovich, the tailor, who lived somewhere on the fourth floor up a dark staircase, and who, in spit of his having but one eye, and pock-marks all over his face, busied himself with considerable success in repairing the trousers and coats of officials and others; that is to say, when he was sober, and not nursing some other scheme in his head.

It is not necessary to say much about this tailor: but, as it is the custom to have the character of each personage in a novel clearly defined, there is nothing to be done; so here is Petrovich the tailor. At first he was called only Grigorii, and was some gentleman’s serf: he began to call himself Petrovich from the time when he received his free papers, and began to drink heavily on all holidays, at first on the great ones, and then on all church festivals without discrimination, wherever a cross stood in the calendar. On this point he was faithful to ancestral custom; and, quarrelling with his wife, he called her a low female and a German.

As we have stumbled upon his wife, it will be necessary to say a word or two about her; but, unfortunately, little is known of her beyond the fact that Petrovich has a wife, who wears a cap and a dress; but she cannot lay claim to beauty, it seems—at least, no one but the soldiers of the guard, as they pulled their mustaches, and uttered some peculiar sound, even looked under her cap when they met her.

Ascending the staircase which led to Petrovich—which, to do it justice, was all soaked in water (dishwater), and penetrated with the smell of spirits which affects the eyes, and is an inevitable adjunct to all dark stairways in Petersburg houses—ascending the stairs, Akakii Akakievich pondered how much Petrovich would ask, and mentally resolved not to give more than two rubles. The door was open; for the mistress, in cooking some fish, had raised such a smoke in the kitchen that not even the beetles were visible.

Akakii Akakievich passed through the kitchen unperceived, even by the housewife, and at length reached a room where he beheld Petrovich seated on a large, unpainted table, with his legs tucked under him like a Turkish pasha. His feet were bare, after the fashion of tailors as they sit at work; and the first thing which arrested the eye was his thumb, very well known to Akakii Akakievich, with a deformed nail thick and strong as a turtle’s shell. On Petrovich’s neck hung a skein of silk and thread, and upon his knees lay some old garment. He had been trying for three minutes to thread his needle, unsuccessfully, and so was very angry with the darkness, and even with the thread, growling in a low voice, “It won’t go through, the barbarian! you pricked me, you rascal!”

Akakii Akakievich was displeased at arriving at the precise moment when Petrovich was angry: he liked to order something of Petrovich when the latter was a little downhearted, or, as his wife expressed it, “when he had settled himself with brandy, the one-eyed devil!” Under such circumstances, Petrovich generally came down in his price very readily, and came to an understanding, and even bowed and returned thanks. Afterwards, to be sure, his wife came, complaining that her husband was drunk, and so had set the price too low; but, if only a ten-kopek piece were added, then the matter was settled. But now it appeared that Petrovich was in a sober condition, and therefore rough, taciturn, and inclined to demand, Satan only knows what price. Akakii Akakievich felt this, and would gladly have beat a retreat, as the saying goes; but he was in for it. Petrovich screwed up his one eye very intently at him; and Akakii Akakievich involuntarily said, “How do you do, Petrovich!”

“I wish you a good-morning, sir,” said Petrovich, and squinted at Akakii Akakievich’s hands, wishing to see what sort of booty he had brought.

“Ah! I … to you, Petrovich, this”—It must be known that Akakii Akakievich expressed himself chiefly by prepositions, adverbs, and by such scraps of phrases as had no meaning whatever. But if the matter was a very difficult one, then he had a habit of never completing his sentences; so that quite frequently, having begun his phrase with the words, “This, in fact, is quite” … there was no more of it, and he forgot himself, thinking that he had already finished it.

“What is it?” asked Petrovich, and with his one eye scanned his whole uniform, beginning with the collar down to the cuffs, the back, the tails and button-holes, all of which were very well known to him, because they were his own handiwork. Such is the habit of tailors: it is the first thing they do on meeting one.

“But I, here, this, Petrovich, … an overcoat, cloth … here you see, everywhere, in different places, it is quite strong … it is a little dusty, and looks old, but it is new, only here in one place it is a little … on the back, and here on one of the shoulders, it is a little worn, yes, here on this shoulder it is a little … do you see? this is all. And a little work” …

Petrovich took the overcoat, spread it out, to begin with, on the table, looked long at it, shook his head, put out his hand to the window-sill after his snuff-box, adorned with the portrait of some general—just what general is unknown, for the place where the face belonged had been rubbed through by the finger, and a square bit of paper had been pasted on. Having taken a pinch of snuff, Petrovich spread the overcoat out on his hands, and inspected it against the light, and again shook his head; then he turned it, lining upwards, and shook his head once more; again he removed the general-adorned cover with its bit of pasted paper, and, having stuffed his nose with snuff, covered and put away the snuff-box, and said finally, “No, it is impossible to mend it: it’s a miserable garment!”

Akakii Akakievich’s heart sank at these words.

“Why is it impossible, Petrovich?” he said, almost in the pleading voice of a child: “all that ails it is, that it is worn on the shoulders. You must have some pieces.” …

“Yes, patches could be found, patches are easily found,” said Petrovich, “but there’s nothing to sew them to. The thing is completely rotten: if you touch a needle to it—see, it will give way.”

“Let it give way, and you can put on another patch at once.”

“But there is nothing to put the patches on; there’s no use in strengthening it; it is very far gone. It’s lucky that it’s cloth; for, if the wind were to blow, it would fly away.”

“Well, strengthen it again. How this, in fact” …

“No,” said Petrovich decisively, “there is nothing to be done with it. It’s a thoroughly bad job. You’d better, when the cold winter weather comes on, make yourself some foot-bandages out of it, because stockings are not warm. The Germans invented them in order to make more money. [Petrovich loved, on occasion, to give a fling at the Germans.] But it is plain that you must have a new overcoat.”

At the word new, all grew dark before Akakii Akakievich’s eyes, and everything in the room began to whirl round. The only thing he saw clearly was the general with the paper face on Petrovich’s snuff-box cover. “How a new one?” said he, as if still in a dream: “why, I have no money for that.”

“Yes, a new one,” said Petrovich, with barbarous composure.

“Well, if it came to a new one, how, it” …

“You mean how much would it cost?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you would have to lay out a hundred and fifty or more,” said Petrovich, and pursed up his lips significantly. He greatly liked powerful effects, liked to stun utterly and suddenly, and then to glance sideways to see what face the stunned person would put on the matter.

“A hundred and fifty rubles for an overcoat!” shrieked poor Akakii Akakievich—shrieked perhaps for the first time in his life, for his voice had always been distinguished for its softness.

“Yes, sir,” said Petrovich, “for any sort of an overcoat. If you have marten fur on the collar, or a silk-lined hood, it will mount up to two hundred.”

“Petrovich, please,” said Akakii Akakievich in a beseeching tone, not hearing, and not trying to hear, Petrovich’s words, and all his “effects,” “some repairs, in order that it may wear yet a little longer.”

“No, then, it would be a waste of labor and money,” said Petrovich; and Akakii Akakievich went away after these words, utterly discouraged. But Petrovich stood long after his departure, with significantly compressed lips, and not betaking himself to his work, satisfied that he would not be dropped, and an artistic tailor employed.

Akakii Akakievich went out into the street as if in a dream. “Such an affair!” he said to himself: “I did not think it had come to” … and then after a pause, he added, “Well, so it is! see what it has come to at last! and I never imagined that it was so!” Then followed a long silence, after which he exclaimed, “Well, so it is! see what already exactly, nothing unexpected that … it would be nothing … what a circumstance!” So saying, instead of going home, he went in exactly the opposite direction without himself suspecting it.

On the way, a chimney-sweep brought his dirty side up against him, and blackened his whole shoulder: a whole hatful of rubbish landed on him from the top of a house which was building. He observed it not; and afterwards, when he ran into a sentry, who, having planted his halberd beside him, was shaking some snuff from his box into his horny hand—only then did he recover himself a little, and that because the sentry said, “Why are you thrusting yourself into a man’s very face? Haven’t you the sidewalk?” This caused him to look about him, and turn towards home.

There only, he finally began to collect his thoughts, and to survey his position in its clear and actual light, and to argue with himself, not brokenly, but sensibly and frankly, as with a reasonable friend, with whom one can discuss very private and personal matters. “No,” said Akakii Akakievich, “it is impossible to reason with Petrovich now: he is that … evidently, his wife has been beating him. I’d better go to him Sunday morning: after Saturday night he will be a little cross-eyed and sleepy, for he will have to get drunk, and his wife won’t give him any money; and at such a time, a ten-kopek piece in his hand will—he will become more fit to reason with, and then the overcoat, and that.” …

Thus argued Akakii Akakievich with himself, regained his courage, and waited until the first Sunday, when, seeing from afar that Petrovich’s wife had gone out of the house, he went straight to him. Petrovich’s eye was very much askew, in fact, after Saturday: his head drooped, and he was very sleepy; but for all that, as soon as he knew what the question was, it seemed as though Satan jogged his memory. “Impossible,” said he: “please to order a new one.” Thereupon Akakii Akakievich handed over the ten-kopek piece. “Thank you, sir; I will drink your good health,” said Petrovich: “but as for the overcoat, don’t trouble yourself about it; it is good for nothing. I will make you a new coat famously, so let us settle about it now.”

Akakii Akakievich was still for mending it; but Petrovich would not hear of it, and said, “I shall certainly make you a new one, and please depend upon it that I shall do my best. It may even be, as the fashion goes, that the collar can be fastened by silver hooks under a flap.”

Then Akakii Akakievich saw that it was impossible to get along without a new overcoat, and his spirit sank utterly. How, in fact, was it to be accomplished? Where was the money to come from? He might, to be sure, depend, in part, upon his present at Christmas; but that money had long been doled out and allotted beforehand. He must have some new trousers, and pay a debt of long standing to the shoemaker for putting new tops to his old boots, and he must order three shirts from the seamstress, and a couple of pieces of linen which it is impolite to mention in print—in a word, all his money must be spent; and even if the director should be so kind as to order forty-five rubles instead of forty, or even fifty, it would be a mere nothing, and a mere drop in the ocean towards the capital necessary for an overcoat: although he knew that Petrovich was wrong-headed enough to blurt out some outrageous price, Satan only knows what, so that his own wife could not refrain from exclaiming, “Have you lost your senses, you fool?”

At one time he would not work at any price, and now it was quite likely that he had asked a price which it was not worth. Although he knew that Petrovich would undertake to make it for eighty rubles, still, where was he to get the eighty rubles? He might possibly manage half; yes, a half of that might be procured: but where was the other half to come from? But the reader must first be told where the first half came from. Akakii Akakievich had a habit of putting, for every ruble he spent, a groschen into a small box, fastened with lock and key, and with a hole in the top for the reception of money. At the end of each half-year, he counted over the heap of coppers, and changed it into small silver coins. This he continued for a long time; and thus, in the course of some years, the sum proved to amount to over forty rubles.

Thus he had one half on hand; but where to get the other half? where to get another forty rubles? Akakii Akakievich thought and thought, and decided that it would be necessary to curtail his ordinary expenses, for the space of one year at least—to dispense with tea in the evening; to burn no candles, and, if there was anything which he must do, to go into his landlady’s room, and work by her light; when he went into the street, he must walk as lightly as possible, and as cautiously, upon the stones and flagging, almost upon tiptoe, in order not to wear out his heels in too short a time; he must give the laundress as little to wash as possible; and, in order not to wear out his clothes, he must take them off as soon as he got home, and wear only his cotton dressing-gown, which had been long and carefully saved.

To tell the truth, it was a little hard for him at first to accustom himself to these deprivations; but he got used to them at length, after a fashion, and all went smoothly—he even got used to being hungry in the evening; but he made up for it by treating himself in spirit, bearing ever in mind the thought of his future coat. From that time forth, his existence seemed to become, in some way, fuller, as if he were married, as if some other man lived in him, as if he were not alone, and some charming friend had consented to go along life’s path with him—and the friend was no other than that overcoat, with thick wadding and a strong lining incapable of wearing out. He became more lively, and his character even became firmer, like that of a man who has made up his mind, and set himself a goal. From his face and gait, doubt and indecision—in short, all hesitating and wavering traits—disappeared of themselves.

Fire gleamed in his eyes: occasionally, the boldest and most daring ideas flitted through his mind; why not, in fact, have marten fur on the collar? The thought of this nearly made him absent-minded. Once, in copying a letter, he nearly made a mistake, so that he exclaimed almost aloud, “Ugh!” and crossed himself. Once in the course of each month, he had a conference with Petrovich on the subject of the coat—where it would be better to buy the cloth, and the color, and the price—and he always returned home satisfied, though troubled, reflecting that the time would come at last when it could all be bought, and then the overcoat could be made.

The matter progressed more briskly than he had expected. Far beyond all his hopes, the director appointed neither forty nor forty-five rubles for Akakii Akakievich’s share, but sixty. Did he suspect that Akakii Akakievich needed an overcoat? or did it merely happen so? at all events, twenty extra rubles were by this means provided. This circumstance hastened matters. Only two or three months more of hunger—and Akakii Akakievich had accumulated about eighty rubles. His heart, generally so quiet, began to beat.

On the first possible day, he visited the shops in company with Petrovich. They purchased some very good cloth—and reasonably, for they had been considering the matter for six months, and rarely did a month pass without their visiting the shops to inquire prices; and Petrovich said himself, that no better cloth could be had. For lining, they selected a cotton stuff, but so firm and thick, that Petrovich declared it to be better than silk, and even prettier and more glossy. They did not buy the marten fur, because it was dear, in fact; but in its stead, they picked out the very best of cat-skin which could be found in the shop, and which might be taken for marten at a distance.

Petrovich worked at the coat two whole weeks, for there was a great deal of quilting: otherwise it would have been done sooner. Petrovich charged twelve rubles for his work—it could not possibly be done for less: it was all sewed with silk, in small, double seams; and Petrovich went over each seam afterwards with his own teeth, stamping in various patterns.

It was—it is difficult to say precisely on what day, but it was probably the most glorious day in Akakii Akakievich’s life, when Petrovich at length brought home the coat. He brought it in the morning, before the hour when it was necessary to go to the department. Never did a coat arrive so exactly in the nick of time; for the severe cold had set in, and it seemed to threaten increase. Petrovich presented himself with the coat as befits a good tailor. On his countenance was a significant expression, such as Akakii Akakievich had never beheld there. He seemed sensible to the fullest extent that he had done no small deed, and that a gulf had suddenly appeared, separating tailors who only put in linings, and make repairs, from those who make new things.

He took the coat out of the large pocket-handkerchief in which he had brought it. (The handkerchief was fresh from the laundress: he now removed it, and put it in his pocket for use.) Taking out the coat, he gazed proudly at it, held it with both hands, and flung it very skilfully over the shoulders of Akakii Akakievich; then he pulled it and fitted it down behind with his hand; then he draped it around Akakii Akakievich without buttoning it. Akakii Akakievich, as a man advanced in life, wished to try the sleeves. Petrovich helped him on with them, and it turned out that the sleeves were satisfactory also. In short, the coat appeared to be perfect, and just in season.

Petrovich did not neglect this opportunity to observe that it was only because he lived in a narrow street, and had no signboard, and because he had known Akakii Akakievich so long, that he had made it so cheaply; but, if he had been on the Nevsky Prospect, he would have charged seventy-five rubles for the making alone. Akakii Akakievich did not care to argue this point with Petrovich, and he was afraid of the large sums with which Petrovich was fond of raising the dust. He paid him, thanked him, and set out at once in his new coat for the department. Petrovich followed him, and, pausing in the street, gazed long at the coat in the distance, and went to one side expressly to run through a crooked alley, and emerge again into the street to gaze once more upon the coat from another point, namely, directly in front.

Meantime Akakii Akakievich went on with every sense in holiday mood. He was conscious every second of the time, that he had a new overcoat on his shoulders; and several times he laughed with internal satisfaction. In fact, there were two advantages—one was its warmth; the other, its beauty. He saw nothing of the road, and suddenly found himself at the department. He threw off his coat in the ante-room, looked it over well, and confided it to the especial care of the janitor. It is impossible to say just how every one in the department knew at once that Akakii Akakievich had a new coat, and that the “mantle” no longer existed. All rushed at the same moment into the ante-room, to inspect Akakii Akakievich’s new coat. They began to congratulate him, and to say pleasant things to him, so that he began at first to smile, and then he grew ashamed.

When all surrounded him, and began to say that the new coat must be “christened,” and that he must give a whole evening at least to it, Akakii Akakievich lost his head completely, knew not where he stood, what to answer, and how to get out of it. He stood blushing all over for several minutes, and was on the point of assuring them with great simplicity that it was not a new coat, that it was so and so, that it was the old coat. At length one of the officials, some assistant chief probably, in order to show that he was not at all proud, and on good terms with his inferiors, said, “So be it: I will give the party instead of Akakii Akakievich; I invite you all to tea with me to-night; it happens quite apropos, as it is my name-day.”

The officials naturally at once offered the assistant chief their congratulations, and accepted the invitation with pleasure. Akakii Akakievich would have declined; but all declared that it was discourteous, that it was simply a sin and a shame, and that he could not possibly refuse. Besides, the idea became pleasant to him when he recollected that he should thereby have a chance to wear his new coat in the evening also.

That whole day was truly a most triumphant festival day for Akakii Akakievich. He returned home in the most happy frame of mind, threw off his coat, and hung it carefully on the wall, admiring afresh the cloth and the lining; and then he brought out his old, worn-out coat, for comparison. He looked at it, and laughed, so vast was the difference. And long after dinner he laughed again when the condition of the “mantle” recurred to his mind. He dined gayly, and after dinner wrote nothing, no papers even, but took his ease for a while on the bed, until it got dark. Then he dressed himself leisurely, put on his coat, and stepped out into the street.

Where the host lived, unfortunately we cannot say: our memory begins to fail us badly; and everything in St. Petersburg, all the houses and streets, have run together, and become so mixed up in our head, that it is very difficult to produce anything thence in proper form. At all events, this much is certain, that the official lived in the best part of the city; and therefore it must have been anything but near to Akakii Akakievich.

Akakii Akakievich was first obliged to traverse a sort of wilderness of deserted, dimly lighted streets; but in proportion as he approached the official’s quarter of the city, the streets became more lively, more populous, and more brilliantly illuminated. Pedestrians began to appear; handsomely dressed ladies were more frequently encountered; the men had otter collars; peasant wagoners, with their grate-like sledges stuck full of gilt nails, became rarer; on the other hand, more and more coachmen in red velvet caps, with lacquered sleighs and bear-skin robes, began to appear; carriages with decorated coach-boxes flew swiftly through the streets, their wheels scrunching the snow.

Akakii Akakievich gazed upon all this as upon a novelty. He had not been in the streets during the evening for years. He halted out of curiosity before the lighted window of a shop, to look at a picture representing a handsome woman, who had thrown off her shoe, thereby baring her whole foot in a very pretty way; and behind her the head of a man with side-whiskers and a handsome mustache peeped from the door of another room. Akakii Akakievich shook his head, and laughed, and then went on his way. Why did he laugh? Because he had met with a thing utterly unknown, but for which every one cherishes, nevertheless, some sort of feeling; or else he thought, like many officials, as follows: “Well, those French! What is to be said? If they like anything of that sort, then, in fact, that” … But possibly he did not think that. For it is impossible to enter a man’s mind, and know all that he thinks.

At length he reached the house in which the assistant chief lodged. The assistant chief lived in fine style: on the staircase burned a lantern; his apartment was on the second floor. On entering the vestibule, Akakii Akakievich beheld a whole row of overshoes on the floor. Amid them, in the centre of the room, stood a samovar, humming, and emitting clouds of steam. On the walls hung all sorts of coats and cloaks, among which there were even some with beaver collars or velvet facings. Beyond the wall the buzz of conversation was audible, which became clear and loud when the servant came out with a trayful of empty glasses, cream-jugs, and sugar-bowls. It was evident that the officials had arrived long before, and had already finished their first glass of tea.

Akakii Akakievich, having hung up his own coat, entered the room; and before him all at once appeared lights, officials, pipes, card-tables; and he was surprised by a sound of rapid conversation rising from all the tables, and the noise of moving chairs. He halted very awkwardly in the middle of the room, wondering, and trying to decide, what he ought to do. But they had seen him: they received him with a shout, and all went out at once into the ante-room, and took another look at his coat. Akakii Akakievich, although somewhat confused, was open-hearted, and could not refrain from rejoicing when he saw how they praised his coat. Then, of course, they all dropped him and his coat, and returned, as was proper, to the tables set out for whist. All this—the noise, talk, and throng of people—was rather wonderful to Akakii Akakievich. He simply did not know where he stood, or where to put his hands, his feet, and his whole body. Finally he sat down by the players, looked at the cards, gazed at the face of one and another, and after a while began to gape, and to feel that it was wearisome—the more so, as the hour was already long past when he usually went to bed. He wanted to take leave of the host; but they would not let him go, saying that he must drink a glass of champagne, in honor of his new garment, without fail.

In the course of an hour, supper was served, consisting of vegetable salad, cold veal, pastry, confectioner’s pies, and champagne. They made Akakii Akakievich drink two glasses of champagne, after which he felt that the room grew livelier: still, he could not forget that it was twelve o’clock, and that he should have been at home long ago. In order that the host might not think of some excuse for detaining him, he went out of the room quietly, sought out, in the ante-room, his overcoat, which, to his sorrow, he found lying on the floor, brushed it, picked off every speck, put it on his shoulders, and descended the stairs to the street.

In the street all was still bright. Some petty shops, those permanent clubs of servants and all sorts of people, were open: others were shut, but, nevertheless, showed a streak of light the whole length of the door-crack, indicating that they were not yet free of company, and that probably domestics, both male and female, were finishing their stories and conversations, leaving their masters in complete ignorance as to their whereabouts.

Akakii Akakievich went on in a happy frame of mind: he even started to run, without knowing why, after some lady, who flew past like a flash of lightning, and whose whole body was endowed with an extraordinary amount of movement. But he stopped short, and went on very quietly as before, wondering whence he had got that gait. Soon there spread before him those deserted streets, which are not cheerful in the daytime, not to mention the evening. Now they were even more dim and lonely: the lanterns began to grow rarer—oil, evidently, had been less liberally supplied; then came wooden houses and fences: not a soul anywhere; only the snow sparkled in the streets, and mournfully darkled the low-roofed cabins with their closed shutters. He approached the place where the street crossed an endless square with barely visible houses on its farther side, and which seemed a fearful desert.

Afar, God knows where, a tiny spark glimmered from some sentry-box, which seemed to stand on the edge of the world. Akakii Akakievich’s cheerfulness diminished at this point in a marked degree. He entered the square, not without an involuntary sensation of fear, as though his heart warned him of some evil. He glanced back and on both sides—it was like a sea about him. “No, it is better not to look,” he thought, and went on, closing his eyes; and when he opened them, to see whether he was near the end of the square, he suddenly beheld, standing just before his very nose, some bearded individuals—of just what sort, he could not make out. All grew dark before his eyes, and his breast throbbed.

“But of course the coat is mine!” said one of them in a loud voice, seizing hold of the collar. Akakii Akakievich was about to shout for the watch, when the second man thrust a fist into his mouth, about the size of an official’s head, muttering, “Now scream!”

Akakii Akakievich felt them take off his coat, and give him a push with a knee: he fell headlong upon the snow, and felt no more. In a few minutes he recovered consciousness, and rose to his feet; but no one was there. He felt that it was cold in the square, and that his coat was gone: he began to shout, but his voice did not appear to reach to the outskirts of the square. In despair, but without ceasing to shout, he started on a run through the square, straight towards the sentry-box, beside which stood the watchman, leaning on his halberd, and apparently curious to know what devil of a man was running towards him from afar, and shouting. Akakii Akakievich ran up to him, and began in a sobbing voice to shout that he was asleep, and attended to nothing, and did not see when a man was robbed. The watchman replied that he had seen no one; that he had seen two men stop him in the middle of the square, and supposed that they were friends of his; and that, instead of scolding in vain, he had better go to the captain on the morrow, so that the captain might investigate as to who had stolen the coat.

Akakii Akakievich ran home in complete disorder: his hair, which grew very thinly upon his temples and the back of his head, was entirely disarranged; his side and breast, and all his trousers, were covered with snow. The old woman, mistress of his lodgings, hearing a terrible knocking, sprang hastily from her bed, and, with a shoe on one foot only, ran to open the door, pressing the sleeve of her chemise to her bosom out of modesty; but when she had opened it, she fell back on beholding Akakii Akakievich in such a state.

When he told the matter, she clasped her hands, and said that he must go straight to the superintendent, for the captain would turn up his nose, promise well, and drop the matter there: the very best thing to do, would be to go to the superintendent; that he knew her, because Finnish Anna, her former cook, was now nurse at the superintendent’s; that she often saw him passing the house; and that he was at church every Sunday, praying, but at the same time gazing cheerfully at everybody; and that he must be a good man, judging from all appearances.

Having listened to this opinion, Akakii Akakievich betook himself sadly to his chamber; and how he spent the night there, any one can imagine who can put himself in another’s place. Early in the morning, he presented himself at the superintendent’s, but they told him that he was asleep. He went again at ten—and was again informed that he was asleep. He went at eleven o’clock, and they said, “The superintendent is not at home.” At dinner-time, the clerks in the ante-room would not admit him on any terms, and insisted upon knowing his business, and what brought him, and how it had come about—so that at last, for once in his life, Akakii Akakievich felt an inclination to show some spirit, and said curtly that he must see the superintendent in person; that they should not presume to refuse him entrance; that he came from the department of justice, and, when he complained of them, they would see.

The clerks dared make no reply to this, and one of them went to call the superintendent. The superintendent listened to the extremely strange story of the theft of the coat. Instead of directing his attention to the principal points of the matter, he began to question Akakii Akakievich. Why did he return so late? Was he in the habit of going, or had he been, to any disorderly house? So that Akakii Akakievich got thoroughly confused, and left him without knowing whether the affair of his overcoat was in proper train, or not.

All that day he never went near the court (for the first time in his life). The next day he made his appearance, very pale, and in his old “mantle,” which had become even more shabby. The news of the robbery of the coat touched many; although there were officials present who never omitted an opportunity, even the present, to ridicule Akakii Akakievich. They decided to take up a collection for him on the spot, but it turned out a mere trifle; for the officials had already spent a great deal in subscribing for the director’s portrait, and for some book, at the suggestion of the head of that division, who was a friend of the author: and so the sum was trifling.

One, moved by pity, resolved to help Akakii Akakievich with some good advice at least, and told him that he ought not to go to the captain, for although it might happen that the police-captain, wishing to win the approval of his superior officers, might hunt up the coat by some means, still, the coat would remain in the possession of the police if he did not offer legal proof that it belonged to him: the best thing for him would be to apply to a certain prominent personage; that this prominent personage, by entering into relations with the proper persons, could greatly expedite the matter.

As there was nothing else to be done, Akakii Akakievich decided to go to the prominent personage. What was the official position of the prominent personage, remains unknown to this day. The reader must know that the prominent personage had but recently become a prominent personage, but up to that time he had been an insignificant person. Moreover, his present position was not considered prominent in comparison with others more prominent. But there is always a circle of people to whom what is insignificant in the eyes of others, is always important enough. Moreover, he strove to increase his importance by many devices; namely, he managed to have the inferior officials meet him on the staircase when he entered upon his service: no one was to presume to come directly to him, but the strictest etiquette must be observed; the “Collegiate Recorder” must announce to the government secretary, the government secretary to the titular councillor, or whatever other man was proper, and the business came before him in this manner. In holy Russia, all is thus contaminated with the love of imitation: each man imitates and copies his superior. They even say that a certain titular councillor, when promoted to the head of some little separate court-room, immediately partitioned off a private room for himself, called it the Audience Chamber, and posted at the door a lackey with red collar and braid, who grasped the handle of the door, and opened to all comers; though the audience chamber would hardly hold an ordinary writing-table.

The manners and customs of the prominent personage were grand and imposing, but rather exaggerated. The main foundation of his system was strictness. “Strictness, strictness, and always strictness!” he generally said; and at the last word he looked significantly into the face of the person to whom he spoke. But there was no necessity for this, for the half-score of officials who formed the entire force of the mechanism of the office were properly afraid without it: on catching sight of him afar off, they left their work, and waited, drawn up in line, until their chief had passed through the room. His ordinary converse with his inferiors smacked of sternness, and consisted chiefly of three phrases: “How dare you?” “Do you know to whom you are talking?” “Do you realize who stands before you?”

Otherwise he was a very kind-hearted man, good to his comrades, and ready to oblige; but the rank of general threw him completely off his balance. On receiving that rank, he became confused, as it were, lost his way, and never knew what to do. If he chanced to be with his equals, he was still a very nice kind of man—a very good fellow in many respects, and not stupid: but just the moment that he happened to be in the society of people but one rank lower than himself, he was simply incomprehensible; he became silent; and his situation aroused sympathy, the more so, as he felt himself that he might have made an incomparably better use of the time. In his eyes, there was sometimes visible a desire to join some interesting conversation and circle; but he was held back by the thought, Would it not be a very great condescension on his part? Would it not be familiar? and would he not thereby lose his importance? And in consequence of such reflections, he remained ever in the same dumb state, uttering only occasionally a few monosyllabic sounds, and thereby earning the name of the most tiresome of men.

To this prominent personage, our Akakii Akakievich presented himself, and that at the most unfavorable time, very inopportune for himself, though opportune for the prominent personage. The prominent personage was in his cabinet, conversing very, very gayly with a recently arrived old acquaintance and companion of his childhood, whom he had not seen for several years. At such a time it was announced to him that a person named Bashmachkin had come. He asked abruptly, “Who is he?” “Some official,” they told him. “Ah, he can wait! this is no time,” said the important man. It must be remarked here, that the important man lied outrageously: he had said all he had to say to his friend long before; and the conversation had been interspersed for some time with very long pauses, during which they merely slapped each other on the leg, and said, “You think so, Ivan Abramovich!” “Just so, Stepan Varlamovich!” Nevertheless, he ordered that the official should wait, in order to show his friend—a man who had not been in the service for a long time, but had lived at home in the country—how long officials had to wait in his ante-room.

At length, having talked himself completely out, and more than that, having had his fill of pauses, and smoked a cigar in a very comfortable arm-chair with reclining back, he suddenly seemed to recollect, and told the secretary, who stood by the door with papers of reports, “Yes, it seems, indeed, that there is an official standing there. Tell him that he may come in.” On perceiving Akakii Akakievich’s modest mien, and his worn undress uniform, he turned abruptly to him, and said, “What do you want?” in a curt, hard voice, which he had practised in his room in private, and before the looking-glass, for a whole week before receiving his present rank.

Akakii Akakievich, who already felt betimes the proper amount of fear, became somewhat confused: and as well as he could, as well as his tongue would permit, he explained, with a rather more frequent addition than usual of the word that, that his overcoat was quite new, and had been stolen in the most inhuman manner; that he had applied to him, in order that he might, in some way, by his intermediation, that … he might enter into correspondence with the chief superintendent of police, and find the coat.

For some inexplicable reason, this conduct seemed familiar to the general. “What, my dear sir!” he said abruptly, “don’t you know etiquette? Where have you come to? Don’t you know how matters are managed? You should first have entered a complaint about this at the court: it would have gone to the head of the department, to the chief of the division, then it would have been handed over to the secretary, and the secretary would have given it to me.” …

“But, your excellency,” said Akakii Akakievich, trying to collect his small handful of wits, and conscious at the same time that he was perspiring terribly, “I, you excellency, presumed to trouble you because secretaries that … are an untrustworthy race.” …

“What, what, what!” said the important personage. “Where did you get such courage? Where did you get such ideas? What impudence towards their chiefs and superiors has spread among the young generation!” The prominent personage apparently had not observed that Akakii Akakievich was already in the neighborhood of fifty. If he could be called a young man, then it must have been in comparison with some one who was seventy. “Do you know to whom you speak? Do you realize who stands before you? Do you realize it? do you realize it? I ask you!” Then he stamped his foot, and raised his voice to such a pitch that it would have frightened even a different man from Akakii Akakievich.

Akakii Akakievich’s senses failed him; he staggered, trembled in every limb, and could not stand; if the porters had not run in to support him, he would have fallen to the floor. They carried him out insensible. But the prominent personage, gratified that the effect should have surpassed his expectations, and quite intoxicated with the thought that his word could even deprive a man of his senses, glanced sideways at his friend in order to see how he looked upon this, and perceived, not without satisfaction, that his friend was in a most undecided frame of mind, and even beginning, on his side, to feel a trifle frightened.

Akakii Akakievich could not remember how he descended the stairs, and stepped into the street. He felt neither his hands nor feet. Never in his life had he been so rated by any general, let alone a strange one. He went on through the snow-storm, which was howling through the streets, with his mouth wide open, slipping off the sidewalk: the wind, in Petersburg fashion, flew upon him from all quarters, and through every cross-street. In a twinkling it had blown a quinsy into his throat, and he reached home unable to utter a word: his throat was all swollen, and he lay down on his bed. So powerful is sometimes a good scolding!

The next day a violent fever made its appearance. Thanks to the generous assistance of the Petersburg climate, his malady progressed more rapidly than could have been expected: and when the doctor arrived, he found, on feeling his pulse, that there was nothing to be done, except to prescribe a fomentation, merely that the sick man might not be left without the beneficent aid of medicine; but at the same time, he predicted his end in another thirty-six hours. After this, he turned to the landlady, and said, “And as for you, my dear, don’t waste your time on him: order his pine coffin now, for an oak one will be too expensive for him.”

Did Akakii Akakievich hear these fatal words? and, if he heard them, did they produce any overwhelming effect upon him? Did he lament the bitterness of his life?—We know not, for he continued in a raving, parching condition. Visions incessantly appeared to him, each stranger than the other: now he saw Petrovich, and ordered him to make a coat, with some traps for robbers, who seemed to him to be always under the bed; and he cried, every moment, to the landlady to pull one robber from under his coverlet: then he inquired why his old “mantle” hung before him when he had a new overcoat; then he fancied that he was standing before the general, listening to a thorough setting-down, and saying, “Forgive, your excellency!” but at last he began to curse, uttering the most horrible words, so that his aged landlady crossed herself, never in her life having heard anything of the kind from him—the more so, as those words followed directly after the words your excellency. Later he talked utter nonsense, of which nothing could be understood: all that was evident, was that his incoherent words and thoughts hovered ever about one thing—his coat.

At last poor Akakii Akakievich breathed his last. They sealed up neither his room nor his effects, because, in the first place, there were no heirs, and, in the second, there was very little inheritance; namely, a bunch of goose-quills, a quire of white official paper, three pairs of socks, two or three buttons which had burst off his trousers, and the “mantle” already known to the reader. To whom all this fell, God knows. I confess that the person who told this tale took no interest in the matter. They carried Akakii Akakievich out, and buried him. And Petersburg was left without Akakii Akakievich, as though he had never lived there. A being disappeared, and was hidden, who was protected by none, dear to none, interesting to none, who never even attracted to himself the attention of an observer of nature, who omits no opportunity of thrusting a pin through a common fly, and examining it under the microscope—a being who bore meekly the jibes of the department, and went to his grave without having done one unusual deed, but to whom, nevertheless, at the close of his life, appeared a bright visitant in the form of a coat, which momentarily cheered his poor life, and upon whom, thereafter, an intolerable misfortune descended, just as it descends upon the heads of the mighty of this world! …

Several days after his death, the porter was sent from the department to his lodgings, with an order for him to present himself immediately (“The chief commands it!”). But the porter had to return unsuccessful, with the answer that he could not come; and to the question, Why? he explained in the words, “Well, because: he is already dead! he was buried four days ago.” In this manner did they hear of Akakii Akakievich’s death at the department; and the next day a new and much larger official sat in his place, forming his letters by no means upright, but more inclined and slantwise.

But who could have imagined that this was not the end of Akakii Akakievich—that he was destined to raise a commotion after death, as if in compensation for his utterly insignificant life? But so it happened, and our poor story unexpectedly gains a fantastic ending.

A rumor suddenly spread throughout Petersburg that a dead man had taken to appearing on the Kalinkin Bridge, and far beyond, at night, in the form of an official seeking a stolen coat, and that, under the pretext of its being the stolen coat, he dragged every one’s coat from his shoulders without regard to rank or calling—cat-skin, beaver, wadded, fox, bear, raccoon coats; in a word, every sort of fur and skin which men adopted for their covering. One of the department employés saw the dead man with his own eyes, and immediately recognized in him Akakii Akakievich: nevertheless, this inspired him with such terror, that he started to run with all his might, and therefore could not examine thoroughly, and only saw how the latter threatened him from afar with his finger.

Constant complaints poured in from all quarters, that the backs and shoulders, not only of titular but even of court councillors, were entirely exposed to the danger of a cold, on account of the frequent dragging off of their coats. Arrangements were made by the police to catch the corpse, at any cost, alive or dead, and punish him as an example to others, in the most severe manner: and in this they nearly succeeded; for a policeman, on guard in Kirushkin Alley, caught the corpse by the collar on the very scene of his evil deeds, for attempting to pull off the frieze coat of some retired musician who had blown the flute in his day.

Having seized him by the collar, he summoned, with a shout, two of his comrades, whom he enjoined to hold him fast, while he himself felt for a moment in his boot, in order to draw thence his snuff-box, to refresh his six times forever frozen nose; but the snuff was of a sort which even a corpse could not endure. The policeman had no sooner succeeded, having closed his right nostril with his finger, in holding half a handful up to the left, than the corpse sneezed so violently that he completely filled the eyes of all three. While they raised their fists to wipe them, the dead man vanished utterly, so that they positively did not know whether they had actually had him in their hands at all. Thereafter the watchmen conceived such a terror of dead men, that they were afraid even to seize the living; and only screamed from a distance, “Hey, there! go your way!” and the dead official began to appear, even beyond the Kalinkin Bridge, causing no little terror to all timid people.

But we have totally neglected that certain prominent personage, who may really be considered as the cause of the fantastic turn taken by this true history. First of all, justice compels us to say, that after the departure of poor, thoroughly annihilated Akakii Akakievich, he felt something like remorse. Suffering was unpleasant to him: his heart was accessible to many good impulses, in spite of the fact that his rank very often prevented his showing his true self. As soon as his friend had left his cabinet, he began to think about poor Akakii Akakievich. And from that day forth, poor Akakii Akakievich, who could not bear up under an official reprimand, recurred to his mind almost every day. The thought of the latter troubled him to such an extent, that a week later he even resolved to send an official to him, to learn whether he really could assist him; and when it was reported to him that Akakii Akakievich had died suddenly of fever, he was startled, listened to the reproaches of his conscience, and was out of sorts for the whole day.

Wishing to divert his mind in some way, and forget the disagreeable impression, he set out that evening for one of his friends’ houses, where he found quite a large party assembled; and, what was better, nearly every one was of the same rank, so that he need not feel in the least constrained. This had a marvellous effect upon his mental state. He expanded, made himself agreeable in conversation, charming: in short, he passed a delightful evening. After supper he drank a couple of glasses of champagne—not a bad recipe for cheerfulness, as every one knows. The champagne inclined him to various out-of-the-way adventures; and, in particular, he determined not to go home, but to go to see a certain well-known lady, Karolina Ivanovna, a lady, it appears, of German extraction, with whom he felt on a very friendly footing.

It must be mentioned that the prominent personage was no longer a young man, but a good husband, and respected father of a family. Two sons, one of whom was already in the service, and a good-looking, sixteen-year-old daughter, with a rather retroussé but pretty little nose, came every morning to kiss his hand, and say, “Bonjour, papa.” His wife, a still fresh and good-looking woman, first gave him her hand to kiss, and then, reversing the procedure, kissed his. But the prominent personage, though perfectly satisfied in his domestic relations, considered it stylish to have a friend in another quarter of the city. This friend was hardly prettier or younger than his wife; but there are such puzzles in the world, and it is not our place to j

Posted at 06:00 PM

December 05, 2003

Vipassana

The goal of vipassana practice is to cultivate the mindful, non-reactive

observation of bodily and mental processes so as to develop an

increasing thorough awareness an awareness undistorted by our usual

desires, fears and views of the true nature of these processes, that

they are impermanent, that they are without self and therefore involving

suffering on our part until we learn to let go. It is through mindful observation

of what is actually there that the delusion that makes us perceive what

is impermanent and transient as permanent and lasting is gradually

dispelled. Liberation consists in experiencing and understanding fully

and clearly that everything is impermanent and seeing that there is

quite literally nothing to worry about

Amadeus Sole-Leris

Posted at 01:50 PM

December 03, 2003

Existentialism and atheism

Atheistic existentialism, of which I am a representative, declares with greater consistency that if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence, a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it. That being is man....

Jean-Paul Sartre
--Existentialism and Humanism

Posted at 05:23 PM

December 01, 2003

Plain speak

Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know.

-- Don Rumsfield

I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman

- Governer Arnold Schwarzenegger

Posted at 04:08 PM

Changing the world

Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.
Karl Marx --Theses on Feuerbach
Posted at 03:19 PM

Misunderstood

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
--Essays

Posted at 03:18 PM

November 30, 2003

Unified Theory

Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?

Stephen Hawking
--A Brief History of Time

Posted at 03:00 PM

November 24, 2003

Government and Tyranny

The freest form of government is only the least objectionable form. The rule of the many by the few we call tyranny: the rule of the few by the many is tyranny also; only of a less intense kind.

Herbert Spencer
--Social Statics

Posted at 10:06 AM

Buying does not equal Reading

Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.

Arthur Schopenhauer
--Parerga and Paralipomena

Posted at 07:35 AM

November 22, 2003

Service

I slept and dreamt that life was joy; I awoke and saw that life was service; I acted, and behold, service was joy.

--Rabindranath Tagore

Posted at 02:53 PM

November 17, 2003

Life - a comedy

What a fine comedy this world would be if one did not play a part in it!
Denis Diderot --Letters to Sophie Volland
Posted at 08:43 AM

November 09, 2003

Midnight's Children

Notable quotes from Midnight's Children

How we made the revolution: General Zulfikar described troop movements; I moved pepperpots symbolically while he spoke. In the clutches of the active-metaphorical mode of connection, I shifted salt-cellars, bowls of chutney: This mustard jar is Company A occupying Head Post Office; there are two pepperpots surrounding a serving spoon, which means Company B has seized the airport. With the fate of the nation in my hands, I shifted condiments and cutlery, capturing empty biriani-dishes with water-glasses, stationing salt-cellars, on guard around water-jugs. And when General Zulfiqar stopped talking, the march of the table-service also came to an end. Ayub Khan seemed to settle down in his chair; was the wink he gave me just my imagination? - at any rate the Commander-in-Chief said, "Very good, Zulfiqar; good show."



He wa born in Old Delhi .. once upon a time. No, that won't do, there's no getting away from the date: Aadam Sinai arrived at a night-shadowed slum on June 25th, 1975. And the time? The time matters, too. As I said: at night. No, its more important to be more... On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India's arrival at Emergency, he emerged. There were gasps; and, across the country, silences and fears. And owing to the occult tyrannies of that benighted hour, he was mysteriously handcuffed to history, his destinies indissolubly chaines to those of his country. Unprophesied, uncelebrated, he came; no prime ministers wrote him letters; but just the same, as my time of connection neared its end, his began. He, of course, was left entirely without a say in the matter; after all he couldn't even wipe his nose at the time.

He was the child of a father who was not his father, but also the child of a time which damaged reality so badly that noboy ever managed to put it together again;

He was the true great-grandson of his great grandfather but elephantiasis attacked him in the ears instead of the nose because he was also the the true son of Shiva-and-Parvati; he was elephant-headed Ganesh;

Posted at 11:51 AM

November 06, 2003

November 05, 2003

Intellectual Isolation

As regards intellectual work, it remains a fact, indeed, that great decisions in the realms of thought and momentous discoveries and solutions of problems are only possible to an individual working in solitude.
-Sigmund Freud, neurologist, founder of psychoanalysis (1856-1939)
Posted at 10:22 AM

October 28, 2003

Desires

"It is hardest to cure a disease when the medicine we take itself causes the disease. We scratch the itch, and the scratching only makes it worse, we try to quench our thirst by drinking salt water, and we make ourselves thirstier. This is what happens when we believe that the only way to end desires is to fulfill them. A different and liberating insight dawns when we begin to pay careful attention to this powerful energy in our lives."

--Joseph Goldstein

Posted at 01:44 PM

October 20, 2003

Theism

It's an insult to God to believe in God.... So my suspicion is that the people he really loves best now in the twentieth century are probably the atheists and agnostics, because they're the only ones who have ever really taken him seriously.

Galen Stawson
--In Our Time, BBC Radio 4

Posted at 09:23 AM

September 23, 2003

Revealed religion

The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. It has been the most destructive to the peace of man since man began to exist.

Thomas Paine
--The Age of Reason

Posted at 09:54 AM

September 02, 2003

Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism means sticking strictly to the script, which in turn means being deeply fearful of the improvised, ambiguous or indeterminate...Since writing is meaning that can be handled by anybody, any time, it is always profane and promiscuous. Meaning that has been written down is bound to be unhygienic...Fundamentalism is the paranoid condition of those who do not see that roughness is not a defect of human existence, but what makes it work.
Terry Eagleton --The Guardian 22 Feb. 2003
Posted at 11:11 AM

August 13, 2003

One life to live

Remember that no man loses any other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any other than this which he now loses.

Marcus Aurelius
--Meditations

Posted at 09:24 AM

June 11, 2003

Religion and moral progress

I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organised in its Churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.

Bertrand Russell
--Why I Am Not A Christian

Posted at 08:32 AM

May 02, 2003

Death - The only fact

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.
James Baldwin --The fire next time
Posted at 08:37 PM

April 27, 2003

God loves atheists

It's an insult to God to believe in God.... So my suspicion is that the people he really loves best now in the twentieth century are probably the atheists and agnostics, because they're the only ones who have ever really taken him seriously.
Galen Stawson --In Our Time, BBC Radio 4
Posted at 03:29 PM

April 13, 2003

Easy Zen

A contentment gained from idleness or from a laissez-faire attitude of mind is a thing most to be abhorred. There is no Zen in this, but sloth and mere vegetation. The battle must rage in its full vigour and masulinity. Without it, whatever peace that has been obtained is a simulacrum, and it has no deep foundation; the first storm it may encounter will crush it to the ground. Zen is quite emphatic in this. Certainly, the moral virility to be found in Zen, apart from its mystic flight, comes from the fighting of the battle of life courageously and undauntedly.
-- D.T. Suzuki Essays in Zen Buddhism
Posted at 07:01 PM

April 10, 2003

Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things. The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. And on the pedestal these words appear: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.


- P.B. Shelley on Pharoah Ramses II

Posted at 04:12 PM

April 09, 2003

Modern Times

Each of us not only 'has', but lives a biography reflexively organised in terms of flows of social and psychological information about possible ways of life. Modernity is a post-traditional order, in which the question, 'How shall I live?' has to be answered in day-to-day decisions about how to behave, what to wear and what to eat - and many other things - as well as interpreted within the temporal unfolding of self-identity.
Anthony Giddens --Modernity and Self-Identity
Posted at 08:48 PM

April 07, 2003

Suicide and life

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that
-- Albert Camus The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays
Posted at 10:20 AM | Comments (1)

Women

A woman does not want the truth; what is truth to women? From the beginning, nothing has been more alien, repugnant, and hostile to woman than the truth - her great art is the lie, her highest concern is mere appearance and beauty.

Friedrich Nietzsche
--Beyond Good and Evil

Posted at 10:12 AM

April 03, 2003

A thoughtful civilization?

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.
Alfred North Whitehead --An Introduction to Mathematics
Posted at 07:48 AM

April 02, 2003

Existentialist Angst

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
--Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)
Posted at 10:10 PM

March 26, 2003

funny

"You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, The Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the US of arrogance, and Germany doesn't want to go to war."
-Author Unknown
Posted at 09:09 PM

March 21, 2003

My Nausea

I live alone, entirely alone. I never speak to anyone, never; I receive nothing, I give nothing… When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell something: the plausible disappears at the same time as the fiends. You let events flow past; suddenly you see people pop up who speak and who go away, you plunge into stories without beginning or end: you make a terrible witness. But in compensation, one misses nothing, no improbability or, story too tall to be believed in cafes
- Jean Paul Sartre Nausea
Posted at 01:27 PM

Nietzche on Kant

Twice, when an honest, unequivocal, perfectly scientific way of thinking had been attained with tremendous fortitude and self-overcoming, the Germans managed to find devious paths to the old 'ideal' -- at bottom, formulas for a right to repudiate science, a right to lie. Leibniz and Kant - these two greatest brake shoes of intellectual integrity in Europe

Friedrich Nietzsche
--Ecce Homo

Posted at 08:44 AM

March 18, 2003

Rationality today

I have seen cruelty, persecution, and superstition increasing by leaps and bounds, until we have almost reached the point where praise of rationality is held to mark a man as an old fogey regrettably surviving from a bygone age.

Bertrand Russell
--Unpopular Essays


If this was Russell's estimate during the last century, then what would he say if he saw our actions today?

Posted at 09:01 AM

Desire in Buddhism

"The Buddha's teaching is all about understanding suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. When we contemplate suffering, we find we are contemplating desire, because desire and suffering are the same thing.


"Desire can be compared to fire. If we grasp fire, what happens? Does it lead to happiness? If we say: 'Oh, look at that beautiful fire! Look at the beautiful colors! I love red and orange; they're my favorite colors,' and then grasp it, we would find a certain amount of suffering entering the body. And then if we were to contemplate the cause of that suffering we would discover it was the result of having grasped that fire. On that information, we would hopefully, then let the fire go. Once we let fire go then we know that it is something not to be attached to. This does not mean we have to hate it, or put it out. We can enjoy fire, can't we? It's nice having a fire, it keeps the room warm, but we do not have to burn ourselves in it."

Posted at 08:53 AM

Religion

Whenever morality is based on theology, whenever right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established.

Ludwig Feuerbach
--The Essence of Christianity

Posted at 08:50 AM

March 10, 2003

Religion

Religion is but a desperate attempt to find an escape from the truly dreadful situation in which we find ourselves. Here we are in this wholly fantastic universe with scarcely a clue as to whether our existence has any real significance. No wonder then that many people feel the need for some belief that gives them a sense of security, and no wonder that they become very angry with people like me who say that this is illusory.
Fred Hoyle --The Nature of the Universe
Posted at 08:25 AM

March 09, 2003

Time

Time heals what reason cannot.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca
--Agamemnon

Posted at 02:30 PM

March 06, 2003

Tame your mind

As I left my daytime resting place on Vulture Peak, I saw an elephant come up on the riverbank after its bath.


A man took a hook and said to the elephant,
"Give me your foot."
The elephant stretched out its foot;
the man mounted.


Seeing what was wild before
gone tame under human hands,
I went into the forest
and concentrated my mind.

Dantika, in Susan Murcott's The First Buddhist Women

Posted at 04:48 PM

February 22, 2003

Evil

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Blaise Pascal --Pensees
Posted at 06:52 PM

January 20, 2003

Flagpole Sitta

Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger

I had visions, I was in them I was looking into the mirror To see a little bit clearer Rottenness and evil in me Fingertips have memories Mine can't forget the curves of your body And when i feel a bit naughty I run it up the flagpole and see who salutes (but no one ever does) I'm not sick but i'm not well And I'm so hot cause I'm in hell Been around the world and found That only stupid people are breeding The cretins cloning and feeding And I don't even own a tv Put me in the hospital for nerves And then they had to commit me You told them all i was crazy They cut off my legs now I'm an amputee, god damn you I'm not sick but I'm not well And I'm so hot cause i'm in hell I'm not sick but I'm not well And it's a sin to live so well I wanna publish zines And rage against machines I wanna pierce my tongue It doesn't hurt, it feels fine The trivial sublime I'd like to turn off time And kill my mind You kill my mind Paranoia paranoia Everybody's coming to get me Just say you never met me I'm going underground with the moles Hear the voices in my head I swear to god it sounds like they're snoring But if you're bored then you're boring The agony and the irony, they're killing me I'm not sick but I'm not well And I'm so hot cause i'm in hell I'm not sick but I'm not well And it's a sin to live so well
Posted at 09:29 AM

December 31, 2002

Omnibus disputantum

If you would be a real seeker after truth, you must at least once in your life doubt, as far as possible, all things.
Rene Descartes --Discourse on Method
Posted at 12:30 PM

December 26, 2002

Zen and science

All things in this world are impermanent. They have the nature to rise and pass away. To be in harmoney with this truth brings true happiness
-- Buddhist Chant
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
Richard Dawkins --'God's Utility Function', Scientific American
Posted at 10:19 AM

December 23, 2002

Do not be

Do not be an emodiment of fame; do not be a storehouse of schemes; do not be an undertaker of projects; do not be a proprietor of wisdom. Wander where there is no trail. Hold on to all that you have received from Heaven but do not htink you have gotten anything. Be empty, that is all. The perfect Man uses his mind like a mirror - going after nothing, welcoming nothing, responding but not storing.
-- Chuang-Tzu
Posted at 11:55 AM

December 12, 2002

Rilke

A billion stars go spinning through the night, blazing hgh about your head. But in you is the presence that will be, when the stars are dead.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke
Buddha In Glory

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet--
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

Posted at 10:07 AM

December 05, 2002

Fortuyn on Islam

'Christianity and Judaism have gone through the laundromat of humanism and enlightenment, but that isn't the case with Islam.'
Pim Fortuyn
Posted at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)

A few Zen quotes

Outside mind there is no Buddha, Outside Buddha there is no mind
-- Ma-Tsu
As long as you haven't experienced This: to die and so to grow You are only a troubled guest on the dark Earth
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The nature of the mind, when understood No human words can encompass or disclose. Enlightenment is naught to be obtained, And he that gains it does not say he knows.
-- Bodhidharma
As long as you seek for something, you will get the shadow of reality and not reality itself.
-- Shunruyu Suzuki
And he was almighty because he had wrenched from chaos the secret of its nothingness
-- Jean Paul Sartre
Posted at 11:34 AM

November 25, 2002

Eyes

We have two eyes to see two sides of things, but there must be a third eye which will see everything at the same time and yet not see anything. That is to understand Zen.
-- D. T. Suzuki
Posted at 02:08 PM

Camille

Homosexuality is not 'normal.' On the contrary, it is a challenge to the norm; therein rests its eternally revolutionary character. Note I do not call it a challenge to the idea of the norm. Queer theorists - that wizened crew of flimflamming free-loaders - have tried to take the poststructuralist tack of claiming that there is no norm, since everything is relative and contingent. This is the kind of silly bind that word-obsessed people get into when they are deaf, dumb, and blind to the outside world. Nature exists, whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single, relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. Penis fits vagina: no fancy linguistic game - playing can change that basic fact. However, my libertarian view, here as in regard to abortion, is that we have not only the right, but the obligation to defy nature's tyranny. The highest human identity consists precisely in such assertions of freedom against material limitation.
Camille Paglia --Vamps and Tramps
Posted at 09:43 AM

November 23, 2002

On Mirrors and Men

Then Bioy-Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had stated that mirrors and copulation are abominable, since they both multiply the numbers of man. -- "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius"
-- Jorge Luis Borge
Posted at 10:17 PM

November 15, 2002

The purpose of Zazen

The practice of zazen is not for gaining a mystical mind. Zazen is for allowing a clear min - as clear as a bright autumn day

-- Shunruyu Suzuki

Posted at 02:45 PM

November 06, 2002

Genes

We are survival machines - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.
Richard Dawkins --The Selfish Gene
Posted at 09:22 AM

November 04, 2002

Religion

Religion is an illusion of childhood, outgrown under proper education.
Auguste Comte
Posted at 09:11 AM

October 28, 2002

Economics

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages.
Adam Smith --The Wealth of Nations
Posted at 08:17 AM

October 21, 2002

step back

Cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words, and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest
- Dogen
Posted at 09:18 AM

October 18, 2002

Women

A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle
--Gloria Steinem
Posted at 10:57 AM

October 14, 2002

Bonding over hate

Love, friendship, respect do not unite people as much as common hatred for something.
Anton Chekhov --Notebooks
Posted at 09:22 AM

October 09, 2002

Self Esteem

My only regret in life is that I'm not someone else.
Woody Allen --Side Effects
Posted at 09:39 AM

October 01, 2002

Dignity

What about dignity? You will die, and when you die, you will know a profound lack of it. It's never dignified, always brutal. What's dignified about dying? It's never dignified. And in obscurity? Offensive. Dignity is an affectation, but but eccentric, like learning French or collecting scarves. And it's fleeting and incredibly mercurial. And subjective. So fuck it.

-Dave Eggers
A heart-breaking work of staggering genius

Posted at 09:12 PM

September 23, 2002

H to the izz-O,

H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A Fo' shizzle my nizzle used to dribble down in VA H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A That's the anthem get'cha damn hands up H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A Not guilty ya'll got-ta feel me H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A That's the anthem get'cha damn hands UP!
-- Jay Z
Posted at 10:30 PM

September 22, 2002

Immaculate Conception

In the olden days unexplained pregnancies were blamed on fertile lavatory seats or otherwise deemed to be the acts of gods. Modern wisdom teaches us to dismiss the lavatory seat option as nonsense but the question as to whether gods are capable of producing offspring by acts of sexual union with mortal human beings remains open.
Alexander Waugh --God
Posted at 01:16 PM

September 15, 2002

Social impact of religion

History aside, the almost universal opinion that one's own religious convictions are the reasoned outcome of a dispassionate evaluation of all the major alternatives is almost demonstrably false for humanity in general. If that really were the genesis of most people's convictions, then one would expect the major faiths to be distributed more or less randomly or evenly over the globe. But in fact they show a very strong tendency to cluster...which illustrates what we all suspected anyway: that social forces are the primary determinants of religious belief for people in general. To decide scientific questions by appeal to religious orthodoxy would therefore be to put social forces in place of empirical evidence.
Paul Churchland --Matter and Consciousness
Posted at 01:07 PM

September 09, 2002

Knowledge

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
- Plato
Posted at 09:09 AM

September 06, 2002

Taking Reponsibility

It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.
C. S. Lewis --Mere Christianity
Posted at 08:17 AM

September 05, 2002

On things not understood

Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, there would be no end of divine things.

Hippocrates
--Aphorisms

Posted at 08:53 AM

August 29, 2002

Absolute Facts?

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Aldous Huxley

Can facts really be absolute? Wasn't it Nietzche who said "there are no facts, just opinions?". What is an irrefutable fact? That a ball is round? Or is it that there is no matter (or facts) only mind. Any and everything is a perception in your mind and thats the only reason it exists. Even if we don't get dragged into the morass that is idealism how do we combat relatavism? Maybe relativism is the right answer!

Posted at 04:55 PM

August 28, 2002

Robert Frost meet Abraham Maslow

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.
Robert Frost
Posted at 11:22 AM

August 23, 2002

Relativism

What is morality in any given time or place? It is what the majority then and there happen to like, and immorality is what they dislike.
Alfred North Whitehead --Dialogues
Posted at 08:23 AM

August 22, 2002

Insomnia

Insomnia can become a form of contemplation. You just lie there, inert, helpless, alone, in the dark, and let yourself be crushed by the inscrutable tyranny of time.
Thomas Merton --The Sign of Jonas
Posted at 08:46 AM

August 16, 2002

Primitive Mind

The human mind evolved to believe in the gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology. Acceptance of the supernatural conveyed a great advantage throughout prehistory, when the brain was evolving. Thus it is in sharp contrast to biology, which was developed as a product of the modern age and is not underwritten by genetic algorithms. The uncomfortable truth is that the two beliefs are not factually compatible. As a result those who hunger for both intellectual and religious truth will never acquire both in full measure.

Edward O. Wilson
--Consilience

Posted at 01:08 PM

August 14, 2002

Victory

Americans play to win at all times. I wouldn't give a hoot and hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor ever lose a war.
-- General George S. Patton
Posted at 01:04 PM

August 12, 2002

Confidence

Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.
-- Vince Lombardi
Posted at 10:27 AM

August 11, 2002

I become death

If the radiance of a thousand suns Were to burst at once into the sky That would be like the splendor of the Mighty one... I am become Death, The shatterer of Worlds
-- Bhagvat Gita

"...now I am become Death [Shiva], the destroyer of worlds..."

Physicist Robert Oppenheimer
Supervising Scientist Manhattan Project

on 16 July 1945 at 0529 HRS, in the Jornada del Muerto desert near the Trinity site in the White Sands Missile Range.

Posted at 08:23 PM

August 05, 2002

Setbacks

Q: Can you prepare for a setback? A: Depends on the setback. There's not much you can do to anticipate bad luck. But showing up unprepared, being out of shape, being just not ready to win, that's your own fault. Thats why I'm hyperparanoid about doing my job 12 months a year. I'm scared of the setback. I'm scared of losing my conditioning. Or losing the Tour de France. Or everything I've worked to build up.
-- Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong saying c'ya to Jan Ulrich

Posted at 09:03 PM

July 31, 2002

Faith. Only Faith

Wandering in a vast forest at night I have only a faint light to guide me A stranger appears and says to me: "My Friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly" This stranger is a theologian.

Denis Diderot

Posted at 05:17 PM

July 28, 2002

Religion

The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. It has been the most destructive to the peace of man since man began to exist.

Thomas Paine
--The Age of Reason

Thoman Paine's work was the basis for the constitution of America. His work is instrumental in our quest towards understanding the social contract that exists between humans in society. Further, it helps refine the contract and enable us to relate to each other in a civilized manner.

Posted at 10:58 AM

June 25, 2002

a few quotes

A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular.
-Adlai Stevenson, statesman (1900-1965)
A lot of people mistake a short memory for a clear conscience.
-Doug Larson
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
-Greek proverb
All the world's a stage, And the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.
-William Shakespeare, poet and dramatist (1564-1616)
Men seek out retreats for themselves in the country, by the seaside, on the moutains... But all this is unphilosophical to the last degree... when thou canst at a moment's notice retire into thyself.
-Marcus Aelius Aurelius
Posted at 10:16 AM

June 24, 2002

Emerson on manners

The music than can deepest reach, And cure all ill, is cordial speech.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)
Posted at 12:30 PM

June 23, 2002

Moral Indignation

There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as "moral indignation," which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.

Erich Fromm
--Man For Himself

Posted at 10:07 AM

June 22, 2002

Structuralists vision

The day the world ends, no one will be there, just as no one was there when it began. This is a scandal. Such a scandal for the human race that it is indeed capable collectively, out of spite, of hastening the end of the world by all means just so it can enjoy the show.

Jean Baudrillard
--Cool Memories

Posted at 11:02 AM

June 18, 2002

Michael Bakunin

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Michael Bakunin
--God and the State

Mikhail Bukanin was born in Tsarist Russia during the 19th century. He went on to become one of the leading anarchists. His works include Marxism, Freedom and the State and God and the State.

The idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty, and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind, both in theory and practice.
-- God and the state.
Posted at 09:01 AM

June 12, 2002

Existence before essence


Consciousness is a being, the nature of which is to be conscious of the nothingness of its being.

Jean-Paul Sartre
--Being and Nothingness

Posted at 09:12 AM

May 29, 2002

random quotes

It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better...while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more.

Woody Allen
--Side Effects

An ideology is a complex of ideas or notions which represents itself to the thinker as an absolute truth for the interpretation of the world and his situation within it; it leads the thinker to accomplish an act of self-deception for the purpose of justification, obfuscation and evasion in some sense or other to his advantage.

Karl Jaspers
--The Origin and Goal of History


We are not retreating. We are advancing in that direction

--unknown (to me)

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives
-- James Madison
Posted at 08:56 AM

May 20, 2002

cigars

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Sigmund Freud
--Attributed to Freud

Posted at 08:26 AM

May 16, 2002

feminism, philosophy and the social contract

Feminist confidence that the whole human race can be 'reeducated' to totally eliminate the possibility of rape is pure folly...Wave after wave of boys hit puberty every year. Do feminists, with their multicultural pretensions, really envision a massive export of white bourgeois good manners all around the world? Speak of imperialism!

Camille Paglia
--Vamps and Tramps

There will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers.

Plato
--Republic

No arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Thomas Hobbes
--Leviathan

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.
-- Nelson Mandela
Posted at 09:55 AM

May 13, 2002

matter of perspective

The beauty of the democratic systems of thought control, as contrasted with their clumsy totalitarian counterparts, is that they operate by subtly establishing on a voluntary basis - aided by the force of nationalism and media control by substantial interests - presuppositions that set the limits of debate, rather than by imposing beliefs with a bludgeon.
Noam Chomsky --After the Cataclysm
Posted at 09:24 PM

May 06, 2002

War and Peace

We make war that we may live in peace.
-- Aristotle
Posted at 11:59 AM

April 30, 2002

square peg in a round hole

Six is a number perfect in itself, and not because God created the world in six days; rather the contrary is true. God created the world in six days because this number is perfect, and it would remain perfect, even if the work of the six days did not exist.


-- Saint Augustine
The City of God.

Posted at 02:06 PM

April 28, 2002

quotes

Justice without force is powerless; force without justice is tyrannical.
--Blaise Pascal
Vision without action is day dreaming. Action without vision is dangerous
-- Japenese proverb
Posted at 12:44 PM

insomnia

Insomnia can become a form of contemplation. You just lie there, inert, helpless, alone, in the dark, and let yourself be crushed by the inscrutable tyranny of time.
Thomas Merton --The Sign of Jonas
Posted at 12:26 PM

April 19, 2002

inspiration


Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.

Arthur Schopenhauer
--Studies in Pessimism

Posted at 09:25 AM

March 19, 2002

Bobby Knight

Bobby Knight - "BS is just what it stands for, an MS is More of the Same, and a PhD is Piled Higher and Deeper."

Posted at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2002

Tell it like it is

Who has made the worse contribution to the world, Henry Kissinger or Mother Teresa?

Kelly Rider, by e-mail

With Kissinger, you can tell how many people he killed. With Mother Teresa, who only preached surrender to poverty, disease and ignorance and against family planning, we can't be sure of the figures. But together they certainly make two out of the four pale riders of the Apocalypse.

Christopher Hitchens says it like it is.

Posted at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2002

Saddest Poem

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.

Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars,
and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass.

What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her.
The night is full of stars and she is not with me.

That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away.
My soul is lost without her.

As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her and she is not with me.

The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, we who were, we are the same no longer.

I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As she once
belonged to my kisses.
Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her.
Love is so short and oblivion so long.

Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is lost without her.

Although this may be the last pain she causes me,
and this may be the last poem I write for her.

-- Pablo Neruda

Other poems by Pablo Neruda

Posted at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)
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