Categories
Headspace

White spaces

Another borrowing from someone who expresses things far better than I’ve ever been able to:

Paul Auster – from the essay “White Spaces”

A man sets out on a journey to a place he has never been before. Another man comes back. A man comes to a place that has no name, that has no landmarks to tell him where he is. Another man decides to come back. A man writes letters from nowhere, from the white space that has opened up in his mind. The letters are never received. The letters are never sent. Another man sets out on a journey in search of the first man. This second man becomes more and more like the first man, until he, too, is swallowed up by the whiteness. A third man sets out on a journey with no hope of ever getting anywhere. He wanders. He continues to wander. For as long as he remains in the realm of the naked eye, he continues to wander.

Despite appearances to the contrary, this is – to me, at least – a rather cheerful sentiment.

Categories
Poetry

Aubade

by Paul Auster

Not even the sky.
But a memory of sky,
and the blue of the earth
in your lungs.

Earth
less earth: to watch
how the sky will enclose you, grow vast
with the words
you leave unsaid – and nothing
will be lost.

I am your distress, the seam
in the wall
that opens to the wind
and its stammering, storm
in the plural – this other name
you give your world: exile
in the rooms of home.

Dawn folds, fathers
witness,
the aspen and the ash
that fall. I come back to you
through this fire, a remnant
of the season to come,
and will be to you
as dust, as air,
as nothing
that will not haunt you.
In the place before breath
we feel our shadows cross.

Categories
Headspace

Consciousness

Steven Pinker offers a solid overview of the current thinking around consciousness, both from a philosophical and neurological viewpoint. The gap between those two viewpoints has been closing for some time now, and it’s good to see that “idle” speculation has again pointed in a useful direction. Of course, this doesn’t redeem philosophy (in the completely armchair sense) in that critics could always – and probably correctly – assert that for every one good idea, we’ve wasted thousands of person-hours on very bad ones. Which, I suppose, is why at least one of my colleagues will no longer have anything to do with philosophy that’s unconnected with actually poking a stick at something, to see how it responds.

Towards the end of the piece, Pinker mentions a typically perceptive thought from Colin McGinn: even if all the evidence is in, and we begin to understand how simple (in one sense, because it’s clearly not simple at all) we are, we’d probably not be able to believe it, or live with that belief. There may well be a drug that can fix you, and me, whatever our afflictions are, but would we want to take them? Or is this the wrong question, because if we do take them, would we not be glad we had?

Categories
Headspace

Aphorism #1

He picks his words like he picks his teeth – clumsily, noisily, and with no regard for the comfort of others.

Categories
Headspace

Nights in the iron hotel

Michael Hofmann – Nights in the Iron Hotel, Faber & Faber 1983

Nights in the Iron Hotel

Our beds are at a hospital distance.
I push them together. Straw matting
on the walls produces a Palm Beach effect:

long drinks made with rum in tropical bars.
The position of mirror and wardrobe
recalls a room I once lived in happily.

Our feelings are shorter and faster now.
You confess a new infidelity. This time,
a trombone player. His tender mercies…

All night, we talk about separating.
The radio wakes us with its muzak.
In a sinister way, you call it lulling.

We are fascinated by our own anaesthesia,
our inability to function. Sex is a luxury,
an export of healthy physical economies.

The TV stays switched on all the time.
Dizzying social realism for the drunks.
A gymnast swings like a hooked fish.

Categories
Academia and teaching Headspace

A philosophical joke

Courtesy of Jerry Fodor. Posted because I’m bored of seeing the previous post at the top of the page…

Once upon a time, a visiting scholar presented a lecture on the topic: ‘How many philosophical positions are there in principle?’ ‘In principle,’ he began, ‘there are exactly 12 philosophical positions.’ A voice called from the audience: ‘Thirteen.’ ‘There are,’ the lecturer repeated, ‘exactly 12 possible philosophical positions; not one less and not one more.’ ‘Thirteen,’ the voice from the audience called again. ‘Very well, then,’ said the lecturer, now perceptibly irked, ‘I shall proceed to enumerate the 12 possible philosophical positions. The first is sometimes called “naive realism”. It is the view according to which things are, by and large, very much the way that they seem to be.’ ‘Oh,’ said the voice from the audience. ‘Fourteen!’

Categories
Academia and teaching

Student elections

Our SRC (Student’s Representative Council) elections are underway. The candidate manifestos usually make for interesting reading, if only because of their idealism in terms of what they hope to accomplish during their terms of office. Sometimes, however, you find something truly alarming, such as this manifesto from Philani Msomi. While it’s reproduced verbatim, I’m afraid that I can’t do justice to the bizarre layout.

THE MISSION BEHIND THIS PAPER:

IS TO STOP UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT FROM RUNNING THIS INSTITUTION AS A BUSINESS

TO CREATE A BETTER PEOPLES FRIEND CAMPUS

IS TO IMPLEMENT BETTER WAYS OF COMMUNICATION THAT WILL ENABLE STUDENTS TO UNLEASH THEIR ANGERS AND UNSATISFACTORINESS TO THE MANAGEMENT ON A DAILY BASIS

TO INTRODUCE AN EMAILING SYSTEM FOR LOST AND FOUND STUDENT CARDS AND OTHER PERSONAL BELONGINGS

TO INTRODUCE SUPPLEMENTS AND WINTER/SUMMER TERM(S)

IT IS NOT VISIONARY OR IDEALISTIC INDEPENDENT MINDED FOR AN INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE

I’ll report back after the election results are in, but I’d be willing to put money on him winning a seat on the council…

Categories
Culture People

Apologists: lessons in how not to read

At some point, when time allows, I’ll share with you the extent of the confusion Christian apologists labour under. To generalise, this is a group that imagines themselves as Christian philosophers, and who take on the challenge of defending their belief system through what they imagine to be rational argumentation. Some even actively engage, and attempt to refute, arguments they encounter on non-theistic websites. Unfortunately, most of these non-theistic websites do civilization no favours themselves, as their rabid athiesm leads them to offer arguments nearly as poor as those of the theists. But sometimes the apologists don’t even bother trying to argue – they simply lie.

Categories
Culture People

Drones in denial

Yes, I’m a bad person, etc. With that out of the way, let us begin with the following, from Frank Lampard, via The Guardian:

Consider Lampard’s reflections after a fortnight spent on Roman Abramovich’s yacht. “I suppose people imagine that as a Premiership footballer, my life is quite special,” he hazards. “I would agree, but those two weeks opened my eyes to another world.” Ah, a millionaire yearning to be a billionaire … is there anything more charmless?

At dinner last Friday night, our ragtag collection of Resistentialism were confronted by a tsunami of social disorder. The tsunami was fully embodied in one person, rather than the more typical distribution involving a group of people, each exhibiting one or more elements.

Categories
General

Slacking, work, World Cup…

Apologies for the paucity of posts – until that Golden Day when slackers are given the respect they deserve, life and work sometimes intrude on one’s Resistentialism. And furthermore, one could quite safely gamble on this relative silence continuing until July 9 or so, when the World Cup ends (although there is another – quite likely – alternative: that Resistentialist.com gets completely subsumed by football posts!).

For the historical record, and hopefully to demonstrate the supreme powers that higher level Resistentialists possess, here is a document of the Semi-Finalists and winner of the 2006 World Cup:

Semi-finals: Argentina, Netherlands, Brazil, France

Final: Netherlands vs Argentina

Winner: Netherlands

Top-scorer: Ruud van Nistelrooy

I’d like to say England will win, but Argentina beat them in the QuarterFinals (I think on penalties, but my crystal ball is a bit cloudy on this issue).