Saturday, 22 April 2017

Hamlet Again

"What is Hamlet's major character flaw?"
"He's an asshole."

Maybe I should expand a little. Hamlet is extraordinarily intelligent and perhaps spiritually sensitive, but intelligence doesn't excuse all else, and perhaps even the contrary. So why does whoever above say Hamlet's major character flaw isn't indecisiveness or some such but is rather the more complete state of being an asshole? Does he behave badly - if for the sake of argument he does indeed do so - simply because he is pretending to be mad in his efforts to avenge his father? Before we go down that fascinating path, how does pretending to be mad help anything? What does it achieve? It seems it allows Hamlet to behave as the above-mentioned total asshole, but other than that . . . well there is no other than that, that is all it achieves, and there is no sense that it is helping achieve anything else.

But I'm being far too wilfully harsh surely. We get to see Hamlet's intelligence unfethered to the conventions of ordinary decorum and discourse, and engage in wild wordplay and so on. We do I suppose. We also see him behave absolutely horribly to Ophelia who he has professed to be in love with, and who is herself very much in love with him. This is naturally devastating to her. He also kills her father virtually on a whim when hearing someone behind a curtain. His response to this murder or manslaughter is to immediately attack Gertrude, his mother, for her terrible behaviour which has upset him so much. He doesn't seem too bothered about the dead body at his feet though in the midst of his verbal assault on his mother he does mention in passing to be sorry about it. He then makes very witty jokes about Polonius' soon to be stinking body to those trying to find out where he has hidden the corpse.

I don't want to be giving a summary of the play but he returns to Elsinore later and comes upon Ophelia's funeral, whose death he is basically wholly responsible for after she lost her wits due to her love Hamlet's horribly ugly behaviour towards her, and also killing her father. Hamlet goes into a screaming rage when he sees her brother Laertes declaring his grief at the grave. He has more or less ended the lives of Laertes' father and sister but Hamlet's rage is at the idea Laertes' grief in any sense compares to his own. This Laertes needs putting in his place.

The next scene we don't see much evidence of this grief and Hamlet is mocking with much self-delight the flaws of a very minor character, Osric. Hamlet tells Horatio he earlier turned the plans of his father-in-law on their head and arranged by falsifying a letter to arrange the murders of his childhood friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They I believe were not knowingly trying to do any harm to Hamlet but when he hears of their deaths, he says this means nothing to him and his conscience as they were meddlers.

His great profession of some kind of guilt is before his fencing with Laertes where he tells him he is sorry for having killed his father but he did it when mad so it would be stupid to blame him for it, and in fact rather than the one in the wrong, Hamlet is one of the wronged. We know however he claimed he would only be pretending to be mad but anyway such remorse rends the heart. However if more credence is leant to this idea than may seem merited - that Hamlet's behaviour during the course of the play is of someone mad and not responsible for his actions, well how much interest is there in  left in such a character and play? Not much. As a work of art & investigation into the human world, it would be almost entirely self-negating.

So anyway, I might return to the start of things having fleshed out the contours somewhat.

"What is Hamlet's major character flaw?"
"He's an asshole."

Friday, 21 April 2017

Hamlet

"What is Hamlet's major character flaw?"
"He's an asshole."


Saturday, 8 April 2017

Nabakov

"Do you prefer Vladimir Nabakov's work as a butterfly killer or as a writer?"
"Who?"
"You know the famous butterfly killer Nabakov who also wrote Lolita."
"Is that about killing butterflies?"
"No, no! It's about a paedophile."
"And are there any butterflies in it?"
"Maybe just the odd reference."
"Why did he hate butterflies so much?"
"Oh no! you have it all wrong. He didn't hate them. He loved them."

Rembrandt Link

I was asked to provide a link to this page for my many millions of readers, many of whom are passionate about Rembrandt so here it is

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Death Watch

"Did you ever hear of the death watch beetle?"
"I did I suppose yeah."
"That's a terrible name to inflict on a creature."
"Is it?!"
"Think about it man! Of course it is!"

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Shorter

"Two men were walking along, one shorter than the other."
"Which one was shorter?"
"Why do you need to know that?"
"Well it fleshes it out a bit, doesn't it, makes it more interesting."
"All right so, it was the one on the right who was shorter."
"On the right as we're looking at them or they were looking at us."
"They weren't looking at us."

Sadly at this point someone interrupted me, the flow was lost and all we are left with is this mysterious fragment of presumably a much greater metaphysical work.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Lenin & the Spiritual Bourgeois

I wrote in the Lenin post recently of how despite the Bolshevik love of terms & policies like "class-war", Lenin was of course himself not of the blessed proletarian class but in his background very much of the educated middle-class. Someone might retort, yes, in his social background he was a bourgeois but spiritually he was a proletarian. Of course to be a bourgeois in a spiritual sense can imply to be purely concerned with one's comfort and the lack of any higher idealism & these can be genuine criticisms or observations; however spending one's time in libraries, forming theories of the evolution of the past in to the present and the projected future, and ensuring it evolves in the direction it should evolve . . .  well, in a different sense this is also bourgeois to the very core. A proletarian's time by contrast is filled with work and necessities. He exists on the level of primal biological necessities. This intellectual man in the library with his head full of abstractions is by contrast a kind of pure bourgeois, at a total remove from biological necessity and its reality, and his propulsion into the world of physical reality is a colossal urge to force all this chaotic external world to conform to these creations of  the intellect.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Lenin & Humanity

This may be pretty crude in grammatical mistakes and the like but having written it, I don't as yet feel like re-reading it.

"Man is broad. Too broad even. I would narrow him down."

 Dmitri Karamazov from Dostoevsky's 'The Brothers Karamazov.'

Naturally enough the political ethos of Adolf Hitler & the Nazis is seen as particularly vicious in its consideration of the status of those it sees as ‘underlings’ or a lower class of humans, their inferiority justifying any kind of treatment even to the point of total extermination as an actual good, it purifying the human population of lower defiling tendencies. The attitude of Lenin and the Bolsheviks in a similar vein though I’ve not seen receive much censure or revulsion. Is this because it would be a very unfair criticism, & so unmerited? Perhaps in an ethnic sense it would – though I do recall Engles' description of the Slavic peoples as ‘human trash’, which is naturally very much Hitler’s kind of language.
With regards Lenin though, he tends to get a comparatively free ride, & in terms of the tragedy of Russia under Communism the tendency is to view Stalin as a corrupter of the true path of Communism, or for the sake of argument Leninism.

The following for the sake of saving me time might be pretty jagged & brief.

First to show Lenin's attitude to democracy. After allowing general elections to Constituent Assembly in November 1917 the more moderate Socialist Revolutionaries won 41% of the vote, Lenin's Bolsheviks gained 23.5%. Lenin's response was to dissolve the assembly. So clearly he had no interest in a democratic system but "dictatorship of the proletariat"- this of course meaning dictatorship of Lenin and the party of which he was the head.

Take a phrase like “Enemy of the people” by which was meant bourgeoisie & other elements, all of which implied those opposed to Lenin’s dictatorship. This conveniently included farmers who didn't wish to surrender their crops to the Bolshevik state apparatus. And that is another key point. Compared to even Nazism, this is a far greater  degree of totalitarianism - the State owns everything. Under the superficial veneer of idealism attached to an idea like "no private property", the reality is that this means the dictatorship owns everything. To resist this taking of one's property, even the grain that might keep you and your family alive is to be an 'enemy of the people'.

To take a closer look at this very important phrase, which perhaps the intellect tends to sleep-walk past without analysing closer. Again like the abolition of private property, it perhaps even has the veneer of humanitarian idealism, the erecting of a fair system for the oppressed. This is the central point of this essay, whether Lenin was like Hitler genocidal in his ideological core.

                                     Enemy of the people

Like so many catchy propagandist phrases, the intellect isn't supposed to get too active in examining such a phrase but to commit the heresy of trying to do so . . . All people are self-evidently people. So how are any people enemies of the people? It is a narrowing down of the definition of humanity. Now those in support of the Bolshevik dictatorship under Lenin are “the people.” The enemies of the 'dictatorship of the proletariat" are not people at all! And so there is no need to bother with thoughts of the violation of these people's human rights, since to be a person with human rights you have to first of all be a person! Now any manner of evil in suppression of your false being justified. This is actually a far more comprehensive philosophy of inhumanity than Hitler’s, the sectors comprising non-people far greater the comparatively limited categories as Jews, Slavs, homosexuals, etc.

To add a little more. Hatred of the false bourgeoisie was obviously a staple of the likes of Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, purity of self accorded to the oppressed proletariat. There being of course truth to the idea of their oppression but people like Marx and Lenin were themselves of course completely of the bourgeoisie intellectual class. Lenin though wished to obliterate this class from all reckoning. Why? partly as the proletariat, by and large very much uneducated would simply be lumpen mass or material in the hands of the dictatorship by self-chosen bourgeoisie like Lenin, Trotsky, etc. The power of the proletariat masses were the means to their individual power, the weapon or weight of their will-to-power; and also some kind of triumph by these theory and power obsessed freaks over their own entire class. Lenin and the gang don't just get to sit atop their middle-class fellows, they get to actually wipe them from all consideration and existence.

And a final thought on one of the key tactical means to Lenin's initial acquisition of power which was the wish to take Russia out of the madness of WW1 - which has a lot going for it. How much does this really speak of Lenin's humanitarianism though? Well several years before WW1 Lenin spoke with longing for just such a conflict as a "treat" he would like the Euopean powers to give such as he as a window of opportunity to seize power out of the ensuing chaos of a mass post-Industrial Revolution European conflict. How much compassion does anyone have who yearns for horror as a supposed means to improving the world, or views terror, and the more rather than less of it the better, as a very valid political tool? And also the Civil War his immediate shutting down of democracy brought about was very much a hellish continuation of such horror on a very comparable scale.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Ecstasy of Saint Theresa - Free-D



One of my favourite albums by a Czech band. Or maybe by any band. Just to add, the first minute or so you might be wondering if there's any sounds coming along but they do.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Precisely

These words were found written precisely in this order lying about somewhere. What is most remarkable of course is that they were and are precisely in this order. Why not some other order? Who knows.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Peter

If you, or perhaps someone else, has been wondering what I've been reading, if anything, the answer is 'Peter the Great' by Robert Massie, and very highly recommended it is. Peter a man so extraordinary in himself and his impact on his country that it almost hard to see him other than fated to appear.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Surprising Fact

New York and Boston are roughly 70 to 80 years older than St Petersburg.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Thread

"Reality was hanging from a thread."
"What kind of thread?"
"What difference does that make?"
"I don't know. It might make all the difference. It would have to be very strong thread wouldn't it?"
Well all right so - it was strong thread. But what would happen if someone cut the thread?
'Well it would be shorter would it I suppose . . . or now you'd have two bits of thread."
"Not the bloody thread! What would happen reality!?"
"If you cut the thread?"
"Yes."
"Oh I dunno. It would fall I suppose, would it?"

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Friday, 9 September 2016

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Optimist, Arresting

It's hard to be an optimist when you're drowning in shit. That's true isn't it, and more importantly, if anything that is could be said to be more important than truth, it's arresting. But why, if for the sake of argument, or the lack of argument rather, we agree to say it is arresting, why so is arresting so important, or if not so important, more important - than truth? Well, to at least to hazard a guess as to why . . . If say you were trying to grab some reader or would-be reader's attention quick before he - by which I also mean she - but before he anyway moved on to something else, to some say neighbouring book, well you could hardly do better in stopping him in his tracks than come up with a line like that, that first one above. That would stop anyone, and of course while truth is all well and good, well but if you haven't got anybody reading all the truth then what would be the point? It might as well be truthless. Who'd know the difference?

Though having said all that - and precisely maybe because of probably having said all that - maybe I've gone and spoiled the effect of that line, its capacity to arrest which is as said it seems so vital. There we'll say this alluded to above reader to be was ambling through town, here a coffee shop, there a bookshop, time on his hands, plucks some book casually, without thinking from a shelf, maybe it has a nice cover, all is calm, nothing out of the ordinary . . . but then suddenly and without preamble, shockingly abrupt, was this line speaking so resoundingly such a fearsome truth: "It's hard to be an optimist when you're drowning in shit." Shivers down the spine, an electric shock, an awful but also, dare one admit it, beautiful recognition, such a moment, a kindred spirit speaking from the depths, those unspoken depths, an epiphany . . . But then what follows this fearful, fearless line but digressions, explanations . . . Was he serious at all, it's hard to know where you are . . .
But then that's hardly my problem, is it - you not knowing where you are.

But so anyway that line, drowning in shit and the lack of optimism - however serious it might be and and however that might be measured - its seriousness I mean. Well it's gloomy isn't it, not very uplifting, but perhaps yes true. Perhaps?! How can there be any perhaps about it! Of course it's hard to be an optimist if you're drowning in shit. What's there to be optimistic about?! "It'll be all over soon." It's not so bad once you get used to it." "Maybe somebody'll pull me out." I suppose you could argue along one or other of those lines all right, though I can't say I'm too convinced. But regardless, and this is maybe the essence of the thing, where would literature be without gloominess and the like? Maybe it wouldn't be anywhere. And isn't that the point. Literature needs stresses, conflicts, gloom, whatever to provide momentum, dynamics, energy. You can hardly keep going long with clouds and daffodils without losing whatever readers you may have been lucky enough to pick up along the way. Or maybe you can, in poetry at least, keep them, readers, some of them, abreast while you keep going on about clouds and daffodils, but outside of poetry, no, clouds and daffodils aren't enough. You need conflicts, divergences from the idyllic - and look around, you'd hardly have to make them up, divergences, out of thin air.

But what about the Olympics?! you cry, referring I suppose to the idyllic again and presumably implying the triumph of some higher dreams about which one could and without shame. . .
I wandered, I might venture to say, lonely as someone who couldn't give a .... about the Olympics.

I apologise of course for that cheap ending but I'm in a rush and it did have to end, and well it was some kind of a way out anyway.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Time-Piece


Their instruments, time-pieces of various sorts, stop-watches whatever, were it was said there to measure time, but wouldn't it be truer to say they were there to create time, its illusion that is? You can measure space, that is objects located in space, once you've agreed on units of measurement, their universality, and so get out your ruler or point your measuring device and out comes the reading - who'll dispute what comes out the other end, this object, that object, the space between them, what's there to object to . . . but with time you're only ever in the moment you're in, how can you go introducing some other moment you're not in and pointing out the distance between yourself and it, and by the time you've measured it, neither moment is around anymore, the first or the second. Memory will tell you those moments existed all right, footage giving visual proof of their reality could be produced . . . but that's besides the point, no one's doubting being, but it's the measuring of it, the creation of time, that's another thing surely.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Atheism is Egotism

Atheism could be better and more helpfully known as Egotism. Why? Because firstly in relation to the living reality of consciousness, atheism is more or less a totally abstract term. Abstract as where does it as an experienced reality exist within this consciousness? By constantly reminding oneself of the non-existence of something one isn't in that moment or any other moment by definition experiencing! Were it to attempt to be not abstract but practically relevant to moment-by-moment existence, it would esentially amount to the running commentary of a stupid malignant dwarf imposing itself on experience by continually reminding the experiencer of the 'rational emptiness' of all experience - telling him not to be carried away with the experiences as they are all accidental. Whereas existentialism should imply a naked non-judgemental openness to being, atheism is an anti-existentialism where this reality as a whole is judged negatively as meaningless, accidental, etc and so given one is imposing this filter upon reality, reality is never experienced existentially - as long as one is an active moment-by-moment atheist. For example, one is sat in a garden on a beautiful day. In what sense can one be an atheist here.
"God doesn't exist."
"Hmm?"
"This is all accidental."
"Why don't you just sit back and shut up and soak it in?"
"You're just deluding yourself. What's there to soak in?"

Someone might say actively believing in God is equally anti-existential; that one is again imposing a filter of the mind upon reality, and so one is not in an internal 'open' position to experience reality . This may be the case if someone gets too intellectual about what faith implies or involves, their thought processes taking too active and dictatorial a role in deciding what's what. However this shouldn't necessarily follow at all, and instead a belief or acceptance of God can simply entail or coincide with a necessary intellectual humility to accept reality and one's seamless part in it, without the need to impose a spurious judgement on it.

That's not the point that set this piece in motion though so back to Egotism being a more apt meaningful term for Atheism which as said has only meaning by inference, and in itself seems to be an irrelevance or evokes nothing in terms of a philosophy of being or awareness. That it should be much more vividly termed Egotism may evoke a knee-jerk emotional response as to its unfairness, but it's easily enough shown to be fully justified.

So atheism is essentially a philosophy of Egotism because it is the belief that ego is the highest reality, that there is nothing beyond - both in the external sense of there being no God, and also in an internal sense in that there is declared nothing beyond in the sense of consiousness; that consciousness has its limit in this self-sustaining language state of egohood. It is in such an environment the pinnacle of existence, the core of the highest entity of creation. So atheism is the intellectual manifestation of the ego, itself distilled. And naturally enough within this idealism of the ego, these isolated centres of consciousness, the more pure the isolation and selfishness the more pure the truth. This is the implication of its 'truth', all divided against all, each ego seeking supremacy - as otherwise that individual ego has failed to be the pinnacle of existence - and inevitably if pushed to a conclusion such a philosophy, if let run its unimpeded course, leading to total self-annihilation as even if one ego prevailed against all others, its hatred would finally having no external targets to aim at, be forced to face and turn on itself.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Top Gun

"You know that film Top Gun?"
"Yeah."
"Groundbreaking."
"Really? In what sense?"
"As a movie."
"Yes, but in what sense as a movie was it groundbreaking?"
"It had hit-singles and planes and everything."
"I suppose it did all right."
"And the speed of the planes . . . "
"Fast?"
"Incredible."
"They'd be faster now."
"That's why I think they should do a re-make."
"The speed of the planes?"
"Yeah."
"You wouldn't be worried about them spoiling the integrity of the original?"
"Not a bit."

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Sleeping

"If there was no waking would life be worth living?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean if there was life, but it was merely sleeping."
"It would be better than nothing I suppose. And anyway, you couldn't wake up if you weren't asleep in the first place."
"That's true too."