Monday, December 21, 2009


two powerful ways of talking ... telling a story ... presenting a syllogism ... you could see a character in some futuristic novel leading a double life ... during the day she's a scientist arguing from evidence to conclusion ... but at night she makes the rounds telling stories and getting people to laugh and ponder ... having spent a full day and most of a full night she goes home for a few hours to sleep ... and to dream ... in her dreams her jokes are logical and her arguments are laughable ... and that's ok ... because somehow she weaves them both together ... she goes to the window and sees in fact as far as can be seen ... she goes to her table and reads in her book exactly what it means to say ... she sits in her chair and puts her head up and thinks precisely what she should ... and understanding bursts from her head like an umbrella collapsed in the wind and all the universe like the bulb of a flower within ... and her mind's a match on fire the yellow crowning the red ... but look to the stalk below the red bud ... look to the blue the ring that holds the head and the crowning mitre above ... the circle light of blue


I came to a conclusion based on evidence details examples but my conclusion isn't an example ... that's the first step and by it I perform an act of reason ... from details from examples I form a general conclusion which is neither absolute nor certain ... at first ... and here's the trick and what a nice trick it is ... indeed one of the nicest tricks our collective human mind has ever performed and of course still does ... not reason nor judgment but an understanding ... that is being able to tell the difference between a property belonging to a thing by its nature and an accident adhering to it by chance ... understanding is that first act of the mind by which we find the essence of the thing ... no perhaps not all of it but still the thing itself that in the sight of it we see as well that something else alongside it ... not passing by and stooping in its hurry to pick up the thing the essence must have dropped ... handing it over saying not at all quite welcome I must be moving on ... but there beside it not just in space and time but beyond these two the two of them together steadfast and eternally


what does conforming to a routine mean to an individual other than an annoyance ... especially to a distracted mind ... especially to a mind willfully distracted ... nor is such a mind unusual ... especially today ... look around you with such a will ... see what a wealth and a variety there is to attract you ... call this induction ... before the patterns are set we see them form in our imagination and luckily that's what's really happening outside our imagination ... the rain falls when we see it ... the sun sets when we don't ... you can keep the conclusions it's the evidence we want ... just the facts m'am ... but there is another way of looking at it ... once we've got the conclusion we can start to apply it by setting out to find further examples along the way ... the way of the conclusion ... call this deduction ... the sun rises setting the cobble aside from the flagstone ... and this much I can report ... one small piece of evidence my lord ... once the way is set it does give this relief ... that it gets things done ... the frustration in finding your way is relieved simply by following it ... simply because this way you actually get to move ... you go forward

cf kreeft, logic, pp 211-212

Friday, December 18, 2009


in his cage he knelt to pray ... this quiet gently mannered man ... a rich man he dwelt in caves ... a poor man filled to the brim with god ... or was it just his ... his own idea of god ... no ... others would agree not his idea but their idea together ... but then too there was the wider problem ... not his alone but not theirs alone either ... the knowing and the ignorant thinking that they knew ... and when they didn't what was it that they did ... a mistaken type of idealism specifically determined and agreed in this at least ... past the senses the chariot drove back through the sun and out the other side where the life that was broken here was made whole again ... but what ... with the same kind of time going forward and never back ... the same kind of causality saying this now that ... substance and relation thought and control and influence influence everywhere falling like manna from the sky ... but with what effect here on this side up against the moon ... thoughts and bits of philosophy coming down like snow and flakes of thread from the many-colored coat ... singing kill love choose ... patience or the bomb


there was a novice with every intention on going into the room to sign the paper ... but when he got the pen in hand he thought to look up into the face of the master on the other side of the table ... to ask him who are you ... but when he did that he could not see the face of the master though he looked straight into it ... he thought he caught one eye but then must travel hours to find the other ... no no it must be ages before the sound of his own voice should reach the master one ear and then the other ... and what a crowd there was now between them across those ages ... all looking forward and he behind looking past the back of their heads ... and all their hands above those heads many more than twice the number of heads he thought ... and each hand waving a book ... and all the pages in all the books rippling in the breeze ... till all the breeze and the scent of the pages and the fragrance of the still moist ink flew before him like a mist on wings ... and the air was delightful ... and the light ahead of it calling it on and he always behind following ... his mouth his ears his eyes wide open ... what a bemusement he thought to love god and not know it


what's the good if the ideas are colorful but there's nothing to hold them together ... if people do things but they're never part of the plot ... there's a human need to be part of the story as well as to tell as to hear it ... but I tell you what ... it's not just the story or how you tell it ... we could sit on top of the universe and arrange its contents like blocks in a balloon and still we would not be satisfied ... not even if we got inside the balloon to arrange the blocks ... and after a while we would want to get inside ... try sitting for aeons with the winds of nothing behind your back ... but once inside we are drenched if not drowned in relations and we forget ... these new connections push us and pull us keeping us busy all the time ... and again we are dissatisfied ... for we know what they mimic when they mock us these repellent bullies these magnetic attractions ... we know what we've lost ... we know what we want ... but we know them both darkly ... some kind of eviction some kind of promise ... the big push the grand pull ... all this is in the midst of matter and the web ... all this as if somehow they did not count

Thursday, December 17, 2009


without god without a benevolent designing intention behind the universe dostoevsky tells us what happens ... everything is permissible ... isn't this because without god nothing is possible ... not only the impossible but the inconceivable ... kant's antinomies spring up everywhere ... nothing gets started but everything goes ahead anyway ... the law of identity is stretched from one dimension into the next ... into so many in fact and stretched so far finally it snaps ... and all through the worlds it's passed the inhabitants are holding but one of its limp fragments ... scratching their heads and turning to fight each other over the little piece of thread each says is his own ... together they pull the pitiful remnant apart and run down the avenues and sidestreets into the forum each crying their own paeans in pride singing each in his own voice see I bring you the truth ... but A is not A and really shouldn't go on to B ... and when it does anyway repeatedly will it not sooner or later meet itself in the doorway ... each half refusing the other its self-recognition ... rejecting its own truth ... until the universes fed up turn themselves out


the universe had a beginning ... all beginnings are caused ... the cause of the beginning of the universe is that which we call god ... well maybe not ... what kind of a cause are we talking about ... material formal efficient final ... suppose it's the first three but not the last ... we might this way wind up with neither a true god nor a true beginning ... just a lump of compressed matter smaller than an atom but so formally arranged that all of succeeding time and space pop out in a great explosion and spread out in a highly detailed determined development that takes billions or trillions of years before it hits critical mass and begins to pull back into its tightly circumscribed space in preparation for the next explosion in an infinite series ... or you might as well throw in a final cause of minimal intent by saying that this oscillation without further thought or purpose is the plan ... that the final cause is the efficient is the material cause is all she wrote ... she being no one at all ... that is without hearing or feeling something more


if god is a trinity and we're made in the image of god aren't we each a trinity ... isn't that why we're trinitarian beings with a body mind and spirit who make pyschological and philosophical theories with id ego and superego and thesis antithesis and synthesis ... why even perceptually we have it in our bones to live in a sense of time as past present and future ... or is this simply the reemergence of gnosticism today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow ... for what is gnosticism but everything not as the image of god but as god himself ... especially to the point of ignoring or forgetting the image of god's name ... if we're made in his image and the image has a name how is it that we don't know or can ever forget or ignore it ... unless that's meant to be precisely the point ... that forgetfulness and ignorance are possible only in the world of contingency and that the image of god ... call him the name of god or the word of god ... freely chooses to enter that world that doesn't know who he is or who they are or what they do ... that evolution has a point ... not to become god but to call him by name

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


the scientists have their research projects and so do you and I ... sometimes our three groups have our research projects together in grocery stores gymnasiums and day-care centers ... we have a set of beliefs that we want to change add to them or pare them down and we want to know if this can be done ... the first thing to do is to see the situation as a problem to be solved ... next devise a strategy to solve it ... so we go from hour to hour and day to day ... we sleep we solve a set of problems we go to sleep again ... the sun rises the sun sets ... but it doesn't rise and it doesn't set on one set of beliefs ... all this other stuff mutability and revision is happening inside our daily set of likely assumptions ... this set of beliefs we like to tinker with and try to sell ... but not the cask of jewels in the heart and mind of the soul ... we'll take the testimony and bargain on the one set of beliefs but not on the other ... we'll sell compromise and desert the one but we will not so much as expose the other to the light and fire of interest and debate ... for what we have we can lose on good evidence but must hold on faith


the romans had zoos like ours with a wide-open landscaped park for the animals to well roam in ... but here they did what we would not ... they gave the scene a point ... they turned it into a story by giving it a plot ... start out pastoral herbivore and cute ... then up the ante ... add the element of conflict ... let the lions in ... then after you've cleaned up the mess and reset the scene up the ante again ... feed the lions this time with human meat ... feed them with a crucified felon like a raw sushi shishkebab ... reset the scene again ... this time give the felon a chance ... don't pin him down ... give him a sword ... make a game of it ... finally up to the last ante now give the beast a better chance ... give both the human and the beast swords ... make them both human make them both a beast ... gladiators land combat sea combat ... fill the coliseum with water ... make it a lake ... now the people must respond here at last is the perfect zoo ... a real theme park where the theme is real life and real death ... just like ours in the audience only speeded up ... just like the felons' the slaves' and the volunteers' in the pit ... the beasts' too ... all of us dying


normal life is gaining faculties that in old age and death we are meant to lose ... in one sense it's this loss that dominates ... call that sense the beginner's ... in another sense it's the gain that's dominant ... not the gain before the loss but the gain we get from the loss ... I mean the gain from the lesson in time if gain at all there is ... I mean the lesson on how to beat pride ... the final proficiency of the proficient ... it never was mine but to use well whatever that good thing was which I thought was mine and reflected on me so well ... letting the last false one die ... false modesty ... not false because it's true but because it's beside the point ... false because it's about you and we're not talking about you now are we ... that's the first lesson ... I got this body and now I know how it works and how to make it work but now in its failings it's rapidly becoming not mine ... I got this idea and the skill on how to turn it but in turning it I see how fine it is ... and even in the skill I see it turning with a will not mine ... and all that was mine ... I mean me that is ... turns in that will too

cf garrigou-lagrange, the three conversions in the spiritual life, ch 5

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


my neck is stiff ... how many years can I have to live without my body dying under me ... my days are wasted it's all I can do to leave the house go to the store and buy a liter of soda ... you can talk to me all you want and as long as you want about spirit and vigor ... I'm just not interested ... tell me why ... tell me how damaging my attitude how further self-depressing it must be ... I don't care ... you think I'm here lethargic not giving myself anything to do but you're wrong ... I'm very busy here on my inside trying to figure how in the hell I got into this mess ... I can't bring myself to do the dishes or take the garbage out or brush my teeth or cut my hair ... I'm too busy telling the recording angel I think I've lost my way ... or riding shotgun in the car watching the little lake passing by and saying where'd all the meaning go ... I have a sense of wonder but I can't bring my finger to my nose ... I hear what I should object to I just don't have the desire to speak about it ... I hear what they're saying ... the premises are true the argument is valid and still the conclusion is false ... what is this ... bad luck or someone just always telling me no


my question is mild and when I ask it my mind is dull but simple ... my curiosity is honest uncomplicated and gentle ... what were the ancient greeks like ... what does the pope say jesus did ... what's wrong with illegal immigration besides its being illegal ... what happened to the doctor who made popular the analysis of dying ... who deserved to win the battle of gettysburg ... and when I've read the book involved two hundred three hundred pages I could have a bunch to say but be quite content in the potency of my knowledge only ... if I weren't pursued by an ambition to participate more fully ... and how does that make you feel the therapist asks ... angry is my answer ... feet pawing the ground fingers searching for something to hold onto ... wanting nothing better and nothing else than to throw myself into the thick of it ... not to pick it up in my hand to hold it up to the light poke rub spurn it ... but to go into it ... not with a part of me but all of me ... to walk the streets and go through the rooms ... to sit down and listen to them speak


we think so much of solidity we are from time to time startled by how much liquid we and our thoughts are from the groin to the brain ... in the same way are we so much chemical though we think we live so mechanically ... not just to bend or to grip to stand or to fall but also to provide a network of highways and by-ways for couriers and their messages for signals and sometimes an explosion of news a headline wrapping its words round the heart giving the whole organ a throb and a thud ... how do we ever catch our breath after something like that ... or simply decades of more pedestrian traffic ... from young athletes to crippled old men with the second complaining of the first leaving potholes in the road and even the corridors in their reckless parade into old age and old news ... the lights flashing on and off in a hidden sea of colors from toes to the brain the miasmic storms of the latter the kicking twitches of the former ... sprint or plod from one hemisphere to another atop a tower above an ocean whose liquid waves are dry thoughts' combinations passing

Monday, December 14, 2009


abesoc abesoc the lord is the lord ... there are some who say we get nothing from this till we add a premise through the medium of history giving his name ... not so not so ... the story is not perfect without the name is incomplete but the logical law of identity is not nothing ... indeed sometimes it seems just a touch short of everything ... until with leisure and reflection we see how broad and deep that touch is ... nonetheless it is the pluck of the string and surely the beginning of the string is the law of identity ... it is what it is is the beginning of truth and the last word to be said at the end of the conversation ... everything else is amplification of that pronoun and that verb an elaboration of being and existence ... as far as truth and thought go at least for may it not also be true that the law is just that and only so ... an amplification and elaboration of a preexistent being ... speaking about something that's somehow just past even as you begin to describe it ... first the act then the explanation ... a command say ... let it be ... and it is ... and then we see that it is ... unless the command and the truth are one


have you prayed for it ... yes ... are you willing to pay for it ... you want the conclusion ... the conclusion must follow from these premises ... will you accept them ... you want certainty ... you want purpose ... you want an end to your spiritual inertia ... all these things are yours ... just accept the premises and you'll have your certainty ... it's not absolute certainty ... it's relative ... what did you expect ... absolute certainty absolute necessity isn't a thought or an idea a proposition or a claim ... there's no room in it for any of that ... it's not a process or an event a network of connections all that stuff is relative ... when absolute necessity is in front of you you whip your head over your shoulder ... you think it's passed you by ... you think desperately not being ready for this there must be something you can explain some detail or better still some series of them to reflect what it is there was a glimpse of just now ... something to describe ... something to talk about ... to examine the validity of ... to buy time to consider what timeless thing it is you just saw ... slow down ... careful ... sit down ... lay the words out ... make sentences of them ... ah there they are in just that order ...the premises


the nice thing about a material thing is what it tells me ... it tells where it is what it is and whose it is ... I like these pieces of precision especially the last one especially when it's mine ... spiritual things don't work like that ... they don't seem to be anywhere and then they're everywhere at once ... it's hard to believe what they are and they don't grow in power in the hands of just one or a few ... the more you share them the stronger they become ... despite these major differences I've seen it's easy to confuse the two ... to have a spiritual feeling for a material object ... a beautiful woman her face or her body to put her on a shelf behind glass to keep the dust off ... or is it to have a material feeling about a spiritual object ... or isn't it a subject ... you see what I mean ... material life is competitive and resources after a while run out ... most of them even run out while standing in place ... like fruit on the vine ... even time itself is against them ... then add to all that this misplaced spiritual longing ... this misplacing making it technically lust ... for the thing that changes and decays ... to see that it doesn't

Sunday, December 13, 2009


this is a funny thing about reading books ... you don't remember them for long ... if re means again and it does and member what I think it does then to remember is to return to consciousness one of its members* ... there might be such a memory of books we've read in vivid detail awaiting us all even as now it should pertain to just a few of us ... but as it is ... given its poor performance ... it doesn't seem likely we read to retain ... put the average book down and a week later it's gone ... on the other hand there is a second strange feature about reading a book ... unless somebody reads it out loud reading a book is a private endeavor ... look at a person reading ... they are private but attractively so ... we love to see people reading ... that is ... what we see then we love ... so what is it we see when we see them seeing their books ... I think it's them ... we see them ... for what they're doing is private and attractive because it's personal ... what we see is their persons ... now look a second longer and imagine you actually see their sight ... what does it see ... the object of their sight ... their hearing ... their mind ... I think it's another person

*unfortunately another sad example of folk etymology: the root here is from the Latin for mind, not member, more like memoir than member; but nice try


some will have it tradition says there are many more angels than there ever will be of us ... a surplus of angels even after we all get one ... and some more to guide us and guard us in our time and here's the catch in their time too ... it's a good idea to quarantine aliens ... you don't know what they're bringing with them and whether you can handle it ... like angel time ... not like our time but somewhere in between and smack dab in the during of which we find ourselves because of the angel assigned to stay with us in his time and ours ... now and hereafter ... for how could he leave us programmed as it were but through his own free will to love us and stand beside us ... to guard us and guide us and here's the strange part it will take angel time for us to understand to enjoy our company ... until we get to god's time which in the heart of it how could we or even an angel ever understand or presume to say what happens then with angels or with us ... in the mean time here we are in our time ... a mean time for sure ... but how much more meaningless without angels and their time to come now


are you angelophobic ... is it a serious condition ... is it fatal ... when I think of angels I think of two words private conversation ... you can jelly yourself all over in angelophobia anti-toxin kill on the first approach and go into a room alone with no outside access and have a conversation with yourself ... but you know and I know it won't be a real conversation ... for the self isn't real ... it's just you the body in the room going through the motions making the sounds as if ... or you might be an angelophiliac alone in the room thirsting for a conversation with a spiritual being ... maybe in fact having a drink with a fellow creature but one by definition neither inside nor outside the room ... a private conversation between the two of you ... then again you might be an angelofanatic with a cream too as it were an ointment or an oration a formula or just a form a pattern a ritual ... zone out zone in step aside take a vacation ... come back and ask how did things go when I was gone ... the public conversation you all had while I was sleeping in private ... did anyone mention me ... no no not necessary ... here only to serve

Saturday, December 12, 2009


angel tell me more about your kind ... not the part where you appear with two four or six wings ... not even the part when by your presence you light the room in the middle of the night so the one you love and guard can read and write ... tell me more of your kind as it is a kind of creature unlike man as man in our turn is not like any other animal ... they have instinct ... we have deduction ... you have immediate access to ideas in god's mind ... animals have a knowledge of particulars ... we have particulars and their mate universals ... you are so immensely particular you're a type a universal each to his own a species each in yourself ... animals have experience and walk the path of least resistance ... creatures of habit they run in a groove ... we're given chisels and hammers and put on our knees to clear a new path so we may stand upright to reveal the truth written in stone ... not by the accidental association of particulars but the law necessary and absolute ... but listen to me telling you who have the power of speech without making a sound ... who have chosen the truth for all time and timeless

cf kreeft, logic, p186


the addict is like the rest of us he's trying to keep it together ... but he has a better idea perhaps but sharper than we do of what's missing ... two parts in control one part absent ... the addict finds the missing third in the drug he's called to study ... the rest of us each day go off to our squares of opposition ... yes no more less this question or that this question and that ... when we get home at night do we still know there's a missing third ... this addict does and if he's serious he's been an hour or two investigating the mystery ... a missing third of what whose third he asks how a third and not a fourth ... but he only does this because he loves the color in the glass or the swirl of smoke in the light ... they remind him of what's done better at night ... so much better he starts to begin during the day ... it's not as they say to get him through the night ... he only worries that way at the end of the night just an hour or two before dawn ... when you're coming home from work he's an hour or two already begun ... getting ready for the night ... when you're sleeping pestered by dreams he's alone with his desire


democracy or the republic ... justice or prudence ... caesar or cicero ... the will of the people or the constitution ... a false dichotomy with the historical allusion to a disaster of civil war assassination and execution meant to exacerbate the reason with drama and emotion to divert from the true combination ... that you can't have one without the other ... democracy and the republic ... whoa whoa I hear you say here we are together on the placid logical surface of the lake republic on board the mighty steamer democracy but who's that puffing alongside with powerful bellow bursts of good health and vitality ... it's the steamship plutocracy and her cousin ship the crown ... and see the aircraft carriers the cross and the crescent beyond them ... ah yes but look behind back there taking on water and constantly bailing out in thirty-year pails ... autocracy sinking on the horizon ... we send no ships back to pick up their survivors ... as for plutocracy and the crown look more closely ... see ... they're food and supply ... we're the mother ship with the mother load with air scouts before us

Friday, December 11, 2009


beauty may fade ... it will ... goodness may follow ... surely ... what still abides but the truth ... beatrice is old ugly bitter and spiteful but I know at least that's the truth and she might too ... alfonse has lost his mind is bedridden ... for all we know completely without a thought ... the tragedy is not that he's free of the truth but that he's held to it of necessity ... all the truth requires is one thought of one reality to which it must conform ... and all the other truths are a sense of the implications of this first grand basic truth ... a sense of it towards it forever ... frustrated combative wistful all thoughts return to that first thought ... exitus ah I remember reditus ... there's always that truth there's always though delayed that return and the closer that it gets the brighter it becomes the more complete the fuller the better the more beautiful it grows ... all because into the hollow waste of empty space someone spoke the truth and even out there it was heard felt sensed thought as in a dream ... when hard reality has come to that last potency ... as if ... and hearing a metaphor it turns


if the next world is so superior to this one why are we still so attracted to this ... you might see it in energetic people ... healthy people live well in this world and energy comes from good health which is an excuse sufficient in itself for enjoying life ... so perhaps what I mean to say is how the pathology of the attraction interests me now ... especially over a long life span when more and more unpleasantness is likely to be encountered ... more and more enervating unsolved dilemmas ... why then this muted but powerful attraction to life on this earth when it's such a paltry thing compared to what must follow ... it's tempting to smile at this human as well as inhuman incongruity and let it go at that ... but that would be perhaps to give up too soon ... is there perhaps a sense in which this life is not inferior and not paltry in comparison with its consequent ... a reason to live worthy of a better life to follow ... down to the last twisted drop of poison wrung from the broken heart of ruined nature ... your nature flat on its back under the network of tubes your thumb up to signify the reason ... struggle ... still struggle ... to hold on to truth


may he not play a game even to the gender of the pronoun we use to describe him ... or the voice he uses to tell us his say ... sometimes another's sometimes our own ... but never once does he tell who he is ... at least never to me ... perhaps to you ... or perhaps together we belong to a befogged generation with grimy balls of cotton in our ears since we were children and never took them out not even to wash them once ... a world of particulars we say that's all that has what we give it ... call it existential import ... no universals only a world of particulars ... a hot shower but no warmth ... a smile a nudge but no affection ... ah groping in the dark and squeezing and something soft and something firm to hold but no love ... what a silly thing these abstract universals are ... who needs knowledge when I simply know what to do ... or community or power or glory when I can pause my program to go fix a drink and come back and pick it up where I left off ... and most of all who has the time or need to pray ... have we no safety net no medical no drugs or what do we pay taxes for ... detail by detail we're supposed to connect the dots ... what wonder then we have no visits supernal or divine when the dots together make a blank

Thursday, December 10, 2009


when are you unhappy ... when you're out of sync ... when are you out of sync ... when you're out of touch with a significant part of reality ... when does that happen ... when you're caught up in a meaningless part of your self ... when you have your pieces where they belong but your next move threatens to throw you out of whack you are in danger of being unhappy ... when the pieces are external you may be able to make a strategic withdrawal ... but when they're internal there is no retreat because you're already home and you're invaded ... what you risk in this second more serious case is the integrity of your soul ... or to put it another way you risk your own disintegration ... it would appear to be true therefore that telling the parts of the self the meaningless and the significant one from the other would in times of danger be essential ... but why would we wait until then ... we should consider the danger before we meet it ... or better yet consider the triumphant balance and how to sustain it ... consider the glory of the self its body its memory its reason and its enthusiasm and count the parts that count


anger is nothing if it doesn't want to hate ... if it doesn't want to kill ... and if it weren't a sloppy emotional thing you could see a case or two where it might be right ... I know of one case and you probably know it too where it must have been right ... in that case it must have been an anger purified of that sloppy emotion and filled instead with a purified passion ... indeed just days from all the world's purest passion ... popper said 1900 years later kill the idea not the opponent who thinks it right ... that's what we call civilization ... but those same 1900 years before popper such a passion for truth had a better name and by far ... not historical or political or cultural ... not psychological ... not philosophical ... higher even than metaphysical ... higher only because theological ... a theological name for a theological virtue ... some say the only such to finally survive ... love of your neighbor by way of love of god and god's will ... there then in that virtue in that truth confronted by pain piss and pus the anger would be to kill ... to kill all such evil


look how much though dangerous it pays to suppose purgatory ... as an hypothesis its power to explain things is fruitful ... why this fascination with characters in history rather than in fiction ... you are preparing for your conversation with them in purgatory ... what answer to give those who call heaven pie in the sky ... purgatory ... to those who say this earth is hell ... purgatory as the way to heaven ... what do you say to those who tremble before time that vaporous but inexorable tyrant ... you say yes vaporous it's just begun to expand just waking up yawning and stretching still to get out of bed and swing its legs down to the floor and take its first step into eternity ... into purgatory ... inexorable yes it has a point ... the arrow of time is meant to hit its target and it will ... the long overarching shot straight nonetheless to heaven ... or the straight bolt into the murky dark to light light and more light ... purgatory ... and surely we're most usually too straightforward on this one topic ... too stubborn ... to take the graceful arc straight to the source ... we mostly bend and stoop crouching toward purgatory

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


she was upset by the square ... the square of opposition ... she did not like the company the qualifiers kept ... all and no she felt were an exclusive set but here must come a third this meddlesome troublesome some ... all if it had been allowed would have faced only no always simply clearly but for this pulling his sleeve down ... would without this interference have put his hand out perhaps and with the one fingertip signify to no that this point only is where they might touch ... here only they might agree ... and in that agreement put all the world in order ... or so she thought ... if it weren't for this noisome pesky some ... not just yes that is but all ... all the world inside when point comes to meet point ... the circle closes ... and only no graciously gracefully without ... but here's that some come hemming and hawing up to say yes to no and no to yes and sometimes to all and yes sometimes too to no ... somewhere rising almost to every place ... and sometimes even now saying so to never ... till this insignificant exception ... this third thing ... is now somehow eternal


one of two creatures moved some figures on a map and pointed his laser-equipped finger at a screen on the wall ... the screen responded ... it said four ... he bent down and removed a figure from the map ... the other creature said don't touch my pieces ... I'll bury my own dead ... the first creature replied that's not realistic your army will be far from the battlefield by dark ... far in retreat ... there will be no one to care for your wounded much less to bury your dead ... the second creature pointed his fnger likewise laser-equipped at the forehead of the first ... a wind blew from the four corners of the room and settled like a cloud over his brow ... above his pointing finger ... the first creature smiled ... the second creature lowered his hand but fixed his opponent with one sidelong glance from one steady beady eye ... it seemed to flash in a personal immediate code ... you come here into my land ... you take my subjects and my predicates ... you leave me nothing ... wherever you are I cannot be ... yet we are no two extremes contrarywise both content to be false together ... it is simply this ... my I will be ... your all will not


diversity makes us stronger ... democracy and equality should apply worldwide and till they do they certainly must be made to apply to everyone here within our borders citizen and alien alike ... for we are a nation of principles and these two above all others we mean to uphold ... unless we are mistaken in the definition of our terms ... which notion as a good liberal in thought and in logic I must now consider ... especially concerning the term nation ... is it in fact simply that which is ruled by its principles ... two of which no doubt should be equality and democracy ... there we should have little quibble or concern ... it's just that expression simply that which gives me pause ... it's a qualifier in the predicate that doesn't seem to do enough justice to the subject ... what is it after all being ruled so simply by these principles if by that we do not mean its people ... its citizens ... but do we mean to say of such a group of living feeling thinking creatures that they are simply ruled by principle when we know most of the time what a hard thing it is just to govern ourselves ... what mistakes what crimes and what heroic peradventure we the people share in our history

cf buchannan, state of emergency

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


the virtuous thing about false anger is in the response it rightfully demands even though it's false ... for all things good and bad still must serve the truth in a straight way or crooked ... all things must return to truth to touch the hem of her robe and learn to read therein their own identity before they go out again to speak truly or to lie ... and all things must give to some things round them the chance to act correctly ... so it is when false anger hovering round us ... most thickly among the poorly disposed who have not acted correctly repeatedly in the past but now are given still another chance to draw away from the nonsense just as the false spirit draws away from the truth ... to draw away from the turning away ... to draw back and to turn back ... for not in this or in anything else are we ever alone ... and not in this or in anything else are we charged alone ... to turn back ourselves and to turn back the other ... no matter how high or low his function how sharp or dull his animus against us ... to circle his waist and pull him from behind ... to cup each shoulder and push him up front ... to hold him hold him still inside


anger is a surrender a surrender to an apparent strength all too apparent all too often but in an ultimate sense ... in the immediate sense there's nothing apparent about the strength of it for nothing reflective hangs about it ... indeed it is all immediately from the moment of surrender ... that was the point of the surrender to begin the execution immediately ... reflection is left far behind but when it catches up sometimes even in time it sorts the false from the true ... easy looking back to see the difference between the two ... for only one at a time can be a surrender ... the false surrender is not immediate at all simply because it is false ... it's all divided diverted to the strength the agency in its power not the truth or the true end in its simplcity ... to serve that end it may serve in the box-like square approach the assault up front and with it well succeed ... not so the false surrender not to the end but to the means ... not to correct the injustice but to start a new one all wide and fresh off to the side ... in a dark corner where you can kill the unoffending


what does the writer do but think precisely and succinctly and play around with the language ... how does he do the first ... he asks the right questions ... how does he do the second ... he tells an interesting story ... how does he do the third ... he admires the first two .... now perhaps this does not satisfy you ... you demand more ... you ask your own precise questions ... you say can you define right and interesting in an objective sort of way ... that is make them necessary and universal ... can you change your particular experience into a universal truth ... if you cannot mustn't I reply that may be true for you but how is it true for me now or even for you later ... ah is my reply ... what you want is the integration of the soul when you call for the integration of time ... you want the past the present and the future to come together and stop their petty quarrels and agree to something true for all three of them ... when what you really want is the end of your own petty squabbles ... to sit down and smoke the peace pipe ... following those tendrils ... what's wrong with you ... it's a long story ... but I love to hear it

Monday, December 07, 2009


mars and venus are two natural planets the ends as it were of our natural orbit ... just as mercury is a changeable everything is the relative point of view momentarlily in danger of falling into the absolute rejoinder of the sun ... these last two represent one end of the logical extreme just as the outer planets fade away into the dark anonymity of outer space ... the other extreme ... the cold expansion out into blank empty nothing ... far better this inner tension between sex and murder family and war than that between too much being and not enough ... or rather coming back in coming back to earth that's what we modulate that horrific tension between being and nonbeing ... the focal point being as we understand it the earth ... the thrust of the spear the thrust of the womb surely there must be something in between or all life would be just a bloody mess ... which it's not ... the point being the word just ... it's not just that ... it's only something else between the pull and the push the suck and the smack ... the elementary distinction made more deeply elemental how can that be by us ... we being now being here


it isn't a matter of right and wrong or pleasant and painful but of good and bad ... the baby moralist is persistent in his analysis ... he likes to be pleased and doesn't like to be frustrated ... the child learns the pleasures of being right and the pain of being wrong ... it's left to the adult sometimes in old age to investigate good and evil their meaning and their future ... abstract evil at first annoys him ... he has after all all his life been fighting the real thing off ... but as with any investigation that's going at all smoothly there's logic and humor and a good deal of play ... if play only in the mind ... not just the position and contraposition of premises but enemy riflemen firing on squads trying to cross the street ... not just necessity and free will but coming home from the doctor with bad news ... indeed over it all disease diagnosis despair and death ... or maybe not ... before the first two there usually is a good deal of laughter ... and before the third there may come a reappraisal of the fourth ... before we come to despair we may come to believe death's womb is pierced by light


I think it is theoretically possible to follow a path ... a series of necessary and sufficient steps ... which will lead to the most that is the best desired object ... or in other words the best that we can get ... the best that we would want if we knew all we had to know ... therefore also the best that we should want ... but I do not think it is a path that any of us could make alone ... and I do not think it is a path that any of us could make together ... none of us at least who are creatures of a creator god ... perhaps you may say there are people who have not been created but are parts of a process we call nature ... or the universe ... or the god which is them both ... a god evolving ... if not creating then putting on display every moment for ever and always a new array of options in a cosmos that had no beginning and will have no end ... which is not I think the case ... I live in a cosmos that had a beginning and will as a universe certainly have an end ... a new world in which I pray will be my own success and yours too my dear reader ... that neither you nor I nor any one of us strays from the path god has made

Sunday, December 06, 2009


if in dying there was a voice within you giving good instructions on how to handle it whose voice would it be ... would it depend on how good the advice was ... how well it was working ... it may yet be a familiar voice though you so controlled it it always sounded like yours ... for that's what you did to all the advice in your head coming your way ... whether it was good advice or just vice it always had the same voice in your voice ... it was you might have said what all good editors do ... assimilate but filter ... you were after all the one in charge of the concern and you would be the one charged with it if it went bad ... well in a sense it was now as bad as can be if you were dying ... and it might not hurt if you could get some cover ... maybe talk less ... maybe just listen ... and in the quiet perhaps perhaps to hear a voice not your own ... whose would it be ... in the last minutes or days would we not all have the same prayer ... finally to get really good advice ... maybe even the meaning of life now that it was coming to an end ... but being strung out like this on the final thread you might settle for less ... someone getting you out of this ... but safely


when he was a child in the middle of a family filming he burped ... not an ordinary burp mind you but an extended list of premises ending in a conclusion and all in german though he spoke but his native tongue american english ... this was just after the end of the second world war and the language of the burp was still considered offensive ... the syllogism however was the main point of objection from the family and they held it against him thereafter ... they said that conclusion never could follow those premises according to the necessary must ... and if he meant to put them together with a might there never could be a right in it and certainly never any real may ... though of course he could if indeed he would ... naturally the boy was appalled by this modal declaration and he felt as well because they never did return to it that no proper argument had been given for their own conclusion critical of his which at least had gone to the trouble of presenting a series of precedents ... a rather long series ... which if anything might be incomplete ... that is too short ... but with an implied promise of more to come


the syren's voice carries over the still water ... who knows or can remember what it says ... even how it sounds ... it doesn't matter for it confuses the senses and sends pictures through the ear and ideas through the eye ... you hear of a form perfect in shape but the shape means something you cannot quite see though you understand it you feel very well ... it's a constant a basic everywhere and everywhen and that's a part of the problem ... at any moment it seems to be the color and figure you most admire but each moment's favorite is different from the rest ... she speaks in all the languages of the world ... the color of her skin is the darkest night to purest snow with the rainbow mimicked throughout in between ... the taste on her tongue the touch of her knee the presence of her mind floating through it all ... something familiar in her story on the page in her look on screen ... the idea is the motive the idea of her throughout ... to give her a name would be choosing one color or taste or time ahead of all the others ... to say circle or light smooth and warm is to come closer ... closer to her voice

Saturday, December 05, 2009


I stood in line behind two logicians the other day ... they were talking about distribution ... they spoke as if they came from another planet and a strange sparse one at that ... they were talking about distribution as if it were universal ...indeed they mentioned only one alternative to being distributed and didn't bother to give it its own name ... calling it merely the undistributed ... by which they meant anything particular ... they said it was easy to tell what they were doing ... just look at the logical form they agreed ... just look at the quantifier ... and when considering the predicate look at the copula ... then they got to the strangest part of all and I must admit so strange I found it intriguing ... you claim more they said by going negative than by being positive ... it may be fine that all S is P but S belongs to P ... P includes S and may do other things as well ... on the side as it were ... and who can tell what that may or may not be ... but when you say no S is P it means no matter how nice P is or tries to be it never ever will do for S ... it doesn't matter what else anywhere it might do or say ... for here wherever and always we know all about S and P and it's no

cf Kreeft, Socratic Logic, pp 103-104


these pacres are contemplative and theoretical ... all that which is applied and practical is outside but hopefully close around them ... nonetheless to tell the truth in the past it has not been so ... looking at the practical in the most comprehensive sense it would include not only that which is effective in its result but also moral ... of that which is effective toward salvation ... we must admit we have not been much effective in either sense outside these pacres just as we have not been more than hit or miss inside them ... but all this I wish now to argue is beside the point ... the point that is that is these pacres ... though they are not practical it does not mean they have no practical aspirations ... no ambition in a physical sense ... rather they take their hope from reading in general ... in fifty years the kind of effect that counts in this sense is not of the multiple choice factual variety ... not even much of the true or false kind ... the result is more nebulous than that ... not so much of nouns and verbs as of adjectives and adverbs ... not of place as much as direction ... we read I write to get the right attitude


see how stately they step off the map on schedule and on tap ... they'll be at the crossroads on time and in strength ... they came down the road and through the woods together ... the enemy thought he'd have time to react and bloodied him in the face as he came out of the forest ... then ran into the building ... then one building back ... where he had a clean line of sight both to the building next door and to the road leading off the map ... with an heroic leader and an elite squad and a heavy machine gun he thought he'd hold the point forever ... and he did ... still behold the soldiers as they exit the map ... how stately they march though not together ... one by one they leave the map ... not in despisal of what they leave behind ... but they leave it behind nonetheless ... the world of iron and machine parts ... of steel and ball bearings ... of fear ... of family ... and the loss of life ... the world of the forest and the plain ... of purpose and failed mission ... they come to the crossroad on time and they come in strength ... but they come as markers on the map they left behind ... they come as a flag of surrender

Friday, December 04, 2009


is it possible ... perhaps it would require some kind of reincarnation ... to spend an entire human life trying to learn one lesson ... homunculus say ... or the difference between the subject and object for another ... or put them together and ask what kind of subject can it be ... riddled with this kind of plurality ... homunculus the little man inside ... is he there to listen ... to counsel ... or to take charge ... just what kind of control does he have and where's his warrant for it ... does it help that together we sit by the side and watch the game progress in the objective field ... does that help make him the same kind of subject that I am ... but how would that be ... I am self-taught to believe there is no other subject the same kind as I am ... the point being there is none such for any other subject either ... that kind of being what we are ... irreplaceable if expendable ... absolutely unique if relatively short-lived ... wasn't it I that powered by my direction this fleshy machine for the most part of every day ... I do not speak of the nights ... they were a wildness I do not recall ... perhaps some lapses we may call homuncular


the sense of lateral transference and its right and necessity to thrive called also I believe subsidiarity is as you can see by the claim anything but a trivial nonessential life form ... while it's true that our lateral transactions are subject to vertical infusions of grace and disaster there's a residual point in us still resistant to all interference sometimes in particular when we can see that it does us good ... I'm not saying this reluctance to stop and as it were be tampered with is itself of necessity a good thing ... indeed I hope I may expect with reason that it will pass away in the childhood at least of my age and of the race ... but all this time otherwise I expect it may do us some good service when we have the good sense as well to stop with a will and listen ... are the rumblings in the rear a malevolent force bent on disruption ... does that whisper of good news up front intend to tell us the truth ... is the rapping on the lid above my head a safe signal to come out or little bombs thrown by other lateral defenders ... I say I hope it may pass but I know it will not till we come of age elsewhere


emotion wisdom prayer ... take someone with strong emotion some wisdom and no prayer ... what kind of a thing would he be ... call him the abstract romantic ... make the emotion very strong and give the wisdom a particular and potent form and make the absence of prayer not just habitual but determined ... set the creature loose in bitter times and see what such a thing can do ... give him the charismatic power of oratory and the dramatic wisdom of set design and spectacle ... give him a word one word where all the others have but many ... and give him devotion to that word ... to the idea behind it ... the kind of skill and the kind of devotion that confuse the two in the power of their expression ... in willful disregard of any virtue the idea the object of the devotion might have had ... in violent regard only for its promotion only for its success ... how tall could such a man grow before he were cut down ... how far could such a practice spread before it were investigated and found wanting ... all four of its arms and legs broken

Thursday, December 03, 2009

HOPE 101

the dilettante adrift on a swirling sea of books might find a biography he so liked it would set aside his old reading schedule ... the person whose life he read might appear to him in his imagination in the flesh as it were of his mind to encourage him ... to give him faith in the immaterial and hereafter ... or that person might speak to him directly from the immaterial and the hereafter ringing in his mind the two as yet silent bells by those names also called the intellect and good hope ... for what is there in the hereafter to sound anything but good hope here and now if only the intellect be sound ... and what is there in the intellect to make it whole and sound but the truth here and now ... though the truth be absolute and of necessity and everywhere else as well ... that is with all the advantages and privileges of the nonrestrictive immaterial ... these voices have no sound their messages have only their full meaning and this is the main course by which we live from day to day ... though I pick at the candy in the imagination still and listen to the voices in the upper room


god has made a class of creatures who stumble after lies not occasionally but repeatedly before they turn to the truth ... one rises from the table and turns the wrong way at first ... one bends down when he should keep walking and has to run to catch up ... one is overwhelmed a few seconds by the nausea of despair when he assumes a false pose or puts the world in one before he recovers and goes on ... not once or twice this year or last but twenty-five or fifty times each morning till night ... the planet is one continual burst of light punctuated by clumps of cooling ardor by clusters of simple malice shades of hopelessness blots of shame ... all to block the light or say the moon is the sun ... to lie or to hear one told ... this is the attraction that pulls this class to it ... this class which contemns the truth but fears the lie of another for its untoward consequence ... loves the intricacies of the devious but shuns the blunt edge of the truth ... for this is a class with ties of pretension stretching back before the creation of man ... before the first honest mistake ... back before time ... back to the original lie


the artist has an advantage ... the artist has his art ... it fills that category ... that which god did not make alone ... which is the second most interesting category in all of reality ... because it defines creature and creation ... what they did after they were made ... all art all artists he and she we and they make these things ... sculptures their miniatures ... game designers their sequence of play ... teachers their habits of thought ... plumbers their customers' relief ... electricians their enlightenment ... we leave something behind ... even if it doesn't last very long ... the satisfaction of the artist is a mental delight looking at what he has made ... but his spiritual delight lasts longer because it transforms his soul ... in his humility and in his gratitude ... and gets him ready to move ... then moves him to a safe place a neutral space that nonetheless respects his craftsmanship in the things that he has made ... a place where he can agree he did not make these things alone ... he had help ... and now flips the phrase and sees he was the one who helped ... good art helps the good and graceful craftsmen ... bad art helps the other ones

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I don't quite hear voices in my head but I hear what they say ... I hear it in my thoughts ... and then I spell the words out ... again not to hear them but now to see them ... what those thoughts do thereafter is that which most puzzles me ... I find myself in conformity with them ... on introspection ... I've heard them I've seen them I've agreed with them ... now my behavior conforms to them though they I thought were years in the past ... I recognize them I see them and hear them and agree with them again ... but we haven't been together all those years ... it doesn't matter ... I conform to them ... as if the word because came between us rather than or ... rather indeed than and ... we are not competitors not even companions who meet on the road have dinner and then part ... the accidental around us has fled and we live together by a necessary implication ... how can it be broken ... we may not meet again these words in the same order and I but we live always together ... I live in some sense because they were spoken some place that one time ... like an airburst in a silent expectant chamber ... their report still echoes on the wind


what is it about our consciousness that in it we can forget the miraculous ... who fled at the arrest and did not calmly follow the lord ... weren't they in the theophanous boat ... what's the good of a theophany if it doesn't have a grip ... if it doesn't take hold ... what's the logic of a creature who's seen the creator and then can say they've taken him away and given me a more important event to attend ... call it my escape and my good survival ... or was there no logic ... just the escape ... no plan ... just the hiding ... no calculation no forgetfulness just the despair ... whichever way was taken it left the lord behind ... whichever way they went they went away from everything ... perhaps they didn't know it ... perhaps they were numb with terror and didn't understand what they were running from ... but it was everything ... the logic of the subject and the runaway predicates tell us clearly what they were doing ... the mystery is why ... the wonder is how ... why having seen the alpha and the omega would you settle for an iota ... how does the opened conscious mind fall back into an unconscious stupor ... what is it we do when we forget the glory and turn from the light


if the dominion isn't ours we feel diminished ... when recognition of true domain should fulfill us ... if we're the top the conversation is all downhill ... it is lonely at the top ... much better to be learning and nothing better than wisdom and no better wisdom than wisdom from on high ... by which we mean higher than we are ... or perhaps you know someone who believes that some day in some form he will be on high where high is the highest ... personally I don't understand such a position ... nor how any creature can pretend to hold it ... now in theory or any time later in practice ... it makes no sense ... no ordinary sense for sure ... in any of the ways we use dominion or subordination ... but I will admit to having read of one use of these words in admittedly an extraordinary sense ... in which subordination leads to equality ... even equality with the highest ... I do not say this sense is unique or even unusual in the east where yoga brahmin and atman seem to work it through ... but in the west I think it is unique ... was it not one creature they say leads the way

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


not just you should do it at random but do it at random it's likely to be better than what you have now ... what if we had a two-step character and this is how he thought ... I will break the commandments even though they tell me my world will be worse ... they were right it is worse I will blame the commandments ... I didn't break them often enough and when I did I did it poorly ... if I could do it again I would break them completely ... who were they to follow me around when no one else was there and say this was so because they were in me part of the code that made me up ... there is no code that makes me up from the fingertip to the tip of my toe ... no string that strings me together but time fraying strings time wasting codes ... see me now twelve thousand years ago I am not the man I will ever be again .. sprinkle me with wisdom in chemical forms magical formulae make me a god ... nothing that changes can ever stay the same ... to be the same even in passing is intolerable ... for A to look at B and find C in common between them is all the sin the world will ever need ... everything is new


might she not say to herself as a game ... let's say S is P and see where it takes us ... suppose we say S is a whore ... what can she say of herself ... that she loved too much and not well ... suppose she were more select and adept ... suppose she really cared and felt affection for her clients ... was practical and intelligent ... a businesswoman in her office and an artist in her bed ... couldn't we then say that she loved well and even long ... became part of the family extended as it were ... sat in at weddings and funerals attended church and tithed ... branched out in her concern and based on her skill put her work on film ... reaching great acclaim in a modest if small community ... but there we've gone too far ... not in concern or work or church or art or affection but in family ... whores have no family ... mothers and daughters and sisters have families ... presidents and ceo's and shop stewards have their families ... but whores are hidden ... everything they do in their whoredom is shamed and put away ... there's no love or family in a whore ... we beat it out and mark them down ... the things we do to a whore


he stapled in ... spiraled in till he got to the center ... after a while there were just too many ... the jaws got full and they couldn't close ... oh that he could press them together and make everything one ... if all the opinions examples and counter-examples could just come down to one ... a consummation he realized consistent with an unhappy ending ... the spiral in might be a spiral down ... the mouth might be full with the bottom of the pit no matter how tight the fit of it full of it full of myself or any other idle thought ... being one wasn't good enough ... not if the one were false ... well actually being one is good enough for being false is never less than two ... the false one and the true ... if that were true where does falsehood go when the truth wants to be one when the truth wants to be alone ... how can the truth be alone ... wouldn't every good thing want to be there too ... and how could it have the heart or the desire to keep beauty away ... the truth must be a celebration a banquet a fiesta and a fair all in one and everyone invited ... even if all are not able to attend ... those who took a wrong turn and were stapled in before they got out