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Showing posts from November, 2010

On Professions

"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people," said Thomas Mann. The same can be said of any art or craft that you love and live by. Say I'm a teacher. It is generally taken for granted that teaching is a piece of cake for me, something that comes to me naturally through this innate talent or acquired skill, as if I was born with it or have become good at it, and that instruction should then be the easiest thing for me. Coupled with such a belief in the ease by which a profession comes (or should come) to a professional, is the view that you enjoy your craft precisely because it is easy or has become easy for you, or to qualify, that it is easy even if it is objectively difficult because you are gifted or have become learned. Now these beliefs, though with bases (but on the wrong ones, e.g., on the wrong people or examples), are never always true. There are two kinds of difficulties: one is the stress you put on yourself for doing …

A Letter to a Young Philosopher

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your thoughts. You are persuasive, inspiring, and you make a really good case not only for philosophy but for yourself as well. It is easy to perceive that our previous "conversations" have struck a chord with you, if only because it created discord within you, especially at a sensitive time as now when you are in the thick of research and writing, on the brink of academic success, which you, I think, will easily accomplish. When we are near the peaks of the mountains we have for a long time been scaling--always with difficulty, never without sacrifices--anything that will plant seeds of doubt in us (Can I make it? Will it be worth it?) are to be quickly done away with, lest the idea of surrendering to the heights begins to assume a form you cannot deny seeing, and carry a weight you may not be able to any longer suffer. In the same way that I admit that what I call my "personal life" at the moment, whatever that means anyway, may without…

The Paucity of Knowing

Truth, What a Word!
The idea of liberation through the suppression of desire is the greatest foolishness ever conceived by the human mind. Why cut life short, why destroy it for so little profit as total indifference and the illusion of freedom? How dare you speak of life after you have stifled it in yourself? I have more respect for the man with thwarted desires, unhappy and desperate in love, than for the cold and proud philosopher. A world full of philosophers, what a terrifying prospect! They should be all wiped out so that life could go on naturally -- blindly and irrationally. 

I hate the wisdom of these men unmoved by truths, who do not suffer with their nerves, their flesh, and their blood. I like only vital, organic truths, the offspring of our anxiety. Those whose thoughts are alive are always right; there are no arguments against them. And even if there were, they would not last long. I wonder how there can still be men searching for the truth. Do wise men not yet understand …

The Other Sorrows of Knowing

1. Preface

I hate citing, but I had to write something tonight. A preface: Here are two reflections from E.M. Cioran in his On the Heights of Despair.

Total Disatisfaction
Why this curse on some of us who can never feel at ease anywhere, neither in the sun nor out of it, neither with men nor without them? Ignorant of good humor, an amazing achievement! Those who have no access to irresponsibility are the most wretched. To possess a high degree of consciousness, to be always aware of yourself in relation to the world, to live in the permanent tension of knowledge, means to be lost for life. Knowledge is the plague of life, and consciousness, an open wound in its heart. Is it not tragic to be man, that perpetually dissatisfied animal suspended between life and death? I'm weary of being a man. If I could, I would renounce my condition on the spot, but what would I become then, an animal? I cannot retrace my steps. Besides, I might become an animal who knows the history of philosophy.…