Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

On Harry Potter and Literary Endings

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

A friend’s recent musings on literary endings prompted some of my own.

This last Saturday, in a small park closest to the Barnes & Noble in our area, I saw three young women reading the last Harry Potter book. It even prompted my wife to want to get back into the series, though she has only read the first book and that was many years ago.

My favorite series of books was Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin adventures. Sadly the author died before ever properly completing the series, and I have never had the heart to pick up the last uncompleted, yet still published, book in the series.

I am now finishing Robert Graves’ Claudius the God and I dread the tragic ending that looms.

These fictional characters become our friends, beings we know as intimately as we know ourselves. We feel their loss as deeply as any flesh and blood relation’s. We dread their death, and unlike the living, we can delay their doom with our own imaginings and an aversion to their author’s act of execution. We postpone the hanging by postponing our attendance. But like Orpheus longing for Eurydice, we cannot help but take one final look.

Phaemon’s Dog

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
Phaemon the philosopher had a little dog whom he had trained to go to the butcher every bring back a lump of meat in a basket. This virtuous creature, who would never dare to touch a scrap until Phaemon gave it permission, was one day set upon by a pack of mongrels who snatched the basket from its mouth and began to tear the meat to pieces and bolt it greedily down. Phaemon, watching from an upper window, saw the dog deliberate for a moment just what to do. It was clearly no use trying to rescue the meat from the other dogs: they wouild kill it for its pains. So it rushed in among them and itself ate as much of the meat as it could get hold of. In fact it ate more than any of the other dogs, because it was both braver and cleverer.

from Claudius the God, by Robert Graves, 1935

Such is the cruel fate of the virtuous when faced with suffuse and irradicable corruption.

It Gets Lonely…

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

It gets lonely writing for a blog and not knowing what people think of it.  So If you are reading, say hello.  Tell me if you like anything.

I know this sounds like a pathetic cry for attention, but it really isn’t.  What I mean to convey is the incredible loneliness of writing.  A professional writer gets paid to write.  Money signifies recognition, even praise.

The amateur hopes for recognition, but suffers silently, worried that either he has no audience, or that they don’t feel any compunction to respond.  So don’t be shy.  I can’t hear you breathing.  You have to tell me you’re there.  Stupid Internet.

A Poem on Slavery and Freedom, Obligation and Duty

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

It is by our freedom
that we are bound
It is our liberty
forces us

Know thy obligations
Know thy dissipation
is nothingness
a betrayal of obligations past

A slave excuses himself
a slave excuses herself
being forced into wickedness and destruction

Which man, which woman
would choose to make himself
would choose to make herself
a slave?

Waste Your Time with TD

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

I should be writing about the debate I moderated last night, about the erudite debatrices, about the fascinating conversations I had afterwards. But instead I am digesting a delicious veal parmigiana sandwich and wasting my time with the latest Tower Defense (TD) game.


Good Political Correctness

Monday, June 18th, 2007

It is not polite to hurt people’s feelings. While it may be politically effective to denigrate a group of people, it is bad politics. Sadly, such scapegoating is often effective, as the surviving Tutsi of Rwanda can tell you. While “politic” and “polite” have different meanings, they share the same root: polis, which simply means “city” in Greek. Polite and politic are at their root about people living together collectively. It is often, and rightly, denounced that politics is not more polite.


Palestine and the Sopranos

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

As I read about the civil war going on between Fatah and Hamas for control of Gaza, I can’t help but be reminded of the last episodes of the Sopranos, of two rival gangs of gangsters murdering each other over petty differences and the spoils of their bandit kingdoms.


The Paradox of Expected Disaster

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

The old joke about buying insurance is that you hope it is wasted money. The wise man prepares for disaster, but is relieved to avert it. Yet the wise man is also human, and therefore prone to the the irrationalities essential to the human mind. When faced with uncertainty, man is relieved to find his preparations necessary, and disappointed when his prescience is faulty and the disaster never comes and his efforts are wasted. This is the Paradox of Expected Disaster.