Friday, October 20, 2017

How to Write

1. Find a smooth and empty surface such as the pages of a new notebook, or one of those empty rectangles on the Internet, or a wall of polished marble, or a volleyball, etc.

2. Find something suitable for making marks on that empty surface, such as a pen or pencil, or a computer keyboard, or a hammer and chisel, or a magic marker or whatever.

3. Scribble and scribble and scribble on that empty surface until you are very tired.

4. Play with cats to help you cope with the heavy workload and restore your energy.

5. The next day, and the day after that, and the day after that and so forth, repeat steps 1 through 4.

6. Repeat step 5 until you are rich and famous. (If you actually enjoy writing or otherwise feel somehow compelled to do it, you may continue writing even after this point.)

There are billions and billions of books which claim to tell you how to write, but what they actually attempt to tell you -- or what they claim to attempt to tell you in the cases where their authors don't actually care about you or your writing career and just want to sell books by exploiting your hopes and dreams, which might actually be almost all the cases -- is how to write well.

The thing is, people almost never agree about who writes well and who doesn't, which makes even those books written by people who actually care, worthless -- with one exception:



How to Write, by Gertrude Stein. This book is exceptional quite simply because, as everyone who has ever been anyone heartily agrees, Ms Stein wrote exceptionally well. Sistah came from Oakland back when there was no there there, and didn't play. Anyone who says she didn't write exceptionally well is probably either an innocent oaf or a very bad person who perhaps will try to sell you a worthless book or swampland in Florida. Watch out for the bad ones, and warn everyone you know, and strangers too!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris.

"Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris."

That's Latin for "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It's in the Bible no less than 3 times: Tobit 4:15, Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. And it's also pretty similar to Leviticus 19:18.

And the same basic idea is also to be found in ancient texts from China, India, Persia and pre-Christian Egypt and Greece.

So what, basically, is my problem? Just this: although it's a pretty good rule, it can be improved upon. Because not everyone wants and dislikes the same sorts of treatment. "Do unto others as they would have you do unto them" is an improvement over "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It's more considerate, more sensitive.

But, of course, even that is not perfect, because life is not perfect. A crazed person who is committing mass murder with an automatic weapon may want to be allowed to continue doing what he's doing. But most of us would agree that it's better to stop him. That's just one extreme example of situations where we generally agree that it's right to stop someone, even though that's not what he wants.

Germans, who love to rhyme like nobody's business, have put it into a rhyme:

"Was du nicht willst, dass man dir tu, das füg auch keinem andern zu."

Just now, on Facebook, some German-speaking people were all agreeing with each other about how perfect the Golden Rule -- or, in German, "die Goldene Regel" -- is. I started to write a comment in German, to say to them that I felt that it was not perfect, for the reason I have expressed above.

But then I stopped and considered that, although I would like it when someone would comment in such a way in such a conversation, many people definitely do not like it at all, and that these particular people probably wouldn't like it. And so, instead of doing unto them as I would have others do unto me, I did unto them as I thought they would like me to do unto them, and erased my comment and just left them alone, and instead, I came here and wrote this blog post.

Well, I didn't leave them completely alone: I left a comment which consisted of "Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris." I hope that didn't bother them.

Why Latin? Because I like Latin and would like to see it restored to its former prominence. Not because I have any reason to believe that there is something characteristically Latin or Roman about "Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris."

Friday, October 13, 2017

Theorie

"Theorie -- von dem Wort ging seit den sechziger Jahren ein magisches Leuchten aus. Theorie war ein Glaubensartikel, eine Wahrheitsmaschine und ein Lebensstil. Doch woher kam die Faszination für die gefährlichen Gedanken? Philipp Felsch folgt in seinem grandios geschriebenen Buch den Hoffnungen und Irrwegen einer Generation, die sich in den Dschungel der schwierigen Texte begab. Für drei Jahrzehnte gehörte der Theorieband als Vademekum in jede Manteltasche. Es war die Zeit der apokalyptischen Meisterdenker, der glamourösen Unverständlichkeit und der umstürzenden Lektüreerlebnisse. In einer Welt, die im Kalten Krieg erstarrte, ging nur von großen Ideen Bewegung aus. Je schwieriger die Texte, desto intensiver die Lektüre, je abstrakter die Argumente, desto relevanter für die Wirklichkeit. Heute, wo die intellektuellen Energien von '68 in schwach glimmende Substanzen zerfallen sind und viele der einstigen Akteure ihre Memoiren geschrieben haben, ist es Zeit zurückzublicken: Was war Theorie? In West-Berlin versorgte der Merve Verlag die Leser von den Kadern der Studentenbewegung über Spontis und Punks bis zu den Avantgarden des Kunstbetriebs mit ihrer Ration von wildem Denken.
Philipp Felsch schreibt die Geschichte einer geistigen Revolte, indem er den Abenteuern der Büchermacher und ihres Umfelds folgt. Vor allem aber vertraut er sich der Geschichte ihrer Leser an, um eine Epoche wiederauferstehen zu lassen, in der das Denken noch geholfen hat."


Von dem Klappentext aus zu beurteilen (Ich weiss, man sollte das nie tun aber) waere mir das Buch ein wenig zu grossenwahnsinnig. Aber das kann durchaus an mir liegen und vielleicht weiss ich immer noch ueberhaupt nicht, was man mit "Theorie" alles sagen will. Ich sehe (bzw sah) das alles ja von Tausenden von Kilometern weg und lese es in meiner zweiten Sprache. Oder in meiner dritten Sprache wenn es auf Franzoesisch geschrieben ist.

Oder es kann der Wut des Kalibans sein, der hier mich zu schaffen geht, und der Abscheu von meiner eigenen haesslichen dummen Grandiositaet, der Scham vor Erinnerung an einigen albern-grandiosen Augenblicke meiner Vergangenheit, und beileibe nicht alle nur meiner Jugend...

Auch erinnert mich der Klappentext stark on Susan Sontag. O waere das herb, waere das bitter, wenn die Wahrheit ist, dass ich Sontag sehr aehnlich bin!

In der Tat (falls amazon.de wirklich da recht hat) habe ich nicht verstanden, worum es in dem Buch von Philipp Felsch geht:

"Adorno, Foucault, Lyotard, Baudrillard, de Certeau, über Luhmann, Sloterdijk, Benjamin, Barthes, Bohrer[...]"

usw.

Ich habe mit alledem kein Problem. In Gegenteil, solches lese ich gern.

Nevermind.

Obwohl ich immer noch nicht weiss, was ich von diesem Prof Dr Philipp Felsch halten sollte. Obwohl ich Adorno usw gern lese, nicht mal ein Adorno kann die eigenen Fans auswaehlen.

Aber es kann (zum wiederholten Male) sein, dass es falsch waere, diesen Author nach seinem Klappentext-Author zu beurteilen.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Morons: Let's Unite Against Trump!

If you're like me -- a moron whose feelings were hurt by Secretary Tillerson's recent outburst -- then maybe together we can turn a negative incident into the rallying cry for a movement: the movement of morons united against Trump!

-- If, like me, you were hurt by the suggestion that you're somehow similar to Donald Trump just because you're a moron;

-- If you're tired of people assuming, just because you're a moron, that you support Trump, or that you somehow can't see through Trump's nonsense;

-- If you find it insulting that people think, just because you're a moron, that that means that maybe you think that global warming is a Chinese hoax, or that the US needs 10 times more nuclear weapons;

-- If you are often confused by machines like TV remotes or microwave ovens or can openers;

-- If you have accidentally hit yourself with a hammer or accidentally buried your own face in dirt within the last week;

... Ummm ...

... Okay, okay -- if you're like that, and stuff, then join with me! I'm proud to be a moron who sees right through Trump! If you are too, then send a link to this post to every moron you know! Together we can save the world against coal and nuclear weapons and horrible orange fake tans! Ummm... okay -- together we can get the Republicans to remove him from office and to stand up to Steve Bannon! No, this doesn't mean that suddenly Republicans will be cool, but they're go back to being the normal sort of Republican jerks we're used to instead of this nightmare! It's a nightmare for them too, that's obvious! Every now and then the nightmare becomes too much for one of them and they call Trump a moron or something, and our feelings are hurt, we morons.

But even we morons know that there's only one thing you have to do to make a nightmare stop: WAKE UP!!!! Together, maybe we morons can convince Republicans to act as if they weren't zombies, and stuff!



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tillerson Owes Us an Apology!

As a moron, I was deeply offended and hurt when I learned that the Secretary of State called Trump a moron. I don't want to go around complaining all the time, but when you look at it objectively, we morons have a hard time now and then, trying to keep up with people who are... you know -- smart, and stuff, and we don't need additional insults like being lumped in together with the President of the United States, as if we were no more intelligent or perceptive than he is.

I know a lot of morons. Some of my closest friends and relatives are morons, it's not just me. I think I speak for morons everywhere when I say that I think that Rex Tillerson owes us all an apology, and stuff. Just now I accidentally hit myself in the hand with a hammer, and that made me fall off a ladder, and I landed flat on my back on the floor, which was flooded with water and stuff. And then a flower pot fell off of a shelf right onto my face and shattered. So I was lying there, in great physical pain, and all wet, and with my face buried in dirt. But what made me finally start to cry, lying there, was that I remembered what Tillerson said.

And that's when I decided to write this post, because I think this is really important, and stuff.

It hurts us morons enough when people claim that the people who voted for Trump are morons. But this time, Tillerson just simply went too far, and stuff.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tom Petty

Irony: a FB user claims that it's Tom Petty's fault that his father was an alcoholic and drug addict; and that same FB user has a cover photo with the words "MY DESTINY IS MY OWN!" Yes, folks, that's irony. Unintentional irony.

30 years ago or so, Tom Petty described one of the fundamental ironies of life in this land: when you get rich and famous, all of a sudden you get lots of stuff for free, which you could easily buy now, and which you badly needed back when you couldn't afford it.

Petty was very intelligent, very perceptive, very sensitive to the plight of the poor and abused. A lot of that intelligence went into his lyrics. He also was very talented musically. This combination made for songs which touched people. Those songs made us feel as if we knew him personally. We didn't know him, but if felt as if we did. He wasn't that FB user's father, but it felt as if he was. So a lot of us feel today as if we've lost a good friend, or a father or brother or cousin.

So maybe cut us a little bit of slack for a change.

Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida, in 1950, was inspired to be a musician by Elvis and the Beatles, dropped out of high school shortly before graduation to concentrate full-time on playing in a band, and BAM! just like that, 11 or 12 years later, suddenly he could afford to buy all the Nike shoes he wanted, and he didn't even have to anymore.



It's not just millions of us listeners who have been blown away by his single "Free Fallin'" -- Petty himself said he was amazed when the song came out of him. He said it was like a bolt of lightning which came from nowhere.

Of course, it came from the same place as all of the other great songs which Petty wrote or co-wrote. Still, it just goes to show that if you work very hard for decades at something you care about, you might have moments where what you produce is so good that it even surprises you.

Not to step on yr shoes if yr favorite Tom Petty recording is something other than "Free Fallin'". There are many, many great Tom Petty recordings. I'm going to stop now. RIP, Mr Petty. And thanks.