January 28, 2011


"You don't get it. I am one runaway son of a bitch! I am an animal! I want to eat everything! I want to get drunk every single night! I want to screw every woman there is! We are all wild animals. But we must learn to use our minds. We must learn to control the bestial and sensual sides of ourselves!"

January 21, 2011

Working hypotheses

Perhaps it would be better if I could find one single philosophy that I could apply equally to each circumstance, but I find that the best path is to believe different things about aspects of reality when I play these different roles or perform different duties.
Related posts:
The imperatives of survival on six distinct time scales
Turtles all the way

January 19, 2011

Meanwhile, on the other side of the firewall...

Younger Chinese friends of mine regard the firewall as they would an officious lifeguard at a swimming pool—an occasional, largely irrelevant, intrusion.

To get around it, Tang detours through a proxy server—a digital way station overseas that connects a user with a blocked Web site. He watches television exclusively online, because he doesn’t have a TV in his room. Tang also receives foreign news clips from Chinese students abroad. (According to the Institute of International Education, the number of Chinese students in the United States—some sixty-seven thousand—has grown by nearly two-thirds in the past decade.) He’s baffled that foreigners might imagine that people of his generation are somehow unwise to the distortions of censorship.

“Because we are in such a system, we are always asking ourselves whether we are brainwashed,” he said. “We are always eager to get other information from different channels.” Then he added, “But when you are in a so-called free system you never think about whether you are brainwashed.”

The New Yorker. Angry Youth - The new generation’s neocon nationalists [in China].

January 17, 2011

The orderly management of decline in my youth

As the mid-seventies progressed, this pessimism about the economy spread far beyond the City of London. In 1977, New Society compared the results of two large-scale professional surveys of Britons' financial situations and expectations, one recent and one four years earlier. The magazine found that the percentage of people expecting their standard of living to 'fall sharply' in the next ten years had more than doubled, overtaking the proportion of Britons expecting things to improve or stay the same. It also found that most people's sense of their current 'material position' had dramatically w0orsened. In 1973, 18 per cent of those surveyed had considered their position very strong. In 1977, the figure was 5 per cent. In 1973, only 13 per cent had regarded their position as very weak. In 1977, it was 26 per cent.

These perceptions were broadly accurate.
Andy Beckett, When the Lights Went Out, p176.

January 15, 2011

Assured sex and an explosion of creativity

In the wild, songs probably had to be rigid in order for mates to find each other. Birds born with a genetic predilection for musical innovation most likely would have had trouble mating. Once finches [in captivity] experienced the luxury of assured mating (provided they were visually attractive), their song variety exploded.

January 11, 2011

Passive resistance to radical overcompensation

What they [terrorist fundamentalists] lack is a feature that is to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the Amish in the US: the absence of resentment and envy, the deep indifference towards the non-believers' way of life. If today's so-called fundamentalists really believe they have found their way to truth, why should they feel threatened by non-believers, why should they envy them? When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns him. He just benevolently notes that the hedonist's search for happiness is self-defeating. In contrast to true fundamentalists, the terrorist pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued, fascinated by the sinful life of non-believers. One can feel that, in fighting the sinful Other, they are fighting their own temptation. These so-called Christian or Muslim fundamentalists are a disgrace to true fundamentalism.
Slavoj Zizek, In Defense of Lost Causes, p 332

January 09, 2011

Words of advice

Don't say thank-you or sorry after sex.

January 07, 2011

Back to work

...it’s true that I really wanted to make money so that I could quit my job. That’s the only point of having money, to have the freedom of your days, but it’s fundamental.
Michel Houellebecq, Paris Review interview