Abstract: Socrates was and is one of the most influential figures in the history of Western philosophy. Yet it remains an open question just what the real, historical Socrates stood for: he wrote nothing, and none even of our most ancient sources can probably be relied upon to give us anything like an accurate picture of his ideas and methods. As if to fill the gap, successive individual philosophers and philosophical traditions—from Plato to Nietzsche and beyond—construct a range of different Socrateses, to serve either as a model for emulation or as a target of attack. Nevertheless, the single most vivid picture of Socrates is that provided by Plato, who was his immediate philosophical successor, and who gave the character ‘Socrates’ the leading role in the majority of his fictional dialogues. What is this Socrates like, and does he have any use for us?
Toward An Impure Poetry by Pablo Neruda
It is good, at certain hours of the day and night, to look closely at the world of objects at rest. Wheels that have crossed long, dusty distances with their mineral and vegetable burdens, sacks from the coal bins, barrels, and baskets, handles and hafts for the carpenter’s tool chest. From them flow the contacts of man with the earth, like a text for all troubled lyricists. The used surfaces of things, the wear that the hands give to things, the air, tragic at times, pathetic at others, of such things—all lend a curious attractiveness to the reality of the world that should not be underprized.
In them one sees the confused impurity of the human condition, the massing of things, the use and disuse of substances, foot-prints and fingerprints, the abiding presence of the human engulfing all artifacts, inside and out.
Let that be the poetry we search for: worn with the hand’s obligations, as by acids, steeped in sweat and in smoke, smelling of lilies and urine, spattered diversely by the trades that we live by, inside the law or beyond it.
A poetry impure as the clothing we wear, or our bodies, soupstained, soiled with our shameful behavior, our wrinkles and vigils and dreams, observations and prophecies, declarations of loathing and love, idylls and beasts, the shocks of encounter, political loyalties, denials and doubts, affirmations and taxes.
The holy canons of madrigal, the mandates of touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing, the passion for justice, sexual desire, the sea sounding—willfully rejecting and accepting nothing: the deep penetration of things in the transports of love, a consummate poetry soiled by the pigeon’s claw, ice-marked and tooth-marked, bitten delicately with our sweatdrops and usage, perhaps. Till the instrument so restlessly played yields us the comfort of its surfaces, and the woods show the knottiest suavities shaped by the pride of the tool. Blossom and water and wheat kernel share one precious consistency: the sumptuous appeal of the tactile.
Let no one forget them. Melancholy, old mawkishness impure and unflawed, fruits of a fabulous species lost to the memory, cast away in a frenzy’s abandonment—moonlight, the swan in the gathering darkness, all hackneyed endearments: surely that is the poet’s concern, essential and absolute.
Those who shun the “bad taste” of things will fall flat on the ice.
One of the amazing things of living in the 21st century is the access to obscure knowledge and self-directed learning which Isaac Asimov predicted in an interview in 1988:
For example.. each second, a trillion neutrinos pass through your hand, but only about two will interact with an atom in your body throughout your entire lifetime.
In the 1950’s South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world with an annual income of 67 dollars per person.
Now Korea is one of the leading nations for innovation and technology …. I do not usually discuss economics as it is in my mind one unworthy of debate, at least until we have discussed the humanistic ideas that should govern our society instead. But I love the stories of Korea and Japan, and I also have a Korean last name. It is very personal to me, and I am interested in how these two nations came together to build technologically advanced societies and keep their traditions and values intact. I remember seeing Japanese teenagers talking on the phone and bowing to the person on the other end of the line. It really is a striking way of relating to others. It has always fascinated me to see a working harmony between a highly developed technological society and traditional social order.
Anyway, here we go, a snippet from a PBS/BBC documentary series produced in the 90’s :
New York Times article and more pictures: http://nyti.ms/1KUCcqC
I read a New York Times review of Jurassic World where they called the movie “galumphing franchise reboot” and decided to look up the word, as I didn’t remember it from Lewis Carroll’s book. Lewis Carroll invented many fun words, including “chortle”.
Here is a great Oxford Dictionary article on this and other fun words. An excerpt about the portmanteaus of today:
The portmanteau today
Today there are numerous portmanteaus in the English language and the act of portmanteau-ing (yes, it’s a verb too) has become fairly linguistically productive. Some common and well-known portmanteaus include:
I am interested in how scientists and philosophers interpret the world we live in today, as I interpret the world as an artist. One of The Interpretation Of Quantum Mechanics is the Many Worlds one – this is one of the most beautiful and favorite things of mine to read about since I absolutely understand none of it. Like Narnia for adults.
I love the idea of a schizophrenic universe. To quote something I read at random on the internet:
“When a universe “splits” (it doesn’t really – it just looks like it has, but that’s a long story), and assuming you accept consciousness as an emergent phenomena of the physical brain, then your consciousness splits too. And as events in the two universes drift apart, so do the copies of the consciousness.”
Here is a paper that talks about the rise of the Many Worlds interpretation as the main challenger to the status quo interpretation:
So what is the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics?
it is a mystery why I became obsessed with Japan, after all I was born 9016.92 kilometers, 5602.86 miles miles and 4868.75 nautical miles from it. What portion of the neural paths in my brain decided to connect with the image of Japan, made me think and read about it? Where I grew up there was very little information and attachment to Japanese things and my first visual contact with Japan was through a Taschen book on Japanese Gardens.
When I moved to the States – it was in Northern California and the Bay Area was very connected to Japanese culture. One of my landlords used to tell me a story about Japanese businessman coming to the Silicon Valley before it was the Silicon Valley and waving 100 bills in bars, while supposedly looking for investment opportunities in the daytime. I went to Japan on two occasions and especially the second time – on a solo trip with my camera – I felt a deep pull towards every single train, temple, crowded intersection, pond, sand pattern, high tech shop and piece of sushi. I am still mystified as to why.
I never considered living in Japan as I don’t believe I will be happy with the day to day subduedness of life. But there are so many threads still connecting me, emotionally and artistically, to Japan, that I technically don’t need to.