Archive for April, 2022

Arguments against ethnic nationalism — the degree of ignorance you were willing to accept

April 14, 2022

Looked up and listened to The Shinelle’s “Tonight’s the Night.” Looked up “colourable.” (Used to mean plausible, now more like specious.) Looked up émeute, French for “riot”. Pressed speaker icon to hear how émeute was pronounced and pressed it a second time to hear it pronounced still more slowly. Saw a spoof of Mulholland Drive, and a cartoon representation of a Zizek lecture. Weren’t we being deceived by what is called corporate responsibility, if you buy this cup of coffee we’ll contribute this much to saving the rain forests, or what have you, the lecture asked. Didn’t corporations take with one hand what they gave with the other? Snowing but not sticking today. All at once it occurs to me I haven’t checked the time in some while and now it appears I’m running late. Looked up “smoothie” originally applied to a smooth person and is from the 1920’s. Looked up subduction zones (there had been a fascinating map in the NYT of the last billion years of plate tectonics) and asthenosphere (layer of the earth’s crust beneath the lithosphere, 80-100 km down.) Came across maps that had been drawn up in the event that Napoleon/ Hitler had successively invaded England and looked up operation Sea Lion, the Nazi plan for invading England. What were the arguments against ethnic nationalism: why not have whites, blacks, reds, blues in their own countries? “Just easier that way.” (i) The bloody history of ethnic nationalism and the holocaust (ii) the impossibility of establishing racially pure regions given technology and a globalized world / djinni already out of bottle; (iii) the impossibility of establishing ethnically pure regions given human nature: no matter how much alike people are, they’ll discover and dwell on newly discovered ethnic divisions of import (iv) the differences between cultures can create annoyance and division but also interest and strength (v) the real differences between people are more often of an economic nature… Came across tweet asking whatever happened to Queen Lear, which brought to mind that Gloucester too might not have had a wife in the play… (Was the implication that perhaps Lear’s faithless daughters were, like Edmund, illegitimate?) Looked up the interestingly named Instruction Of Any (Any was Ani, an ancient Egyptian scribe, and an “instruction” was the name for a kind of wisdom literature.) Discussed meaning of colourable, with a man, who thought it meant opposite of specious: capable of being colored, capable of being fleshed out.

Funny. I had recommended to a customer, who was looking for challenging reading, Infinite Jest, which he’d never heard of, and he actually took me up on it and was enjoying it immensely. Initially gratified that my recommendation had been pursued, I soon observed he had a much better grasp of the book than I did and ever would or could, and found myself not wanting to talk much about it, lest he realize as of course I realized already, that, while I had this enthusiasm for high and mighty things and fat tomes and the like, I had, with respect to them, no great competency, no real grasp. This is not to suggest my enthusiasm is insincere but that I tend to embrace the style of the thing rather than, often, to penetrate its gist.

Watched video of philosophy professor naming the countries of South America and realized I was due for a review: most of the countries bordered the edge of the continent: Chile, Equator, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana; then the big interior ones (Argentina, Brazil, Peru — Brazil of course has a long coast line) Paraguay and Uruguay with the latter being coastal, maybe both. Should come to thirteen. Missing one or maybe miscounting. (And of course I’ve misspelled about half of those too.) Why, I’d asked a customer, did he bother with being informed? Was it worthwhile being what we call informed? Would it bother him if, for example, he had no idea who the current U.S. President was? Yes it would bother him quite a bit to not know who the President was, he said, but he supposed each person had their own standards about the degree of ignorance they were willing to accept.

April 13, 2022

Need to start over. Where was a I again. Unfriendliness of person: it’s not just you it’s their ambition. Unfriendliness of person: didn’t want to imply sexual signal. Unfriendliness of person: wasn’t unfriendly, just doing own thing. Unfriendliness of person: matronly modesty/ genteel disdain. Unfriendliness of person: Covide related, though there’s never been a good case for outdoor transmission. Friendliness of person: acknowledging you as you acknowledge them. Friendliness of person: not acknowledging you but it isn’t fraught with judgment or meaning. Friendliness of person: despite all the coldness of intrapersonal relations around here taking a risk to say hi and sounding natural. Overfriendliness of person: sex or religion believed somehow involved. Overfriendliness of person: friendliness.

April 11, 2022

Customer was regular customer who wanted to talk “right and left side of brain functionality.” We’ve already covered that ground, said attendant. Customer was regular customer who wanted to talk Jack Lucas. (Attendant was unfamiliar with Jack Lucas, a U.S. war hero.)

Customers were notably brilliant and hip for these parts, an aura or clear halo around them we were without. From District, looking at cabinets next door- woman’s top had elegant floral pattern, man wore retro “enjoy coca cola” t-shirt.

Customer showed picture of burnt grilled cheese she’d had delivered from nearby restaurant, which she’d had sent back. “You just scrape that off,” said other customer seeing the picture. “Yeah, that’s not so bad,” attendant said, thinking of some of his own creations… Customer said that they wouldn’t have served that in the restaurant but since it was delivery they “don’t fear the repercussions.”

Customer was very slim tall beautiful young white woman wearing a sort of monochrome deep blue short-shorts and t-shirt outfit with USA emblazoned in red across the shirt. Attendant had idly thought to himself that since this woman couldn’t possibly be an American she must be an Eastern European — but she was actually an American.

Customer asked attendant what was capital of Russia? “Moscow.” Attendant asked customer who wrote Crime and Punishment? “Gorbachev.”

Customer said of Danbury, where he was from — a cool town with bad parts. Yes they did have a history with hat-making and one of their sports teams was in fact named The Mad Hatters.

April 9, 2022


why am I beset by these characters, quoth the attendant, because I haven’t contended with these characters in myself, he called out.

and why am I in this shop, quoth the attendant, because this shop in thyself hath not been closed and addressed.

Shakespeare had his Globe, thought the attendant, and this shop hath thou

The gift of not being a great curse

April 7, 2022

Looked up Samara, looked up catkin, looked up “language of Jesus”. (Probably knew Aramaic with some Greek and Hebrew.) Had been interested to learn that Mohamad was illiterate. I believe we’re told about Socrates that he read others’ philosophical treatises (in Protagoras?). We’re told that Jesus amazed scholars with his knowledge of the scriptures but I’m not sure we’re explicitly told or led to deduce anywhere that he could actually read. Homer could have been, I guess almost definitely was, illiterate. Confucius (lived around time of Socrates) I’d imagine literate. Interesting to think of non-divinely inspired poet composing and recalling a work of the length of the Qur’ an — The Iliad. Reverted to the tab that had the County Gov’t staff report on the proposed amendments to the cite plan.

Looked up “alight”, original sense to make light, a wagon was made less heavy when one alighted from it. (Had thought to use this to translate Greek oikizdw, “to dwell”, but saw that was wrong on looking it up. Went with ‘abide’, which was also not right, ‘remain’ would have been better but I didn’t go back to my blog to change the translation.) (Would check stats later, I will check stats now, but it bothers me: It means that  you do this for show, which in turn means that, not truly personal, it can’t be of legitimate interest.) Passage from the Symposium: Love, chancing on a person of a hard disposition, leaves them, but a person of soft disposition it dwells in, makes its home in. oikizw –oikos is “home” — “Economics.”

looked up ASL sign for ‘boring.’ (Finger to nostril, twisting). Teacher gives example of simple sentence: “you” (pointing at viewer) “think” (pointing to forehead) “school” (unclear: seems to bring his straight oppositely pointed palms together in two brief claps) is “boring” (finger to exterior of nostril, twisting.) Of course sign language is not charades, is thought, but one wonders at how touching one’s nostril and twisting could equal boring. (Well but how does the word ‘house’ or its sound indicate a physical house? No, it isn’t arbitrary, but the essential connection between the word and the thing it represents is long gone.)  I suppose that twisting of the straight finger on a surface does indicate boring in the sense of drilling down. Can’t recall if those ideas of ‘bore’ are related. (Seems to be uncertainty about it. Original sense is of burrowing animal.)

Looked up Corn Dolly, folk lore, pagan practice. The belief was that the season’s wheat crop contained a spirit which was released when the crop was harvested and would reside in one of the corn dolls they’d made, an elaborately entangled rope knot, until the next planting season. Reminded I’d had an idea of how I might assuage “my concerns about death”: I felt so much pleasure giving gifts, I’d been thinking, that perhaps if I could die with the knowledge of having given a great gift, or if the death itself was such a gift, then that would be enough to “carry me through.” (But that pleasure of giving was all only ego wasn’t it? Look how generous I am, look how rich I am, look how much I have to give, which only showed attachment to life…. Anyway-what sort of gift did you have in mind?)

It seems to me, then, that the problem with my pointless writing –the problem that makes it so pointless– is that, in a sense, it is too much “alive”: with no sense of the dead or of ancestry, with no sense of death, of one’s life’s horizon, it fails to grab onto anything here, it feels it has limitless time.

Looked up macerate. Customer had directed me to 1970’s era ecological study on the Kamodo dragon, or Ora, where it was learned that the scent of macerating stomachs of wild hogs were successful at attracting the giant lizards. Macerate means to soften. (To “give a great gift” would be something like discovering a vaccine for small pox for example. However, science could be double-edged in our hands; today’s cure, tomorrow’s superbug inducer, today’s combustion engine, tomorrow’s climate change, etc.) (You’re thinking of it the wrong way. A great gift had to be the sort of gift that any person could give. You didn’t have to be a unique person to give a great gift… Consider, too, the gift of not being something: of not being an idiot, of not being a curse and annoyance; of not writing  — if it was not in us to produce a great gift, it was in us, perhaps, to show restraint and not be a great curse, and perhaps that would be our great solace on dying: “I did it — I … wasn’t … that way!” –i.e. that way I really wanted to be but was stupid and boring. Or maybe it was what St. Francis had tweeted: that all of us had ourselves to give, and that represented a kind of upper and lower bound or integral to our gift — truly being ourselves.) Proverbs: the just die with hope.

Wrote four emails, looked up hypotaxis, as well as No Gun Ri and  Dream of The Red Chamber.

April 6, 2022

Attendant encountered in supermarket by customer: “heh, you look a lot different than you do at the coffee shop!” then her small son leapt forward and began to dance. It can sometimes be awkward encountering customers off-site but not on this occasion.

Customer from Okinawa. Did she like Kurosawa? She laughed — too old. Ozu? Hadn’t heard of, what did you call him… ? What did she like — Manga.

Dream: Larry David was new employee at the store and I was showing him the ropes — “Come on, let me make that fruit smoothie, I really think I’d be great at it, come on.” Fast forward and long after the smoothie should have been finished it’s still sitting in the blender, which hadn’t been turned on. Ingredients don’t look right either — fruit floating in a lot of water. “Were you going to turn this on?” I ask him. “Sure, sure, I mean, if you really want me to…” “No, not that button!” I say, lunging for Larry’s finger…

In the series, the blender’s contents would have gone all over the store and Larry would have been fired on the spot. In the dream, I suddenly found myself in the roaster room, scooping up coins with a dust pan.

Dream. Friend’s father is starting an online stock brokerage and wants me to type up a simple sentence or two, like “now offering six dollars per trade”, problem is, there is no type writer. My dream-like solution to this is that I’ll enroll in a class at the community college and ask a fellow student if I can borrow their typewriter, but this is taking a lot of time (I’ve enrolled, but I’m hesitating about asking the acquaintance, because I should really be prepared with my own work materials, etc.) and I’m thinking of how incompetent the friend’s dad must think I am, “a person who can’t even type up a simple sentence.” I feel so worthless and bad about this by the end of the dream that when I wake I’m trying to alter the dream’s conclusion with my conscious thought — “I did it,” I’m telling myself, trying to visualize it like in a dream, “I’ve handed him the typed up sentence, and he likes it.”

April 4, 2022

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April 4, 2022

Low point: making a dumb joke and having it be received as such — like, wow, that was dumb. A joke that really didn’t come off. Low point: customer criticizing another place for what, with more complete information, she might well have considered a failing of this place. Medium point: customer delighting in the copy of Robert Burton from the back. Medium point: customer made curious about a topic I’d brought up and asking for clarification. (“What was that word you used again?” Irredentist.)

What was a common word attendant frequently found himself misspelling? Achieve. Though the attendant and the customer agreed that “i before e” was a good rule, attendant claimed you would wonder if that ‘h’ in achieve really counted.

So curious the biblical passages and phrases that will resonate with customers — “a still small voice,” was important to the customer. From 1 Kings 19: “11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”

The Lord was not in the earthquake or fire or wind but he was in the “still small voice.”