Thursday, March 31, 2005

Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts

Although I finished rereading Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts a few days ago, I picked up the book again. I am mesmerized by his philosophy of spiritual renewal and fulfillment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

First Storm

The first severe thunderstorm of spring blows through Chicago tonight. I sit in the dark, watch the lightning flash across sky, and listen to the thunder and rain.

I am soothed, almost hypnotized. The cure for my insomnia has arrived.

Ida Lupino and Annette Benning

I was watching the 1946 movie "The Man I Love" starring Ida Lupino and I noticed she and Annette Benning look a lot alike. I mean, if you don't take the difference in years into account.

Just thought I would mention it.

Have a great day and don't forget to boogie.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Devil with the White Sox Cap On

I was nursing a beer in the local pub tonight. A reasonably attractive young woman came in and took the bar stool next to mine. She had long blonde hair and a great tan, which was out of place in Chicago at this time of year. She wore a Chicago White Sox cap. Of course, I recognized her as an angelic alien right away.

I did not say anything to her, but she kept looking at me. She eventually turned to me and said, "you're the Big Think Dude who works on the angelic alien problem."

"That'd be me," I said.

"Can I buy you a shot?" she said.

"Sure," I said.

We drank our shots.

"Thanks, for the shot. You're an angelic alien," I said.

"I figured you knew that," she said.

"What's with the White Sox hat?" I said.

"I'm going to get into a big argument tonight with some unsuspecting Cub fan about how John Garland is the best fifth starter in baseball," she said.

"Does god allow you to do that?" I said.

"Who said god sent me?" she said.

Then she walked out.

Dear Everybody,

How are you? I am fine.



Monday, March 28, 2005


I could tell at first light the day would be brilliant and warm. The world seemed infinite in all directions as the sun rose over the lake.

Only the coldness of my heart weighed upon me. I did not care about myself in any essential or meaningful way.

I stepped into the warmth of the rising sun, then forgot about lighting a fire in my cold heart as I walked along the lake, a mass of undulating jewels strewn by the sun.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter

I got out of bed at 4 this morning, which at the time seemed like a bad idea. But I found the most Easter eggs, so it worked out well.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Getting It Wrong About Morality and Reality

David Brooks gets it entirely wrong in his NYT op-ed piece “Morality and Reality”.

What I'm describing here is the clash of two serious but flawed arguments. The socially conservative argument has tremendous moral force, but doesn't accord with the reality we see when we walk through a hospice. The socially liberal argument is pragmatic, but lacks moral force.
The socially conservative argument does not have moral force. The slogan “Right to Life” does not accord with what is in the Bible. Joshua put all the survivors, men, women, children, and animals, to the sword after the battle of Jericho at the command of god. Those claiming the absolute and universal moral right to life based on scripture are either ignorant of scripture or hypocrites. The “Right to Life” slogan is one of the many contradictions arising from the erratic socially conservative application of morally relativistic principles.

The prevalent attitude of social conservatives seems to be if the law meets their special interest, the law is fine. However, if the law does not suit their desires, it should be subverted by whatever pragmatic and practicable means. This is the opposite of what Mr. Brooks claims.

The “liberal argument” is anything but pragmatic. The argument points out that in a democracy the laws are created in an environment of rational moral inquiry where all points of view are discussed.

The overwhelming reaction by those questioning the meaningless slogan “Right to Life” indicates more than an commitment to process. The “liberal argument” claims moral force too, one based on both religious and reasoned inquiry into moral truths and the reality to which they will be applied.

People are growing weary with being called immoral, morally relativistic, or nihilistic whenever they point out the contradiction or hypocrisy in a socially conservative position. And people are starting to see through the mistakes about morality commonly made by certain NYT op-ed columnists.

Friday, March 25, 2005

An Essential Way

The fog again shrouds the city and another chill rain falls. I drink two cups of coffee and a glass of orange juice. I am aware and conscious. I delight in the spectacle. I am alive in an essential way. For the moment, that is all I have to say.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Blueberry Pancakes

At the end of the day, I ate blueberry pancakes smothered in butter and syrup, and drank water. It did not lift my spirit, but it certainly elevated my body.

And that is good enough.


I can barely tell I am awake. The view from the window is colorless. The fog hides the buildings in the neighborhood. Only the orange, green, and red stripe running across the façade of the 7 Eleven store across the street pierces the gray.

A 1941 Rita Hayworth movie plays on Turner Classic Movies. My crush on her grows stronger each time I watch one of her movies. If only I’d been born in a different place and time, we would have been lovers. Everybody deserves a pleasant daydream.

My body tells me I did not sleep last night although I fell into spells of unconsciousness several times. I did not dream and for that I am thankful.

I have written a blog posting. I have executed the first duty of the day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

"Campo Santo"

I started reading “Campo Santo”, the latest Sebald book. Once again, I am completely seduced by his writing.

The melancholy thought that this might be his last book published fits neatly with the overcast, wet, and chill day, the first day of Spring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Big Think and Angelic Aliens

My e-mail inbox is overflowing with messages saying, "Lynn, you have been coyly retecent regarding Angelic Aliens. What's the latest scoop, Dude. Inquiring minds want to know."

I have gone into Big Think mode on the Angelic Aliens question. Don't worry. I'll be providing definitive answers in the near future. These seemingly intractable questions are grist for my mill.

Monday, March 21, 2005


When the mind’s awareness and self awareness are gone, the body too has the right to pass on. We must grant the body this final kindness and dignity.

"He was not mine."

Hypocrisy, Counter-hypocrisy, and Totalitarianism

Some events weary the imagination, defying the will to put those events aside. Such is the Schiavo case. One can debate the rightness or wrongness of pulling the tubes from Mrs. Schiavo’s body until the cows come home, but a more fruitful exercise is meditating on how the actors in the drama might have played their roles differently.

Mr. Schiavo could have announced he was taking Mrs. Schiavo home because he and Mrs. Schiavo were putting their trust in the will and goodness of the Lord. The Christian opposing Mr. Schiavo for putting his complete faith in the mercy of the lord has some explaining to do. The issue becomes what a Christian ought to do rather than the struggle of good versus evil.

There are two ways to fight hypocrisy: one, expose it, and two, become just as hypocritical. The second of these two options becomes more attractive when the drive by a few to create a totalitarian state becomes irresistible.

The Hypocritical Christian Right does not believe in Christianity. They believe in the naked exercise of power to control whatever is in their best interests. That statement does not espouse anything radical or leftist, but merely indicates a rudimentary observation and healthy skepticism when confronted with unmasked naked motives.

I will admit I am an unrepentant leftist libertarian.


I wake at two o'clock in the morning. I cannot fall back to sleep. The 1956 version of "War and Peace" has started a half hour ago on Turner Classic Movies, the version with Henry Fonda as Pierre and Audrey Hepburn as Natasha. I start watching it. I become immersed. The movie will end at 5 in the morning.

The costumes, settings, battles, and a reasonable adaptation of the story for the screen make it worthwhile.

Another night without sleep. Another night of footnotes.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Hypocrisy: Volume One Million

The Schiavo case works beautifully for the Conservative Republican Congressional leadership. They can't lose, being the white knights that they are, sitting high in the saddle, and slaying another dragon.

Make hay while the sun is shining.

Friday, March 18, 2005


I started rereading Terry Eagleton's "Literary Theory" yesterday. I read it 15 year's ago. I am enjoying my second time around more than I did then. I suppose 15 years of reading and thinking make the difference. I suffered several crises in my life 16 years ago, so my head might not have been in the ballgame.

I bull forward with Heidegger. After 700 pages of his various works, I find myself understanding and agreeing with much he has to say. My strategy for grasping the whole rather than stopping to analyze the parts has paid off. I must remember this strategy when reading esoteric philosophy. Concepts and arguments are best learned from repeated exposure in different contexts.

Hegel's "Philosophy of Right" challenges me to a two out of three falls match next, a match I most assuredly will win should I take the challenge.

I love being an independent scholar and thinker. If I could only add erudition to my resume, I'd be the total package.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


It would be good if monsters, humans with neither feelings nor moral sense, committed torture. History shows this rarely to be the case. I offer my own paltry take on torture.


How can the tortured appeal
to the torturer? Morality
will not work,
for the torturer acts
from other principles
such as building utopia.
The torturer responds
he is merely an instrument
aiding the grand enterprise.

How can the tortured extinguish
the flames inside the torturer's soul?
Ultimate freedom fuels the flames.
It's as if the torturer is a god.

Video Games and Aliens

The Illinois legislature tackles video game violence. Aliens are one of the thornier issues.

Read about it here: Chicago Tribune | DEBATE ON VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES

Thanks, to Tom for passing it along.

The Snow

There is not much to say about it.
It falls from the sky
and smothers the grave stones.

It is no big deal
to die twice or more
instead of once.

The Knight's Tale

I watched "The Knight's Tale" for the first time tonight. It had Chaucer, cathedrals, courtly love, knights, dancing, rock 'n roll (nice touch), and, most importantly, jousting. It was mega-awesome. I'm totally stoked.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"The Angels and Us"

I just finished reading Mortimer Adler's "The Angels and Us". I am writing a book review and I will post it.

Let me give you a preliminary assessment. If you are looking for a serious well written theological and philosophical discussion of angels, then this is the book for you. However, if you are looking for a book that explains how angels can help you shop for tomatoes at the supermarket, get a cool date, or heal your child after you have backed over her in the driveway with your SUV, you might want to read something else. He does not mention Angelic Aliens, but I don't fault him for that. After all, you still have State Street for cutting edge cultural critique about Angelic Aliens.

Of course, Mortimer Adler's scholarship and erudition goes without saying. He unfortunately died in 2001. I was a big fan of his books and I still mourn his passing.

There Is No Finish Line

I would like to comment about life and death in a round about way.

I have heard several bloggers say they are blocked when trying to write their blogs. I commented about this in one of my previous postings not long ago. I put it down to post-winter angst. Whether the winter has been mild, as it has been in Chicago this winter, or brutal, the long succession of dark days, when it is not possible to spend all my time dressed in shorts and t-shirt, eventually weary me, even though I sit around most of the day in my pajamas until it is time to go to the local bar. I shudder when thinking about the days I had a real job forcing me to travel much of the time.

I write everyday; writer’s block is not my problem. Last August, I discovered blogging, another tool that helps me write. Spending the day writing pure and unadulterated shit is better than writing nothing at all. This blog posting probably qualifies as that. It’s just a blog entry someone might chance to read, but that’s a remote possibility. I don’t care about the publishing of it and its fate afterwards. I do care about writing it as well as I can in the time constraints given me. My blog gives me a public place to publish each day while I work on something “real”, something not the blog. The word count on my word processor says that as of the last sentence I’ve written over 250 words. That means I’ve already defeated writer’s block today even if this is the only thing I write.

I have written three novels since 1998. None of them are publishable, for they are flawed by failures of technique and craftsmanship. It hurts me to admit it, but I tell myself I am learning how to do it, which is true.

There are as many methods writers use to complete a good novel, as there novelists. I did not read far into the writer interview literature before arriving at this conclusion. I am using a new method to complete my next novel. The first thing I did differently was to write the whole first draft (238 pages) in five weeks. You cannot imagine how bad the first draft is. When I couldn’t think about anything to write, I wrote about my life and ascribed it to one of the characters in my novel. For instance, on days when I was blocked but felt horny, I wrote sex scenes. I like what I have written so far as bad as it is. Something genuine shines from it. That’s a good start.

I am working on the second draft of the novel. The first flaw I am trying to correct in the novel is its lack of plot. I have tried to be analytical about the plot and write an outline for it, but I am blocked. I suppose if I must be blocked on a piece of writing, the outline is the best place for it to happen. Nobody is ever going to read the outline no matter what happens. I will quit the plot outline and return to rewriting the first draft with the vague idea that the novel needs some sort of traditional plot. My dream, completing the second draft with a complete plot, was merely that, a dream.

Then there are all the other drafts where I must add and shape the other elements. Who knows how many drafts there will be? I don’t. I can at least identify the relevant elements. That’s good enough for now. I am at the one or two mile mark of a marathon, feeling rested, comfortable, and settling into the most comfortable pace and efficient stride.

On the back cover of a Seventies issue of “Runner’s World”, Nike ran an ad, a picture of a runner running alone on a country road, a road much the same as the roads I ran when I lived in Iowa. The caption to the ad was, “There is no finish line.” I cut the ad, took it to work, and hung it over my desk for many years. It inspired me and served me well.

Death is the only finish line and I ain’t dead yet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Change of Reading Plan

I just finished reading Terry Eagleton's "After Theory", a book so good, I read it in two quick bites.

Now, I'm reading "The Angels and Us" by Mortimer J. Adler. Yes, seriously, I really and truly am. OK, believe what you want to believe, but I am.

Next, I'll be reading Paul Auster's "Oracle Night" and you can put that on the board.

William Trevor Story

The New Yorker has a new William Trevor story. Men of Ireland

Monday, March 14, 2005

Blogs & Public Policy

Eszter Hargittai mentions an upcoming panel discussion titled "Can Blogs Influence Public Policy?"

The simple answer is no, unless bloggers have a shitload of money to throw at public policy makers. Sorry, that one was too inviting.

Destination Unknown

I spent most of the day working on my latest novel, the one I fondly call, “my totally fucked up piece of shit.” Not having done so well at the exercise, I took off for the local bar at 6:30, hoping to be around some folks in a happy mood. Not many people were there. I sat between a guy who spent a terrible weekend with friends in Massachusetts and a woman whose mother died early this morning. No place to run, no place to hide. It made working all day on a novel with lots of sex and Angelic Aliens in it seem absolutely joyous.

The only scenes in the novel I like so far are the ones when some of the characters discover they have been having sex with an Angelic Alien. It’s funny how people’s beliefs change when they have been confronted with the reality up close and personal.

The other part I like about the novel is that at the end the hero winds up in a dark and smoky bar drinking Budweiser and watching the Cubs beat the White Sox in the seventh game of the World Series. Don’t worry, there’s one more section that ties the thing together in a stunning way, so I didn’t give away the whole ending.

Identity Reminder

I must remind my vast and loyal readership that the “I” in my blog is not always “Me”. The subheading to “State Street” is the most accurate description I can give of my blog’s content.

Of course, when answering e-mail, the “I” is the real “Me” to the best of my ability to discern who I am.

You never know, I might be an Angelic Alien come to haunt the blogosphere. That could be why I know so much about them. All my questions about Angelic Aliens could be rhetorical.

I know what you’re thinking. Now he thinks he’s an Angelic Angel. He just isn’t that cool, is he?

Mastery and Goals

Life is short. I have three goals: mastering all of philosophy and literature without bogging myself down by too much thinking, writing an entertaining novella that explains it all, and finishing my multi-volume novel about Angelic Aliens.

I almost forgot. I’d like to win an NCAA basketball pool this year. Plus, win a couple of small bets on some games along the way. In fact, if I accomplish that, I might just bag all my other goals in life. You know, quit while I’m ahead.

I reread the whole of Marx’s “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts” yesterday. After reading a few pages, my memory kicked in and I quickly blasted through the rest of it. I’ll read a little bit more Marx, but let’s face, to even mention the name in passing makes you persona non grata.

I’ve changed my current reading plan again. I’ll reread some of the Heidegger essays, read some sections in the Hegel books on the shelf, and reread a few of the Freud essays. As for Vico, I’m saving him for later.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Don't Let Your Angst Make You Maudlin or Bitchy

I reread Heidegger’s “What Is Metaphysics?” at midnight last night. I could not sleep, so I figured a little Heidegger was just the antidote. The exercise had the opposite effect. A profound feeling of angst roiled me. I was immersed in Nothingness. I could not sleep. I wrote until after four in the morning. Now, it’s Saturday and I am exhausted. I have been playing “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” by the Stones all morning to raise my energy level, but once the music stops I feel like home made shit.

I’ve noticed that winter is starting to take its toll on people. I see people writing reminiscences and memoirs in places where I would not have expected to see them. I see people turning real bitchy about TV shows, expecting more from them than possible or desired. Even devout Christians who feel rejected by their loved ones are only half heartedly relieving their disappointment through scripture and prayer.

Beware. Angst is infectious.

OK, here is my new plan: read “New Science”, Giambattista Vico, read “Elements of the Philosophy of Right”, G. W. F. Hegel, reread “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts”, Karl Marx, and reread “Interpretation of Dreams”, Sigmund Freud.

I hope they will cheer me, not that Heidegger is not joyous. I feel I understand Heidegger, but that is most likely a novice mistake on my part I should guard against.

Oh, for a sunny hot Summer day at the baseball park.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Desperate Housewives

One of my favorite TV shows is “Desperate Housewives”. I have been thinking about why I like it since I started watching the show.

I like the omniscient narrator device they use, the voice of a dead woman, which opens and closes the show. I admire the sparing yet effective use they make of it during each episode.

One night I was sitting in the local bar with several folks watching the show when Eric sat down on the bar stool next to me. He started babbling in my ear, but eventually quieted when he realized I was watching the show. During a commercial break he said, “you know that show is just a soap opera.” He did not get an argument from anyone about that.

For fiction to be interesting to a large and general audience it must contain three necessary ingredients: an interesting plot, emotional connection to the characters, and enough detail for the audience to lose themselves in the fictional dream.

I don’t feel a strong emotional attachment to the characters in the show, but I feel sympathy for them despite their foibles. None of the scenes are sensational or graphic even though there is violence and sex in them.

What it does have is plot. Each scene is crafted to advance the story’s mysteries, conflicts, and tensions. Lots of moral and social issues arise in each episode, but the plot neither slows nor dwells on those issues.

The plot ties together lots of subplots and keeps me wondering what happens next. Teri Hatcher looks great. That’s good enough for me.

Being, Ontology, and Angelic Aliens

I woke this morning with the question of Angelic Aliens on my mind. It is an unfortunate yet all too common occurrence that we do not work out the implications of our most strongly held beliefs. I am not going to let that happen to me. I will crack the nut we call the question of Angelic Aliens, or at least lead other thinkers, whose intellects are more powerful than mine, down the right path toward knowledge.

Let’s start with the facts, what we already know about Aliens. Their bodies are skinny and hairless. Their heads are too large for their bodies. Except for their large bright eyes, their ears, noses, and mouths are underdeveloped. They have no genitalia. They are always naked. They seem cuddly or icky depending upon our mood.

As thinkers do we not owe it to ourselves to generate preliminary hypotheses and make some preliminary inferences about these beings? Are our statements, “The Truth Is Out There”, “I Want to Believe”, and “My Belief Is Faith Based”, merely idle slogans or are they the calls to action we claim them to be? Are we hypocrites and shirkers or are we thinkers who are not afraid to follow the Truth wherever it might lead us?

I will hazard some inferences. Beings without genitalia reproduce using advanced biotechnology (they no longer have need for the old in and out). Beings with underdeveloped sensory organs use brain implants to stimulate sensation, pleasure, and happiness. Brain implants also explain why they are always naked. The implants regulate their body temperatures at all times and in any kind of weather. As for the big eyes, we know the eyes are the windows to the soul. Aliens have big eyes so that they may show off their souls to the more voyeuristic of us.

I freely admit I have opened myself to the Michael Jackson Fallacy in my conjectures and arguments. Aliens could merely be the victims of awful plastic surgery. We are exposed to the most extreme cases, Aliens banished from their mother planets because they just don’t look right at all.

Let us leave our scientific hypotheses behind for the moment and turn toward other issues for the liberal arts. A few preliminary questions and remarks will elucidate the enormity and immediacy of the issues.

When a Space Alien lands in a country, is that Alien an illegal alien? If they want to permanently reside in a country, what is the naturalization process for them.

What about all this reproduction without sex? What does scripture have to say about it? If a human wants to marry an Alien, should we allow it? Are Alien stem cells appropriate for stem cell research?

Do we need yet another category for our gender studies, the neuter, that is? Since Aliens are so darned smart, shouldn’t we create affirmative action programs for humans for all the cool jobs, such as CEO, so that Aliens don’t completely take over all those jobs and start running the country?

Should we allow Aliens to attend our elite colleges just so they can go to the keggers, for we know they will get perfect scores on their SAT’s and make a mockery of our current knowledge in the classrooms?

Should we create new States for them to live in, States neither blue nor red, but something like yellow or orange? How many electoral votes will they be allowed since they are already privileged?

Should we introduce Alien advanced neurological technology to humans? If we implant happiness do-dads in everyone’s brain, who is going to whine on the blogosphere?

Should we allow Aliens to run around naked all the time? Is this not pornographic? What will be the effect on our children?

Are Aliens evolved or intelligently designed? Do they become Angels when they die if they have been good and devout believers? If they are banished to Hell after they die, are they not smart enough to outwit Satan and make a Paradise of it? And what’s so great about Heaven to Aliens since they already have it so good no matter where they go?

Aliens call into question all our most entrenched beliefs, even about Being itself. Aliens assault all our conceptions about philosophy, politics, economics, theology, science, and culture. Of course, there will always be those who want to stick their heads in the sand and say, “this is not really happening.” Real thinkers will not do this. What appear as conundrums and paradoxes to many, will appear as opportunities to those in the vanguard of thinking. Nothing has been lost yet, but all might be lost if we in the vanguard do not prepare ourselves for a future that seems as alien to us as the Aliens that inhabit it.

The time to think is now. The time to act is later. “Never make a decision unless you have to,” is still relevant operating procedure, but let’s not depend on that entirely.

I know what many of you in the intellectual vanguard are saying, “Lynn, this is like a big pop quiz on material we never covered in class. And we have not even started to discuss the Angelic part.”

To which I reply, “welcome to my world, the world of reality on the frontier of human thought.”

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Heterodoxy, Dabbling, and the Dilettante

After my last posting yesterday, I went out for my three margarita lunch. I did two good things after returning home, I thought about the answers to the questions I posed in my last posting and I resisted the urge to write about it. Today, I’d rather avoid discussing the whole thing at all, but what the heck, it’s snowing, I’m stuck on my other writing, and when in doubt, just make stuff up and write it in your blog.

The heterodox thinkers, the ones trying to invent the next new thing, are blogging instead of sitting in the libraries. And why not? Blogging is fun. The library can be depressing. You know, all those homeless people sitting around pretending to read the newspapers, and really seeking refuge from the snow and cold.

Now, any standard of rigor for writing a blog is enforced by one’s hopes for an occasional reader to stop by. Other than that, the blog is the refuge for the dabbler and dilettante inside the writer. I am stuck with the erudition I’ve accumulated. I’m also stuck with the critical, rhetorical, and imaginative skills I possess at the moment I write these words. It’s trivial and banal to say so, except when spoken by a dilettante.

The dabbler and dilettante live inside me as the personae of homunculi. My personality is not split, it’s fractured into many pieces.

I was directed to the books I am currently reading via the Internet. It does not mean I have relaxed the standards for what I read. In fact, blogs may have raised my already high standards. My blog favorites folder represents an eclectic mix of voices and concerns. I add to the list almost everyday.

Of course, some topics become wearisome after awhile. My position on destroying Social Security remains the same. I want my money when it comes due and I want a fair return on it too. I am open to changing my desire, but no one has convinced me to do so. Sometimes you have to climb out of the rumble seat. Writing about Social Security as I just did is a way to crawl out of the rumble seat.

When does heterodoxy devolve into chaos or vapid eclecticism? Let’s approach that question with another related question. Should publication credit be given to academics who write “serious” blogs? The answer might be that an institution can reward their employees anyway they want. The issue then becomes the institution’s credibility.

What I find interesting about the blogosphere is that there are so many good writers writing interesting blogs. Dabbling and dilettantism have value. The blogosphere makes it possible to extract the value. How people get rewarded is another story, one not completely written.

Most of the “how to write books” recommend the writer not use money as their primary motivation for writing. I’m a sometimes Epicurean, so the words sound comforting to me. Epicurus’s admonitions about excessively pursuing wealth and power have fallen upon mostly deaf ears through the millennia, my ears included. My primary motive for writing anything at all is to become good enough at it so that one day someone will pay me money to do it.

And I can’t be anymore serious and honest than that, dabbler and dilettante though I am.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Heterodoxy and Blogging

A lot of people write me and say, Lynn, I really like your blog, but sometimes it seems as if you are just making stuff up. I suppose they could be right. My memory is not what it used to be now that I am old. I often do not accurately recall the reality or truth of past events and thought. But does that trivialize or negate the efficacy what I have to say?

Thinking and writing occur in the now. Not only that, thinking and writing are projects with future aims and goals. They are projections into the future with their own methodologies.

We would have no hypocrisy without the devoutly religious holy person or the serious high minded intellectual. Without hypocrisy life would lose much of its irony and humor. Life would be painted in black and white and lose its color. People who beg to have their noses tweaked should not complain when the desire becomes the fact.

Let’s face it, a metaphysics of blogging has yet to be written. I would say a metaphysics of blogging has yet to be hazarded as a project. We must cull the philosophical literature of the past to find anything meaningful to say about blogging. We return to Heidegger’s essays, “The Origin of a Work of Art”, “The Question Concerning Technology”, “What Calls for Thinking”, and “The Way to Language”, to ground our nascent metaphysical pronouncements and judgments about blogging. Would Heidegger have something to say about blogging if he was still alive? Sure he would.

Have we lost our stomach and will for heterodoxy? Where have the independent, unconventional, and unfettered spirits gone? Where are the isolated and independent scholars who while away their days in the libraries, those wonderful souls producing the next new thing?

I’ll have the answers, maybe, to those questions when I return from a three margarita lunch. The chillies rellenos sound pretty good too.

Until then, hang fire.

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

I was walking to the grocery store yesterday and measuring the merits of the arguments for evolution against intelligent design when I stepped into a big pile of dog shit. I think I’ll go with evolution. Who in their right mind would design dog shit?

Angels, Aliens, Marx, and Me

A lot of people, at least in the United States of America, believe that aliens have recently visited planet earth or that angels walk around and protect them each day, especially during those events in their lives when their luck has changed from bad to good. I’ve been lucky because I have been kidnapped by aliens. I meet them and greet them when I encounter them in human form on the street and in the bar. To be more accurate, the aliens I have met at the bar are alien angels. Yes, aliens who have passed into the great beyond and come back as alien angels dressed in human form. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to get the best of three worlds or realms, or whatever you want to call them: other planets, the great beyond, and planet earth. I renew my acquaintance with aliens I’ve met who have since died and returned as angels in human form. I swear, the last one I met looked like she had recently had a really good boob job, but I was too shy to ask.

But that is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about Karl Marx. I was talking to a guy at the bar the other week, a guy who has the same opinions as mine about the sorry state of America. I mentioned in passing that there could be a turn toward Marx if things keep going the way they are. He agreed, although he had had more to drink than me and might have assented to a lot of my assertions if I had pressed the points.

A lot of people associate Marx with Das Kapital and the Soviet Union and such, but as I recall he had many interesting philosophical insights, insights not entirely to be sold at deep discount.

So, I might reread some Marx and see if any of his metaphors are apt. It might force me to read some Hegel, but I don’t know about that. Reading Hegel seems extreme. Life is short unless you are an alien angel.

Several times in history people have emerged as thinkers who dominate thought for a hundred years or so. I’m wondering if something is happening in my life where I am being pointed in that direction, to be that next guy. Aliens, Angels, Marx, and Heidegger. The coincidence of thought and event seems too uncanny to be merely chance. Plus, I won 9 of 12 bets during the football playoffs.

I could be the guy destiny is calling. I could be the guy tapping into the mother lode of universal energy and thought, and helping redirect history and thinking.

On the other hand, I could just be a guy reading too many dead philosophers, watching too much TV, and drinking too much beer at the bar.

I will stand by my statement about the alien angel with the really good boob job until somebody proves me differently.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

What's Next?

I won’t be writing about Heidegger anytime soon. Oh, sure, I will finish reading “Being and Time”, but I won’t be writing about it. Please spare me the many thousands of e-mails importuning to continue discussing him. It ain’t going to happen.

One thing I would like to write about is the time I was kidnapped by aliens. Although it was not a painful experience, merely disorienting, I have trouble finding the right words to describe it.

I’d also like to say a few things about the angels I encounter on streets and in bars every now and then. It’s easy to relate the conversations I’ve had with them, but I want to add the emotional impact and that’s harder to do.

And of course, I’d just like to talk about the occasional epiphany that randomly arrives.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Tradition, Being, and Metaphor

There is a tradition in Western Philosophy that goes like this:

1) The world makes sense, and we can have knowledge of it.
2) Each thing is a kind of thing.
3) Each thing is a kind of thing with an essence, a set of properties, that make it the kind of thing it is.
4) There is a category, sometimes called Being, that contains everything that exists.

One way to look at this tradition is that it is a foundation for science and philosophy, a foundation hardly to be questioned.

Another way to look at this is that it is a metaphor. Being is a giant mixing bowl or stew pot that contains all the ingredients of the universe. Philosophy, like all thinking, is shot through with metaphor, so it is not a criticism of the tradition to call it a metaphor. What matters is whether the metaphor is apt, and in many cases the traditional metaphor is apt.

Yet another way to look at Being is the way Heidegger looks at it, something separate from the tradition, something more primary and immediate in our lives, thinking, and language.

I have decided to read the whole of “Being and Time”. I’m excited.

Philosophy, Fiction, and What Happens

Meditations, such as this one, written on a Sunday morning, are best left to journals and then cast aside, but I have promised myself I would write something in my blog each day. I wished I had a quick and meager story to post, but I have been working on my latest big story, which has taken up the better part of my paltry imagination.

I reread the “Introduction to Being and Time” last night and read well into “Letter on Humanism”. I am slowly learning Heidegger’s philosophical concerns and quickly becoming a fan of his, not withstanding the difficulty of his writing. I suspect that if I read German, the whole thing would go a lot easier.

Heidegger makes me think there is still room for philosophy and that it will not be completely nudged aside by science. I am thinking more in terms of philosophy of mind, the current hot area. In much the same way, Heidegger makes me think there is adequate room for fiction too.

Fiction and philosophy run together, blend into each other, and describe the feeling of what happens in our lives. If not siblings, they are cousins. The two, in their making, are a blend of imagination and analysis. It easy to assign fiction to imagination and philosophy to analysis, but try writing either a novel or a philosophical essay and you quickly find that imagination and analysis are bedrock elements required to complete either project.

I guess that is why I have quickly become entranced by what Heidegger has to say. He explores and elucidates what is behind the immediate experience of life, the feeling of what happens. Good fiction does that too.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Heidegger, Bulls, Beer, and Grammar

I was going to read Heidegger’s “Letter on Humanism” last night. I did not start it because I thought I had better reread Sartre’s “Existentialism Is a Humanism” to put it into context. I could not start that either. I was distracted from it by thoughts about the Heideggerian vocabulary.

Instead I drank Budweiser while watching the Bulls game and jotting notes about Heidegger’s vocabulary—Bulls, beer, and philosophy, yes.

When the game was over, I started thinking about my mental program for composing fiction. I decided that in addition to the layers of sentence grammar and fictional grammar, I also need a layer for metaphorical grammar. I cannot imagine any other absolute requirements for other layers than these three. I call it a program, but it is a program only in the sense that is something I could train my unconscious mind to do automatically, brilliantly, and audaciously.

It feels good to be crazy, yet have the outline of a new project determined.

I have to go back to drifting and dreaming about Being now, and unfortunately more mundane matters.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Heidegger IV

I finished reading “The Origin of the Work of Art”. Hmmm?

Next up, “Letter on Humanism”. Current score: Heidegger 4, Lynn 0.

Heidegger II & III

I read “What is Metaphysics?”. Heidegger says, “the nothing itself nihilates.” It is the famous phrase used by the Logical Positivists to ridicule “unscientific” metaphysical thinking.

I read “On the Essence of Truth.” Heidegger says, “freedom is the essence of truth.” He qualifies the assertion quite a bit after that.

I read the first section of “The Origin of the Work of Art.” I understood it and I did not crave a six pack of beer while reading it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Martin and the Editor


Just an office with a desk, bookshelves filled with books, and a small table for meetings.

The EDITOR and MARTIN sit across the table from each other. The editor massages a manuscript.

EDITOR: You do not write well.

MARTIN: I have my following.

EDITOR: Part of your following is a captive audience, which could wither if you should fall out of fashion.

MARTIN: Profound thought cannot be made more simple than the demands of its ideas.

EDITOR: Yes, so I have been told. What I am talking about is clarity though.

MARTIN: My colleagues and students seem to understand it.

EDITOR: Yes, so you keep saying. Let’s publish it as it is. It’ll make money. You are on roll, at least for now.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


I read the introduction to “Being and Time”. I did not understand it. That’s OK. I will forge ahead with the reading and intuitively grasp the concepts and language as best I can. I expect the path into the forest to be overgrown and hard traveling.

I will read “What is Metaphysics?” next.

The Train Has Already Run Off the Tracks

Just before going to bed last night, I decided I would read some short stories during the next several weeks. This morning, I have added some of the philosophy papers of Martin Heidegger to my reading list. I want to explore the concept of Being. That way I won’t have to think too much for the next couple of days.

I’ll report back if I discover the truth of any significant propositions about Being. Don’t expect anything longer than a 500 word summary though.

Recent Reading

I have been deluged with e-mails lately, many of them asking what I have been reading lately. I thought I would let everybody know via my blog. That way I won't need to respond to those many thousands of e-mails.

I read “Empire Falls” by Richard Russo. I now know why my best friend Tom says, “that man can flat out write.”

I read “Doctor Zhivago”. The fact that I read the whole thing means I must have liked it. I did think the philosophical conversations between the good doctor and Lara at the end of the book were a little bit too much and not very true to life.

I read the latest Haruki Murakami novel, “Kafka by the Shore”. I started reading Murakami stories two years ago. His latest novel did not disappoint me. It inspired to play “Destination Unknown” by Missing Persons several times on the jukebox at my local bar.

I have been reading short stories by Lorrie Moore, William Trevor, and Jorge Luis Borges. And why not? Every story I’ve read so far has been mega-awesome.

I read “The Midnight Disease” by Alice Flaherty. She’s a neurologist who suffers from hypergraphia and explains what that is all about in her book. It also explains why I am writing this gibberish in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping.

I read “The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith. I’ll be reading the rest of the Ripley novels this year if everything goes right. I love well written weird stuff.

There are a bunch of other books I read too, but they were not memorable. My apologies to you forgotten authors. Better luck next time.

For the next few days or months I’ll be reading more Trevor, Moore, and Borges short stories. And why not? They’re mega-awesome. I’d like to get through all the Flannery O’Conner stories after that.

The chance of me sticking to a reading plan are minimal. I’ll let everybody know in a month or so what I actually did read. I hope this will spare you many thousands of folks from having to write me e-mails about what I have been reading.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Old Me, New Me

The old me has moved away from home and vanished over the horizon. A new me has moved in. I am slowly becoming acquainted with him. The old me has left artifacts behind, a dirty sock under the bed, journals in the back of the closet—a perusal indicates they are not worth reading, a plastic beer mug with a baseball logo emblazoned on it, most likely a souvenir from some baseball game played decades ago. His ghost tramps around the house when he is awake, but I find he sleeps more frequently and longer.

The new me seems like a rebellious student, yet he is an old man. He’s like a temperamental child inhabiting an old man’s body. He tells me stories about how he became that way.

A couple of years ago, when he walked across the border dividing middle age from old age, he happened to take the standard battery of career fitness tests. The tests indicated, as they had in the past, that he was an analytical sort and that he should continue on with his career as a Director of Information Technology. He was not happy with those results, for he wanted the tests to say that he was creative and should become a writer. For several months he was torn between two opposite and extreme choices. One morning in early winter, he decided he would write a novel, and the writing of that novel would be his top priority. He wrote a bad novel. Then he wrote another bad novel. Now, he’s working on another bad novel.

As this new year began, he realized he was a student learning how to write. He was an apprentice teaching himself and learning from the masters who wrote the books he admired. Once he came to that conclusion, some of his exasperation, anxiety, and self loathing was expelled from inside him.

I asked him if he had any regrets about becoming a student again. “Not really,” he said. “A person is fortunate when they can become a student again upon entering old age. I have learned to enjoy the writing process no matter how easy or difficult it is on any given day. I mean, I get to make stuff up and write it down. To me that’s a pretty cool way to spend time. Another benefit is I get to read lots of good books because they are my training manuals.”

He told me he had spent four years in the Marine Corps after graduating from high school. After he was discharged, he started college. He was talking to his roommate after his first day of school. When his roommate asked him how the first day had gone, he replied that all they expected him to do was sit around and read all day and take a few quizzes every now and then about what he had read. “How much easier and better could it be?” he told his roommate.

He said learning to write was sort of like that.

I see him walking down the street. He’s coming home. I have to go now.