There’s nothing out there. It is as if he finally reached the end of the world he had always imagined as a child. He used to struggle with the idea of infinity. How could that be possible? Everything must have an end. But when he tried to imagine such an end, he was perplexed. He imagined a huge brick wall stretching indefinitely in all directions. But, of course, the obvious question always arose: What lies beyond the wall? Now standing on his porch, staring out at the valley ahead, all he sees is a dark gray massif blotting out his entire field of vision, like his brick wall.
He would thank God for the vibration in his pocket, but he is not that hypocritical. His beliefs are extremely scarce nowadays: the Glock 22 at his waist is one of them; God does not make it to the list. But it is with heartfelt gratitude to the goddess Fortuna that he does one of the things he hates most and picks up the cell phone in his pocket — at least his trance is over, and he finds the necessary decisiveness to exit his daughter’s room. He does not look back as he gently closes the door.
The day is almost over and I am struck by despair that is now known to me. I haven’t written any post yet, I have none saved for a moment like this, and, what is worse, I do not have the motivation to write. However, write I must. As a friend of mine always says (referring to the habit of running every day): when it is hard, when there is no mood, when all you want is not doing it is precisely the moment when you most should do it — only then is there true merit. And so I force myself to write. But all that comes to my mind is the absurd violence we live in, and every word I write bothers me.
When a policeman is shot and killed, it is not hard to understand; life in the streets is dangerous, but we know someone must live it if we expect to have a minimum of order and security. So, when that happens, the gossip is about knowing exactly what has occurred: Was it a coward criminal deed? Was it during combat? Or was it the policeman’s corruption that eventually killed him? But we never hear someone questioning the “merit” of such death — policemen and criminals die by the bullet, and that’s it. But when someone dies by jumping from a precipice with small wings between the arms, then the gossip is of a different nature.
This post reproduces my review of the book “How to read a book: the classic guide to intelligent reading“, by Mortimer J. Adler and Dr. Charles Van Doren, posted a while back on Amazon. It is the recursive book I mention on a previous post called Teachers All Around.
Ethics provides “a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life.” Value, according to Ayn Rand, is “that which one acts to gain and/or keep.” Value presupposes an entity capable of acting to achieve a goal in the face of an alternative. Where there is no alternative, there are no possible goals and values. The fundamental alternative of life or death is the precondition of all values. This shows that life should be our ultimate value, something to be pursued as an end in itself, the standard for all other values.
I envy a writer’s block. It presupposes a writer feeling something, a full heart contrasting to a blank page and finding in that contradiction the motive for despair. Words pounding from the inside, trying to rip the skin, yearning for the freedom only the page can provide. But they are not free, for there is a jailer: taste — otherwise anything can fill a page. I envy a writer’s taste too. My desperation comes from reasoning that goes nowhere, from empty propositions combining floating concepts, from fallacious arguments combining biased propositions. My desperation comes from fake premisses becoming surreal conclusions, which in turn become fake premisses and then surreal conclusions again, like I am walking on a Moebius strip, twisting my own path into an endless, aggravating loop. My desperation doesn’t come from feelings that don’t become words. There are none. Absurdity reigns, but I ignore the feeling. I ignore feeling. I pretend reasoning suffices. Man is the animal that thinks, or is he not? But isn’t him the animal that feels too? Emotions — real ones — are not just sense perceptions connecting reality to some organ. Yes, they do depend on reason — partially. You habituate yourself to value this and that in such a way as to feel it just like you do. You could force yourself to feel otherwise — perhaps — but not today. Today you are a slave obeying the winner of the Platonic conflict going on inside your soul. Or is it you the winner? Whatever the motor generating that feeling, when it blossoms, it is unique to man. No animal feels like we do: mirth and sorrow, pride and brokenness, satisfaction and anger. No animal feels achievement in his bones or the joy of being alive. No animal wants revenge with all his heart only to feel ashamed when he realizes it’s not his heart speaking, but something smaller and darker and baser. Both feelings — revenge and shame — attempt to rewrite the present: the first broods about the future; the second, about the past — both useless. No animal is that stupid. They have more important things to do: survive is one. And we have even more important things to do: live is one. Yet we don’t. Not really. It is human feeling that will eventually fill the page: life abstracted — not words or thoughts or arguments. These you see above are words, mere words. All of them hemmed in by a single too-long a paragraph as if there could be art enough to justify that. There simply isn’t any reason to break the “line of thought”, the line of “non-feeling”. This is just me trying to write nonstop, to feel while doing so, and failing miserably. I stop and I don’t feel. Words are forceful; emotions nonexistent. Envy is the most I feel; Oh, if that would at least suffice! I envy writers. I envy those who feel. Yet I cherish reason and logic. Is there any logic in that? At least I don’t feel writer’s block. I am not a writer. I’ll never be.
For the vast majority of my life, I have favored reading nonfiction over fiction, using the argument that since “truth is stranger than fiction”, why waste my time with “invented truths”? Needless to say that I was profoundly wrong. But I say that now just to explain why, during that same stretch of my life, I have read nonfiction as if it were fiction. I read it page by page, enjoying the mystery of understanding gradually unfold in front of my eyes, yearning to reach the end of the book as if the murderer of an Agatha Christy’s story would be revealed. It was this naive (not to say stupid) that I made a feeble attempt to face Aristotle’s “Metaphysics” three years ago. The trauma was so strong that only now I am recovering. Boy, I wish I believed in God or any lesser superstition! Because now I’ll need all the help I can muster to wrestle with this tome.
SUMMARY: Even after the advent of the state, the family continues to be the basic political unit of society, but the woman, whose position was central to the family, becomes increasingly subordinate to man as agriculture and property develop.