I Speak, I Desire, I Undergo

We used to think that there were three things that we did, signified by three ancient Greek words: logos, eros, and pathos.

Logos means speaking, thinking, but also picking out or gathering together.  Aristotle said a human being was a living being capable of logos.  The Gospel of John said in the beginning was the logos which means the word, but also the connection between a world of timeless ideas and our world of blood and strife.  A Greek explanation of the idea of incarnation – of the divine manifesting itself in our world.  Logos means logic too.  These ideas are all connected — the divine incarnation, gathering, thinking, speaking. They are the human ability to transcend the flux and chaos of the moment by gathering together what is important and thereby leaping over the stream of time.

Eros, cupid, a blind god with an arrow who causes sexual desire.  Sexual desire, famously, is no friend of logic.  We want to have sex first and come up with the reason later, if ever.  But more generally Eros is all desire — everything which binds, attaches, and connects.  Eros is the child of fullness and poverty says Diotima to Socrates in the Symposium.  We have desire because we are empty and desire to be full — but we are full of something — emptiness. We are full of desire.  Eros is also a divine spark that gets us to jump out of our skins, but it is crazy.  At least it is different from logos.

Pathos is undergoing. It’s the mirror image of eros.  Eros brings me out of myself actively — I actively desire (although of course it is passive since I am shot with the arrow of eros).  Pathos is suffering.  Pathos is emotion — the pathetic fallacy.

What we all are is a bundle of logos, eros, and pathos.  And that’s what we used to think.

But then we met some people across the mountain and they will have none of it. They have all these different animals that each tribe is forbidden to eat.  And the are that animal.  And for them the cassowary tribe, the bear tribe, the ichneumon wasp tribe have nothing in common with the other tribes.  There is no logos or pathos or eros that can unite an ichneumon wasp man with a cassowary man.  They don’t even call them both men.  And the rivers that they fight over are the same. They don’t even think they are all rivers — they call them Er, Samo, Del, Fil, Tu, Em, A, O.  All completely different.

What do we do?  Obviously we desire them, try to understand them, and suffer from them.  What do they do?  They charge at us full of fury wearing masks of their animal totems.

How can you not desire and want to understand and feel strongly about people as weird as that?  Who could resist?

Not us!


The Stone that Fits in the Hand

Found it in the forest under damp leaves — very lightly speckled.  Why is it I wonder that nature fits my torn-loose heart, my craving hand?  Wendy said: Cause it’s nature your heart’s torn loose from, and nature your hand craves.  Carol said: Cause you heart’s a worn-smooth stone.  Jacquie said: Cause you’ve been looking for something to fit that hand a long long time.  Arlen said: And so has the stone.  Tan-Patarasamara said: The sky fits the land, the land fits the sea, the I fits the you, and both fit we.

We all got up from the grass and smoothed our skirts and took each others hands.  There were fireflies signalling longing to each other, mosquitos drawn by our blood, and far above the stars were droning, and also deep within us our electrons were droning and buzzing.  It became harder and harder to say what we wanted to say and also less necessary.

The words of my song fit the evening and everybody’s mood.


How Do Philosophical Pragmatists and Deconstructionists Explain Lies?

Richard Rorty and others articulated a powerful criticism of the idea that for a sentence to be true means that it corresponds to a free-standing fact. For one thing, it’s not clear — how does a sentence — marks on paper or events in a brain — correspond to a fact — the moon going around the Earth? For another it seems to ignore how sentences are a part of our lives, intertwined with our needs and purposes, our bodies, and our environment.

Rorty (drawing on a bunch of other philosophers) put forward the idea that sentences are like tools. The sentence “water quenches thirst” is true because it is part of a whole toolchest for running our lives. It helps us get things done — for example it helps us quench our thirst. We should view the relationship of scientific vocabulary — “H20 quenches thirst” and regular vocabulary “water quenches thirst” along the lines of how we view the relationship of mechanical jackhammers and plain ordinary hammers. The science is more powerful and has wider application, but in its own place “water quenches thirst” is true.

If that’s the case what should we say about lies? For example suppose somebody says “Pepsi quenches thirst better than water”. That’s not true. But it has a purpose obviously — its purpose is to sell Pepsi.

I think lies for the pragmatist (or deconstructionist) are false tools offered to us with malicious intent. If there is a hammering contest and you give me a hammer that is deliberately misweighted, you are like the liar proffering “Pepsi quenches thirst better than water” for your own nefarious ends.

Like true sentences lies can come interwoven with other malicious practices. The person selling a bogus cure for diabetes could also throw in for free a bogus blood sugar tester which says that the diabetes cure is working, even though it isn’t. The sellers of Pepsi can mount a whole political campaign (they did) saying fat makes us ill, not sugar.

This is in my view what is going down with the current administration’s lying.

An interesting question is are they lying to themselves? Some are, I’m sure. President Trump I’d imagine looked out at a huge crowd, thought it was really huge, and couldn’t bear the possibility that it wasn’t the biggest ever, so he told himself a lie, and then reinforced the lie with a story about how the media who told the truth must be lying.

Trumps anger with the media and his desire to call them a pack of liars is understandable; I often feel the same thing about my bathroom scale.


The In-Between Person or Overlap Child

You know I think that whenever two people meet or spend time together or talk or in any way interact they create a third person who is the sum of the two of them.  Some of the overlap children endure for but a moment.

So, two people passing in a crowd, one stops for a moment to let the other one pass and the overlap child is that moment of collaborative pedestrianism.  Sometimes they last longer and we give them the marvelous names of marriage or love or friendship, or rivalry, or the terrible names of enmity, jealousy, and hatred.  Some of them last a life or longer as, strictly speaking,the children of a marriage are the issue not of the parents directly but of their overlap child, and a constitution the child of the multiple overlaps of the founders and their constituents, and the overlaps with overlaps.

The king fears being overthrown, Saturnly by his overlap child and always limits it.  Whenever he sees the man who makes his gold cup he takes care that the overlap is minimal and straitened.  All the overlap between me and my cup-bearer shall ONLY be a transaction issuing forth in a gold cup.  Because he is a frightened king.  He neuters himself and wherever his gaze falls the overlap children wither.  Let’s not be the frightened king.  Every moment we interact with another human beings teems with the possibility of abundance.


America’s Sweetheart, Contrapositive the Cat

America’s sweetheart, contrapositive the cat

Is one of those creatures that is not an animal

But figures itself forth as such, but it speaks

like a man.  Generally these amphibolous productions

Are depicted in the form of a cartoon.  They are strange

Eldritch, weird, exciting, not-quite-right

Because they have the vocal organs in this case of a cat

And a body evolved to the demands of cat life — catching rodents live

And eating them, copulating with cats, and so on but

They talk rationally.  They express themselves like Man.

If you ask Aristotle Contrapositive is a Man.

He is a zoikon logon — a living thing that talks.

And why?  He was formed by the random action of natural selection

With the form and figure of a cat but then human artifice

Also a product of natural selection looped back again

And made him speak.  And carry out so many japes

And wonders and gallimaufries what with losing the baby’s

Head in the window pane and falling through the frying pan

To Nibsy the Newboy’s Funny Fairyland

And Lost in the Building Site, and chasing a Mouse

Into the hospital for the criminally insane…

But here’s the thing, the prospect of a higher form

Looping back to cast effective action on a lower form

And shape it to itself happens all the time.  It happens every moment.

The Eternals came back and made us talk like them — at times, not always

At times, at times, and every moment, we  loop back upon ourselves

Ventriloquizing future through present, but soft

Wally the Dog approaches and he carries

a brick


The Team Faces Additional Challenges

Too bad because I gotta say I thought the challenges they faced

Already were just about fixing  to administer the coup de grace

But now I hear uh-uh the bambinos must face more

Catch the lost dog in the street etc. while nobody’s minding the store

Poor team, poor us, every damn body’s poor

who drowning to the nose holes gets to drink a drizzle more

You heard the reason I bet why backstabbing assassins shoot up like an mf-in’  tree

It’s so some day they can be destroyed, destroyed utterly

Won’t that be nice?    Breathing from nose, ears, heart, body, mouth

Feeding mangos from the north to pet polar bears from the south

And we won’t even remember the words bad and good

And Ben David will write lyrics with his best bud Ibn Daoud



You Know Why the Old Guy Did It?

Did what?

Create the universe.


He wanted to kill me, so he made the whole universe to hide my death in the universal conflagration as one might hide a grain of sand on a beach or a puff of breath in a hurricano!

Hide it from who?

He looked from side to side, licked his lips, leaned in close to me.  The cold wind skittered an empty coffee cup.



Love Poem to Miss Tanita Gravlax, Deceased

THE INVITATION: A Love Poem for Titina Gravlax (Deceased)

She obviously thought it was a smart thing to say

Or she wouldn’t have said it. And he thought this was

A smart thing to say, though it obviously wasn’t.

Oh Monkey Joe, it’s just you and me, these days

And some days not you and sometimes not me

Cause I met you coming out of math class on a slushy day

And you invited me to notice spheres

moving up and moving down and moving sideways, balls in light.  Also hairs.

And I obviously noticed them before – everybody notices them

Except the pathologically insane: Holy Shit, Sherlock

It’s Father Brownian motion, hey girl-girl looking at dust

It’s nothing but dust you’re looking at.  Dust in light.

Let’s analyze that. “Nothing but” what are the other nothing buts?

Love/sex, Life/death, dogs/beggars

“Nothing but” is nothing but

Evasive action! The little love is nothing but a great big fear.

And as for “nothing” you know I think

That old pun “nothing”/no thing is just garbage.

Me too! Me too! Who said it was a thing? Morgenbesser

Had the plain decency to ask his charges

Is my fist a thing? Is the sky a thing?

Is the sky a thing? Fuck yeah!

The sky’s a thing. Is anything else a thing?

Trust me paisan the sky’s a thing if anything’s

a thing. Is anything a thing? Deep in my greasy brain I synthesized it

That which you and I shared when we shared floating dust

Deep in the gunky hole I helped them to do it

I helped them to pull it together. I helped them trust!

I helped them pull it off! Me, me! . Men in hats.

Coming damp with snow melt from the subway

My father called “The Culver Line”.

Line cause it goes in both directions infinitely. Culver cause-

Obviously they’re all gone a long long time ago.

Listen, Gabi and you can hear them breathing

Trying to articulate thoughts they never did.

Perhaps they couldn’t. Perhaps they could but never got the chance

Gabi, my heart, did you know in Sanskrit that the gap

Between the articulated and unarticulated thought

Is called Purusha? And that it lies upon a serpent

Ananta sayanan to rest?

Between the destruction of one world

and the whelping of a wonderful wet new one?

Of course you knew! Waiter another round of the same!

Infinitesimal pickles and fried foods from another land

If you look close enough they look like burgers


Studying Them That Murder Us

How smart are people who abuse us, manipulate us, and even go to the point of murdering us?  It’s an interesting question in US politics these days.

This question used to come up when I was studying Heidegger.  A lot of people studying him were Jews, and they were all human beings, and Heidegger was an enthusiastic apologist for murdering Jews, and other human beings.  Back in the day there were three responses to this:

  1. It doesn’t matter because Heidegger’s thought is really interesting and true.
  2. It does matter.  Heidegger was a Bad Man and we shouldn’t study him.
  3. Maybe Heidegger didn’t really know what he was doing.  He was just a so-so Nazi, and wasn’t really that into it.

Option 3 is idiotic and false and should be ignored.

What interests me now is whether option (1) might have hidden a more sinister, creepy option

4) We really should study people who murdered us because they must have been pretty smart to murder us!

I think that’s a creepy and scary option because it leads to

5)Let’s murder people too — if we aren’t, we’re dumb.

And yet I think it’s a good idea to understand them that wants to murder us, so as to prevent it.  And maybe cure them if that’s possible.

If Heidegger were alive today could he be cured?  Possibly only if he wanted to be, and he probably wouldn’t want to be.