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June 10th, 2014

12:54 pm - Necessity
"The current attitude toward love usually ignores the element of want or need, for it spreads from the protected children of the middle class who have never seen want face to face and whose needs wander among the luxuries, since they are provided with the necessities, of life. But need is more important than sentiment, for it simply is while the latter comes and goes and enjoys its own ambiguities. Hence another's need lays obligations upon us which we cannot reject without moral damage to ourselves, while another's sentiment is merely an invitation to share in the exploitation of his leisure."
-- J.V. Cunningham, "The Journal of John Cardan"

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March 1st, 2014

08:00 pm - Exorcism
Out, Majnu! Trouble me no more with your mad passion, thou sickly pessimist. Love is the product of will, and yours is a will to death.

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February 27th, 2014

10:22 pm - Virulence
"The sick are the greatest danger to the healthy; it is not from the strongest that harm comes to the strong, but rather from the weakest."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals (Treatise II, S. 14)

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February 8th, 2014

12:52 am - Tertium non datur
". . . if the deeper meaning of philosophical quarrels and even literary polemics were looked into, traced back to the heart by some relentless analysis, there is no doubt that we should find at the root of our opinions and our favorite theories some strange source of implacable determination, some obscure blind will to be right by exterminating the enemy. Convictions are simply and secretly murderous."
-- Paul Valery, "Historical Fact" (1935)

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January 9th, 2014

02:38 pm - Potential
"Whatever some hypocritical ministers of government may say about it, power is the greatest of all pleasures. It seems to me that only love can beat it, and love is a happy illness that can't be picked up as easily as a Ministry."
-- Stendhal, "De l'Amour" (1822)

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January 8th, 2014

09:38 pm - Authenticity
"Although I am an anarch, I am not anti-authoritarian. Quite the opposite: I need authority, although I do not believe in it. My critical faculties are sharpened by the absence of the credibility that I ask for. As a historian, I know what can be offered."
-- Ernst Jünger, Eumeswil

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January 3rd, 2014

07:02 pm - Heterarchy
"No es a resolver contradicciones, sino a ordenarlas, a lo que podemos pretender."
-- Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios, #1,836

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November 27th, 2013

12:23 pm - Horror Vacui
"There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ."
-- Pascal, Pensees

This is incredibly honest, as Pascal often is: there is a hypothetical something, which, given its certain truth, becomes an unshakeable axis about which our entire world can freely revolve without flying apart. God is the proverbial perpetual motion machine that solves all our problems; it's the hypostatic idea of unity that provides order, the ground of an unshakeable happiness. The naturalist heresy is to suppose that the world is already orderly, without needing any extraneous help. But clearly it sometimes seems disorderly, and this needs accounting for; even naturalism needs an answer to the problem of evil. The answer usually given is that the semblance of disorder is the product of our expectations, and that our evils are symptomatic of our ignorant grasping after the impossible. It's the toughest of medicines to swallow, but the fact that it proposes an end to evil makes it, in a sense, at least as grandiose as anything religion has ever offered.

But notice that it leaves something out: the very notion of 'apparent disorder' presupposes a divergence between appearance and reality that simply cannot be swallowed without lapsing into dualism, back into the old pit of real versus ideal, skepticism versus solipsism, and all the other evils of philosophy. The Devil is back again, just when you thought you'd vanquished him. Must we simply accept his existence, whilst continually trying to shoo him away? Or is there another way? The only other solution I can see is, as usual, is the Buddha's: accept error, suffering, evil as your bedrock, and build the temple around it.

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August 6th, 2013

05:23 pm - 'Original Sin'
From the beginning life holds death in me.
Twin-born these needs: to be and not to be.

-- Helen Pinkerton

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05:17 pm - Recantation
Whilst I've come to think that Bodhidharma's outright abandonment of intellect ran very much counter to the spirit of what's actually expressed in the Sutta Pitaka, the Ch'an school has emphasized at least one very valid point: that truth lay not in words, but in experience. It is said that Huineng's monastery kept only one copy of the sutras for reference -- right next to the toilet.

Sakyamuni himself said that what he taught in the suttas was but a handful of leaves (as fit, Huineng might have implied, for reading as for wiping one's arse); the Dhamma was the tree. And it is so: in these matters, I am discovering, it is vitally important to study the original discourse of the master -- not to better memorize his doctrine, but rather to acquire his method, after which you may freely pass on the books.

For a start, if you actually RTFS, you find things like this:

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. . . . 'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. [etc.]" (The Kaccayanagotta Sutta)

Which would have spared me much earlier foolishness -- and Huineng too for that matter, had the illiterate peasant been able read them whilst on the shitter. It is there, plain as day and irreconcilable with Mahayanism: to say that "fundamentally there is not a single thing" is prima facie evidence that one has missed the boat, and fallen precisely into what Sakyamuni derided as ucchedavaada. It's straight up heresy, and Nagarjuna at least was wiser than this: you're neither allowed to say that anything -- absolutely, unconditionally -- is or is not.

And the reason is not hard to see: all things are determined by the conditions of their existence, and if these conditions are extinguished then so are the things. This is paticcasamuppada, the core of the Dhamma. (Often incorrectly confused with one particular application of it.) The conditions form an inseparable unity with the things themselves. This much you can verify in your own experience; inflating it to the alleged 'higher truth' of fundamental nonexistence of things, which is by definition nothing we can experience, is going an inch too far, and in metaphysics an inch is as good as a mile. With truth as with art, the division into 'higher' and 'lower' is a fiction and a disservice.

Appearance does indeed coincide with reality in all phenomena, but equating these with samsara and nibbana respectively is just nonsense; the latter is by definition the negation of the former, and the false analogy could only have seemed natural by first adopting the above fallacy of 'conventional' vs. 'absolute' truth. There is only one kind of truth, and you're living it right now whether you recognize it or not; that truth is never beyond magic, but all the same it is truth, and magic is but its means of expression.

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