Monday, September 17, 2012

Ei qui hoc legat ~

I am hoping (aside from wanting to finish & digest Mr. Clor's volume) to re-read Marcus Aurelius soon. I've only been through it once, and there was a lot there.  As always, the problem is practice, putting notions into practice, which enterprise is commonly fouled by attachments, desires - the pull of pleasure and the drag of habit.

I wish I was free to read; retired or in hospital or whatever; there's a lot I want to browse or study.  Generally, either work or family or my own fatigue intervene, and then (pro pudore) my own indolence or hyper-susceptability to distraction take care of what little time remains.  Add to it that I'm a slow reader, a slow reader with a near-useless memory, and you can plainly see that I'm swimming upstream in regard to my reading. 

Saturday I found the Hayward Library street-corner book-sale going on.  While my Lovely Elle went to the bank and the farmer's market, I reviewed the books, and even after thinning out and re-pruning what I was interested in, I still took away some six or seven books. 
  • Coming Out Conservative by Marvin Liebman - an anti-communist activist, Conservative fundraiser and propagandist, a buddy (more or less) of Wm. F. Buckley Jr., etc., these are his memoirs about being Gay in the heart of the straight & narrow, and coming out only late in life. 
  • The Accidental Activist by Candace Gingrich - Newt Gingrich's cousin or somesuch, who also came out as a Lesbian after years of keeping it under wraps, her memoir.
  • Letters of Jefferson (purely pleasure reading)
  • a life of Sacajawea - for I'm woefully ignorant of the Lewis & Clarke travail - and I've always been interested in what her story was.
  • And ---
The Upstairs Nothing intervenes - I cannot recall the other books!  They seemed important enough at the time to add to my burgeoning collection of fact, fantasy and filibustering, but damned if I can recall them. 

However, I do recall a couple of the ones I put back:
  • Alexandre Dumas, Los Tres Mosqueteros, en Español.
  • Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography and quotes from Poor Richard's Almanac (which, actually, I may have picked up). 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On Moderation, by Harry Clor.  Have begun this again - will try to study and grasp and evaluate his essays.  At this point:  Recommended; a sober look at the lost virtue. 
12-SEP-2012 id est 12-SEP-2765 AUC

Rant-orandum to Self: 

It is hard to stay bouyant.  The world, unfolding as it would, seems hopeless - economically, in terms of work (my laziness trumps my pursuit of goals), in terms of my poor old children (none of them normal enough to get ahead in the world), and in terms of those never-to-be-fulfilled desires that cling to me "Like Tiberian bats" (Star Trek reference).  By definition, as it were, the world is in no way under my control!

But when I say "the world" - what am I really talking about?  The objective congregations of humans, existing and animated, that I encounter wherever I go?  The greater flow of mass-struggles and political events as revealed in the news?  Or is it a world defined or outlined by my contacts & interactons with whatever portions of the world happen to have been surrounding me at any given time? 

Have started Seneca - On a Happy Life.  Sometimes the old gasser admits he's well schooled in vice and temptations -that is, sensual pastimes, intoxicating pleasures, dalliances, schemes and manipulations?  He doesn't elaborate.  It's tempting to rationalize my own stupra based on his scant admission. Certainly, I do go 'round and 'round with my problems, and think and re-think my relationship with the Stoic code.  It may help to pin this relationship down.

Pursuit of pleasure is natural, desire for pleasure is natural - it is natural (to some degree) to desire beautiful women who are not your spouse, or to desire sweets or meats instead of brussel sprouts.  But these desires, while understandable, do not lead to the apatheia that would free us, but rather, as desires, they warp us to self-serving ways (the self being desirous), such that we form Emotions (false opinions) which then entail frustrations, envies, jealousies, dismays and despairs.  Worse still if you are born with a neuro-chemical setup that perpetually drags back in the direction of dismay. 

Yet here is a crux - if Nature is provident, why does it provide so many failures, so many weaknesses?  What would be ruined if we were ALL active, capable, vigilant, virtuous?  If Reason is man's natural Good, why isn't it enfranchised?  Why do we linger over sex and provender?  I expect that, actually, Virtuous folk don't, but we Merely Physical (merely animated) folk do.  We vulgarian folk pursue the back alleys and broad ways, seeking pleasure or success, even if we have no clue or hope of ever finding such: that pursuit remains an imperative, a default orientation. 

Myself, I remain astonished and stymied by my inability to interact, my inability to command my self, my inability to respond swiftly and well. Where is the will to power?  The will to enjoy the game? 

Just now, I am at my workplace.  I have an obligation to support my family, but my distracted and lazy nature has me "philosophizing" instead of working at my assigned tasks.  Such conduct could easily translate into being fired or laid off.  This is irrational, given my obligation (to provide income); I should be responsive to what I am obligated to do. 

On the other hand, it isn't that I ever sought employment for any selfish reason - survival, yes, inegration into the human world, yes, the basic respect of others, yes - but not for any spontaneous urge, not as a desire.  So, while it is rational that I work (to support my kids and preserve the home), it is not out of desire but domestic necessity.  There is no unity in my purpose; there is an assent to employment, but very little will involved.  I pursue that which I would (naturally) avoid. 

Again, where is my will to enjoy the game, to take part and run with the pack?  If I am intended to be Other, to be lazy and silly instead of effective or sexy, then ... why?  Oh, my God!  Back to the "Why?" question!  There is no "why" to it - it is chaos and causation, it is Fortune.  Give it up.  Move along.  Don't loiter in the "If Only" neighborhood!  I have been given a defective whole - there is no other, better whole for me; I am what I am.