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August 4, 2019

This is from a letter Sigmund Freud wrote to his pastor friend Oskar Pfister:

I do not break my head very much about good and evil, but I have found little that is ‘good’ about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud,...

July 20, 2019

A recent article of mine, called "Political Correctness Is Getting Out of Hand," elicited some angry emails. Not from people who disagreed with the thesis -- it seems that not only conservatives and centrists but even most leftists think political correctness sometimes goes too far -- but from people who objected to this sentence: "Ultimately it isn’t permitted....even to state m...

July 13, 2018

[From 2006.] Reading The Alchemist, the novel that has sold tens of millions of copies. “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation.” “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” “God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you.” “There is a force that wants you to realize...

May 28, 2018

[The following thoughts are from this book.]

It’s funny that people often deprecate Marxian materialism as an explanation of society and human behavior, given that virtually no one cares much about ideas. People think they do, but basically they’re wrong. They insist that ideas, ideological motivations, and spiritual matters are very important to them....but then proceed to ignore...

February 13, 2017

[From this book.] The more one experiences the world, the more one understands how difficult it is to be “successful” and have integrity at the same time. Maybe most successful people don’t have much of a “core self” to begin with; they’re just malleable, their essence from youth is malleability. Few convictions, certainly no courage of whatever convictions they have. Depending o...

December 21, 2016

[The following is a vignette I wrote years ago when studying for my Master's in philosophy. I was taking a class in contemporary metaphysics, and was struck that the insularity and intellectual onanism of academia can, at times, be suffocating.]

Imprisoned in an ivory tower

            He came back to himself and realized that for at least a minute he hadn’t heard a word that had b...

October 18, 2016

A misadventure. [Written in 2006.]— At lunch in the campus center I saw a flyer advertising an event tonight having something to do with dating and sex. I thought ‘Sure, why not’ and went to it. Maybe I’d meet somebody. Turns out it was a meeting for members of some weird underground cult that does nothing but preach about how inferior we all are to some guy named “Jesus Christ.”...

July 9, 2016

The following is the beginning of an essay I wanted to write years ago on the concept of pretentiousness, a phenomenon the ubiquity of which stunned me. And it seemed to me that looking at the world through that lens could be pretty interesting, if the essay were done well. I quickly gave it up, though, in part because I knew no publisher would want anything to do with something...

June 30, 2016

[Old notes from my journal.] A lot of mainstream people would criticize me for immersing myself in leftist scholarship and journalism, which they would say is a closed-minded or partisan thing to do. They would say I should expose myself to all kinds of writing, not only the leftist variety. Actually, such a criticism is silly because I do read writings from a variety of viewpoin...

August 19, 2015

Leftists are sometimes criticized for being condescending toward the masses, for arguing that they are prone to displaying false consciousness in their political values and beliefs. But what is false consciousness? If you examine the notion rigorously, you’ll see that, on at least some understandings, it can make perfect sense and is often applicable. All you have to do is assume...

August 14, 2015

What is the significance of the fact that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries certain (semi-fascist) sections of the middle and upper classes in Western society started obsessing over heroism, manliness, strength, military virtues, and, conversely, society’s increasing effeminacy, “neurasthenia,” desiccation, decadence, etc.? It was indeed a near-obsession, and i...

August 10, 2015

I'm finally reading [in 2011] E. P. Thompson’s classic The Making of the English Working Class (1963). Query: why was England so impervious to social and political reform in the early 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution? Answer: in part because in the 1790s “the French Revolution consolidated Old Corruption by uniting landowners and manufacturers in a common panic [ove...

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