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September 15, 2018

[Here's an excerpt from a book on 'humanism' I wanted to write back in 2006. It's from a passage in which I was arguing against postmodern forms of literature, with their skepticism of old-fashioned narrative and all the other elements of a traditional literary aesthetic. Juvenile in some respects, this passage might at least contain a few thoughts that are defensible.]

...I’d adv...

August 14, 2018

The profundity of language.— You can gain great insight into the human condition, into the nature of the mind, by studying the evolution of words. For example, what’s the significance of the fact that words like illusion, elude, allude, and delude are variations on the Latin word for ‘play’? Johan Huizinga discusses this in Homo Ludens....

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June 10, 2018

The journal I've kept for two decades is full of notes on books I've read. Sometimes I reread these notes and think it's possible that people might find them of interest, so I post them on my website. Here's one set of old notes on a classic book by the psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott. I happen to be skeptical of psychoanalysis, since it lacks a scientific foundation and consists l...

October 3, 2015

L’enfer, c’est les autres?— Contrary to what Sartre pessimistically thought, if hell exists, it is not other people. It is the absence of other people. An eternity of not being reflected in an other. After a while, in fact, the self would simply dissolve for lack of something to contrast itself with and define itself in relation to. The “abstract Other” in its consciousness, whic...

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...

September 15, 2014

The psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott said it simply—one of those simple but profound truths worth remembering: “It is creative apperception more than anything that makes the individual feel that life is worth living.” Creativity is not peculiarly human, but humans are peculiarly creative. We have a need to create, and to love, and to inquire—to express ourselves and see ourselves re...

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