I confess I put my life on hold for the last 12 months chasing a ghost. It took me more than a month just to start to remember how life was. Was it worth it? I confess I have no idea. Am I done chasing ghosts? I confess my best answer is: time will tell.
The piles of books which have amassed to the left and right of me do suggest I kept on reading though. I confess I want to boast about that.
To my left, pile n°1: Kripke, Naming & Necessity; Bolaño, Amberes, El Tercer Reich & Estrella Distante; Zweig, Schachnovelle.
Across older piles lying open on pp. 150-151 for reasons I confess I forgot entirely: Gadamar, Elogio de la teoría. Which brings me to the piles to my right featuring more Gadamer, On Education, Poetry And History as well as Wer bin Ich und wer bist Du. The latter sits on top of Fitch, Saul Kripke and Peinado, Futbolistas de izquierdas. Further down in that pile: Gass, Middle C and the almost most recent one: Piketty, Le capital au XXIe siècle.
To my left, pile n° 2: Jaeger, Paideia: los ideales de la cultura griega & Aristoteles; Grundlegung einer Geschichte seiner Entwicklung.
I confess all this name dropping leaves me feeling I really have something to confess about. I am unsure however whether it is arrogance or lack of reading quality/quantity (certainly as far as fiction goes). In order not to have to dwell on that issue I’ll just mention what I’m reading now (& only talk about that one below the fold): Steven Johnson, Everything Bad is Good for You. As you can tell from the Capital letters in the title I’m turning to vulgarized science from time to time (I blame Dawkins for that) but I’m not addicted to it, yet (I might add now I’m at it that I quit smoking if, I confess, without quitting nicotine given I just have put an “e-” before my cigarettes).
I confess it was not my plan to write that many words before I got to this pink book by (the maybe venerable) Steven Johnson and the Flynn effect.
The unit of human capital writing this blog post is planned to be scrapped. End of June. This is partly because of a basic design error of almost all of the known units of human capital better know as free will. Most capitalists know free will to be a bitch to be kept at bay in production and to be abused only from the point of view of consumption. In my case I couldn’t handle being ‘owned’ anymore to continue something we started, dreaming to improve the world of education, in order to fuel some organization’s desire to make money on pushing more Theon taming (known originally as training).
I won’t put in my LinkedIn profile that my will to consume is as weak as my will to create is strong. I wonder whether there is a maximum of will meaning a stronger will to create weakens the will to consume, and vice versa. If so it might explain why the wealthy are so concerned to ensure our will to consume is stimulated. The wealthy are só smart (how else would they have become wealthy?): they most probably have enough will to create amongst their happy few to count for all of us. Anyway they have the money so we will just have to consume what they create with what little money they leave.
We can take some comfort in the ideas of Thomas Piketty: as the wealthy will appropriate more and more wealth, there will be less and less for us, leading to a system break-down. At that point most of us will either be death or die quickly in the service of one of the factions of the wealthy, but at least the happy few will become unhappier and fewer for the briefest of moments. It’s not much but we’ll take what we get.
I’m just being bitter, of course. On top of not making any sense. Bottom-line is: I didn’t get it my way. Continue reading
I had visitors yesterday: an old friend who moved abroad and visited his home country with his kids. His eldest is a year younger than mine is. The discussion came to choosing the right path for their higher education. My son chose politics. His son is about to chose civil engineering. There is no discussion these choices are the right ones for the two respective adolescents. The interesting part of the conversation was my friends’ sons’ question to my son on his choice: “Qué es la salida?” (could have been ‘Cuál’, my Spanish is kind of rusty).
This sums up the modern view of education: you learn to be able to land the right job. But whilst the job may be the right one, is this the right conception? Continue reading
Forget about getting, I am an old man. I’m too mild to hate and those things I do hate are mostly unknown by readers of this site or are things readers of this site like. Neither do I have any confessing left in me, I rarely do stuff that is enough out of the ordinary to warrant confession. If I do, I already tell everybody so there is no edge in retelling it under pseudonym. As to food, I’m not even very good at eating it. Movies I barely watch any and – by the time I see any television worth spoiling – it has been seen by over half of the world already
In fine, it has been fun while it lasted but, before I need to confess that I started hating Tuesday Hatred, it is time to stop. If you’re interested in taking it over ‘click to continue’ below to read all about the process of such a take-over including, in the event no take-over interest is noted, what would be the plan B for Tuesdays.
Before all that let me just share one last genuine hatred with you all. I hated in the abstract the idea of people working like hell for close to 50 weeks in the year just to be able to spent around 2 weeks in a completely thoughtless state enjoying an all-inclusive holiday in a resort. I know have spent 5 days in such a resort & can turn this abstract hatred into a concrete one. Not that The Family didn’t enjoy the holiday, it was sufficiently short and we managed to pick out one thing to enjoy outside of the resort for every non-traveling day. Still, the sight of the same people occupying the same exact pool-side spot on every day comes awfully close to seeing people literally burned to death so slowly that they can’t possibly die as a result of it. It just goes to show how limited Dante’s imagination really was.
I confess it may sound like a pathetic bit of bragging – or at least fishing for compliments – if I were to say I am currently training for a half-marathon, getting started on writing a graphic novel (I’ve drawn the hero’s head!) and trying to learn to play guitar. Hell, I confess that when I put it that way, it makes me sound like some (delusional) college kid who’s decided this is the way he’s finally going to be a hit with the ladies. Or maybe somebody who’s making a conscious effort to have better party conversation available. The truth, I confess, is these are just things I wanted to do for years and over the past year or so I’ve finally gotten off my ass.
I believe completing each item was, in one way or another, part of my New Year’s resolutions in 2008 or 2009. I suspect I’ve talked about each of those activities multiple times in this space. After spending too long saying you want to try things, though, people stop wanting to hear about it. There’s a shift from “Oh, that would be cool” to subtle glances around the dinner table with an understood “He’s still on this kick?”
When the things you want to do – but aren’t doing – pile up, you find yourself in serious danger of just being a bore or a blowhard. Likely both. I mean, if you just settle into complacency to the point where you don’t even have ideas on how you’d like to be different, that’s one thing. On some level, it seems worse to have ideas for things you want to do and to choose inactivity out of simple laziness.
“What do you want to do?”
“Run a marathon. Write a book. Learn to play guitar. Learn to speak Spanish. Get a better job.”
“What are you doing?”
“Working my way through my DVR backload. Significant progress has been made.”
I confess this problem lived almost solely in my head. The above conversation never took place anywhere else (thank God). I don’t think anybody, even my wife, spent any time worrying about whether I was going to do any of these things. But to realize you’re falling short of the person you want to be – especially when many of your goals are easily within reach – is a grim reality and a very real problem. So gradually, I’ve decided to do something about it.
I confess the biggest reason I have for doing so is an offering of sorts to my wife. It’s just her and I in our marriage, as we are very likely not going to have kids. That means we’re going to see a lot of each other over the rest of our lives, and the vast majority of that time is going to be spent alone together. For that reason, I confess I feel something of an obligation to her to try to keep myself interesting.
This is not really a story. But it is a Sunday. The color is red.
I was driving. When was I not driving? I’m Q, he said. I am I, stopped stammering. Take it easy, Guido, I’m not here. He said. What I wanted to do is go to the bathroom. Cars have no bathrooms. That’s a pain in the ass, that is. Or should I look over to the left? Just look ahead Q opined seemingly already tired of being confined to saying stuff. It was the universal thing to do, for the English looking to the left when talking to someone whilst driving would be odd. Quite odd. Or at least a tad odd. The fact of the matter was that I felt uncomfortable. A fact of the matter you might already have inferred from the bathroom bit.
Let me break the silence, Q said.
I hate super successful people. I hate them with a vengeance because they tend to think that any hatred directed to them is a matter of jealousy. It is not. Unless, that is, wanting to be a hypocritical bastard falls under the category of jealousy. Hell, I will go out of my way and link to the Wall Street Journal on this one. One of the basic design flaws of the current system is best summed up without words. Here’s the picture:
No, I don’t mean that there is a one percent. Such a sentence is the result of being too lazy to review your own stuff. I would say: “Shame on me!” but who cares? I don’t. It should have been: No, I don’t mean there can be a 100 percent without there being a one percent. Which is probably equally unintelligible.
I mean that the one percent is successfully convincing the majority of the 99 percent to want to be like them. The American Dream is the basis of our nightmare. Continue reading
I confess that I’m politically correct. Somehow I can’t make sense of not trying to be correct. Not that I am a perfectionist. Far from it, I am more of a post-perfectionist. It’s just that I don’t see where it helps to be impolite. Sure, it may bring some relief but isn’t relief best sought in private? Call me old fashioned for not wanting to be taken back to times wherein people interacted in more primitive ways.
I further confess that I am post-modern. This in the only sense in which I ever could make sense of that concept: that there is no modernity that stands to premodernity in the way prehistory stands to history. There’s only one real break in history and that is the one that caused there to be history at all. Since then: “Nous sommes tous des déracinés.” It is a pity that the closest English word I know of is ‘uprooted’. It is so crass, it doesn’t do justice to the mellow feeling of melancholy for roots that never were. It doesn’t do justice to the fact that we were always like that, but that it took us about 10K years before we started to really realize it. We have been uprooted from the time we started to create roots.
Pues, estoy un poco pomo. Ain’t that nice?
I finally confess that this frequency is killing me. It also keeps me even more away from my serious work. See how I resisted the temptation to put that in quotes? Bravo me!