9/10/06

Aphorisms I


On People

The fundamental rule for the self-preservation of the ego: To excuse one’s own failures and weaknesses by finding excuses for other people's successes and strengths.

A circle of friends would be torn apart by gossip, envy, competitiveness and jealousy were it not for the glue that keeps it all together: secretiveness.

A friend must be successful enough to warrant our admiration, but not successful enough to arouse our envy.

They say a person not pleased with themselves is incapable of pleasing others. On the contrary, a person not pleased with themselves is always pleasing to others.

Nothing offends our sensibilities more than those who lack the skill of talking about themselves without actually talking about themselves.

Aesthetics outweighs virtue as the true unit of social currency. In refined social circles, truth, virtue, morals or honesty are merely topics of gossip, while wit, charm, style and beauty are prerequisites for having the right to gossip at all.

Very few people can afford not to have a sense of humor about themselves, and yet it still seems that so few people do.

People consumed with envy, competitiveness, ambition and jealousy are the most adamant in trying to convince us that they are free of all such vices.

Fear is the glue of society; gossip is its militia, opinion is its oppressor, eyes are its watchmen, ears are its sentinels, envy is its economy, accomplishments are its currency, and exclusion is an ever-present threat dangling over every member's head.

The give and take of compliments, favors, gratitude, sacrifices and regular gratuitous interactions are all part of the natural economy of a social circle. Gossip is how members of the circle are kept in line, fearful of what might be said behind their backs were they to forfeit their duties.

Esteem is something as easily taken back as it is given.

In society, it's not what you say that earns people's respect, but what you are able to leave unsaid.

Essentially, people are neither good or bad. They are only ever one thing: self-interested.

Our inhibitions act as a savior when our exhibitions fail to substantiate.

The art of social interaction relies on knowing when and where to remain silent, and with whom.

If it weren’t for our prejudices, meeting new people would be so much more tiresome than it already is.

There is no such thing as an unprejudiced person. There are just those whose prejudices are known to them and who thus take their precautions accordingly, without us ever suspecting that those prejudices are even there.

We must be democratic with our prejudices and aristocratic with our tastes. But are tastes themselves not prejudices? They are, but they’re the prejudices we reserve for ourselves and those like us. The rest can be doled out evenly among – and against – others.

What we consider our tastes are the prejudices that we use to differentiate ourselves from others; what we call our prejudices are the tastes by which we differentiate others from ourselves.

When presenting oneself to others, one must be ambiguous and avoid definition and certainty altogether. The price of carelessness in this respect is finality, and this can only be of use to everyone but oneself.

To be totally dishonest about oneself is simply bad manners. To be totally honest about oneself is simply bad taste. But to be ambiguous about oneself is simply delicious.

Modesty was an old way of showing off; self-deprecation is the new way of showing off; showing off is the new way of being honest; as for being outright honest, that’s just showing off.

Most social interaction involves the exchange of stock utterances conveyed with stock expressions. Content is secondary to delivery, and what is actually said is trivial.

Those who "say it like it is" in social situations can be refreshing, but often miss the point of what social interaction is all about.

Truth is a luxury reserved for those who either play by the rules exceptionally well, or are out of the loop completely enough to not care about the consequences.

An insult is most disturbing precisely when it wasn’t meant as an insult. That’s when we can’t help but believe that what was said was really meant.

To claim never to have lost one’s innocence is an admirable virtue, but to have never even put it in danger of being lost is despicable.

A modest man is one who boasts of not needing to boast.

Actions can be all too readily displaced by words. Loquacity is usually the betrayer of impotence.

To not feel the need to impress others is the best way to impress others.

Those who hold diametrically opposed views are always the same kinds of people.

We feel sympathy for those who are weary of the world, but never for those who are frustrated with it.

Those who feel the need to offer their unsolicited opinions should think about how little they care for others' unsolicited opinions.

The person with keenest of ear and most sympathetic of complexions when listening to your problems has thereby shown the greatest interest in being seen and heard themselves, albeit without words.

Some people talk too much, lest it should be discovered they have nothing to say.

It’s rare to find people who truly listen, since everybody’s so busy trying to be heard.

The more people try to earn our attention, the less we believe they have anything worth saying.

Sometimes we maintain a person’s friendship just so we can talk badly about them with impunity.

The only thing more unsatisfying than the company of people is to have no people around you to be unsatisfied with.

When a person is predisposed to you in the right way, they will go so far as to consider your faults refreshing; and if they are predisposed to you in the wrong way, they will go so far as to consider your virtues the sign of weakness. People’s appreciation of us is often dependent not on our own actions but on whether or not they have it in mind to like us in the first place.

It is a limited and unenviable person who has not learned to value solitude, as limited and unenviable as the person who has not learned to value companionship.

“He talks about everything and nothing,” they say, with a condescending smile. But this is such a refreshing change, since most people just talk about themselves.

Our vanity tricks us into believing that the attentiveness on a listener's face is not instead the look of someone trying to concentrate on what they themselves are going to say when we're done speaking.

People we pay the least attention to always seem to have so much to say to us.

To talk about oneself is to challenge others into talking about themselves, and to provoke them into promoting themselves at least as determinedly as you’ve promoted yourself, although hopefully with less success.

We must learn to relish our own power. It is such poverty of spirit to have to blush in front of one who blushes in front of you.

There is no greater shame than needing recourse to dishonesty when explaining one's decisions to others. One can't help but feel that such a decision was the result of some kind of underlying failure.

It’s amazing what we can do when someone’s watching, almost as amazing as what we are capable of doing to make someone watch.

We daydream with an audience comprised of other people's eyes.

Our daydreams tell us what we want, our dreams tell us why we can’t have them.

For the most part, we prefer to have our minds occupied rather than engaged. This is more out of fear than laziness, because we're afraid of what we might find in there once we've cleared all the junk out of our heads.

We are occupied, defeated and conquered from birth. Our lives can either host those oppressors in subservient obeisance, or they can become fields of rebellion for the sake of freeing us from their insidious yoke.

Those who are afraid of knowing too much about themselves can find shelter in the chatter of society.

When nobody cares about you enough to tell you what they really think about you to your face, you can get by a long time in society thinking you're well liked.

Nothing is stranger than that which is normal to a stranger.

The perceived greatness of a person is often to be found not so much in that person as in the prejudices of posterity.

Sometimes we must put ourselves down in order to be heard all the better. People always listen when you have something bad to say about yourself.

People will listen only when they believe there will be something that concerns themselves. Thus we are all expert self-semioticians. We seek to find signs of ourselves in every sentence, every word, every gesture, and every glance.

When people put themselves down in good jest, we often feel a sense of gratitude at having been relieved of the task of doing it for them.

If you can get away with being a liar, a cheat and a phony, then the joke is on them, not you, because liars, cheats and phonies are the ones who make the world go round.

That which is exceptional must first be made familiar, and then superior, otherwise it will be debased, condemned, and even demonized.

It’s often the case that the horror of a person’s circumstances arouses a sense of horror toward the person themselves. This is because we know that it’s only a matter of fortune and coincidence that any person should not be our own selves, or that any circumstance should not also – and instead – have included us.

Everyone wants a piece of a good thing. Development of beauty, strength, intelligence and wisdom must proceed parallel with the development of a capacity for suspicion, secretiveness, cynicism and callousness. The price of exceptionality is always innocence.

To answer a question always seems to compromise one’s pride. This can be offset if our answer raises a question of its own, whether in content or in its tonality – in other words, if it compromises itself as an answer. This can often be referred to as wit and is apt revenge for having been put on the spot.

Laziness is the most primal human drive. The desire to do nothing guides all, but only until it encounters the desire for recognition.

The company of people is often unbearable, not because you think you could do without it, but precisely because you feel you can’t.

Two types of people: Those who wilt when surrounded by eyes, and those who rise.

Whom we seek the company of: Those we seek to prove ourselves to – those from whom we seek recognition.

Whom we find nice: Those whose recognition we are indifferent to, but are assured of.

Whom we find companionable: Those from whom we’ve assured ourselves recognition.

Whom we are embarrassed in the presence of: Those from whom we seek recognition of our desired selves, feeling our perceived selves unsatisfactory for recognition.

Whom we despise: Those whom we don’t consider worthy of our recognition.

Whom we love: Those whose recognition of us exceeds – and thus increases – our estimation of ourselves.

Whom we pity: Those who we know will never win our recognition as equals.

Whom we hate: Those who we know will never give us recognition as equals.

That which is controversial is thereby owed comment by its perpetrator, but by no means is it owed an explanation.

We’re only scornful of opportunists when they think they've successfully tricked us into thinking that they have no ulterior motives.

When deceitful people think they've deceived others, they also deceive themselves.

Sometimes it’s impossible to win people’s confidence without recourse to dishonesty and insincerity... almost as impossible as it is to keep people’s confidence through the same means.

The fear of showing weakness is the source of most people's fear.

Only the powerful can afford to have weaknesses, because they know they have nothing to fear from them.

Most people are willing to uphold their pride even at the price of dignity.

Most people's knowledge and ideas are but a show, just superficial enough to earn weight in social chatter without being deep enough to require any time away from it.

When a person has had to defend themselves, not even justice will heal the wounds completely.

The measure of a person’s social worth should be based on whether or not they have the capacity to speak about themselves as if they were speaking about somebody else.

Those who live beyond their capacity never seem to annoy us as much as those who live beneath their capacity.

We love people that come to us for recognition, and we also love people we go to for recognition, even though we despise the fact that we have to go to them at all.

The most noble feeling is neither love (which is cheap and common to all) nor pity (which sickens and debilitates); it’s the respect one feels for another regardless of whether one likes that person or not. Few can show this nobility without sliding into jealousy or wallowing in hatred, both of which inevitably perpetuate self-contempt.

Whether we can fool others is quite unimportant compared to whether we can successfully fool ourselves.

Success can best be measured by the envy it arouses rather than by the praise it elicits.

Everybody would like to be famous, but the truly talented always prefer to be infamous.

Fame is welcome compensation for the mediocre, but an unwelcome distraction for the gifted. That’s why the latter seek either anonymity or infamy. Fame pulls them down just a little too close to the masses, whereas infamy keeps them at a healthy distance from the mediocre.

When we have been wronged by someone, we are more irritated by the response that has been demanded of us than by the wrongful act that has been committed against us.

We usually don’t give advice for the sake of the advice itself, but for the sake of having given advice. It’s the perfect opportunity to establish our influence over someone while at the same time seeming to empathize with them.

If it weren’t for other peoples’ misfortune, we would never have the pleasure of giving advice.

Bettering oneself is the best possible pursuit, especially if one has nothing better to do.

Hardly ever do others see us as we see ourselves, or indeed as we would like ourselves to be seen, although whether they see us as we believe they see us cannot be said, and will never be said.

Hypocrisy is far easier seen in others than it is in oneself.

In social relations, ambiguity is sharpness, precision is clumsiness, and eccentricity is all too predictable.

When we are angry, we always expect the worst from people; when we are content, we always expect the best from people. Either way, they usually disappoint our expectations.

Indifference is a far greater insult than hatred.

Hatred is forever blind to its origins. That is its only justification.

We can only hate that which we fear yet are helpless to do anything about. The more potent our hatred, the greater the weakness from which it originates.

Wit before smartness, culture before knowledge, humor before insight. The former qualities are the outward projection of the respective latter and are indispensable elements for any harmonious social interaction. They are like a refined product that’s been carefully extracted and cultivated over time from their crude sources and are now presented to the delectation of only the finest social gourmands.

We are honest about ourselves in social circumstances to ingratiate ourselves to others, whereas we're only honest about others in social circumstances to demean them.

A thousand good things said about us will not even begin to make up for a single bad thing that has been said about us.

When speaking to people, listen to what they aren’t saying, because that’s what they’re really saying.

Vulnerability in the strong we consider endearing; vulnerability in the weak we find pitiful. Power is always the measure of our esteem.

One’s weaknesses can become one's strengths if one can admit to them honestly as weaknesses.

At the heart of all great and wonderful causes lie the most embarrassing motives.

When we’re ashamed of our feelings we often despise the person who has conjured them up.

We ask the questions that we want to be asked in return. An answer is only bearable as long as there is a prospect that soon it will be our turn to speak.

The endearing person’s most endearing qualities are not their strengths but their weaknesses.

Our firmest convictions always betray our deepest fears.

Sometimes we have to mock lest we be caught off guard by our own shortcomings.

Conscious non-conformity demands the most stringent rules to conform to, and thus only dedicated conformists can identify themselves as non-conformists. True non-conformists have no idea they’re abnormal.

When it comes to most non-conformists, we often mistake cowardice, laziness, ineptitude and convenience for courage, subversion and independence. That’s why we only really respect those non-conformists who were once successful conformists.

We should not discriminate against people based on their need to be seen, but rather on the basis of where they want to be seen, and by whom.

We flock together at every opportunity and then tell ourselves we can't stand anyone around us.

To win the full concentration of people’s attention, we must either be able to offend them, or at least give them the feeling that we have the potential to hurt them, to be able to make them face their own weaknesses. They must feel the need to defend and uphold themselves in our presence, as if rising to a challenge, so as to learn not to take even their own presence for granted, let alone ours.

How can we show such forceful preference, like or dislike, toward our fellow humans, afflicted as they are with the same condition, driven as they are by the same anxieties, forced as they are to deal with this affliction that is life, shared by all? We can only debate, vindicate or condemn a person’s manner and style of living, but never the person themselves.

Those who pride themselves on being loners spend their days in struggle with the phantoms of the people they know.

Contrary to popular belief, being a friend on a bad day is easy, it’s expected. Being there through all the average boring days is the stuff they should give a friend a medal for.

It's not people themselves we spend the most time interacting with, but our imaginations of those people, with whom we lock horns in secret battles in our minds.

One does not see how completely one has been eclipsed, how utterly forgotten one has become, until one realizes there is a whole other world that exists outside one's head, and that world is for the most part oblivious to us.

The most difficult task in life is knowing what to say, and when.

9/9/06

Aphorisms II


On Flattery

True flattery does not come in the form of words; it comes in the guise of a furtive glance.

We flatter others to bring down their defenses so as to make them more vulnerable to our advances, but we accept flattery from others because we believe our own defenses impregnable and ourselves invulnerable to such advances. We’re incapable of believing that anyone could ever say something good about us that wasn’t true.

Flattery is cheating. It’s an attempt to gain someone’s affection without having to earn it. But flattery can work only if you go about it with shameless sincerity.

We like to flatter ourselves as being individuals and somehow unique, yet seek to aggregate and categorize everyone else. As for those we respect as individuals, we like to think we’re flattering them by aggregating them with ourselves.

When we envy someone their talents, we either flatter them to their faces in the hope of receiving kind words in return, or we put them down behind their backs in the hope of being justified in our malevolence. Usually both.

Flattery given is an investment for flattery returned.

To be grateful for flattery betrays vain pretension, but to seem indifferent to it is noble, albeit insincere.

We are all hypocrites when it comes to flattery, hating the flatterer, loving the flattery.

The only flattery worth taking seriously is that which has been given by somebody you respect. The rest is still always good to hear, but ultimately worthless.

We think those who put themselves down in jest are the opposite of self-flatterers, when in fact they are merely a shrewder version of them.

Envy is the true source of flattery.

On Vanity

They say others can know us better than we know ourselves, but this is not entirely true; others can only see that which our vanity guards us from seeing in ourselves.

It’s not people's vanity that most offends us, but their inability to disguise their vanity.

Having hurt or lost our pride we must at least maintain our ego, even if it can only be through the dissimulation of a lie. No lie is too great – or too wicked – for this purpose.

The selfless act is the surest way to earn esteem and recognition for yourself. Selflessness is basically just selfishness committed for the eyes of others.

It’s not love that makes the world go round, but self-love.

Narcissism and laziness are the two fundamental human drives; narcissism drives our social selves to action, while laziness guides our private selves to comfort.

If it weren’t for envy and vanity, very little would be accomplished in the world.

Silence is a good disguise for vanity, but modesty is the perfect disguise.

Beauty or intelligence that is conscious of itself is a form of vanity we can all tolerate, because it seems justified.

Vanity is the fuel of society. If it weren’t for vanity, all social relations would be unbearable.

On Beauty

Beauty is most deserving of our admiration when it’s least conscious of itself.

We often associate beauty with virtue. This is one of our favorite errors, and one of beauty's greatest advantages.

Beauty is the best hiding place for mischief. It’s virtually synonymous with impunity.

Vanity and pride are the dual weak points in every person's defenses that can be breached by beauty's advances.

Charm and beauty reign supreme in the realm of personality, just as narcissism and laziness do in the realm of character.

It’s easy to forgive beautiful people their faults, seeing as we’re always happy to be around them. We always seem to value aesthetics over and above morality.

Symmetry and proportion is how we perceive beauty, flattery is how we manipulate beauty, vanity is how we desire beauty, and pride is how we curse beauty while at the same time succumbing to it.

In social relations, beauty and charm convey more intelligence than even intelligence itself can convey.

Beauty without scruples is a dangerous combination, and one which women have mastered down to an art form. Beauty with too many scruples is a handicap, and a sheer waste of beauty’s savage and indecent potential.

Is it any wonder that goodness and beauty are always depicted hand-in-hand, as are evil and ugliness? But there is one important exception: power. Regardless of whether it is depicted and represented as good or evil, power always has a handsome beauty to it, whereas weakness, whether depicted and represented as good or evil, always has a certain comical ugliness to it.

We all seek to be the object of beauty’s desire. This is because once your own image has been reflected in the eyes of beauty, you feel you have become beautiful yourself.

It if weren’t for ugliness, we’d never know where the right genes are to be found; if it weren’t for beauty, we’d never know where the wrong genes are to be avoided.

9/8/06

Aphorisms III


On Men and Women

Men need women so as to be reminded of all the unpleasant things they’d much rather ignore but know they shouldn’t.

There is no greater shock to a man's delusional self-esteem than when confronted by a woman's ability to see through any and all bullshit.

The ruthlessness of women is a necessity born from the brevity of their beauty and the urgency of their fertility.

Women are not as interested in what men do as where it gets them.

All endeavors are vain in the eyes of women unless it betters one's status.

Women will patiently let men self-indulgently talk on and on about their accomplishments and what they do, because they know that the only reason men do all the ridiculous things they do is to earn the esteem and attention of women.

Never trust a man who despises women. A man never despises women unless he is a failure as a man.

When an issue arises between a man and a woman, men don't understand why women bring up things that don't seem relevant. This is because men can take a situation on its own merit and block all else out, whereas women always see a far greater picture. For women, every new situation is yet more material to add to older material in their ongoing assessment of the overall worth of a man.

For women, man is always a work in progress. They are constantly shaping and reshaping the sculpture of his character from the raw materials of everyday occurrences and events.

Pride often urges us to continue loving the person who has dumped us. The romantic notion of hopelessly clinging to an unrequited love is merely our way of convincing ourselves that it was actually them who was unworthy of us and not the other way around.

Men’s courage only begins where civility ends. Women’s courage is oblivious to civility, but always acts within its parameters.

Once a woman has given a man her love, nothing short of an insult can decline it, and nothing short of complete exclusivity can satisfy it. This is because when a woman gives her love, she gives her whole self – heart, flesh, mind and womb.

Every woman has a sense of shame, but there is not a single woman that cannot be made shameless.

Men think women irrational and illogical because they make the mistake of paying attention to their words, when instead they must pay attention to everything else: mood, body, emotions, tone and movements. Women are too complex to express themselves merely through words.

Women will be interested in art and poetry as long as they feel they have been its inspiration – if not as an individual, then at least as Woman.

No woman has sex gratuitously. If she does, it’s out of a lack of self-respect. It’s undignified for a woman not to make a man squirm like the worm he is, otherwise not even this worm would respect her.

A woman will commit herself in bed only to the extent that her man commits himself out of bed.

Women pride themselves with their men; men pride themselves through their women.

For women, being civil is only ever a matter of convenience; for men it is often a matter of cowardice.

Too much self-esteem in a girl is the unfortunate result of a good upbringing.

Women are assured a meaning to life by the simple fact that they know their instinctive task is to find the best mate, procreate, and raise their offspring as well as they possibly can, knowing that she’s done her job if she believes her child is better than all others, or at least right up there with the best of them. A man, on the other hand, spends his whole life searching for meaning in books, adventures, conquests, achievements, promotions, fame and politics, only to find, in the end, that his whole reason for existence can be summed up in a three-second ejaculation.

If you can’t love a woman, then at least love Woman. If you're frustrated as a man, then at least be proud as Man.

There is nothing that seems less sincere than the show of sincerity among women.

The excessive display of affection women show each other is expiation for all the nasty things they have said behind each others' backs.

Competitive animosity is the true nature of all relationships between women. Even friendship between them is often little more than a strategic alliance against other women.

If women had any idea what their best friends really think about them, they would realize just how lucky they are that they are friends and not enemies.

The rules of social etiquette serve as the natural parameters of feminine pursuits. Living rooms are where they reconnoiter; restaurants, brasseries and cafes are where they engage; parties and events are their battlefields; men and recognition are their spoils of war.

Any two girls can meet and immediately talk about feelings and relationships, and any two guys can meet and immediately talk about sports. Men talk about things they do to get women, women talk about things they do to keep men.

When you tell someone you love them, you’re also telling them that they should love you.

A relationship is about talk, sex, souvenirs and laughter – in fact, anything that will prolong and avoid a coming face to face with the inevitable fate of any relationship: boredom.

We all need our loved ones so that we may better love ourselves. To declare love for ourselves is so ridiculous that we must find others who will declare that love for us.

The more we grieve the loss of our loved ones, the more we are grieving our dependence on them.

Sometimes the shape of a person’s foot or the luster of their hair or the way their hips sway when they walk, or the way their lips part when they smile, is a far more powerful reason to love them than whether or not they are kind, generous, moral, or even capable – or willing – of loving you in return.

We all love one person in our lives, yet many people play the role of that person as they come and go through the years.

The trick to staying ahead in a relationship is to always say a little less than you want to say, but always do a little more than you think is expected of you.

On Intelligence

Intelligent people can never have too much time on their hands, even though they know they shouldn’t.

Every simple answer is a parody of simplicity and a travesty of intellect. As for every complicated answer, that’s just a travesty of wit.

Knowledgeable people see the complexity of things, intelligent people see the simplicity of them.

Intelligence is the feeling of companionship with oneself, but it is only really appreciated when it is shared.

Stupidity is something we avoid seeing in ourselves, but find in abundance in others.

An overabundance of intelligence will lead to indecision, and even inability, unless one can learn how to be stupid, and when.

Arrogance is the privilege of the talented and the whimsy of the mediocre.

Humans are granted, a priori, cleverness, but not necessarily intelligence. All human creation is clever, but its uses are often not very intelligent.

The “genius” is an excuse created for the self-preservation of the ego. By attributing extraordinary and even mystical qualities to exceptional people, we make our own cerebral laziness acceptable by deeming it normal.

Cunning is the intelligence of the untalented and the revenge of the inferior.

Anything of genius can only be accomplished in your twenties. After that, your mind is too well developed, your skills too well honed, your ideas too sound, your temperament too even. In short, you become well-balanced, and thus, unremarkable.

A man with a rich mind is a man who has freed himself of all pettiness. He has ascended a height from which all possessions, jealousies, accomplishments, rivalries, competitiveness, greed and ambition seem so small and distant that it's as if they belong to a strange and alien world that is not his own.

Intelligence is the only thing nobody can ever have a sense of humor about. Our intelligence is something we hold sacred, and even its mere mention is often taboo.

We will attest to a person's cleverness, smartness, knowledge or wit, but never to their intelligence.

Knowledge is the best way to simulate intelligence. That’s why we’re always suspicious of knowledgeable people.

It’s ironic that only the intelligent can tell us what bliss stupidity must be. Obviously intelligence does not go well with pusillanimity.

Knowledge is a burden we cannot ignore, nor ever undo. Thus we must be careful in its appropriation so as to avoid its misappropriation of us.

To understand something profoundly, we must not only gain knowledge of its contents, but more importantly, its discontents. What we don’t know always defines what we know more completely than what we know ever can.

Human knowledge is attained not through action but reaction, going back to an eternally unfulfilled – and unfulfillable – action.

We cannot expect objectivity from people when it comes to knowledge and understanding; we can only expect them to be aware of the impossibility of objectivity.

9/7/06

Aphorisms IV


On Truth

The quest for Truth is the great spur for human knowledge – not so much because of the future possibility of its attainment, as the primordial sense of its lack.

We all lie for the sake of Truth. We believe Truth is worth even the greatest lie.

We can be sure of the truth and worth of a feeling or a thought, not if we have taken a decision and acted upon it as the result of a reflective and rational process, but if our subsequent actions have allowed absolutely no time for such a process to be taken in the first place. Truth is better measured irrationally.

The most important requisite for the development of rational intellect is to overlook the fundamentally irrational nature of our psyche.

Ignorance is the origin of all Truth.

The fundamental difference between us humans and animals is not the capacity to lie, but the capacity to believe in our own lies.

For many, intellectual and philosophical rigor is an easy trade to make for Truth and certainty.

The Truth is born where reality can no longer be borne.

We are not a fussy lot. We only need the possibility of truth for us to believe, because much more important than whether something is true or not is whether we would like it to be true, and whether we need it to be so.

The religious spirit and the philosophical spirit: They are born from and driven by a need for Truth. But while the latter strives to achieve consciousness of this subconscious need, the whole raison d’etre of the former lies in its being able to avoid this as craftily as possible, even while continuing to gratify it as lustily as possible.

Those who try to convince us of the Truth are thereby trying to convince themselves.

Many people believe they can be sure of Truth; but the only thing we can all be sure of is the need for Truth.

Truth arises from the fear of its lack.

All believed Truths are too good to be believed. All perceived truths are too stressful not to be misperceived.

On Beliefs

Our beliefs do not concern what we think is true but what we need to be so.

People say there is nothing stronger than faith. They’re wrong. Stronger than faith itself is the need for faith.

Having become conscious of the absurdity of life, one can still find recourse to belief, but one can never again submit to one’s beliefs.

Beliefs are a protective coating to guard us from the harsh light of reality.

Belief is the accommodation of our desires to the illogical and irrational. It is an innocent trick we play on ourselves as we aim to make life a little more bearable by offering ourselves a psychological sanctuary where we may, to our heart's content, nurture a temple of hope -- but only as long as we offer it the necessary, and consistent, sacrifice of reason to keep those peculiar gods appeased.

Supernatural beliefs make perfect sense so long as one does not believe in them.

The easiest way to explain something we don't understand is to compare it to something we do. That's why we created God in the image of a super-father, so that he could create us, his super-children.

The afterlife is of gravest importance, but only so long as we’re still in this life.

The question is not whether there is a God or not. The question is whether there should be a God or not. But this is only a question we can ask – and answer – for ourselves.

Once one has understood God, one can no longer believe in it – at best, one can only sympathize with it.

The only alternative to God is a good sense of humor, and only those who take life most seriously can really have a sense of humor about it.

Contrary to popular belief, nihilists must affirm life all the more desperately and completely, because it’s all they have left.

Contrary to popular myth, it is precisely the soul that is mortal, and the body immortal. I believe in a soul only in so far as I believe it is something ever-changing, ever-evolving, created from our unique and unprecedented life experience, a strange mixture of memories, feelings, knowledge, ego and the subconscious, fated to die with us just as it was born with us; and I believe in our drives, instincts and desires – that is, our bodies – only in so far as they are unchanging and exist both before us and beyond us, oblivious of the individual, a common property of the species. Ultimately, only the species is immortal, whereas anything pertaining to the individual - and only to the individual - is worm food.

Once one has developed the requisite skills and unchained the mind from belief, hope, faith, truth and morality, when nothing any longer has meaning, it then proceeds that everything has significance, and this is far more valuable than meaning.

Belief is not based on faith, but fear.

All metaphysics can be explained psychologically, which is also the reason why it can never be dismissed by the same means.

In the West, there is no God without reason; in the East, there is no reason without God. The former places too much faith in mankind, while the latter places too little.

9/6/06

Aphorisms V


On Humor

Good humor is not just a play of words or a twist of logic. Good humor is a destroyer of worlds.

They say it’s possible to be funny without being offensive, but this isn't so. Anything truly funny must give offense to at least one firmly held and universally respected belief. \

Laughter is destructive. Laughter is iconoclastic. Laughter is revolutionary. To laugh is to rebel. Laughter is the greatest antidote to the oppression of sanctity and the tyranny of righteousness. Laughter is the way to defeat pride, conquer fear, overcome envy, end vanity, and level the field by cutting down those grown tall on hubris and lies.

To say the unsayable, to speak the unspeakable, to express and uncover that which we must leave unspoken, to make light of what is oppressive, to taunt that which we fear... That is the task of humor.

All humor is the revelation of a philosophy of life. How good your humor is depends on how advanced and thought-out your philosophy of life is.

Humor is a risk. One must move out of the norm and break free of the social circle of interpersonal dependence and fear to be able to see the big picture and expose what it is that people secretly trade in return for the security that that interdependence offers. Having done so, one must risk exclusion, contempt, ostracism and even punishment. The only reward is freedom, but it is a worthwhile reward.

There are only two taboos when it comes to humor: overkill and puns.

Truly funny people do not tell jokes, they reveal them.

The only requisite for a good sense of humor is to take everything seriously except oneself.

The most refined humor is always non-sequitur. Something funny should never be seen coming, not even from an inch away.

Laughter is a welcome defense against what would otherwise be unbearable, and a worthy offense against that which seeks to oppress.

Humor must take apart the world of morals and values and meaning that has been built around us so that it can create a fresh one that is free of sanctity and conformity, yet infused with a new and exciting kind of awareness.

On Reading and Writing

Most people don't write because they have something to say, they write because they have something to show.

The urge to write is often secondary to the urge to be a writer.

In seeking writers to read, we either seek to lighten our afflictions by finding them not restricted to ourselves, or we wish to weigh our fancies by seeking patency of them.

Whether we like or dislike something we read has as much to do with our mood at the moment of reading as it does with the quality of the writing.

We are always contemptuous of writers unless we are convinced of their superiority over us.

Words always fail to fully live up to the emotions and thoughts they seek to express, but they also always outlive them.

When we hear music or read literature we adore, we can’t imagine how it never existed before.

Often it is not the supposed genius of writers and thinkers but their ability to follow a certain logic exceptionally well which causes us to misplace our incredulity.

The fact that there’s so much to read is trivial, which is precisely why there’s so much to read. We’d do better to think just how much there is to write.

“He couldn’t write to save his soul,” which is a pity, for is there any better reason to write?

A good book is one that you feel was written exclusively for you.

Any vast expanse of literature belonging to a certain prolific author or genre must rest on an inverse narrowness of their underlying convictions and beliefs. To draw a line one must always begin with a point.

We write not to find the end or the ultimate answer, but to discover the beginning and the ultimate question. To go forward is to go back, to uncover the fate that impels us to go forward.

A story is the explication of exceptional events, and they only occur when the normality of the world we live in has somehow been disturbed. If nothing ever went wrong, we would have no stories to tell. Stories are like the ripples and waves on the surface of a vast and deep ocean of boredom, normality, expectedness and monotony.

Even the tightest aphorism is full of contradictions.

We always learn more by writing than we do by reading.

On Books

Some people speak enthralled about private libraries, incredulous at how anyone could read so many books. They seem not yet to have realized that libraries and books are often meant more to be looked at than to be read. I’m proud to say that I enjoy reading from my library almost as much as I enjoy looking at it.

Great books always seem to have an awe-inspiring aura about them before we read them. Having read them, they lose that mighty aura and become too familiar to maintain that exciting sense of mystery within us. That’s why it’s important to leave some great books unread – or rather, to-be-read – because, after all, just as important as getting something out of literature is leaving something of it to still be got.

Ideally, at least one third of a personal library should consist of unread books. A library, when in its presence, should arouse in its owner not only memories of great adventures and beautiful characters past, but also an exciting prospect of great adventures to come, and beautiful characters yet to be met.

The soul of a house resides not in a hearth, but in a library.

The act of reading is far from being merely a cerebral pastime; reading is a wholly aesthetic, tactile, sensory experience. The leafy and treelike smell of the once-living pages; the delicate pop of a page turning as it escapes the pressure of our thumb or as it swishes and flicks under the guidance of our middle finger; the gloss and art on the cover; the busy and cryptic sight of a page full of perfectly aligned words, lines and paragraphs; the weight and feel of the book in our hands, how we hold it, how we fold it, how the bookmark indicates our progress standing out like a beacon from a wilderness of text on either side; how the page number reaches a decimal unit that tacks on a perfect round satisfying as the last digit; how the page numbers multiply into the triple-digits; how the lighting, seating arrangement, dictionary arranged all around us instill a feeling of warmth, coziness and security… In other words, reading is a lot more than simply reading; it’s a sensual ritual that is equivalent to prayer in a house of worship and as essential for mind and body as meditation and exercise.

If you could have recourse to only one book, it should be a dictionary. You only need a solid grasp of your tools, after that you can write your own books. After all, even a single sentence written by you is more precious than all the books ever written combined.

9/5/06

Aphorisms VI


On Being

Unless we have in mind all the things - or just some things - that define who we are, such as memories, names, titles, accomplishments, or the opinions of others, we mostly go about our lives without any consciousness that we are anything other than a consciousness existing in the world, and usually not even that.

We feel the need to anchor our being in an external source that is beyond all known being, because we cannot even begin to fathom how being can be at all.

Our being is constantly defined and modified by the people who populate our world, the opinions we think they have of us, the opinions we have of them, and by all our accomplishments, actions, deeds, successes and failures amongst them. Without others, none of us would be ourselves.

We live naturally, thoughtlessly and organically with all that is around us. It isn't until something goes wrong that we notice that something is at all.

The world just appeared around each and every one of us, and the world will one day just disappear again.

We speak of individuals and groups, ourselves and others, I and they, bodies and minds, mental and physical, but when it comes down to it, there is no difference between any of them. They all are part of just one thing: Being.

We cut the world up into little digestible bits, because we do not have big enough perspective to see, let alone comprehend, being as it is.

There is no mind without body, there is no me without they, nothing is known without language, and there are no words without speakers.

There is no pure deed untainted by some kind of perspective, interpretation, value, opinion, belief, meaning, purpose, objective or moral angle. Those are the condiments we pour over our deeds to add a little taste to the bland banality of reality and the underlying feeling that every deed and every action is, in itself, meaningless, pointless, and absurd.

On Philosophy

The beginning and end of all philosophy is the same: It begins with “Since before the dawn of time…” and ends with “…but we will never know.” Each of us fills the middle bit in as best we can.

The beginning of all philosophy is vanity: i.e. a seeking to gratify one’s fascination with oneself.

“To Know Thyself” is the beginning of all philosophy, and also its desired end.

The fundamental prejudice of humans is that we are always destined to conceive of the universe, life and everything in terms of beginnings and ends, of birth and death. This is natural, since we don’t know where everything came from, nor where it’s all going, and so we believe it must have started somewhere sometime and must end somewhere sometime. This is why we will never truly understand anything.

An idea has no beginning or end. It’s always been there and always will be. We just stumble across it and ride it out before leaving it behind again, ready for others to come and stumble across it after us. An idea is always older - and more resilient - than we are.

The truest thoughts are those which conform to instinctual prejudices within us which we have no power over because they are more primordial than even our memories or our desires.

“We never encounter the same person twice,” says Heraclitus to his erstwhile acquaintance.

Heaven for me would be a place where I could at last, without any existential dilemmas or problems of conscience, be what I am, what I is: nothing. That is, if heaven could be a “place”, and if I could “be” nothing. Herein lies the limited capacity of the human: Our inability to extract the ego from any of our thought processes... our inability to conceive of anything outside the spatiotemporal context in which we understand – and create – the concept of existence.

Within this bundle of emotions, thoughts, memories, ideas, dreams, insecurities, knowledge, doubt, envy, hate, love, smell, sight, sound, fear, laziness, action, intelligence and stupidity, from within this whole cacophony of distress and desire, this incoherent jumble, arises a strange, foreign yet familiar voice that declares “I am Attila.” And thus, once again, has been eluded the most sinister and slippery of questions.

A diary individualizes universal experiences, whereas philosophy universalizes individual experiences. As a result, this is my diary.

There is no explanation that does not itself need an explanation. And since we can never know the ultimate Explanation, all explanation is futile.

9/4/06

Aphorisms VII


On Society

The greatest accomplishment of capitalism lies not in its having overcome slavery, but on the contrary, in its having made it so universally acceptable.

We are each of us guilty until proven innocent. From before our birth we are given a name embroiled in a feud, given a nationality guilty of murder, given a religion that condemns non-believers to hell, and a state that controls our education, beliefs and morals, and then we are given the right to fight and die for it all. We are born under the weight of the sins and crimes of ages from which we must, each of us, prove ourselves innocent.

Racism displays nothing if not laziness of mind and insipidity of intellect. There are so many more interesting ways to discriminate people. Racism is so impersonal.

Our own inflated and false sense of national virtue is directly proportional to our inflation and falsification of other nations’ vice.

The weight of the past must be lightened, but any lightness shown in dealing with the past must be weighed.

Rather than priding ourselves on what we’ve coincidentally been born with (nationality, religion, class, property, race, family) we’d do much better priding ourselves on what will be born from us. Having thus forsaken nobility, we can become truly noble.

The most valuable thing for humans (i.e. culture, language, tradition) is that which both precedes our birth and will succeed our death – in other words, that which defines us and yet is oblivious to us.

Not even the most repressive totalitarian regime can suppress freedom of thought. But then who’s ever been afraid of mutes?

Ninety percent of any given population in any given country wouldn’t care less about what system they lived under. They could put up with even the worst tyranny so long as it is consistent, familiar, and predictable.

The Law is the best excuse yet for rapine, pillage and murder, providing for the most efficient exercise of such crimes. It exudes an aura of objective impersonality which gives its upholders the perfect cover for the exercise and satisfaction of their subjective personality.

Military service can indeed serve a useful function by temporarily relieving the intelligent of their burden while gratifying the stupid in their stupidity.

Religion and nationalism can serve a useful purpose in that it can give opportunity for otherwise mediocre people to experience a genuine and lasting sense of superiority and empowerment.

Modern religious movements are radical, if not militant, because they bring forth a faith – the validity of which rests on an unquestioning belief in its fundamental tenets – into a pluralist socio-political system which is founded on an unquestioning belief that everything must at least be allowed to be questioned.

The battles of our times are fought not on fields, but in – and for – the human mind, which has had its capacity for defense weakened, and is now a new battlefield, as open and vulnerable as the fields that once lay outside our cities.

Language doesn’t define a nation. Odor does.

Modernity: The most efficient usage of time, and the most efficient wastage of life.

The upper middle class is a democratized aristocracy. The lower middle class is an aristocratized working class. That’s why the former romanticize the working class while the latter despise them.

Authenticity is to the bourgeoisie what historical relics are to the archeologist: the authentic is something lost, rare, forgotten, in need of constant search and discovery, and, ultimately, something to be reproduced and treasured, but only so far as it is extracted from the conditions and circumstances which gave it birth. The bourgeoisie are thus avid and desperate collectors of estranged authenticity, because that’s what they left behind when they cashed in an authentic life for the padded cushy comfort of security behind wallpaper and a cubicle.

The bourgeoisie have always had a love-hate relationship with the aristocracy. They hated the aristocracy because they were not one of them, but having soundly defeated them now, the bourgeoisie have a desire to be aristocrats themselves. This is why the bourgeoisie compete so ruthlessly for honors and accomplishments among themselves, because they are all trying to prove they are aristocrats, if not by blood and birth, then at least by taste, education, social standing, manners, etiquette and self-importance – in other words, in all the criteria that an aristocrat could once take for granted, but which the bourgeoisie must now compete tooth-and-nail to claim for themselves.

Insincerity is the glue of society, which in turn is like Plato's cave in reverse: Our shadows are reflected out of the cave and into the world with the melancholy fire of our insecurities and complexes burning from behind them, deep in the darkest recesses of our psyches, and projecting mere shadows of ourselves out into the world, when our true selves remain hidden in caves.

If there’s one thing the bourgeoisie and their pets have in common it’s that they all have to wear collars.

On Art

The artist is much more at ease in leaving his/her art uncommented on than is the admirer. For as any artist knows, the significance of art is not to be found in its content or form, but first and foremost in the act of its creation.

Once a work of art is public, it belongs to the public, it is universal property. To possess an artwork and to sell it to mankind in return for money is the grossest kind of tastelessness.

Art is the ontological void’s consciousness of itself through us.

Many believe the artist creates art, but that’s only half of it. Art also creates the artist in the process of its own creation.

The only pursuit worthwhile in life is an artistic pursuit. Art should be both the end and the means of life, but it can’t give it meaning. In fact, if life had a meaning, art would cease to exist. Art would be impossible because it would be ridiculous.

The only truly satisfying pursuit is through art... and the only true recognition comes from people seeing your work, not your face. The vapid, narcissistic insipidities of social conspicuity are trivial compared to the recognition that can be reaped by way of your trans-existence as art, as a thing that can neither be seen nor touched, but only shared in the act - and consummation - of your creation.

Art: Any artifact (i.e. man-made thing) which, through aesthetic and conceptual qualities inherent in the artifact itself, can make the observer think about things other than the artifact itself while at the same time encapsulating the observer, the artifact and the thoughts conjured into one mystic whole in the process of observation. Any artifact that can manage to do that is truly a work of art.

9/3/06

Aphorisms VIII


On Life

Misery and suffering can be most pleasurable experiences as long as we believe their causes to lie totally and completely outside ourselves.

The only thing more terrible than the tyranny of consequence that stalks our every deed, is the ubiquity of the inconsequential, which encompasses not only the deed and the doer, but even consequence itself.

A life that is merely happy is a life half-lived.

You don't need a philosophy or a belief to live. All you need to know is what will make you suffer if left undone.

Life is poorly measured by successes and achievements. The mark of a great life is how profoundly and fully you can appreciate living as a mystical experience.

Our quest for accomplishments serves not so much to glorify the future as to alleviate the present and enrich a past yet to come. We look to the future so that we can have the past we’d like to have.

Most of us seek shortcuts to greatness; few of us can put in the hard work, endure the time, and deal with the loneliness and insecurity that must be borne to be truly great.

Questions and answers are the worst way to understand life. In fact, any answer always comes at the expense of at least one question.

If you can think of yourself and humankind as an alien's alien, as yet undiscovered, the world suddenly regains all its wonder and novelty.

Some say “Live every day as if it were the last day of your life.” Wrong. Live every day as if you couldn’t care less if it were the last day of your life.

The most satisfying times in life are the times when the people around you are the right people, when your life is full of fulfilling adventures with them, and when everyone in that circle is excited with each other's presence.

The belief that one can live unconditionally in the present is to overlook the fact that every present includes a future-us we want to be and an already-us we already are.

Our belief in fate serves a dual function: on the one hand it alleviates the vicissitudes of life by leading us to believe that these vicissitudes were inevitable and had their origins beyond our will, while on the other hand it gives us hope that there is a purpose to our lives which has only to be discovered. Either way, fate is an ingenious piece of self-trickery.

Some people believe everything happens for a reason. Whether or not that is the case, there is surely a reason why they believe everything happens for a reason, and the reason is that they are unable to assume the guilt and responsibility of their decisions, along with all that could have been and all that never was following each and every one of those decisions.

If nothing else, we all have at least our mistakes to contribute to this world.

One asks: What would’ve happened if? Another answers: Look what happened despite!

The best way to cure our obsession for something is to own it and possess it completely, so that eventually, just like most of our possessions, we wouldn’t even know it was there.

For the young, ideological conviction is really only moral conviction. As we become older, our convictions become a matter of common sense, or simply a force of habit, and essentially both.

When you invest in yourself, the world tends to invest in you too.

Those truly beloved of nature are not the ones that give it wide-eyed deference and obsequious awe, but rather those that challenge it with arrogant defiance – and even, at times, contempt.

Health is not meant to be preserved, pampered or conserved. Health is a boon that’s meant to be abused, expended and exhausted, and thereby cherished.

For many, the most terrifying thing in the world is neither death nor loneliness, but free time.

When we are bored, we are our truest selves. Boredom is the state in which we are the most unconsciously conscious that life is conscious through us.

It’s a general rule that whereas cerebral inertia is spawned by certainty of belief, physical inertia is spawned by its obverse uncertainty. Those who break this rule against inertia, one way or the other, are those who truly can affirm life.

The last great frontier is also the first great frontier: the human being. We are each of us travelers, regardless of credentials, means or status. But some have trained themselves to discover, conquer and explore, while most merely stumble across.

We would be more successful in life so long as our lives did not depend upon it; thus we would be more successful in living, which is far more important.

The only cure for our loneliness and despair is death or madness. However, a less drastic way does exist: indifference... but a conscious and noble indifference.

For many, routine is as good a cure for the banality of existence as suicide.

Happiness it seems only lasts the day, yet only a fool would leave fortune’s hand at play.

We often rue the fact that things lack permanency in life. And yet if we did not value permanence in the first place, we could not possibly cherish that which is fleeting.

Kafka’s Castle is a book that could conceivably go on to infinity (indeed it never ends), but could never be read twice. This is in direct contrast to our lives, in which we are forever conscious of our mortality, yet often wonder what we would do if we were given another chance.

Those who do unto themselves that which they want others to do unto them will always be happy, regardless of what others do unto them.

An occasional lover, a friend with whom one can talk about everything, a friend with whom one can do everything, and a friend with whom one need neither do nor talk about anything. That’s all one needs. Anything more is a burden which infringes on the most important company of all: ourselves.

We ultimately live in spite of ourselves. Whether we will something or not is insignificant if our Will wills otherwise.

The most difficult obstacle to overcome in life is that of not having any obstacles to overcome.

Suicide is the only crime where the criminal is also the victim and the judge. Yet even this act would be insignificant without a public and a jury.

We can make judgment on suicide, but never the suicide. The former is in fact necessary, the latter is indecent.

It’s strange how people tend to look upon suicides as cowards. What could possibly demand more courage than to face the ultimate pain, endure the ultimate loss, and (conceivably) face an eternity of perdition? If anything, we can only blame suicides with vanity, not cowardice. It’s the ultimate vanity to believe your life is so precious that it must be spared every ounce of pain that life has to offer.

To feel a boundless empathy with mankind while at the same time not being able to connect with anyone: that’s the story of our lives. The thought that nobody will ever know us the way we want to be known, the way we think we know ourselves, the way we’re capable of being known: that’s the source of all our fear and loneliness.

There are only three things in life worth pursuing: art, sex, and laughter. Art gives you mastery, sex gives you strength, and laughter gives you courage. Masterful, strong and courageous… that is the best person.

One has to work hard to avoid the realization that hard work is futile.

It’s such relief to be done with life yet still keep living. It’s the only freedom there is.

If life were not a mystery, it would be unbearable.

Most of us choose not to see what lies beneath, because life when faced without metaphysical protection is a sad and melancholy thing. But life too, like people, only reveals its beauties through its pain.

9/2/06

Aphorisms IX - Thoughts in Season


The hero and the martyr – There is a contradiction in our perception of these ideal-types of heroes and martyrs: such people are recognized as exceptional “individuals”, yet are considered exceptional precisely because they are “self-less”, rejecting self interest and their own well-being for the sake of others’ well-being, valuing the whole above their individuality. Thus, we value them because they value others more than themselves. However, the contradiction is only superficial, for it masks an economy of self-gratification. Through his selflessness, a man achieves the recognition of the public, thus becoming a hero – an ideal object of desire. Such is the self-gratification of the hero. And the martyr achieves his place by recognition in the eyes of God. Thus the selfless act works precisely to glorify the self all the more. But it is not one-way, for just as there would be no heroes without a public, or martyrs without a God, so too there would not exist a public without its heroes, or a God without its martyrs.

The selfless self – Selflessness is the surest way to self-gratification. There is an underlying wisdom to this paradox: it is based on our realization that we as individuals are mortal and ephemeral, and relatively unimportant vis-a-vis the species, which is immortal. Thus we value that which serves the species above that which serves the mere self. And yet what individual will act selflessly without expecting the gratification of their self and their ego from their fellow people – the species? In this way the individual must act for the good of the species so as to gain the greatest gratification and recognition of his self. Thus we find the ironic ingenuity of nature, in which vanity and narcissism is its greatest preserver, by precisely gratifying both the self and the whole at the same time, through the “selfless” act: the self through the whole, and the whole through the self. To be loved and satisfy our self we must act selflessly and forsake the self. And so the narcissistic drive, vanity and self-love, serve not only the preservation of the self, but also that of the species.

A Misremembrance of things past – It’s only when we look back on people we once knew that we realize that our friendship with them was not just based on our appreciation of them, their character and their qualities, but has just as much to do with the circumstances in which we met them, and the circumstances in our lives in which they happened to be at the right place at the right time. Ultimately a person is never the same person, independent of temporal and spatial circumstances, but changes relative to the changes in our own lives, and, more importantly, in our own sensibilities. In other words, no two people are ever really exactly the same people every time they meet, as new experiences and new memories and new sentiments will have been added since our last meeting. This change is of course amplified exponentially over time. As much as we seek constancy and permanence in the face of constant flux and change, we are always disappointed when, years later, upon meeting our once beloved companion, we find nothing but a sickening urge to walk away, amid sincere manifestations of our desire to recreate what once was so precious for us, stubbornly trying to deny these now-altered circumstances and somehow salvage a trace of the happiness and camaraderie that was once shared. But memories never survive their circumstances except as memories within those same circumstances (and the memories of those same circumstances), and so when the same characters are reunited in different conditions at a later point in time, you find that the particular feeling and place of that memory you so desperately want to recreate has been ruined and lost for ever. Thus precocious chance creates the bonds that sinister time erodes, but which our hopeful memory, in vengeful defiance, and with deluded confidence, desperately upholds.

On shared sentiments – There’s something about shared sentimentality that always causes blushes and embarrassment – and often even indifference – after it’s been shared. This shows that our memories need recourse to those same emotions so as to be faithful to the sentiments that created them, and in turn created those tender memories through them. Without recreating the same emotional and sentimental conditions of those memories, they seem hollow, comical, and embarrassing.

The irony of nostalgia – The irony of nostalgia is that every moment we are sentimentally escaping from is every moment we will look back upon with fondness in the future. Time is the great deceiver and also the great reliever. But what is it about the past that really touches our heart strings? It’s not really that we were in any way without troubles, heartache or stress back then – in fact, quite the contrary. What appeals to our sense of nostalgia is being able to know that we’ve overcome the problems and (what seem now) petty stress of those days, so that what was once troubling is not anymore, thus helping to give us strength and hope vis-à-vis the future and vis-à-vis our present troubles, knowing that one day these too will be a source of nostalgia. This is significant, because we are only ever nostalgic when we feel weak and depressed. When we are strong and happy, our mere existence justifies the present and banishes the past back to the nebulous realm of memories that have suffused it with the protean trickery of nostalgia.

On social intelligence – We are not so much impressed by the particular qualities of the people we admire as the way they can or cannot present those qualities in social interaction. The presentation must be able to balance out the collective egos and pride of the parties involved, not so much by flattering all of them (which is tedious and vulgar) as by being able to present one’s qualities simply without aggravating any of them. The best way to do this is to show consciousness of one’s own weaknesses while at the same time displaying one’s own strengths and qualities, thereby letting the other parties know that you do not take yourself too seriously, but also, that you do not take the other parties so lightly as to assume that they do not (and can not) see through your vanity.

On aesthetic discrimination – All discrimination is negative discrimination. Positive discrimination is founded upon negative discrimination, and contributes not to the eradication of that negative discrimination, but on the contrary, to its obverse perpetuation. Lowering standards by which ethno-social minorities or underprivileged participate in higher education perpetuates those minorities’ backwardness by not demanding of them the same standards demanded of the dominating ethno-social group. Having separate categories in bookstores for “Female” writers or “Gay” writers perpetuates those peoples’ otherness and leads to books being published simply for the purpose of their being published because of the sex or sexual preference of its author rather than out of any literary merit, which is the true standard of literature. If you really want to help others, stop treating them differently, even if you think it’s for their own good. There should only be one standard of differentiation: aesthetic merit.

The labyrinth – I once hallucinated a man huddled and silent in some corner of an infinite labyrinth, just sitting there waiting for another lost soul to accidentally wander by. When I got there I found I was that man waiting for another lost soul to accidentally wander by. Now I always feel I’m still waiting there for someone else to accidentally wander by the way I once did, as I lie huddled in some invisible corner of the infinite labyrinth. But then, don’t we all feel this way?

Drugs cannot be a sin – I don’t understand religious people with an aversion to drugs. If God created the world and the universe and everything in it, why would it/he/she create hallucinogenic substances that it/he/she would think are bad? If it exists then how can it be bad? If God is good, then God wants good for its/his/her creatures, and so why would God create something it/he/she knows is bad? If it/he/she creates something bad then fuck that God. And if you think drugs are bad, then don’t blame people who take them, blame yourself for having faith in a malicious God. If what is created is good, then hallucinogens are thus good, so enjoy them, because your precious, all-knowing, all-powerful God created them. Some of you are going to say God created them “because it/he/she is testing us.” Why? If it/he/she could create anything it/he/she wanted, then why the testing? Testing implies that it/he/she isn’t sure if what it/he/she has created is good or not, and that makes me wonder if it/he/she doesn’t know what the fuck it/he/she is doing, which means it/he/she is NOT omnipotent, and thus, NOT God. In other words, if you believe in God but not in enjoying its/his/her creation, then God is a joke. And that goes for everything else the test-argument relates to: what the fuck is it/he/she testing? Whether it/he/she is a decent creator or not? If that’s the case then fuck it/him/her for misleading us all for so long into thinking it/he/she is perfect. I think we all have better things to do than pay heed to some fuck-up God who can’t even live up to the perfection that we accord it/him/her.

A fantasy of oblivion – My greatest fantasy is to just drop out, to not care anymore about anything, to be a bum. When I think I could just do that, just give up and feel I’ll be happy as a bum, I prolong that fantasy and I do whatever crap I’m doing better than I would if I thought it was important. Because, let’s face it, it’s easier to be a bum when you know it’s not because you couldn’t do anything else or are a failure, but when you know it’s because you want to be a bum, and not for any other reason. Ultimately, it’s easier to do something well if you don’t care whether you do it well or not.

On Hemingway – The best thing about Hemingway is that he never has heroes or anti-heroes. He just has people. It’s easy to make something great out of a Raskolnikov or that guy in Notes From Underground, or Holden Caulfield, or The Outsider guy, or Gatsby. But to make something great out of average people is… I don’t know what it is, there’s no adjective for it, and I guess that’s why Hemingway didn’t use them. To walk away in the rain alone after a war and the loss of your woman and child, to die of gangrene as your life rolls before your eyes, to be impotent in the presence of beauty, to give a life or death struggle for the sake of not being hungry for the night… he makes you feel there’s a dignity in just being human. Adjectives are for heroes and anti-heroes, but there are no adjectives to describe simply being, so he forsakes them, and the effect is… well it just is. Perhaps his greatest achievement was to divest heroism from the possession of an individual, or a group, or an idea, or a task, and invest it in the act of living.

What life is – We live our lives in the spaces between all those beautiful works of art – books, songs, films, ideas – that we feel sum up our lives, yet keep hoping for more than what those works of art purport to capture… life is wasted on us, its beauty lies in everything that it doesn’t give and everything it can’t even begin to imagine, because life is never just us: it’s that unbridgeable distance which forever lies between us and our desires.

Life is a rhythm – Sometimes we’re out of the rhythm, and that’s when we’re struggling to fit in with what’s going on around us, because we’re out of synch with the rhythm, we’re out of synch with people, with who we are and what we’re doing – or not doing. But when we find the rhythm it’s like life is us and we are life. We simply are. We become light, everything becomes easy, it’s like we don’t need to expend any effort in whatever we do. Our minds and our bodies are one with their pursuits and their surroundings. We have found our place in the universe, the only place we know we can be at that moment. At that moment, we are each of us – quite literally – the center of our respective universes.

Killing for survival – There are those who think killing is morally reprehensible. But how do you survive without killing? When you eat meat you eat an animal that was butchered for you. When you eat a vegetable you’re killing a plant that was ripped out of the earth for your survival. When you eat fruit you’re destroying the necessary nourishment and protection of a seed that could take root and create new life. When you kill large predators you’re maintaining your own living space. When you kill rabbits or kangaroos or rodents, you’re protecting your harvest and your food supply. In other words, you have to kill to live. Life and death are not just intertwined, they are the same thing. There can only be one with the other, and there can only be an other within the one.

Killing for pleasure – But what about killing your fellow human beings, considering, of course, you’re not a cannibal (and there are human beings who considered other human beings as food and felt no remorse or compunction about the matter)? Sometimes killing serves a different goal than mere survival. Sometimes we kill for pleasure. We revel in exercising power over others, in having the power of life and death over them – especially the power of death.

A profound readiness – What we must do in life is accumulate enough memories so that what we’ve done can always suffice, no matter what we are yet to do. In other words, we must live life always feeling at every moment that if we died we would not regret it, just as we must greet our deaths without regretting that we ever lived.

God and art – Inebriation is the closest we will ever get to godliness… Ask Hafiz, ask Omar Khayyam, ask Charles Bukowski, ask Sid Vicious… Their Gods spoke through them, and of them.

Perfection – When you seek fame, fortune, success and riches, famous, fortunate, successful and rich is all you will ever amount to. When you renounce fame, fortune, success and riches, you will not be famous, fortunate, successful or rich. You will be something far more substantial. You will become invisible, untouchable, beyond judgment. You will be sublime. You will be perfect, and people will recognize you as such, because you will no longer be you. You will be like a mirror in which people will see only their own imperfections every time they try to see yours.

God and his antithesis – When you think about it, God is the most mundane and predictable of human creations. And yet without God, we would not have had Satan, Jesus, Don Juan or Prometheus, all of which are among the greatest creations of the human imagination. Is God then sublime only in the form of its own antithesis? Perhaps that’s where our addiction and fascination with tragedy lies: not in rebellion as is commonly assumed, but in perversity – the perversity of pointless mortality eternally rebelling against an ideal too good and too true to be allowed to reign over us as we would wish it to if only it weren’t so straightforward, so mundane and so predictable in its ideality.

To love those you hate – When you’re feeling cocky and proud, when you’re feeling like you’re superior to everyone around you, when you’re feeling like the dog’s bollocks, always remember: you and everyone you know and love will die soon. Never forget that, because you alone are nothing. But you and all those people around you together are something sublime, something unfathomable and beautiful, even with all your ugliness, even with all your malice, even with all your complexes and limitations. Don’t forget, nobody’s better than anyone else – or worse. Without the bad you would not know the good, without the rule you would not know the exception, without the collar you would not know the bone, without the sycophant you would not know the rebel. You’re nothing without all the people you hate.

The need for love – To give your love to a person is to take a great risk… The risk of loneliness, the risk of doubt, the risk of unrequited feelings, and the risk of failure. But we still take the risk, because there is a primordial drive for procreation within us that is infinitely more important than our egos. In fact, it is so important, it is the underlying drive of even our egos, because we all still would rather be miserably unloved by the one we love than not in love with anyone at all.

A conscious contradiction – The ego is idolized in the West today, whereas the ego is persecuted and vilified in Eastern philosophy. But a healthy compromise is the most natural state of being. After all, Taoism – for example – is not sexy, because sex without ego is no fun at all, and living without feeling sexy is even less so. And yet a society in which the ego is the be all and end all of everything is one in which everyone despises everyone else and everyone’s satisfaction is only fleeting and dependent on circumstance. Therefore one needs a healthy balance – to feed and maintain one’s ego, but not as an ends but a means, always being aware that ultimately the I is illusory and of no consequence, something that will die with our death. But the ego is fundamental to satisfying certain urges such as sex, power and accomplishment, all of which are of the greatest pleasure to us, and would be ruined if we were to deny the ego completely in our lives. On the other hand, to allow the ego to reign supreme leads to nothing but narcissism, vanity and insecurity. Ultimately the rule to follow is this: I am, but I am nothing. In other words, the best thing to be is a contradiction, but a very conscious contradiction.

Privilege as handicap – Privilege is a handicap to truly talented people. Tenacity, grit, perseverance and a fighting spirit are a hell of a lot more important than plain talent if a person is going to get wherever they want to be in life. However, privilege is good for mediocre people, because it thereby gives them enough disposable time and comfort to create something neither they nor others would otherwise have the time or patience for.

Cheap friends – The one thing nobody can afford to be is cheap. This is not so much because they forsake us their generosity, but because they thereby prevent us from being able to show generosity towards them. That’s what annoys us about cheap people: they don’t realize that in the commerce of human relations, a mutual interaction of beneficence and gratitude is the real unit of exchange rather than anything so menial as money, because the former is a unit that is used exclusively among friends, the latter is used among everyone, whether you know them or not, whether you like them or not. Thus the cheap person, by virtue of his cheapness makes his friends feel very un-special indeed.

Why keep living? – Ultimately there’s only one question worth answering in life. The question is: Why don’t I kill myself? Most of us pick and choose a convenient answer from the catalogue of ready-to-use answers furnished by popular metaphysical systems of philosophy or religion, while others just let themselves be tacked on to one of those systems without having to ever face such a disturbing question to begin with. Others, the very few, find their own answers, and only because, at some point or other, they were brave enough to make it to the question in the first place.

A chronicle of vanity – It always astounds me how people could publish such drivel as their memoirs. If one person has done something, that means, ipso facto, that anyone can do it. Canoeing down the Amazon or crossing the Antarctic is really no more astounding than a person who can spend their entire life in a single city or work in the same office, doing the same job for 35 years. In fact, if it weren’t for one, the other would not be of any significance whatsoever, and so in this dialectical equivalence they neutralize each other to the extent that any feat accomplished by a human being is a feat of all humanity, and vice versa. It wasn’t for nothing that when a man landed on the moon he declared it to be a great step for mankind. All memoirs really are is the facial features of a person’s most flattering self-portrait, all painted on with the clumsiest brushstrokes of vanity. All in all, just more sludge on the compost heap of cosmic knowledge.

Love as competition – A relationship is not about love and trust and all that shit. A relationship is about winning. It’s your ego against the other’s, and only the winner can move on unscathed to the next match to build up their ego even more, to win more conquests and gain more reputation, while the loser will be left licking his or her wounds. And the loser is always the one who is in love and is not ashamed to show it. But then, sometimes, there’s even a satisfaction in losing, although not one that most people have the sense of tragedy to appreciate.

Overestimating oneself – Everyone overestimates how much other people think about them. That’s why we’re always so embarrassed when we make a bad step in social circumstances and play that embarrassing moment over and over in our minds, even as everybody else is too busy doing the same thing to even vaguely remember what faux pas we ever committed. By the same token, we always underestimate just how much other people expect us to remember things about them that they want us to, and just how disappointed they are when we don’t.

The convenience of pride – We will use whatever advantage we have at our disposal to differentiate us favorably from others. Such is the nature of pride, which is something beyond us. If someone has been given something, some comfort, that we ourselves have had to work and strive to achieve, we hold our difficulties against that person, even though we would, given the same circumstances, accept those favors and comforts just as readily as the person we scorn and without the need for all the work and toil we claim pride over. Often that which we are proud of is nothing more than revenge for our having to compromise our laziness while others are able to get away with having it rewarded. It just goes to show that virtue always serves a selfish end.

The callousness of women – If it weren’t for the callousness of women, men would never marry. They would always be too egotistically content and move on to new conquests, deluded by the belief that their previous conquests were always in love with them, or at least in awe of them. Women are callous precisely because men are so vain. They therefore use their callousness to keep men dependent on them.

The vanity of the heartbroken – Men are always hung up on the girls who didn’t love them, who made it clear they could do without them – which basically means she thinks she could do better than him. Thus when a man gets dumped by a woman, he will convince himself he is in love with her so as to keep faith that perhaps one day he will turn her and finally conquer her and make her see that he is in fact worthy of her love. By going on loving her, he is convincing himself he has not quit (i.e. not accepted not being good enough), fooling himself that there is still a bond, and flattering himself by assuming a tragic role for himself as the spurned lover. He does all this precisely because he wants to persuade himself that in doing this he is in fact a worthy lover and that his having been spurned is a result of the unworthiness of the female, who cannot see his shining example of “love”, “commitment” and “affection” even though (but really, especially because) it be unrequited, tragic and hopeless. By acting the role of tragic lover, the man is thus keeping his vanity and self-love intact by creating a fake moral high ground for himself, when in fact he’s just an insecure overgrown baby who desperately needs to be seen for the “great man” that he is. Thus, every spurned man’s show of “burning love and desire” for the beloved that spurned him is really his burning desire for recognition and for the satisfaction of his insatiable vanity vis-à-vis that one failed conquest that got away and that he wasn’t good enough for. Every man is like this, without exception.

The need to stand out – The ubiquitous predictability of the love every man has – and shows, some more tastefully than others – for himself may seem tedious to us, but this is what actually wins the adoration of women (even while they’re at the same time aware of the silliness of it). When picking a man, what a woman is doing is actually giving that man the chance to prove his high opinion of himself, which he needs to do in the eyes of the female in order to certify it, failure to do which is the single greatest torment that could befall a man. The man knows that he has no worth if it’s not recognized in the eyes of the female, because all the attributes he is proud of in his self-love are those that directly or indirectly serve the interests of the female: his physical and mental capacity serve directly to protect and love the female, and also indirectly to make him stand out from the other male competitors so as to let the female be assured that she has the best possible pick of the pack, who will thus have the best possible genes for her offspring. This rule is so universal and so completely overrides every other aspect of the male psyche, that a man may have a hundred adoring past-conquests, but it only takes one rejection to send him into the depths of gloom, and often even to the contemplation of suicide. He could have the entire world in his hands, but he will only ever see that one pair of eyes that chose to look away.

Being cool – To be “cool” is to exhibit a consistently aloof-but-engaged aesthetic equipoise within one’s immediate circumstances. Although coolness manifests itself through action, it actually rests on a quality that is inherent in a person. One either is cool or is not, because just acting cool is never cool. The primary requisite in attaining a quality of coolness is that of having so much self-esteem that you leave it as the task of others to seek recognition from you, rather than display even the slightest inclination that you might need recognition from anyone. Put simply, being cool is being and never being-for. It’s this self-completeness that wins our complete admiration and makes it a far more excellent quality than any other achievement, no matter how impressive. To achieve coolness should be the only task of life. Once it’s achieved, everything on top of that is just an added bonus.

Social brutes – There are people who think that being frank and saying what you mean and meaning what you say is somehow a remarkable quality. The thing is everybody says what they mean anyway, they just do it in subtle ways that make it witty, interesting and something to be discovered on the part of others, to be discerned in body and facial language, to be found wrapped up in wit and irony, thus making for vibrant and colorful social interaction. Those who choose to forsake subtleties are like those who explain jokes by forsaking punch-lines. To say what you mean and mean what you say is nothing but brutish bad taste that’s practiced by those dinosaurs who still think the finest thing in life is virtue, when we all know it’s actually aesthetics.

On social refinement – The use of sarcasm, irony and wit in social interaction is like using a private language which only people of like aesthetic refinement and fine intellect can pick up on, and it serves the useful function of sifting out of its own accord all those blunt half-wits who still believe in frankness, openness, candidness and honesty. The former apply a natural aristocratic sensibility that helps them save time and effort that may otherwise be wasted on the dull-witted, while the latter wield a democratic indiscrimination for which quantity not quality is the only way for them to pass time they would otherwise not know what to do with.

On philosophical consolation – Impulses are by nature something we cannot control or prevent from coming up when they will. Jealousy is also an impulse, and a sickening one, because it grabs you right on the ego, which is our most sensitive, most pervasive and most powerful psychological faculty. Therefore it’s pointless to try and prevent such a feeling arising when, say, we see an ex-girlfriend with some other guy. But that being said, we can mollify the impulse with the application of philosophy and reason. Just think of that girl whose affections and love have been denied you and given another… just think that she will be an old, withered, wrinkled, ugly, fat housewife in a matter of years, and you will be dead… just think how insignificant it is, therefore, to mull and eat your heart out over such a trivial detail as a girl’s affections, when you know full well that everyone goes through the same things, that everyone suffers, that it’s the most universal, ubiquitous, general and unexceptional impulse in the world, that age will catch up with us all, and then death, and it will all repeat itself stupidly, blindly (though not pointlessly). Maybe thinking in this way can mollify those sickening feelings… but it hasn’t helped me yet. I still feel sick in the face of jealousy, even though I am aware of just how insignificant, unexceptional and ordinary a human creature I am among other unexceptional, insignificant and ordinary human creatures.

A woman behind every successful man – Your woman’s not particularly interested in what you do, she’s interested in where and what what-you-do gets you. She is interested in your accomplishments and interests only in terms of their ends, i.e. whether you make money from them, whether your accomplishment earns recognition from others, and whether your status within society is positively affected by it, because all of this also affects her positively, being as she is your partner. This makes sense, because a woman’s primary biological drive is to find the best possible mate to be the father of her offspring, and so they value it above all else that their potential mates be the best not only in terms of their individual attributes, but also relative to other rivals, viz. other men. In fact, this is why men need women, because without them, they would be too satisfied with what they’ve done… they need women to push them into using what they’ve done to achieve success and status vis-à-vis other men. The woman may not have had any share in the creative act, but she knows – and everyone knows – that a man’s success is also a woman’s success.

The beauty of Woman – Misogyny has always struck me as the sign of meekness in men, and even indelicacy. How can a man not be enchanted by these creatures and their singular, unwavering instincts? How can a man not be charmed whenever he sees their delicate bodies, their elegant hands, their tiny feet, their thin long necks, their soft silky skin, their small inviting lips, their flowing hair, their playful eyes, their seductive gaze, their flirtatious gestures, their secret siren charms that touch us without us even being aware, that ensnare us without us even being conscious of it? And behind it all, to be insensitive to their singular instinctive goal, their certain and unwavering task, to be blind to their need for you, for their desire to be yours, to have you and make a life with you, to have your children, to support you and be supported by you. To overlook the beauty of women – and I don’t just mean physical beauty, I mean their entire biological beauty – is to turn your back on life itself, because woman is life in all its grace and all its terror and all its hardship and all its rewards.

Our need for women – Women hold us to rigid standards. A misogynist is an ogre who has not been able to live up to those standards once or twice, and has subsequently become disillusioned with the upholders of those standards. But a misogynist mustn’t be thought to hate women; he hates women to cover up his hate for himself for not having been able to live up to the standards of a few women in his past. A misogynist resents his own meekness, because to have been rejected by a woman means that there are better men than him out there, and a man never wants to be made conscious of this fact – it’s only women that can make him conscious of it, and they’ll do so without so much as blinking an eye. They’ll let him know coldly, callously, completely, ruthlessly. Women are the only things that keep us honest – and productive.

Do that which is least expected of you – When you’ve been crushed by another person, the only thing you can do is be noble, take the pain and move on. In the short term you’ll be hurting, your ego will suffer, your heart will remain broken, but with time you will see that your nobleness of character will console you, and will also not go unnoticed by others. Think of it as an investment in yourself that will reap greater rewards than any impulsive and emotional momentary satisfaction will ever achieve. In fact, the ability to do this is what differentiates those we admire from those we don’t. To do what people least expect of people to do is not easy, which is why it wins the most sincere admiration when done.

The pariah – The problem with living in a society where everyone seeks fame and recognition, where everyone fancies themselves talented if not potential genius, where everyone is seeking to get their names in a film credit, a magazine, a newspaper, or a book, where everyone is trying to create something original, something unique, something that will make their name known to many, to blow everyone’s minds, in such a society where everyone has become a critic… the best you can expect is other peoples’ jealousy, and the worst you can look forward to is indifference. But one thing is for certain: no matter what you do or who you are, you will always be dissatisfied, disillusioned and unhappy unless you shun that society and remain a pariah. You won’t be any happier as a pariah, but at least you will stand out because you will not strive to stand out.

Our ego-cocoons – Our over-estimation of ourselves is directly proportional to our underestimation of others. Thus, nobody cares what you do, and you don’t care what anybody else really does. Instead we all just live in our own ego-cocoons, each of us hoping one day to emerge as brilliant butterflies to fly off and be admired by all the others still in their cocoons. Unfortunately, nobody can see outside their cocoons.

On the vanity of all accomplishments – Success and failure amount to the same thing: it’s a pointless dichotomy that never reaps the rewards imagined, that never truly satisfies, that always leaves you starving for more, and that makes you paranoid about the passing of time, the onset of age, and the loss of beauty and youth. To care about oneself that much is the surest way to self-ruin, just as to care about life too much is to live in perpetual fear of death.

The tyranny of reason – People who place too much emphasis on rationality don’t realize the randomness of human thoughts. Most great ideas begin with random thoughts that are themselves born of spontaneous and instinctive feelings that we know not the origins of, springing as they do from a will more primordial than even us, even our species, even life itself. Only afterward do we categorize, arrange, organize and systematize those thoughts into logically consistent syntactic morsels that can be made easily digestible for us and others, once they are securely placed within the system of intersignification that is language and thus made familiar to us. Eventually, this synthetic creation tyrannizes and annihilates even its origins, seeking to reign supreme over our consciousness. Such is the nature of reason: It’s the oppression of grammar and logic over the shameful and terrifying chaos of nature – more precisely, us as a manifestation of nature.

The wisdom of boredom – So many people complain about boredom, but I have no doubt that the nearest we come to seeing nature as it really is is in those moments of boredom. The state of our boredom is the most faithful representation of what life really is, of what the universe is really like. If we look beyond all our stupid little day-to-day cares, our pointless projects and silly problems, we’ll see that life is in fact totally indifferent to us – in fact, it’s indifferent to everything. Thus, when one is bored, one is actually sharing the inherent indifference of life and being one with it, as if it were the only true communication between the self and the universe from which it is otherwise perpetually doomed to feel estranged from.

The insignificance and illusion of phenomena – The strangest thing happens when things happen. Whatever value we give to an occurrence to the extent that it concerns us thereby makes it good or bad. In other words, an event gains importance, meaning and signification through the subject who witnesses and lives it and is somehow affected by it. But if in that moment you ignore your shouts of jubilation or sorrow, pain or pleasure, your exclamations of shock or awe, if you look past the knife that cut your finger, the milk that spilled all over the floor, the bird that shat on your head, or the bus that just hit the dog, you find an eerie feeling in you that everything that happens is inconsequential and no different in quality or value than anything else. Things simply happen regardless of their meaning to us as observers, occurring as the result of a confluence of infinite factors that led up to it in the most coincidental, insignificant and inconsequential manner. Even when someone dies and you think from that same angle, all you see is a dead lump of meat and other lumps of meat standing around looking at it. When you learn to see the indifference of life, everything becomes ridiculous, everything loses value, even death, life and birth become equally perfunctory, insignificant, vapid phenomena. Ultimately, all any phenomenon ever really is is simply the displacement of matter. In fact, we only ever perceive phenomena because we are somehow biased and interested in it, ignoring all others that could be perceived going on around us all the time. I do not observe the phenomena of a bird’s glance at a passing man, or that of an ant’s struggle to carry a leaf back to its nest beneath my very feet, but I see phenomena that interests me in the sense that it causes me to relate to deep-seated feelings and instincts in me of death, sex, power or struggle – I perceive the man being hit by the car, the woman passing me a glance, the boy scoring a goal or the police siren wailing by me, chasing a speeding car. But ultimately, all those phenomena are are tiny little morsels of a universally constant and unceasing displacement of matter going on around us and within us all the time, of which we ourselves are a part. All we see are bits and pieces, and our world’s are constructed on tiny little pictures of an incomprehensibly grand single phenomenon that none will ever know or see, but just happen to pick bits and pieces out of, thinking that many things are going on when really we are all part of the same grand incomprehensible phenomenon which includes everything you’ve ever seen, everything you’ve never seen, including me writing this and you reading it.

Man and conquest – Ladies’ Men always envy each other their conquests. Once you’ve set out on the task of conquest, you cannot accept not being the ultimate conqueror, because to fail in even just one conquest means complete and total failure as a conqueror. For a Ladies’ Man it’s all or nothing, and unless he can have them all – or at least believe he can have them all – he is nothing. Never underestimate to what extent the male ego is vainglorious, ridiculous, deranged and hopelessly romantic. That’s why women love them, because they know that if men weren’t like that, our species would have died out a long time ago.

A comfortable affliction – Comfort is an affliction that either stimulates asceticism or degenerates into voluptuous indifference. Which way it will go is less contingent upon the character and disposition of the one who is afflicted than it is upon whether one considers comfort to be an end in itself, or an obstacle to be overcome.

On the vanity of suffering – It’s amazing that no matter how many people you know who have suffered because they lost the girl they love, no matter how many songs you’ve heard sung about it, no matter how you know that everyone has been through the same horrible pangs of jealousy, worthlessness, depression, loneliness and despair, you still always feel like you’re the only person in the world when you suffer. We are so jealous of our own vanity that we are unwilling to part with it even when we know it’s to our own benefit to do so. We would rather take on all the suffering of the world than admit that what we’re experiencing is not unique, that it’s not the greatest suffering that a man has ever felt, that we’re just another maudlin schmuck who just needs to bite the bullet, shut the fuck up, and move on.

On occupation and busyness – I used to wonder why people are so busy, thinking that they’d be happier to have as much time on their hands as possible, but now I see that that’s the last thing they’d want. In fact people are scared of having time on their hands, they’d rather be busy doing something pointless than have all that time that they wouldn’t know what to do with. If they weren’t so busy they’d also be faced with the eventual suspicion and realization that life is essentially pointless, the world is ridiculous and the universe is meaningless. So they gleefully trade their time in for busy occupation to escape a coming face to face with the stark, cold, empty reality of their existence.

The Anglo-European scourge – The greatest tragedy of the last few centuries is that with globalization via capitalism, the European work ethic has become the norm that all non-Anglo-European nations have been subjected to and expected to follow without question. The timeless, voluptuous, lazy wisdom of Asians and Africans has been trampled under the feet of impetuous upstart neurotic Anglo-Europeans. While the Asians and the Africans are in tune with the slowness and rhythm of life, the Europeans are feverishly and desperately trying to master life and control life and fit it to their own specifications, thereby always failing to truly know it or enjoy it – because they fail to feel it. Even their quest for “spirituality” is a completely intellectual pursuit. Is it any wonder that every survey reveals that Anglo-Europeans are the most unhappy people on earth?

The self – The Asians have an instinctual, female intelligence: they know that Self is illusory and to be mistrusted. Europeans have an intellectual, male intelligence: they believe Self is all we really have and everything worth investing in. It seems the real trick lies somewhere in between: in the possibility of affirming your self without investing too much faith, expectation or hope in it.

On our ego neurosis – The idolization of Ego is the greatest cause of our post-industrial state of boredom, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, alienation, malcontent and disillusion. Anything we achieve is not enough, because others are achieving more around us; anything we do is never enough because once done we feel we as individuals have to do more things, things better and more successful than before; when we’re not successful we’re miserable; when others – people we know and love – are successful we’re envious and miserable… The more we think this way the more age becomes a source of paranoia, time becomes a source of anguish, fading youth, creeping old age, self-doubt, regret… Maybe when we stopped giving so much of a fuck about ourselves and saw ourselves as something far beyond individuals, as a species or as part of a cycle of regeneration, we might relax a little and enjoy our lives, thus becoming more successful in the art of living, an art we are completely inept in as yet. Unless we feel part of something greater than ourselves, we are destined to always be alone and unhappy. As things stand, each of us thinks we’re the most important thing in the universe, the only thing we truly have. We hear it all around us, “YOU can be anything,” “YOU can be successful,” “YOU can be creative.” Remember, YOU are mortal, but WE will live on far after you and I are dead. To live your life in realization of that is the first step to overcoming our collective ego neurosis.

No-thing – If we could ever invent a way of referring to a thing as anything other than nothing while at the same time encapsulating everything we seek to express with the word “nothing” without any reference to the word “thing”, then we will have made the next great leap in the evolution of language.

On the perfidiousness of Intellectual Property – Pirate my book, copy it illegally, cheat me, do whatever you want to be able to read it. Art should be the only aim of art, not making money off of it. Once we abolish this abomination called “intellectual property”, piracy will also be abolished, all the pestiferous parasite colonies of agents and galleries and critics will disappear, art will belong to everyone. When we abolish “intellectual property” nobody will even bother to try and claim something for themselves to earn fame and recognition from it, because we will no longer value the artist, we will value only the art, and that is the only important thing. Abolishing “intellectual property” will also rid us of bad art, because nobody will make art for gain, and nobody will appreciate bad art when there’s nothing to gain from it, therefore nobody will either bother making bad art or looking at it. Once we get rid of the artist, art will belong to all, and everyone will own up to that which they adore and love. Of course, abolishing intellectual property may mean abolishing all conception of private property. If so, then so be it. The loss of private property is a small price to pay for art.

Art as a labor of love – The concept of owning an idea, a thought, a creative revelation is ridiculous. If you own it, then keep it for yourself, locked away in your head or scribbled on a piece of paper carefully hidden in some dark corner of your desk drawer. Ah, but you want to sell it to us and be rich? In that case work, till a field, man a factory line, dig a well, do something truly useful for yourself, for your society, for mankind. Let art be a labor of love, not a labor of profit.

Fucking and fighting – Forget education, manners, good intentions, travel, insight, morality, developing yourself, building character, respecting others, and all that shit. Get into a fight and then fuck a girl you just met, and you will find that the feeling of euphoria, exhilaration, adrenalin and power that results from it is the only thing that’s worth living for. Fuck everything else.

On warehouses and factories – Most of the time, people who seem to be having a conversation are actually just exchanging monologues. Most people are too lazy to have a real dialogue, preferring instead to just open canned opinions and recycled ideas they’ve stored up in their heads. Their minds are merely warehouses, whereas those who truly seek dialogue have minds like factories.

The consolation of philosophy – Philosophy is a lonely pastime, which is why it’s so enjoyable. People babble around you while you float over their heads, sublime in the joy of your lightness, unweighed by the burden of all company except your own. Your mind encapsulates the entire universe and simply sitting on a curb or looking out on a street becomes something wildly adventurous, exciting, moving and wonderful. Nothing escapes your grasp, everything becomes questionable and problematic, and as a result, everything assumes a mysterious and mystical significance. Philosophy puts the magic and wonder back in life the way you felt that magic and wonder when you were a child, or when our species was still a child and had recourse to mythology and religion. A life without philosophy is, as Plato said, truly half-lived.

Good advice – One cannot give advice through words because nobody really values such advice, they only value the show of sympathy and concern implicit in the act of giving advice. Telling people what they should or shouldn’t do is so easy, and therefore has no value whatsoever. Advice should instead be given through action. Simply in his style and manner of living, a man should be an inspiration to others without his ever even being aware of it.

The magic of writing – Books have an enchanting and magical quality for children because the distinction between the author and the book and the reader which the adult has become too habitually conscious of is still hazy for the child, so that the line between fact and fiction is easily blurred, because that line is already blurry for kids. Thus children can’t help but want to believe that if something can be thought of and written then there might also be a chance that it can happen, that we too can experience the strange and wonderful adventures we encounter. This was always a source of anxiety for me, because I also wanted desperately to see magical doors and gateways appear before me, to be able to walk through and find myself the hero of my own adventure, in a wonderful land where despite a myriad of perils and dangers, I would always be sure to heroically come through. I would encounter a beautiful girl my age and we’d fall in love while overcoming those adventures (she’d usually be whichever girl I had a crush on in primary school). I would then eventually make it back home, knowing I’d overcome and experienced so much, so that I wouldn’t care how life was after that, safe and secure in the knowledge of what I’d achieved in the past. So desperate was I for this that I became sad knowing it might never happen to me, that I would never be as fortunate as the heroes of these fantastic books, that I would never find that magic that I could only read about. I always admired the boys who never read those books, because they all already had their worlds of fantastic accomplishments. They played team sports, interacted with each other, rode bikes together, fought and made up, earned names for themselves, earned reputations and rewards and even had girlfriends, the very girls that I’d have crushes over. As for me, silent, detached, alone and an outsider, I could only keep reading… just as now I can only keep writing, because I now know that the only way to recreate that magic is to create magic. And that’s all writing is: a desperate search for magic all around us.

Less is always more – The more you accomplish, the more you realize the pointlessness of any accomplishments. The more successful you are, the more you are dissatisfied with success. The more you do, the more you understand the meaninglessness of any deed. The more you think you have to be proud of, the more you feel that you are worthless and insignificant. The more money you earn, the less pleasure you get from spending it. The happier you are, the more depressed you become. The smarter you are, the more disillusioned you are with everything. The more people you meet, the less you enjoy their company. In this life, more is always less. The less you do, the more satisfied you’ll be.

The comfort of night – To feel something deeply and emotionally during the daytime arouses melancholy along with a sense of profound sorrow and emptiness. Such feelings need the cover of night, when the universe seems boundless, all possibilities seem endless, and our own selves as if immune to any passing of time. The brutality of light is too violent in its illumination of reality for us to be able to live in it without seeking the security and comfort of shadows and darkness.

What you once were is what you will be – No one will give a flying fuck when you’re dead. You’re worm food waiting to happen. You’re refuse waiting to be dumped back into the earth. You’re just another big fat agglomeration of organic, carbon-based molecules ready to be consumed by grass, or potatoes, or a mole. You are fuck-all. But you are a torch-bearer of life for the time being. You have the baton for now, for this brief, ephemeral moment that is what you call your life. What will you do with it? What will you leave behind? What will they say of you when you are compost, when you are shit, when you are dirt plied by the hooves of oxen, or ripped apart by the steel of a tractor? What will they say of you when they think back to how handsome you were, or how funny were your jokes, or how pertinent your conversation? Hopefully they will at least say this: that you were handsome, that your jokes were funny, and that your conversation was once pertinent. But they’ll probably say nothing at all, because the world will forget all about you.

The negative side of drugs – Why is cocaine such a seductive drug? If you compare the effects of extasy or those of mushrooms or acid, or even marijuana, cocaine would seem almost insignificant in comparison, not only in the feelings it conjures (or fails to conjure) but also in duration, cost and sheer damage done to the body. And yet it will still be the most seductive to a good many people. The reason is simply that unlike the other drugs just mentioned, cocaine does not weaken and diminish the ego but rather fortifies and magnifies it to such proportions that the participants can not only talk about themselves with abandon and in all earnestness, but they can also flatter and pamper the egos of the others with no qualms or insecurities whatsoever. In other words, all of the magnified egos become so large and exaggerated that our usual feelings of disgust or defensiveness at hearing someone talk about themselves grandiloquently and/or talk about ourselves in the same sickeningly flattering manner suddenly become totally normal, in fact they become necessary, because what has been created is a great big super ego which is both fed by and feeds the other inflated egos that have created it and partake of it. This is so appealing to us that once it’s been created it is very difficult to stop and come back down to the real world where envy, jealousy, pride, self-love and insecurities would never let anyone get away with such blatant ego-mongering.

Opinion as self-trickery – Our opinions and tastes are always indexed to our ignorance. We have no time or energy to spend on that which we do not know enough about, and thus either our laziness or smugness - and usually both at the same time - determine what we like, and more importantly, what we don’t like. Thus while for one person with hardly any classical study behind them a certain literature will be declared oblique, prudish, recondite and tedious, for another, who has no knowledge of contemporary literature, a work will come across as being shallow, naïve and evanescent. In either case the critic’s pride and vanity protect him by declaring that which he lacks to not be worth his/her while learning anyway. Rather than declare our ignorance - which our pride and ego precludes us from doing - we rather prefer to denigrate that which we don’t understand, thus feeling more at ease thanks to our self-trickery.

The oligarchy of taxonomy – The greatest contribution of the science of humanities is that it has made everybody interesting as a subject, be it of psychology, economy, politics, history, sociology or anthropology. Everyone has become a social phenomenon. So whatever happened to the person who is interesting as a person? That species has become a nuisance to the powers that be: the oligarchy of taxonomy. A person is no longer a person, s/he is a subject.

On political correctness – We once lived under the specter of “evil” fascism whereas now we live under a new fascism, the fascism of Good. Politically correct language is imposed upon us to protect everyone from any sort of discrimination; sexual harassment laws have now effectively eliminated flirtation and put the fear of being labeled a “pervert” in the minds of anyone who does not abide; laws and regulations have been erected to prevent you from indulging in cigarettes or drugs or alcohol, for your own good; new theories on healthy eating and fitness and training bombard us everyday, parallel with other propaganda that tells us it’s ok to be who we are, even if we’re obese or stupid; psychology and sociology and genetic engineers tell us that we are not to blame for being fucked up, that it was either bound to happen from our DNA or through our lousy parents and upbringing or through “socio-economic” factors; the clamor of sit-coms, evangelists, movies, schools, talk shows all conspire for our own “good”. Whereas the fascism of old discriminated against those of another race or nation, today’s fascism discriminates against nature itself, our nature, the most important part of which is our capacity to claim responsibility for our own lives, for our own decisions, and for our own ideas. Thus the fascism of old divided mankind, while the fascism of today divides the man. Make no mistake, under modern democracy you will find the most insidious fascism of all.

An experiment with humans – When you joke around about introducing two people who you know know each other, go ahead and ask one if he or she knows the other and see their reaction. Both will always jokingly act like they hardly know the other, or pretend to think very poorly of them and put them down, even if it’s in jest. That is the moment – that small gap in the syntax of social relations – when you will see a person’s true disposition toward another person… as someone beneath them, which we like to assume – and flatter ourselves to think – that everyone is. That little joke will give you the perfect opportunity to see people be relieved enough to express their true inclinations vis-à-vis other people – as one of power, dominance, superiority and vanity.

A mercy killing – I knew a person who thought that the most important thing in life was to be happy, but that person was always miserable, because that person had so idealized happiness that that person could tolerate no exceptions or irregularities, and so the slightest deviation from complete happiness made that person unhappy, and thus that person wallowed in a constant state of unattained perfection. Every time I saw that person I felt like strangling that person out of love – but not pure love.

A real CV – We all have to write curricula vitae for others with a whole bunch of crap about menial shit that means nothing to us other than its utility value for the sake of being eligible for employment by some stranger. It would be nice if we all also wrote a CV for ourselves, just for our own sakes. We could list things we’re really proud of rather than the skills and trades and bullshit we try to sell ourselves with. We could list the time we said that joke that everyone laughed at; or the best sex we ever had, and why it was so good; or how you did something you were afraid of and felt so good after you did it; of how you vandalized your school and felt good about it; of how you stole a book and didn’t feel ashamed to do it; of how you experimented with drugs and had the best experiences of your life on them; of how you put someone in their place, or how you stood up for your friend or your sister, of how your father was proud of you one time, or about how you got complimented on the size of your penis. That would be a CV that’s worth both writing and reading.

Earning other peoples’ company – Dare to forsake the dissimulation of social life, of cheap attention and vapid narcissism. Dare to spend more time with yourself and see just what a fuck-up and a despicable creature you are. Dare to spend even more time with yourself – all your time, if that’s what it takes – to make yourself something better, something to be proud of, somebody you could spend time with and not feel afraid, alone or depressed in the company of. When you achieve that, you are ready to once again spend time with others.

The richness of invisibility – To not live somehow sounds like a heavy burden, but to be invisible sounds delicious. Those who desire to be seen by many, by all, to be recognized and adored, to be respected and admired… those who desire that, do so because they are not satisfied with their own opinions of themselves. Those who seek not to be seen, who desire invisibility, who want to look from the outside and observe everything around them, even themselves, as an object of study, of fascination, of enchantment… those lucky few have the entire world in their hands and need only open their clenched fists and look in.

Day, night, and you – To be contemplative during the daytime is a sin against your Will and your nature. During the daytime your body must work and your mind must function unconsciously, busy and occupied with the world of phenomena revealed to it through light. Consciousness only thrives at nighttime, when the experiences accrued during the day must be processed, ordered and made sense of. To upset this law of nature is to upset your own Will and nature. Contemplation during the daytime will kill your spirit, whereas occupation and busyness at nighttime will kill your mind.

A moment of unity – There is a moment just at the end of the day and just at the onset of evening when the whole day lies behind and the whole night lies ahead. At that moment, stop everything you’re doing, crack open a cold beer, look outside a window and gaze at the world. That brief moment is the only true definition of Hope, and it gives you a strange feeling that despite all the bullshit of existence, everything is okay.

Pseudological bickering – Arguing something by sticking to the point is the first test of the capacity of a person’s intellect. But it is also the first test of the capacity of a person’s character, because most people stray from a point to cover up some personal complexes that are brought out through the competitive nature of an argument, thus aiming at trying to draw the opponent on to more familiar turf by dragging the argument somewhere else, and once that turf is also exhausted through limited intellectual capacity to deal with the topic, on to yet another until you become frustrated and end the argument, and your opponent feels like the whole thing ended as a tie as a result, and thus redeems his ego by the feeling that he wasn’t defeated, when really, there wasn’t an argument in the first place, only an opponent who kept running from the topic long enough to tire out his pursuer. With such people there can be no argument anyway, only pseudological bickering.

Hegel and me – Last night Hegel spoke to me in a dream and he said “Saturday is Sunday before Sunday”, and it actually made sense.

Amazing things:
- Everyone at all times in the history of the earth sees the world from a different perspective at any given moment to what is perceived by everyone else now and forever.
- Every person lives a life that has never been lived or experienced by any other person that lives, has ever lived, or will ever live.
- Every single thing – even a rock or a brick of gold – is more than 99.99 percent emptiness, nothing, not even air. We do not even have the linguistic tools to describe this state, because we can only describe things in terms of existence or inexistence.
- Every single atom in your body was once part of something else that is not you.
- I am an agglomeration of billions of atoms and molecules and cells working frantically, busily, unceasingly to keep me alive on a spinning earth revolving around a solar system that’s hurtling through a galaxy speeding away at hundreds of thousands of kilometers an hour through the universe alongside billions of other galaxies… and yet I’m sitting quietly under a tree that does not stir, gazing at a rock that has probably not moved in a million years.
- We are stardust.
- Everything we see, everything we can possibly see, is past. We always and only see history. Everything we do, everything anybody can possibly witness, can only be witnessed in the future. The now can never be perceived.
- Water floats above our heads.