“Harris is blaming conservatives for doing simply what the space/time continuum is making them do. If you have a right view of the cosmos, Harris has been arguing, you won’t blame individuals for doing things that are completely outside their control, and then he proceeds immediately to the edifying task of blaming those who don’t think this way.
If atoms in motion are responsible for inner city crime, then atoms in motion are also responsible for the conservatives in red state, fly-over country who object to it. Not only so, for this is a liberating game, atoms in motion are also responsible for Harris objecting to the conservatives objecting to the crime. This would be great fun, but Harris keeps forgetting to apply his dogmas to his dogmas.
One understands why he keeps forgetting to do this, of course. If he remembered, he would realize there is no such thing as remembering. He would realize that sawing off the branch you are sitting on is an activity with consequences, by which I mean consequences that might affect sales.”—Douglas Wilson, blogging through the latest Sam Harris book. (via sds)
There is nothing glorious about any actual moment of suffering — when you’re in the midst of it. You swear it’s meaningless. You swear it has nothing to do with goodness or holiness or God — or you.
The very essence of any experience of trial is that you want to get out of it. A lack of purpose, of meaning — is the precise suffering of suffering! When you find a pattern in your suffering, a direction, you can accept it and go with it. The great suffering, the suffering of Jesus, is when that pattern is not immediately given. The soul can live without success, but it cannot live without meaning.
“It’s that decision not to press charges that makes Stand Your Ground laws, which a bunch of other states have adopted, a crazy departure from the past. It’s one thing to raise self-defense at trial. It’s another to have what the Florida Supreme Court calls “true immunity.” True immunity, the court said, means a trial judge can dismiss a prosecution, based on a Stand Your Ground assertion, before trial begins. At least there’s supposed to be a hearing before that happens, at which the defendant has the burden of proof. And yet as the Hernandez and Martin’s case shows, Stand Your Ground laws often lead prosecutors to decide against so much as bringing charges. According to the Sun Sentinel, “In case after case during the past six years, Floridians who shot and killed unarmed opponents have not been prosecuted.”
Now the death of Trayvon Martin is the latest in that line. Maybe this is the kind of case that is so sad and so tinged with racism that Florida will think hard about the very scary place where their self-defense laws have taken them. Maybe.”—
The advent of Sarah Palin, however, seemed to usher in a genuine madness that affected every inch of the political spectrum, and it brought about the blog’s second “crisis of civility.” If I found something praiseworthy in Palin, my “liberal” readers sneered and called me names. If I mildly critiqued the woman, her defensive fans became stunningly abusive. Ironically, as I tried to be both honest and fair-minded about Palin, I discovered neither left nor right could allow an assumption of good faith on my part. Perhaps projecting their passions on to me, both sides assumed that whatever I was writing about Palin was meant as a political manipulation against them. If I tried to offer balanced criticism, Palin fans accused me of “hating her from the first.” When I—because I detest bullies—defended her from an unconscionable assault by supposedly “liberal” people and the press after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, I was derided, even by progressives whom I considered real friends, as being a “secret Palin lover.”
A good-faith assumption that I simply meant the exact words I wrote, in either case, and nothing more, was not permitted. It was deemed not possible.
When nothing matters but to realize their vision, writers and artists often tend to become such dynamos of intensely focused energy. Stendhal produced La Chartreuse de Parme, a peak of French fiction, in just fifty-three days; the perfectionist Gustave Flaubert would worry his sentences day after day, spending hours deciding whether to use a comma or a semicolon; Marcel Proust hardly left his cork-lined room once he’d plunged into his “search for lost time.” Some imaginations only seem to kick in when their possessors bring to bear almost supernal fervor. An awed interviewer once exclaimed to the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, “You do amazing things on the saxophone, Mr. Parker.” The musician replied, “I don’t know about amazing—I practiced for fifteen hours a day for a few years.” Centuries earlier Michelangelo complained that people wouldn’t be so astonished as his sculpture if they knew how hard he’d had to labor to achieve his mastery.
The point is: You generally can’t wait for inspiration, so just get on with the work. Disciplined, regular effort will elicit inspiration, no matter what your field.
”—Michael Dirda, from pages 28-29 of Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life (via settledthingsstrange)
“[T]he greatest menace to our capacity for contemplation is the incessant fabrication of tawdry empty stimuli which kill the receptivity of the soul.”—Josef Pieper, from Happiness and Contemplation (via settledthingsstrange)
“The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce variety and uncompromising divergences of men…In a large community, we can choose our companions. In a small community, our companions are chosen for us. Thus in all extensive and highly civilized society groups come into existence founded upon sympathy, and shut out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery. There is nothing really narrow about the clan; the thing which is really narrow is the clique.”—G.K Chesterton (via katamariroller)