To be “always in discovery mode”, to “carry with us no rigid ideas about what is interesting”, to consider the “worthwhile dilemmas”. How to cultivate the time and space for a discovery state of mind? The tools must be personal, and natural.
‘Science explains the world, but only Art can reconcile us to it. What do we really know about the origin of the Universe? A blank so wide can be filled with myths and legends. I wished, in my mythologizing, to reach the limits of improbability, and I believe that I came close. You know this already, therefore what you really wanted to ask was if the Universe is indeed ludicrous. But that question each must answer for himself’.
“King Globares and the Sages” is one in a collection of short stories by Stanisław Lem titled Mortal Engines. It was published by The Seabury Press in 1977 and by Penguin Classics in 2016. All of the stories in the collection were chosen, translated, and introduced by Michael Kandel.
I should like to say two things, one intellectual and one moral. The intellectual thing I should want to say to them is this.
When you are studying any matter or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only “what are the facts?” and “what is the truth that the facts bear out?”
Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only, and solely, at what are the facts.
That is the intellectual thing that I should wish to say. The moral thing I should wish to say to them is very simple.
I should say love is wise, hatred is foolish.
In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way. And if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.
Bertrand Russell’s response when asked what lessons from his life may be worth imparting to future generations. Russell was 86 years old when the interview aired.
Separate but related: “A Little History of Philosophy” by Nigel Warburton. Very digestible and enjoyable. Must be noted that the author omits a few big names and focuses entirely on Western philosophy. Fair enough, would probably be 300% longer otherwise.
Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
Hannah Arendt has been the subject of a months-long frequency illusion.
- A new friend described her research on biopolitics w/ a focus on Hannah Arendt’s work, was surprised when she realised I haven’t heard of The Human Condition and said I should check it out. Wanted to, but of course it slipped to the back of my mind.
- Months later, started reading essays and books by Joan Didion. Was reminded to read Arendt while reading Didion’s Miami where she dissects the language used by U.S. politicians and media during the Cuban Revolution.
When someone speaks of Orlando Letelier as “murdered by his own masters,” […] that person is not arguing a case, but counting instead on the willingness of the listener to enter what Hannah Arendt called, in a discussion of propaganda, “the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary world.”
Managed to at least purchase The Human Condition, got sidetracked again.
- Started reading Walter Benjamin’s Illuminations after coming across Carol Bove’s contribution to AKADEMIE X. The introduction to my edition is excellent. Lo and behold, it’s written by Arendt.
- Sam came across the origin of Life of the Mind as a name earlier this week, then this morning he mentioned a ditigized Arendt collection amassed by Bard College and currently making the rounds online.
Time to devote some time to her work.
I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.