Aphorisms XXIV

Can’t hear this suggestion to live among the dead, a la Machiavelli and Montaigne, without also taking into account that this was their way to relax after a day of politics, making it doubly twisted.

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It’s such a human feeling, or feeling of the human, to have your brain scramble for excuses as to why you have failed, or why it is unjust that you should suffer like this. And you watch it like a toddler in tantrum, and when it stops for a moment you ask – are you done? And it screams NO! Or stops, tired out. There are good reasons to despair sometimes, but when this kind of thing happens, you know there are no good reasons involved.

If you fail in love, and feel everything crashing around you, and think, this is the end, I’ll never X again, this is an example of that grasping after straws. It is so hard to be your own parent, to pick up your toddler-brain and say – it’s okay, don’t worry, let’s go get something to eat and maybe you imagined it all, but even if you didn’t, you’ll definitely meet someone new.

This might all be a little harsh, but our world really encourages us not to care too much. Searching for someone who will be special and care for you like a breathing comfort blanket, this is all well and good. But we should be careful not to undervalue ourselves. Again, the base of this kind of despair must be a lack of self-confidence. (Insofar as there isn’t an economic or material side to love – but of course there very much can be.)

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Aphorisms XIV

Pronouns again – A teenage girl bought the airfix. “Did she?” says my friend. But here is a place where I might say ‘they’ – uncertainty again being the aspect relevant to explaining why. I don’t know them…

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Can there be a superlative without the disgust of the ordinary? Yes. In fact, that is a prerequisite. It’s not the difference from the ordinary that makes something superlative, but a superlative relation of that thing to us, experiencing it. And the disgust of the ordinary, the ranking, the military etymology often slides in surreptitiously at the back. It may seem stupid to say that the best film has no relation to other films by that fact, but it is stupider to say that any film could satisfy the language game of suiting the squirly set of conditions for bestness taken in the tool like sense. The best tool for the task does that one job better than the others. But a film without an adjective, has no one task. I guess it’s a classic example of language going on holiday.

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Aphorisms XIII

Though it’s had a rough start, I think that social media will end up making us more dialogic, willing to consider other points and views. It might already have begun. The same patchy start was true of the printing press, of books and pamphlets, right? It will take hundreds of years having all the impact it will have, and may never finish impacting us. Has the printer finished with us yet? Probably not.

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Aphorisms XI

A plot or storyline can be outlined in a more or less random string of images. If you want to, you just have to massage them into shape to make them seem like they were destined to appear together.

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Say a french novel was published in 1954. If you are nostalgic, or a scholar, you may want to translate it in a way that expresses the 1950s in France through a kind of amalgamated 1950s english. But, If I want to really relate with the characters, as it were, I have to go all the way, and rather than travelling back in time to put myself in their positions, I bring them forward in time, putting them in our positions, or at least positions more well known to us, living as we do. Kind of like splicing a cultural form onto our culture to see the strange things that happen with its relation to the mores of our place.

If we are going to translate a book, why not really translate it? That is, change it. We need both kinds of translations, and more and different still, if we are to really translate something. To do otherwise is to fetishize language, do our best to ignore who was speaking it, or at least to try and control them by confining them to the past, or to a kind of nostalgic reverie.

Good lord, listen to me, I’ve only just  started translating. And I might be terrible at it. So ignore me, or don’t. It doesn’t matter.

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Aphorisms VI

When I played Spyro as a child, its world was complete, without traces of anything, no history. No background. A world with no influences, music which was never played by anyone, a beautiful summer forest, puzzles and gems and orbs. Now, I start to think about how the soundtrack is structured and that perfect being of Spyro starts to fracture. So I stop thinking because it is not worth the value lost to question the most deep art experiences.

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Isn’t there something disingenuous about a philosopher searching for arguments, as such, to prove a point? Surely they should be just looking closer at the way things work? But pragmatically a good, graspable argument is often hard to find.

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Aphorisms III

Consuming isn’t easy, sometimes. It can be a form of emotional labour. Though series and films can play themselves out in front of us, we don’t just sit and absorb their images. Or at least, not by default. In this way, A Clockwork Orange has a quasi-fallacy in it – that being forced to watch something would change us, simply by being made spectator. Of course this is the case for certain experiences, that we are particularly receptive to, but the active spectator can critique whilst in the process of watching (hopefully not out loud…)

This idea has an interesting expression in the world of music – are there not songs that you love, whilst being almost completely ignorant of the lyrics, or cognisant of them only in a vague, catchphrase fashion. Consuming music like this is simply allowing it to bounce off us, alter our rhythms. But to consume the whole is to process the message of the song, and to come to a conclusion regarding its sense. I do this rarely. It’s a lot of work.

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Sometimes I come across people like this. I ask – do you love books? They say – Yes, I love 1984.

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Nationalism is the symptom of a badly functioning state.

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Become who you are!” – Easy to read Nietzsche’s phrase as a spur to selfishness. But who you are can obviously include others.

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