Note from the Editor: Pages from a philosophy student’s notebook. No name. No age. No gender identification.
The perfect human is the humane one, one who is endowed with the fullest faculties of his or her humanity intact, fully realized in his or her ability to be compassionate and forgiving, fully capable of loving his fellow woman and his fellow man, yet one who bears the marks of this humanity as wounds, each of us blessed by and for this humanity as Francis was by the wounds of Christ.
If human, humane; if not humane, never human. But perfect means complete, and no one is complete until he is dead? If the origin of the word ‘blessing’ is understood in its French etymology, whereby to bless is blesser or to wound, then this blessing by the muses, as any blessing from God or Gods, would also be a wounding. The poet suffers a divine malady when infected by the spirit of the muses, what the ancient Greeks called enthousiasmos. This enthusiasm is of divine proportions.
The poet is infected by the muses, instilled with something of their energy; they do invade and pervade the poet. It is a form of spiritual possession whereby in their cohabitation of the poet’s mind and body the muses bestow their quite literal blessings on the poet. But wait. A poet is one who makes, but not just anything anywhere any way he or she chooses. A poet invests something of the spirit of the muses in what he does, how she makes . . .
A poet is not a mere craftsman, although a craftsman can elevate what he makes to the level of poetry, if you do pause to understand how poet is used herein. Nonetheless, how we talk about art and how and when we become an artist in our culture only shows we know too little about what we fail to mean at with the words we garble in our mouths and on our pages. There must be this special attention to perfection. ‘Perfect’ comes from the Latin perfectum, and perfectum in Latin was anything complete in this metaphysical way; and metaphysics is not simply a way to talk about the real, it is of the real itself, it is by the real and for the real.
Whatever a poet does do he does with enthusiasm, but more than the mere enthused we get about a new movie coming out starring our favorite actress, or how we get when the Yankees win the World Series, although there has always been poetry in the way Derek Jeter played ball. A poet can only make in this special way inferred, and only with that special attention toward perfection which we must understand is a special kind of completeness, one that does not come from perpetual doubt or praising mediocrity or insisting that the one who does know something is pretentious.
The culture of ignorance in America has been upon us for almost two generations at least; a fear of knowing collateral in its rise with the desire to abdicate responsibility. We do take humanity today as something given and not something to achieve or to build; yes, our humanity is something to make, and that’s to make in a special way, becoming a unique maker, someone who is, yes, a poet.
‘Poet’ comes from the Greek poeta. Herein we can say that poets are for humanity and that humanity is in poetry; poetry is something more than verse on a page or verse spoken, recited, sung. This of course is contingent with thinking about poetry in a deeper, more comprehensive, or simply a broader way. But humanity for us is no longer a poetic endeavor, if I am permitted to return to the Greeks and understand making in this ancient yet viable way. For them, humanity moved along lines seen parallel with the development of arts and letters.
I recall from boyhood, the colloquial expression, “touched,” used for anyone who suffered mental illness, someone who had been touched by the angels a great-Aunt from the Berkshires had once said to me. There are lessons to be learned by us from each of those who cross our path, and on his or her path, either bears his or her cross. I can still see the heavy, think, carved wooden crucifix affixed to the wall above the bed upstairs at my Great Aunt’s in Pittsfield, my mother’s mother’s older sister, the latter having taken care of my mother after the former, my grandmother, found she could not be a mother in the way others expected her to be a mother. She abandoned her daughter and sons and left her husband with three children and a farm. Il a été touché par dieux, my grandfather used to say in French whenever he saw someone whom we used to call lame; he has been touched by God as Francis was touched by the Holy Ghost.
Yes, wounded are we who have been blessed; to carry the cross, as it had been taught to us, as it has a million applications to how we enact compassion in the world day-to-day. In his lameness, the wounded man becomes a poet of compassion; his affliction itself the poetry of compassion. We who behold, the students, the apprentices . . . to be human or to be humane is simply enclosed in the one French word, humaine; there is no humanity without being humane, of course is the correct inference. This weds the idea to be humane with the notion to be human; in the French mind. The latter cannot become without first the former coming to be. Nonetheless, what the French language understands clearly, and what the French people understand individually or collectively has often been at odds. French semantic duality, though, should lead to a holistic understanding of our human being, in other words, our humanity, whereby we could allow this French view of what it means to be human to inform our cultural understanding of our humanity; that is, if we were serious about diversity and multiculturalism, as something other than what we practice, which is multiculturalism as a costume to wear and only valid if it maintains allegiance to contemporary dogmas on what it means to be a liberal American bourgeois capitalist bureaucratic intellectual–any perceived contradiction notwithstanding . . .
2:35, on the beach . . .
English, in its lexical plenitude has two words for being human whereby French has one. The English words ‘human’ and ‘humane’ both come from the French humaine; the ideas referenced by the two English words find their expression in the one and only one French. The semantic dichotomy in English leads us to mismanage our metaphysical construction of what it means to be human; it’s a wonder we do not all go off an ontological cliff. How much humanity I have has everything to do with how humane I am; this has been said before by me in other essays within the OR; however, it must be said again, repeated as much as motif will permit–and herein so far we are talking both qualitatively and quantitatively, each reciprocal with the other; human/humane.
Now whether I am human or not depends on factors that we assume are not quantifiable, at least in our current dogmas of empiricism. Yet, empiricism is essentially an anti-rationalism, if rationalism is understood as it has been in our civilizations philosophic traditions: the supremacy of reason over sense perception. Okay, my humanity then is what? Anyone is homo-sapiens just by having been born; this is clear. Cousin to the Great Apes is our birthright, and this is for reasons other than the empirical conclusion that I am very hairy. I am human, or so I have assumed, and allow me to assume so for the time it takes me to complete this notion that I am something at least akin to human; that is, as human stands in contrast with what it means to be homo-sapiens, one of many animals here on earth.
July 3, 9:38.
I repeat myself; I have had the habit of repeating long before I became a teacher . . . repetition at best is called motif, at worst it becomes redundant, how plodding does speech become with unnecessary repetition . . .philosophy used to be a love of wisdom, as set by its Greek etymology, philo sophia; however, the highest wisdom nowadays rests in doubt, and not merely a mistrust of what we know, thus testing the limits of knowing, but a conviction that we can never know as we once believed was possible. We have been, for about a century and a half, or more, playing an epistemological Russian roulette. Anyone who asserts anything categorically or absolutely, anyone that has conviction for what he knows, becomes immediately suspect. What is it that I am trying to say you might wonder? Who would have to wonder, why? I do not, not now after I have . . .
July 5. Do they have the 4th of July in England?
We are going to have lunch at the Shagawong in Montauk. A fried fish platter with a pint of Toasted Lager . . .
I’m hungry after walking this morning past the Hoo Doos below the cliffs of Shadmoor to Ditch Plains . . .
I do not surf as I am not a chair, nor a rock, nor a gorilla. There is enough evidence to the contrary of anyone of these, enough quantifiable evidence excluding me from categorical membership with any inanimate thing and other animals. I do however, share categories with them, especially the gorilla. As matter, the rock and I are one in some ways, but then elementally, the sun and I share commonality.
The stuff of the stars.
There have been opposite turning strands of RNA found on asteroids, that is, building components in DNA that differ from all of those found on earth. I wish I knew better the implications–I’d say something about them, but I cannot because I do not have what I have wished I could have . . .
July 6. 1:10PM
So, yes, I am not a chair; I am a man, a man not so unlike any other man, one entirely different from every other man. Humanity is perfectible; being a Homo-sapiens is froth with imperfections and flaws, many, many flaws. The perfect human is the humane one. You know left handed prehistoric man could shake hands with his right hand, a gesture once believed to be a way to show non-aggression by showing that there was no rock in the hand . . . a left handed Cro-Magnon could hide a rock in his left hand while shaking with his rockless right hand, and then take the rock in his lewft hand, and with the prowess of his left-hand in his left-handedness hit the other prehistoric man in the head and kill him . . . and how evil is that? It is evil; all lefties are evil, the spawn of the prehistoric human who was able to kill his foe while shaking hands.
Chimpanzees have been known to raid baboon nests. They have been observed doing this where they would then chase off the adult baboons, beating them up, off and away from their babies. The chimpanzees would then capture the baby baboons who they would then beat against trees until the baby baboons were sacks of mushy, pulpy flesh and shattered bones. The chimpanzees would then, after beating the baby baboons to death, stand in a circle, where they would play catch with the sack that was once a living baby baboon.
This is not a response to any aggression by the baboons. This is not ancillary to a fight for food or for survival. This is only because the chimpanzees had nothing else to do, which is a behavior that can be determined through observation. It was for sport. I do not want to venture an inquiry about who watches chimpanzees do this. I am sure naturalist observations of animal behavior must have no human intervention. The naturalist cannot feel bad for the gazelle that the lions take down and eat.
The chimpanzee is the species of animal that is the closest relative of the Homo-Sapiens. We are Homo-sapiens first and often times in the final analysis. We are 98% identical in our DNA with our chimpanzee brothers. Our specialization in this killing for no reason is that we blindly and senselessly kill one another; even the chimpanzees do not do this to themselves. Of course, we have ways of separating ourselves from our commonality; we look at people from other religions, other races as if we were chimps sizing up the baboons. But this is actually the anomaly when it comes to human violence and inhumanity to fellow humans. Everywhere humans are found, Cain is Abel’s brother.
July 6. 8:05. Waiting for my pint of Toasted Lager.
If any examination of the murder statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Justice is made, anyone can see clearly that African-Americans kill African-Americans and White people kill White people, the former at rate of 96 out of every 100, the latter at a rate of around 80 out of every 100. For every 100 murders where an African-American is the victim, the perpetrator is another African-American. For every 100 murders where the victim is white, the perpetrator is white around 80 times. These are from the 2012 Department of Justice statistics on murder broken down by the categories of race, gender and ethnicity.
There are reasons to kill.
I was once reminded by a Hasidic Jewish ESL student that the commandment is not, Thous shall not kill, but Thou shall not murder. And this is the point here. The above ratios are for murder, not killing. We murder not only our own, Homo-sapiens to Homo-sapiens–I still insist that human is a choice, human is something Homo-sapiens can become, but is not something they are born–but we murder more often those who the bureaucracy tells us are our own.
African-American murders African-American, Asian murders Asian, White murders White, each murdering another of his own at a rate significantly higher than another other not of his own. And when we examine who the police shoot and analyze the rate at which they shoot them, we should not pit the numbers shot against the numbers of the respective populations, but the numbers against the numbers of crimes committed by whom, by which person from which demographic category. Whites shot by the police against the numbers of white perpetrators of crimes; which suspect comes from which demographic group? The only time a person shot by the police should be matched against the demographic category as an entirety is when the person shot is neither a suspect nor a perpetrator of a felony. How many felonies are committed by African-American men and how many are committed by white males and what are the percentages of these that the shootings represent. A man does not have to be armed to have committed a felony. How many felonies are committed by African Americans and How many by whites; what percentage of their populations do these numbers represent, and this will be a more accurate assessment of the numbers of African Americans and Whites shot by the police—if you think there is no correlation in this way, then you are definitely one of the idiots I have suspected will proliferate and become endemic in the near future—if you are reading this, then I must be dead.
Statistics are definitely manipulated to serve the received ideas of society, and one of many of our received ideas is that we are an endemically racist society, and that African Americans have no responsibility for the crime in their communities, which is ironically just as racist as saying African Americans cannot lead, cannot manage authority, cannot compete on a level playing field intellectually or educationally, which is part of our endemic racism, if we are in fact endemically racist; which is why black men and women and white men and women work so hard at undermining schools in African American communities because it becomes a built-in mechanic rationalizing affirmative action. Welfare is no longer compassionate but bureaucratic, administrative and policy driven, whereby percentages of society are kept under-educated and semi- or non-literate to perpetuate welfare roles. Unemployment is managed by keeping crime, especially violent crime, thus murder, high in populations that would under our policies be among the unemployed at a significantly higher rate than the national average; or, again, by so effectively systematically under-educating that people are only suited for minimum wage jobs. Wal-Mart and McDonald’s are the two largest private sector employers in America, which is why we are moving toward raising their salary because we have no hope of ever raising their level of literacy or education; but then, what are we going to do with everyone else’s salary—I am sure CEOs making multimillion dollars a year should also or will also get raises commensurate with the percentage of increase in minimum wage salaries.
Of course, with respect for murdering one’s own, this idea of his own has to be spread across the bureaucratic and other social barriers built between races and ethnicities, gender, religion, and class, if we are going to be a truly democratic society. The interesting thing in America really is not in how we have eliminated the niggerization of the African American community, but in how we have made any person from any ethnicity a nigger of money and power. We cannot use the word nigger for African Americans, not because it is inappropriate ethically or historically, but because it is not limited to African Americans in this American driven by the Power and Monied Elites. Nonetheless, although I support moves by our society toward what we imagine are greater democratization, I do not have the optimism that others might have. The day we have no consciousness of the distinctions of race, however, is the day we might have free-for-all murder across all former barriers. What then must we do?
The horror of existence might be that as soon as we eliminate all distinctions, we will then broaden the pool from which we choose to murder; I would prefer brotherhood, but maybe the critics who see endemic racism are right, but then the only solution will be to take what the power motives are in racism and make them applicable to class, that is, to al ethnicities, which is where they always have resided in this money-centric America. Totalitarian Bourgeois Capitalist America can only serve the interests of the Power Elite and the Monied Elite; therefore, again, everybody else will become a nigger; and in as much as this has become proliferate in America, it is in the interests of Power and Money to keep us separate in our mutual nigger-ness (a conundrum for many), convincing us through media imaging and manipulation that we should be at each other’s throats. Machiavelli would be proud of our media. The scum who control it are feasting on us like parasites. Black, White and other are all part of the schema; Obama most certainly, but Trump and Hilary just as equally; as well as every other conservative or liberal nut, lunatic, fanatic, polemicist, whether Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Jew; let’s not leave out the Animists, the Atheists or the Sikh, whether fascist, communist, Republican or Democrat. This is not to say that there are not circumstances or happenstances, whichever, that are not motivated by or driven by racism. But we do play ping pong with racism; we have been playing hop-scotch with Truth for a long time.
This is not a corrective against any forward movement toward a less racially and ethnically divisive society, but a satire on our nature as Homo-sapiens, and how feeble our humanity really is in face of the nature we misunderstand and mismanage. It is, though, important to note how the media manages inter-race murder as if it were an endemic problem. The media insists we live not in the world as it is, but the world as they present it, represent it, manage it and package it. We are all bound by the bows and strings they use to wrap up events.
My pint has arrived.
Because I am civilized I do not chop up into pieces with a machete the motherfuckers I’d like to see dead. I don’t even own a machete. Yes, the good ones are those who are content to dream what the wicked actually practice–not a very Christian ethical position. Jesus disagrees with Plato, but the world does not.
I think I might order the fish and chips.
Thou shalt not murder. But killing is okay, especially women and children if you are a modern nation state bent on reanimating an older form of manifest destiny, being the last vestige of an older form of colonialism, the last European people to engage in such forms of oppression, intrusion, invasion, racism, imperialism, ethnocentrism, what else have we to name the many negatives that stem from colonialist designs set in motion, ironically or not by Joshua crossing the river Jordan. Anyone know what I am talking about? Yes, white phosphorous against hospitals and schools is okay because those using it are uber-menschen, and as Einstein had wondered about Israel: will the Jews do to the Palestinians what the Germans did to the Jews? We do learn our lessons well; and no one learns any lesson better than formerly oppressed from their oppressors.
- What is the Philosophy Student’s fundamental feeling toward humanity? How does the student develop the idea of human-humane toward this end?
- What is the Philosophy Student’s character and how is it revealed in the diction? How does rhetoric tell us something about this character? In what ways do journals or essays reveal something about the writer; how do journals, personal essays and/or letters amount to a kind of autobiography?
- Is the convention of a plot driven story the only way to successfully tell a story? Do stories have to have beginnings, middles and ends; and how would the rearrangement of the chronology not undermine the conventions of beginning, middle and end?
- Does the chronology here impose a plot-like order in as much as one plods from time to time in what appears to be succession?
- How do excerpts from a notebook amount to a story of any kind?
- Is the word ‘nigger’ race exclusive; does it have a meaning and can that meaning be transferred in one or another sociologies, epistemologies?
- How do you think the history of the use of the word ‘nigger’ (the history of the rhetoric of the word, the history of the epistemology of the word, the politics of the word) informs the author’s use of the term as part of grander Machiavellian rhetoric and politics in our contemporaneity? Can our epitemologies of race and racism handle the author’s semantics, his rhetoric?