Monday, March 3, 2014

Dispatches from Akicistan #7

Gratitude:  Thank God for books and the Catholic Church.

Acknowledgement: I make efforts that don't involve risk or leaving my comfort zone.

Request(s): I need a spiritual director.

What is Akicistan? It isn't a place. It is a state of mind that places cutting-edge state-of-the-art sticks in mud. The word Akicistan is formed from the initials AKIC and the root stan.

If Akicistan was an empire, it would comprise China, Canada, the Red States of the USA, Latvia, and the parts of the world that comprise Modern Christendom as well as ancient Christendom.

Akicistan news in brief:
  • The Kaulins Family China went to Hong Kong for a short trip. They all enjoyed the trip there and back in their own way.
  • Life then went back to normal.
Important Akicistan Links:

In Akicistan:

Some of us can speak Chinese! 是的。我可以说的一点点中文.

We sometimes pay attention to China. Truth is, I don't follow the news about China all that closely. What I do hear seems boring and trite. [I do hear news about the smog in Beijing. I definitely heard about the attacks in Kunming – a city I visited in 2005.]

We are fond of Canada! It was with great pride, that I heard the news that Canada had been leading the medal table at the Sochi Olympics.

We are fond of Latvia! I wish I had known earlier that Canada and Latvia were playing in a quarterfinal ice hockey game. 2-1 was the final score for Canada who out-shot the Latvians 57-16. Kristers GUDLEVSKIS was the Latvian net-minder. [Goggling, I see he plays in the AHL. I imagine he will be playing in the NHL soon with a performance like that. Talking to my mom she informs me that he is one of those Russian Latvians....]

The Politics are Conservative and Reactionary! There isn't a hint of Leftism in anything I write. I started out a Leftist, sometimes pretending to be a middle-of-the-roader, when I started to have political views; but I then I saw the light.

English is taught! I downloaded a bunch of English grammars from the Internet and I have been boning up on it. If only I could spend more time working on grammar instead of trying to get the students to say anything, anything at all.

Citizens aren't freaks! Akicistanians would be a minority in any other country of the world.

Reading is the #1 Pastime! Here is what I had been working my way through the past week or so:

Don Colacho's (Nicolas Gomez Davilla) Aphorisms.  There are 2,988 of them in this book that I compiled for myself.  I try to read at least one aphorism a day.  I cut and paste the better ones -- they are all profound actually -- and I put them in the AKIC Weekly. (See below)

The Niomachean Ethics of Aristotle. After this, I will read Aquinas's Summa.

Ulysses by James Joyce.  I am following along with Frank Delaney as he slowly guides podcast listeners through Joyce's hard-to-read novel.  Delaney figures he will have the whole novel covered in about 22 years.  Delaney completed episode #194 recently and is working his way through the chapter that introduces Leopold Bloom. I am getting ahead of Delaney as far as reading the book.  I will be finished my reading of it, I figure, in a year. I read the novel despite its many blasphemies. It is best to be aware of this stuff because the world is full of it, and the world will always find a way of slapping you in the face with it

The Holy Bible (RSV-C2E version, aka the Ignatius Bible, and Douay-Rheims version).  I will read the two versions in conjunction. Last week, I finished reading the Book of Genesis. I am not in the Book of Exodus. In the New Testament, I am reading the Gospel According to Matthew.

With Lee in Virginia: A Story of the American Civil War by G.A. Henty. Finished. I read a Civil War book by John Keegan. Theodore Dalrymple mentioned this author. Looking for the author on Project Gutenberg, I found this book which I would classify as historical fiction. It is written from the Southern point of view and of course wouldn't past muster today. To even take its claims seriously as assertions worth taking the time to refute would probably get one in trouble. To say that the South had a point on anything would violate a taboo. But there is something to be said for how the sudden abolition of slavery (emphasis on the word sudden) was not the wonderful gift for the negro that many would have thought it was. I would also say that the attitudes of the nicer slave owners in the novel (as opposed to the ones who mistreated their slaves) are held at least unconsciously by members of the U.S. Democratic Party. I recommend the book as an historical artifact.

Other Limits of Reason: Nolson S. Yanofsky. I read John Derbyshire's review of it on the Internet, and lo and behold I am now reading it. A challenging book full of mathematics and I have to had re-read sections of it; but it is very thought provoking. In my idle moments, I now spend my time contemplating it. To think there are two kinds of infinity!

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Finished. Got to have some Shakespeare in my reading diet. What to say about it? I was forced to read it in High School. It is only now that I appreciate its greatness.

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson. A novel set in North Korea. I am reading it on John Derbyshire's recommendation.

Travels in West Africa by Mary H Kingsley. A travel book written in the 1890s. I believe I am reading it on the recommendation of Theodore Dalrymple.

Richard II by William Shakespeare. Finished. An historical play written all in verse. Should I try to read every Shakespeare play this year?

Memorable quotes are presented and discussed!
Nicholas Gomez Davilla:

371 To love is to understand the reason God had for creating what we love.

758 No Party, sect, or religion should trust those who know the reasons for which they join. All authentic allegiance – in religion, politics, or love – precedes deduction. The traitor has always chosen rationally the party he betrays. [I can't say that my wanting to be a Catholic is completely rational. I feel that it demands my allegiance. Is this a rationalization?]

760 With good humor and pessimism it is not possible to be either wrong or bored.

763 We should respect the eminent individual whom the people respect, even when he does not deserve it, in order not to disrespect the notion of respect. [I was chided, rightly I realize in retrospect, by an American for mocking President Obama on his visit to China. You have to respect the office the American said, and he was right.]

767 The reactionary today is merely a traveler who suffers shipwreck with dignity. [Am I being dignified in my withdrawal?]

774 Nobody scorns yesterday's foolishness as much as today's fool does. [That fool is a chronologicalist.]

776 The common man often has a personality in everyday dealings. But the effort to express it transforms him into an exponent of fashionable topics.[Like it or not, we are a product of our times.]

777 Vulgarity is born when authenticity is lost. Authenticity is lost when we search for it. [You just got to be.]

778 Men are less equal than they say and more equal than they think. [There has to elites. But elites and the commoners all die in the end.]

784 The tragedy of the left? To diagnose the disease correctly, but to aggravate it with its therapy. [This is the most generous statement you can make about Leftism. The tragedy for the world is that the Left gets to try to implement its therapies.]

790 Nothing endures for certain and only instances count, but the instant reserves its splendor for someone who imagines it to be eternal. The only thing that has value is the ephemeral which appears immortal. [I have had so many of those moments with Tony and Jenny.]

791 Authentic intelligence spontaneously sees even the most humble fact of daily life in the light of the most general idea. [Does this mean that truisms are okay.]

800 When the race of egoists absorbed in perfecting themselves dies out, nobody will be left to remind us that we have the duty to save our intelligence, even after we have lost all hope of saving our skin. [I am such an egoist that I realized that I was part of the race of egoists that Davilla was rallying against as soon as I read the first five words of this aphorism.]

805 Man, until yesterday, did not deserve to be called a rational animal. The definition was inexact as long as invented, according to his preferences, religious attitudes and ethical behavior, aesthetic tasks and philosophical meditations. Today, on the other hand, man limits himself to being a rational animal, that is to say, an inventor of practical rules at the service of his animality. [no-fault divorce and abortion on demand.]

811 Whoever merely resigns himself to his lots feels frustrated by a destiny without meaning. Whoever humbly accepts it knows that he just does not understand the significance of the divine decision concerning him. Visitors to a palace who admire nothing but the latrines. [If you aren't religious, you are admiring nothing but the latrines in life.]

Luigi Tenco
Divorce is only for those men without enough spine to love a woman forever. [1)This shames me in a way and yet also gives me hope. (Saying that, I hope it shames a lot of people I know.) I can't say that I have been the most attentive husband. I spend too much of my time thinking of how to make Tony happy. But I am not divorced and I want to ensure that I never become do because Jenny is the best thing that ever happened to me. 2) I fantasize about being able to say what Tenco said aloud to people who would be rattled and hopefully shamed by my doing so. Alas. I think I don't have some spine. Alas. I know some good people who have been divorced – victims, most of them, of the current attitude which say nothing is wrong with doing wrong things.]

William Shakespeare (from Macbeth)
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

David Warren
 A general rule in discussions among my personae is: do not feign certainty of things you do not know, and could not possibly know except on authority. Also: consult the authorities, sometimes. Also: do not obsess on matters that cannot be necessary to salvation.

....when it comes to understanding a country, one native plumber is worth a thousand foreign correspondents.

Correspondents are more interested in what other correspondents are going to write than in what is happening on their temporary doorstep. Lies repeated become truths, and truths ignored cease ever to have existed. One of the things that surprised me was the ease with which an entire press corps could accept the most obvious untruth, usually convenient to some interested party or other, without any external compulsion to do so. I can only suppose that one of modern education’s purposes is to prevent people from thinking for themselves. 

Extreme wealth, whether honestly or dishonestly acquired, seems these days to bring forth little new except in the form and genre of vulgarity. .... I saw some pictures recently of some huge Chinese state enterprise’s headquarters, and it appalled me how this nation, with one of the most exquisite, and certainly the oldest, aesthetic traditions on Earth, has gone over entirely to Las Vegas rococo (without the hint of irony or playfulness).
[1) I was listening to a foreign correspond from the Ukraine on a recent Charles Adler podcast, and thoughts and intuitions came into my mind, like those of Dalrymple above, about the usefulness of the correspondent. The correspondent sounded like a guy with an interesting gig who had boned up in the previous week about the Ukraine. I feel the same about a lot of the Sinica podcasts I listen to where they interview correspondents from prestigious magazines and newspapers like the Economist and the New York Times. Know-it-alls who seem more interested in showing they know it all than modestly informing the listeners what they have learned. 2)The flaunting of newly found wealth in China is vulgar. Dalrymple's phrase “Las Vegas rococo” describes exactly the most vulgar of what I have seen. There are places all over Wuxi that have been decorated with Roman and Greek motifs that I find appalling to behold. Gold statues on pedestals. 3)And then there are the Chinese themselves. The students, I notice, seem to lack a sense of playfulness when they try to speak English. They are far too earnest.]

Lists are made: Things I like about Russia
Being of Latvian heritage, I have a long list of reasons to hate the Russians. Being of a conservative and reactionary bent, I can't help but want to still call them Soviets and Commies. But, Russia isn't a Communist state anymore, and even though it is corrupt and not honest about its past, it is still in a much better place. But that is not to say that it doesn't needs to improve. For it is still in a depressing state. So, it is with these thoughts and with a feeling of good will to the Russian people, this Latvian (of sorts) offers a list of things that he likes about Russia:

  • Dostoevsky
  • Solzhenitsyn
  • Russian hockey players
  • Tolstoy
  • Sakharov
  • Anna Kornakova and other beautiful young woman.
  • Their names. Dimitri, Yakushev, Borkov, Tretiak, and so on.
  • Dissidents.
  • Their magnificent culture.
  • I hear that Christianity is making a comeback.
  • The way they annoy homosexualists.
  • They are not afraid to look after their national interests.

[I made this list before the Russian occupation of Ukraine. I suppose that is what you get for trying to think charitable thoughts about your enemies. Love your enemies is the Biblical injunction. But that doesn't mean that you don't have enemies, said GK Chesterton.]

Thoughts are thought

  • An atheist mentioned the problems in translating the Bible. I would have said in response that there would be problems in translating atheist or pagan tracts as well. What human isn't bedevilled by the meaning of words in other languages?
  • A sentence that is said to be paradoxical: I am lying. The answer to the paradox is that the person making the sentence isn't being precise about what he is lying about. It isn't possible to a person to lie about everything. A liar is someone who tells a lot of lies or does a lot of lying. A person who lies one hundred percent of the time does not exist.
  • Another sentence that is said to be paradoxical: This sentence is false. The answer to this paradox is that the sentence is taken out of context.

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