Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dispatches from Akicistan #8

Gratitude:  I am thankful for the Internet. I am thankful that I am aware of the goodness of silence. I am thankful that I am not given to boasting.

Acknowledgement: I haven't published a Dispatches from Akicistan for a long while because of sloth on my part. What else can I confess to? I don't reach out much to others. I don't boast because I don't much to boast about.
Request(s): To those of you who overuse the hole 'neath your nose: shut up!

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: If someone, that is someone I cared about, asked me how I was doing these days, I would have to say I am coasting. [People never ask me how I am doing these days, but then I don't go asking people how they are doing. I don't want to know because I may not like what I hear and I may think even less of these people than I already do.]
Important Akicistan Links:

In Akicistan:

Some of us can speak Chinese! 每天在工作,我学中文。

We sometimes pay attention to China. But not that much. What's to sayIt is more polluted than ever and the Commies are still in power.

We are fond of Canada! But every time, I listen to a podcast from CJOB, I have less and less desire to go back. Winters are horrible. Hockey, at a minor level, can be barbaric, revealing the dark underside of the Canadian character.
We are fond of Latvia! Seeing what has happened to the Ukraine, we fear for Latvia because it has a sizable Russian population.

The Politics are Conservative and Reactionary! Obama bad. The EU bad. The UN bad. Bureaucracy bad. Homosexualism bad. Atheism bad. Libertine atheism bad. Scientism bad. Science good. Republicans mediocre. Middle of the Roaders dummies. Catholicism good. Liberal Catholics bad.

English is taught! How often do I have correct this mistake: I have ever done that. It is understandable how the error can come about. Ever is the opposite of never and so it would make sense that I have ever is the opposite of I have never. But ever means all the time. You haven't done something all the time of your life like been to Beijing.
Citizens aren't freaks! But then again, Akicistanians might be. To hold things that should be sacred sacred is a freakish thing, perhaps a miracle in this day and age.
Reading is the #1 Pastime! Here is what I had been working my way through the past month 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. Finished! Now it is time to read some Aquinas! The Niomachean Ethics is a very good book. I hope to read it once more before I die.

The Summa by Thomas Aquinas. This is a hard book to read. I have had to re-read every section in the book so far.

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 #195 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.

The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester (Audio Book). Finished. Joseph Needham was certainly a clever scholar, but he was a unabashed Communist. He lived his life like he was a member of the politburo. The author of this book about sympathizes with him. I can't. The book was interesting for some of its detail about China, but that is about it.

All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare. Finished.

Antony and Cleopatra. On the birth certificate, Tony is actually Anthony. I have an “h” in the name.

Other Limits of Reason: Nolson S. Yanofsky. Very good book. Some chapters required re-reading on my part before I understood them. Yanofsky explores the limits of reason via mathematics and physics. I wish I could have read this book when I was studying math in university. I would have appreciated the subject more. As it was, I thought it was a chore.

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson. [Finished] A novel set in North Korea. I read the book 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. This book is politically incorrect and yet it is written by a woman. Feminists and Leftists would have to be forced to say that she wasn't a woman.

Memorable quotes are presented and discussed!
Nicholas Gomez Davilla:
815 We frequently discover, after many years, that deliberate solutions end up being more intolerable than problems
818 The leftist intellectual does not attack anything with fearlessness and arrogance except ideas he believes to be dead.
819 Obviously, in many cases we come up with our ideas, but we are not the first, nor the only ones, to come up with them.
820 Anybody has the right to be stupid, but not to demand that we revere his stupidity. [On first thought, I thought that what Davilla said in this aphorism was a truism or was trite. But on quick reflection of some people, I have seen, who talk of how crazy and idiotic they are, I can see they are doing what Davilla says, asking us to revere their stupidity or their coolness brought about as a result of their shortcomings.]
821 Modern drudgery does make it more difficult to believe in God, but it does make it impossible to feel Him. [As a drudge, I know exactly what he means. The rat race, I am involved in, does leave me time to look after my soul. However, my attempts to look after it are the attempts of an egoist trying to improve himself. My attempts to feel him are those who try to be strong by going to the gym for ten minutes a day.]
822 Intelligence is strengthened by the eternal commonplaces. And it is weakened by those of its time and place. [Nothing makes a person more stupid than following the fashions of the day and accepting current commonplaces.]
823 It does not help the mediocre man at all to emigrate to where great men reside. We all carry our mediocrity wherever we go. [The stark truth. I am stuck with myself.]
827 As the waters of this century rise, delicate and noble sentiments, sensuous and fine tastes, discreet profound ideas take refuge in a few solitary souls, like the survivors of the flood on some silent mountains. [I love to be one of those solitary souls, but I don't think there is much of a chance of that happening.]
828 We spend a life trying to understand what a stranger understands at a glance; that we are just as insignificant as the rest. [True.]
831 Those whose gratitude for receiving a benefit is transformed into devotion to the person who grants it, instead of degenerating into the usual hatred aroused by all benefactors, are aristocrats. Even if they walk around in rags. [I am no aristocrat if this definition is correct.]
832 The fervor of the homage which the democrat renders to humanity is comparable only to the coldness with which he disrespects the individual. [True.] The reactionary disdains man without meeting an individual he scorns. [Damn! I am not a true reactionary!]
835 To be civilized is to be able to criticize what we believe in without ceasing to believe in it.[I am sure that someone, possibly Chesterton, said something about the true lover being a reformer of the object of its love. You love something not for what it is, but for what you think it is capable of. And I know that in my case, and even in my advanced age, I would certainly want that to be so.]
836 Families are often purulent cells of stupidity and unhappiness because an ironic necessity demands that the government of such elemental structures require as much intelligence, astuteness, and diplomacy as does the government of a state. [If you deem it foolish to live in a family, how can you be qualified to express any opinions on the government of states?]
838 Whoever looks without admiration or hatred has not seen. [Those who try to look at world objectively are usually looking at the world through the cloud of their perceived objectivity.]
842 There is no individual who, upon evaluating himself without previous preparation, does not find that he is inferior to many, superior to few, equal to none. [The inferior- to-many thought has been a frequent source of depression for me.]
845 With the object of preventing dangerous concentrations of economic power in the hands of a few anonymous associations, socialism proposes that the totality of economic power be entrusted in a lone anonymous association called the state.
847 It would be easier to resolve modern problems, if, for example, it were possible to sustain the Utopian fancy that what causes the multiplication of plastic objects is only the manufacturer's commercial greed, and not the idiotic admiration of the presumed buyers.
854 The technical man believes he is a superior being, because he knows what, by definition, anybody can know. [I love this.]
856 Dialogue perverts its participants. Either they are obstinate out of a desire to fight, or they give in out of laziness. [Anyone who says he wants a dialogue is just a monologist who wants a rapt listener. Anyway, it is a good reason to not speak unless you are getting paid to.]
859 Every straight path leads directly to a Hell. [You have to a genius to think these things. And yet this is an expression that once known, seems to be so commonsensical that anyone could have thought of it.]
863 It is not easy to discern whether contemporary journalism is a cynical way to get rich by corrupting man or a “cultural” apostolate carried out by hopelessly uncivilized minds. [I think it is the latter. Journalists, for the most part, are a very ignorant bunch.]
865 Many people believe that a laconic statement is dogmatic and judge the generosity of an intelligence by the verbosity of its prose. [That is how many are fooled into thinking Obama has something to say when he hasn't said anything at all.]
867 The Modern World bitterly censures those who “turn their back on life.” As if it were possible to know with certainty that turning one's back on life is not turning one's face toward the light. [I suppose that those who “turn their back on life” can also be called retrograde or some much worse epitaph.]
872 Our misery proceeds less from our problems than from the solutions which are appropriate to them.[Oh! Do I have to work hard?!?]

Theodore Dalrymple
[Joseph] Conrad was attracted to England precisely because he saw the English national character as lacking in moral grandiosity and metaphysical flamboyance. The English people did their duty without the apparent need, or desire, to found it on any philosophical first principles. [Joseph Needham wasn't like that.]

the world is so infinite in its variety that our brief time on it cannot, or at least should not be able, to exhaust our interest. I used to tell my patients that it was vastly more important, from the point of view of reaching contentment, that they should lose themselves than that they should find themselves; and that, in losing they would find themselves and most of their problems would disappear, at least for the time they remained lost. If they made finding themselves the precondition of losing themselves, they were, in effect, lost. [link]

The greatest cause of boredom in the modern world is entertainment.[link]

the blogosphere gives the impression that the world is filled with bitter, angry, resentful people who spit venom at the slightest pretext and think that abuse is an argument—indeed, the only argument.[link]

David Warren
Call it a mood: one which can be maintained by the true Stoic over decades. I can easily understand it, especially at this moment, having been in a mood like that this past week or two, with nothing whatever to say to my own tiny shrinking public, or to the world at large, beyond, “Go to hell.” But of course this won’t do. If one is a writer one must never agree to shut up; not so long as there is one more reader. Force the smug, “enlightened” bastards to silence you. [Except in one aspect, this passage doesn't apply to me, but I envy its pluck. I have told the world, I could reside in, to go to Hell but not so much by my writing. I don't have a readership that has been large enough to dwindle.]

His column in the Hindustan Times, entitled, “With Malice Towards One and All,” will be missed up here in the High Doganate. [What a name for a column or a blog. I must steal it!]

Do you consider yourself to be in exile, imposed or self-imposed? I mean in temporal affairs, not the exile from the divine that is this life.” [In my diary, I have been dealing with this question that was posed to David Warren, as it applies to myself.]
The glib answer, supported by a Russian proverb (“A man can do most good where he was born”), is no, I cannot be an exile because I live in the same city wherein I was born. (It is also where one can do the most damage.) True, I was whisked away by my gypsy parents at a tender age, and several times having returned later I went off again, vowing never to come back, but here I am once again in the Greater Parkdale Area, enduring the general decline.[Alas, I couldn't do any good in Germany where I was born. The Russian proverb doesn't apply to me.]

I expect politicians to lie. That is their trade, after all, and many have devoted decades to the mastery of this art of “circumlocution,” which contains many little techniques of deceit, and is in turn part of the larger art of mass suckering, or “democracy.” The master of this art can tell a very big lie, that is aggregated from small, factually checkable statements, or uncheckable statements that will pass glibly.

We must look on our fellows and do some Good. This might begin with looking into their faces, and acknowledging when they look into ours. It does not matter in the least if they are Christian, they are on the same road. We have been solemnly instructed to avoid harming our neighbour, whatever the temptation might be. We should take that instruction at face value. But we have also been solemnly instructed to love, and we must learn to love. Or we will arrive — knee, waist, shoulder, head — covered with the sins of omission.

Robert Easy (A commentator on David Warren's Blog):
All that Christ asks of us is to be consistent. When we condemn sin in others, then we must condemn it in ourselves. When we treat others with contempt and indifference, then we are agreeing to be so treated ourselves by both God and man. Everything comes back to us and rests with us. [Those words contempt and indifference ring out directly, it would seem, at me. I am so guilty of doing these things to other people.]

from “Travels in West Africa” by Mary H. Kingsley
...I often wonder what are the things other people are really most proud of; it would be a quaint and repaying subject for investigation. [What am I most proud of? I am of course proud of my son. But what is the thing that I have done that I am most proud of? I can't really say. I wonder if anything I have done has meant a lick of good for anybody.]

By Paul Krugman, bolded below: 
Just to be clear, there’s no evidence that Mr. Ryan is personally a racist, and his dog-whistle may not even have been deliberate. But it doesn’t matter.  He said what he said because that’s the kind of thing conservatives say to each other all the time. And why do they say such things? Because American conservatism is still, after all these years, largely driven by claims that liberals are taking away your hard-earned money and giving it to Those People. [Krugman and all those who think like him are idiots, as this passage shows. Their belief in the dog whistle is akin to the belief in witches that Krugman and his ilk say all Conservatives believe in. As long as Liberals spout the quoted nonsense, how is it possible to have a debate with them?]

Carlos Caso-Rosendi
Scripture read in quiet solitude (my preference is to read by the window accompanied by a rather long cup of tea) with grateful reverence is perhaps one of the greatest experiences a human soul can enjoy.

Pope Benedict XVI
Let us ask, then:  What does it mean to become a Christian?  How does this take place?...  If individuals are to become Christians they need the strength to overcome;  they need the power to stand fast against the natural tendency to let themselves be carried along.
Life in the most inclusive sense has been defined as "resistance to the pull of gravity."  Only where such effort is expended is there life;  where the effort ceases life too ceases.  If this is true in the biological sphere, it is all the more true in the spiritual.
The human person is the being which does not become itself automatically.  Nor does it do so simply by letting itself be carried along and surrendering to the natural gravitational pull of a kind of vegetative life.  It becomes itself always and only by struggling against the tendency simply to vegetate and by dint of a discipline that is able to rise above the pressures of routine and to liberate the self from the compulsions of utilitarian goals and instincts.
Our world is so full of what immediately impinges on our senses that we are in danger of seeing only details and losing sight of the whole.  It takes effort to see beyond what is right in front of us and to free ourselves from the tyranny of what directly presses upon us.

A Scottish Proverb (from David Warren's Blog)
He has a hole aneath his nose.    [That is brilliant on so many levels. I know a few people to whom I would like to cite this proverb.]

Malcolm de Chazal (posted by a reader on David Warren's Blog)
We speak with our lips to explain, with our throats to convince.”
Women make us poets, children make us philosophers.”
The Bible: a book that either reads us or is useless.”
Laughter is regional; a smile extends over the whole face.”

Rob Long (from a review of a book about Johnny Carson)
Johnny appeared on television every weeknight. He was playing himself—or, rather, an idealized version of himself: jovial, chummy, witty, warm. The strain of that kind of acting must have been monumental. It’s no wonder that real movie stars—Jimmy Stewart, Michael Caine, a whole bushel of A-listers—respected him so much. In one of the best stories in a book filled with great stories, when Johnny arrives late to a very exclusive industry event filled with movie stars, he lights up the room. He wasn’t just the king of late night television. He was the king of managing not to appear like the rat bastard he clearly was. [I have this sneaking suspicion that I am a rat bastard or a person who likes to act like he is a rat bastard.]

A Buddhist Psalm:
Difficult is it for men to find a wise Teacher; so is it also for them to be instructed and to hear the Holy Law. More difficult still is it to receive the True Faith. [Lots of wise guys, I see. I haven't yet met any wise man.]
Anthony Esolen
It is never easy to rouse a sensualist, not just to heroism, but to the self-sacrifice of an ordinary life of virtue. [Sensualists do like to strike heroic poses, so they do like to be roused to a heroism of a sort, but damned if they every want to do ordinary and decent things – they find ways to rationalize themselves out of having to do them.]

Lists are made: Books and Authors that I want the world to know that I have read.
  • The Holy Bible
  • The Road to Serfdom by FA Hayek
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
  • TS Eliot
  • Charles Dickens
  • Shakespeare
  • Dostoevsky
  • F.A. Hayek
  • WH Mallock
  • Don Colacho
[This list could be a lot longer but I want to get this entry published.]

Thoughts are thought

  • It seems pointless for me to get emotional about the news I get fed by the media. The news has nothing to do with me. My opinions on the events of the day won't change anything.
  • Silence is a wonderful weapon.
  • I don't know who I am mad at.

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