cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

A Dance to the Music of Time

Students of Phillips Academy, Andover, have produced a website of essays on Anthony Powell’s novel: A Dance to the Music of Time – Photographs and Essays.

September 2, 2008 Posted by | general | , | Leave a comment

Saul Bellow quote

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep

Saul Bellow

July 3, 2008 Posted by | general | , , , | Leave a comment

It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick

Taking the part of Stalin in Then There Were Giants (also titled World War II: When Lions Roared ), An American TV mini-series (1994) Michael Caine says:

A Russian proverb says poke out the eyes of the man who sees only the past

June 29, 2008 Posted by | general | , | Leave a comment

Turgenev letters

A NYT archive pdf of Turgenev writing to George Sand and others, in facsimile.

June 27, 2008 Posted by | general | , | Leave a comment

Kierkegaard’s “Mystery Of Unrighteousness” In The Information Age

Mentioned in woods lot 22 June 2008

Kierkegaard’s “Mystery Of Unrighteousness” In The Information Age

is a paper by Brian T. Prosser (Fordham University) and Andrew Ward (The Georgia Institute of Technology)

A clue to some of its contents can be devined from the biblo:

Baker, A. (1998), “Cyberspace Couples Finding Romance Online Then Meeting for the First Time in Real Life”, CMC Magazine online at accessed 03.22.2001

Dreyfus, H. (1999) “Anonymity Versus Commitment: The Dangers of Education on the Internet”, Ethics and Information Technology, v.1, no.1, 15-21.

Kierkegaard, S. (1962a) The Point of View for My Work as an Author, tr. W. Lowrie, Harper&Row Publishers.

Kierkegaard, S. (1962b) The Present Age, tr. A.Dru, Harper&Row Publishers.

Kierkegaard, S. (1967) Søren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers, 7 vols., tr. & ed. Hong & Hong, Indiana University Press. [Note: references are to journal entry numbers, not page numbers.]

Marcuse, H. (1964), One-Dimensional Man, Beacon Press.

Prosser, B.T. and Ward, A. (2000), “Kierkegaard and the Internet: Existential Reflections on Education and Community”, Ethics and Information Technology, v.2, no.3, 167-180.

Szalavitz, M. (1999), “Can We Become Caught in the Web?” in Newsweek, December 6.

Turkle, S. (1995), Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, Simon and Schuster.

June 27, 2008 Posted by | general | , , | Leave a comment

My father used to say

When someone begins to say “My father used to say…” who cannot (if father used to have sayings at all) begin to remember, or picture, father saying something and only half hear the other father’s saying. Someone recently told me her father used to say, “Life is like a salami”. Imagine your own explanation.

The character “The Prince” played by Louis Jordan in the 1978 movie, “Silver Bears” says:

My father used to say, “A man is judged by two things: his motor car….”. I don’t remember the other.

To make it clear – and spoil the joke – father knew the two things but The Prince only remembered the one.

My father didn’t have sayings: he didn’t say much at the best of times. He once told me to stop reading my just-bought comics in the car and look out of the window instead. It was a left-wheel drive Sunbeam Alpine with red upholstery, and we had just driven past the Armenian Church on Nidal Street in Baghdad in 1957. He used to ask, instead of sayings, things like, “Do you see any green in this eye (as he placed an index finger on his upper cheek)?” Nobody did. They were not not green.

Do boys remember the colour of their fathers eyes?

June 26, 2008 Posted by | general | , | Leave a comment

The Art of Surprise – A Lecture by Steve Vineberg

The Art of Surprise

He mentions { wiki:anagnorisis }

which links to { wiki:peripetia}

and { wiki: hamartia }

E-text : Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Poetics

Another e-text of Poetics

June 21, 2008 Posted by | general | , , , , | Leave a comment

Micro wind turbines

mico-turbines look to be good things.

June 2, 2008 Posted by | general | , | Leave a comment

Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa { 13 June 1888 – 30 November 1935 }

A brief, magical, evanescent, mayfly friendship brought this poet to this pinhead in the pin-cushion of the universe.

Fernando Pessoa

‘See life from a distance. Never question it. There’s nothing it can tell you.’

Desde que sinta a brisa fresca no meu cabelo
E ver o sol brilhar forte nas folhas
Não irei pedir por mais.
Que melhor coisa podia o destino dar-me?
Que a passagem sensual da vida em momentos
De ignorância como este?

As long as I feel the full breeze in my hair
And see the sun shining strong on the leaves,
I will not ask for more.
What better thing could destiny give me
Than the sensual passing of life in moments
Of ignorance like this?

Ricardo Reis

Portal Pessoa

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

GoogleBook facsimile { via The Blog of Disquiet }

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Fernado Pessoa, general | | Leave a comment

Robert Graves : Juana Inés de la Cruz

Juana Inés de la Cruz

Published in Encounter I, no. 3 (December 1953): 5-13.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Project

….the greatest poet the American continent produced in the seventeenth century. She was born November 12, 1651, in San Miguel Nepantla, a village south of Mexico City. She was a Poet Nun, a woman of genius, and a person of intellectual prowess whose ideas and accomplishments were ahead of her time.


Cambridge University site dedicated to her.

Six poems in Spanish, with English translation.

May 25, 2008 Posted by | general | , | Leave a comment

More Naipaul: the art and the Life

A 21 May 2008 Times Literary Supplement article/essay by novelist A. N. Wilson, V.S. Naipaul, Master and Monster, makes me – again- think of Koestler. Is this not a species of pathological narcissism? In the jargon: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There is also Borderline Personality Disorder, which has a slight overlap with the former syndrome. But maybe Schizoid Personality Disorder fits the bill better, with its elements of narcissism. By the way the last has a table comparing over and covert aspects of SPD.

For some reason the phrase master and monster evokes rather, Master and Commander, from the nautical novels, with the image of the captain having to be in tight charge of the ship in order for things not to fall apart: clear objectives, setting the right course, navigating the difficulties, the rest.

Does it matter if the writer is a complete four letter word? I am on the side which says it does, partly because, once known, a fact about a writer cannot escape the works themselves; psychology pure and simple. It is possible to epoche (accent on the final e but I can’t get hold of the character set right now) the writer from the work, but it is a conscious decision to assess the quality of the writing despite the character and personality of the author.

Stalin was a monster: he had people killed; Lenin was, too, though not many people tend to think that. Naipaul is more what one might call an utter bastard – he is welcome to sue: I ain’t got a su, or a reputation to uphold. A cursory reading (even of the outdated Shub) demonstrates Lenin’s methods pre-power, as a exiled emigre, essentially terroristic and anarchistic. When he ruled he became totally totalitarian eschewing the anarchistic, opportunistic methods he partly used to achieve power, coming down hard bureaucratically on those he suspected : but he was always of a terroristic, psychopathic disposition from the beginning. It might be argued – it always is; he claimed it himself – that he had to be that ruthless to achieve the task he set himself. Lenin, once a hero of the Left, is now less revered as it becomes known what a gangster he was: Stalin is taken to be the gangster, while Lenin the Robespierre. Lenin, while having certain political principles – one questions the psychological roots of his modus in knowledge of the state execution of his elder brother for terrorist activity when Lenin was a young boy – was totally unethical in most of his political life. The image of the London conferences where he removed the best brains of the wider movement to achieve his objectives, shows this. So does the way the movement was financed: mostly by bank robbery inside Russia, not unlike the IRA with robbery and drug dealing in its time, with a bit of ad hoc assassination here and there, home and abroad, thrown in. His left-hand man in the emigre years, whose name now escapes me, was an out and out psychopath.

A great many writers have been equally tough-minded and ruthless — within their paradigm, or milieu — as these political monsters in creating their works and in defending their reputations even if they haven’t stooped to killing to do so: character assassination being of a different category from straight old physical elimination.


In the literature: Othello.

Narcissistic characteristics that either Othello or Iago show include high self-esteem, selfishness, underestimating the abilities of others, greed and envy, lack of empathy, and emotional coldness.


As if by default, this always leads back to Nabokov. In literary monstership terms, how do Naipaul and Nabokov compare? Lolita is said to be autobiographical: the correspondences tight: Nabokov’s relationship with his uncle, who despite abusing him a child, left him his fortune. In the most simplistic psychobabblish terms: Naipaul was just born a bit nasty (he adored his father) while Nabokov (we have to examine what he said did in his life) lost his parents early and was sexually abused so had a perfectly good reason to have a jaundiced view of the world.

May 25, 2008 Posted by | A N Wilson, fiction, general, Lenin, Literature, Nabokov, Novel, Novelist, Stalin, V S Naipaul, writers and works, Writing | | 2 Comments

Joseph O’Neill’s “Netherland”

New York Times Review of Books under title, The Ashes, written by Dwight Garner.

Who could not bee hooked by this and want to read the book?:

O’Neill’s prose glows with what Alfred Kazin called “the marginal suggestiveness which in a great writer always indicates those unspoken reserves, that silent assessment of life, that can be heard below and beyond the slow marshaling of thought.” And O’Neill knows how to deploy the quotidian fripperies of our laptop culture to devastating fictional effect. There’s a moment in “Netherland” involving a father, the son who has been taken from him, and Google Earth that’s among the most moving set pieces I’ve read in a recent novel. The father hovers over his son’s house nightly, “flying on Google’s satellite function,” lingering over his child’s dormer window and blue inflated swimming pool, searching the “depthless” pixels for anything, from thousands of miles away, he can cling to. O’Neill’s novel is full of moments like this: closely observed, emotionally racking, un-self-consciously in touch with how we live now.

If you can’t get the page, register with the NYT.

It’s only a short review but perfectly formed, giving brief author background.

May 18, 2008 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Charity search engine –

April 28, 2008 Posted by | general | , | Leave a comment

Sartre: Realism all the way down

A man is always a storyteller; he lives surrounded by his own stories as well as those of others. Through them he sees everything that happens to him; and he tries to live his life as if he were fictionalizing it.


Having finish Nausea, it only remains (ha!) for an explanation of its philosophy. First more on Sartre/Virgina Woolf.

Philosophy apart, I had, while reading Nausea, picked up on something about Nausea and Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. The only thing online I could find was this tantalising abstract:

This article analyses the relationship between Jean-Paul Sartre’s La Nausée [1938] and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse [1927], which share many textual details and a concern with the representation of traumatic loss. In both texts, there is an encounter with contingency and a quest for an ethical form that might symbolize suffering. Roquentin’s melancholic quest for an aesthetic vision to render loss constructs a false dichotomy of history versus art, in which the relation with the Other is abjected. Unable to find a form for his suffering – as he terms it, ‘souffrir en mesure’ [‘to suffer in time’] like the jazz tune which relieves his existential nausea – Roquentin ultimately retreats into narcissistic abstraction. In To the Lighthouse, Lily Briscoe’s post-Impressionist quest to represent her spiritual love for Mrs Ramsay in portraiture is more successful: in its eschewal of narcissistic signature and its hospitality to difference, Lily’s vision becomes an aesthetic space of encounter with the (m)Other, removed from the melancholic, narcissistic project of novel-writing that Roquentin envisages at the end of La Nausée.

of a paper: Mourning and the ethics of form in Sartre’s La Nausée and Woolf ‘s To the Lighthouse, by Ursula Tidd, published in The Journal of Romance Studies, Volume 6, Numbers 1-2, Spring & Summer 2006 , pp. 209-220 (12). If you’ve got a spare $39, or just under £20, you’ll be able to read it.

A discussion at Talking Philosophy on Virginia Woolf and Jean-Paul Sartre.

A quote at Questia:

“I tried to profit”, explains Sartre, “from the research made by certain novelists such as Dos Passos and Virginia Woolf into techniques of narrative.

It remains to both try to specify what I want to find out and to decide how deep to go.

(1) More on Woolf’s narrative techniques. As in : “Explained by someone else not from a reading of her whole ouevre”. Also something more on comparison of technique s in Woolf ‘s fiction and non-fiction.

(2) contingency

(3) Intentionality (wikipedia)

Intentionality (Stanford Enclyplopedia of Philosophy)

Sartre Today: A Centenary Celebration though as a GoogleBook not complete is a great help.

[1] Chapter 6: Sartre and Realism-All-The- Way

[a] The Purification of the Consciousness, pages 94-99

[b] Objective realism, 99-100

[c] Radical continuity, 100-104

[d] Realism not contextualism, All the way down, 104-108 {107 missing}

Detailed notes useful 110 – 113

Back, too, to Dennett’s Consciousness Explained for what he says on intentionality. Trying to find his papers on the intentional stance. Probably not going as far as to read his book The Intentional Stance.

(4) Objective realism

John Duncan in Sartre Today :

In Nausea, Sartre crafts a portrayal of radical contingency, that assiduously rejects objective realism.

There is plenty of online help with objective realism. E.g.

wiki: objective realism

What is objective realism?

(5) Idealism

This by Ian Heath on objective idealism is useful. It takes us to the relationship between psychology and philosophy.

April 23, 2008 Posted by | general | , | Leave a comment

Paul-Vincent Spade on Jean-Paul Sartre

Paul Vincent Spade is Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University, Bloomington. He has put his Sartre course notes online in pdf:

(1) Jean Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness: Class Notes, Fall 1995. 243 pp.

(2) Jean Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness: Course Materials. 76 pp.

Also includes : Christopher Vaughan, Pure Reflection: Self-Knowledge and Moral Understanding in the Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre (Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1993) 210 pp.

April 14, 2008 Posted by | Existentialism, general, Jean-Paul Sartre | , , , , | 2 Comments


Died 4 January 1960.

In Our Time BBC Radio 4, Thursday 3 January 2008

January 5, 2008 Posted by | general | Leave a comment