Tag Archives: theory

selections from The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels


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selections from Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Feminism, as writer Marie Sheer remarked in 1986, “is the radical notion that women are people.” (122) Continue reading

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selections from Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

HANNAH: ‘I had a dream which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air . . .’ (79) Continue reading

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selections from Civil Disobedience

“That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. (385)

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it. (386)

I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also. (389)

There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. (391)

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. (393)

Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves,–the union between themselves and the State,–and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? (394)

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels? (395)

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth,–certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn. (396)

I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should do something wrong. (396)

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. (398)

Confucius said: “If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are the subjects of shame.” (401)

The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State, until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose, if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellowmen. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen. (413) Continue reading

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selections from Il Principe, Niccolò Machiavelli

“Nothing causes a prince to be so much esteemed as great enterprises and giving proof of prowess.” (81)

hence this blog post aggregating my favorite selections from The Prince. Continue reading

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notes from volume 199 of the Greek collection in the Loeb Classical Library

notes on Aristotle, Longinus, and Demetrius. Continue reading

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Dorian mode

when i was around 13 years old, my parents gifted me a drum set for Christmas. even today, i can confidently say it was the single greatest physical present i’ve ever received from anyone. it officially made me a musician.

a decade later, a man now bound for Boulder urged me in the moment to strum guitar with him. though it may have been a bit premature, it (within a few months time) urged me down the path to the bass guitar, the more carefully footed step up from drums. so now, over a decade into my drumming career and only a couple years into my bass, i wonder whether i’ll pick up guitar when i turn 33 and then eventually drop all material things and simply croon when i’m 43.

one can dream. even in linear mathematical dimensions. but let’s be honest, exponential probably makes more sense, so i’ll probably play guitar when i’m 36 and sing when i’m 53. not too different. what the hell am i talking about? well, i can’t explain the math stuff, because i’m no Randall Munroe, but i will explain this theory i’ve been thinking about in regards to music and the body.

consider dance. in its simplest form, dance is simply the act of feet striking the earth. indeed, in truly transcendent dance, the mind is shut off entirely, and the human hops and heaves and swings and swirls like a dizzy flower, often to the rhythm of a beat… but this last part is unnecessary. all that is required for dance are feet striking the earth. that is, percussion. drums. by virtue of this, i consider drums not only the root of rhythm but also the thing that roots us to the earth–our feet and legs.

next comes the sister of percussion, harmony. that is, bass. and what comes after our legs but before our vitals? the genitals. consider: striking of the snares and booming of the kick raise us from our seats and urge us to stamp the ground beneath our feet, but what is that part, that irresistible, sinewy part that prevents our hips from staying still? the bassline curves through the air like a fire-breathing dragon, charring the asses of those who are free.

sidling up the human body, we next reach all those vitals but the brain. among others, this includes stomach, lungs, and, most importantly, heart. here we find melody, for is it not in our heart where we feel the joyous springing of the major scale as much as the miserable lament of the minor? heartbreak can kill a man, and it feels like suffocation… perfectly conscious suffocation. so too, love can induce the growth of wings, and so too can the guitar.

finally, we come to the head. inside one’s skull, chemical electrical thunderstorms rage producing the most unmusical and yet most human aspect of all: lyric. with the aid of a thinking brain and a humming nose, singers let leak through their gaping mouths their words of confusion, fear, and wonder, striving to know and for others to know… themselves.

just because you just read over a hundred pages of criticism on Sophocles Oedipus Rex doesn’t mean you know a goddamn thing about writing criticism yourself. you’re out practice. go to bed, you’re drunk.

truthfully enough, i’ve been reading some heavy shit. besides aforementioned criticism and the single perfect play upon which said criticism is based, i’ve also recently devoured John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government and almost all the works of Oscar Wilde. (i’ve yet to tackle his poetry. in general, i’ve been reading poetry more slowly because i can’t read it on muni because i refuse to read poetry without reading it aloud and i don’t think people on morning/evening commutes to and from the city would necessarily enjoy my twice daily poetry readings.) next up on the list? The Ananga-Ranga, “an Indian sex manual written in the 15th or 16th century,” according to Wikipedia. maybe i’ll learn something.

maybe, by the time saturday comes, i’ll be able to put into practice whatever reading i get in tomorrow, friday. i can probably knock out a good chunk in tomorrow’s two hours, sleep on it, and then awaken in the weekend yellow sun streaming through my bedroom window and flag, rise to shower, dress in cool clothes, descend the stairs to the gray pantyflasher–back in action–to speed just a bit north to scoop my half-Indian love to speed even further north to spill our completely exploding hearts.

i’m not actually drunk. i’m completely sober. i’m listening to my body.

check out my melody: my thorax and abdomen as of late have been complaining of acid. ’twas a sensation i had only felt momentarily on a couple occasions in the past, but lately it’s been an ever-present pang, heightened especially by my partaking in the most pleasantest of life’s servings: alcohol and spice. so, for as much of the month of may as possible, i am, as much is possible, cutting the two lifeless loves out entirely. i’m a couple days sober and i’m feeling good. it’s hard to avoid acid in food (tonight i made up some sloppy joe), but i think cutting out two intense variables should suffice.

what a mysterious wholesome. abstaining from alcohol. learning to cook. taking bass lessons. riding public transportation, hardly driving. consuming literature like a lava. and i’m about to sleep before midnight.

peace and love to you, universe. Continue reading

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notes from 2012: The Return of Quetzacoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck

“Love never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” — 1 Corinthians 13:8 Continue reading

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words sound; or, celery [archive]

dedicated from Surfer Girl to Kitchen Hips, who wrote half this poem though she only half realizes it.

i am facing the sun and sit on my hams, hair in my face, pen in my hand. tongue in my mouth. i take my shoes off and my toes touch the grass, cold and ready. i don’t want the circle to go just yet but it’s dipping, blinking out of sight, and i decide:

i’m going to say things
just for the sake of saying them. i have
a deadline and so do you, to
chomp and say
cut and say
splice and say
carve and say
slice and say
chunk and say
chink and say
order, box, ship, and save.

sipping on a Neil Young island ice tea, i
chat with myself: “the universe
is such
7:11 PM
words fail
for once, i totally agree
once and for all
i mean
it just IS”
our fundamental lack of understanding

For the Kingdom! And the Power! And the Glory! Are Yours! Now! And For Ever!
hey man,
you sound like the sun. . .

For the Kingdom! And the Power! And the Glory! Are Yours! Now! And For Ever!
hey man,
you taste like Zeus. . .

For the Kingdom! And the Power! And the Glory! Are Yours! Now! And For Ever!
hey man,
you look like the Buddha. . .

For the Kingdom! And the Power! And the Glory! Are Yours! Now! And For Ever!
hey man,
you kind of resemble tom cruise. . .

There is also an interesting observation that a resentful elephant would abort its fetus if it fed on the young shoots of bamboo, one of the earliest references to a plant toxin.

just kidding, i’m incredibly

theory: words that word what words can word
theorem: what you have when you have more than one theory
law: an excuse to kill
fact: a place to build things
hypothesis: an illness preserved for the weak, skeptics

though i doubted the validity

the other day a friend told me that this professor had professed how an historian of old related the tale of an ancient and wise philosopher-king who once sang,

like when taking a bite out of an orange expecting milk
like when pressing play on a record player expecting the Renaissance

the cold vinyl Earth vibrates everything
but heat, singing the same
lyric: uh!
let me see you shake in your boots
going back to the old school
back to your roots

before an apartment
it was a museum, religious science
it was a church
it was temple
it was a minaret
it was a church
a minaret, a pantheon of trinities trinities

the first magic trick
i ever learned:
defining the number 3:
everything that comes before now,
now, and everything that comes after
now. a greybeard
in the audience heckles me,
silently says, “hogwash,”
like an H-bomb.

ok, i’m flipping through the deck, tell me if you see your card:

. . .loser psychologists, nerdy psychiatrists, punk professors, jock surgeons, intellectual dentists, artist writers, alternative reporters, hipster consultants, geeky technicians, bro lawyers, gangsta programmers, kandi kid designers, stoner djs, pusher cooks, hippie gardeners, dissenting carpenters, bum farmers, yuppy biologists, goth chemists, suits physicists, biker astronauts, athlete librarians, tripping athletes, clubbing architects, slutty natural resource managers, nudist shoreline planners, mountaineer geologists, hedonist politicians, filthy rich nymphomaniac thief poets, drunk jewelers, savage dealers, popper artists, skating musicians, surfing actors, dancing talk show hosts, baller rangers, high-rolling cops, star firemen, lurks fashion designers, leeches teachers, creepers physicians, straight arrows, slob bouncers, go-getting bartenders, prankster secretaries, stealing salespeople, thinkers drivers, activist models, juicers investors, bitches bakers, animal business owners, god baristas, being plumbers. . .

. . .niet . . .niet

Turkish kiss

. . .niet . . .niet

dancing trains, contagious
singing trains, contagious
trains in motion, contagious
people in motion, contagious
sand dunes, contagious
static tanks, contagious
shadows in motion, contagious
tanks in motion, contagious
water in motion, contagious
writing is motion, contagious

. . .niet . . .niet

the next part of my lecture is called, “be perfect and don’t give a damn:”

. . .niet . . .niet

i have time.
to kill.
i have.
time to kill.

. . .niet . . .niet

singer soldiers
soldier singers

. . .niet . . .niet

sing to a mirror, mirror to a dance

. . .niet . . .niet

a gash, a cake, a fire, a bugle
a gash, a cake, a fire, a bugle
a gash, a cake, a fire, a bugle
a gash, a cake, a fire, a bugle

. . .niet . . .niet

fornication and blood,
iron and blood,
burning in water,
drowning in flame!
putting faith in appearances
rock, the epitome
trash can deep within
found in a stairwell

no, that’s not it,
not the one i’m looking for,

realizing rainbows may not
have anything in common with homosexuality
is like
realizing that a dirty black vagabond
named Lead Belly
can slice you to
your knees as quickly as
Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart

gurgle gurgle gurgle–the sound of me
choking on coffee

enough theory, let’s go downtown!

once the Dean of students took so much laughing gas that he exploded, and for 13.73 (+/- 0.12) billion years he expanded on the nature of nature, but, too distracted by swirling, burning bowls and discs, i missed the most of it, but caught the


“and there just is infinity! and that’s all the universe is! acting out this one point in time. . . that’s what it feels like. . . i’m still fucking. . .”
even now?
“yo! it’s what fucking happens. and i really do believe. . . i can’t control me not saying that shit. that’s what occurs to me.”
well that’s what laughing gas is supposed to do, right?
make you laugh?
choking gas?
make you choke!
tear gas?
make you cry!
natural gas?
everything i say is
only natural,
forgive me,

lazy crickets, two hours forty-five minutes and you.

you, i pissed off your balcony without even asking,
and you, i didn’t even call when i flew to your Europe,
and you, i pretended i didn’t even speak ni una palabra,
and you, i couldn’t read bass clef even with your basement keys,
and you, even i haven’t lied to you once, San Francisco frantic,
or you,

Dr. Seuss, never
let me drink again:
“i sane am.
i am sane.
am i sane.
am sane i.
sane am i.
sane i am.”

dare i speak?

double dog scared,
Rexroth rockets haunt me,
Kitchen Hip hollers hold me,
no, no,
this isn’t
more of that beat bullshit,
i’m kraken-inspired, nothing-induced,

i’m an oxycontin-picking moron,
“i cannot speak,”
but i get by. i’m a Venture Capitalist,
all in CTRL.

it’s a long way to the moon, i know
it’s a long way to the sun, i know


concerning conversing distance:

howl to commune with the one,
scream to commune with the other. Continue reading

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Seeing [archive]

i’ve just got to cut off a part of my body.

Peeping through my keyhole I see within the range of only about thirty percent of the light that comes from the sun; the rest is infrared and some little ultraviolet, perfectly apparent to many animals, but invisible to me. A nightmare network of ganglia, charged and firing without my knowledge, cuts and splices what I do not see, editing it for my brain. Donald E. Carr points out that the sense impressions of one-celled animals are not edited for the brain: “This is philosophically interesting in a rather mournful way, since it means that only the simplest animals perceive the universe as it is.”

i don’t know if it’s true, but i’ve generally assumed it to be true. kind of. my version of this hypothesis is that the closer to death you are, the more limited your passages of perception, the more of the universe you perceive. therefore, while humans “see” markedly less of the universe than do amoebas, so too do amoebas “see” markedly less of the universe than do rocks. black holes can see everything. and it turns out that everything is so fucking colorful, blissful, and downright scrumptious that black holes try to suck in as much of it as possible. greedy beasts.

I walked home in a shivering daze, up hill and down. Later I lay open-mouthed in bed, my arms flung wide at my sides to steady the whirling darkness. At this latitude I’m spinning 836 miles an hour round the earth’s axis; I often fancy I feel my sweeping fall as a breakneck arc like the dive of dolphins, and the hollow rushing of wind raises hair on my neck and the side of my face. In orbit around the sun I’m moving 64,800 miles an hour. The solar system as a whole, like a merry-go-round unhinged, spins, bobs, and blinks at the speed of 43,200 miles an hour along a course set east of Hercules. Someone has piped, and we are dancing a tarantella until the sweat pours. I open my eyes and I see dark, muscled forms curl out of water, with flapping gills and flattened eyes. I close my eyes and I see stars, deep stars giving way to deeper stars, deeper stars bowing to deepest stars at the crown of an infinite cone.

and that’s why i love Annie Dillard.

today i attended a talk given by a past professor of mine, James Kuzner, who elaborated on queer theory and economics of surplus and such and such in regards to Shakespeare’s play, “Timon of Athens.” i maybe understood about 1/8 of his words, it was seriously so beyond my powers of comprehension. when faculty started posing questions to the speaker, they rose like Olympians in my mind, they were beings of rational exhilaration, their own neurons whizzing at speeds exceeding a measly 43,200 miles an hour. i felt like a fool. but, nonetheless, a conscious fool.

In the great meteor shower of August, the Perseid, I wail all day for the shooting stars I miss. They’re out there showering down, committing hara-kiri in a flame of total attraction, and hissing perhaps at last into the ocean. But at dawn what looks like a blue dome clamps down over me like a lid on a pot. The stars and planets could smash and I’d never know. Only a piece of ashen moon occasionally climbs up or down the inside of the dome, and our local star without surcease explodes on our heads. We have really only that one light, one source for all power, and yet we must turn away from it by universal decree. Nobody here on the planet seems aware of this strange, powerful taboo, that we all walk about carefully averting our faces, this way and that, lest our eyes be blasted forever.

school is unhealthy for me. i think too much or too little. talk too much or too little. all these people saying things and i wonder, does she really mean that? all these people doing things and i wonder, is that really what he wants to do? i walk four feet and, realizing i’m going to die, start choking violently, drop all my books, fall to the ground and puke all my organs out. they’re black and scorching, fizzing on the ground while my skin shell rocks in spasms underneath a wooden bench i crawled to in my anguish, and that’s when i finally decide to look straight at the only real deity we have ever known: the sun. it says, “you may ask me one question.” i do not respond immediately. in fact, i lie there, organless, under that bench for about 6 millennia, until i finally open my mouth and make a gesture with my hands as if about to finally ask my question, and, as the sun leans forward in anticipation, i am happily burnt to an irreversible crisp, banished forever to the truth only found in vacuums. sometimes i feel like i need a really big break and then i realize that it’s coming, but it’s not quite what i’ve imagined it to be.

But I can’t go out and try to see this way. I’ll fail, I’ll go mad. All I can do is try to gag the commentator, to hush the noise of useless interior babble that keeps me from seeing just as surely as a newspaper dangled before my eyes. The effort is really a discipline requiring a lifetime of dedicated struggle; it marks the literature of saints and monks of every order East and West, under every rule and no rule, discalced and shod. The world’s spiritual geniuses seem to discover universally that the mind’s muddy river, this ceaseless flow of trivia and trash, cannot be dammed, and that trying to dam it is a waste of effort that might lead to madness. Instead you must allow the muddy river to flow unheeded in the dim channels of consciousness; you raise your sights; you look along it, mildly, acknowledging its presence without interest and gazing beyond it into the realm of the real where subjects and objects and rest purely, without utterance. “Launch into the deep,” says Jacques Ellul, “and you’ll see.”

i’ll try that. Continue reading

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