Nov 192010
 

From On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemical Tract, translated by Ian Johnston.

Third Essay: What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?

27.

All great things destroy themselves by an act of self-cancellation. That’s what the law of life wills, that law of the necessary “self-overcoming” in the essence of life—eventually the call always goes out to the law-maker himself, “patere legem, quam ipse tulisti” [submit to the law which you yourself have established]. That’s the way Christianity was destroyed as dogma by its own morality, that’s the way Christendom as morality must now be destroyed. We stand on the threshold of this event. After Christian truthfulness has come to a series of conclusions, it will draw its strongest conclusion, its conclusion against itself. However, this will occur when it poses the question: “What is the meaning of all will to truth?” . . . Here I move back again to my problem, to our problem, my unknown friends (—for I still don’t know anything about friends): what sense would our whole being have if not for the fact that in us that will to truth became aware of itself as a problem? . . . Because this will to truth from now on is growing conscious of itself, morality undoubtedly dies. That great spectacle in one hundred acts, which remains reserved for the next two centuries in Europe, that most fearful, most questionable, and perhaps also most hopeful of all spectacles . . .

 Comments Off on Friedrich Nietzsche
Nov 192010
 

The bad end unhappily, the good unluckily. That is what tragedy means.

Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

Actors are the opposite of people.

If an idea’s worth having once, it’s worth having twice.

Life is a gamble at terrible odds. If it were a bet, you would not take it.

If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at the age of 22, it would have changed the history of music… and of aviation.

It is better to be quotable than to be honest.

The days of the digital watch are numbered.

The truth is always a compound of two half-truths, and you never reach it, because there is always something more to say.

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.

It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.

Every exit is an entry somewhere.

Revolution is a trivial shift in the emphasis of suffering.

Eternity’s a terrible thought. I mean, where’s it going to end?

Never believe in mirrors or newspapers.

I agree with everything you say, but I would attack to the death your right to say it. [parodying the saying of Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.]

 Comments Off on Tom Stoppard
Nov 192010
 

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there are prophecies, they shall fail; whether there are languages, they shall cease; whether there is 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.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

 Comments Off on 1 Corinthians 13
Nov 192010
 

You will not prove that humans are happy who live steadily in the midst of the disasters of war. Whether the blood shed is that of their fellow citizens or of their enemies matters not, for in any case it is human blood. The dark shadow of fear and the lust for blood has fallen over them. If they know joy, then it is but the gleaming of fragile glass which they must fear will be shattered at any second. How then can it be wise or even rational to see grounds to be boastful in the building of empires?…

If it does not do justice, what is the government but a great criminal enterprise? For what are gangs of criminals but petty little governments? The pack is a group which follows the orders of its leader according to a social compact of sorts, sharing the spoils along the rules upon which they agree. Through a process of gradual accretion, the gang may acquire bodies and territory, establish itself in some place, and soon be possessed of all the attributes of statehood—then it may be known as a state, acquiring this title not by being any less avaricious but rather by having achieved impunity. Alexander the Great’s conversation with a pirate he had captured reflects this well. The king asked what possessed him to infest the sea as he did, and the pirate replied: “No differently from you when you pursue your crimes in the world. I act with a small ship, so I am called a pirate. You command a fleet and are called emperor.”

<em>City of God</em>

 Comments Off on Augustine of Hippo
Nov 192010
 

David Cole. Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism.

Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay. America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy.

“An attention to the judgment of other nations is important to every government for two reasons. The one is, that, independently of the merits of any particular plan or measure, it is desirable, on various accounts, that it should appear to other nations as the offspring of a wise and honorable policy; the second is, that in doubtful cases, particularly where the national councils may be warped by some strong passion or momentary interest, the presumed or known opinion of the impartial world may be the best guide that can be followed.” -63rd Federalist Paper

“Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Once embroiled in foreign wars of interest and intrigue “the fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force… She might become the dictatress of the world: she would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit.” -John Quincy Adams (July 4, 1821)

Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repeal an invasion and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure… If today he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, “I see no probability of the British invading us”; but he will say to you, “Be silent: I see it, if you don’t.” -Abraham Lincoln

 Comments Off on Books : TLS & NYRB 2003.10.23