Mar 172016
 

I can’t speak for elsewhere,
but here on Earth we’ve got a fair supply of everything.
Here we manufacture chairs and sorrows,
scissors, tenderness, transistors, violins,
teacups, dams, and quips.

There may be more of everything elsewhere,
but for reasons left unspecified they lack paintings,
picture tubes, pierogies, handkerchiefs for tears.

Here we have countless places with vicinities.
You may take a liking to some,
give them pet names,
protect them from harm.

There may be comparable places elsewhere,
but no one thinks they’re beautiful.

Like nowhere else, or almost nowhere,
you’re given your own torso here,
equipped with the accessories required
for adding your own children to the rest.
Not to mention arms, legs, and astounded head.

Ignorance works overtime here,
something is always being counted, compared, measured,
from which roots and conclusions are then drawn.

I know, I know what you’re thinking.
Nothing here can last,
since from and to time immemorial the elements hold sway.

But see, even the elements grow weary
and sometimes take extended breaks
before starting up again.

And I know what you’re thinking next.
Wars, wars, wars.
But there are pauses in between them too.
Attention!—people are evil.
At ease—people are good.
At attention wastelands are created.
At ease houses are constructed in the sweat of brows,
and quickly inhabited.

Life on Earth is quite a bargain.
Dreams, for one, don’t charge admission.
Illusions are costly only when lost.
The body has its own installment plan.

And as an extra, added feature,
you spin on the planets’ carousel for free,
and with it you hitch a ride on the intergalactic blizzard,
with times so dizzying
that nothing here on Earth can even tremble.

Just take a closer look:
the table stands exactly where it stood,
the piece of paper still lies where it was spread,
through the open window comes a breath of air,
the walls reveal no terrifying cracks
through which nowhere might extinguish you.

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Mar 112016
 

Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.

The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.

The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here
with branches disentangled since time immemorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,
sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:
the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.

Echoes stir unsummoned
and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.

On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.

Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.
Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.

For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life.

 Comments Off on Wislawa Szymborska: Utopia
Feb 292016
 

Dieter Rams asked himself the question: Is my design good design? His answer to this question was these ten principles, now often referenced as the “Ten Commandments of Design”.

  1. Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
  3. Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
  6. Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  9. Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

As quoted at SFMOMA Presents Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams 

 

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Feb 262016
 

Remorse.— Never yield to remorse, but at once tell yourself: remorse would simply mean adding to the first act of stupidity a second.

– from Nietzsche’s The Wanderer and his Shadow, s. 323, R.J. Hollingdale transl.


The metaphysical comfort–with which, I am suggesting even now, every true tragedy leaves us–that life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes of appearances, indestructibly powerful and pleasurable–this comfort appears in incarnate clarity in the chorus of the satyrs, a chorus of natural beings who live ineradicably, as it were, behind all civilization and remain eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of the history of nations.

– from Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, s. 7, Walter Kauffman transl.


The greatest weight.— What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”
Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?… Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?

– from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, s.341, Walter Kaufmann transl.


Plan for an unfinished book: The Eternal Recurrence

My philosophy brings the triumphant idea of which all other modes of thought will ultimately perish. It is the great cultivating idea: the races that cannot bear it stand condemned; those who find it the greatest benefit are chosen to rule…

I want to teach the idea that gives many the right to erase themselves – the great cultivating idea…

Everything becomes and recurs eternally – escape is impossible! – Supposing we could judge value, what follows? The idea of recurrence as a selective principle, in the service of strength (and barbarism!!)…

To endure the idea of the recurrence one needs: freedom from morality; new means against the fact of pain ( pain conceived as a tool, as the father of pleasure…); the enjoyment of all kinds of uncertainty, experimentalism, as a counterweight to this extreme fatalism; abolition of the concept of necessity; abolition of the “will”; abolition of “knowledge-in-itself.”

Greatest elevation of the consciousness of strength in man, as he creates the overman.

– from The Will to Power, s. 1053, 1056, 1058, 1060, Walter Kaufmann transl.

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Feb 172016
 

They built the wall because they feared a war.
The soldiers served the whim of psychopaths
and soon abandoned dreams of steaming baths,
civilized orchards, and barbarian whores.

They wrote their wives at first, promising that,
the danger past, in triumph they’d march home
with gold enough to pave the streets of Rome.
They meant to spend their old age growing fat.

But year on year, the legion stood its stations.
Their swords grew rusty and their horses lame.
Some said they’d been forgotten on the wall,
some that the politicians were to blame.
The generals died, the privates ate half-rations.
Like living dead, they waited for the fall.

 Comments Off on William Logan: The Wall