Homosexuality was removed as a mental illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatry in May 1974. A woman wrote to Freud, that since you work on the mind and stuff, my son has the problem. Just look at the letter (that he wrote in…
Once when I was in the Agha Khan University hostel, napping in the afternoon, I woke up at sundown, went out of the room, came back and saw a red finch perching on my red towel on the small clothesline we had. It was staring at me and I slowly went to it…
Last night, I dreamed that I was walking with my brother, who is just older than me, through a bazaar where there were fruitsellers, iron smiths, grocers, and other people. I didn’t even know what he wanted to get, but we walked so long past the populace…
Knowst thou the land of flowering lemon trees?
In leafage dark the golden orange glows,
From azure sky there wafts a gentle breeze,
Calm the myrtle, high the laurel grows,
Knowst thou it still?
There would I go, beloved mine, with thee.
Knowst thou the house? Its column-bedded roof,
The shining hall, the inner room aglow,
The marble statues gaze but do not move:
What have they done, poor child, to hurt thee so?
Knowst thou it still?
There would I go, protector mine, with thee.
Knowst thou the mountain, stepping up through cloud?
The mule in mist treads out his path; a cave,
And in it dwells the ancient dragon brood;
The crag swoops down and over it the wave;
Knowst thou it still?
There goes the way, father, for thee and me.
(This translation is dedicated to the memory of Gerard de Nerval)
Translated by Christopher Middleton
“Music does not express this or that particular and definite joy, this or that sorrow, or pain, or horror, or delight, or merriment, or peace of mind; but joy, sorrow, pain, horror, delight, merriment, peace of mind themselves, to a certain extent in the abstract, their essential nature, without accessories, and therefore without their motives. Yet we completely understand them in this extracted quintescence. Hence it arises that our imagination is so easily excited by music, and now seeks to give form to that invisible yet actively moved spirit world which speaks to us directly, and to clothe it with flesh and blood, i.e., to embody it in an analogous example. This is the origin of the song with words, and finally of the opera, the text of which should therefore never forsake that subordinate position in order to make itself the chief thing and the music the mere means of expressing it, which is a great misconception and a piece of utter perversity; for music always expresses only the quintescence of life and its events, and never these themselves, and therefore their differences do not always affect it. It is precisely this universality, which belongs exclusively to it, together with the greatest determinateness, that gives music the high worth which it has as the panacea for all our woes. Thus if music is too closely united to words, and tries to form itself according to the events, it is striving to speak a language which is not its own.”
Your spirit’s worth is no longer requited, noble form, These legions are not men-at-arms but visitors in awe. Once these very pavilions had sheltered earthy kings, Today, they harbor shadows and rear no glory save their own. The blood of countless years and masons nourished you; Only great ambition could animate your lifeless walls. Though these fountains have been robbed of precious stones, Profaned by hasty plunderers, your sight remains sublime. Caprice creates and soon destroys with the heartlessness of time – You know too well and still inspire just noble thoughts; Enduring much, reality would mean to you no less, no more. And since you speak and petrify in every way except with words, I wonder: When these gates are closed each night unsung by dancing flames, That once arose from lamps arrayed in glorious niches, Do you not hear past flourishes and whimpers imprisoned in your dungeons; Do not the stones within these walls resonate and sing; Do not those houris’ candles delight in chambers of the king; And to the darkest, stillest hour before dawn Does not the queen lay bare her heart and weep?
The Chinese Room argument, devised by John Searle, is an argument against the possibility of true artificial intelligence. The argument centers on a thought experiment in which someone who knows only English sits alone in a room following English instructions for manipulating strings of Chinese characters, such that to those outside the room it appears as if someone in the room understands Chinese. The argument is intended to show that while suitably programmed computers may appear to converse in natural language, they are not capable of understanding language, even in principle. Searle argues that the thought experiment underscores the fact that computers merely use syntactic rules to manipulate symbol strings, but have no understanding of meaning or semantics. Searle’s argument is a direct challenge to proponents of Artificial Intelligence, and the argument also has broad implications for functionalist and computational theories of meaning and of mind. As a result, there have been many critical replies to the argument.
The ideal of morality has no more dangerous rival than the ideal of supreme strength, of a life of maximum vigor, which has also been called the ideal of aesthetic greatness. That life is in truth the ultimate attainment of the barbarian, and unfortunately in these days of civilization’s withering it has won a great many adherents. In pursuance of this ideal man becomes a hybrid thing, a brute-spirit, whose cruel mentality exerts a horrible spell upon weaklings. —Novalis
Reddy’s newest project, funded by an NEH fellowship, looks at changing attitudes toward romantic love in Western culture. Here we asked Reddy, the chair of Duke University’s history department, to meditate on the realm of Venus.
One thing is needful.— To “give style” to one’s character—a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye. Here a large mass of second nature has been added, there a piece of original nature has been removed:—both times through long practice and daily work at it. Here the ugly that could not be removed is concealed, there it has been reinterpreted and made sublime. Much that is vague and resisted shaping has been saved and exploited for distant views:—it is meant to beckon toward the far and immeasurable. In the end, when the work is finished, it becomes evident how the constraint of a single taste governed and formed everything large and small: whether this taste was good or bad is less important than one might suppose,—if only it was a single taste!—
from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (section 290, translated by Walter Kaufmann)
It is precisely by means of … modes of knowledge, in a realm beyond the world of the senses, where experience can yield neither guidance nor correction, that our reason carries on these enquiries which owing to their importance we consider to be far more excellent, and in their purpose far more lofty, than all that the understanding can learn in the field of appearances. Indeed we prefer to run every risk of error rather than desist from such urgent enquiries, on the ground of their dubious character, or from disdain and indifference. These unavoidable problems set by pure reason itself are God, freedom, and immortality. The science which, with all its preparations, is in its final intention directed solely to their solution is metaphysics; and its procedure is at first dogmatic, that is, it confidently sets itself to this task without any previous examination of the capacity or incapacity of reason for so great an undertaking.
At 14, Friedrich Schiller was sent to a military academy. The oppressive atmosphere became a theme in his work. “After all,” he wrote, “it’s in the deepest dungeons that the most beautiful dreams of freedom are dreamt.”
Roofs remain cool under leaves of watered vines green with budding grapes –
fruits of sultry solstice dewed with sudden drops of cumulus rains and swept
with winds let loose ineffably across my face and yours, flustering sleepy birds in the distant bamboos…
Friday Poem: We have touched the precarious petals…
We have touched the precarious petals of the flowers called friendship on many sides
and they have never ceased to surprise. Everywhere there is a purpose, everywhere
a suspicion as to the purpose, nectar guides and scent and sweet relishes, but seldom the…
May this noon rest lightly like a plume from an egret’s crest
on your happiness, ease inside the book you clutch close
to the feeblest murmurs. We witness birds and reckon
their flying for freedom; I write verses to weave your voice into mine and let it…
Oscar Wilde: “It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realize our perfection; through Art, and through Art only, that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.” And: “All that I desire to point out is the general principle that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” John Keats: “A man’s life of any worth is a continual allegory.” Friedrich Nietzsche: “Art represents the highest task and the truly metaphysical activity of this life.”
Wonderful intricacy in the web, wonderful constancy in the design this vagabond life admits. We wonder how the fly finds its mate, and yet year after year we find two men, two women, without legal or carnal tie, spend a great part of their best time within a few feet of each other. And the moral is, that what we seek we shall find; what we flee from flees from us; as Goethe said, “what we wish for in youth, comes in heaps on us in old age,” too often cursed with the granting of our prayer: and hence the high caution, that, since we are sure of having what we wish, we beware to ask only for high things.