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April 30, 2007

schopenhauer on reading

The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or a novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books in not reading bad ones: for life is short.

Buying books would be good if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents


Posted by amin at 10:44 PM

April 29, 2007

schopenhauer on writing

Obscurity and vagueness of expression is always and everywhere a very bad sign: for in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it derives from vagueness of thought, which in turn comes from an original incongruity and inconsistency in the thought itself, and thus from falsity. If a true thought arises in a head it will immediately strive after clarity and will soon achieve it: what is clearly thought, however, easily finds the expression appropriate to it. The thoughts a man is capable of always express themselves in clear, comprehensible and unambiguous words. Those who put together difficult, obscure, involved, ambiguous discourses do not really know what they want to say: they have no more than a vague consciousness of it which is only struggling towards a thought: often, however, they also want to conceal from themselves and others that they actually have nothing to say.

Truth is fairest naked, and the simpler its expression the profounder its influence.

There are above all two kinds of writer: Those who write for the sake of what they have to say and those who write for the sake of writing. There former have had ideas or experiences which seem to them worth communicating; the later need money and that is why they write – for money.

Payment and reserved copyright are at bottom the ruin of literature. Only he who writes entirely for the sake of what he has to say writes anything worth writing. It is as if there were a curse on money: every writer writes badly as soon as he starts writing for gain. The greatest works of the greatest men all belong to a time when they had to write them for nothing or for very small payment.


Posted by amin at 11:50 PM

April 28, 2007

godard on rossellini

Socrates was exactly the same kind of guy as Roberto, a guy they poisoned simply because he asked people questions. He accepted everything; all he wanted was to talk to people. And he was totally intolerable in Athens because, as a result not of asking questions but of talking to people, he pissed everybody off, just by simply expanding on things, by going a little farther. He had nothing of his own; he took from others and adapted things. One plus One, it went a lot further and people said to him: “We want to stay at One. We don’t want to add ‘plus One.’

Jean-Luc Godard

Posted by amin at 12:52 PM

April 27, 2007

nietzsche on philosophy

I profit from a philosopher only insofar as he can be an example…But this example must be supplied by his outward life and not merely in his books-in the way, that is, in which the philosophers of Greece taught, through their bearing, what they wore and ate, and their morals, rather than by what they said, let alone by what they wrote.

The only critique of a philosophy that is possible and that proves something, namely trying to see whether one can live in accordance with it, has never been taught at universities: all that has ever been taught is a critique of words by means of other words.

To understand the picture one must divine the painter. Nowadays, however, the whole guild of sciences is occupied in understanding the canvas and the pain but not the picture; one can say, indeed, that only he who has a clear view of the picture of life and existence as a whole can employ the individual sciences without harm to himself, for without such a regulatory total picture they are threads that nowhere come to an end and only render our life more confused and labyrinthine.

These, then, are some of the conditions under which the philosophical genius can at any rate come into existence in our time despite the forces working against it: free manliness of character, early knowledge of mankind, no scholarly education, no narrow patriotism, no necessity for bread-winning, no ties with the state – in short, freedom and again freedom: that wonderful and perilous element in which the Greek philosophers were able to grow.

Nietzsche - Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks and Schopenhauer as Educator

Posted by amin at 4:18 PM

April 26, 2007

heart is the only sure guide

You who know that there is always something new, show it to others in the things they hitherto failed to appreciate. Make them feel that they have never before heard the song of the nightingale, or been aware of the vastness of the sea – everything that their gross senses can perceive only when someone else takes the trouble to feel it for them. And do not let language trouble you. If you cultivate your soul it will find the means to express itself. It will invent a language of its own far better than the meter or the pose of this or that great writer.

Cultivate a well-ordered mind, it's your only road to happiness; and to reach it, be orderly in everything, even in the smallest details.

How cold words seem when one tries to describe one's feelings!

That heart is the only sure guide; it has never led me astray where people's feelings for me are concerned.

Nourish yourself with grand and austere ideas of beauty that feed the soul. Seek solitude. If your life is well-ordered your health will not suffer.

At least admire the great virtues, even if you are not strong enough to be truly virtuous yourself!

We have gained science at the cost of grace.

Eugene Delacroix - The Journals

Posted by amin at 10:40 PM

April 25, 2007

submission to the noblest ends

This is how Schopenhauer’s philosophy should always be interpreted at first: individually, by the individual only for himself, so as to gain insight into his own want and misery, into his own limitedness, so as to learn the nature of his antidotes and consolations: namely, sacrifice of the ego, submission to the noblest ends, above all to those of justice and compassion. He teaches us to distinguish between those things that really promote human happiness and those that only appear to do so: how neither riches nor honors nor erudition can lift the individual out of the profound depression he feels at the valuelessness of his existence, and how the striving after these valued things acquires meaning only through an exalted and transfiguring overall goal.

Nietzsche - Schopenhauer as Educator

Posted by amin at 10:20 PM

April 24, 2007

the prevention of suffering

Hedonistic ethics have always had to struggle against the moral sense of mankind. Earnest minds, that feel the weight and dignity of life, rebel against the assertion that the aim of right conduct is enjoyment. Pleasure usually appears to them as a temptation, and they sometimes go so far as to make avoidance of it a virtue. The truth is that morality is not mainly concerned with the attainment of pleasure; it is rather concerned, in all its deeper and more authoritative maxims, with the prevention of suffering. There is something artificial in the deliberate pursuit of pleasure; there is something absurd in the obligation to enjoy oneself.

George Santayana - The Sense of Beauty

Posted by amin at 10:56 PM

April 23, 2007

you use works of art to see your soul

God speaks to us through works of art. What is it that we have a right to expect great art to say to us, to do for us? To delight us, of course, but also to deepen our awareness of the things that matter, to enable us to accept darkness and pain, to tell us what we might not have wanted to know but needed to know, to make us into something more than we were before, more human, and more compassionate. And, most of all I think, to enable us to see into ourselves. Bernard Shaw, in his most Wagnerian play, Back to Methuselah, said, “you use a glass mirror to see your face: you use works of art to see your soul.”

M. Owen Lee

Posted by amin at 1:59 AM

April 19, 2007

truth creates illumination

Facts do not interest me much. Facts are for accountants. Truth creates illumination.

I know the heart of men. It may sound pretentious, but it's true.

Not a good question. You are trying to deduce if I am obsessed like the subjects of my films. Let's not get into that. I am a professional person. Others would not do what I do, but I am trying to be a good soldier of cinema.

There is no small talk in the Sahara.

You look at the footage of Timothy Treadwell, you look into the abyss of human nature.

We are overconcerned with the well-being of whales, panda bears, and tree frogs. But cultures are dying with incredible speed. There are six thousand languages still alive, many of them spoken by very few speakers. By the end of the century, there may be only 10 percent left. I met an aborigine in Australia who was eighty years old and the only speaker of his language. He was considered mute because he had nobody left to talk to. He is certainly dead now.

Los Angeles is the city with the most substance in the United States--cultural substance. There is a competition between New York and Los Angeles, but New York only consumes culture and borrows it from Europe. Things get done in Los Angeles.

I will not become a citizen of a country that has capital punishment. It is a question of principle.

More than in any other historical epoch, our sense of reality is severely challenged. It is the Internet, Photoshop, digital effects in cinema, video games--tools that have arrived with instant impact. It is like warfare. For centuries, warfare was the same: the medieval knight with a sword in combat. Suddenly he was confronted with firearms and overnight was never the same. It is now a moment of the same magnitude for us.

School has not given me anything. I have always been suspicious of teachers. I do not know why.

I do not get lost. Sense of direction is a missing skill among modern men.

Tourism is a sin. Traveling on foot is a virtue. The moment people understand that you have come on foot and are trying to engage and understand them, there is an immediate change in attitude. On foot, no one chases you away or does not allow you to use their resources. They tell you stories they have not told anyone else.

If I opened a film school, I would make everyone earn their tuition themselves by working. Not in an office--out where there is real life. Earn it as a bouncer in a sex club or as a warden in a lunatic asylum. And travel on foot for three months. And do physical, combative sports, like boxing. That makes you more of a filmmaker than three years of film school. Pura vida, as the Mexicans say.

It is significant that neither the Sherpas nor any of the other mountain people ever thought about climbing the Himalayas until bored English aristocrats in the nineteenth century came in. You do not have to be on the summit of Mount Everest to appreciate it. To speak of "conquering" a mountain is not right.

I won't answer that. The meaning of life does not belong in a magazine. A magazine should know its limitations.

Werner Herzog

Posted by amin at 12:22 AM

April 12, 2007

the mystery of the earth touched the mystery of the stars

Filled with rapture, his soul yearned for freedom, space, vastness. Over him the heavenly dome, full of quiet, shining stars, hung boundlessly. From the zenith to the horizon the still-dim Milky Way stretched its double strand. Night, fresh and quiet, almost unstirring, enveloped the earth. The white towers and golden domes of the church gleamed in the sapphire sky. The luxuriant autumn flowers in the flowerbeds near the house had fallen asleep until morning. The silence of the earth seemed to merged with the silence of the heavens, the mystery of the earth touched the mystery of the stars...

Dostoevsky - The Brothers Karamazov

Posted by amin at 10:15 PM

April 11, 2007

the sun of love shines in his heart

People are drawn to him by an invisible force, they flock to him, surround him, follow him. He passes silently among them with a quiet smile of infinite compassion. The sun of love shines in his heart, rays of Light, Enlightenment, and Power stream from his eyes and, pouring over the people, shake their hearts with responding love. He stretches forth his hands to them, blesses them, and from the touch of him, even only of his garments, comes a healing power.

Dostoevsky - The Brothers Karamazov

Posted by amin at 10:04 PM

April 10, 2007


It is conceivable that Alexander the Great-for all the military successes of his youth, for all the excellence of the army he trained, for all the desire he felt himself to change the world-might have stopped at the Hellespont, and never crossed it, and not out of fear, not out of indecisiveness, not out of weakness of will, but from heavy legs.

There are two cardinal human vices, from which all the other derive their being: impatience and carelessness. Impatience got people evicted from Paradise; carelessness kept them from making their way back there. O perhaps there is only one cardinal vice: impatience. Impatience got people evicted, and impatience kept them from making their way back.

Kafka - Aphorisms

Posted by amin at 1:01 PM

April 9, 2007

the connection between art and ethics

Art is a kind of expression.
Good art is complete expression.
The work of art is the object seen sub spiecie aeternitatis; and the good life is the world seen sub spiecie aeternitatis. This is the connection between art and ethics.

The usual way of looking at things sees objects as it were from the midst of them, the view sub spiecie aeternitatis from outside.
In such a way that they have the whole world as background.

Wittgenstein - Notebooks

Posted by amin at 11:20 PM

April 8, 2007

the life of knowledge

Suppose that man could not exercise his will, but had to suffer all the misery of this world, then what could make him happy?
How can man be happy at all, since he cannot ward off the misery of this world?
Through the life of knowledge.
The good conscience is the happiness that the life of knowledge preserves.
The life of knowledge is the life that is happy in spite of the misery of the world.
The only life that is happy is the life that can renounce the amenities of the world.
To it the amenities of the world are so many graces of fate.

Wittgenstein - Notebooks

Posted by amin at 11:04 PM

April 6, 2007

i don’t understand how it’s possible to pass by a tree and not be happy

Listen! I know that talking is wrong: it’s better simply to set an example, better simply to begin…I have already begun…and-and is it really possible to be unhappy? Oh, what are my grief and my trouble, if I am able to be happy? You know, I don’t understand how it’s possible to pass by a tree and not be happy to see it. To talk with a man and not be happy that you love him! Oh, I only don’t know how to say it…but there are so many things at every step that are so beautiful, that even the most confused person finds beautiful. Look at a child, look at god’s sunrise, look at the grass growing, look into the eyes that are looking at you and love you…

Dostoevsky - The Idiot

Posted by amin at 8:26 PM

April 4, 2007

faith is not born from miracles, but miracles from faith

It is not miracles that bring a realist to faith. A true realist, if he is not a believer, will always find in himself the strength and ability not to believe in miracles as well, and if a miracle stands before him as an irrefutable fact, he will sooner doubt his own senses than admit the fact. And even if he does admit it, he will admit it as a fact of nature that was previously unknown to him. In the realist, faith is not born from miracles, but miracles from faith. Once the realist comes to believe, then, precisely because of his realism, he must also allow for miracles. The Apostle Thomas declared that he would not believe until he saw, and when he saw, he said: “My Lord and my God!” Was it the miracle that made him believe? Most likely not, but he believed first and foremost because he wished to believe, and maybe already fully believed in his secret heart even as he was saying: “I will not believe until I see.”

Dostoevsky - The Brothers Karamazov

Posted by amin at 11:21 PM

April 3, 2007

the things that will destroy us

The things that will destroy us are:
politics without principle;
pleasure without conscience;
wealth without work;
knowledge without character;
business without morality;
science without humanity;
and worship without sacrifice.

Mahatma Gandhi

Posted by amin at 9:34 PM

April 1, 2007

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

William Faulkner, Nobel Acceptance Speech, 1949

Posted by amin at 7:23 PM