May 22nd, 2010

baby i'm a big star

the only philosophy that amounts to anything after all is the secret of making friends with our luck

it is curious and pleasant, to my apprehension, to observe how many people in new england, one of whose states is called "the land of steady habits," are sensible of the joy of changing them, – out of doors.

"chance" is a disreputable word, i know. it is supposed by many pious persons to be improper and almost blasphemous to use it. but i am not one of those who share this verbal prejudice. i am inclined rather to believe that it is a good word to which a bad reputation has been given. i feel grateful to that admirable "psychologist who writes like a novelist," mr. william james, for his brilliant defence of it. for what does it mean, after all, but that some things happen in a certain way which might have happened in another way? where is the immorality, the irreverence, the atheism in such a supposition? certainly god must be competent to govern a world in which there are possibilities of various kinds, just as well as one in which every event is inevitably determined beforehand. st. peter and the other fishermen-disciples on the lake of galilee were perfectly free to cast their net on either side of the ship. so far as they could see, so far as any one could see, it was a matter of chance where they chose to cast it. but it was not until they let it down, at the master's word, on the right side that they had good luck. and not the least element of their joy in the draft of fishes was that it brought a change of fortune.

leave the metaphysics of the question on the table for the present. as a matter of fact, it is plain that our human nature is adapted to conditions variable, undetermined, and hidden from our view. we are not fitted to live in a world where a + b always equals c, and there is nothing more to follow. the interest of life's equation arrives with the appearance of x, the unknown quantity. a settled, unchangeable, clearly foreseeable order of things does not suit our constitution. it tends to melancholy and a fatty heart. creatures of habit we are undoubtedly; but it is one of our most fixed habits to be fond of variety. the man who is never surprised does not know the taste of happiness, and unless the unexpected sometimes happens to us, we are most grievously disappointed.

much of the tediousness of highly civilized life comes from its smoothness and regularity. to-day is like yesterday, and we think that we can predict to-morrow. of course we cannot really do so. the chances are still there. but we have covered them up so deeply with the artificialities of life that we lose sight of them. it seems as if everything in our neat little world were arranged, and provided for, and reasonably sure to come to pass. the best way of escape from this tædium vitæ is through a recreation like angling, not only because it is so evidently a matter of luck, but also because it tempts us into a wilder, freer life. it leads almost inevitably to camping out, which is a wholesome and sanitary imprudence.

the day before cxlvii
  • Current Music
    i feel like taking all my clothes off / dancing to the rite of spring
fucking magnets!

spoiler alert: matter wins

the big battle

we've been taking up metabolism lately—our little group of serious thinkers, you know and it's wonderful;—just simply wonderful!

i really don't know how i got along for so many years without it—it opens up such new vistas, doesn't it?
i can never think in the same way again about even the most trivial things since i have learned all about protoplasm and—and—well, all these marvelous scientific things, you know.

isn't science delightful!

there's the cosmos, for instance. it had always been there, you know. but nobody knew much about it until scientists took it up in a serious way.

and now i, for one, feel that i couldn't do with out it!

although, of course, one feels one's responsibilities toward it, too, and that is apt to be rather trying at times unless one has a truly earnest nature and is prepared to make sacrifices.

if the cosmos is to be improved, what is there that can improve it except evolution?

and unless we who are serious thinkers give evolution a mark to reach, how can we be sure that evolution will evolve in the right direction?

i have worried myself half to death at times over the superman!

you know i feel personally responsible, to a certain extent, about what he will be like when he gets here. if he isn't what he should be, you know, it will be the fault of those of us who are the leaders in thought today—it will be because we haven't started him right, you know.

mamma—poor dear mamma is so unadvanced, you know!—has an idea that when the superman does get here he won't be at all the sort of person that one would care to receive socially.

"hermione," she said to me only the other day, "no superman shall ever come into my house!"

she heard some of my friends, you know, talking about the superman and eugenics, and she has an idea that he will be horribly improper.

"i consider that the superman would be a dangerous influence in the life of a young woman," said mamma.
"mamma," i told her, "you are frightfully behind the times! there isn't a doubt in the world that when the
superman does come he will be taken up by the best people. anarchists and socialists go everywhere now, and dress just like other people, and you can hardly tell them, and it will be the same way with the superman."

what mamma lacks is contact. contact with—with—well, she lacks contact, if you get what i mean.

so many of the elder generation do lack contact, don't you think?

although, of course, it would be very hard to have contact and background at the same time.
and if one must choose between contact and background, the choice is apt to be puzzling at times.

although, of course, it is useless to reason too much on things like that. intuition often succeeds where reason fails, especially if one is at all psychic.

well, i must go. i must hurry to my costumer's.

i'm having a special costume made, you know. we've been taking up spiritualism again—our little group, you know. and i'm going to give a spirit fête, and of course it will take a great deal of dressing and arranging and decoration.

papa says it will be a ghost dance, but he is so terribly frivolous and irreverent at times.

don't you just simply loathe frivolity?
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    workin' on mysteries without any clues / workin' on our night moves