It’s spring break, and to revive my flagging mind I just took a short slow run on a beach near the edge of the water, and to revive my flagging body I have been rereading (and enjoying, for the third time in my life) the book Memoirs of an Anti-Semite by Gregor von Rezzori.
In the early ’60s when Jules Feiffer drew black-turtlenecked Village people dancing odes to the seasons and Mad Magazine mocked beatniks, my South African high-school and college friends and I called anyone who claimed to have read anything about existentialism a pseud. At that time a friend of mine used to mention Merleau-Ponty, and that damned my friend in perpetuity.
I recently ran into someone who I had always regarded as more or less compos mentis, but they told me quite seriously that the Rothschilds ran the world because they owned countries rather than corporations. Now, I’m not immune to the charms of conspiracy theories; some things in the world are so messed up that I can see how only a conspiracy could explain them. If a small cabal of invisible people ruled the world for their own profit and pleasure it very likely would turn out just the way it has, only probably a little more organized. Unless they are fiendishly clever and add the noise to make it look unplanned.
I have been reading The Connectome: How The Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are, by Sebastian Seung, a Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Physics at MIT, and formerly a theoretical physicist.
Some interesting stuff I’m reading:
Schopenhauer, in The World as Will and Representation, has a chapter on The Metaphysics of Sexual Love, and remarks how strange it is that love ceaselessly occupies people’s thoughts, interests and readings, and yet has gone relatively unexamined from a philosophical point of view. He brands as naive Spinoza’s view that love is merely pleasure associated with an external object, and I’m inclined to agree. For Schopenhauer, it’s all about matter propagating itself, the temporary unity of lovers’ feeling reflecting the unity of the yet unborn child. Strong mutual attraction, he says, is related to the suitability of the characteristics of the future child from the point of view of the species, and has nothing to do with personal lifelong compatibility. Not a cheerful guy.