Good can be radical; evil can never be radical, it can only be extreme, for it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension yet—and this is its horror—it can spread like a fungus over the surface of the earth and lay waste the entire world. Evil comes from a failure to think.”
— Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
[The crucifix] stood there, crowning the rock, as it still stands on so many highway sides, vainly preaching to passers-by, an emblem of sad and noble truths: that pleasure is not an end, but an accident; that pain is the choice of the magnanimous; that it is best to suffer all things and do well.”
Never before had I so realized the miracle of the continued race, the creation and recreation, the weaving and changing and handing down a fleshly elements. That a child should be born of its mother, that it should grow and clothe itself (we know not how) with humanity, and put on inherited looks, and turn its head with the manner of one ascendant, and offer its hand with a gesture of another, are wonders dulled for us by repetition.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson, Olalla
In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed—a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.
— Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
I finished Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury tonight and I’m convinced that it’s the greatest book on writing I have ever read (except perhaps for On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King but that may only be because I read it first).
It has been a long time since I felt so enthusiastic about writing and so willing to try again, to fail, and to have some damned fun with it. I remembered how it felt when I first started to write and how I felt when a few publications accepted my work. It has been a long time since I wanted to feel exactly that again.
I’m picking up The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx next. It’s another short one. I won’t reach my reading goal by far this year but I’d like to be well of halfway there come December 31st. I’ll probably read Ethics by Baruch Spinoza. It’s less than 200 pages long.
Did I mention that we won a painting from the Octopus Initiative this month? The program is awesome. The way it works is you log into their website every month and select which paintings you like. If you win, you get to take the piece home and keep it for up to 10 months.
Today we went to pick it up, and I did my best to enjoy being out of the house. I’ve been spending too many weekends cooped up and though I’d love to go on being cooped up I have a feeling it’s not the healthiest way to spend my winter. The weekends are my best chance to see the sun and remember there is more than work, and sleep, and darkness.
It doesn’t feel very much like a Friday. Getting up was very hard this morning. So hard I almost opted to spend the day in bed. I’ve decided I get one day a month to do nothing when I should be doing something but November’s mental health day has already passed.
So, I went in, and then worked much more than I wanted to. We moved around office furniture and I ate lunch at a desk. At least we ordered out and at least I got to eat with the best coworkers around. And now I’ve been left to work alone. I sound like I hate it but I’m flattered by the opportunity to play boss.
Looking back on the day I’m grateful for a job where I can get up and move, where I get to be with my friends and laugh, where I have a team and where I know I’m wanted and doing well. I don’t think most people have that.
It has been a good week for reading. I finished Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky on Sunday, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller this morning, started Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, and made slow progress through Moral Letters to Lucilius: Volume 1 by Seneca nearly every day.
It feels good to spend so much time with books again, but I’m also disappointed and perplexed in my inability to keep up the habit given how much I enjoy it. Why am I like this? People are weird and I guess I am no exception.
I didn’t have a good night last night, but it did end on a happy, productive, and loving note. I slept well, woke up on time, and even made it into work early. I’m feeling better both physically and emotionally today than I did yesterday.
I feel more awake, aware, and, dare I say it, happy? It could be because I slept better or maybe it’s because I am finally about to finish reading Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This book has plagued me for months! I have never hated and loved a book at the same as much as I do this one. I’m exhausted! Just 18 more pages to go…
And I finished it! and just in time too. A coworker remembered I had asked months ago to borrow Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein and brought it to work this afternoon. It’s a nice change from Russian existential fiction and I fully intend to finish and move on to the next book within a week.