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Old 06.02.2010, 17:39   #1
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Default Born again

February 4, 2010
Somewhere Sartre describes the process whereby a man passively accepts values invented by others as “kneeling down like an animal to be loaded with them.” In other words, to die as a man and be born again as a jackass.
In everything I write I try to understand and explain myself hoping thus to understand my fellow men and the world around me. As for changing the world: even when one succeeds in that particular endeavor, one may fail in many others. Consider Marx's dream and the reality of the Soviet Union. If Marx had been a contemporary of Stalin, my guess is either he would have committed suicide or written a treatise in praise of capitalism.
Whenever I am insulted anonymously, I say to myself: Let's give the devil his due. Obviously the man knows how to read. He may not always understand what he reads but he has taken an important first step. It would be a mistake to give up on him. In a year or two, or in ten or twenty years, his understanding may catch up with his reading skills. Rome wasn't built in one day. My own understanding took longer than twenty years to reach the present point. What right do I have to make greater demands on others?
February 5, 2010
The most valuable thoughts are those that contradict our emotions.
When I wrote what they wanted to read, I was happy and they were happy, until I read Einstein's remark to the effect that to aim at happiness at the expense of truth is to entertain “the ambitions of a pig.”
The first step is the realization that, like the kingdom of God, solutions too are within you.
Your own shadow is a much more serious threat to you than I could ever be. But then, cowards don't need a real threat to experience fear, for their greatest enemy is their own imagination.
“Every human being now alive has links, however tenuous, not only with every one of his contemporaries, but also with every other human being that has ever lived. In this sense human history is one single seamless web, and any dissection of it is an arbitrary misrepresentation of Reality.”
“Specialists without vision, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.”
February 6, 2010
In his 1959:THE YEAR EVERYTHING CHANGED (New Jersey, 2009), Fred Kaplan devotes an entire chapter to Mikoyan's 1959 visit to America. A man of “blunt words, crackling wit, and unfailing good humor,” Mikoyan is also said to have been followed by Hungarian demonstrators who called him “mass murderer!” We also read here that Khrushchev affectionately called him “my Armenian,” and my “rug merchant.”
The trouble with nationalists is that they will be as divided as multinationalists because everyone will have his own conception of nation and patriotism that will stand in direct contradiction to another's. Hence the frequency and inevitability of civil wars.
“A small number of superior heads, whose names are very likely not the best-known, settle everything, while below them are the great mass of second-rate politicians selected through a provincially-conceived franchise to keep alive the illusion of popular self-determination.”
This may explain the popularity of conspiracy theories.
Nationalist historians tend to be good at telling one side of the story: their own. The same applies to historians with an ideological or religious ax to grind. Which is why there are as many versions of the past as there are ideologies, religions, nations, tribes, and schools of thought, all of whom assert to have a monopoly on truth.
To say therefore that our own version of the past is true but the French, Russian, American, British, Patagonian, or, for that matter, Turkish versions of their own past is false, is to bury our heads in the sand.
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