The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

May 2016

another walk

1 May 2016, around 15.00.

a rather underexposed image for a forest on a sunny day in spring

temptations

9 May 2016, around 6.33.

…one half of the road to temptation was already covered and it is only human in such situations that one should not stop half-way. For to tempt and to be tempted are closely allied; and in spite of all the finest moral maxims buried in the mind, when emotion interferes, when feeling makes its appearance, one is already much further involved than one realizes, and I have still not learnt how to prevent its appearance. Perhaps escape is the only solution, but there are situations, circumstances, when escape is impossible … such an act itself might give food for talk. And if you do not run away, nothing is more difficult, in my opinion, than to avoid something that fundamentally attracts you. Statements to the contrary would only be prudish and not inspired by a human heart. One cannot hold one’s heart in one’s hand, forcing it or releasing it, tightening or relaxing one’s grasp at will.

—Catherine the Great (Memoirs)

Crambe repetita (43)

15 May 2016, around 6.53.

The Scotch are poor decorists. The Dutch have merely a vague idea that a curtain is not a cabbage. In Spain they are all curtains — a nation of hang men. The Russians do not furnish. The Hottentots and Kickapoos are very well in their way. The Yankees alone are preposterous.

—Poe, ‘The Philosophy of Furniture’

self-as-character

16 May 2016, around 14.14.

Thomas Patch, self portrait
Thomas Patch, self portrait (late 1760s)

In our society the character one performs and one’s self are somewhat equated, and this self-as-character is usually seen as something housed in the body of its possessor, especially the upper parts thereof, being a nodule, somehow, in the psychobiology of personality.[….] In analysing the self, then, we are drawn from its possessor, from the person who will profit or lose most by it, for he and his body merely provide the peg on which something of collaborative manufacture will be hung for a time. And the means for producing and maintaining selves do not reside inside the peg; in fact these means are often bolted down inside social establishments. There will be a back region with its tools for shaping the body, and a front region with its fixed props. There will be a team of persons whose activity on stage and in conjunction with available props will constitute the scene from which the performed character’s self will emerge, and another team, the audience, whose interpretative activity will be necessary for this emergence. The self is a product of all these arrangements, and in all of its parts bears the marks of this genesis.

–Erving Goffman (The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, p. 244f.)

We read, but also we are read by, others. Interferences in these readings. Forcing someone to read himself as we read him (slavery). Forcing others to read us as we read ourselves (conquest). A mechanical process.

–Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace, p. 135)

spindrift

26 May 2016, around 18.29.

I grew weary of everything. In that state I re-acquired my love of reading, which I had long ago lost. The time for books I stole from my work, and that brought me fresh punishments. But, spurred on by opposition, this taste soon became a furious passion. […] Good or bad was alike to me. I did not choose, I read everything with equal avidity. I read at my bench, I read on errands, I read in the lavatory, and was oblivious of myself for hours on end. I read till my head spun, I did nothing but read.

—Rousseau (Confessions, book 1)

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