The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

January 2024


1 January 2024, around 4.39.

Even now, many hard-working, dedicated people frown on the activities subsumed under the concept of flow; the look upon these activities as hedonistic and decadent. Enjoyment is suspect; work is godly. It is very difficult for these people to realize, let alone admit, that the serious work they do is more enjoyable for them than any form of leisure could be.

—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, p. 187)

…underinked on heavier paper with the grain across the page, far from easy to open or ‘operate’, the book at least reflects the culture of its time: an abuse of technology under market-driven pressure. In the worst sense, a Modern Classic.

—Richard Hollis (‘Ways of Seeing Books’, in The Form of the Book Book, p. 59)


3 January 2024, around 7.40.

‘…all the passionate confidence of interested falsehood’ —Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations, vol. 2, p. 82)

Citation (76)

6 January 2024, around 4.43.

Not only artists, but philosophers too, are sometimes prophets.

I think it is obvious that all philosophical statements which transgress the bounds of reason are anthropomorphic and have no validity beyond that which falls to psychically conditioned statements. A philosophy like Hegel’s is self-revelation of the psychic background and, philosophically, a presumption. Psychologically, it amounts to an invasion of the unconscious. The peculiar high-flown language Hegel uses bears out this view: it is reminiscent of the megalomanic language of schizophrenics, who use terrific spellbinding words to reduce the transcendent to subjective form, to give banalities the charm of novelty, or pass off commonplaces as searching wisdom. So bombastic a terminology is a symptom of weakness, ineptitude, and lack of substance.

—Carl Jung (‘On the Nature of the Psyche’, trans. R.F.C. Hull, p. 95)

frost point

15 January 2024, around 11.36.

One cannot say that it is unseasonably cold, because it is winter and it should, after all, be cold, but it is unusually cold, to the point that the streets have been, for the past two days, uncommonly empty, except for dogs and their owners and (on Saturday) postal carriers. Going out without gloves leaves one’s fingers first purpled then blanched, and one mumbles imprecations against the dog’s preciosity concerning the business that needs to be conducted. Surely there is no need to examine every fern on the block when the wind chill is −1° F.1

Despite the drafty windows, it is still warm inside, and one feels fortunate to enjoy that warmth, even if one uses it to nod by the fireplace over the same few pages of Wealth of Nations, rousing briefly to scan a line or two about bales of wool and protectionism before dozing off again, into sleep or distraction.

  1. Reason not the need. []

all we like sheep

17 January 2024, around 4.17.

Our woollen manufacturers have been more successful than any other class of workmen, in persuading the legislature that the prosperity of the nation depended upon the success and extension of their particular business. They have not only obtained a monopoly against the consumers, by an absolute prohibition of importing woollen cloths from any foreign country; but they have likewise obtained another monopoly against the sheep farmers and growers of wool, by a similar prohibition of the exportation of live sheep and wool. The severity of many of the laws which have been enacted for the security of the revenue is very justly complained of, as imposing heavy penalties upon actions which, antecedent to the statutes that declared them to be crimes, had always been understood to be innocent. But the cruellest of our revenue laws, I will venture to affirm, are mild and gentle, in comparison to some of those which the clamour of our merchants and manufacturers has extorted from the legislature, for the support of their own absurd and oppressive monopolies. Like the laws of Draco, these laws may be said to be all written in blood.

—Adam Smith (…Wealth of Nations, IV.8, p. 262)

Beside the trifling fines imposed by the factory act, the mill-owners took good care to have it so framed, that the greatest facilities are afforded for passing by its enactments, and as the inspectors unanimously declare, ‘almost insuperable difficulties prevent them from putting an effective stop to the illegal working.’ They also concur in stigmatizing the willful commission of fraud by persons of large property; the mean contrivances to which they have recourse in order to elude detection; and the base intrigues they set on foot against the inspectors and sub-inspectors entrusted with the protection of the factory slave. In bringing forward a charge of overworking, the inspectors, sub-inspectors, or their constables, must be prepared to swear that the men have been employed at illegal hours. Now, suppose they appear after 6 o’clock in the evening. The manufacturing machinery is immediately stopped, and although the people could be there for no other purpose than attending upon it, the charge cannot be sustained, by reason of the wording of the act. The workmen are then sent out of the mill in great haste, often more doors than one facilitating their rapid dispersion. In some instances the gas was extinguished, when the sub-inspectors entered the room, leaving them suddenly in darkness among complicated machinery. In those places which have acquired a notoriety for overworking, there is an organized plan for giving notice at the mills of the approach of an inspector, servants at railway stations and at inns being employed for this purpose.

These vampyres, fattening on the life-blood of the young working generation of their own country, are they not the fit companions of the British opium smugglers, and the natural supporters of the ‘truly British Ministers’?

—Karl Marx (‘Condition of Factory Laborers’, New York Tribune, April 22, 1857)

pretty slick

21 January 2024, around 14.28.

Clear sky on the way home, the roads and sidewalks icy--as was the field at the dog park; starting to warm up though.

But the conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.

—James Baldwin (‘The Creative Process’)

Adversaria (10)

31 January 2024, around 4.56.

In a certain sense, I think that my writing gets along better with the features of digital presence than physical presence. That’s why I’m sometimes tempted to post texts online, because there they can enjoy a continuous existence and, at least to all appearances, remain oblivious to worldly travails. The joy of forgetting and persisting at the same time.

—Sergio Chejfec (Forgotten Manuscript, trans. Jeffrey Lawrence, p. 36)

‘It is the goal of all good craftsmanship to seek the for the object with which the craftsman is concerned’ —Ludwig Edelstein (‘The Hippocratic Oath’, in Ancient Medicine, trans. C. Lilian Temkin, p. 22)

‘The influence of that myth on medieval minds was deep and strange; but it is not the concern of this book’ —J.M. Wallace-Hadrill (The Barbarian West, p. 128)

‘They are ideal subjects for biography because they do not distract from or interrupt the accumulation of curious detail for which they are the excuse’ —Harriet Guest (Small Change, p. 67)

‘People are seldom guilty of excess in what is their daily fare. Nobody affects the character of liberality and good fellowship, by being profuse of a liquor which is as cheap as small beer.’ —Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations, vol. 2, p. 77 )

‘Men in general, though they are aware of the fact that some things, such as wine, may suddenly bring about a striking change in a person’s behavior, do not apprehend hat every kind of food or drink causes a certain mental habit, slight as the variation may be’ —Ludwig Edelstein (‘The Hippocratic Oath’, in Ancient Medicine, trans. C. Lilian Temkin, p. 22)

‘The marks on other people’s books (other people’s both because they belong to others and because they were written by others) confront him with that mixture of magic and righteousness that all restorative acts possess’ —Sergio Chejfec (Forgotten Manuscript, trans. Jeffrey Lawrence, p. 61)

‘For in history no less than in science, there are facts which one cannot afford to overlook; new discoveries are made which one must take into account, and doubtful instances ought not to be considered certain’ —Ludwig Edelstein (‘Petersen on Hippocratic Wisdom’, in Ancient Medicine, trans. C. Lilian Temkin, p. 130)

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