Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Philosopher's Stoned

Cogito Ergo Sum  - "I think, therefore I am" - said the philosopher Rene Descartes whose name is pronounced very differently. Why not write De-Cart ? Typical !

What Descartes left out was this : think what exactly ? Was he being stylish, mysterious or just careless ? We'll never know - and thank goodness.  Philosophy would have  lost some serious  shine had that line been,say, "I think of shopping therefore I am in the mall."

I wish I'd known about the philosopher Immanuel  Kant's Critique of Pure Reason when I found out that critique and criticism weren't the same. It would have both lessened the shock and illustrated the difference. For Kant's critique is apparently all praise for pure reason.

I think pure reason has its limits though.  It's the lifeblood of civilization and all that of course but not particularly effective in such situations as when confronting a raging large man who has it in for you or a raging little ultra-nationalist who has it in for your views.

I'm inclined most towards the philosopher David Hume. Hume is known for empiricism and skepticism. I have no idea what empiricism is - nothing to do,I'm told, with umpiring or even empire -but I'm  skeptical enough to never go anywhere near philosophy. Which is why I should stop here. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Romantic Poets

"Hail to thee , blithe spirit !  / Bird thou never wert / That from heaven , or near it / Pourest thy full heart / In profuse strains of unpremeditated art."  - Shelley, "To A Skylark"

Now you and I wouldn't think of squawking ,cawing or even cooing as any form of art unpremeditated or otherwise. In fact , a bunch of crows cawing during siesta time on a hot afternoon is the worst thing that could ever happen to one and how different could skylarks be ?

But that was Percy Shelley . (Now that's who I was thinking of when I wrote William Percy Shakespeare (read here) )

Percy Bysshe Shelly. William Wordsworth.Samuel Taylor Coleridge.And Blake and Browning and Keats and Yeats.

Well , Yeats is not on that list because he came later - though I suspect it's really because Yeats is pronounced 'Yates' as opposed to Keats' 'Keats'.

(By the way : Bysshe ? How's that pronounced ?)

The Romantic poets were some of the greatest minds in human history. Imagine thinking beautiful thoughts in rhyme using 'thou', 'thee' and 'thine'. Not to mention 'o'er' , ''ere' and 'e'en'. Where one usually walks past daffodils without knowing them from Daffy Duck, Wordsworth writes a poem about them. Where one settles in to a state of agreeable inertness after a pinch of opium , Coleridge not only composes a million lines about an ancient mariner but also has it in him to spell it '... Ancyent Marinere'. And show me a guy who knows Ozimandias from Ozzy Osbourne and I'll show you a blank verse (after first finding out what it means)   

My only criticism of the entire movement is that Blake didn't pull off the rhyme on his famous The Tyger.  " ... What immortal hand or eye / Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?".  'Eye' so doesn't rhyme with 'symmetry' !  What was Blake thinking ? Probably about flowers or something. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rambling's of a Looser

Even Hitler shot himself.

Happened decades too late of course but the point is nobody likes Nazis in any shape,form or manner.

So as somebody who can't properly tell preposition from proposition or can't encounter the word 'simile' without the image of a smiley (one nos., yellow) popping in my head, I share everybody's dislike of Grammar Nazis. I mean don't those tight asses have anything better to do ? 

I do, however, cut the tribe some slack when it comes to : (a) apostrophes (b) 'lose' versus 'loose' and (c) 'your' versus 'you're'.

Considering I had to google it up before I was sure it's 'apostrophe'  not 'apropstophe',  I was in two minds about writing this piece. Then I drew strength and resolve from the harrowing memory of being assaulted by the following : " I hope he get's the message".

I survived.

Sure , I'm scarred as hell obviously but alive to tell the tale about the time somebody wrote : "Thanks , your a star". It was all I could do from not replying "Your clearly not." As for 'lose' and 'loose' , that's so rampant  they may as well let the dictionary evolve to accept the interchange.

Ever notice how expletives always come error-free ? Consider online comments sections where bad temper combines with worse writing in a perfect concentration camp of Grammar Nazi porn. You'll see plenty of 'Your a looser' but never a 'Your an ass'hole'.

So hurling abuse on Grammar Nazis works well for everybody. Vitriol is given,correct spelling taken. It's a win win. Nobody looses. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bard ? Plane ? Just Ralph Waldo Emerson

William Percy Shakespeare.

Oops, sorry. Not Percy. That was someone else. 

Just William Shakespeare. Or Shakespeare The Greatest. 

Shakespeare wrote about so many things. What did he not write about ? Smartphones perhaps.

And how prolific he was ! He wrote a million plays and a thousand sonnets and bonnets and God knows how many more are yet to be discovered. Maybe when that spaceship gets to extraterrestrial life after all , they'll find a new one in there. Lots of funny looking life forms quoting from it too. 

People are always quoting Shakespeare. Shakespeare is probably the second most quoted person ever after Ralph Waldo Emerson*.  "The quality of mercy is not strained" or " If music be the food of love" and so on.

If William Shakespeare had a Facebook account and had Checked In At The First Class Lounge , they'd have quoted from that too. Imagine a piece about a First Class lounge beginning with something like " As the Bard of Avon said - 'My cup doth runneth o'er / With champagne' "  or something of the sort. Which is why it's fucking wonderful that he didn't. 

(* Ralph Waldo Emerson. I've seen entire books filled with RWE quotes. I know nothing about him. I don't know what he looked like. Wore a quote probably ? RWE had a lot of quotes. Great guy to hang with for bad conversationalists like me. Nothing to say ? Non-issue totally.)