Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Category: Philosophy

Ekāgratā

I suddenly had the everlasting conviction that any human being, even though practically devoid of natural faculties, can penetrate to the kingdom of truth reserved for genius, if only he longs for truth and perpetually concentrates all his attention upon its attainment.  … the same conviction led me to persevere for ten years in an effort of concentrated attention that was practically unsupported by any hope of results.

Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul. Every effort adds a little gold to a treasure no power on earth can take away.

Simone Weil, Waiting for God, 64, 107-108

 

simone-weil

Ventures

Friends,

I wanted to pass this brief passage on to you from Hannah Arendt, German philosopher, Jewish immigrant to the USA, author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, from an interview in 1964…

The venture into the public realm seems clear to me. One exposes oneself to the light of the public, as a person. Although I am of the opinion that one must not appear and act in public self-consciously, still I know that in every action the person is expressed as in no other human activity. Read the rest of this entry »

This Is It!

Think about arranging the present as best you can, with serene mind. All else is carried away as by a river…. While we are talking, jealous time has fled. So seize the day, and do not trust the morrow! … Persuade yourself that each new day those dawns will be your last. Then you will receive each unexpected hour with gratitude.

— Horace

The Thread of One’s Anger — Jean-Paul Sartre

I always felt I had to stay in contact with the world, with my world.
Ever since Marx, philosophy must lead to action.
Otherwise it is irrelevant.

So a philosopher does what he has to do,
then sits down at his desk, wherever it is,
and “retakes the thread of his anger,” as Valéry once said.

The distractions don’t matter as long as I could retake the thread of my anger,
angers against this system, against all those who believe that they have a right to be greedy,
who feel they are superior to others,

like the French in Algeria, in Madagascar,
the Americans in Haiti, in Puerto Rico, the whites in black New York,
the Dulleses in Guatemala or Egypt.

Philosophers must be angry, and in this world, stay angry.

–Jean-Paul Sartre
Adapted from John Gerassi, Talking with Sartre

 

 

Priorities

The concern for the other breaches concern for the self. This is what I call holiness. Our humanity consists in being able to recognize this priority of the other.

Emmanuel Levinas, Is It Righteous to Be? Interviews with Emmanuel Levinas, edited by Jill Robbins