THIS BOOK WILL TEACH YOU NOTHING
BY ZARTOSHT KUIPERS
Our suspicions are first aroused when we see that the self-declared apostles of ethics and of the ‘right to difference’ are clearly horrified by any vigorously sustained difference. For them, African customs are barbaric, Muslims are dreadful, the Chinese are totalitarian, and so on. As a matter of fact, this celebrated ‘other’ is acceptable only if he is a good other – which is to say what, exactly, if not the same as us? Respect for differences, of course! But on condition that the different be parliamentary-democratic, pro free-market economics, in favour of freedom of opinion, feminism, the environment… That is to say: I respect differences, but only, of course, in so far as that which differs also respects, just as I do, the said differences. Just as there can be ‘no freedom for the enemies of freedom’, so there can be no respect for those whose difference consists precisely in not respecting differences. To prove the point, just consider the obsessive resentment expressed by the partisans of ethics regarding anything that resembles an Islamic ‘fundamentalist’.
The problem is that the ‘respect for differences’ and the ethics of human rights do seem to define an identity! And that as a result, the respect for differences applies only to those differences that are reasonably consistent with this identity (which, after all is nothing other than the identity of a wealthy – albeit visibly declining – ‘West’). Even immigrants in this country [France], as seen by the partisans of ethics, are acceptably different only when they are ‘integrated’, only if they seek integration (which seems to mean, if you think about it: only if they want to suppress their difference). It might well be that ethical ideology, detached from the religious teachings which at least conferred upon it the fullness of a ‘revealed’ identity, is simply the final imperative of a conquering civilization: ‘Become like me and I will respect your difference.’
Ethics An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, Alain Badiou p24
(1993, trans. 2001)
Philisophy does not begin in an experience of wonder, as ancient tradition contends, but rather, I think, with the indeterminate but palpable sense that something desired has not been fulfilled, that a fantastic effort has failed.
Infinitely Demanding – Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance, Simon Critchley (2007)
“Remember me to all my friends and relations – I wish you and others of the family as many as can write to me often and tell me about every thing and any thing,” Henry Watson begged his father, “about every body and thing I care any thing about.”
Ebony & Ivory – Race, Slavery and the Troubled History of America’s Universities, Craig Steven Wilder (2013)
Plane’s due to take off in a few minutes.
Brother West – Living and Loving Out Loud – A Memoir, Cornell West with David Ritz (2009)
We are a nation living with two sets of laws, one public law as guided by the Constitution and a second, invisible text that exists between the lines of that document.
American Coup – How A Terrified Government Is Destroying The Constitution, William M. Arkin (2013)
In his magisterial work A Study of History, British historian Arnold J. Toynbee tells the story of how civilizations rise and fall through the dynamics of challenge and response.
Who Stole The American Dream?, Hedrick Smith (2013)
Yesterday morning as I was about to enter the lecture hall, I was stopped by a Christian student who asked me in a voice eager with malice, “Have you heard about the Emperor Theodosius?”
Julian, Gore Vidal (1964)
Never in the Americas has an event of such extraordinary character, with such deep roots and such far-reaching consequences for the destiny of the continent’s progressive movements taken place as our revolutionary war.
Cuba: Exceptional Case or Vanguard in the Struggle Against Colonialism, Che Guevara, (1961)
On January 30, 1835, as Andrew Jackson exited a congressman’s funeral, an assassin drew a weapon and pointed it at the president.
The United States of Paranoia, Jesse Walker (2013)
It is the beginning of the year of our Lord 1963.
Why We Can’t Wait, Martin Luther King Jr. (1964)
When my mother was pregnant with me, she told me later, a party of hooded Ku Klux Klan riders galloped up to our home in Omaha, Nebraska, one night.
The Autobiography of Malcom X As Told To Alex Haley, (1964)
‘”If you want to keep something a secret, publish it.” Once in print, information is often filed, forgotten, or dismissed. Publishing a secret takes away its cachet and causes it to be overlooked.’
Hiding the Elephant – How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learnt to Disappear, Jim Steinmeyer (2003)
Many views on Edward Snowden and what he has done are smeared all across the internet. As a small, but I think relevant aside, I’m reading a book about the history of magic. The above quote seems rather apt given the fact that a book called The Puzzle Palace, written in 1982, detailed the then overreach of the NSA. What little did Mr. Bamford know about how much further their grasp would extend. Give it some time and I’m sure Mr. Snowden and his revelations will be forgotten too as we move onto the more pressing concerns of The Voice and chaturbate.com. Magicians and Illusionists know a thing or two about human nature, I think. It is how they make their daily bread.
As the Exxon Valdez churned through chalky turquoise port waters toward the Gulf of Alaska, Captain Joseph Hazelwood descended to his quarters.
Private Empire – ExxonMobil and American Power, Steve Coll (2012)
I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan.
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)
The most surprising aspects of the imposition of colonialism on Africa were its suddenness and its unpredictability.
African Perspectives on Colonialism, A. Adu Boahen (1987)
In eight short years Horatio Nelson, already a rear admiral and a national hero, turned himself into a major international figure and a deathless icon.
Nelson – The Sword of Albion, John Sugden (2013)
When this unpleasant remark is made about you, stand up, making sure your flies are closed and announce in a firm voice.
‘To hell with that shit.’
The Unexpurgated Code – A Complete Manual of Survival and Manners, J. P. Donleavy (1975)
Who are you?
A Paradise Built in Hell – The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, Rebecca Solnit (2009)
Good old Thucydides, writing in the fifth century BC, knew a thing or two about human nature. Here he is talking a little about The Revolution in Corcyra:
Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy, his opponent a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head, to divine a plot a still shrewder.
Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, Chapter X (5th Cent. BC)
Now I know that we are not going through a revolution of the kind that the Corcyraeans experienced but we probably could be doing a little better right now. I have, as you can see, shorn this quote from the context in which it is placed in the book but I think it can be seen as a cry for tolerance and clear thinking in extreme times. Extreme times may be closing upon us. Perhaps we can learn from this ancient knowledge. Perhaps, given a brief glance at history between then and now this is an unlikely hope. Either way I offer it up as something to chew on as we enter what may well be a fraught summer. I realise that I am beginning to sound a little like Glenn Beck. I wish I did not sound like Glenn Beck, but there you go. Good Evening.
I usually share the opening lines of books but I was reading The Kingdom of God Is Within You by Tolstoy and I read this sentence:
The good cannot seize power, nor retain it, to do this men must love power. And love of power is inconsistent with goodness; but quite consistent with the very opposite qualities – pride, cunning, cruelty.
I had the feeling that you would enjoy this.
Tolstoy, you are brilliant.
Before Westminster Bridge was open, Kennington Road was only a bridle path.
My Autobiography, Charles Chaplin (1964)
When I started this research eight years ago there wasn’t much interest in ordinary people’s views on the unfairness of the economy.
The Moral Underground – How Ordinary Americans Subvert An Unfair Economy, Lisa Dodson (2009)
The action takes place in a large commercial town of the East.
Scenario of the Ballet – The Struggle of The Magicians, G. I. Gurdjieff, (2008)
About a mile beyond the main square in the village of Józefów, in Eastern Poland, several dozen wooden stakes poke out among the weeds and bushes on a patch of forest strewn with pinecones and covered in velvety green moss.
Beautiful Souls – Saying No, Breaking Ranks, And Heeding The Voice of Conscience in Dark Times, Eyal Press (2012)
Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.
A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini (2007)
On the day of the big rescue, Wil Brierson took a walk on the beach.
Marooned in Realtime, Vernor Vinge (1986)
The late Sadiq Neihoum, Libya’s preeminent political philosopher of the 1970s and 1980s, and a onetime advisor to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, wrote the fable from which the above passage is taken in the late 1970s.
Exit the Colonel – The Hidden History of The Libyan Revolution, Ethan Chorin (2013)
Here was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.
The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real, Margery Williams (1922)
On the bright and breezy Sunday morning of April 15, 2012, my colleagues and I left NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul to meet with Afghan journalists, government officials, and civil society leaders to discuss the security and political situation in Afghanistan and the transition to a much reduced international presence after 2014.
Aspiration and Ambivalence – Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State Building in Afghanistan, Vanda Felbab-Brown (2013)
It’s July 19, 2012, and it’s as hot as the hobs of hell here.
The Anatomy of Violence – The Biological Roots of Crime, Adrian Raine (2013)
On the third floor of the Richelieu Wing of the Louvre in Paris is a gallery devoted to “Holland, First Half of the 17th Century.”
The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter – A Portrait of Descartes, Steven Nadler (2013)
In December, 2009, patrons of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, experienced a mild jolt of biological future shock when their pre-performance and intermission drinks – their beers, wines, and sodas – were served to them in a new type of clear plastic cup.
Regenesis – How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves, George Church and Ed Regis (2012)
I was inspired to write this book because I found something missing in the popular literature on sexuality.
Soulful Sex – Opening Your Heart, Body & Spirit To Lifelong Passion, Dr. Victoria Lee (1996)
Among my earliest memories are those of being down at the railroad depot with my grandfather, watching the trains come in.
Rival Rails – The Race to Build America’s Greatest Transcontinental Railroad, Walter R. Borneman (2010)
Wall Street has always been a dangerous place.
Money and Power – How Goldman Sachs Came To Rule The World, William D. Cohen (2011)
“The Jonas Brothers are here.”
The Thistle and the Drone – How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam, Akbar Ahmed (2013)
When Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus were kids, their fathers worked together at the Coleman Candy plant and carried the stench of warm chocolate back home with them.
Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
“Hey, what does your guy look like again?”
Winged Obsession, Jessica Speart (2011)
Many students believe that the study of history involves nothing more than memorizing dates, names, battles, treaties, and endless numbers of similar, often uninteresting facts with no apparent relevance to their lives and concerns.
The Human Record – Sources from Global History Vol. 1, Andrea Overfield (2001)
One evening in 1871, an association of learned British gentlemen, the Red Lions, gathered in Edinburgh, Scotland, to feed happily together and entertain each other with humorous songs and speeches.
Forbidden Archaeology – The Hidden History of the Human Race, Michael A. Cremo & Richard L. Thompson (1993)
Morals reformed – health preserved – industry invigorated – instruction diffused – public burthens lightened – Economy seated, as it were, upon a rock – the gordian knot of the Poor-Laws are not cut, but untied – all by a simple idea in Architecture!
The Panopticon Writings, Jeremy Bentham (1791)
Shortly after New Orleans physician Samuel Cartwright discovered a new disease in 1850, he realized that like all medical pioneers he faced a special burden.
The Book of Woe – The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry, Gary Greenberg (2013)
I’ve come to believe that the first Earth Day is the most famous little-known event in modern American history.
The Genius of Earth Day – How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation, Adam Rome (2013)
The pattern to follow in helping others to understand the Bible is that provided by Jesus Christ and his apostles.
Reasoning from the Scriptures, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (1985)
For some strange and unknown reason, it has for many years been considered indelicate, if not absolutely improper, to discuss matters pertaining to sex and sexual relations, and a criminal silence has been maintained which permitted innumerable girls to be morally ruined by the male sex.
Sex Talks to Boys (10 years and older), I. D. Steinhardt M.D. (1914)
Across America on February 6, 2011, millions of people were settling into their couches, splitting open bags of nachos and spilling beer into plastic cups in preparation for the year’s biggest sporting event.
We Are Anonymous – Inside the Hacker World of Lulzsec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency, Parmy Olsen (2012)
We’ve grown to appreciate the way our eyes give everything away, our hips sway, our voices flow up and down and then up again: hold me.
Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? – Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, ed. by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (2012)
American food is in crisis, and rarely has more disruption loomed before us.
An Economist Gets Lunch – New Rules for Everyday Foodies, Tyler Cowen (2012)
This is a book about Power.
The End of Power; from boardrooms to battlefields and churches to states, why being in charge isn’t what it used to be, Moises Naim (2013)
There exist moments in life, separated by longs intervals of time, but linked together by their inner content and by a certain singular sensation peculiar to them.
A New Model of the Universe: Principles of the Psychological Method in Its Application to Problems of Science, Religion and Art, P. D. Ouspensky (1931)
It was Sunday afternoon, September 22, 1984, and Michael Eisner had just walked into the corporate offices at the Disney Studio lot.
Disney The Mouse Betrayed – Greed, Corruption and Children at Risk, Peter Schweizer and Rochelle Schweizer (1998)
One of my major concerns for many years has been how people could prevent and destroy dictatorships.
From Dictatorship to Democracy – A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, Gene Sharp (2010)
They call me Chorus Girl – shouts of “Chorus Girl” go up when I stand and swing my left leg, then my right, and so on.
The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder, Chorus Girl’s Absolutely Final Performance, Patricia Highsmith (1975)
Less than two weeks before The Great Deformation went to press, the powers that be in Washington pulled off a “deal” that allegedly stopped the country from going over the fiscal cliff.
The Great Deformation – The Corruption of Capitalism in America, David A. Stockman (2013)
The Second World War was among the most destructive conflicts in human history; more than forty-six million soldiers and civilians perished, many in circumstances of prolonged and horrifying cruelty.
The Second World War A Complete History, Martin Gilbert (1989)
It is with no small amount of trepidation that I take my place behind this desk, and face this learned audience.
The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, William James (1902)
I have been honoured with your letter of the 31 of March, and find with much pleasure that your views of the reform which ought to be pursued by the Convention, give a sanction to those I have entertained.
The Anti-Federalist Papers, Cato (likely George Clinton), Brutus (likely Robert Yates), Centinel (Samuel Bryan), and the Federal Farmer (either Melancton Smith, Richard Henry Lee, or Mercy Otis Warren). Speeches by Patrick Henry and Smith are often included as well. [ed. by Ralph Ketcham] (1787)
The World and this expanse – or whatever other name men are pleased to call the sky that covers the universe with it’s vault – are properly held to be a deity, everlasting, boundless, an entity without a beginning and one that will never end.
Natural History, Pliny the Elder (circa AD 77-79)
During the past thirty-three years the difference in America between being rich and being middle class became much more pronounced.
The Great Divergence – America’s Growing Inequality Crisis And What We Can Do About It, Timothy Noah (2012)
My Father showed me how to hurt a man one August night at the Torch Drive-in when I was seven years old.
Knockemstiff, Donald Ray Pollock (2008)
Poet. Poe it.
Hope Dies Last.
I don’t have an emoticon for that feeling.
IF you peel back the layers of an onion you just get more onion.
Pathology: The study of paths.
Doro discovered the woman by accident when he went to see what was left of one of his seed villages.
Wild Seed, Octavia Estelle Butler (1980)
The Revolution was Televised but we were all playing Words With Friends so didn’t notice.
We are the Monsters we were warned about as children.
The question whether political parties ever had an objective and rational place in the social system is irrelevant here. What is relevant is that today the political parties do not fulful any rational function. The practical and positive achievements in a society have nothing to do with party lines and party ideologies.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Wilhelm Reich, p161 (1933)
Scientology: the study of scient.
A loud yawning and several snorts announced the fact that Eleanor Maynard, Polly Brewster’s chum and best friend, was coming to life once more, after the prolonged celebration of the Dalkens’ wedding.
POLLY IN THE ORIENT, LILLIAN ELIZABETH ROY (1927)
‘But I put it to you, my lord, that prize-money is of essential importance to the Navy.’
H.M.S Surprise, Patrick O’Brian (1973)
‘The welcome wagon lady, sixty if she was a day but working at youth and vivacity (ginger hair, red lips, a sunshine-yellow dress), twinkled her eyes and teeth at Joanna and said, “You’re really going to like it here! It’s a nice town with nice people! You couldn’t have made a better choice!’
The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin (1972)
On the 15th of September, 1840, about six o’clock in the morning, the Ville de Montereau, just about to sail, was sending forth great whirlwinds of smoke, in front of the Quai St. Bernard.
Sentimental Education, Gustave Flaubert (1869)
Towards the end of November, during a thaw, at nine o’clock one morning, a train on the Warsaw and Petersburg railway was approaching the latter city at full speed.
The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoevsky (1869)
The Purpose of this book is to convey to the reader some feeling for what is surely one of the most important and exciting voyages of discovery that humanity has embarked on.
The Road to Reality – A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe, Roger Penrose (2004)
The contents of this book need little introduction; they stand on their own as helpful instructions and enjoyable reading.
The Foxfire Book: Hog dressing, log cabin building, mountain craft and foods, planting by signs, snake lore, hunting tales, faith healing, moonshining, and other affairs of plain living, ed. Eliot Wigginton (1972)
There is a dragon in each of us.
American Dragons: Twenty-five Asian American Voices ed. Laurence Yep (1993)
I was in Amsterdam one snowy Christmas when the weather had turned the canals into oblongs of ice.
Art Objects – Essays on Ecstacy and Effrontery, Jeanette Winterson (1995)
One day in the middle of the twentieth century I sat in an old graveyard which had not yet been demolished, in the Kensington area of London, when a young policeman stepped off the path and came over to me.
Loitering with Intent, Muriel Spark (1981)
In 1928 when Eastman Kodak introduced 16mm Kodacolor – a well known physicist remarked: “It’s impossible – but not quite!
The Five C’s of Cinematography, Joseph V. Mascelli (1965)
SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman—what then?
Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, Friedrich Nietzsche (1886)
Never Enough Books.
They threw me off the hay truck about noon.
The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain (1934)
A vision had seized hold of me, like the demented fury of a hound that has sunk its teeth into the leg of a deer carcass and is shaking and tugging at the downed game so frantically that the hunter gives up trying to calm him.
CONQUEST OF THE USELESS, WERNER HERZOG (2004) trans. Krishna Wilson 2009
Shadow had done three years in prison.
American Gods, Neil Gaiman (2001)
Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs, starr’d the Sides of Outbuildings, as of Cousins, carried Hats away into the brisk Wind off Delaware, – the Sleds are brought in and their Runners carefully dried and greased, shoes deposited in the back Hall, a stocking’d-foot Descent made upon the great Kitchen, in a purposeful Dither since Morning, punctuated by the ringing Lids of various Boilers and Stewing-Pots, fragrant with Pie-Spices, peel’d Fruits, Suet, heated Sugar,- the Children, having all upon the Fly, among rhythmic slaps of Batter and Spoon, coax’d and stolen what they might, proceed, as upon each afternoon all this snowy Advent, to a comfortable Room at the rear of the House, years since given over to their carefree Assaults.
Mason & Dixon, Thomas Pynchon (1997)
American passed a sad milestone in the middle of 2010: the war in Afghanistan became the longest conflict in U.S. history.
BETWEEN WAR AND PEACE HOW AMERICA ENDS ITS WARS, Ed. by COL. MATTHEW MOTEN (2012)
In his study The Nature of Evil (1931), Radoslav. A. Tsanoff cites a terse reflection set down by the German philosopher Julius Bahnsen in 1847, when he was seventeen years old.
The Conspiracy against the Human Race, Thomas Ligotti (2010)
What’s it going to be then, eh?
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1962)
VERY LATE ONE WINDLESS SEPTEMBER NIGHT TWENTY-TWO men and a beautiful woman were crossing a dried river bed on the caravan road that led from Kashgar eastward towards Aqsu.
The Seven Who Fled, Frederic Prokosch (1937)