When your age catches up with your coat size.
|“In self-defense, there’s no such thing as Overkill. The word ‘kill’ is absolute: you can be less than dead, but not more than dead. Dead enough. Other words that are absolute are ‘malevolent,’ ‘dangerous,’ and ‘stupid.’ If a person is malevolent, dangerous, and stupid enough to try his luck while you’re toting your .45 Automatic, he ought to be absolutely killed… not wounded. Don’t set yourself up to argue in court with some lout who’s accosted you. Kill him! Dead men give no testimony. Let the bum’s morgue photos speak for him while you’re being no-billed by the grand jury.”
—Fred Rexer, Jr., Dead or Alive: A Textbook on Self-Defense with the .45 Automatic, IDHAC Publishing, 1977, p. 2
[John] Milius remains adamant — and persuasive — in his claim to the heart of the matter. “My whole career is justified by having written Apocalypse [Now],” he says “I wrote the screenplay in 1969, and based the [Martin] Sheen character, and some of Kurtz, on a friend of mine, Fred Rexer, who actually experienced the scene [related by Marlon Brando] where the arms are hacked off by the Viet Cong. There were six drafts of the screenplay — well over a thousand pages. At one point Francis [Ford Coppola] said, ‘Write every scene you ever wanted to go into that movie.’” The title, he recalls, came from a button badge popular among hippies during the 1960s — “Nirvana Now.” [Note: “My whole career is justified” is from author’s phone conversation with John Milius.] <…> Continue reading friends in print: fred rexer
Herewith a seminal passage in the tradition of repudiating all allegiance to dogma. It is offered in support of an ongoing conversation, reproduced in an old-fashioned English rendering, the original text, and the latest standard translation:
Chapter VII. Does the Skeptic Dogmatize?
(13) When we say that the skeptic refrains from dogmatizing we do not use the term “dogma,” as some do, in the broader sense of “approval of a thing” (for the skeptic gives assent to the feelings which are the necessary results of sense impressions, and he would not, for example, say when feeling hot or cold “I believe that I am not hot or cold”); but we say that “he does not dogmatize,” using “dogma” in the sense, which some give it, of “assent to one of the nonevident objects of scientific inquiry”; for the Pyrrhonean philosopher assents to nothing that is non-evident. (14) Moreover, even in the act of enunciating the skeptic formulae concerning things non-evident — such as the formula “No more (one thing or another),” or the formula “I determine nothing,” or any of the others which we shall presently mention, — he does not dogmatize. For whereas the dogmatizer posits the things about which he is said to be dogmatizing as really existent, the skeptic does not posit these formulae in any absolute sense; for he conceives that, just as the formula “All things are false” asserts the falsity of itself as well as of everything else, as does the formula “Nothing is true,” so also the formula “No more” asserts that itself, like all the rest, is “No more (this than that),” and thus cancels itself along with the rest. And of the other formulae we say the same. (15) If then, while the dogmatizer posits the matter of his dogma as substantial truth, the skeptic enunciates his formulae so that they are virtually cancelled by themselves, he should not be said to dogmatize in his enunciation of them. And, most important of all, in his enunciation of these formulae he states what appears to himself and announces his own impression in an undogmatic way, without making any positive assertion regarding the external realities.
― Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism: translated by R. G. Bury, Prometheus Books, 1990, pp. 19-20
A lively conversation on the titular subject, concerning the availability of theory in the humanities. Five languages have been deployed to date. All comers are welcome.
February 26, 1994 ― January 6, 2006
|Petit mort pour rire||A small death for giggles|
|Va vite, léger peigneur de comètes !
Les herbes au vent seront tes cheveux ;
De ton œil béant jailliront les feux
Follets, prisonniers dans les pauvres têtes…
|Take off, agile currier of comets!
These weeds wind-swept will stand in for your fur;
Your gaping orbs will shoot forth will-
o-wisps, locked up inside the noggin of a cur…
|Les fleurs de tombeau qu’on nomme Amourettes
Foisonneront plein ton rire terreux…
Et les myosotis, ces fleurs d’oubliettes…
|The ornaments called lilies of the valley
Will burgeon over your terrestrial woof…
Emboldened mice that trace your hillside grounds…
|Ne fais pas le lourd : cercueils de poètes
Pour les croque-morts sont de simples jeux,
Boîtes à violon qui sonnent le creux…
Ils te croiront mort ― Les bourgeois sont bêtes ―
Va vite, léger peigneur de comètes !
|Let’s go, friend: the crate that shelters poets,
A worn-out plaything proffered for a proof,
A violin boxed up, its echo thrown aloof…
They think you dead ― mistaken for a goof ―
Take off, agile currier of comets!
|― Tristan Corbière||― traduced by MZ|
THE IDEA is all. The proper name is not but the example and the proof of the idea.
—Alfred de Vigny, Réflexions sur la vérité dans l’art1
The Fragestellung of John Robert Ross’ 1986 study of universal grammar,2 recounts a familiar legend as follows:
The following anecdote is told of William James. I have been unable to find any published reference to it, so it may be that I have attributed it to the wrong person, or that it is apocryphal. Be that as it may, because of its bull’s-eye relevance to the study of syntax, I have retold it here.
After a lecture on cosmology and the structure of the solar system, James was accosted by a little old lady.
“Your theory that the sun is the center of the solar system, and that the earth is a ball which rotates around it, has a very convincing ring to it, Mr. James, but it’s wrong. I’ve got a better theory,” said the little old lady.
“And what is that, madam?” inquired James politely.
“That we live on a crust of earth which is on the back of a giant turtle.”
Not wishing to demolish this absurd little theory by bringing to bear the masses of scientific evidence he had at his command, James decided to gently dissuade his opponent by making her see some of the inadequacies of
“But what does this second turtle stand on?” persisted James patiently.
To this, the little old lady crowed triumphantly,
“It’s no use, Mr. James—it’s turtles all the way down!”
| Commissaire de la Marine:Madame, s’il vous plaît, n’étalez pas vos jupons au fumoir. Ils narguent déjà un futur raccourci.
Madame La: Soyez plus clair, Commissaire. On vous a mal compris.
Le Capitaine: C’est vrai. Moi non plus, je n’ai pas compris.
Commissaire de la Marine: Enfin ce fumoir n’est-il pas notre dernièr refuge contre les dames, fussent-elles nos épouses? Je vous cite de mémoire, Gouverneur.
Le Gouverneur: Eh alors, vous allez me mettre mal avec le capitaine.
Le Capitaine: Vous parliez jupons, je crois.
Commissaire de la Marine: Pas du tout. J’étais surpris par l’irruption de Madame La… là, au fumoir. Voilà, rien de plus.
Le Gouverneur: Rien de plus?
Le Capitaine: Dans le doute, j’apprécierais des excuses. Ici, tout de suite, à haut voix, que tout le monde entende.
Commissaire de la Marine: Volontiers. Je vous présente mes plus plats excuses, Madame, pour ce que vous avez cru comprendre, que je n’ai pas voulu dire.
Madame La: Viens, Jean.
Le Capitaine: Vous venez de perdre la face. Pour perdre le reste, il vous suffit d’un mot.
Madame La: Jean, s’il te plaît.
Le Capitaine: Non, je serais ravi que vous auriez le courage. Non? Tant pis alors, une autre fois peut-être.
Madame La: Au plaisir, messieurs. Enfin, si l’on peut dire.
Mme Commissaire de la Marine: Cet homme-là n’a même pas besoin de nous foutre pour faire cocus nos maris.
― La veuve de Saint-Pierre
| Superintendent of the Navy: Madame, please, do not spread out your underskirts in the smoking-room. They already defy our foredoomed future.
Madame La: Please clarify, Superintendent. You were badly understood.
The Captain: It is true. Me neither, I did not understand.
Superintendent: After all, is this smoking-room not our last refuge against the women, even if they be our wives? I quote you from memory, Governor.
The Governor: Ah, but then you will stand me in ill stead with the captain.
The Captain: You spoke of underskirts, I believe.
Superintendent: Not at all. I was startled by the intrusion of Madame La… there, in the smoking-room. There, nothing more.
The Governor: Nothing more?
The Captain: In the event of any doubt, I would appreciate your apologies. Here, right away, out loud, so that everyone hears.
Superintendent: My pleasure. I present my humble apologies to you, Madame, for what you believed to understand, which I did not wish to express.
Madame La: Come, Jean.
The Captain: You have just lost face. To lose the rest, it is enough for you to say a word.
Madame La: Jean, please.
The Captain: No, I would be delighted if you dared. No? Too bad then, maybe another time.
Madame La: With pleasure, Messieurs. At last, if I may say so.
Madame Superintendent: This man does not even need to fuck us to make cuckolds of our husbands.
― translated by MZ