September 15, 2012

My eyes | Black book in NL | Schopenhauer against the scribblers


This is a copy from the orginal to NOTEBOOK. I insert the copy here for ease of reference - the idea being that Nederlog 1012 continues after August with NOTEBOOK, which is easier to maintain for me, because of the problems with my eyes that started in May 2012.

1. My eyes
2. The Black Book in NL
3. Schopenhauer against the scribblers

1. My eyes

My eyes are a bit better since two days, which resulted in my redoing The Black Book and making it a continuation of Nederlog.

As to my eyes:

It is no major improvement, but defiinitely a bit better, and even a bit better feels like quite a relief, for this is a very unpleasant complaint: Imagine that you got a lot of soap in your eyes, as happened to most anyone when washing one's hair - except that this goes on for 24 hours a day, and in my case for 4 months now.

This may explain to the more sensitive reader why I pay so much attention to it - and note that I also have M.E. and indeed that people with M.E. have a considerably larger chance than others to get Sjoegren“s Syndrome.

Also, I do not know whether the improvement will last, because it seems as if it - Sjoegren's Syndrome, with keratoconjunctivitis sicca -  has its own dynamics, also as I have had a few brief remissions (of a day or so) before.

But at least I know got the chance to tweak Firefox in Ubuntu (yes, I am still on Linux: I do like it, except the trouble with grub - the basis of Linux on a P - with Windows: the one seems to crowd out the other, and I have not yet the knowledge to sort that out). The tweak is that at long last I have now automatically black backgrounds and green lettering with each file, which is a great improvement for my eyes.

So... some improvements for my eyes and me, and hence some improvements in Nederlog for my readers.

2. The Black Book in NL

As to The Black Book:

Having a bit of improvement, I could improve The Black Book, and now it simply continues Nederlog 2012, in the directory, but with a black background for the text, this being a lot easier on my eyes. I also made some corrections and extensions in earlier items, and Dutchies may be either pleased or pleased to be displeased with my "Stem wijzer". Enjoy, o ye cloggies! Also, I extended yesterday's NL with a section
2. On being a psychologist with M.E.

For various reasons getting any of this done so far was too difficult to do, but now it has been done (or mostly: there still are few things left to do, such as adding sections to the previous files of September), and if I can write and upload at all, the present style will continue till my eyes can handle white backgrounds with black text properly.

If it does not continue, it is most probably because I just can't do it, for I write and publish on line because I have a lot to say, and have left much unsaid I should say if I can do so at all. (See below for a reason why.)

Then again, I also like writing, and always could do so very easily and fast if I could and would do so at all, namely at least since I was about 15, and was freed in highschool from having to write essays on the typically Dutch ground  that was worded thus, by my teacher of Dutch: "You should not write anymore essays for me, for then I have to give you the best mark" (a 10, in  Holland) "every time, and that is so very unfair to all the others".

That it was unfair to me apparently did not matter at all, and indeed if the Dutch have any socially maintained moral value it is "Act Normal!" - with th corollary that if you don't or can't that you are an inferior sort of Dutchman, if Duch at all:

In fact, for me that was one reason - among quite a few others - never to want to be "A Dutch Literary Author", that is anyway a mostly very provincial class of literature I do not admire nor enjoy, indeed with a few exceptions like Multatuli and De Schoolmeester, and especially not after having discovered  English literature, and then that of 1680-1730 approximately, say from Lord Rochester to William Hazlitt, including the English philosophers, such as Mandeville, Berkeley, Hume, and Adam Smith, and likewise French literature, from Lafontaine and Voltaire till Chamfort and Stendhal, again including the philosophers, such as Voltaire and Diderot, for there is absolutely nothing like any of those I mentioned in Dutch literature, and there also never was.

It is true that Holland is a very small country and the Dutch language does not have nor ever had many native speakers or writers, which may be counted as some sort of excuse:

There can't be many geniuses in a smallish group of natural born traders, dealers and boors (and if there is any genius in those three subjects, there are millions of them, amongst my countrymen: buying cheap and selling dear is another Dutch moral virtue in which they also excel) - and it also true that three days ago I forgot myself and indulged in a brief bit of Dutch satire, which is always rash thing to do, but then a select few of my Dutch readers may like it.

To return to the subjects of literature and personal deviance from the hallowed Dutch norm of normalcy:

3. Schopenhauer against the scribblers

Being incapacitated to look at the screen of my computer, I was still lucky enough - Enjoy the small things, for there is little else to enjoy! - to be able to read books, and did so, and reread some Schopenhauer, whom I always liked, because he was a great writer, and an interesting philosopher.

In case you doubt the latter - most academic philosophers do, I guess from prejudice, for few seem to have really read him, and most seem to judge him aping the judgements in summaries of philosophical classics by minor minds, with academical tenure - you should try to find, if you don't read German, "On The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason" ISBN 0-87548-187-6, publ. 1974 by Open Court Publishing Company, translated by E.F.J. Payne, with an introduction by Richard Taylor.

As its (paperback) cover says:

The Fourfold Root is for many philosophers Schopenhauer's most admired work, incorporating as it does not only an introduction to his principal work but also a concise summary of his philosophy in its mature form.

This is true for me, and I have read most of Schopenhauer (in German or Dutch, except for
The Fourfold Root, as it happens). The reasons I read most of him are that he writes so well, as indeed almost all great philosophers do, but he is particularly good.

(paperback) cover says more that is quite true and little known:

As Professor Richard Taylor states in his introduction to this book, "Schopenhauer“s analyses of causation and related concepts, which he considers to be involved in the Principle of Sufficient Reason as applied to all change in the physical world, surely rival and probably surpasses in their depth and brilliance the more celebrated discussions of David Hume. Where Hume grossly oversimplified these problems and left them riddled with paradoxes, Schopenhauer disentangled them and shed light on what had seemed a hopeless task."

I quite agree - and I really closely studied both Schopenhauer and Hume and my analysis of Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding is on my site, that is both the full text and my notes, that are approximately as long as the text.

Anyway... all of this leads up to a nice little quote of Schopenhauer, that I take from "Arthur Schopenhauer - Essays and Aphorisms", selected, translated and introduced by R.J. Hollingdale, in Penguin Classics, 1970, no ISBN.

I'll come to quote in a moment. First a remark on Hollingdale's work: It is very well worth buying (if still available), and it is a good choice from a much larger work, and also a fine translation,  with a helpful introduction, but Hollingdale does not make it quite clear that his choice of in total 238 pages in Penguin is no more than roughly a tenth of the original "Parerga und Paralipomena" (book II), which I know, because I own it, indeed in a fine Dutch translation of 1908.

Hollingdale does not make it quite clear that his choice is a mixture of bits and pieces of much larger chapters, and also is not in Schopenhauer's order of presentation.

Apart from these two minor criticisms, it is a fine book, that includes a lot of excellent stuff, such as this:

"What the pathetic commonplace heads with which the world is crammed really lack are two closely related faculties: that of forming judgements and that of producing ideas of their own. Both these are lacking to a degree which he who is not one of them cannot really conceive, so that he cannot easily conceive the dolefulness of their existence. It is this deficiency, however, which explains one one hand the poverty of the scribbling which in all nations passes itself off to its comtemporaries as their literature, and on the other the fate that overtakes true and genuine man who appear among such people. All genuine thought and art is to a certain extent an attempt to put big heads on small people: so it is no wonder the attempt does not always come off. For a writer to afford enjoyment always demands a certain harmony between his way of thinking and that of the reader; and the enjoyment will be the greater the more perfect the harmony is: so that a great mind will fully and completely only another great mind. It is for this reason that bad or mediocre writers excite disgust and revulsion in thinking heads: and even conversation with most people has the same effect - one is conscious of the inadequacy and disharmony every step of the way."
(Arthur Schopenhauer - Essays and Aphorisms, p. 125-6)

If you do not like this fine prose and true sentiment, you should emigrate to Holland, if possible to its fine capital, where - to put it in Schopenhauer's language - "In Amsterdam bin ich ja nur ein Untermensch"



Maarten Maartensz

P.S. My eye problems

                  PS: Any necessary corrections have to be made later.