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circumspective living
September 25, 2011

Why philosophy?

Days go by. It’s the alpha and omega of it all: lives, our evolving. When I’m too old to understand much anymore, there will still be the question: What great or original emergence may there be today in the cycle of presents? The sartorial mind will still find substance in style. Intrinsic pleasures may still flower into sublime complexities. Liminalities of dailiness will still evince philosophical reverie. Evening hikes will continue to hope for some “major” realization.

College kids will still play volleyball in a nearby sand court. Below the place where people come to watch dusk over the far away Golden Gate (or the stars, or to gain solitude from the dorms for romantic preliminaries), a guy at the swimming pool puts away things for the evening, maintaining the place, and there will always be someone doing that.

I enjoy pretending I’m the dead walking, amused by how the world goes on oblivious to lives gone. Over there (somewhere during the day), that’s how things will go on when I’m dead. I’m resurrected in my walking, invisible to all who ignore all, watching the world unseen from some other dimension.

I see a woman I want to stop, to ask: “What do any two persons really have together?”

She says, “biology, given embodied evolution. Language. Place. Humanity (all that anthropological jazz). And ‘individuality,’ each of which is a bricolage of commonalities.”

I smile as she silently passes. She looks away.

I imagine a billboard in the center of town asking “What do men and women want from each other?,” there listing (as a non-ordered set arrayed in the space): “playmate pleasure (especially sexual)” “companionship (idealized friendship—but rare?)” “usefulness to each other that’s not related to other interests (e.g., in managing one’s own life or the school/work world)” “homemaking support/collaboration (including parenting)” “caretaking”

A crinkled old lady at a busstop strains to look up at me as I pass, asking me “What do you want?,” but not waiting for an answer. “Every day is a new beginning,” she says; then turns back to her stooped wait, “notwithstanding the surdity of life itself.”

I want to grasp intelligent life as We know it. I want to comprehend being “American.” I want to know how all the places on the skin of our planet weave together, the vanity fair of global life, and our ultimacy as Earthlings.

The world is contained by life, emerges from life. Yet, a life is contained by a world, emerges from its time. Infinite interplays of containing and being contained blur the primordiality of liminal difference (born of primal cellularity): outside relative to inside outsiding.

Temporally and historically embodied minds give intangibility to tangible life (thereby given ultimately intangible meaning), differentiating (differencing) inner-worldliness and outer-worldliness, self and body, private and public, insider (clique, group, organization, politics) and outsider.

World economics easily shows emergent psychology determining the common (politically global) ground. (All in all, that’s no non sequitur.)

Everything’s got its story (in a Story, etc.) Everybody lives in time—prospective and recollective, be it futures appropriating pasts (for progressives) or pasts constraining futures (for conservatives).

Everyone grows from the elusive universality of childhood, whatever degree of play was allowed, whatever developmental goodness was expressed to contain one’s interplays of self (educive good sense) and common sense (sociocentrism), intuited elations and reliable intuitions.

I side with elations, of course. I side with high aspirations and mental excursion, though I know that living well is, among so much, a balance of moving on and staying.

Moving futural life is like an endless preface.

feeling Time

I have uncounted thousands of books, a funny story—too many for bookshelves (which become a kind of vanity when a library gets large). But many books are listed in a database of containers (boxes), so I sometimes get the urge to find a book I recall but haven’t listed, which sends me to likely boxes representing decades of wandering in academic bookstores (remember the greatness of some bookstores?—like Cody’s in Berkeley). More than that: Each container is a metonym of a time of life. Kindreds together express eras of interest still alive to the aging mind awakened by stuffy openings which can enthall me almost vertiginously in anewed sense of the scale of us all in my librarial allegory.

Exuberance for upcoming work is like awaiting a long-absent Love of my life due in the horizon any day now. In the compass of pleasure, my kaleidoscope of thematics is comparable to erotic appeals.

Well....maybe not. Literary living does invite extravagant reading.

But there’s a cohering project-iveness to all my time lived as, I think, a vining weave of interests grown to be the genesis of a wordy Thing containing me (though unwritten) like a grand horizon.

Soon after I woke up this morning, I wrote “Like.”


Prospecting authentic happiness philosophically leads into reflecting on mindfulness as such, which can be prospected comprehensively (inasmuch as one can entertain comprehensibility), re: natures of mind, psychal bonds of “Love,” and heights of feeling for our lives.

Recounting a venture is like prospecting a future, like a reader’s experience of autobiography is like seeing a life reaching into all uncapturable openness.

For the writer to reader, it’s textual pathmaking.

Philosophically, the textuality of any narrative is part of the path. For philosophically-engaged pathmaking, reflectivity contributes to the pathmaking, as prospectiveness expresses itself in textual choices. Genric differences between “Psychological,” “Philosophical,” and “Literary” may dissolve into a backstage interplay of engagements that are appropriated for a cogent representation (discourse on a librarial path of reading), tracing in writing the trek figured as continuing text made of affairs with others’ words, themeselves traces of sojourns, as anyone is already always a trace in merely speaking, in scenes and stances born of singular histories echoed in even literal confidence (thereby implicitly presuming such reliability of stance).

Any day might be made a novel, had one the capacity to capture all details. So, days made of flourishing solitude—inter- and intra-psychal, Literary, philosophical—may become its own kind of novel, including a divine comedy of others’ excommunication of excursiveness into heights and night sea journeys alone. (The postmodernist comedian John Barth, Professor of Literature at John Hopkins, had his readers hear the archetypal Child’s nightsy journey in fables of precious plights of psychal destining.)

A philosophical mind is always implicitly conversing with the dead. Peggy channels Jacques outstripping Nietzsche deconstructing Platonic pretentions darkly echoing from common ground.

The scientific conceptualist channels all “reality,” the mathematician, many-dimensional “strings” emergent as traces chased through exotic functions.

It’s ultimately beyond anyone (any mirrorplay of realists and the nominalists is a singular Love: Philo-sophy), really beyond linguistic means as our fateful intertextuality makes it all at best a kind of poetics of conceptual adventures, evolving Truth a discursive Eros.


That’s part 5 of “elations of solitude.” Here’s Part 6.