Before You Read


Exuberance is beauty.
—William Blake

All authentic reading is in its own way violent, or it is nothing but the mildness of paraphrase.
—Pierre Macherey

Plain speech is essentially inaccurate. It is only by new metaphors that it can be made precise.
—T.E. Hulme

What got me by during that period was conceiving of the history of philosophy as a kind of ass-fuck, or, what amounts to the same thing, an immaculate conception. I imagined myself approaching an author from behind and giving him a child that would indeed be his but would nonetheless be monstrous. —Gilles Deleuze

What is the good of passing from one untenable position to another, of seeking justification always on the same plane?
—Samuel Beckett

Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
—Bertrand Russell

Not suitable as a party member:Whoever thinks much is not suitable as a party member: he soon thinks himself right out of the party.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

The good teacher imparts a satisfying explanation. The great teacher unsettles, bequeaths disquiet, invites argument.
—Richard Sennett

Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.
—Ludwig Wittgenstein

A text is not a text unless it hides from the first comer, from the first glance, the law of its composition and the rules of its game.
—Jacques Derrida, Plato’s Pharmacy

Ask yourself, “what is the truth,” and your Buddhism will be a series of platitudes. Ask yourself, “what are the lies,” and …? —GW

All true language is incomprehensible, like the chatter of a beggar’s teeth. —Antonin Artaud

Exposure, not protection. Evocation, not indication. —GW

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
—Buckminster Fuller

[Contra:] The most dangerous party member.—In every party there is one who, through his all-too credulous avowal of the party’s principles, incites the others to apostasy. —Friedrich Nietzsche

[Pro:] The most dangerous follower. —The most dangerous follower is he whose defection would destroy the whole party: that is to say, the best follower. —Friedrich Nietzsche

A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. ―Brian Massumi, “Translator’s Foreword: Pleasure of Philosophy,” A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

I don’t know any form that doesn’t shit on being in the most unbearable manner. ―Samuel Beckett

The universe is designed to erase your name. Thus:

In Euripides’s time, the Greeks never wrote obituaries. They posed only one question: did the dead have a passion? —Camelia Elias

Our actions dwell in darkness—if they lack song. And I know of only one way to hold a mirror up to those deeds: if, through the presence of memory, we find a recompense for our lives in glorious song. —Pindar, paraphrase

Now one hanged man kicks at the end of his rope
in another little attack of hope. —Paul Muldoon

It is too late for arguments. —GW

21 thoughts on “Before You Read

  1. How about this:

    A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.
    ― Gilles Deleuze, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

  2. Wonderful! Others: please join in. Even if your suggestion does not resonate with the aims of this blog, my explaining why that is so will make it a nonetheless valuable contribution.

  3. Thinking about a quote I remembered Dante‘s „Abandon all hope, ye who enter her“ – the famous greeting written above the entrance to hell. In italian it reads „Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’ entrate!“. Some have argued that Dante mixed up his notes during his journey and in reality the warning is written above the entrance to paradise. It is not always the best to find what one is looking for when searching for happiness. Slightly variated the quote then reads, „Lasciate ogni speranza, e poi entrate“ – „Abandon al hope, and then enter.“ Either way this might not be the worst reminder for this undertaking. (The variation stems from Paul Watzlawick)

  4. “Ah! weak & wide astray! Ah shut in narrow doleful form!
    Creeping in reptile flesh upon the bosom of the ground:
    The Eye of Man, a little narrow orb, closd up & dark.
    Scarcely beholding the Great Light; conversing with the ground:
    The Ear, a little shell, in small volutions shutting out
    True Harmonies, & comprehending great, as very small:
    The Nostrils, bent down to the earth & clos’d with senseless flesh.
    That odours cannot them expand, nor joy on them exult:
    The Tongue, a little moisture fills, a little food it cloys,
    A little sound it utters, & its cries are faintly heard.”

    William Blake

  5. Ka-doosh! Thats my new Non-omotopia. The sound of a brick to the forehead.

    Like a clipper ship approaching from the horizon to an indigenous prehistoric island native (redundant?), this tome is invisible/inaudible/un-understable to those in whom the seeds of recognition do not exist. (This mitigates the concern I infer from “Before you Read”, even though it was a bit flamboyant.)

    For me, not quite a Kadoosh, but a “Now we’re talkin – lets go!” I knew tantric dizziness wasn’t real, so I left to a more appropriate distance. (Beneficial though being there was.) I Knew negating and abandoning…everything…was no way to live, so I maintained a distance to begin with. Koans are so lame I never even sat down.

    So/but/and, if you haven’t read yet (because you are here before you read), well, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have an open mind. Be advised – this blog, AND A DICTIONARY, JEEZ!, may pry it open further. You may be caused to question what you thought was your path, a serious thing indeed.

    “If you think you can handle it.” That’s what she said to me. I must admit I was trepidatious when I clicked Buy Now.

    But was there really any choice?

  6. I think a quote by Siddhartha could do well in there to show his skeptic side

    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

    There’s is of course, so many Nietzsche quotes that fit but i prefer the shortest ones

    “How I understand the philosopher – as a terrible explosive, endangering everything!”

  7. Garrett. “Koans are so lame I never even sat down.” You pass! Koan solved! Ka-doosh!

    Some good wording. Write some more, will you? Maybe you can put that entire comment in poetic form. Either way, I’ll let it stand as additional good word to Read Before Entering.

    And Richard. I have a very, very, very, very soft spot for The Blake of William. Just between you and me: Blake is my True Master.

    Therefore I write Albions last words. Hope is banish’d from me.

    And Javi. Thanks! I also like Herr N’s: “I am not a philosopher: I am dynamite!” Or something to that effect. Yes, why is it that so much from The Crucified’s pen fits here?

    I like that Gotama quote, too. But I have such shit common sense I’d be a hypocrite to highlight it. So, I’ll let this comment section serve as additional Read Befores.

  8. “No man believes…
    Who does not make a wound in faith
    When any light goes out, and life is death…

    No man believes who cries not, God is not,
    Who feels not coldness in the heat…

    Believe and be saved. No man believes
    Who curses not what makes and saves,
    No man upon this cyst of earth
    Believes who does not lance his faith…”

    ~~Dylan Thomas

  9. „Detachment is the nature of traumatized man.“
    – U. G. Krishnamurti

    I like the Dylan Thomas poem very much.

  10. Hitherto philosophers have had the solution of all riddles lying in their writing-desks, and the stupid, exoteric world had only to open its mouth for the roast pigeons of absolute knowledge to fly into it. Now philosophy has become mundane, and the most striking proof of this is that philosophical consciousness itself has been drawn into the torment of the struggle, not only externally but also internally. But, if constructing the future and settling everything for all times are not our affair, it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.

    Karl Marx, Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, 1843

  11. Those who prefer to ignore theory, or think that they can get along better without it, are simply in the grips of an older theory. —John Maynard Keynes

  12. “We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand. A doctrine that is understood is shorn of its strength.” —Eric Hoffer

    Hi Glenn, thank you for this terrific blog.

  13. LOL 🙂
    From, “The Very Short Sutra on the Meeting of the Buddha and the Goddess”

    “… So here comes the mantra of the Goddess and the Buddha, the unsurpassed non-dual mantra. Just to say this mantra, just to hear this mantra once, just to hear one word of this mantra once makes everything the way it truly is: OK.

    So here it is:
    Hey, silent one, Hey great talker
    Not two/Not one
    Not separate/Not apart
    This is the heart
    Bliss is emptiness
    Emptiness is bliss
    Be your breath, Ah
    Smile, Hey
    And relax, Ho
    And remember this: You can’t miss.”

    By, Rick Fields

  14. ”When someone asks ‘what’s the use of philosophy?’ the reply must be aggressive, since the question tries to be ironic and caustic. Philosophy does not serve the State or the Church, who have other concerns. It serves no established power. The use of philosophy is to sadden. A philosophy which saddens no one, that annoys no one, is not a philosophy. It is useful for harming stupidity, for turning stupidity into something shameful. Its only use is the exposure of all forms of baseness of thought. . . . Philosophy is at its most positive as a critique, as an enterprise of demystification. (NP 106) ” -Gilles Deleuze

  15. Excellent! Thanks Jonah (#17). The statement heartens someone like me who constantly has to answer for his “aggression” in dialogue about “big” life issues. It reminds me of a statement by Nietzsche to the effect that there is nothing more ridiculous than a philosopher who wants to be liked. It also brought to mind this comment by one of Socrates’s conversation partners:

    Anyone who is close to him and enters into conversation with him is liable to be drawn into an argument; and whatever subject you may start, you will continually be carried round and round by him, until at last you find that you have to give an account of your entire life; and when you are once entangled, he will not let you go until he has completely and thoroughly sifted you. (I don’t have the source handy, but it’s from one of Plato’s dialogues.)

  16. Hi Glenn, I recently came across this quote, Charles Bukowski from a Life Mag. article that asked 20 or so well-known’s to say something on “The meaning of Life”…I love Bukowski, felt like it belonged here on your blog…

    <blockquoteFor those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.

  17. Danny (#19). Here to drink beer! Love it. It reminds me of Cioran’s question, when faced with religious/self-improvement-plan “oughts:” why cut life short?


  18. In response to #17 & #18, and with total regard for our collective pursuit: “When I was 5 and playing against 11-year-olds, who were bigger, stronger, faster, I just had to figure out a way to play with them.”
    Wayne Gretzky

Comments are closed.