“We must be off,” he said, “but while everyone is still asleep, I want to leave this man a token of my esteem and affection.”

So saying, he took a torch and set fire to the house.

-Voltaire

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The Bodhisattva Paradox

The bodhisattva cannot pass over into Nirvana. He cannot because, were he to do so, he would exhibit a selfishness that a bodhisattva cannot have. If he has the selfishness, he is not a bodhisattva, and so cannot enter Nirvana. If he lacks the selfishness, again, he cannot enter Nirvana, for that would be a selfish act. So either way, the bodhisattva is impotent to enter Nirvana. … So no one can reach Nirvana; we cannot because we are not bodhisattvas and the bodhisattva cannot because he is a bodhisattva.

-Arthur Danto, Mysticism and Morality, 1972

your heartbeat in the radium screen

I saw you kneeling on a desert plateau
your eyes were melting from inside your skull
the wind was burning holes into my skin
where does a body end?
your voice is drifting through the stratosphere
my mouth is drinking from your pool of tears
I saw your heartbeat in the radium screen
what does a body mean?
the future’s leaking through a shut lead door
in the ruins of a city under the forest floor
your naked body’s buried in a vacant field
what does your body feel now?
the air is black and has no oxygen
the bodies in the river float beneath the sun
transparent skin it shines a light from deep within
where does your body begin?
the stars are hidden by a mirrored sky
and darkness disappears behind reflected light
perception is a distance in a closed-in space
how will your body escape?
the crowd is feeling you inside your head
your imagination cancelled by the opposite
and every possibility’s been proved untrue
now is your body you?

-Michael Gira

Yeah, that’s pretty far

The cumulative devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar was such that a stack of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (26 zeros) two dollar bills (if they were printed) in the peak hyperinflation would have be needed to equal in value what a single original Zimbabwe two-dollar bill of 1978 had been worth. Such a pile of bills literally would be light years high, stretching from the Earth to the Andromeda Galaxy.

-Shadowstats

Reflections on the Revolution in France

[P]ower, of some kind or other, will survive the shock in which manners and opinions perish; and it will find other and worse means for its support. The usurpation which, in order to subvert ancient institutions, has destroyed ancient principles will hold power by arts similar to those by which it has acquired it. When the old feudal and chivalrous spirit of fealty, which, by freeing kings from fear, freed both kings and subjects from the precautions of tyranny, shall be extinct in the minds of men, plots and assassinations will be anticipated by preventive murder and preventive confiscation, and that long roll of grim and bloody maxims which form the political code of all power not standing on its own honor and the honor of those who are to obey it.

Kings will be tyrants from policy when subjects are rebels from principle.

When ancient opinions and rules of life are taken away, the loss cannot possibly be estimated. From that moment we have no compass to govern us; nor can we know distinctly to what port we steer.

-Edmund Burke

Neurasthenia

George Beard’s American Nervousness: Its Causes and Consequences (1881)… described a new disease he called neurasthenia (lack of ‘nerve force’), whose symptoms… were legion, and whose cause could be found, quite simply, in modernity.  “The chief and primary cause of this development and very rapid increase of nervousness is modern civilization, which is distinguished from the ancient by these five characteristics: steam-power, the periodical press, the telegraph, the sciences, and the mental activity of women”.

-Kelly Hurley, The Gothic body

This little piggy

[I]n the course of the eighteenth century this kind of frankness [about castration] became less acceptable…. More castrations were explained as having been necessitated at an early age by illness or an unspecified ‘need.’ A favourite cause… was the bite of a wild swan or a wild pig…. By the mid nineteenth century the surviving castrati of the Sistine Chapel had apparently all fallen victim to pigs.

-J. Rosselli