This book has given rise to millennia of clear thinking and to millennia of confusion. Some scholars hold that Aristotle's writings were not as much bThis book has given rise to millennia of clear thinking and to millennia of confusion. Some scholars hold that Aristotle's writings were not as much books as teaching notes. We cut him slack for being the inventor of the modern idea of logic and really, the first scientist. This does not mean that he is not shockingly obscurantist and full of what by our standards are bizarrely self-contradictory statements. In fact, were we at present to take his works for books-proper, we'd find in him––in the unlikely event that we were able to elide aeons of heroification and 'greatness' mongering––what is often simply very sloppy thinking. This knowledge is absolutely essential for reading Aristotle. In fact, it is impossible to understand him without understanding the huge ambition of his project and the countless ways in which, constantly, valiantly, he failed it. And how, like any good scientist, he tried again, changing and changing.
It is Aristotle––more than Plato, Darwin, Freud, Marx, Cicero, or Jesus, if not Socrates––who is the cenancestor of the Western mind.
This book contains the thirteen original fallacies, which originated and continue to confuse the modern "discipline" of fallacy theory. If you don't read ancient Greek, it is essential to read all three translations (Poste, Forster, and Pickard-Cambridge) in tandem if you want to get anywhere. It is extremely slow going either way.
The edition featured here (Kessinger) is a bullshit edition published by cynics who ineptly and with half an ass harvest public domain material for profit, couching their endeavors in the context of historical preservation. Just go to Google books. All three editions are available there for free.
But perhaps I would not be writing this at all had the Roman navy not accidentally perpetrated the greatest intellectual tragedy yet to occur on this planet. I'm talking about the horrible fact that, along with a million+ other unknowable volumes, Euclid's On Fallacies was lost with the Alexandrian Library. I'm simply sure that Euclid, who began to write during Aristotle's lifetime, would have clarified and corrected so much in this work. Oh inevitable sadness of the predigital age(s)....more
This is a greatly entertaining, snide, petulant, hilarious and rather tossed off little surrealist jig. It contains some great writing and great depraThis is a greatly entertaining, snide, petulant, hilarious and rather tossed off little surrealist jig. It contains some great writing and great depravity: I am thinking specifically of one character’s first person account of why it was absolutely imperative to the preservation of his sanity that he murder a certain ‘idiot’ dishwasher of his acquaintance. The physical descriptions of this idiot’s neck do clearly justify murder. But what I love most about the book is its disgust it with writing itself. This book is one of the best examples of that most compelling urge of certain writers to shit on and destroy their own writing. The problem is, rather fittingly, that it ends smack in the middle of itself, mid-breath almost, and to little effect. ...more
One of the most fascinating topics in world history given a rather under-edited and intellectually limp treatment. Did you know that the AlexandriansOne of the most fascinating topics in world history given a rather under-edited and intellectually limp treatment. Did you know that the Alexandrians invented the steam engine? That due to the plenitude of slave labor and the absence of coal, it was used only for entertainments and temple tricks? That the approximately 450-foot light house at Pharos, constructed of enormous stone blocks and mortar of molten lead, stood for nearly 1,600 years, despite being on a small island in a stormy sea on a fault line? Did you know that Christianity ruined civilization for 2,000 years (I learn this from the book, despite the book) by essentially criminalizing the scientific method? (Yes, we would be on Mars by now.) Did you know that the Alexandrians, not Copernicus, first proposed a heliocentric universe (yes, about 1,700 years before him)? Did you know that Eratosthenes of Cyrene measured the circumference of the earth using only a shadow, a well, an Alexandrian troop trained to measure distances by means of startlingly exact strides, trigonometry, and a frikking stick, all to within 300 miles of its actual circumference? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Era... ) That this same Eratosthenes also measured the tilt of the earth's axis to within .3 degrees?
It's a solid shame that Charles Bowden, as though rebelling against the staid sterility of mere journalistic fact, wrote this book with such an excessIt's a solid shame that Charles Bowden, as though rebelling against the staid sterility of mere journalistic fact, wrote this book with such an excess of poetic style. Had he not, he might have won a pulitzer. NO ONE KNOWS what is in this book. It would have blown your mind. As it is, the egregious purple salad of its contents will have you looking askance at what are surely true, true facts. This book is the final exemplar of the potentials for political irresponsibility in poetic utterance....more
Her first book. She has not expanded, here, into the galaxy she will become. The seed is here, but it is small. Some of the weird, stunning, evil precHer first book. She has not expanded, here, into the galaxy she will become. The seed is here, but it is small. Some of the weird, stunning, evil precision---unequaled in English since Shakespeare, I say without blinking---is here, but hardly, tinily. These are ditties. Where is the mind-twisting surgical acidity? The arch, brokenhearted, wicked truth? The grotesque delirium and hilarity? Almost. Getting dressed. Coming!:
"Though her lips are vague as fancy In her youth— They bloom vivid and repulsive As the truth. Even vases in the making Are uncouth." ...more
She never fails. I could read her grocery lists and feel purified. I don't mind saying that she is a genius, or that I wish Americans would read her (She never fails. I could read her grocery lists and feel purified. I don't mind saying that she is a genius, or that I wish Americans would read her (more). Or that she would be Ernest Hemingway were this country not a Francophobic auction house. Or that when, at last, the world learns to brook a woman with a human spine, she will be called what she is: one of the three dozen best writers of her century.
I do not know why it is so common that a certain kind of autobiographical writer, the kind who lives for the story, who intends her life as art, is so rarely also a master of style. I am thinking of Anaϊs Nin, or Henry Miller, or Kerouac, though the phenomenon does not end there. But Duras is both kinds. Her life is art; as story it stands alone. And her style, the voice in which she utters this life, is virtuosic, brutal, entirely alone.
There are writers we read almost entirely for the back-story of their brave, bizarre, or harrowing lives. We read their books as sources secondary to the texts of their imagined biographies. We read their interesting lives, their personas, in what, without these, might be much less interesting literature. I am thinking of Isabelle Eberhardt or the fiction of Bataille.
But Duras is one of the only writers I know who stands absolutely equal on either side. Her biography and her books perfect one another in her style....more
This is the third time I have read a book by Duras and said it is the best book I have ever read. I am astonished and destroyed. Despite the fact thatThis is the third time I have read a book by Duras and said it is the best book I have ever read. I am astonished and destroyed. Despite the fact that the English publishers did everything in their power to make no one want to read it, by changing the title shamelessly in order to fit into the memoirs market. The real title should be translated--so I am told--Pain or Suffering. I didn't like the story from her communist period. I also had some problems with the following one, about the small Jewish girl, though it was beautiful. But these are maybe 5% of a book containing some of the best writing I have ever read. Perfectly flawed. I'm sure I'll say that again about her. She says of the first piece that it makes her ashamed of literature. That is so true. It is literary truth, not truth in literature. The portrait of her husband and his return from Dachau. Yes. That. That that that. It is Night. It is Better than Night....more