Electronic Storage of Student Records

September 30, 2010

One suggestion is to write about all this to:

Communication Services
355 Harlem Rd.
West Seneca, NY 14224


Further, according to 8NYCRR: Regulations of the Commissioner of Education (section 188.11c), local governments are legally required to store backup copies of archival electronic records in offsite facilities. These facilities may or may not be owned by the government, but they should ideally be far enough from the government’s primary facility to ensure the accessibility of the records in the event of a regional disaster.

To be legally compliant, local governments must submit a formal letter concerning the storage of their electronic records in a facility that is not owned or maintained by the government to the State Archives’ Director of Government Records Services (9A47 Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY 12230), who will review the request to ensure the records will be safe and secure.

BIG QUESTION – DOES NYS-GRS HAVE an approved secure facility for the storage of student records AND IF NOT, WHY NOT?

Cloud computing, virtualization, hosting,… local governments … should be aware of the issues involved in handing over custody and control of data to a vendor or to some other government or agency (as a school district would to a BOCES – Boards of Cooperative Educational Services.)



New England Journal of Medicine

… electronic health data are poised for an online transformation that is being catalyzed by Dossia (a nonprofit consortium of major employers), Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault, and other Web services that are seeking expanded roles in the $2.1 trillion U.S. health care system.



On September 15, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a $100,000 settlement with EchoMetrix, a developer of parental control software that monitors children’s online activity. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) alleged in a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission that EcoMetrix was deceptive…



‎… there is a growing concern that automated personal data systems present a serious potential for harmful consequences, including infringement of basic liberties. This has led to the belief that special safeguards should be developed to protect against potentially harmful consequences for privacy and due process.

The Committee was asked to analyze and make recommendations about:

• Harmful consequences that may result from using automated personal data systems;

• Safeguards that might protect against potentially harmful consequences;

• Measures that might afford redress for any harmful consequences;

• Policy and practice relating to the issuance and use of Social Security numbers.



The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establish the minimum requirements school systems must meet in maintaining, protecting, and providing access to students’ school records. Individualized Education Program (IEP); and, often, correspondence between you and school personnel.


FERPA and IDEA prohibit schools from disclosing your child’s records to anyone without your written consent. The only exceptions are:

• School officials, including teachers, in your child’s district with a legitimate educational interest as defined in the school procedures

• School officials in the school district to which your child intends to transfer (Before the records are sent, however, you will want to review them and challenge their content, if necessary.)

• Certain state and national education agencies, if necessary, for enforcing federal laws

• Anyone to whom a state statute requires the school to report information

• Accrediting and research organizations helping the school, provided they guarantee confidentiality

• Student financial aid officials

• People who have court orders, provided the school makes reasonable efforts to notify the parent or student before releasing the records

• Appropriate people in health and safety emergencies such as doctors, nurses, and fire marshals

• Law enforcement and judicial authorities in certain cases


The plot thickens regarding storage of student information. This is with regard to the children of illegal immigrants who cannot be denied a free public educations.

Local schools, including Queensbury and Glens Falls, told to follow law on immigration queries

(click link above to read article)


Here is the second link I have found regarding security, privacy and school records. What would make the MOST sense to me is a state or federal on-line system for student records which guarantees state-of-the-art security and privacy safeguards.



I am curious to learn what New York state laws and Federal laws say about children’s school records, safety, privacy and security. I would appreciate any info or links. Below is the first link that I found regarding security problems with RFID chips


Study Finds that Children’s Privacy has been Compromised: A Fordham Law School study found that state educational databases across the country ignore key privacy protections for the nation’s school children. The study reports that at least 32% of states warehouse children’s social security numbers; at least 22% of states record student pregnancies; and at least 46% of the states track mental health, illness, and jail sentences as part of the children’s educational records.


Finding peace and happiness within yourself

August 28, 2010

Here is some correspondence that I had in 1999 with a young man in Mangalore, India (250 ki. from Bangalore), posted with permission.

In 1999, the bangalore.com message board was aflame with arguments between Muslims, Hindus and Christians. It became so bad that the message board feature was discontinued. It was a Muslim from that board who invited me to join and discuss religion.

(a young man posted on the now closed mangalore.com message

What is next?

Fri Sep 24 06:18:19 1999

I married a beautiful girl two years back. Somehow I could not live with her and just divorced. I do not have any child. What should I do further. How to live my remaining life? Please suggest me.



Here is my response:

My sympathy goes out to you concerning your sorrow. Many people look for happiness and meaning outside of themselves, in a spouse, a child, a parent, a job, friends, material possessions, food, drink, amusements.

The religious answer is that we are always desiring things because we feel an emptiness within, somehow incomplete. We think that if we can only marry a certain person, buy a certain fancy car, earn a special academic degree, that THEN we shall finally be happy and fulfilled. But our emptiness stems from a dim memory deep within us that we were once a part of God, and now we suffer from SEPARATION. So we have a hunger which can never be filled; a thirst which can never be quenched.

Even Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “If you drink the water in this well, you shall thirst again in a little while, but I can give you LIVING WATERS, which, once you drink, you shall never thirst again.” (I am paraphrasing again, but this is the essence of what was said.)

Perhaps the first step to happiness and peace is to recognize the futility of seeking them outside ourselves.

We all know examples of very wealthy, famous, powerful people who become so unhappy as to take their own lives in suicide. This is a lesson to us that the their fame and wealth did not help alleviate the pain of their own existence.

We also know examples of people who managed to find peace in
happiness and meaning even in the poorest and most oppressive
circumstances, even in places such as a Jewish Concentration camp in Germany. You might like to read Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. He is a medical doctor who survived a German concentration camp in WWII.

As for your life, simply meet new people, nice decent people, and try to be their friends. You will see that, if you are patient, an appropriate spouse and life partner will be provided for you. Sometimes happiness comes when we are not expecting it or looking for it.

It is ironic that the other day, I was reading something about peace and happiness which quoted Gandhi as saying, “Peace must be found in turmoil, not in tranquility. What value to me is someone who tells me to find peace in a tranquil situation. OF COURSE THERE IS PEACE IN PEACE, but what good is that to me. Peace is only of value to me if I can find it in the midst of turmoil, discord, strife, adversity.” I suppose one might say the same of Holiness or Sanctity. Of course there is Holiness in the Holy, but it is more profitable to find Holiness in the midst of evil and wickedness, for it is when you are in the midst of wickedness that holiness is most needful.

This post seems sufficiently long for now, though I feel I could say more. I will think about these things, and your situation, and as more occurs to me, I will add additional posts to this one.

Hope these words help you a little.

Kanekodi writes back with an additional question:

Kanekodi writes:

Re: Strive to find happiness and meaning within yourself

Fri Sep 24 08:26:25 1999

Thank you for your kind advice. Is there any solution in Islam for my problem?



My response:

Certainly, if you read this message board regularly, you know my position on Islam, which leads me to suspect that perhaps you are baiting me for your own amusement, to see my reaction.

Nevertheless, I will answer your question honestly. Any individual who is able to achieve in their life, in their heart, a deep and abiding faith and belief and confidence IN ANY RELIGION, be it Islam, Christianity, Saivite, Vaishnav, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Sufi or Zoroastrian; THAT person will experience great comfort and peace and their hearts will always be filled with hope.

Such Faith is a gift from God to a particular individual. We cannot choose or will to have such faith, saying “Aha! Today I will take steps to become a person of deep faith!”. No, it is a gift which is given only to those who are ripe for it, who have matured from past experiences.

Nor can one truly CHOOSE a religion or belief. This again is something which depends on the indivdual’s character and nature, conditioned by past experiences in this life, or in previous births.

This is why it is a futile and ignorant effort that many religions undertake to “convert the whole world” to some “one true faith”.

For those familiar with Hindu scriptures, I will point out that the wicked King Ravanna of Lanka, enemy to the Lord Ram, Avatar of Lord Vishnu; Ravanna also had a religion, and it was from this religion that Ravanna drew his strength to be an adversary of the Lord.

If we turn our attention to Jesus and His temptation in the desert, we notice that even Satan seems to have had religion, since Satan quotes chapter and verse from the scriptures several times, and asks Jesus to bow down and worship him. Even the demons in the possessed man, in a sense “prayed” to Jesus, in that they requested him to send them into the herd of swine, and their prayers were answered!

So, you see, even the wicked have a religion. Even devils and demons have a religion.

Even superstitious people, such as some professional baseball players, have a religion, in the sense that their ritualistic gestures, such as touching the brim of their cap so many times “for luck”; its a form of OFFERING or POOJA, and in return they hope for something AUSPICIOUS.

The true miracle of God is the Maya or Illusion of “the one true faith”. Each of us believes that we are uniquely in possesion of the truth, the Lord’s most intimate devotees, a chosen people, elect. Every pious Hasidic Jew believes this. Every Muslim Iman is convinced of this. Hindu Sanyassins and Roman Catholic priests and nuns feel this with the utmost certainty. It is the protection of this Maya or Illusion of our unique, priveliged relationship with God which gives us the strength and courage to practice our devotions.

Perhaps the best religion is patience, persistance, reflection humility, and surrender.

Be persistant in performing life’s duties or Dharma. Be patient and dont give up. At each moment of life, under every circumstance, continually reflect within yourself, “Where have I come from? What am I? Who am I? What is my ultimate purpose? What is my ultimate destination.” Finally, have the humility to recognize your own dharma and nature, and accept it, surrender to it.

If you devoutly follow THIS religion, whose FIVE PILLARS are patience, persistance, reflection, humility, surrender. Then all else which is necessary for you shall be added in due time; spouse, children, friends, outward religion, career.

Remember, if you cannot be a friend to yourself, then how can you expect anyone else, even God, to be your friend. Even if they ARE your friends, if you are an enemy to yourself, you will reject their friendship, or not recognize it. If you cannot help yourself, then how any some outside agency, any angel or prophet or incarnation help you; since even if they ARE trying to help you, it is only through your CO-OPERATION, i.e. helping yourself, that you will allow them to help you.

You remember in Christian scriptures the story of the Prodigal son who asked his Father for his inheritance, and then squandered it in a foreign land, and fell into poverty. Yet, when the Prodigal son reflected within himself that he had reached a low estate, and hit rock bottom; and then resolved to return to his Father,…. well, you will observe that the Prodigal son was doing everything that I am advising you here. As the Prodigal son approached the Fathers home, the Father saw him from a long way off, and came out of the house and ran to meet the son. So for each step that the Prodigal son took homwards, the Father was taking ten running strides. But you see, it all hinged on the Prodigal sons OWN actions and freewill choice. Once the Prodigal son INITIATES those small steps, then the Father ADDS what is necessary, by running to meet the son.

Lord Krishna says in Chapter 9 of the Gita; “What ever My devotee lacks, I suppliment and compliment and complete; and whatever My devotee has achieved on their own, is preserved and conserved and in no wise lost.”

As to your specific question regarding Islam, you will notice which
religions and scriptures I have drawn my parables and examples from. Islam teaches that Allah creates and pre-destines and fore-knows each and every soul as a saved soul or a damned soul. Allah simply allows them to be born into the world, so that their actions will CONFIRM their damnation, and they will have no reason to complain that they were never given a chance. Furthermore, the Koran explicitly states many times, that Allah will INTENTIONALLY blind the unbeliever, and stop their ears, and abandon them so that they may fall into even DEEPER condemnation.

Nevertheless, if it is nature to find comfort in Islamic doctrines and
practices, then that is your Dharma, and you must make the best of it.

I never tire of quoting from the Koran Surah 5, verse 48 … where Allah says, “IF I HAD WANTED TO, I could have created ALL PEOPLE as one religion and nation, BUT FOR MY OWN REASONS, I chose to create people as DIFFERENT religions and races and nations (including Hindu). So, IF YOU MUST COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER, then compete in doing GOOD WORKS, and when you return to Me, I shall explain to you the REASONS for the differences between you.”

Of course, I am paraphrasing that verse of the Koran from memory, and many Orthodox Muslims will violently object that my words do not reflect the true meaning and intent of that verse (obviously, since my version ascribes to God a very tolerant INTERFAITH attitude). But my paraphrase describes what I believe God would actually say, and if God’s nature is antithetical to such sentiments, then I have no interest in worshiping such a God, not even to gain the reward of a Pardise, with rivers of wine and milk and honey, nor to avoid the tortures of hell, where I am “given a fresh skin” each time my skin burns away, so that I may “taste the torment”).

No thanks. No such God for me. I prefer to be in hell next to Gandhi and Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul and the Dalai Lama, if hell is especially reserved for infidels.

I hope my honest answers will help you, assuming that your question is sincere, and that you are not simply baiting me for your own amusement.

Kanekodi replies:

Re: Is there a solution in Islam.

Fri Sep 24 10:11:42 1999 Thank you. I was really serious when I asked this question whether there is solution in Islam for my present problem.

I have come across many Muslims who are dragging me saying that Islam will solve all our problems. I have read many of your messages and found you have done deep study in many religions including Islam. Hence I put question to you.

I am very much grateful to you for responding me sparing your valuable time.

Hope now I will be able to think independently and take the decision of my future.

Thank you once again.

With Love and Respects,


My response:

I am glad that your question was sincere. Forgive me for being suspicious.

Until I began to visit this message board (at the invitation of a Muslim) I was quite unaware of how life might be in a city in India such as Mangalore; the pressures and propaganda aggressively exerted on neighbors to convert. Since Muslims represent only a small minority in India, between 10 or 20 per cent (I forget the exact figure) you can just imagine what tremendous pressure must be exerted upon non-Muslims in countries like Pakistan, Iran, or Saudi Arabia!

Hindus (with the exception of Hare Krishnas) and Jews (with the exceptionof Lubavitchers) and Buddhists (with the excption of Soka Gakkai) are not aggressive or prosyletizing.

I want you to choose your religion for yourself. You will notice in my posts that I always offer choices and varieties and never say that one path is particularly good over another. I even have some good things, in fact many good things, to say about the Sufi denomination of Islam.

Bear in mind that, if you do choose Orthodox Islam, I for one will not personally condemn you. I do not believe in an eternal Hell or a powerful Satan figure, so I certainly cannot condemn you to Hell and torments for your choice. I believe that God is very merciful, and give each soul as many chances as are necessary (in the form of re-birth) until that soul can mature and ripen and become itself Divine.

We must bow in gratitude to our oppressors, for they are great teachers to us and have greatly contributed to the strength and equanimity of Sanatan Dharma. And where would Tulsidas and the Ramacharitamanasa be without Ravanna? Where would Schindler’s List be without Hitler? What would Jesus do without Judas Iscariot? Jesus Himself said, “It is necessary that such a one betray me, but woe to him who has been born into this world for that task, better that he were never born”. (I am paraphrasing from my poor old memory, but I am certain that Jesus says something like this, and these words are MOST SIGNIFICANT regarding rebirth and the function of evil in the world.)

Life is it’s own answer!

October 11, 2009

Secret! There is no secret. Anyone with eyes can see the way to live, by watching life, observing nature and cooperating with it. Making common cause with the process of existence. By living life for itself. Don’t you see? Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being. Life is it’s own answer. Accept it and enjoy it day by day. Live as well as possible. Expect no more.

Destroy nothing.
Humble nothing.
Look for fault in nothing.
Leave unsullied and untouched all that is beautiful.
Hold that which lives in all reverence.

For life is given by the Sovereign of our universe, given to be savored, to be luxuriated in, to be respected.

But that is no secret.
You’re intelligent.
You know as well as I what has to be done.

- Ray Bradbury, Martian Chronicles



October 6, 2009


This, of necessity will be partly a small business history and partly biographical and autobiographical.

It all starts with a seed. The seed for Polychem was sown in the year 1937 in the Sacony (Mobil) gas station at 6 Fountain Street, New Haven, Connecticut. After formally applying for a job at 26 Broadway, New York City, with Standard Oil Company of New York. That is when I ended up working 63 hours per week at $18.00. I was there over two years and one year paid income tax in the amount of $0.75 total. I also started paying Social Security (18 cents per week) in the first week of 1937, when Social Security started. One night, a talkative stranger came in with two flat tires. Being alone and having to wait on gasoline customers, it took some time to patch up two tires ( @ 50 cents each). During all this, the man asked many questions and discovered that my father was a chemist. This chap returned two weeks later to ask if my father was interested in doing some chemical analysis for a small company which four to six people had inherited unexpectedly. Their product was for cleaning machine parts after manufacture.

My father, William H. Buell Sr., was an 1899 graduate of Yale University. He was the first chemist ever hired by Winchester Repeating Arms Co.. He was head of the Development Department of E.I. DuPont during World War I. He developed metallic bellows for thermostats in General Motors Autos and early frigidaires. Then, he went into the Stock Brokerage business in the late twenties. With the Wall Street crash and the onset of the Great Depression, he was out of work and out of money by 1937.

W.H.B. went with them and carved out a job for himself. He got them into this working business with products made with synthetic surfactants rather than soap, courtesy of his old DuPont connection. When this company folded because of too many stockholders who didn’t get along, Buell took his restaurant detergent business to New York and combined it with the Kitcheneer Co., a little side line owned by Raymond W. Marshall, President of Alaska Air Lines, Utilities Equipment Co., Transit Equipment Co., Kan Valley Railroad, et cetera. Customers included Woolworth, Kresge, Nedick, and other small chains . The product was compounded and shipped by the Solvay Co. (Allied Chemical Co.).. In New York, Bill Buell, Sr. played a lot of bridge, often with Dr. Bryan Sword, Anesthesiologist with PolyClinic Hospital in the West 50’s, NYC. Sword suggested that a good surgical instrument cleaner was needed.

A separate company was formed to develop and market this new instrument cleaner. All the testing was done at PolyClinic Hospital by Nurse Edith Hall, O.R.S. and Nurse Anne Sasse. Edith Hall was significant as she became the first president of the Operating Room Nurses Association. All of this was happening in 1942. Polychem was incorporated in May, 1942 with Bill Buell, Sr. and Kitcheneer Corp. (Raymond W. Marshall) as 50 – 50 owners. The details were handled by the law firm of Dunovan, Leisure, Newton and Lombard, the Dunovan being Wild Bill of OSS fame.

During all of this from 3/25/41 to 10/7/45, this writer, William H. Buell Jr., was off to war in the 12 Th. Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division landing in Normandy on D-Day, in the Battle of Mortain, the liberation of Paris, the Hurtgen Forest, and the Battle of the Bulge.

Once incorporated, Polychem finally got Meinecke Co. Inc., 225 Varick Street, New York City to distribute the product. They named the product HAEMO-SOL and unfortunately owned the trade mark. Meinecke was a subsidiary of the Armstrong Cork Co. (now Armstrong World Industries). Polychem’s office was at 501 5th. Avenue, NYC and had one room on the 22nd floor.

Meinecke has sparse coverage coast to coast. They also had working arrangements with American Hospital Supply, A.S. Aloe, St. Louis, Will Ross Co., Milwaukee, WI., Hospital Equipment Co., NY and the Fisher Burpe Co. of Winnipeg Canada who all carried Haemo-sol. Early sales were helped through the efforts of Bryan Sword’s acquaintances, and the interest of Burleigh Jennings, VP of Meinecke (soon to be president).
All manufacturing was contracted out with the Zenith Drug Co. of Newark doing the jobs from 1944 to 1947. During this period, Polychem had a consulting chemist, Father Joseph B. Muenzen, S.J., who was head of the Chemistry Department of Fordham University.

In 1943, Buell Sr. was 66 years old and in bad shape financially. Kitcheneer ( R.W. Marshall) financed the start of the company with $3,000.00. It should be mentioned that Polychem Corporation never borrowed any money until 26 years later, when it purchased Marshall’s stock from his estate.

In mid October of 1945, William H. Buell, Jr., back from the war, reluctantly went to work with Polychem and his father. His other choice was to go back to F.W. Woolworth, where he had been an assistant manager of their South Ozone Park store. Starting pay at Polychem was $60 per week.

After leaving the gasoline station in August, 1938, I spent a year and a half as publisher of “College Years”, a national College magazine, working for Henry B. Sargent, uncle of Polychem’s John Sargent. When publication ceased in March, 1990, I went to New York, where I has a choice of an apprentice at Time, Inc. or stock boy at Woolworth Store in Jamaica, NY. I chose Woolworth because I couldn’t afford to go to work in a suit and necktie with a white shirt. Both jobs paid $18 per week.

When I arrived at Polychem, Father Meunzen took me up to Fordham and stuck me in the freshman Chemistry class which met every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It was not an enjoyable year studying chemistry. Being at 501 5th. Avenue, we were across the street from the NY Public Library, which I found a tremendous help with their technical journals and its legal library. At my disposal also was the Medical Library at the Medical Society on Upper 5th Avenue, and the Chemists Club library on 41st Street. New York City was also a wonderful place to learn sales. If you can sell in New York, you can sell anywhere.

In the next couple of years, we made a couple of new associations which greatly affected Polychem. The first was the renewal of my father’s friendship with Clarence G. Spalding of Woodmont CO. – a retired chemist and pharmacist. Through Clarence Spalding, we met Theodore G. Anderson, professor of Microbiology at Temple University. Anderson became a consultant and helped Haemo-sol get into the laboratories of universities, hospitals and industrial laboratories. He developed tests to detect residual cleaner on Haemo-sol cleaned and rinsed glassware which allowed us to give our literature a more technical look. He performed tests on rusting and corrosion of metals.

Clarence Spalding, former Connecticut State Chemist, former drug store owner and operator and former teacher of pharmacy at Yale Medical School, was a man of many talents. At the age of almost 70, he was still active in the manufacture of chemical products. We persuaded him to move to larger quarters to which we moved the manufacturing operation of Haemo-sol from New Jersey to Woodmont, CT. He was ably assisted by his daughter Eleanor, who did much of the actual compounding, the hiring and firing and the paper work. She also served as her father’s eyes as Clarance was almost blind from glaucoma. About this time, it was noted that Meinecke and Co. was selling a back rub lotion called Varick Lotion which was really the product Dermassage Lotion, manufactured by the Edison Chemical Co. of Chicago. Our suggestions to Meinecke that we make their lotion was OK’d. We has the lotion developed by Dr. Paul Goodloe, Chemist with Mobile Oil Co. and a Colgate-Palmolive cosmetic chemist plus help from Clarance Spalding. Meinecke insisted on certain specifications, including the color green and the inclusion of menthol and camphor. It was a great lotion if you liked the odor of camphor. Fortunately, it did not sell too well as in this post-war period of shortages, bottles were difficult to get as was olive oil, glycerin, and other ingredients. One result of taking the lotion business away from Edison was that they soon brought out a product called Edisonite Cleaner, to compete with Haemo-sol.

Also, during this period a man named Ralph Buck retired. He had been in charge of the sales office of the Grasselli Division of DuPont in the Empire State Building. Ralph couldn’t stand staying home with his wife, so Meinceke and Polychem hired him to detail Haemo-sol in the New York, CT and NJ areas to hospitals and Industrial laboratories. Ralph was a distinguished looking, immaculately dressed 65 year old gentleman that made prospects feel compelled to listen to his story. Meinecke and Polychem shared his salary ($1200 per year, so as not to interfere with his Social Security) plus his expenses. Ralph worked under this arrangement until 3 weeks before his death in approximately 1956, after 6-7 years.

Around 1946, we signed a contract to make an instrument cleaner called N-33 for the National Casket Co. of Boston. After signing the 80 year old manager of the Embalming Supply Division drove us in his old Chevrolet from Cambridge to the Parker House for lunch. The notable thing about this was that he introduced me to Boston Mayor Curley. Curley was elected one time while in prison. He was one of the clan which included the Fitzgeralds and Kennedys. The product N33 was never a great success in spite of extensive advertising in their journal “Sunnyside and Casket”.

In 1948, Haemo-sol was exhibited in Minneapolis at the Society of American Bacteriologists (whose name a few years later was changed to American Society of Microbiologists). This was the first of many meetings during the next twenty years that Meinecke bought the space and Polychem supplied the products and man-power. At this meeting one of the prospects we met was Dr. Jonas Salk, before he became famous.

Clarance Spalding died in December, 1949. Fortunately his daughter Eleanor was able to take over quite capably so our manufacturing arrangement was not affected.

William H. Buell, Sr. died in December 1950. That left me in charge of Operations subject to veto by President Raymond W. Marshall.

At this time Polychem Corporation had a gross business of approximately $70,000 per year and has 21 active employees, one office girl and myself. And two weeks later, the girl resigned so she could join her husband on a rabbit farm selling fur to the felt hat industry. We all know what happened to felt hats, especially after we got a hatless President in 1960.

After my father’s death, it took about 8 months to get everything straightened out. There were squabbles with Marshall. He questioned my father’s expense accounts and demanded he receive the same under the contract that they should share equally. Also, my father had died in debt. By the time the company paid off to Marshall what he thought to be his share and I had paid off my father’s debts, the company and I were both nearly broke. My brother and sister were upset that I had inherited all of the stocks of my father’s 50% of Polychem. Also, no one including Marshall, thought I was capable of running the company. At that time, we were still under price and wage controls, so I was unable to get a raise with my new position and therefore Marshall had to take a cut to come down to my level. I must explain here that Raymond Marshall was a very wealthy man. About this time he moved from a ten room Park Avenue apartment to a waterfront house on Mead Point, Greenwich CT, that had 13 bathrooms, an 8-10 car garage, a basement English pub that had been brought over from England, and shortly afterwards acquired a 97 foot boat with a crew of seven. I finally found the secret of getting along with him. I hired and befriended his lawyer.

Life went on. Marshall had other worries than Polychem. I became close to the president of Meinecke, got to know their salesmen, went to more and more sales meetings and started advertising in the journals. Sales increased and Polychem prospered.

The following were the obstacles to Polychem’s success:
1.) We were a one product (Haemo-sol) company with one customer (Meinecke).
2.) We did not control our manufacturing.
3.) We has no R&D. No laboratory facilities.
4.) We still were in a one room, one clerical worker and myself, office at 501 5th. Avenue. One shipment per month, one invoice per month, one deposit to the bank per month.
5.) Meinecke’s contract restricted Polychem’s sales activities.
6.) The Buell-Marshall contract whereby Marshall had to receive the same compensation as Buell, tied up cash that could have gone for expansion. Marshall was a totally silent president. Employees and customers never laid eyes on him.
7.) I was wasting my time in this office and had become a slave to the Long Island Railroad, and the 3 1/2 hours a day commuting from Huntington to New York.
8.) Our only customer – Meinecke Company, deserved some or perhaps a lot of worry. There was little supervision over their salesmen. Some of them used their Meinecke job as a moonlighting situation apart from their regular job and headquarters seemed unaware. The president’s main worry was to make the annual dividend payment to parent Armstrong Cork Co. Meinecke was older than American Hospital Co., but were a fraction of their size. Meinecke had missed the boat.

These were all worries that demanded attention. Most of the above problems were eventually worked out, though some took 20 years or more to be resolved.

With the above in mind, we started to look for a suitable factory building. To go back to where one came from made sense. So our search centered on the New Haven area. This covered 1954 and 1955.

Before getting to deep in our pending move, the following should be mentioned. In late 40s and early 50s, Gordon Marshall, Publisher of Hospital Topics, with the help of our old friend Edith Hall, ORS Polyclinic Hospital, started the Association of Operating Nurses. Every month, Hospital Topics announced new chapters around the country. Their efforts were partially backed by Ethicon division of Johnson & Johnson. They had their first convention in late winter 1954 at the Hotel New Yorker. The product Haemo-sol was exhibited with a Meinecke salesman and I working the booth. There were 300 to 400 nurses in attendance. This became a very important meeting for Polychem, not just for the nursing and hospital contacts, but for the contacts we made with industry including instrument manufacturers and various distributors. In my career, I went to over 30 of these annual meetings. The last one I went to there were approximately 7000 nurses and 5000 exhibitor personnel in attendance. It became such a large meeting that there were only about 6 locations large enough to handle them.

In 1954, we put in a bid for a building in Milford. The Gods were with us. It was turned down. It would have been a disaster.

Early in 1955, we found what we were looking for, made a bid on this 4000 sq. ft. building, plus a wood storage shed in the back located at 10-12 Lyman Street, New Haven, CT. It belonged to the Larson Bowling Alley Company, manufacturers of duck pin alleys and the duck pins. The wood floors in the offices were pieces of bowling alleys. This was a dying business with the post-war craze for big pin alleys. The closing and date of occupancy was April 1, 1955. That day a small truck carrying all of Polychem’s worldly goods arrived from New York. Within the next few days, all of the raw materials, finished stock, equipment and personnel were moved from Woodmont (Milford) to Lyman Street. Eleanor Spalding became office manager, foreman, and shipping clerk,. Woodmont workers were all part time. Only one elected to come to New Haven. Polychem’s first full time male other than myself was an ex-tugboat captain who was willing and able to do everything. He retired after 20 years with us. The first piece of equipment we purchased was a fork lift aptly named “Power OX”.

During 1954 and 1955, I gave a lot of thought to the Lotion business. The sales of Varick Lotion were poor. The best year we has was 12,000 8 oz. bottles. At meetings we went to even the giving out of 4 oz. samples became a problem. Every day or two, a bottle would slip through nurses hands and crash to the floor leaving a mess of broken glass and lotion. This was the period when plastic bottles started to slowly appear. I was determined to have a new lotion and that it would be in a plastic bottle. I also was very excited over the prospect. The new building and soon-to-be out fitted cellar laboratory would help make all this happen.

Now with a laboratory we needed a chemist to formulate the product. We hired a Yale graduate school chemist working for his Ph.D. He worked one day and the next day without telling us sent his friend in. Once again we were lucky. The second student turned out to be Jim McKeon, who years later became Vice President of R&D for Union Carbide CO. Jim McKeon, a graduate of Weslyan University with an MA from John Hopkins U. was enthusiastic, interested in his work and needed the money. It was agreed that he would work as many hours as possible day or night, weekday or week end, whenever his schedule would allow. All of this for $2.50 per hour. Jim was with us for almost four years.

So the basement of the now headquarters at 10-12 Lyman Street became the laboratory as well as lunch room and also housed the only other lavatory than the one for the office, complete with a shower. The stove top laboratory work benches were hand me down from Yale University’s Chemical Laboratories on Prospect Street and had been used during W.W.II for work connected with the Manhattan Project. It also contained a paint mill used to mix the product Aftex Socket Paste (more on this product later).

This 100/ x 40’ building plus its adjoining dilapidated wood shed cost $30,000 which we paid for with cash and took over the existing $7,500 mortgage which was with the American Bank on the corner of Grand Avenue and Ferry Street. The American Bank eventually was purchased by the Second National Bank, Second New Haven Bank, Colonial Bank, and finally the Bank of Boston-Connecticut.
The detergent powder mixer was installed over the small basement furnace in the back of what is called the shop in the space that Larson intended to make into a wood kiln. The original furnace was fueled by scraps of wood from the bowling alley manufacture. The big shop room was where we filled the cans of Haemo-sol and stored raw materials and finished goods. The empty Haemo-sol cans (by now all metal, supplied by the National Can Company) were stored in the shed.

Eventually, Jim McKeon developed a lotion which was approved by all including our only sales outlet, Meinecke & Company. The lotion was white and also contained Hexachlorophene, a necessary ingredient at the time. It also was lightly fragranced with an essential oil from Givaudan – Delawana who also supplied the Hexachlorophen (Gill) through their subsidiary Sindar.

In the mean time, we scoured the market for a plastic bottle that would be attractive and affordable. The largest manufacturer was Plax ( later on, Monsanto) of Hartford and Deep River. Unfortunately, they charged about 12 cents for an 8-oz bottle. Finally we located from American Can Company a plastic, metal top and bottom, bottle that would be delivered to us complete with a closure and fully decorated. It was taller than the glass bottles we currently used and it’s circumference was considerably smaller. Meinecke wished the new lotion to be called New Varick Lotion (a name I disliked). With less label space I was able to persuade Meinecke that the name was too long to look attractive, so we settled on V-Lo as a name. Fortunately we found out that V-Lo was the trade mark for another company. At this time, Eleanor Spalding was reading an article in RN Magazine about pediatric patients and how much T.L.C. they needed. She looked up and said “How about ‘T.L.C. Lotion’?”

We immediately gave our new name to our patent and trade mark attorney, Dr. Robert Calvert, in New York. He also was Ph.D. Chemist and was a contemporary of my father (a plaque on the wall showed he had graduated from High School in the territory of Oklahoma, prior to it’s statehood). After his search, he told us there was a conflict and advised us to abandon the idea of T.L.C. as a name for our lotion. Instead, we abandoned Dr. Calvert and his firm and hired Davis, Hoxie, Faithful, & Hapgood law firm. Within a relatively short time they had the T.L.C. mark registered and best of all, Polychem (not Meinecke) owned it.

Now that we had a name and the lotion was ready, it was time to order the bottles. American Can notified us they needed product to test in the bottles to see if it was compatible with their material. The first report back was that it was not. We sent up another batch and it was finally O.K.

Then, American Can told us that the minimum order they would accept was 100,000 bottles with 50,000 to be delivered at once and the balance to be taken in six months. Having never sold more than 12,000 bottles in a year, this was a shocker. But as it turned out, this policy was responsible for the early success of T.L.C. Lotion. Taking in all those bottles gave me the courage to go to Meinecke and dictate to them how much we would charge and more important, how much they would charge their customers. We gave them a graduated price list for both Meinecke and their customers. To make sure there was no mistake, we insisted on printing up the price lists.

The bottles finally arrived. On Good Friday, I drove to Brooklyn, NY in a station wagon and picked up our first bottle filling machine.

We made our first shipment of T.L.C. Lotion to Meinecke on April 1, 1958. Several weeks later, we attended the bi-annual meeting of the American Nurses Association (A.N.A.) in Atlantic City. We had no sample bottles nor 4 oz. bottles, only several cases of 8 oz. bottles and nowhere enough to hand out one per attendee. Paul Murray, Meinecke’s Sales Manager and I were in attendance and we spent 4 days rubbing lotion on nurses’ hands and even on the arms of those that were sun-burned. We were the hit of the meeting, much to the consternation of our next door neighbor, the Borden Company, with six representatives trying to demonstrate their line of super non-allergenic cosmetics.

The only size we had were 8-oz. bottles packaged 3 dozen per carton. Varick Lotion was packaged 2 dozen glass bottles per case. Both cases weighed the same so now we had big savings on freight and corrugated cartons.

Several weeks after the Atlantic City Meeting, I attended a Medical Technologists meting in Milwaukee demonstrating the product Haemo-sol at the Hotel Shroeder. Dr. Ted Anderson at Temple University Medical School called me with bad news, a set back to our promising beginnings with T.L.C. Lotion. All of our new lotion was contaminated with Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. You the reader may well ask how we could be so stupid.

Up to that time, few in the industry paid much attention to bacterial contamination. Varick Lotion had always been made with unfiltered water from the tap and never heated to pasteurization temperatures with never a complaint or odor problem. The explanation being that it was packaged in glass, which provided limited air supply for the bacteria to survive, while polyethylene, even high density, apparently transmits sufficient air for bacteria. Also the plastic bottle gives tell-tale signs of bacterial contamination by collapsing, due the to vacuum created by the bacteria’s’ metabolic activity. When American Can first told us our product was not compatible with their bottles, no mention of bacteria was made. Meinecke was told to hold up on all shipments. For the first time we started testing each batch for bacteria. We bought an incubator and a supply of blood plates as well as sending all batch samples to Ted Anderson at Temple for testing.

As soon as our blood plates supply arrived, I purchased about 15 different lotion type products at the drug store. All but one, Johnson & Johnson Baby Lotion, tested positive. Mennen’s Baby Lotion has problems on into the 1960’s. Years later when we were packing admission kits, Mennen supplied us with Baby Powder and some lotion. One Christmas Eve, F.D.A. arrived and bought packages of each Mennen product we had on the premises. Our other lesson we learned was that Hexachlorophene was ineffective on gram negative organisms.
It was at this time we augmented our paraben preservative system with sorbic acid. This lowered the pH which in later years gave us a sales advantage.

Right after the 4th of July, I drove the station wagon down to New York and to 225 Varick Street where I loaded up with all the contaminated lotion which Meinecke had on hand. From there I drove up to the old Henry Hudson Hotel on West 57th Street where my old 4th Infantry Division was having a three day reunion. When I picked up the station wagon from the public garage on Sunday, it was hot and the smell from the lotion was almost unbearable on the drive back to New Haven.

“And this too shall pass.”, in the immortal words of King Solomon. And so it did. Sales picked up. It got so we made lotion every day. We added a 100 gal tank to the 50 gallon one. In fact, it was not long afterwards that we bought a 150 gallon tank, all from the Alsop Company in Milldale, CT. We were forced to take one second shipment of 50,000 bottles before the date American specified.

During the first six months of T.L.C. Lotion, a real shocker of an order was sent in by the Ohio salesman. It called for 864 bottles to be shipped every month for one year. There was one catch. Every bottle had to have the hospital name and a sketch of its building imprinted on the bottle and be drop shipped to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

That meant we needed to silk screen a bottle with their name and picture. Neither I nor anyone else at Polychem had any knowledge or even idea as to what silk screening was. But like so many other times, the fates were good to us. The next week, I went down to New York to attend a cosmetic-pharmaceutical packaging show. I had not been at the show for more than 20 minutes when low and behold, I walked into an exhibit by the Dependable Machine Co. of Manhattan. They were silk screening plastic bottles. It looked like it did a good job, so I bought the silk screener on the spot for $800.00 and that was before I found any bottles.

We had been doing business for a number of years with the Wilson Glass Co. of Brooklyn. The salesman was Albert Seamier, who during W.W.II had his boat sunk and spent 5 days in the Atlantic. This ordeal caused him to lose all his skin at the time. The president was the son of the founder. While his real name was Wilson, he went by his stage name, Craft. He had an impressive handlebar mustache and was a frustrated stage actor. They found an affordable 8 oz. bottle (our only size) made by the Continental Can Co. in Chicago. Carl Conway had been a classmate of my father’s at Yale, so we had some pull.

The bottles arrived along with the silk screener. We put the Dependable Screener in the basement along with the lotion tanks, the lotion filler, new hot water tank, lunch room, and laboratory. The basement became a busy place.

The question now was how do we make this screening thing work. Once again we were lucky. We found a small shop on West Rock Avenue in Westville called Sirocco. The owner was a nice older gentleman, always dressed in old clothes in an office with a roll top desk and several lathes, etc. His name was Paul Sperry. While most unassuming, Paul was most knowledgeable and most helpful. He became a good friend of Polychem. In addition to running Sirocco, his hobby, he also was CEO of the Pond Lilly Dye Co. and the inventor of the Sperry Top Sider shoe, which any one who ever had a boat knows about. Sirocco made the screens and Paul Sperry showed how to operate our new printer. We made a bunch of trays to set the printed bottles on so they could dry over night. For the first few weeks, I did all the printing so that I could learn the process and thus be able to teach others.

To those who now are at Polychem and read this, it may amaze you to know that all of this was done in the basement at 12 Lyman Street, a space roughly 40’ x 16’, as I remember it. All the lotion tanks, filler, printing, furnace, laboratory benches, lunch table, dishwasher, hot water tanks, etc. were all in the basement so that lotion manufacturing, packaging, printing, laboratory functions, coffee break and lunch were all there.

Now that we were personalizing bottles, sales increased steadily. For the first few years of T.L.C. Lotion, we offered only 8 oz. bottles and gallon jugs. The hospital could pick out any color ink they desired. We brought a small filling machine to fill one ounce sample bottles. At A.N.A. Conventions, we brought along as many as 7000 samples and the nurses gobbled them up.

When we found out our first lady Jacqueline Kennedy was pregnant we decided to present to her, while still in the hospital, a case of T.L.C. Lotion personalized with the baby’s name, date of birth, and weight, plus a baby picture. As the time came, all had been previously arranged with the typesetter, screen maker, air schedule, DC salesman and even as how to get the case past the FBI When John F. Kennedy, Jr. finally arrived, all went smoothly, the newly printed personalized bottles with baby John’s statistics and artists conception of baby’s smiling face and still warm lotion were delivered to the New Haven Airport, put on the plane, picked up at Washington National Airport by the Meinecke salesman, and, believe it or not, delivered to Jacqueline’s bedside in less than 72 hours. How did it get past the FBI Simple! We went to someone more powerful than the FBI. We had Georgetown Hospital’s Mother-Superior make the delivery. We also sent one case to every salesman on the road.

These were exciting times for Polychem as we waited for new personalized orders to come in from all corners of the country. Such prestigious institutions as Walter Reed, Presbyterian NY, Mass General, and even the hospital in Hamilton, Bermuda.

During this period, late 50’s and early 60’s a new development was happening which affected Polychem through the years. It started in Nashville, Tenn. when Baptist Hospital with the help and/or urging of a Meinecke salesman, Bill Cude, developed what is believed to be the first admission kit and it contained T.L.C. Lotion as well as toothbrush and paste, tissues, mouth wash, comb, etc. packed in a plastic zipper bag screened with hospital picture. The bags were made in New York City by a charming man named Frank Mink. Bull Cude left Meinecke and started a company just to assemble kits and at first had only one customer, Meinecke. More on kit business later.

During this time our Haemo-sol business steadily increased. We introduced a low foam product for machine washing. With the help of Jim McKeon and Ted Anderson, we did a great deal of testing on cleaner efficiency and rinseability to find out how clean and residue free surfaces really were. Tests were done and published on etching of glassware, effect on back pressure of glass syringes. Our literature and advertising were upgraded. We exhibited at Microbiology meetings, Medical Technology shows, and at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which at that time happened to be the largest scientific meeting in the world. Attendance ran over 20,000. It was usually held in Atlantic City or Chicago and lasted 5 days, often during Holy week, ending at 3:00 p.m. on Good Friday. One year I handled our exhibit all alone with two of the days having hours of 9:00 a.m. to 10:00p.m. That’s a long time to stand up. With all of this, we developed a good size laboratory glassware cleaning business with universities and industry. There were customers like Pfizer, Smith Kline & French, Sandoz, DuPont, Eli Lilli and even Lever Brothers. We were fortunate that the large soapers thought this business was too small to bother with. Then gradually things began to happen. Plastics arrived. Gradually plastic disposable petri dishes replaced glass and plastic syringes and disposable needles arrived. Mount Sinai in NYC used to have approximately a 2000 sq. ft. room with about 30 employees who washed, inspected and assembled syringes and needles going full blast every day of the week. With disposables, all of this, jobs and space ( and cleaner) disappeared. Never the less, sales on the cleaners (Haemo-sol) increased every year and this product, for which Polychem was formed, continued to pay all the bills and supported the fledgling T.L.C. Lotion. Polychem became cleaning experts and were often asked for advice. The product started to appear in text books. In a letter from South Africa we learned that Haemo-sol was mentioned in Dr. Andre Cournand’s book. Dr. Cournand was the first to do catheterization of the heart and he recommended Haemo-sol for the cleaning of these catheters. For this work he received the Nobel prize. I might mention that his first successful experiment occurred when he catheterized his own heart while sitting in front of an x-ray machine. How did we get into some of these “Giants” with Haemo-sol. At a FASEB meeting one year a representative from Mead Johnson was so impressed they sent in their spring order for 300 5 lb. containers (3/4 ton)! On another occasion, at an ASM meeting, we ran into a microbiologist from Eli Lili in the Blackstone Hotel restaurant that started a relationship between us that lasted for many years (maybe until today). At another FASEB meeting, a man from Pfizer laboratories in Groton CT invited us to sample all of the small labs there (30 or 40 of them) with Haemo-sol and paved the way for us to also talk to the personnel that operated the big automatic glass washers. This resulted in years of orders in tons for the automatics and many 5-lb. containers for the individual labs. Their we got into many labs because of the personnel who had studied under our Dr. Ted Anderson or who just knew him. Such included Smith Klein & French, Merck, Univ. of Wisconsin, Univ. of New Hampshire, Harvard, Dartmouth and Bethesda. Every month or so we shipped about a ton of Haemo-sol packed in drums to Marz & Dadi in Bern, Switzerland. Dr. Merz ran a medical technology school in Bern with students from all of Europe. He packaged the Haemo-sol in small containers and sold it to his students when they returned to their home countries. We also shipped considerable amounts of Haemo-sol to the Alfred Cox Company in England.

During these years the silent 50% owner of Polychem, Raymond W. Marshall, still President of both Polychem and Alaska Airlines, moved from his 5th Avenue NYC apartment to Mead Point, Greenwich with his wife. The house was on the water, Tudor style, with a dozen bathrooms, 8-9 car garage, an English pub brought over from England and installed in the basement, et cetera, et cetera. Mr. Marshall and his wife were driving to Florida to look at a yacht for sale in Miami when they stopped for lunch in a Carolina Howard Johnson Restaurant. Mrs. Marshall died at the table. This was a very sad funeral at their new house. You may notice I always refer to him as Mr. Marshall. In the 25 years I knew him, I never heard anyone call him by his first name, including his wife and brother-in-law. He had one son who died within a week or two after entering Yale. He died from a foot infection before the days of penicillin. Mr. Marshall finally bought a 97 foot boat that required a crew of seven. The boat had a 4000 gal. tank and a 5000 gallon one to hold the diesel fuel and water. His cabin and the guest cabins had private baths. He took my son Bill and me out for a ride once. When it was lunch time, young Bill and another child aboard had to eat with the crew while the adults sat down to a table set with fine china and sterling silverware and served by a butler. One of the passengers that day was his lawyer who years before had been Babe Ruth’s lawyer. He had his office in the Woolworth Building in NYC. He told a story that has nothing to do with anything other than it is interesting. One day Babe Ruth and Lou Gerig came to his office in late morning to discuss some matters. When finished about 1:00 p.m., the three came out to go to lunch by which time approximately 25,000 people had congregated on the street outside of the Woolworth building to catch sight of the celebrities.

Now back to the story at hand. Another day this lawyer called me and said he had a client in Stamford who owned a small business and it was for sale. This man was in retirement after a life time in fur business and according to him, the inventor of the skinless hot dog. His new business operating out of a store front had several interesting products and a portion pak machine plus several good trade marks. One of the trade marks was “Fantastic” for a cleaner. He was asking $90,000. I and our new (the first) sales manager who I have not mentioned yet, were enthusiastic. It included several products we believed could be marketed to our trade immediately. However, Raymond Marshall was adamantly against this small acquisition. His lawyer friend wanted a $5000 finders fee and he further stated that no gentile could make a business successful that a Jew had failed at. Amen! I still think Polychem made a mistake.

Around this same time – the early 1960’s – the Armstrong Lock company (now Armstrong World Industries) decided to sell Meinecke & Company. Burleigh Jennings, Meinecke’s president, came to Polychem and tried to interest us in buying them. They were really doing about 2,000,000 per year and Haemo-sol was on of their 5 biggest products. Another was red rubber bed sheeting, which disappeared in a few years. All one was buying was an inventory and sales force which sparsely covered the U.S. We decided against this purchase. This time we did not make a mistake.

A hospitable distributor named Cerico in Chicago almost bought Meinecke. A few years later they went out of business. Finally a group of men in Baltimore became Meinecke’s new owners. For some months, business went on a usual and apparently Burleigh Jennings, Meinecke’s president, had a good relationship with the new owners. I never did meet any of the new owners, even though I made a point of going to New York almost every Friday to call on Meinecke at 225 Varick Street. After checking in with all departments, including stock room inventories, I usually ended up having lunch with president Burleigh Jennings at Renata’s restaurant on Van Dam Street. While at Renata’s, I got to know Max Lowe, CEO of IPCO Hospital Supply Co., friend and competitor of Burleigh Jennings. Max Lowe’s son-in-law Bob Savin acted as president of IPCO. In addition, Lowe controlled the Savin Copy Machine Company, which became nationally known.

Within a year, there was a stock market crisis that affected the Baltimore group. Jennings phoned me and announced that the new owner of Meinecke would be at Polychem the next morning. Not having any relevant files or notes, I believe it was the year 1963 when, that next morning, in walked George Banks III [not to be confused with his son George Banks IV; see comment below] and his attractive wife. Banks was about 33 years old and reportedly a financial whiz, a graduate of Wharton, had made a killing in the stock market, owned a plastic bottle company in Baltimore, a stereo component factory, part owner of the Colt Bowling Alleys along with Johnny Unitas, and part owner of the new fancy eating club in Baltimore, as well as an art supply company. His wife, Barbara (I think) presented me with a sweat shirt with the printed message “All I need is some T.L.C.”.

A few weeks later, probably October, I got another phone call with the message “be in Mr. Jennings office tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m.”. That I was. George Banks insisted I be there so I could hear my friend Burleigh Jennings say he was resigning of his own free will and was not being fired. Once this was over and before I left Meinecke’s office, I was introduced to the new president, Bill Burch. In fact, I was asked to give Burch a guided tour of Meinecke. It was a strange day.

And George Banks methods and actions were no less strange. Here it was October and Bill Burch was picked as the new president, but not to start until January. Also, he came from the Brunswick Bulk CO., the bowling alley division. So Meinecke faced a two month pilotless hiatus which, as it turned out, cost them. Within weeks, Max Lowe made Burleigh Jennings a Vice president of IPCO, with his first mission to sign up Meinecke salesmen for IPCO. He did persuade six to eight Meinecke men to come to IPCO. Jennings other new mission was to persuade Polychem to give IPCO the sales right to T.L.C. Lotion. Haemo-sol was out of the question, as Meinecke owned the trade mark. Without any deliberation, I turned down this offer. It surely would have meant a law suit plus we had to protect the Haemo-sol business which was still supporting the company. Burleigh Jennings claimed he left Meinecke because the first thing George Banks did as owner was to raid their bank account.

January and Bill Burch finally arrived. Also arriving was the new Vice President, Ralph Stanford from the Kendall Company. To introduce the new team, Burch held three whirlwind meetings in one week in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In the coming weeks they announced they would move their headquarters to Cockeysville, Maryland, make 225 Varick Street the Northeastern headquarters and establish regional offices in Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Burch had no experience in the health care field and it often showed. Once in his new fancy office in Cockeysville with its private shower and leather walls, I could not help but notice that the only magazines displayed were Fortune. No hospital or trade publications. Ralph Stanford was experienced, well known in the field, an intellectual and conscientious. He perhaps was better suited in product development and research. Stanford stated that his job was to increase sales and to make Meinecke something more than the Haemo-sol and T.L.C. company. I might mention that this never came to pass.

Once they got their regional office in place and had moved headquarters to Maryland, they promoted their best salesmen to be branch managers. That plus the men they lost to IPCO left them with few experienced men in the field.

To take advantage of what we hoped would be a new, aggressive, growth minded Meinecke, Polychem hired for the first time a sales manager, Roger Hyde, a graduate of Babson Institute. He moved to Westbrook, CT. from Northern New York State. He was young, had experience selling to hospitals and to the wholesalers, as well as having worked with many Meinecke salesmen who gave him high marks.

Hyde’s main responsibility was to travel with the Meinecke salesman and teach them how to sell T.L.C. Lotion and Haemo-sol. Shortly after he started, an agreement was worked out with Meinecke that allowed Polychem to sell T.L.C. products to local dealers where Meinecke had no coverage. In this new endeavor, Hyde’s main success was to sign up the Munns Company in Topeka, Kansas.

One interesting period for Polychem was our effort to sell T.L.C. Lotion through retail drug stores to the general public. It was a fascinating, expensive, and unsuccessful experience. We signed up with New Haven’s TV Channel 8 for 13 weeks of commercials which included about 7-8 per week. We has a professionally done commercial made which included a nurse advising people with skin problems how and when to use T.L.C. Lotion. In the midst of it they had to start over because they found the nurse was not an RN, as regulations called for. We also had radio commercials made and signed up with WELI, WTIC, the 50,000 Watt Schenectady station, and many stations in Maine, Boston, Providence, and Worcester. We also signed up for small newspaper ads throughout New England and part of New York. Also, an outfit called “Luncheon is Served” gave out T.L.C. Samples and a speech on its merits. They did all this at church luncheons throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. The price of one bottle in the drug store was $1.00. The whole sale druggist paid $1.00 less 40% and 20%, or $0.48 each. By the time the 13 weeks were up, each bottle sold cost Polychem $1.50. Another time, we took a shot at Colorado by running a bunch of small ads in all the significant newspapers. First, though, we sent one free bottle of T.L.C. Lotion to each drugstore so they would have it in stock when the ads broke. That didn’t work either.

Shortly after all of this the IRS came in. During these years, there was a 10% luxury tax on all cosmetics and they wanted to collect it, not only on retail sales, but also on all hospital sales. Polychem always claimed T.L.C. Lotion was a drug and not a cosmetic. It did contain hexachlorophene. We fought this vigorously. After about a year, we had a hearing in Washington. We went to Washington with our lawyer, Dr. Anderson and myself, plus Meinecke’s Vice President and their lawyer. After a couple of months, they handed down the decision that in drug or department stores, T.L.C. Lotion was a cosmetic and in hospitals, it was a drug. In another month or two the luxury tax was repealed.

Before all the turmoil at Meinecke, Polychem had started to build on a 7,000 sq.ft. addition. At this time, the office force consisted of Eleanor Spalding and Betty Milano, who lived across the street on the 2nd floor of the middle house. Milano’s father worked in a machine tool shop and often moonlighted doing machine repairs for Polychem. There were no laboratory personnel because there was no room for them nor room for more office people. The printing of bottles had been moved up to what is not the back part of the office, a narrow area partitioned off.

This new addition would solve many problems. All operations except the laboratory would be moved out of the basement. There would be a room for lotion which would allow us to get large mixing tanks and a second filling line so we could have a 4 oz. T.L.C. for which there was a crying need. Another room was to be for printing plus a new conveyor dryer. This eliminated the need for a full time person to set up printed bottles on shelves to air dry. It also allowed us to get a second printer and more than double production. That meant we could print 15,000 to 20,000 per day. We has one operator who on occasion did as many as 13,000 per day. We considered farming out the printing but we had too many personalized hospital bottle. Then we were able to move the Haemo-sol mixer mill to the back of the new addition and in its place, put in a lavatory with a shower. In addition, it gave us more storage area, a help in buying more economically. We ended up with an enlarged, more efficient office. We also ended up with added worries over the “new” Meinecke. This new addition was finished in 1963 or 1964 and cost about $60,000, which we were able to pay without resorting to the bank. Twenty years later, after buying the house and property next door, we had plans drawn up for a 10,000 sq. ft. addition. I hoped we could do it for $500,000. When the estimates came in for $1,000,000, I abandoned all such thoughts.

Once Meinecke had their new headquarters operating in Cockeysville, Maryland, (changing NYC Varick Street into a district office) I had a new duty. At least once a month, I drove down to Maryland for meetings. At this time, Meinecke took over the assembly of admission kits from the Custom Kit Company in Nashville. Vice President Ralph Stanford asked us to make a private label mouthwash for them. After much trouble getting an alcohol permit, T.L.C. Hospital Mouth Rinse was born. There were two big problems. Number one was that Cepacol Mouth Rinse was available to hospitals ( as well as dealers) for about 10 cents delivered. Number two was that our alcohol permit allowed us to have only two 55 gallon drums of Alcohol in storage, so that our cost was over $1.00 per gallon more than the big company’s tank wagon’s price. These two problems plus lack of significant sales, made us change to an alcohol free mouth rinse. That turned out to be a was move. The absence of alcohol and the embossed bottle made us competitive. And many institutions preferred a non-alcoholic product.

The year 1965 brought many changes. Meinecke’s President Bill Burch and Vice President Ralph Stanford left. Ken Coty came in a president. He had been a Vice President of Clay Adams Co. until they were acquired by Becton Dickenson. Jack Lucks, the new Vice president had been with A.S. Aloe in St. Louis which interestingly had been acquired by Brunswick Balk and I believe, eventually evolved into the Sherwood Co. I often wondered if Ken Coty ever realized what he was getting into.

Also in 1965, Roger Hyde, our Sales Manager, announced that he was thinking of leaving to sell for Encyclopedia Britannica. I made him a counter offer, however he was swayed by looking at some of their 1099’s. He lasted about 3 months and then went with a competitor of ours, Linbro products of New Haven. After a few months there, he moved his family out to Montana.

On the evening of February 17, 1965, Eleanor Spalding and Bill Buell were married before a small group of friends and Polychem employees., followed by a reception at the Seven Gables Restaurant on the Corner of Church and Grove Streets, an Italian Restaurant now long gone.

With this new team, our sales still increased. They, like the last group, were unable to change Meinceke into other than a Haemo-sol – T.L.C. Company. But there were storm signals every once in a while. George Banks, the owner was a rascal and prone to odd behavior. We heard that his plastics factory was in trouble and ditto for the stereo component factory. His father-in-law Chester Wadicka ( I am guessing on the spelling) apparently loaned Meinecke or George much money and was now getting itchy. This is the father-in-law who had a lock on all of the supply business for Jersey City Medical Center. Some times our invoices were not paid on time. Then it got to the point where their checks started to bounce. We had to hold up on shipments. At times we had to hold up so long that we had to invent jobs for Polychem people instead of laying them off. This was one time my fiscal conservatism paid off. We did survive.

In the midst of all this, Polychem’s president and 50% stock holder, Raymond W. Marshall, died at the age of 85. The $3,000 he put into Polychem on a percentage I suspect was one of the best investments he ever made. At the end of year two, he recovered his investment and them some. After that he never received less than a five figure amount. I thought it would be nice if he willed me the stock, but such was not the case. A bank in Greenwich was the executor and for the moment, my partner. They had to approve of all purchases, etc. He had no family heirs. We had to negotiate the purchase of his stock with the bank. The worse thing to happen was when one of Meinecke’s salesmen saw the obituary and called George Banks. The first thing George did was to send in two offers, one direct and the other through his New Haven lawyer. To further complicate matters, Alaska Airlines and Henry Luce. Jr. sued the estate. Through our lawyer, John Barclay, we got hold of a special report on George Banks in which it listed approximately 30 items of litigation against him at the time. This report scared the bank into selling Raymond Marshal’s stock to us at the appraised value. This was a big relief. It was at this time that I became President.

During this period, Harry Madden in Boston, our New England drug store sales representive introduced us to Arthur Gormley. Gormley, an ex-pharmacist, had been vice-president in charge of sales for the medical division of the Schenley Whiskey Company. Their main product was penicillin and the target was hospital supply dealers. Realizing that Meinecke’s days were numbered, we hired Gormley and made him Vice President in charge of sales. (A good trivia question for you to try on your doctor – Who was the first company to make and sell penicillin? It is doubtful he will answer Schenley.)

Within days of hiring Gormley, the Boston salesman Harry Halliday left Meinecke and went to Thomas Reed Co. in Boston as Sales Manager. Halliday had been with Meinecke for over 20 years, was either Number one or Number two man for gross sales, and undoubtedly Number One for net profit and a good friend of Polychem. This was the first call Gormley made when the two of us went up to Boston for a lunch meeting with Halliday and the President of Thomas Reed. They asked for the T.L.C. line. I finally said yes, assuming that Meinecke would soon be history. Meinecke’s owner, George Banks and President Ken Coty raised the devil with me. They were mad. They still didn’t pay the considerable money they owed Polychem.

Our main interest in Meinecke at this stage was not only to get paid but to somehow get ownership of the trade mark Haemo-sol. It was still our most profitable product. Meinecke at one point went Chapter 11 but quickly came out. When Chapter 11 as per our contract, Polychem could purchase the mark at a price arrived at through the American Bureau of Arbitration. Our two law firms were unable to enforce this clause. At the time we Thompson, Weis, and Barclay ( John Barclay who was also corporate attorney for Armstrong Rubber) and Venable, Bactzer, and Howard in Baltimore. The opposing attorney in Baltimore was Peter Parker who happened to be the son-in-law of the Monson of Monsons Art Gallery on Orange Street, New Haven. Parker was also mixed up with the Maryland Republican Party and Spiro Agnew. Bob Schmaltz, the attorney who worked with Barclay is still active with another firm located on the Northwest corner of Whitney and Grove Streets. At one point, ex-president Bill Burch brought action against Meinecke and was going to cooperate with us. One Friday, the unorthodox loan company for Banks and Meinecke phoned and asked me to meet at their office and they would assign us the Trade Mark Haemo-sol. Saturday morning, Barclay, Bua, and I drove to Baltimore to the office of the loan people. Unfortunately, George Banks got to them first with a new nasty lawyer who almost got into fisticuffs with John Barclay. There were several other meetings in New Haven which included Banks, New Haven attorney who was with Tyler, Cooper. There was even a big New York meeting at the offices of Davis, Polk, one of New York’s’ most prestigious and most expensive law firms.

Finally, an agreement was worked out where Meinecke would pay Polychem what they owed plus a little extra and we would go our separate ways, unfortunately with Meinecke regaining the trade mark. Banks formed a new company, Haemo-sol Inc. with the stock in trust for his children. The trustee was the Bank of Bermuda. Once everything was thrown out in the street from the Cockeysville building that was the end of Meinecke.

It was both the end and the new beginning of Polychem Corporation. Incidentally, everything was signed, sealed and delivered on the Tuesday following the Super Bowl when Joe Namath and the underdog New York Jets beat the mighty Baltimore Colts in 1969. We carried the certified check back to New Haven and paid off the bank loan with had been used to buy Marshall’s stock. At this point Polychem was debt free, without its biggest and practically only customer, and minus its main product. The company was roughly 25 years, 8 months old and starting in all over again.

Step one was to get customers , which meant Arthur Gormley hit the road with no restrictions other than to offer semi-exclusivity and I got on the phone.

We were fairly well prepared with a replacement product for Haemo-sol. Because of all the meetings through the years that I had attended representing Meinecke, and that my name appeared on most letters answering users’ technical questions, it was decided to call the product Buell Cleaner. Temporary literature and labels were printed and modest journal ads were ready to go. At the last minute, we got space at the February (AORN) Operating Nurses Annual convention. A couple of years before, Ralph Sanford and Bob Perry had gone to the Lownds Company manufacturers of Underpads and now the company was being bought by C.R. Bard Co. They had ordered a double booth at the A.O.R.N. and wanted to change to a single so Polychem ended up with their excess space. Gormley and I drove out to Cincinnati in the station wagon loaded with the display materials. We came away with a great many productive leads.

During the first couple of years, the many ex-Meinecke salesmen were a great help. Beside from Harry Halliday in Boston, Paul Murray started his own company to cover Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. Lowndes started a kit assembly business in Philadelphia. Tom Kidd in Phoenix went from Meinecke to Scherer headquarters in El Segundo, California. Scherer was part of Brunswick Drug CO. and for a while were a big customer in spite of the fact their president Dan Robinson called me the most vile names over the phone and in person because we would not absorb the freight. For a few years they bought a lot of T.L.C. Lotion. Meinecke personnel in the LA office went with a small local dealer and they managed to convert a lot of Haemo-sol to Buell Cleaner. We picked up a good small kit packer in Portland, Oregon. The Denver Meinecke became an independent sales representative. He was able to sell and one year came to Las Vegas to help me man our exhibit. Cliff Hewitt in Dallas went with McClure Surgical Supply and with his help they became a good customer. Incidentally, out of the blue, Cliff Hewitt phoned me the other day (1997) and we had a nice chat. Paul Boyer in Roanoke started his own business and after he died his wife carried on for a few years.

Arthur Gormley signed up more and more dealers. We became regular exhibitors at the ASTA (American Surgical Trade Association) meetings. The ASTA eventually became HIDA (Health Industry Dealers Association). We also exhibited at the New England Hospital, Mid-Atlantic Hospital, American Nurses association, and Operating Nurses Association meetings. Lotion sales kept increasing at a good pace. Buell Cleaner sales increases were slower and required more work. We continued exhibiting at the FASEB, Microbiology, and Medical Technology shows but found it hard to convince people Buell Cleaner was the same as Haemo-sol.

During the Viet Nam period, there were shortages of labor. For one period, Pratt Whitney opened up an employment office in downtown New Haven, open 24 hours a day. Tough competition. Most of those jobs lasted less than a year.

About this time, I hired a worker who was a newly escaped Hungarian refugee. He was dark complexioned. After I gave him his initial tour of the factory, several came to me worried that Polychem was breaking the color barrier. They didn’t need to worry because within a month or two we did hire a black worker. Actually, the first to ever apply. One of the first and one of my favorites was a chap named Jimmy Lamb. When we promoted him to be in charge of the lotion room he thanked me and I said keep up the good work and you’ll be up front in the office. He replied “Sure, I’ll be all the way up front, outside holding a light bulb” (his joke was in reference to the fashion at that time of placing in front yards of private homes a small statue of a black stable boy holding a lantern. Such statues disappeared or were painted white once such an ethnic ‘statement’ became politically incorrect). I might mention that with our help, Lamb got a job selling insurance for New York Life. Unfortunately, it did not work out for him.

Through the years, we has many interesting factory employees. We has several European refugees. There were several college graduates, some of whom went on to good careers. Summer student jobs were offered. If they were studying Chemistry, Biology, etc. we attempted to give them laboratory work. A few came to work full time after graduation.

About this time Paul Murray and his new business asked us if we would go into the kit assembly business. He had several accounts but no source. Thus Polychem became a kit supplier. In spite of our efforts to have it otherwise, each hospital had to have their own personalized kit. We started out with admission kits with three items and others all the way up to twenty items. The biggie was for the Wesson Maternity Hospital, Springfield, Mass. It contained 48 OB pads, sanitary belt, tooth paste, and brush, comb, shower cap, bed pan, wash basin, water pitcher, and plastic glass, soap, lotion and mouth wash all in a personalized huge plastic zipper bag. Kits were still new with little competition so we shortly had business from as far away as Tennessee, West Virginia, and Oregon. We had T.L.C. toothbrushes made by Fuller Brush Co. @ $0.05 each, 7” T.L.C. Combs made by Stanley House Products, T.L.C. Soap Cakes with Hexachlorophene (2%) from Rhode Island Soap maker and a T.L.C. decorated pencil from a Bridgeport manufacturer. Prices of tooth brushes and combs always amazed me. Imported brushes were available for 3 1/2 cents. Five inch combs were $0.075 each and 7 “ combs were 1 1/2 cents each. Purchasing became more difficult and put a strain on our cash flow. In the process we developed many new sources and friends. We bought sanitary napkins and thermometers from Chesebrough Ponds. On thermometers, we had to carry Connecticut seal, Massachusetts seal, and Michigan seal. We got our talcum powder and deodorants from the Mennen Company. Cepecol Mouth Wash from Merril, toothpaste from Colgate, although we also had T.L.C. toothpaste made by the Sheffield Company in New London. Zipper personalized bags came from Frank Mink in New York City. Then a Boston Hospital insisted on flame proof polyethylene bags. We has to stock 1”, 1/2 “, metal clip and plastic clip sanitary belts from Mr. Connor in Bridgeport. We bought Ivory and Safeguard Soap from Proctor and Gamble and Dial Soap. We also bought from Lever Bros. It took a couple of frustrating years before Johnson and Johnson “allowed” us to purchase their baby powder or anything. When they finally gave us the O.K. they sent us a copy of a saying by Calvin Cooledge extolling the virtue of being patient.

Then one night about 5:30 a chap arrived and said he got my name from Harry Halliday. It was David Greenberg who just started a new little company in Stamford called Clinipad Corporation and they were making a Wash and Dry like product. At the time we were buying this type product from Nice-Pak. Greenberg made a good proposal that would allow us to have our own brand. While we didn’t have a market for these except in kits, anything which spread the name T.L.C. was welcome.

Polychem and David Greenberg became friends. When Greenberg was still struggling we allowed him to share our booth space at certain conventions. We had a friend who was non-competitive and was selling to the same customers as we were which allowed us to compare notes and put in a good word for each other. We watched him grow from just a small handful of people in a small facility to the present plant in Guilford and finally to the Charlotte, N.C. Number 2 plant. I believe he had approximately 200 employees and was doing some $30 million a year when I retired in 1989.

The first couple of years after the Meinecke divorce were difficult with increasing annual loses. Changes had to be made. We were forced to let Arthur Gormley go.

Before another year was up C.R. Bard Co. bought the Lowndes Co. and Bob Perry’s job was eliminated. Back in Meinecke days, he was the star salesman for Polychem products. We worked out a deal where Bob Perry was to act as sales manager as well as on the road actively selling and if necessary to oversee operations in New Haven if I had to be away and yet he was not an employee but an independent sales representative, solely on commission. He had to attend all conventions at which we exhibited and was responsible for all regional sales representatives. Perry was still young and hungry with many friends in the industry from coast to coast and he had a good feel for the need of new products. We worked well together and the results soon showed it. Within months of this development Frank Goodwin, former Vice President of Sales for C.R. Bard became available and joined Bob Perry as an equal partner. What people and companies Bob Perry didn’t know, Frank Goodwin did and it included Canadian connections. It was a great combination and they were fun to work with.

With Perry and Goodwin several policy changes took place. There were no more semi-exclusive arrangements. Such never worked and in many cases were damaging to Polychem. The few small dealers who complained the loudest all showed the same pattern. They got our products into their favorite accounts, the remainder, sometimes twice the number, they didn’t try or worse they didn’t even cover them at all. Also, we went after private label accounts with the chains, especially on the instrument cleaner products. We made an effort to be friendly with our competitors which eventually resulted in two of the largest lotion manufacturers asking us to manufacture for them and a third started giving us accounts they did not wish to call on for one reason or another. We also started to get more and more input on new products, many that had potential did fit in with our lives. Also for the first time we started to aggressively go after the nursing home market. With the loss of Meinecke and American Scientific Products Division, the laboratory market for glassware cleaners became a lesser factor for Polychem. More and more, disposables in the lab did not help. The medical Technologists suddenly seemed to be not even prospects.

At this time we decided to get out of the kit business. There were several companies interested including my friends the Feldmans. Harold Feldman I knew since Hillhouse High School days. We were in the largest class to ever graduate, over 1,400. The other celebrity to graduate with us was Ernest Borgnine. We finally sold it to the Feldmans for the price of the inventory. They formed a new company called Anamed and made Bob Gilbert and I non-paid vice-presidents. Bob Gilbert was formerly vice president of the Fuller Brush Company before it moved from East Hartford to Iowa after being bought by Consolidated Foods Co. The Feldmans had the space, the manpower and the resources to greatly expand the business. The did increase sales and were a good Polychem customer. However, Bob Gilbert and I felt they ignored our advice. We felt they should have gone gung-ho and looked into sterile kits, surgical kits, such as suture removal kits, and even kits along the lines which Clinipad Co. was getting into. For politically liberal people they were very conservative business wise. However they still remained good friends.

Once one fine morning we got a phone call from Martin Kaufman, president of Seneca Hospital Supply of Rochester, N.Y. This greatly affected the future of Polychem Corporation. Kaufman told us that the state of New York was going to outlaw the use of soap dishes in hospitals as part of their plan to control cross infection. He asked us to bring out a liquid bath soap or cleaner. We put Bill Markland to work on developing a product. Markland was not only a recent employee of Chesebrough Ponds but before that had been the chemist for Breck Shampoo Co. and had been with Revlon for a sort period. We soon had a product out and called it T.L.C. Hospital Bath. I must say that we did not use the Cheapest ingredients but gave consideration to mildness as well as skin cleansing efficiency. We avoided the $4 and $5 essential oils and used a quality product from Haarman Reimer for the fragrance that I became familiar with a few years before when working on another product with Atlas Chemical Company. The product had a beautiful magenta color using Red 19. When FDA outlawed Red 19 we were never able to duplicator this color.

Most of the testing for T.L.C. Hospital Bath was done at the Montowese Nursing Home in North Haven. These staff there said they could not see the product on the wash cloth – which is why we added color.

The new product, T.L.C. Hospital Bath, took off with a bang and eventually passed the Lotion in Dollar sales.

A year or two later Paul Murray said he had a customer who had several Century Circulating Bath Tubs and asked if we could duplicate their Cleansing Bath Oil. So we could understand more of what was expected if such a product we were invited down to this huge nursing home facility to witness a demonstration. Markland, Murray and I were brought in the bath rooms and shown the tub. Pretty soon a ninety year old female was brought in and given a bath for our benefit. We were all shocked though I suspect the poor thing didn’t know we were there. At any rate, that is how we got T.L.C. Cleansing Bath Oil.

To fill out the line for hopefully, Century Tubs we decided to also have a Tub Cleaner/Sanitizer. For some reason, perhaps due to our inexperience, it took forever to have one approved and once the quat (quatern-ammonium) was on the market, just as difficult to sell.

A chap named Ken Osier ran the Century Tub franchise out of Rochester, N.Y. covering New York and New England wanted to take on our line because it was more favorably priced. The Century people said no. We tried to interest Century into letting us be their eastern source for private label products. However, when the time came when they decided to switch from their current source of products, they made a vigorous effort to buy Polychem Corporation. At the time I had no interest in selling. We were getting more and more involved in the Nursing home business. We were exhibiting at the national conventions for both profit and non-profit nursing home associations. We systematically picked out state meeting to exhibit at. We would go to each for two or three years then switch to other states. We went to the New Jersey meeting every year, to Maine-Vermont-New Hampshire even though one year at Dixville Notch our booth was in a tent which leaked during the two days of rain. This three state affair finally disbanded when they started fighting with each other. Minnesota was another regular with us for two reasons. Number one, it was the largest attendance wise of all nursing home meetings including the national ones. Number two was that our dream was to have the Redline Co., the country’s largest nursing home supplier and equipment distributor, carry our products.

Redline finally agreed to a November 9:00 am meeting with us. Bob Perry and I went out at Grossingers. I was on the exhibitors committee and we had no problems getting exhibitors. It died because they were unable to get the attendance up. Grossingers also closed down and I believe became Condominiums. In all my 44 years at Polychem, dining all over the country, in every state of the union, I believe Grossingers had the worst food.

The first nursing home distributor of suppliers that did business with Polychem was Maple Hill Co. of New Britain Conn. The principals were Harold Johndrow, Ray Spurges, and a third whose name is forgotten. For the first year or two our sales to them wee quite modest. Then Spurges and Johndrow sold out. Ray Spurges at first went to work for Paul Murray Associates. After a year or two Spurges left Paul Murray and started his own company. He wanted to carry the Polychem line and Paul Murray vehemently objected to us giving it to him. I was responsible for the two getting together. In spite of Murray’s objections we gave Spurges the line. I don’t believe the two ever competed for the same customer and eventually Spurges way out-sold Murray. Interestingly, Spurges always had a side line business – selling candles to Catholic Churches.

Harold Johndrow of course started Hudson and became one of our best customers. He eventually started a Florida branch and ran the Hudson Trucks back and forth. The had a product fair every year which was well run and well attended. Polychem always participated.

During this period we had a shocker. Polychem was sued. During a several month period Polychem kept getting letters inquiring about the cleaning of spinal syringes and needles. I was naive and didn’t suspect anything. I also made the mistake of quoting test results that were done with the old product Haemo-sol (same formula) but did not mention that fact.

After I had unconsciously dug a hole for Polychem and myself a big product liability law suit arrives. In a 100 bed hospital, located near Los Angeles a 35 year old woman went in for a hemorroidectomy. She came out of the operating room paralyzed from the waist down. The claim was that BUELL CLEANER was used to clean the syringe and needle and that the product did not rinse off to the degree we claimed. By this time, the 1970’s hospitals had changed from reusable to disposable syringe and needles but not this little California hospital. Also California was noted as the worst state to be sued in. They did not sue for any special amount, that was left for the jury to decide. This lady was also suing the anesthesiologist, the hospital, the anesthesia company, and one other company, the name of which I do not recall. Then there was a second suit brought against us from the same hospital by an older man who was a neurosyphilitic. This suit was riding on the coattails of the first, but as it turned out later, his law firm was not as smart as the young lady’s.

The first thing I did was to notify Aetna Insurance Co.. who carried our product liability coverage. Then I went to our attorney for advice. The first thing he said to make me feel good was that the court might award punitive damages for which, of course, there is no insurance. This attorney was five or six years older than I and in later years had many negative opinions. His advice was, as on a couple of other occasions, to sell the company. Soon, the affable Irish lawyer from Los Angeles that Aetna appointed came east to see Polychem and interview me. For the most part from my point of view, he was always optimistic. Aetna started a consulting arrangement with the Stanford University Medical School Anesthesiology department. I had a couple of talks with the Yale-New Haven Hospital head of anesthesiology. They all said it could not be our fault. The only person who correctly predicted the outcome was Luba Dowling, the operating room supervisor at Yale New Haven Hospital. She said Polychem the “wealthy” east coast manufacturer will be made to pay. The case dragged on for a couple of years. Aetna’s Los Angeles lawyer visited Polychem once or twice. I visited the Aetna Los Angeles office once.

While all of this was going on we carefully reviewed all labels and literature. At the strong suggestion of Aetna, we retained the services of Attorney Bill Murphy of the law firm Tyler Cooper, to check claims and contents of all literature. I believe it was at this time that we decided to list all ingredients on literature and labels. This was already done on the products classified as cosmetics, as was the law. Soaps and detergents were never under the F.D.A. and disclosure of ingredients was not required. We always speculated that the surgical instrument care products would one day be considered medical devices and as such regulated. I wonder if that has become true. We always found Bill Murphy most helpful and worth the fee. He also defended Yale New Haven Hospital in many mal-practice cases.

The time finally arrived when the opposing lawyers were to take my deposition. The L.A. Aetna Insurance lawyer arranged for me to fly out on a Thursday. They put me up in a Sheraton Hotel near Universal City. The lawyer came over that evening to give me the plans. Friday morning he picked me up at 8:00 am and took me to his office. We went into a private conference room. The first thing he did was call by the intercom to tell his secretary to bring in some pads and pencils. When she came in he took one look at the pencils and promptly gave her with his hand a good whack on her behind and told her to get long, new pencils. She trotted right out and promptly returned with said pencils and without ever changing her expression. It was a grueling day. He rehearsed me all morning, then a short break for lunch and continued the rehearsing all afternoon, until five o’clock. He drove me back to the hotel and bought me a drink and continued the rehearsal in the cocktail lounge. Saturday morning he picked me up again at 8:00 am, drove to the doughnut shop, bought a box of a dozen and off to his office in time for the deposition to start at 9:00am. About ten other attorneys and a legal or court stenographer arrived. The deposition went on for almost four hours straight until our lawyer cut it short so I could make my plane. He drove me over to Hollywood where I got a cab to the airport. It was a horrible experience and I’m not sure I did all that well. My trip back was on a United Airline wine trip flight, all the wine you could drink. By the time I landed at La Guardia, I was in great shape.

After all of that the case was settled out of court a couple of months later. Travelers who insured the hospital and our insurer Aetna, both gave the lady $200,000 and they gave the neurosyphlitic $25,000. I thought they should have gone to court, but they thought settlement to be the less expensive way out. The after math of course was that our product liability premium went from $900 per year to $45,000 per year. And in another year or two Aetna refused to insure us. In our struggle to get insurance, Governor Grasso was no help at all. The only one who made any effort was the now Senator Joe Liberman, who was then in Hartford in the State government. After 30 years with Aetna, I thought it wrong they were allowed to drop us like that. After this, Polychem survived and thrived and always carried product liability insurance, though at times with difficulty and ever increasing premiums.

Not all was bad though. One year at the AORN, (Association of Operating Room Nurses) a man named Ray Gross put us in contact with the Codman Shurteff Surgical Instrument Co., a division of Johnson and Johnson. Ray Gross in the early years was with A. Saloc of St. Louis before it was sold to the Brunswick Baulk Co., makers of Bowling Alleys and Billiard tables and eventually I believe the basis of the Sherwood Company. Gross now had his own business and through the years had always been interested in getting several small companies including Polychem to combine in some manner. In that endeavor, he was never successful. Codman had just put on the market a surgical instrument lubricant made buy their Canadian division. They now wanted a liquid pH 7 Instrument cleaner. By now Polychem already had BUELL CLEANER-LQ in its line so the development of a product was not all that difficult. The difficult part was to sell Codman. In this endeavor Bob Perry and Bill Markland our chemist/consultant worked hard. The job was made a little easier by the fact that Bill Clarke, Number Two at Codman seemed to like Polychem. He was intrigued by our baseball glove leather dressing that went by the name of MITT SPIT.

We got the product ready and sent samples for their laboratory to test at their headquarters in Randolph, Mass. In turn they sent samples of stainless surgical steel in the bar form for our laboratory to test for corrosion. They also sent samples of their lubricant for us to test against our BUELL LUBRICANT. I believe they would have switched to our lubricant except that their was being supplied by another division of J&J. All testing turned out OK. They then sent in inspectors to see if we adhered to good manufacturing practice. Then they sent in their warehousing and packaging experts. They gave us a bunch of tough packaging specifications and palletizing instructions, all of which cost money.

Once all of this was over, then came the tough part about agreeing on a contract which had to be approved by the legal department at Corporate headquarters in New Burnswick, N.J. It was our lawyers against their lawyers. Ours had a handicap. Our instructions to them were “We want this business and don’t you dare lose it.”

Finally we were ready to go. The Cleaner was named PrePair, which went along with Codmans Lubricant name, Preserve. Business started off brisk. Codman had a good many accounts which seemingly would do whatever the salesmen asked then to. Direct salesmen got results compared to distributor sales people who we had no control over. Then they put on a detail nurse to travel with their sales people. She was a dynamite young lady named Jane Tondorf who combined looks, salesmanship, personality and knowledge of instruments, the OR and central sterile service for a combination that couldn’t help but get results. We all enjoyed working with Codman. We were asked to their parties at the conventions. The parties were large and fun. They would do things like importing the twin pianists from Pat O’Brians in New Orleans. The business was profitable. Their Bill Clarke was transferred and put in charge of Texas based Surgicos branch. In a few months, we got a telephone call saying Codman wished to discontinue the Prepair line ( but not Preserve). They offered us a cash settlement plus the trademark and customer list. We accepted. For a couple of years it was a profitable piece of business for us. We kept the same price structure so we now made Codman’s and Polychem’s profit. It was not sufficient to warrant any direct sales force. As a result, sales started to tapir off after a couple of years.

There were other private label cleaner inquiries. Most did not work out. The orthopedic company Zimmer, division of Bristol Myers, flew their private plane to New Haven with a group of men to discuss a cleaner. The apparent leader was a young black chemist. A couple of weeks later, I called him to find out if anything was happening. The answer I got was that he was no longer with the company.

One time we received a call from one of the Mills brothers at Medline of Mundelain Illinois. Bob Perry and I left a day or two early for a California trip, so we could call on them. We arrived for our morning appointment with one of the executive brothers. The first problem was he had not told anyone else we were to be there. Via intercom he asked the product manager for products such as the T.L.C. line to come to his office. Obviously, the young lady was not prepared. He yelled at her with more four letter words than I know, even Bob Perry didn’t know all of them. If I had talked to any of the Polychem young ladies that way I’d probably still be in jail.

A fellow named Bill Knight was selling a line of German made instrument washers that was using German made chemicals. He always had us believe that we could get that business. We made considerable efforts in formulating and in sampling even trips to Annapolis and their U.S. headquarters in Miami. Eventually to no avail.

In the 1940’s when I started the big national hospital supply houses were Meinecke, American Hospital Supply, A.S. Aloe of St. Louis and Will Ross in Wisconsin. Will Ross was a fine company and I believed covered the entire country. They were bought out by G.D. Searle which I believe was run by Donald Rumsfeld. At any rate, someone in the company decided to move Will Ross from Milwaukee to Dallas, Texas. They of course lost most of their good employees, the heart of the company. Once settled in Dallas, they asked Polychem to come down for a meeting.

Bob Perry and I flew down, and upon walking into the lobby of their fancy new building, I was greeted by a big bulletin board saying “Welcome. Bill Buell, President of Polychem Corporation.” They announced they wished to have us make their private label cleaners and lubricants. They wanted the entire line from No. 222 to No. 999, With that, they handed us all the papers and rough art work for labels, literature and even the printed cartons. Not realizing what shape the company possibly was in, we went ahead and prepared everything as Will Ross asked. About the time we were ready to go, Searle notified us they were discontinuing the Will Ross division. We billed Searle for all of our expenses, approximately $8000.00 . They refused to pay that. Finally, they agreed to pay half saying that we each were gambling on the business. Searle eventually came out with NutraSweet and were bought out by Monsanto.

During the 1980’s we experienced increased sales, greater efficiency, upgraded processing equipment, computerization, fax machine, an 800 number, more efficient laboratory, new products, effective quality control and increased profitability. After many years, my son Bill III came back to Polychem from Boston, where he learned to be a computer programmer and worked as one, the last 31/2 years at the Stone & Webster Company. He had worked at Polychem for a couple of years after he graduated from college in 1971. Some of my critics at that time said I erred in not assigning him a specific job. Now I was delighted that he had chosen to return and for the next five years I thought we had a good father-son relationship. Bill did many good things for Polychem. He computerized the company. He was responsible for making John Sargent foreman. He hired Greg Byer. He hired Steve Rubin. With the help of lawyers and a consultant, he got together a much needed employee handbook. He helped out by handling some of the sales meetings. He made it possible for Eleanor and I to take short vacations. I went one period of 25-30 years with almost no vacation at all. Bill was made general manager.

About this time, Bill Markland decided to leave us, as also did his laboratory assistant, and the six month trial term, the basis on which we hired a young Ph.D. chemist did not work out. We were lucky to be able to secure the service of Frank Tranner, on a part time basis. Frank had recently retired from Chesebrough Ponds and unlike any of his predecessors, was an experienced lotion chemist. Steve was totally inexperienced and needed training. Frank Tranner also turned out to be a good teacher.

Tranner’s first task was to “fix” the T.L.C. Lotion formulation which had been giving problems through the years. This he did with the help of a $50,000 processing kettle and a new boiler system. He developed the T.L.C. Dermal Treatment Lotion, a product I had wanted for some time. He and Steve managed to stabilize the formula for BUELL Lubricant and still retain its desirable features. They then developed T.L.C. No Rinse Perineal Cleansing Milk and also T.L.C. Balanced Skin Cleanser and Shampoo Concentrate. A lot was accomplished in a relatively short time.

At the urging of Bob Perry, we decided to bring out an aerosol foamed alcohol product in competition with Vestal’s product. Al Schloser, Vestal Vice president, used to be with Seamless Rubber when it was in New Haven and at that time was a friend. When he went to Vestal, he took along a lesson or two he learned from Polychem so copying their alcohol foam was only fair play. After all the years listening to Dr. Ted Anderson saying 70% alcohol was the most bactericidal strength, we aimed for a 70% product. Vestal and others were in the 60% range. To develop or make such a product was beyond our capabilities, so I called up Herman Shepard (Shep) founder and former owner of Aerosol Technique Co. in Milford. He finally got hold of him on the beach in Miami via phone. Shepard had made several unsolicited attempts to buy Polychem. The final offer was that I would get stock (no money) and he would move Armstrong Laboratories, which he owned, from Massachusetts to a new building he would put up on property next to Polychem, and I would be in charge of the whole complex. I had no interest in that. At any rate, he put me in touch with his son who was running the aerosol plant in New Jersey. After a couple of months it was obvious they could not develop the product. We then met Ed Stoltz who used to be with Shepard and Aerosol Technique Co. I had met him years before when he was the chemist for the LesToil Co. in Holyoke, Mass. At that time he was exploring to see if I was interested in selling. Ed as a chemist and aerosol expert, did not take long to bring us a satisfactory product for T.L.C. Alcohol Foam Scrub. We also hired the services of a regulatory affairs gentleman in Westport to make sure we did everything probably according to F.D.A. rules.

I must mention our advertising agency Addie Hirschorn. He handled label designs and most of the literature in latter years as well as what advertising there was. He was always prompt, reasonable and didn’t try to sell us the moon. He did the alcohol foam label and literature.

This was a good product for us. We were able to sell this for less than the competition and yet at a greater margin than we had for any product. One disadvantage was that we never got into the larger size which came with a bracket for the cart.

After the Seamless Rubber Company bought the Lawton Instrument Co. we private labeled our entire instrument care line for them. That went well until Seamless downsized after being bought by a company that owned Tupperware. They moved out of New Haven to a small new building in Wallingford and in the process divested themselves of Lawton Instrument Co. A couple of old Seamless men took over Lawton with the help of an Alabama State loan and had to move warehouse and manufacturing to Huntsville, Alabama. They kept their office in Madison, Conn. Unfortunately for us they went out of business in a couple of years.

When the property next door to Polychem became available, I bought it including the house on the corner with the idea of putting on an addition of about 6000 square feet. The original building in 1955 cost us about $7.00 per square foot. The addition put on in 1963-64 cost approximately $8.00 per sq.ft and I thought in the 80’s we could have a new warehouse, more office space and upgraded laboratory and lavatories for about $50.00 per sq.ft. I was wrong. It would have cost about three times that, over $1,000,000 for 7000 sq. ft. The decision was made to postpone this project.

Even after reaching my 70th birthday, I never had any thought other than going on forever at Polychem. Then suddenly in December 1987, I found out I had bladder cancer and was operated on in St. Raphaels Hospital December 17. A few days after the operation, my 20 year old roommate went berserk about 1:00a.m., punched the nurse on the jaw and announced he was going to kill me. I survived and went home shortly after dawn. In 1988, the following August, they found two new tumors. After they were taken care of, I decided I was not immortal and now should do something about Polychem. Though I thought Bill Buell III was capable of taking over, he decided for many reasons that he did not wish to take on the job. It was then that we decided to sell the company. I went to several seminars and consulted with a few friends experienced in such matters as to how to proceed.

Through the years, especially in latter years, we had many inquiries, some serious and also some real offers from parties interested in buying us. They included Block Durg, several local New Haven companies, IPCO Hospital supply, Century Bath Tub Company, three different individuals from Chesebrough Ponds Co. (none who were officers), Marion Laboratories of Kansas City, a division of Johnson and Johnson and others I’d promised not to mention. The advice of some was to try Japanese buyers. They and those from other countries were anxious to buy when land came with the deal and, of course, all wanted to buy businesses that would be a means of securing their “Green Cards”. We entered into very serious negotiations with a couple from the New York City finance world. If their lawyers were not so slow, they may well have been successful in acquiring Polychem.

We did not advertise or offer through brokers. A few years before, a friend of mine advertised his company for sale in the Wall Street Journal and he received over 100 replies.

In the Spring of 1989, Polychem was asked to exhibit their products and be part of the RedLine Company’s annual sales meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Red Line was the country’s largest nursing home supply dealer. One day there a Red Line salesman named David Wilich stopped at our exhibit and noted we were from Connecticut. He said his brother was up there and was interested in buying a company. I answered that if he or anyone else were interested in us they better hurry. A couple of days after I returned to New Haven in walked Frank Wilich and Hans VanderKloot. The rest is history.

As best as I can recall, you now have my 44 years with Polychem Corporation, from the year 1945 to the fall of 1989, a period in which we saw nine presidents in Washington, five Popes in Rome, and a king as well as a queen in England. In 1945, civilian travel by air was rare, automobiles had stick shifts, computers had not gotten off the ground and there was no television. Shoes, radios, suits of clothes, nylons were almost impossible to buy as was installation of telephone service. Chemicals, bottles and even paper for advertising circulars was difficult. Polychem was lucky to get a pencil sharpener, ball point pens were in the future. New York City and New Haven still had trolley cars.

Writing this in 1997 has been difficult. I have had trouble remembering individuals names, often times taking a day or two before the name came to me. Eleanor has been little help after two heart attacks, one cardiac arrest, one stroke and Alzheimer’s. Thank god for Medicare! If I have left anyone out, misspelled names, not given credit where credit was due or made other mistakes, I apologize. I fondly remember most of the employees, believe they were important contributors to the success of Polychem and I thank each and every one of them. If any ever get to Clearwater, I hope they will call em or better yet, drop in.


Polychem Firsts:

First to make and market surgical instrument cleaner made with synthetic surfactants, a non-soap product.

Developed and sold Instrument cleaner that was used on first heart catheters by Nobel prize winner Dr. Andre Cournand.

Polychem Cleaners was the first to be used on Tissue Culture glassware.

First Company to market their hospital lotion in a plastic bottle.

First company to market a liquid body wash.

First Company to market to hospitals a non-alcoholic mouth rinse.

First company to list all ingredients on labels of all products whether under FDA or not.

Free Speech But Watch What You Say

September 21, 2009

We have freedom of speech, but we are wise to “watch what we say.” I find that ironic.

What “I AM” in the eyes of the world has as much to do with what I censor and suppress as it does with positive qualities and traits which I freely, spontaneously exhibit.

If what I say is true of myself, then how magnified is that truth with regard to figures in the public eye such as politicians, religious leaders, scholars, etc.? How much of reality is shadows on the walls of Plato’s cave?

As Paul Davies wrote in “God And The New Physics”:(paraphrased, emphasis mine) “IF we are “saved” but only that which is good in us is preserved, then in what sense are ‘WE’ saved in the sense of our total persona?”

Authorship and Social Responsibility

September 13, 2009

While I was in Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York, I came to know an old Russian professor, retired, a layperson, who lived at the seminary school which trained future priests.

The professor was a worldly man and an intellectual, but very devout and pious, his thinking very much influenced by Russian Orthodox beliefs. One day, during Lent, the period before Easter, he was looking at an iconographic painting of the final Day of Judgment, depicting the wicked souls being cast into the torment of hell and the righteous souls being admitted to a heavenly paradise. He remarked that the day of Judgment must certainly be most severe for authors, because although the ordinary person must answer only for personal actions and sins and transgressions, an author must take responsibility for the conduct of thousands or millions of people who are influenced by the authors writings, either for good or for evil.

Each of us is author of our own actions (or inaction) and our lives and careers are our books, whether famous, or infamous for the very few, or simply anonymous for the vast majority. Each of us must answer for our actions in some fashion or other. We pay a price for foolishness or sloth, and we are rewarded and compensated for wisdom and industry. But an author or artist is a different sort of beast from the ordinary individual or average citizen.

We must ask ourselves two questions. First, what do we mean by social responsibility? Secondly, what is the nature and motivation of an author or artist?

In every society, government, culture, and ideology, there is a stress and emphasis upon the responsibilities of an individual to society as a whole. From the time we are small children, we are painfully aware that certain things, in fact, many things are expected of us, and that there are consequences and a price to be paid should we fall short of those expectations. The notion of an individuals social responsibility has existed in one form or another since very ancient times, in the earliest of governments and polities, and even in the small tribes of hunters and food gatherers at the dawn of history. It is only in the past several centuries that there has arisen a notion that societies have responsibilities to individual members. We call this new found notion of society’s responsibility Human Rights or Civil Rights.

Every school child in America is required to read Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens). Twain’s novel is required reading because it is a brilliant, entertaining and, now, historic portrayal of a time of slavery and oppression in America. We now know that smoking and the use of tobacco is very damaging to the health. In Samuel Clemens day there was no notion that tobacco might be harmful. Yet, every other page of Huckleberry Finn is praising the virtues and pleasures of smoking tobacco. Many young people have been tempted to experiment with tobacco simply because it was so romanticized by Mark Twain’s novels. We may see this negative influence of Huckleberry Finn as an example of social irresponsibility, of corrupting the youth. We certainly cannot lay the blame for this corrupting influence at the feet of Mark Twain. We must, if anything, blame generations of educators who have chosen to place the book among the required readings of the curriculum of very young and impressionable students without giving thought to the damaging social consequences.

If we extend our notion of authorship and social responsibility to artists, then possibly, we may see the painting Guernica, by Pablo Picasso, as a positive exercise of social responsibility, dramatizing for society the evils of violence and war. Yet, if we study the life and works of Pablo Picasso, it becomes quite obvious that concern for social responsibility was not in the forefront of Picasso’s mind as a goal or concern or inspiration.

In the 1960s, Francoise Gilot, one of Picasso’s several ex-wives wrote Life with Picasso, and painted a picture of a very selfish, egocentric and unpredictable personality. That woman divorced Picasso and married the famous humanitarian Jonas Salk, who pioneered the development of the first polio vaccine. We may certainly see someone like Jonas Salk as a scientist committed to social responsibility in his attempt to alleviate the suffering of many. Though, perhaps it is far more accurate to observe that each author, whether of books or paintings or theories in physics and math, is driven more by a quest for the power of recognition than by some altruistic notion of social responsibility. Authors and creators are most driven by an eudaimonic inspiration or compulsion which drives them mercilessly and relentlessly towards the act of creation, and often, in that process, alienates the author from society as an eccentric rebel outcast.

What of the authorship of someone such as Albert Einstein, the author of the theory of Relativity which made possible the terrible destructive force of the atomic bomb? The ancient Greeks spoke in their myths of Pandora’s Box. The name Pandora means every gift or all gifts. When Pandora’s Box was opened, many terrifying things escaped which could never be put back again. In the myth, the last thing to escape was Hope. Many physicists felt dread and guilt over the monster of destruction which they had created and unleashed.

Those who are religious and believe the Bible to be the divinely revealed word of God feel that each and every sentence is totally good and instructive. Yet, at the end of the New Testament, in the Second Epistle of Peter, Chapter 3, verse 16 we find this curious warning:

[In the Bible] are some things difficult to understand , which they that are unlearned and unstable twist and distort, unto their own destruction.

So here, we see the Bible itself warning us that there are verses within it which are harmful to certain people. In the Old Testament of the Bible, in the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet speaks scathingly of the lying pens of the scribes. And yet it is those very scribes who copy and perpetuate the religious scriptures. Indeed, Karl Marx saw religious scriptures as an opiate of the people and therefore as something negative from the point of view of social responsibility. Conversely, the religious communities of the world see communist regimes in a negative light, believing them to oppress and censor freedom of religious expression and worship.

If one looks at popular authors and artists like Picasso, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Proust, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Thomas Dylan, and many others, one sees that they are rebels, renegades, misfits, alcoholics, recluses. We see that the worlds of imagination which they create in their writings and art are forms of escape from reality and everyday responsibilities of a good citizen.

Now, if we search for socially responsible authors, then one might choose Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Toms Cabin. When Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he exclaimed, And here is the little lady who started the Civil War. Certainly, Lincoln was exaggerating to some extent in his good-natured humor, but it is certainly also true that the nation as a whole became more self-conscious about the evils of slavery after reading Uncle Toms Cabin with the cruelty of Simon LeGree, whose name became the byword of wickedness.

Another prime example of social responsibility in American literature is The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, which exposed the evils of company towns who exploited immigrant workers in the meat-packing industry. President Theodore Roosevelt was
sickened by the brutality and injustice which Sinclair’s novel dramatized so vividly. Roosevelt immediately called upon Congress to pass a law establishing the Food and Drug Administration and, for the first time, setting up federal inspection standards for meat. The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act, were both signed into law on June 30th, 1906, as a direct result of Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle. President Roosevelt commended Sinclair for exposing the corruption and injustice, but scolded him for being such a socialist. Certainly, Sinclair seems to be one author deeply motivated by notions of social responsibility.

We even see, in the 20th century, authors like George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, examining the state and society as some abortion gone bad, creating a nightmare world for its inhabitants. The passion of the authors creative obsession is closely analogous to the reckless abandon of sexual passion. In Orwell’s novel, 1984, it is a love scene of wild abandon in a secluded woods which symbolizes the rebelliousness and isolation of the individuals will to power. It is the State of Big Brother which crushes the sexual feelings of the protagonist during his imprisonment.

We easily come to see society and the state, not in their day to day reality, but in the fictional picture which is painted for us by novelists and philosophers and historians. We romanticize our notion of the state until we become like America, carrying its holy grail of democracy and freedom to the four corners of the globe through diplomacy or force, to the willing and unwilling alike. As social activists, driven by our ideologies we become Christs running about everywhere seeking out the largest cross, and then gathering about us a reluctant crowd of Herods.

In Genesis it is said of Abraham that he believed the promise of the divine vision, and that his very belief was counted to him as a form of righteousness or correct action, which also goes by the name of social responsibility. But by the time we come to the end of the Book of Job, God is saying to Job, Tell your friends that I am angry with them because they BELIEVED about me incorrectly. We see how ideology and theory and belief gradually supplant the individual and his daily actions and conduct in life. Finally, by the time we arrive at Jesus and his Apostles and Paul, we are told that we are utterly worthless and hopeless no matter what we do, but that there is a way to be forgiven, if only we will embrace a certain belief. Communism and Capitalism are both jealous gods preaching their ideology to the world and offering forgiveness and shelter in return. A certain physicist once pointed out that, in a gaseous collection of molecules, each individual molecule enjoys the utmost random chaotic freedom of chance. No one may say what a given individual molecule will do at any given moment. And yet, the mass of molecules as a whole is under strict obedience to various laws of temperature and pressure and gravity. The fiery rebel freedom of any single renegade molecule represents the force of hundreds or thousands of molecules robbed of their vigor and spontaneity and exiled to an icy state of passivity and inaction.

Plato explored many notions of social responsibility his dialogues, most notably The Republic. Plato proposes to examine the State as a kind of microscope to view the soul written in large letters. Plato envisioned philosopher kings in a society which saw the noble character of its citizens as its product and enterprise. Remember that Socrates was put to death for allegedly corrupting the youth through his teachings, whether oral or written we know not.

That great German philosopher, Emmanuel Kant, said that we must always act in such a way that we treat individuals as ends in themselves rather than as means to some end.

Psychiatrist John Powell wrote: “To live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, not love things and use people.”


Gradually, over the millennia, our notion of social responsibility has evolved and shifted from the prehistoric hunters and warriors duty to his tribe, and has done a hundred and eighty degree about face. Now the great emphasis is upon society’s duty to the individual in the form of human rights or civil rights.

In light of the above considerations, I must personally conclude that the notion of social responsibility of the author is something alien and unknown to the author, imposed posthumously by a reading public. Responsibility, if it lies anywhere at all, lies in the appetites and demands of the consumer public, who clamor for an endless stream of murders, rapes, cataclysms, wars, monsters and even alien invasions from outer space. Our true responsibility is to our own inner space first. If we personally set that inner space of the heart in order, then the orderliness of society will perhaps follow more naturally. The real truth is that both religion and politics are the opiates of the soul, lulling it into complacency, apathy and indifference.

Friedrich August Hayek quotes

September 12, 2009



“Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one’s government is not necessarily to secure freedom”

“If most people are not willing to see the difficulty, this is mainly because, consciously or unconsciously, they assume that it will be they who will settle these questions for the others, and because they are convinced of their own capacity to do this.”

“Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom”

“If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion”

“We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish”

“From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.”

“There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.”

“We must show that liberty is not merely one particular value but that it is the source and condition of most moral values. What a free society offers to the individual is much more than what he would be able to do if only he were free. We can therefore not fully appreciate the value of freedom until we know how a society of free men as a whole differs from one in which unfreedom prevails.”

“Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality – an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order”

The road to serfdom: text and documents
By Friedrich August Hayek, Bruce Caldwell

“The choice open to us is not between a system in which everybody will get what he deserves according to some absolute and universal standard of right, and one where the individual shares are determined partly by accident or good will or chance, but but between a system where it is the will of a few persons that decides who is to get what, and one where it depends at least partly on the ability and enterprise of the people concerned and partly on unforeseeable circumstances.”

“The more the state ‘plans’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”

“There is, in a competitive society, nobody who can exercise even a fraction of the power which a socialist planning board would possess”

“Only where we ourselves are responsible for our own interests and are free to sacrifice them has our decision moral value. We are neither entitled to be unselfish at someone else’s expense nor is there any merit in being unselfish if we have no choice. The members of a society who in all respects are made to do the good thing have no title to praise.”

“Intellects whose desires have outstripped their understanding”

“We must face the fact that the preservation of individual freedom is incompatible with a full satisfaction of our views of distributive justice”

“It is rarely remembered now that socialism in its beginnings was frankly authoritarian. It began quite openly as a reaction against the liberalism of the French Revolution. The French writers who laid its foundation had no doubt that their ideas could be put into practice only by a strong dictatorial government. The first of modern planners, Saint-Simon, predicted that those who did not obey his proposed planning boards would be “treated as cattle.”

“Who can seriously doubt that the power which a millionaire, who may be my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest bureaucrat possesses who wields the coercive power of the state and on whose discretion it depends how I am allowed to live and work?”

“It is neither necessary nor desirable that national boundaries should mark sharp differences in standards of living, that membership of a national group should entitle to share in a cake altogether different from that in which members of other groups share.”

“To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.”

Erik, my Facebook friend, comments:

First, as someone who has been reading Hayek off and on for decades and who has read — or at least read thru — all of his major works, I would suggested starting with his last work. Hayek wrote The Fatal Conceit when he was over 90 years old. Ordinarily, that would be a reason enough not to recommend a book. But, in the case of The Fatal Conceit, Hayek had been thinking about the issues discussed in the book all of his life and he had an unusual intellect, so he somehow-someway managed to write his most mature philosophical treatise at a time in life when most people are blowing bubbles in their jello.

Second, as I mentioned to William before, Hayek was not a conservative. Far from it. He advocated many radical reforms. However, he is read by almost all conservative intellectuals. In fact, the Wall Street Journal nominated Hayek to be Man of the Century in 2000. He’s more popular than Edmund Burke. If you want to understand conservatives, read Hayek”

Is Teaching An Art or a Science

September 6, 2009

I am pleased to have on my Plurk.com a number of teachers.

has asked a very interesting question: Is teaching an art or a science.

Microblogs such as Plurk and Twitter do not allow sufficient space to do such a question justice.

I imagine that a 21st century scholar would describe SCIENCE as that which may be reproduced reliably by following a certain procedure, and precisely measured and quantified digitally with numbers.

Off the top of my head, let me pick an example of something which is an “art”. I spent some years around dialysis centers watching phlebotomist nurses insert or cannulate needles. There were a few people who were absolute artists and could quickly and painlessly insert a needle in even the most problematic of small veined patients. Others were only average in their skill. And some were absolutely dreadful. But such a skill, such a gift, is almost mysterious and inborn in a particular individual. We may certainly video tape a skilled phebotomist and place that video on youtube. But there is no way to construct a step by step procedure or algorithm or formula such as the quadratic formula which allows anyone to solve 2nd degree equations.

I shall attempt to quickly respond to this question as I imagine a member of the faculty of St. John’s Annapolis might answer, since I was greatly influenced by my four years of study in their Great Books liberal arts program.

Of course, they call themselves Tutors rather than Professors because they attempt to teach using Socratic methods. Socrates was often saying “I know only that I know nothing.” A professor “professes” to have knowledge and then didactly proceeds to lecture and outline that knowledge for others to memorize or absorb in some fashion and then prove that they have done their work by repeating the answers they have learned in exams and essays.

We must first ask what is the definition of “science” and what is the definition of “an art” (and I add the indefinite article so as not to confuse the issue with that which is Art in the artistic sense).

I wonder whether Plato’s dialogues even speak in any term that we could consider SCIENCE. Socrates often speaks of various arts in the sense of skills or crafts that one may learn through apprenticeship.

Personally, when I hear the word “science” I think of Galileo’s “Two New Sciences”. Many timelines date the beginning of the Renaissance with the birth of Galileo.

I would say that teaching is an ART, which involve some science.

First of all, a good teacher must have a passion, and compassion to empower the students, and not merely empower, but kindle within them a love and passion for learning.

I feel that there is much more I could say but I will save this post and then post the link at Plurk and also on Facebook.

I do hope to return to this and add the comments of others. I would also like to string-search through Plato’s Republic and post some of the things which are mentioned as “arts” or in Greek “techne”.

But, remember, we derive the word technique from techne as well as technology, whereas the word “science” has its roots in a word which means “to know or understand”.

Science attempts to dignify itself with mathematics esp. statistics, but science requires something APPLIED in material world of Matter and Energy and some “sciences” based on statistics are considered pseudo-sciences, but on average, not all uses of statistics are bad

If by teaching on line you mean a person with a mic/webcam blog, message board, then its a teacher that you cant hit with a spitball

If by teaching on line you mean something automated, programmatic, that students intereact with, well, there may be learning, but no teacher

Craftsment used to fashion muskets and devices with NO INTERCHANGEABLE PARTS, each fitted unique, Indust.revolution replaced artisans with assembly line and interchangeable parts.

Stop and think, there is no SINGLE person who has all the skills and knowledge to create a supercomputer with operating system. It is only
CORPORATE understanding, which propagates itself from generation to generation much like a meme or pattern…

One must speak very precisely. One must define what is meant by “science” and what is meant by “art” as well as how those terms evolved in meaning.

Our media driven culture tends to throw around buzz-words loosely and not think deeply about meanings.

Art in the sense of the Pietà by Michelangelo strives for a “one of a kind”. Science strives for that which can be duplicated.

Craftsmanship is something transmitted from master to apprentice in a long process which cannot be quantified or documented.

The one living person I know of who could give the proper answer to this in essay or lecture form is Eva Brann of St. John’s Annapolis

Here is a perfect example of Socrates notion of “the art” of some particular human endeavor.


Is not the art of painting a whole?

Ion. Yes.

Socrates And there are and have been many painters good and bad?

Ion. Yes.

Socrates And did you ever know any one who was skilful in pointing out the excellences and defects of Polygnotus the son of Aglaophon, but incapable of criticizing other painters; and when the work of any other painter was produced, went to sleep and was at a loss, and had no ideas; but when he had to give his opinion about Polygnotus, or whoever the painter might be, and about him only, woke up and was attentive and had plenty to say?

Ion. No indeed, I have never known such a person.

Socrates Or did you ever know of any one in sculpture, who was skilful in expounding the merits of Daedalus the son of Metion, or of Epeius the son of Panopeus, or of Theodorus the Samian, or of any individual sculptor; but when the works of sculptors in general were produced, was at a loss and went to sleep and had nothing to say?

Ion. No indeed; no more than the other.

Socrates And if I am not mistaken, you never met with any one among flute-players or harp- players or singers to the harp or rhapsodes who was able to discourse of Olympus or Thamyras or Orpheus (mythical inventor of music), or Phemius the rhapsode of Ithaca, but was at a loss when he came to speak of Ion of Ephesus, and had no notion of his merits or defects?

Ion. I cannot deny what you say, Socrates. Nevertheless I am conscious in my own self, and the world agrees with me in thinking that I do speak better and have more to say about Homer than any other man. But I do not speak equally well about others- tell me the reason of this.

Socrates I perceive, Ion; and I will proceed to explain to you what I imagine to be the reason of this.

The gift which you possess of speaking excellently about Homer is not an art, but, as I was just saying, an inspiration; there is a divinity moving you, Like that contained in the stone which Euripides calls a magnet, but which is commonly known as the stone of Heraclea.

This stone not only attracts iron rings, but also imparts to them a similar power of attracting other rings;and sometimes you may see a number of pieces of iron and rings suspended from one another so as to form quite a long chain: and all of them derive their power of suspension from the original stone.

The Corybantes were priests of Cybele or Rhea, mother of Zeus and other Olympian gods, and she was worshipped with wild music and frenzied dancing which, like the bacchic revels or orgies of women in honor of Dionysus, carried away the participants despite and beyond themselves. Cf. Eurip. Bacchae.

In like manner the Muse first of all inspires men herself;

and from these inspired persons a chain of other persons is suspended, who take the inspiration. For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed. And as the Corybantian revellers when they dance are not in their right mind, so the lyric poets are not in their right mind when they are composing their beautiful strains:
but when falling under the power of music and metre they are inspired and possessed; like Bacchic maidens who draw milk and honey from the rivers when they are under the influence of Dionysus but not when they are in their right mind.

And the soul of the lyric poet does the same, as they themselves say; for they tell us that they bring songs from honeyed fountains, culling them out of the gardens and dells of the Muses; they, like the bees,
winging their way from flower to flower. And this is true. For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and is unable to utter his oracles Many are the noble words in which poets speak concerning the actions of men; but like yourself when speaking about Homer, they do not speak of them by any rules of art:
they are simply inspired to utter that to which the Muse impels them, and that only; and when inspired, one of them will make dithyrambs, another hymns of praise (often to Apollo), another choral strains, another epic or iambic verses- and he who is good at one is not good any other kind of verse: for not by art does the poet sing, but by power divine. Had he learned by rules of art, he would have known how to speak not of one theme only, but of all; and therefore god takes away the minds of poets, and uses them as his ministers,
as he also uses diviners and holy prophetess,
in order that we who hear them may know them to be speaking not of themselves who utter these priceless words in a state of unconsciousness, but that god himself is the speaker, and that through them he is conversing with us. And Tynnichus the Chalcidian affords a striking instance of what I am saying: he wrote nothing that any one would care to remember but the famous paean which; in every one’s mouth, one of the finest poems ever written, simply an invention of the Muses, as he himself says.

My Fan Letter to Mr. Rogers

September 2, 2009

Here is a letter I wrote to Mr. Rogers on 12-15-2000. He wrote a reply. He read all of his mail and answered it personally.

Dear Mr. Rogers,

I am 50 years old (male). I did not begin watching your show until I was in High School in the mid 1960′s.

For the past several years, I have wanted to write you a letter of praise and thanks.

Today, I saw your program on PBS Television, and I decided to search the Internet, and find your email address.

When I was in high school, I would come home in the afternoon feeling nervous and pressured by the academic demands placed upon me. I would turn on your show, and instantly feel a calm and a peace, a tranquility which your show and your personality inspires. Although I have not had time to view your show regularly through the years, any time I did tune in I always perceived this same atmosphere of peace and tranquility. And also, I might add, a sense of moral and ethical strength, of purity and integrity and most importantly EQUANIMITY (an even keeled spirit in the face of all things).

Two years ago, I had to settle my late mother’s estate near New Haven, Connecticut, where I grew up and first saw your show. The day before I sold the house that I grew up in, I saw my next door neighbor, now quite elderly, making his way to his mailbox with his walker. I went to say goodbye to him, explaining that the house was being sold. He had moved into that neighborhood in 1955, when my parents bought that house across the street from him. I grew up and went to school with his son. As I said goodbye to him that day, the last thing he did was look at me with a smile and a twinkle in his eye and he sang the beginning of your theme song, “Won’t you be my neighbor.”

Obviously, many adults watch your show as well as children. I think this is a great tribute to you and your program. The episode that I happened to see today featured the young boy who was handicapped and in a wheelchair. As I watched him, I realized how foolish I am sometimes in my own life, feeling sorry for myself over the little problems and frustrations that I experience. We all realize that there are those in this world who face far greater problems, and face them from infancy onward, and yet they manage to be courageous and optimistic about the blessings that they do have. We all know this ‘intellectually’ but few of us know this ‘emotionally’. I am quite certain that these are some of the very messages which you seek to convey to your audience.

In my Internet search today, I came across some biographical material about your own life and education. I had not realized that you pursued a vocation in the ministry. But I am certainly not surprised to learn of your religious background, since the feelings I have always had from your show are ones of a deeply spiritual nature, yet totally free of any sectarian or doctrinal overtones. I now realize that this too is a great tribute to your success; to convey a spiritual message without appearing ‘religious’. Perhaps that is the highest form of religion that there is. Perhaps the very meekness, gentleness and compassion which you convey every day in your program is a ‘living icon’ of that Personality which you yearn to proclaim and about which you are perennially, tactfully silent.

Several years ago, I noticed a news item that you were involved in some litigation to protect your name from unauthorized misuse in the media. My first thought was simple “Yes. He should. Mr. Rogers stands for something important, and no one should wrongfully misuse that name or image for purposes contrary to Mr. Rogers’ goals and standards.”

I do hope that this little email of mine can reach you personally, Mr. Rogers. I realize from reading your biographical info that you have no shortage of awards and commendations for your life’s work. You do not know me personally, and yet you have been a part of my life since I was very young. Yet even the holiest of temples is built up by individual stones. I am sure you have touched the lives and hearts of several generations now, young and old. And the seeds which you have patiently sown these many years will surely take deep roots in the fabric of our society for generations to come. And your values and ideas, so subtle and tactful as to be almost subliminal, will shape our world for decades, perhaps centuries to come.

I did not want to reach the end my life without having expressing my thanks to you. Of course, many individuals touch our lives, especially in this soon to end 20th century of unprecedented media and communications explosion. Such personalities as yours and others become perhaps larger than life, larger than your own individuality. I am sure that the gravity of this responsibility, the weight of this public image, has been trying for you at times. And yet, our world needs larger-than-life heros and icons, even though we are “vessels of clay”. I think St. Paul wrote somewhere, “God places His treasures of gold in vessels of clay”. I just want you to know that there are people out here who know your job has not been an easy one, living in the public eye, and you have surely made your own personal sacrifices and suffered in order to achieve your goals. But from where I stand, it looks like you have done your work masterfully. I am quite certain in my heart that one day you will hear those cherished words “Well done, good and faithful servant.” If anyone deserves to hear them, it is certainly you. You have been a shining beacon in what is otherwise an often dark and sinister television medium.

God bless you Mr. Rogers! It has been an honor to know you over these many years.

Advice To My Stepson In College

August 10, 2009

The other night, as your mother was going to sleep, she said to me, “Promise me only one thing, that if I die, you will help my son to finish college.”

I answered her, saying, “I will always help him in any way I can.”

Of course, I am not wealthy so I am limited in the ways I can help you.

But I hope I have helped you these past 10 years by example.

It is very likely accurate to say that during the years you have known me, since you were age 7, there is hardly a day that you have seen me without a book in my hands, first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. And perhaps you have noticed that I never dress up and leave the front door without having at least one little book
in my pocket (though often I have two or three). What you have seen in my daily life is a valuable lesson of example. Try to always learn something new and different each day and even each hour if you find the energy and discipline to do so. Try to do this throughout
your life, and not just during your years of formal education.

Each of us is given only so many minutes in life (though no one may know exactly how many), but try to use each minute wisely.

Be proactive and do not procrastinate. Finish work first (and start early), only then should you feel free to play and relax.

Before you utter any sentence, any statement, any remark, think first of the consequences, for once something is said, you may never take it back. Also, have an eye and mind to the quality of what you say.
If you always strive to say a few new and fascinating things, then you will not only uplift and possibly change the lives of those who hear you, but you will definitely grow and profit yourself, since you will always be pushing yourself in the direction of quality of thought, quality of speech.

I shall always remember the day when you were about 8 or 9 years old. I watched you toss a small ball against the wall and catch it for over an hour. When you had finished your pastime and turned to me, I scolded you gently by saying “You have just spent an entire hour tossing that ball, and you have nothing to show for it, nor are
you any happier now because of your activity, but are still just as bored. But IF you had spent that hour reading, or viewing something educational, or engaged in a meaningful discussion, why then you might have something of great value, and you would definitely no longer be bored, since you would have something of interest to occupy
your mind.”

Words are very powerful. God chose to incarnate as Word or Logos. Words can wound. Words can heal. Words can create. Words can destroy. Make words your tools. Make language your friend.

An education is nothing more than learning to use words. If you can recall the proper words on a black sheet of paper, you can pass a Law Bar exam or earn a CPA. If you say the proper words in the proper way you can win elections.

Make words your friends and companions and language your tool and weapon.


(here is the reply):

Thank you so very, very much for the kind words of advice. They seem to come at the most fitting moment too, for I am reading your words right now, as I sit alone in my dorm, trying to figure out ways to keep myself motivated and inspired to continue to work hard. Well, your advice of trying to keep learning as a main focus in life pretty much made that task a lot easier. Really, thank you very, very much for your E-mail.

I know I never say it to you or Mom enough, but I miss you, and I really do love you. I don’t know if I could ever really express to you, in person, how happy and how grateful I am to have you two as some of the greatest influences in my life…when I’ve tried in the past, it only resulted in my becoming overwhelmed with emotion, and
then petering out. I really don’t know of any other set of parents that could have done a better job than you did on me.

Thank you, both of you, so, so much.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

August 9, 2009

In the 1970′s I was enthralled by a television production of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”

The film was very faithful to the short story. A man is about to be hanged, but as he drops, the rope breaks, he falls into the creek below, and escapes. He is delirious with joy that such good fortune has come upon him and that he has been granted and extension to life, and freedom, to enjoy the simple things which surround him, the sunlight, air, leaves, water. But suddenly, we are back at the gallows, and we see a lifeless body hanging from the noose. We realize that the entire story was simply the condemned man’s imagination and wish fulfillment during the brief moment of his descent to the end of the rope.

To be certain, it is the surprise of the ending which comprises much of the power of the story. Were this story to begin with an exclamation that a man was condemned to death and was hanged, but in the moments before death, he experiences a fantasy, an illusion, which seems to endure for 30 minutes rather than one second, well… the surprise ending would be gone and the story would lose much of its charm.

The point of view is the condemned man’s subjective point of view, his fantasy, which for him and for us becomes a reality until we awaken to the fact that he actually dies and it is only a fantasy, a dream.

The plot relies on our ignorance of the true ending. Perhaps one might say that the theme is the wonder of each moment of existence, and how precious each moment becomes for us once we are truly conscious of how finite and limited and numbered our moments really are.

But, we must ask ourselves how it can be in any practical sense that anyone would know the prolonged fantasy of this man in the moment prior to his death. He certainly cannot narrate this for us as he falls, and he is even less capable of communicating anything once his neck has snapped. This simple fact makes it very obvious that it is solely the point of view of the victim, as far as the story is concerned, and it is purely the conjecture of the author as to what the victim might have experienced as far as we are concerned.

I suppose we might spend some time discussing the title of the story, “An OCCURENCE at Owl Creek Bridge.”

Everything that happens may be said to “occur.” If a fly falls into the farmer’s milk pail in the barn, it is an occurrence. If the farmer’s wife feeds the milk to her baby and the baby ingests the fly, it is an occurrence. If the farmer SAW the fly fall into the milk and chose to leave it there, it is an occurrence. If the farmer had the premeditated thought of playing a prank upon his wife by giving her milk with a fly in it, it is an occurrence. If the farmer’s prank backfires because then wife unknowingly feeds the milk to the baby and the baby becomes ill and dies, it is an occurrence. If the farmer confesses his secret guilt to a minister who secretly covets the farmer’s wife, and the minister arranges for the farmer’s wife to learn the truth, but the farmer’s wife, in her rage, smashes her husband’s head open with an axe, and is tried and hanged for murder, well, you get my point, these are all occurrences.

An insect falling into a bucket, as an occurrence by itself, is hardly worthy of note. The fate of the insect is too insignificant to be termed an occurrence. A Greek tragedy of epic proportions such as the farmer’s folly, combined with the minister’s lust and a wife’s murderous rage, is far too great to be called simply “an occurrence.” Hence, when we single out something with the word “occurrence” is something neither too small nor too great.

Trusting Strangers on the Internet

August 9, 2009

I simply approve every request. You can always delete them later. And you might be missing out on something very interesting that someone will one day post. I mean, just look at their info, and posts, and see if they seem genuine, and if they share some interests in common with you. If one feels that no one can be trusted, then the Internet is not the place to be.

Besides, in my situation, everyone who is an alumnus of St. John’s Annapolis or Santa Fe Great Books program automatically shares something in common with me. How will you ever meet new and interesting people if you never trust anyone? Is it not the case that all of your friends were, at one point, a stranger that you got to know? I am a stranger to 6 billion people on the planet, but that does not make me strange. And a large percentage of violent crimes are perpetrated by relatives or acquaintances.

I have been on the Internet non-stop since 1998, and I always talked to everyone who approached me. An online friend from University of Oulu, Finland came with his 11 yr. old son and stayed at my apartment for a few days to save on hotel costs. I went to Tampa, FL once and had dinner with 3 yahoo chat acquaintances. An AOL friend from Great Britain spent the day with me while visiting NY. And I am guessing that about 50,000 people over the past 10 years have read my blogs on philosophy, religion, poetry, etc. I have never regretted giving everyone a chance.

What would Jesus have done? The Samaritan women at the well, the adulteress, about to be stoned, Zaccheus the tax collector, the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot reading Isaiah, Apostles Andrew and Nathaniel…. they were ALL TOTAL STRANGERS! America amazes me, because we pay such lip service to Christianity and demand that our presidential candidates take Jesus as their personal savior, but what do we choose to do in daily life? Don’t get me wrong. I am Hindu and Buddhist in my personal beliefs. Gandhi rejected Christianity as his personal religion but the beatitudes of the sermon on the mount were his favorite. Kurt Vonnegut wryly observed that Americans clamor to erect monuments to Moses’ ten commandments, but no one thinks to have a plaque for the Jesus’s Beatitudes.

The Torah and Talmud say to welcome the stranger so don’t any of you weasel out of this by saying you are Jewish.

Dennis the Menace asked someone “are you a stranger”. The old man replied “No, I’ve lived her all my life.” Dennis said “Good, ’cause my Mom says not to talk to strangers.”

It’s like the Lotto ad says, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”

One of my tutor’s at St. John’s, Mr. Main I think, said in seminar “you can’t have too much money or too much whiskey.” I guess I would add to that sentiment that you can’t have too many friends (though you can have too many enemies). Lincoln said “If I make my enemy into my friend, then have I not destroyed my enemy?”

My practice for years is to pick up a book at random, a book I might not otherwise read, open it and read a page at random, and try to understand something from that page.

People on Facebook and Myspace are like books. I randomly look at what some of the 1000 people on my list are saying, and I am glimpsing into the soul and life and heart of that person. They mention something entirely new to me. I look at something in a way that I have never seen before. I Google and read some. I reflect, react and post. Others randomly read my thoughts.

These activities are very enriching. Even a fool has something to teach a wise man.

Where would philosophy be today if Socrates had said to The Eleatic Stranger, “Oh, sorry, I can’t talk to you ’cause you’re a stranger.”

Somewhere in the Talmud it is observed that “when a great king stamps out coins with his image on them, each coin is the same, but when G-d creates people in His image, each and every one is different.” Now, YOU are a stranger to all the people who might possibly add YOU. Do you feel they should FEAR you?

No, of course not. And you know that you are totally unique. There has NEVER been another person just like YOU, and there never shall be. And you have much to offer others.

Aristotle said, “A friend is another I.” Well, consider the reflexivity of this I-Thou relationship. As we esteem others, so, in a labyrinthine fashion, we come to esteem ourselves.

There is a saying in India, “When a saint meets a sinner, all he sees is saintliness, but when a sinner meets a saint, all he sees is sin.”

Also, “when a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are pockets.”

Who Shall Liberate Freedom

August 9, 2009

What do we mean when we say “free?”

“Free” is an adjective, as in “free lunch,” which apparently does not exist, since we are always saying “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” But then we turn around and sing “The best things in life are free.”

Life, existence, is free, but not free like an animal in the wild. Life is a domestic beast of burden laden with many duties and responsibilities.

“Free” is the verb which Lincoln used, famed as one who “freed the slaves,” though some contend that Lincoln had other agendas far removed from the arena of civil rights.

“Free” can be as ambiguous as “love” in the phrase “love of God,” which may mean either our love for God or that love which God expresses or represents. Consider the title of the story of a whale in captivity, “Free Willie” which may be either an attribute or a command.

Freedom is a right in modern societies, a privilege in ancient ones and a movement in era of the 1960s.

Freedom is always a responsibility and a burden, the burden that we MUST choose. When you are not free then all your choices are made for you. In such circumstances your only freedom is your choice of the manner in which you choose to regard your servitude, as Viktor Frankl pointed out.

“Free” was a social status during the time of slavery.

“Free” has a tone of censure when we speak of the “free love” and indulgence of libertines and “loose women.”

What is the difference between “freedom” and “liberty?”

Patrick Henry, famous for saying “Give me liberty or give me death,” quite possibly took “liberties” with some young woman at one time or another. Liberty may be a cause or a statue. Lot was sole pillar of his community and yet Lot’s wife, freed from the fate of Sodom, looked back wistfully and became imprisoned as a pillar of salt. Not every statue is a Statue of Liberty, and the pillars which support our freedom are the statutes of the laws which make society stable. Stables are where beasts of burden rest.

Who or what is truly free?

The freedom of others restricts and limits us.

Even chaos is not free but is plagued by shadow of orderliness which haunts it as shadow haunts objects in sunlight. Consider the difficulties surrounding the METHODS to generate random numbers. They are forever doomed to be pseudo-random, never truly random, truly free.

The matter and energy, of which we are composed, are the least free of all, bound as they are by the inexorable laws of physics.

Lawless faith is always seeking a miracle which defies the laws of nature.

In 2 Kings 20:1-11, Hezekiah had asked Isaiah,

“What will be the sign that the LORD will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the LORD on the third day from now?”

Isaiah answered, “This is the LORD’s sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?”

“It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.”

Then the prophet Isaiah called upon the LORD, and the LORD made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.

We are free to choose our occupation and livelihood, yet often our occupation chooses us. We are free to pursue only things which are NECESSARY or in demand, that which is REQUIRED.

If we own a store full of merchandise, we are free to give it all away in charity, but we are not always free to charge anything we like. We may sell our hot-dogs for $5 at a baseball game, but we may not price gouge during a time of emergency and crisis, selling food or water or cab service for outrageous, exorbitant prices. Yet, who needs an umbrella when it is not raining?

Jesus, who said “I am the Truth,” also said, “The truth shall make you free.” Yet the most devoted Christians desire for their headstone only the title “Slave of Christ.” There are some slaves who make a handsome living from their servitude.

Wherever we find freedom, we find rules and laws. Perhaps it is the very nuisance of freedom and choice and random chance which brings rules and laws into being.

Freedom has its limitations.

Freedom is a hope.

Freedom is a dream.

Freedom is an illusion.

Freedom is a word in the dictionary, a hefty, ponderous word which enslaves the political in an arduous and exhausting exercise of lip-service.

Now that we have exhausted the possibilities of “Freedom,” we may ask in closing:

“Where is that Lincoln or Jesus who shall ever liberate freedom?”

- written 8-17-2003

Wisdom, Number, Measure, Hunger, Thirst

November 24, 2011

(written 9-29-2000)

When we dwell as pedestrians in a land, we behold the scenery from the most intimate detail and perspective, but that very closeness and intimacy in perspective prevents us from seeing symmetry, intention and design on a grander scale, bearing profounder implications. If we ascend to a mountain peak, we lose discernment of much of the finer details, but we can begin to recognize the “lay of the land” and its geography. From an orbiting space station, we can perceive global structure. And from vantage point of another galaxy, we may comprehend cosmic design.

When we seek Divine intention, design, laws, and principles in Nature, we consider NUMBER to be the highest authority of truth. We seek mathematical certainty. Mathematical proof is the hallmark of modern science.

The Bible also associated “wisdom” with “number”. We find “wisdom” and “number” mentioned together in three verses of the King James Bible:

Job 38:37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,

Psalms 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

In Job, it is our inability to number and measure creation which exhorts us to humility and surrender to the Divine Will.

In the Psalms, it is the measure of our temporal finitude which gives us pause for the reflection which leads to wisdom.

In the Book of Revelation, it is a precise number which reveals to us that person who is an embodiment of evil.

We never find “wisdom” and “measure” mentioned in the same verse in the Bible, not even in the Books of Apocrypha. Measure is a human activity and not a Divine activity.

We first encounter the word “measure” conjunction with “cubit” in Exodus 26:2 “The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure.” When King Solomon is in the act of consecrating the newly finished Temple, he suddenly exclaims: 1 Kings 8:27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? “

A “cubit” is the length of a man’s forearm, which is subjective and variable, not objective, absolute and unchanging.

In Hebrew, cubit is ‘ammah; i.e., “mother of the arm,” the fore-arm, is a word derived from the Latin cubitus, the lower arm. It is difficult to determine the exact length of this measure, from the uncertainty whether it included the entire length from the elbow to the tip of the longest finger, or only from the elbow to the root of the hand at the wrist. The probability is that the longer was the original cubit. The common computation as to the length of the cubit makes it 20.24 inches for the ordinary cubit, and 21.888 inches for the sacred one. This is the same as the Egyptian measurements. A rod or staff the measure of a cubit is called in Judg. 3:16 _gomed_, which literally means a “cut,” something “cut off.” The lxx. and Vulgate render it “span.”

The earliest mention of “measure” is in conjunction with the precise instructions for building the Tabernacle: Exodus 26:2 The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure.

The third mention of “measure” occurs together with the first appearance of the word “unrighteousness” in relation to dishonesty in trade: leviticus 19:35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.

Mathematicians consider “Number Theory” to be the Queen of all Mathematics. Number Theory deals with such properties of number as Odd or Even, Perfect numbers (which are the sum of their prime factors), and with such properties as “excess” and “deficiency” in multiplication.

The number Nine is a number with several very interesting properties. Nine is a Trinity of Trinities, in the sense that it contains the number three thrice times. In a Greek Orthodox liturgy, the priest or deacon will incense a Bishop NINE times, but the icon of Christ only three times because the Bishop, when vested and serving in his sacerdotal capacity, is considered to be the “Living Icon” of Christ.

Hindus consider NINE to be a divine number, because it may interact with any other number in multiplication, and yet somehow, retain its identity. Two times Nine equals 18, and 1 + 8 = 9. Three times Nine equals 27, and 2+7 = 9. Four times Nine equals 36, and 3 + 6 = 9. So Nine is perfect in this respect, whereas the other numbers are sometimes “excessive” in this respect and other times “deficient”. Two times Seven equals 14, and 1+4=5. Three times Seven equals 21, and 2+1=3. Therefore Seven is deficient in these equations. Three times Five equals 15, and 1+5 = 6. Five times Five equals 25, and 2+5=8. Number Five is excessive in these equations.

If you look at all the sacred scriptures of all the Religions, you will discover that there are only certain sentences or phrases in which is a WHOLE WORLD OF THEOLOGY.

For example, Mother Theresa put Christ’s final words from the Cross, “I thirst”, on her convent wall.

John 19:28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, “I thirst”.

How many times in our lives might we read this verse, and pass it by, not seeing the entire world hidden in two words?

A world hidden in a word is a pearl hidden in a field.

Hidden, amidst all the other verses of the Gospels, “out of context”, is something which opens up a whole world in the mind.

In a certain way, the very nature of our thought processes, is a non-sequitur. Hence, structure and form in writing is, in a sense, illusion, or maya. But we come to think of that ordered “structure” as the nature of reality.

Regarding the “I Thirst” of Mother Theresa, Jallaladin Rumi once said, “Do not seek water, for water is EVERYWHERE! Seek THIRST!” For without the THIRST the water is of no value to you.

In the Psalms, “O Lord, I have thirsted after Thee like a deer in a waterless land.”

I have written the preceding as a prelude to the consideration of the motif of “hunger” and “thirst” in the Scriptures.

It is most curious that there are a total of NINE verses in the entire King James Version which mention “hunger” and “thirst” in the same verse. The word “hunger” always appears first, followed by the word “thirst”.

It is significant that the word hunger should always appear first in these verses. We know that thirst will afflict us much sooner than hunger, and the pangs of thirst are far more intense and severe than hunger pangs. We can endure a much longer period of time without food than we can without fluids. Why is it that Hunger is always mentioned first, and not Thirst? Perhaps “thirst and hunger” is the human order, whereas “hunger and thirst” is the Divine order.

The word “hunger” makes its first appearance in Scriptures (Exodus 16:3) PRIOR TO the first appearance of the word “thirst” (Exodus 17:3 ).

This same consistent word order may be observed in the Apocrypha as well; “hunger” always precedes “thirst”. In the Apocrypha, we also find this most unusual verse: 2 esdras 15:58 “They that be in the mountains shall die of hunger, and eat their own flesh, and drink their own blood, for very hunger of bread, and thirst of water.” We may see in this verse the beginnings of the imagery of the Eucharist.

Because NINE is an ODD number (rather than an EVEN number), there is a mid-most verse, the FIFTH of the verses: 5.) John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Indeed, this is a most central verse, portraying Jesus as the Bread of Life and the Living Waters.

The first occurance of hunger, (which appears BEFORE the first occurance of THIRST), Exodus 16:3 “And the children of israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

The first occurance of thirst, which inspires murmuring against Moses and God: Exodus 17:3 “And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? “

We see here the totally Human aspect of hunger and thirst, the fallen nature of humanity, driven by appetites and desires.

The second occurance of “hunger and thirst” is 2.) Nehemiah 9:15 “And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.”

This is the totally Divine aspect of God, who provides food and drink, and sustains all creatures.

The third occurance of “hunger and thirst” is 3.) Isaiah 49:10 “They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.”

Here we see a prefiguring of the Book of Revelation, the New Heaven and New Earth, where there are no more tears, no more hunger or thirst or desire.

The fourth occurance is 4.) matthew 5:6 “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

We see a UNIFICATION of hunger and thirst as ONE, no longer two, and the object of the desire is no longer physical food and water, but Righteousness. But what or Who is that Righteousness?

The fifth occurance is 5.) John 6:35 “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

Remember that this is the MIDDLE-MOST of the nine verses, about which the other eight verses are symmetrically balanced. This verse answers our previous question “Who is that righteousness for which the blessed hunger and thirst.”

We may note that at the Last Supper, or Mystical Supper, the Institution of the Eucharist, Christ offers the broken bread FIRST, and afterwards the Cup. It is logical that the Bread or Body must be broken first, before there is Blood.

The sixth occurance of “hunger and thirst” is 6.) Romans 12:20 “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

This is the fulfillment of seeing the Divine Image of God in all others, even enemies. And it is We, the Mother Theresa, who now assume the role of the God-Man Christ, as we minister unto our enemies and are perhaps rent asunder, bleeding. St. athanasius said “God became man, so that Man might become God”.

The seventh occurance of “hunger and thirst” is 7.) 1 Corinthians 4:11 “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place”, which is the Disciples/Apostles in “imitation of Christ”, taking up their cross.

The eight occurance is 8.) 2 Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

The ninth occurance is 9.) Revelation 7:16 “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.”. Here we see that time and space, heaven and earth, pass away, and all souls dwell in the very fabric of God, which now becomes their space, light, raiment, sustenance and all things. These souls dwell in “the bosom of abraham”.

The verses ‘The Kingdom of God is WITHIN’ and ‘in my Father’s house are many mansions’ are thought provoking verses. I recently learned that it may also be translated “the kingdom of heaven is AMONG you” , which has very different implications.

If we look at the Book of Revelation, in the chapters surrounding ch. 10…. (where it says…’God shall wipe away every tear’)…. we see that THERE SHALL BE TIME NO LONGER (CH 10, verse 6), and “heavens and earth shall be rolled up as a scroll” (no more SPACE).

So, time and space ceases, and God becomes raiment, light, air, food, etc. An image which is faithful to St. Paul’s words, “..in HIM we live and move and have our being–Acts 17:28″ and, Acts 17: 27 “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.”

This passage, Ch. 10:6 in Revelation, depicts time and space itself passing away, and all dwell WITHIN God, within the “fabric of God” so to speak.

We do see in the parable of lazarus and the rich man that Lazarus is “in the bosom of Abraham”, which is metaphorical, but supports the notion of what is described in Revelation

What is interesting is that Christianity condemns notions of Pantheism, that God IS the universe; yet in the final analysis, based on what the Book of Revelation describes, God literally BECOMES the Universe, once the Universe passes away.

In light of the above understanding of Revelation, it would seem that the “many mansions” are WITHIN God Himself.

(a reader’s reply):

Interesting study! Indeed

John 4,10

10. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knowest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

11. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence then hast thou that living water?

12. Art thou greater than our father jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

13. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (!)

I have come across a nine pointed form of star. It could be called a master blueprint.

The Seal of Solomon (six pointed star) is said to be all time and space.

Is not the manifest universe a great cycle arising out of the Source? Is not this cycle eternal? Who could count the number of mansions within Gods creation?


Today’s adventure using Ubuntu One Cloud synchronization and Tom Boy Notes

October 17, 2011

Today’s adventure using Ubuntu One Cloud synchronization and Tom Boy Notes:

William: I have spent countless hours fine tuning my Ubuntu 10.4 LTS (long term support). I know it will have support for another year or two which is obviously why they call it LTS. But I am wondering IF there is any way to back up or extract all the tweaks and installations so that when it becomes unavoidably necessary to upgrade then I will not have to install everything from scratch. I realize that the more I have in “the cloud” in places like Google then such things do not have to be reinstalled but are simply always there and available through a browser.

I suppose if Ubuntu perfects some type of update in place, sort of an upgrade, then re-installation would not be necessary. Someone remarked that upgrades in place are less reliable/advisable than doing a fresh install.

Is there in fact some way to export all the installs and configurations and tweaks and then reapply them to a new Ubuntu install.

I pity the people who do not choose LTS for they must be reinstalling everything every six months. On the other hand power Linux users seem to enjoy installing new things. Thanks for any advice!

Mike: Following the upgrade path inside Ubuntu isn’t so bad. The admonition for fresh install has historical merit, but since 9.x most of the bugs have been worked out.

In fact, I’d suggest staying on the upgrade path only after trying the live CD of the newer version; make sure it looks right for you. 11.04 introduced some video changes, along with Unity, that my older system didn’t like. Off came Unity, back to Gnome.

William: That is great news. I did just search youtube and found a demo of AptToCD which can back up a list of all installed applications. The only weird thing is that when you go to restore/install, the last part is not so automat…ic and you must to into TERMINAL and enter some obscure commands. Doing that sort of thing makes me nervous. Someone on Google Plus could not understand WHY I would want to take a Windows machine and make it all Ubuntu. He thought I should leave a Windows partition. I explained why I loathe and despise Microsoft and would prefer to find a way to live life using only Ubuntu and open source. The main thing is that I dont have the money or the skills to reinstall Windows or have an install disk. Yesterday I was able to install WINE and then install Windows Quicken 2005 and it seems to work fine. I was also able to run a Windows Chinese Pinyin Tone program which is simply an .EXE which is not “installed” but that also worked fine.

That might be APTONCD because that is what I found in the synaptic manager.


Ok, here is the crap you have to type in TERMINAL to finish a restore. I guess it is not TOO bad.

The .deb packages will be copied to /var/cache/apt/archives. Now you can install them running this command in a Terminal:

sudo dpkg -i /var/cache/apt/archives/*.deb

Yes it is fun to learn Ubuntu and see things actually WORK. Yes, I would like to escape from the tyranny of proprietary software and into the world of open source. I breathe a sigh of relief when you give me hope that upgrade in …place is becoming a viable option. I realize that there do exists ways to backup data applications and configurations but I am not a rocket scientist. I need step-by-step instructions with screen shots if there is not an automated process.

Yesterday, I installed WINE because I NEED to get Quicken 2005 running and it DOES run. But then I went to backup my Blackberry on the Windows machine and I thought about installing the Blackberry Desktop on Ubuntu under WINE. Then I found …some articles which hit at all sorts of extra things to add. I said to myself that I can live without Blackberry Desktop in Ubuntu and I dont want to add things that may crash my system. Someone commented that RIM (Research In Motion) Blackberry is not about to develop applications for the Linux community. I wonder if there will ever be a TIPPING POINT were all efforts suddenly converge upon one operating system? I see Ubuntu and all the Linux flavors as “too big to fail”. Some countries (e.g. Switzerland) have mandated that all educational institutions make Linux a standard.

I meant to stress that while I am having FUN, I obviously want to protect my investment of time and effort with some reliable backup. I think it is one.ubunto.com that is giving my 5 gigs of free cloud storage which I gratefully… use. I just started to experiment with Tom Boy Notes and synced them with a folder I created on my desktop. I looked into syncing them with DropBox which is highly praised. I am hesitant because it looks like I have to add a lot of stuff which might crash my system. My understanding is that if I have synced with a local folder and if I back up that folder to usb flash drive then I may simply restore folder and resync and that should serve my needs, so why risk crashing the system or slowing down with periodic synchronizations with dropbox or one.ubuntu. I suppose I should search in youtube for a how to tutorial on Tom Boy Notes sync (and no wise cracks from the LGBTQ in the Peanut Gallery!)

I made myself curious about one.ubuntu file syncing so I found this tutorial and went to synaptic manager and saw that I needed to install some more ubuntu.one tools to access the ability to sync the tomboynotes folder. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=LV7Blv5YJkw

I found THIS link explaining how to sync with one.ubuntu.com cloud and I am following the simple instructions but it is taking a LONG time to sync!! at least what seems like a long time https://one.ubuntu.com/help/tutorial/install-and-setup-ubuntu-one-7/

Geeze!!! I enabled this one.ubuntu sync BUT I do hope it does not just go ahead and automatically sync ALL my files… I would hope that it ASKS me which files I want to sync because I have MORE than my 5 gig cloud limit on my drive and I only want to sync tomboy notes and a few other things….!!!

This is annoying as hell. one.ubuntu.com does not make clear whether it will automatically attempt to sync EVERYTHING or whether I have control of which folders will be synced. I have an 8 gig archive on the desktop. If I right click on th…at archive there is an option to SYNC, but there is no option to UNSYNC. So I am moving the damn thing back to my usb flash drive and deleting it so that at least IF I have to suffer with everything on the desktop getting synced, then at least I wont exceed the 5 gig cloud limit!!!

So NOW my big question is: IF I can get one.ubuntu synchronization to work then how do I control WHAT gets synchroniced and what does not and if EVERYTHING on the desktop IS AUTOMATICALLY synchronized, then where in my filing system can I shove an 8 gig folder that I do not want synchronized??!!!

I am finding some information about controlling which files get synced but they make it SO DIFFICULT AND OBSCURE !!! http://askubuntu.com/questions/22961/how-to-sync-folders-selectively-across-computers

Meanwhile you can access the functionality via u1sdtool: to list all the folders syncdaemon knows about, enter u1sdtool –list-folders; then you use the folder ids listed there to enter the id in u1sdtool –subscribe-folder=folderid (or –u…nsubscribe).

The default behavior is for syncdaemon to subscribe to folders automatically when they are created; you can change this by editing /etc/xdg/ubuntuone/syncdaemon.conf (or ~/.config/ubuntuone/syncdaemon.conf to do it per user) and add a line udf_autosubscribe = False to the [__main__] section.

Oh GREAT! Now I learn that there is a folder called Ubuntu.One and in that folder I find that it did begin to sync what I had in their cloud storage. I am almost finished backing up the 8 gig folder that I do NOT want synced. In a desperate…d effort to see if I could OMIT it from syncing I right clicked on it and it had a place to click and say SYNC with one.ubuntu so I DID CLICK ON THAT hoping I could turn it OFF, but then I see that it is a ONE WAY STREET…. there is no toggle for OFF, …. so now that I have backed the damn thing up to the usb… my only option is to delete it from the desktop. MY GOD why cant these propellor head linux people tell a beginner in PLAIN ENGLISH up front what to expect!!!

OK, I deleted the 8 gig folder on the desktop, having backed it up to the 32 gig usb drive. I rebooted my machine, went to system preferences and clicked on ONE UBUNTU. I was taken to a browser screen which prompted me to RE-ADD my desktop …… and synchronization resumed. NOW I think I understand that all it is doing is making a copy of the few files which are ON the cloud account to the folder named one.ubuntu… (damn I cant keep these names straight perhaps it is ubuntu.one) … and nothing will get synced outside of that folder UNLESS I right click and ADD it to the synchronication process but GOD HELP me if I synchronize a folder and then want it UNSYNCHRONIZED…!!

Ubuntu One resynchronization is in process. I right clicked on my desktop folder TomBoyNotes which is already locally synced with Tom Boy, and I requested that it be synchronized with Ubuntu One Cloud storage and I added the following NOTE – to test whether the sync works. Supposedly I can install tomboy notes on my windows xp and sync it with Ubuntu One Cloud storage:

Ubuntu One Synchronization

Test of One Ubuntu Synchronization. I right clicked on the TomBoyNotes folder on my desktop and requested that it be synchronized with Ubuntu One.

Aha, this is an encouraging sign! I look at the browser where I am logged into ubuntu.one.com cloud storage and it says 107.6 MB used and I look at the Ubuntu One Preferences which shows sync is in progress and it TOO says 107.6 MB used so it is syncing the files on the cloud with that folder in DESKTOP called Ubuntu One. My initial fear was that it was scoop up ALL files on my local machine and would soon gobble up my 5 gig limit and then demand that I pay more for monthly storage.

Mulligan Security was rude today

September 29, 2011

Today, September 29, 2011 at around 7:00 p.m., I had to deliver some important mail to my step-daughter
at Sullivan & Cromwell in their large building just off Water Street.

I arrived outside the building and waited in a public place near the Vietnam Memorial.

I was standing some distance from the building but in full view of the security desk.

It is my understanding that building security works for


Security at the desk STARED at me non-stop for ten full minutes as if I were some kind of security risk.

A roving security guard passed right by me and smiled and then entered the building and approached the security desk.

The man at the desk POINTED at me to the other guard.

By that time my step-daughter had arrived.

I entered the building and asked the security to give me his name so I can lodge a formal complaint.

Even though he was WEARING a name tag it was too small to read and he would not show it to me. He explained that he DOES NOT NEED to give me his name. He called his supervisor who claims that his name is Charles Holliday (Halliday) but he wore no identification so I cannot be certain.

I asked him why the guard is staring at me and pointing at me. Just because I am elderly and wearing a baseball cap and not a $1000 suit and tie does not mean that I am a security risk.

The supervisor was rude to me and said his time was being wasted.

My point is that:

1.) The building has an expensive and elaborate camera system SO if I seemed suspicious they should simply alert whoever monitors the cameras.

2.) IF I were some kind of criminal or derelict I would not be standing in front of the building in full view of the security desk holding mail, a pen, and a cell phone.

3.) Does the man at the security desk really have NOTHING better to do than to stare at an elderly man with a cane and a cell phone.

4.) Once it escalated to the point of my approaching the desk and lodging a complaint the would it not make sense to be diplomatic, apologize, voluntarily give me their names and their employer and then PERHAPS I would not go so far as to blog about this.

I grew up in the era of the 1950s when people of color were stereotyped and profiled simply because of their appearance.

Certainly if security or police feel that someone is suspicious they should be more diplomatic than to stare and point.

Employees should not be required to wear illegible name badges if the are going to refuse to identify themselves to people who have a complaint.

I was waiting in a public garden and memorial site which is frequented all day long by many well dressed business people who smoke and listen to their ipods.

I shall compose a more detailed letter to express my outrage and I shall copy the management of Cromwell and Sullivan as well as the head of Mulligan Management who I believe hires and trains the security people at the building which may be 100 Water Street.

I feel the supervisor handled the situation poorly.

1.) SINCE I was requesting THEIR identification they could have PROVIDED it to me and in turn asked me for MY identification since it is not unusual for Building Security in NYC to request identification and then they would have a valuable piece of information should it turn out that I am some sort of security risk.

2.) I would not be surprised if the Mulligan Security Management Company does not have a proper handbook of Company Policies and Procedures and/or does not exert themselves to guarantee that each employee has studied that handbook and understands what is expected of them.

Everyone who works at security is required to pass an exam and possess a current license. I wonder if all the security employees are in compliance with that law.

Every security employee should wear a badge which is LEGIBLE clearly showing their name and the Company name of the employer.

Forms should be available upon request for anyone to submit a complaint or a suggestion for improvement.

COMMON sense should make anyone realize that if they are working in security and they see someone suspicious the last thing in the WORLD they should do is stare and point.

In the world the I grew up in, the customer and the public is always right and even when they are wrong it is politically correct to humor them so as to avoid a grievance escalating to this level.

Every employee of ANY Company is a representative and spokesperson for that Company and when their conduct makes a negative impression then they tarnish the reputation of their employer.

Prolegomenon to the Writing About Art

September 17, 2011

A Prolegomenon to the Writing
of a Thesis or Essay
upon a Work of Art

Junior Essay, 1970

“Nature, the art whereby God has made and governs the world, is by the art of men, as in many other things, so in this also imitated.”

Hobbes’ Leviathan

Much of men’s intellectual endeavor is divided among scientists, historians, and artists. Let us look at some authors which fall under these broad categories:
Scientists Historians Artists
Aristotle Herodotus Homer
Euclid Plutarch Plato
Appolonius Thucydides Aeschylus
Ptolemy Tacitus Sophocles
Copernicus Gibbon Euripides
Kepler Virgil
Descartes Bible
Newton Dante
Galileo Chaucer
Lucretius Rabelais
Lavoisier Shakespeare
Dalton Cerventes
Avogadro Milton
Galen Swift
Mendel Fielding

Any such generalization as this is a problematic one, to be sure. Some will complain that Lucretius wrote in dactyls, that Galileo wrote a dialogue, that Thucydides availed himself of poetic license in recording the plague of Athens, that Homer was an historian, that Plato was a philosopher, or that the Bible is a work of divine revelation. Others will ask “Where are the philosophers and the theologians?”. But this classification must be regarded as a device by which I will familiarize the reader with the subtle and delicate problem which has goaded me into this writing. I think the reader will soon see the great utility of this generalization and will forgive it for any secondary difficulties which it may introduce.

Scientist attempt to render understandable those things which are outside of men’s authorship and whose laws are not obvious. Such things have traditionally been called nature, a term which is difficult to use with precision.

Historians record those factual events which men are authors of, but authors only in a partial sense of the word. For though these events are indeed products of men’s wilful actions, men are not full masters of these products, neither always anticipating their outcome nor always understanding the reason for their outcome. Historians speculate upon the thoughts and motivations of men in order to gain some knowledge, not of the art of causing events to happen as they ought, but of how and why they happened as they once did, in order to recognize the signs of present change.

Art is concerned with those things which men are author of in the full sense of the word; poems, novels, plays, and dialogues. The artist is free to create whatever he desires; characters, events, moral codes, and deities, He is in full control of their behavior.

The endeavor of art is divided among the few authors who create works and the countless numbers who read and interpret them. Men see art as more than mere narrative, description, and beautiful language. To them a work of art is a seeming diversity which has been organized by the artist with great design and intention. men study and write upon works of art in the hopes of explaining the design and intention of the author. The problems which a work of art presents are problems of the artist’s own invention It would seem that men could most easily find solutions to problems which are other men’s inventions.

My assumption is that men do not persist in that which is hopeless nor dwell upon that which is obvious. In any intellectual endeavor, men seek that which they may call true and certain. Sciences grow and are accumulative in these truths. QUestions, once answered, need no longer be asked again as other than rhetorical questions. A majority of men can be persuaded of the truths which the sciences possess. Several scientists will arrive at the same conclusions independently of one another. The enterprise of art is dissimilar from that of science in these respects. In a period of forty years, four men, Mendel, de Vries, Correns, and Tschermak, independently of one another discovered the basic laws of heredity. Yet the two thousand years of uninterrupted conjecture upon Homer, Plato, and the Bible show none of the striking examples of such independent concurrence which the sciences have to offer but, on the contrary, considerable discord and schism. The circulation of the blood has been proved. We know that the earth moves. We know that matter is composed of atoms. But why do Aeneas and the Sibyl leave Hades thought eh gate of false dreams? Were such questions in a work of art answerable, as those who write upon works of art presume, then such a writing would be a science of which one could say “Learn it and it will convince you irresistibly and irrevocably of the truth.”1 Yet writings upon works of art bear no such irresistible and irrevocable character. If such questions in a work of art were unanswerable, men would cease their efforts. Intelligent men no longer attempt to square the circle. Yet men study art and nature with equal zeal. The fact that men continually endeavor to interpret works of art indicates that they consider art to be comprehensible and see hope for success. I have been lead by all of the above considerations to ask of those who would write upon works of art the question which Kant asked of Metaphysics. “If it is a science, why can it not, like other sciences, obtain universal and permanent recognition? If it is not, how can it keep the human mind in suspense with hopes, never ceasing, yet never being fulfilled.?” 2

At this point, the reader may accuse me of having made the foolish blunder of asking of art “Why are you not a science?” or of asking that works of art be treated scientifically. With what right do I ask writers on works of art if they have a science? I shall appeal to the distinction between implicit and explicit writing in order to vindicate myself.

Of the scientists, the historians, and the artists; the works of the scientists are the most explicit and unequivocal, the works of the historians are in some places explicit and in other places equivocal and implicit, and the works of the artists are the most implicit and equivocal. In fact, it is by considering the degree of explicitness and implicitness in a writing that I judge it to be scientific, historical, or artistic. The scientist and the historian stand before their work as its author and openly admit that they are asserting in their work what they believe to the the truth. The artist does not stand before his work as its author. The artist may present his work anonymously, or present himself as the witness of a dialogue, as the narrator of an event, as the mouthpiece of a divinity, or as the translator of someone else’s work. One reads an explicit book in a manner different from that in which he reads a book which he believes to be implicit and veiled. One takes the explicit author seriously on his major assertions and pardons any small peculiarities and variations in his language. The implicit author makes no assertions for the very reason that he has written in an implicit style. One scrutinizes with the greatest care the smallest peculiarity or variation in his language in order to form an hypothesis as to that to which the author is alluding. And explicit work makes one uniform assertion. A work of art, in one sense, asserts nothing, and, in another sense, asserts may things. In light of today’s knowledge, Aristotle is in error in certain of his assertions concerning astronomy and biology. Plato, however, is in no way wrong by today’s knowledge, nor can any conceivable discovery place him in error. This is because the Dialogues do not admit of error in the same manner that De Caelo or Historia Animalium. The author of a treatise is subservient ot his subject. The burden of explaining the subject rests upon him. He must make overt assertions and denials concerning his subject and then must account to us for any inadequacies which we ay find in thim. The artist is first creator and then master of his subject. The burden of understanding his work is upon us and it is we who must account to ourselves for our own inadequacies in the face of his artistic perfection. If we cannot comprehend the designs which a mortal has woven in words, so much less can we hope to comprehend divine designs woven not in words but in objects, space, time, and in ourselves. Paradox, which is awkwardness in a science, is beauty in a work of art. Self-contradiction, the downfall of an expository writer, is for the artist, being at his height. Nature and works of art are both veiled creations. Those who write on works of art are in the same relation to the work as scientists are to nature. Both take that which appears to them as diversity hidden laws which may be uncovered and articulated in an explicit fashion. It is by this that I justify myself in asking of those who write upon works of art whether they have a science.

I will now investigate the realms of the explicit and the implicit in order to determine the possibility of writing a paper which must be explicit upon a work which is implicit, a work of art. I choose Pascal as my Virgil, to lead me through these realms, because he was a man capable of moving through both science and art. The very fact that he articulated the difference between l’esprit de geometrie and l’esprit de finesse indicates that he was a rare man endowed with both spirits.

Laboring to show that Christianity is the one true religion, Pascal set himself three tasks in the Pensees; to determine the nature of man and his ills, to reconcile both by literary and historical means the Old Testament with the New Testament, and to show how a true religion provides all the necessary remedies for man’s ills. In all three tasks, Pascal employed the concept of opposing extremes as a device to aid him, much as a physicist employs calculus to aid himself in the study of nature. I am laboring to show that a genuine thesis cannot be written upon a true work of art. I must determine the nature of man, reconcile the works of art with the theses, and show how a true work of art best serves the nexus of human nature. I too, as I draw my conclusions, will resort ot the concept of extremes. This concept of extremes might be called a calculus of art. It is an exceedingly important concept which should be studied in great detail by anyone who would write upon a work of art. We may begin this study as I accompany Pascal on his journey.

The Nature of Man

(72)-”What is is man in Nature? A Nothing in comparison with the Infinite, and All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean between nothing and everything.” Pascal sees man as the bastard offspring of an illicit affair between beauty and ugliness, heir to opposite qualities at war within hi sbreast, abandoned to aimless wandering through a wilderness of extremes. Even the virtues within him, such as courage and gentleness, are in conflict with one another. Virtues themselves may become vies when carried to extremes: courage becomes mania, gentleness becomes cowardice. In order to avoid such extremes, man must possess both a virtue and its opposite. The mean is best.

Man looks at nature and sees the beasts of whom he is lord. And yet he knows he is not lor of nature. He sees only one half of a proportion clearly. Man is a divine among beasts. But he is also an animal. Is there something which stands above man in the same ration with which man stands above the beasts, so that one may say “As man is to the beasts, so is this to man?” He searches nature for something to complete the proportion. This third term could only be a god. He looks to nature and sees neither the manifest presence of a god nor manifest evidence that there is no god, but only the implications of a god who hides himself. “Perhaps there is not third term”, he says. “Perhaps I am only a beast. But if I am only a beast, what despair! What can I hope for? All my striving for virtue is to no avail. I remain a beast and there is no one to see me in my righteousness. The road to virtue is such a painstaking journey to make. Why deny myself the pleasures which other beasts enjoy?” But in thinking himself a beast, man falls prey to appetites more insidious than any beast knows. They gnaw at his soul. “I have no proof that I am not a beast. But I still I know I cannot be a beast, for to believe so gies rise to so many evils. Perhaps I am a god, the only god of which feeble nature is capable.” elieving that he is a god, he refrains from every sin except the greatest sin of all, pride. It gnaws at his heart. “I have no proof that I am not a god. But still, I know I cannot be a god, for to believe so gives rise to the greatest evil.”

The implicitness in nature is imitated by the implicitness which the reader finds in the work of art. Man’s search for God in nature is the reader’s search for the author in the work of art. There are strong analogies between the author of a work of art, which is an imitation of reality; God, who is the divine author of reality itself; the reader, who searches the work for the intentions of the author; and the scientist, who searches reality for those laws placed there by God. These analogies may be expressed in the following two proportions: author : work :: God : nature , reader : work :: scientist : nature.

Now art is a unique imitation of Nature. The degree of perfection in the words, deeds, and circumstances of a work exists in the world only in such isolated and unconnected instances as are sufficient to suggest to the artist that higher degrees of perfection could exist in a work. One generally thinks of an imitation as having a lesser degree of perfection than its imitation, the work of art. By the above criterion, nature would appear as an imitator of art rather than as it’s model. This is the deceptive quality of art to which a reader easily and perhaps fortunately may succumb. I say fortunately because I believe that morality is more important to man than the truth to be found in science. The truth of an hypothesis or theory lies in how accurately it accounts for the phenomena, say the setting of a star. The truth of an history lies in how accurately it corresponds to and accounts for actual events, say the decline of a nation. The truth of art lies in how it affects the man who cherishes it, whether it leads him to a better or a worse way of life. We must consider whether art may afford a device to maintain man in a mean-extremes relationship.

It is a wondrous empirical fact that the mean-extremes relationship manifests itself in several authors. Homer portrays Odysseus as the mean between swift-footed Achilles and Ajax, “The Wall”, 1 . Plato portrays Theaetetus as the perfect blend of quickness of intelligence and gentleness of spirit.2 Socrates is both the gadfly who stings the despairing with myth, and the “narke” (stingray) who numbs the pretentious with refutation.3 The mean is implicit in the inscription at the Delphic Oracle, “Meden Agan”.4 Virgil places Aeneas between the arms and the man , the alternatives of fighting in defence and of fleeing for self-preservation.5 Dante’s Divine Comedy is a journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven. The Inferno is set into motion by three beasts; a lion, a spotted leopard, and a she-wolf.6 Satan has three heads whose jaws hold Judas, Cassius, and Brutus.7 Each book consists of thirty-three cantos. Pascal initially presents the Bible as a problem of extremes and the mean. Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained is patterned after Pascal’s notion of Adam-Christ.8 Heaven is at thrice the earth’s radius’ remove from hell.9 One third of the angels fall with Satan. 10 Swift placed Gulliver as a mean both between the Lilliputians and the Brobdingnagians and also the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms. The various mechanisms of innuendo at the artist’s command do not prescribe or limit the sorts of things which may be connoted. Each author might employ this machinery to imply any number of relationships which might together bear no characteristic similarity with one another. We must therefore consider why it is that this mean-extremes relationship manifests itself in this way, never neglecting the possibility that the mean-extremes relationship may be not only an empirical fact but also an intellectually necessary law for human nature, and so fundamental a law that all worthy authors must address themselves to it in their works.

Pascal finds a strange inversion in human nature. Man dwells upon trifling problems and is insensible to those of the greatest concern, such as death and afterlife. He desires peace from striving after all his desires and yet the few moments of peace which he can achieve are filled with the melancholy of self-contemplation. And yet self-contemplation and the consideration of great problems are necessary for his well-being.

Poetry has often been called an idle pursuit. Men look upon art as a diversion. Men turn to art to escape their trifling problems. Yet when men seek diversion in art, their gaze is unwittingly turned to the greatest problems and to introspection. Art, in distracting man from himself and his petty problems, turns him to himself and his greatest problems.

Pascal asks, “What remedy is there to maintain man in this mean?” He turns to philosophy but finds no answers. Philosophy too is plagued with extremes; the dogmatists and the skeptics, the Stoics and the Epicurians. He turns to religion for an answer. I turn to works of art, for works of religion are unique productions of mortal and, perhaps, divine art. “But which is the true religion?”, he asks. I ask, “What is the true work of art?”

The true religion must be the center to which all things tend historically, it must not be at odds with itself, if it is to be comprehensible. It must teach man his ills and their cause, and it must provide a remedy for his ills. Pascal turns to the Bible in search of the true religion.

Historical Justification of the Bible

The jews are a people who have existed longer than any other. They are the most persecuted race of men, and yet they have miraculously survived longer than any other. Their preservation was foretold in prophesy. They have always prophesied the coming of a savior who would redeem them. Christ was born in the manner prophesied and proclaimed himself their savior. The figure of Christ is an historical center. The majority of the Jews rejected Jesus as their true savior.

Literary Justification of the Bible

The old Testament is filled with obscurities, contradictions, and paradoxes. We must see through the obscurities, find one meaning which resolves all contradictions, and be taught the necessity for the existence of paradoxes if we are to rely upon the Old Testament as a testimony to the Christian religion. Why was the Old Testament written in this manner?

Pascal shows the Old testament to have two levels of meaning, a carnal and a spiritual. David foretold that a Messiah would deliver the people from their enemies. The carnal meaning of the word enemies signified the Babylonians. The spiritual meaning signified mens’ sins, which are also their enemies. Without the carnal meaning, which the Jews loved, to conceal the spiritual meaning, which they hated, the books would not have been preserved. It was necessary that the Jews not see the spiritual meaning, in order that they might reject Christ when He came, thus fulfilling the prophesy. Otherwise the testimony of the Jews would not have been credible. But the spiritual meaning could not be hidden to all, for then it would not have served as a proof of the Messiah. The figures of the Old Testament, with their explicit carnal meaning and their implicit spiritual meaning, act as touchstones for the hearts of these men who read them. He who supposes the carnal meaning has a carnal heart. He who supposes the spiritual meaning has a spiritual heart. Why are works of art written in an implicit manner? Men have a need to exercise the faculties of their minds. THis need may be satisfied through discovery in art. The sensation of discovery in science is what art imitates. Discovering an interpretation in a work of art gives a feeling of satisfaction which is an imitation of the sensation of discovering order in nature in the form of a physical law or a geometric proposition. Physics and geometry are less available to men than art is, for those two disciplines require long, difficult study. Few may participate in science and mathematics and yet many have a need for insight and discovery.

Any who doubt the Bible’s status as a work of art will understand why I have placed it in this category if they consider Pascal’s treatment of the Old Testament; (690) “The Old Testament is a cipher.” Jesus and the Gospel writers are to the old testament what thesis writers are to the works of art. (677) “How greatly then ought we to value those who interpret the cipher, and teach us to understand hidden meaning, especially if the principles which they educe are perfectly clear and natural! This is what Jesus Christ did, and the Apostles, they broke the seal; He rent the veil and revealed the spirit.”

All contradictions are resolved in Christ. He is typified by Joseph. Both are betrayed and sold. Both are between two criminals. (552)”Jesus is in a garden, not of delight as the first Adam, where he lost himself and the whole human race, but in one of agony, where he saved himself and the whole human race.”

Christianity as the Remedy for Man’s Ills

It is for our best interests that we both see and do not see God. For in seeing and not seeing we recognize both our former greatness, and the fact that we have lost it. The obscurity makes man sensible of his corruption. Knowing God without knowing his wretchedness makes man prideful, knowing his wretchedness without knowing God causes his despair. Adam and the mystery of the Fall teach man both his former greatness and his present wretchedness. Christ keeps man in the mean between pride and dispair.

We are subject to pride as we feel ourselves approaching an understanding of the subtleties of a great author and to dispair as our certainty disappears.

Whenever, in the Old Testament, God manifests himself to the Jews, they would become prideful, seeing His glory and their likeness to Him. This would anger God and He would withdraw from the Jews and conceal Himself. They would then fall to dispair and sin. The Psalms are a succession of praises and lamentations. There was no middle ground for man and God. Christ was a union of God’s glory and man’s wretchedness. Man could praise Christ’s glory without falling prey to pride, for he would also see His wretchedness. Man could humble himself before Christ without falling into dispair, for he would also see His greatness.

Pascal summarized the remedy of Christianity tersely. (435) “So making those tremble whom it justifies, and consoling those whom it condemns, religion so justly tempers fear with hope through that double capacity of grace and sin, common to all, that it humbles infinitely more than reason alone can do, but without dispair; and it exalts infinitely more than natural pride, but without inflating; thus making it evident that alone being exempt from error and vice, it alone fulfills the duty of instructing and correcting men.”

I must now answer my own question concerning the true work of art and show how the true work of art, if it exists, can serve man’s needs.

One may imagine three kinds of works. A work of art may be so obscure as to render no hope of comprehension. Such a work would be the foolish product of an author who had not meaning to convey. If all works of art were like this, men might resort to the beauty of their language as a pleasant source of diversion from themselves and their troubles, but few would attempt to articulate a meaning which is not there. However, men timelessly study and write upon works of art.

A work may be like a jig-saw puzzle whose pieces a clever author has disassembled and scattered in the hopes that some clever reader will collect and reconstruct them. If all works of art were like this, men would be perfectly capable of writing theses upon works of art. The thesis would consist in the reconstruction. But then different men would surely arrive independently at the same discovery concerning a particular work. Their theses would be irrevocably and irresistibly convincing to all who read them. This is certainly possible with minor works which have been composed by lesser authors. But I am considering the greatest works which have been cherished through the ages. Diotema said that we do not love something which we possess. If men have written final definitive interpretations of these works, the work of art would have been reduce to the interpretation. If we could completely explain the work, we would possess it and would no longer love it. Men would no longer read Homer, but would read some scholar’s thesis upon Homer. Perhaps this is why St. John’s reads the Great Books rather than commentaries or texts written about them. Perhaps this is why the enterprise of the seminar consists more in asking questions than in giving answers.

If a work of art is to be neither a foolish obscurity nor a clever puzzle, it must occupy the middle ground between them. This third kind of work must offer the ope of profound meaning and yet must never completely yield it. It must tantalize, as did the gods poor Tantalus.

We must decide what our criterion for a true work of art will be. The obscurity and puzzle are poor candidates. But this third kind of work is doubtful. What would be the value in creating such a work as this?

Man’s nature requires a continuing process, not an end achieved. His vision must be turned in a certain direction by question which he may always ask himself. In many respects, the unanswerable question is the unmoved mover of the soul. Consider the question “What is virtue?” I challenge anyone to write a genuine thesis answering this question. And yet a great dialogue, the Meno, has been constructed around it. The foundations of our morality rest upon our continually asking ourselves these unanswerable questions. A true work of art maintains man in the mean by providing him with a process which is an end in itself. It is only be regarding a process which is an end in itself that I am able to understand Christ saying (552)”Thous wouldst not seek me if thou hads not found me.”, “Thou (554) woulds not seek me if thou didst not possess me.” Man’s need for such a process is illustrated by the following myth.

There was once a god of ends, a god which all the gods worshipped. Hitherto, he had inhabited the remotest corners of the heavens. But one day the earth and its mortal inhabitants aroused his curiosity. He descended from the sky and found himself in the midst of an athletic field where runners were training for their races and their much coveted prizes. He saw their contorted faces and their sweat-covered bodies and took pity on them. He waved his had over them and granted them the boon which before only the immortals had enjoyed, that wherever they should desire to be, there they would find themselves transported. The athletes lined themselves up for their usual race across the field. No sooner had the signal been given for them to start, when, to their amazement, they found themselves standing at the other end of the field. Throught the day they tried to run. But however short a course they chose, they found themselves effortlessly transported across it. As the months went by they lost their spirit. Their bodies lost their strength and became fat and flaccid. “We have surely committed some great sin,” they said, “for such divine wrath to have fallen upon us.” They prayed ardently for relief. From the heavens, the god of means, the god which the mortals unknowingly worshiped, looked down and saw that tall was not right with his creatures. he gave a nod and undid the mischief which his father had unwittingly created.

I see grounds for arguing that a genuine thesis cannot be written upon a true work of art. This is not to exclude the possibility of writing any number of legitimate essays (or attempts). By thesis I mean a paper which offers successful proof of fact. The word thesis comes from the Greek THESIS, a placing or setting; ekeon th., setting of words in verse, th. nomon, lawgiving, th. anomatos, giving of a name. But essay I mean a paper in which an attempt is made to persuade someone of an opinion. The word essay comes from the French essayer, meaning to try or test, which is related to the Latin exagium, meaning a weighing or a balance. If a thesis could explicitly articulate an exhaustive interpretations, the work would be reduced to the interpretation and would be no true work of art. A thesis might only hope to capture and preserve the essence of the work. Such a thesis would be itself a work of art, preserving the connotative ambiguities of the work by being connotative and ambiguous itself. Thus a work of art can be captured only by another work of art. Not even the poet can have a completely explicit understanding of his work. For if the author were capable of being totally explicit, then surely a reader would someday discover and articulate the explicit structure. The work would then be reduced to the interpretation and would be no true work of art. The ways of God are not completely known to man. Therefore, if the artist is to imitate God in creating a work of art as an imitation of nature, his own ways must not be completely known to himself.

My assumption is that no man has or ever will produce a definitive interpretation of a true work of art which is persuasive to many, but that all who devote themselves to the study of such works see the outlines of some definitive interpretation which may constitute a legitimate essay.

The mind of one man, using similar methods of reasoning, produced both the Pensees and a treatise on conic sections. How ironic it is that so many accept the treatise and so few are persuaded to accept the Christian faith. How appropriate it was for him to write (395) “We have an impotence to prove, invincible by any dogmatism, and we have an idea of truth, invincible by any skepticism.”


A Method and its Practical Application

September 17, 2011

A Method and its Practical Application (Sophomore Essay, 1969)

St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland

Part I: The Method

An Ideal Definition of Art

I consider a poet to be an artist. I consider a poem to be a work of art. There is a certain method of thinking which an artist uses as he composes a work of art. It is this same method which a beholder employs as he appreciates the work of art. By composition, I mean, in a crude sense, putting together. I use the word appreciation in an unusual sense. In saying that the beholder appreciates the work of art, I mean that the beholder goes through a process of thought which is the reverse of that process through which the artist went as he composed. In a crude sense, I mean that the beholder takes apart.

How does the beholder appreciate? He begins by asking certain questions of the text. These questions grow out of one basic precept which the beholder adheres to on faith, as he approaches any work of art. This is the precept that the artist creates nothing without purpose.These questions, which the beholder asks, are questions which the artist intended him to find. The beholder finds answers in the text which the artist intended him to find. When the beholder has answered all his questions, what does he have? A philosophy is what he has. The same philosophy which the artist held and intended to convey.

As the artist is composing, he is enjoying the activity of invention. As the beholder appreciates, he is enjoying the activity of discovery. The sensations of these two activities are difficult to distinguish, and I am inclined to believe that the difference between the activities themselves is only a matter of direction. Invention and discovery are the most pleasurable and important activities of the mind, which is itself in tun the highest faculty of the body. Most men have a need to exercise the faculties of their minds. This need may be satisfied through discovery in art. The sensation of discovery in science is what art imitates.

Discovering interpretation in art gives a feeling of satisfaction which is an imitation of the sensation of discovering order in nature in the form of a physical law or a geometric proposition. The truths of physics and geometry are less available to most people because it requires long and difficult study to be in a position to participate in such fields. Few may participate in Science or Mathematics, and yet many have need for insight and discovery, the need to learn. Examining a text in this fashion is similar to astronomers examining the terrain of Mars in an effort to decide if the complex of lines is an effect of nature, or a system of canals constructed by intelligent beings.

There is an argument which states that the mind has such a drive to find meaning and significance that people given a page of nonsense or gibberish to interpret will fabricate some interpretation for it rather than say that it is meaningless. Many artists of questionable merit have supposed this argument true and have tried to take advantage of that fact. I consider these activities of invention and discovery to be the only important objects or ends in art. The work which the artist composes is merely a vehicle for the exercise of invention and is subordinate to the activity itself. The work which the beholder appreciates is merely a catalyst or agent which excites the activity of discovery in him. These activities and their accompanying sensations are what make art something distinct from both things which are merely pretty and excite the lower faculties but have no content or import for the mind and also from things which have nothing but content for the mind, or, to but it crudely, bare knowledge.

That there is a method of thought which is exercised at least on the part of the beholder.

I have admitted that my definition of art is an ideal definition, that is, in no sense conformable in it s entirety with our experience of reality. And yet, various aspects of the definition are obviously pertinent to our experience with poetry and prose. Although the argument for the validity of those things which I assert about the artist is a vain one to pursue, since the thoughts and motives of the greatest artists are inaccessible to us, it is certainly obvious that people behave as though they believed such things about the artist to be true, when they are confronted with a work of poetry or prose. People habitually make assertions and judgments about works of art which they can only arrive at by means of that certain process of thought which I alluded to above, and which they legitimately maintain only by assuming that the artist shares this same process of thought and creates nothing independent or in excess of this process. And yet no one ever tries to be explicit or exact about this method of thought which is so often employed.

That this method of thought is natural and common among people

An example may be found in Plato’s Ion, which , not in content but in form, is a paradigm for this method of thought.

(543,d) Herein lies the reason why the Deity has bereft them of their senses, and uses them as ministers, along with soothsayers and godly seers; it is in order that we listeners may know that it is not they who utter these precious revelations while their mind is not within them, but that it is the God himself who speaks, and through them becomes articulate to us. The most convincing evidence of this statement is offered by Tynnichus of Chalcis. He never composed a single poem worth recalling, save the song of praise which everyone repeats, well nigh the finest of all lyrical poems, and absolutely what he called it, an “Invention of the Muses”. By this example above all, it seems to me, the God would show us, lest we doubt, that these lovely poems are not of man or human workmanship, but are divine and from the Gods, and that the poets are nothing but interpreters of the Gods, each one possessed by the Divinity to whom he is in bondage. And to prove this, the Deity on purpose sang the loveliest of all lyrics through the most miserable poet.

What Socrates is saying is, in effect, this: The fact that the most miserable poet composed the most beautiful poem is of too high a degree of organization to be accidental or insignificant. The attendant circumstances surrounding the composition of poetry, i.e., the frenzied emotional state of the poet, and the poet’s inability to intelligently discuss his creation, together with this highly significant fact about Tynnichus, create too reasonable a ground for us not to conclude that the idea of poetry coming , not through art, but thou rh dine inspiration, is intentional on the part of some agent. I am calling attention in this passage, not to questions of divine inspiration, but only to the form of the reasoning which constituted the method of thought in art.

The epic poets seem to be explicitly inviting the reader to exercise this method of thought upon their works by including so many examples of the method, such as the following:

(Odyssey, Book XIX) Wherefore listen, and read me this dream of mine. I have twenty geese on the place, wild geese from the river, who have learned to eat my corn: and I love watching them. But a great hock-billed eagle swooped from the mountain, seized them neck by neck and killed them all. Their bodies littered the house in tumbled heaps, while he swung aloft agin into God’s air. All this I tell you was a dream, of course, but in it I wept and sobbed bitterly, and the goodly-haired achaean women thronged about me while I bewailed by geese which the eagle had killed. But suddenly he swooped back to perch on a projecting black beam of the house and bring forth a human voice that dried my tears: ‘Daughter of icarius, be comforted,’ it said. ‘This is no dream but a picture of stark reality, wholly to be fulfilled. The geese are your suitors; and I, lately the eagle, am your husband come again, to launch foul death upon them all.” WIth this in my ears, I awoke from my sleep, to be aware of the geese waddling through the place or guzzling their food from the trough, just as ever.

Odysseus replied to her, “Lady,this dream cannot be twisted to read otherwise than as Odysseus himself promised its fulfillment. Destruction is foredoomed for each and every suitor. None will escape the fatal issue.”

But wise Penelope responded, “Stranger, dreams are tricksy things and hard to unravel. By no means all in them comes true for us. Twin are the gates to the impalpable land of dreams, these made from horn and those of ivory. Dreams that pass by the pale carven ivory are irony, cheats with a burden of vain hope: but every dream which comes to man through the gates of horn forecasts the future truth. I fear my odd dream was not such a one, welcome though the event would be to me and my son.”

Again, what is being said is this. The level of organization in the events of the dream is of too high a degree for the dream to be accidental or unintentional, and, within the context of odysseus’ ab sense and the suitor’s presence, constitutes an overpowering argument for the intentional portentous significance on the part of some agent.

By a high level of organization, I mean that Penelope did not dream just of an eagle landing, which might mean the arrival of Odysseus or telemachus, or of geese dying, which might mean plague or famine or any number of other things, nor did she dream of the milkmaid dropping twenty eggs, which would yield a rather strained interpretation in the context of the Odyssey.

Of course, we do not generally trust to such a method of thinking in matters of the physical world as in the example of Penelope. But in the world of the poet’s creation such a method of thought is the only tool we have to find the physical, ethical, and supernatural laws which are made of nothing other than the poet’s own intention. In the world which the poet creates, there is no reliable future portent other than the poet’s implicit manifestations of his intention.

I may now make a general statement of my meaning. This method of thought which ends in a judgment is natural and common among men. It relies on two criteria. One is organization, especially that which is too carefully arranged to be accidental or unintentional. This first criterion is necessary in order to recognize a point of question in the text. The other is the context, or such a set of circumstances as are adequate to establish that the interpretation of this point was intended by the author and is necessary to an understanding of the work. The existence of an appropriate context together with the existence of a point of question whose interpretation would complete the meaning of the work in that context constitute a special kind of judgment upon the significance of that point of question.

The argument which this method employs is the same kind of argument which science employs in order to believe things which it cannot see. stanislao cannizzaro gives a perfect example of this kind of argument in his Sketch of a Course of Chemical Philosophy.

(Alembic Club Reprint No. 13, pg. 11) “Compare,” I say to them/his students/, “The various quantities of the same element contained in the molecule of the free substance and in those of all its different compounds, and you will not be able to escape the following law; The different quantities of the same element contained in different molecules are all whole multiples of one and the same quantity, which, always being entire, has the right to be called an atom.”

Compare certain repetitive images, whose interpretive significance you have tentatively asserted, with the context of the work itself and if you cannot escape from using this interpretive significance to explain the reason for the presence of these images, then that interpretive significance has the right to be called intentional on the part of the author.

That the relationship between the beholder and the work of art is a dialectical one.

Now that I have presented what I mean by art, and the manner in which art is appreciated, I will consider what effect these definitions have upon the relationship between the reader and the work of art. That is, what is the work of art to the beholder? I will try to do this by means of an analogy. Look at this drawing (facing page). What do you see? You see a farm landscape, a man and his dog, and a huge fly looming in the air. All these things are explicitly represented in the drawing. Now inspect the drawing closely. Examine individual lines one at a time from different perspectives and in relationship with other different groups of lines. Are you beginning to suspect that you are seeing some unusual things? A giraffe or a hippopotamus perhaps? But no, that is silly. It would be a great fault on the artist’s part if he had so little control of his lines that they conspired against him behind his back, forming all sorts of ludicrous animals to mock his ability and mar his pretty drawing. Ant yet, how can we assert that a giraffe or a hippopotamus is actually depicted unless we somehow have a knowledge of or take into account the artist’s intent. If the giraffe or hippopotamus is unintentional on the part of the artist, then we must attribute these figures to accident or chance. They are not significant as figures of animals in themselves and if they are considered at all , they must be considered as flaws and imperfections in the artist’s work.

The problem of the drawing leads us to the most generalized expression of the problems of interpretation and understanding in art; subjective and objective judgments. Look at this drawing:

There are two possible ways of interpreting this drawing. If you focus your attention to the right, it appears to be a rabbit. If you focus your attention to the left, it appears to be a bird with a gaping beak. These first two interpretations are based upon subjective judgment. A third interpretation is that the drawing consists of a dot enclosed in a continuous line, which is smooth to the right of the dot, and angular to the left. This is an objective judgment which precludes the use of imagination. Objective judgment plays no significant role in art. The question we must ask when we are faced with the opportunity for a subjective judgment is “Does this make sense in the context of this work?”

Look at the first drawing again. If you knew that the artist was aware of the presence of these figures, the giraffe and the hippopotamus, you would realize that the purpose of the drawing and the intention of the artist is not beauty or mimetic proficiency so much as this subtle insinuation of one thing by something entirely different and unsuspected. And, of course, this is exactly what this drawing is, a puzzle which conceals dozens of images. When you first look at the drawing, all you see is a picturesque farm landscape. But as you study it over several minutes, you begin to see that the leaves of the trees, the ripples on the pond water, and the clouds in the sky, conceal the shapes of animals and peoples’ faces. Once you have found all the concealed images, you are no longer capable of seeing the simple farm landscape again as you first beheld it. It moves as you continue to behold it. You strain to see all the hidden figures, but you can only see them all together for a moment before a tree or cloud intrudes again upon your vision. You try to see the farm and landscape again as you first saw it, but you can behold it only for a moment before a face or an animal peers out at you through the meadows. The drawing is no longer static, but dynamic. A poem is like this drawing. The poem and the drawing possess the same properties, and problems. But this is the point at which the analogy between the drawing and the poem breaks down. You have now done as much as you possibly can with the drawing. You have seen the gross depiction of a farm landscape, found all the hidden images, and appreciated the drawing’s optically illusive qualities. There is nothing more to experience from the drawing. There are no questions to be asked of the drawing or answers within it to be found. The drawing is not dialectical. When the beholder of the poem reaches this stage, he has only just begun the process of appreciation. he has found all the images in the poem. I spoke of these images in my ideal definition as the questions which the artist places in thew work. The reader must ask why the poet placed these images in the poem. he cannot help but recognize their presence, because they are so carefully wrought. He cannot ignore them if he believes the precept that the artist creates nothing without purpose. If he does not believe this precept, art will be for him a thing too arbitrary and uncertain to convey anything more than pretty sounds and descriptions for the gratification of his lower faculties. Where does the reader find the answers to his questions? He finds them in the context in which the poem is set, in the gross depiction of the drawing; the story or plot. The relationship between the poem and the reader is a dialectical relationship.

The kinds of works of art

Now that I have tried to sketch the relationship between the beholder and the work of art, I find that a difficult question arises. How many different kinds of works are there under the method as I have presented it? I describe a situation in which on the one hand, an artist puts together a work in which he places certain questions and answers, the asking and answering of which constitutes some sort of philosophy, and on the other hand, a beholder takes apart that work of art by finding all the questions, answering them, and discovering the philosophy of the artist. Let us say that such a work of art actually exists. I do not think it would be difficult to create such a work. If one were to make his images extremely overt, his answers simple, and his philosophy homely, I am certain that the process of taking apart would be equal to the process of putting together. Consider this work of art in terms of the definition of love in Plato’s Symposium.

(203,e) diotema: He (Love), is neither mortal nor immortal, for in the space of a day, he will be now, when all goes well with him, alive and blooming, and now dying, to be born again by virtue of his father’s nature, while what he gains will always ebb away as fast. So, Love is never altogether in or out of need, and stands, moreover, midway between ignorance and wisdom. You must understand that none of the Gods are seekers after truth. They do not long for wisdom, because they are wise.

According to this definition, the beholder will not love the work of art because, having taken it apart and understood it, he posses it. The beholder may certainly still be drawn to the work for its beauty or wisdom. He will certainly be more drawn to such a work than to a second kind, a poorly composed work in which the questions are obscure and the answers ambiguous and frustrating. But imagine a third kind of work. In order to describe this work, it must be conceded that there are two kinds of written works, the explicit and the implicit, and that two kinds of ambiguities can arise for the reader in a written work, paradoxes and contradictions. The last page of a written work may embody the ends towards which the work is directed or it may be an end only in the sense that it is the last page. When the latter is the case, the reader must consider the book as a whole in order to try to decide what ends are pointed to or arrived at in the text. In an overtly explicit work, such as a treatise, the task of deciding upon ends which are pointed to or arrived at and of drawing conclusions about their value or validity may be a simple one or it may not, depending on the subtleties of the writer and of his subject In an overt work of art, such as a poem, these ends may lie entirely within the implicit and connotative framework which the artist has constructed. Where connotative ambiguities are present in an explicit work, they may be considered stumbling blocks to understanding and may be criticized in their capacity as ambiguities or may even be considered contradictions, and the writer will be judged by some to have failed in his purpose. When these same sorts of connotative ambiguities are present in the work of a truly great artist, they are almost never though of as contradictions by intelligent readers. For a great artist is the most sensitive of all men to such ambiguities and uses them in an exquisite manner to elicit a dialogue between the reader and the text itself. Ambiguities in such a context are not contradictions, but paradoxes. Some paradoxes are not only very beautiful to contemplate, but also are very fruitful in that this dialogue which they excite demands the kind of careful thought and attention which is prerequisite to the understanding of some problems. Such a use of paradoxes is perhaps the only effective manner of approaching those matters which are most difficult because they are themselves inherent paradoxes which cannot be legitimately resolved but are most fruitfully spoken “about’, the end of such speech being the elucidation of the paradoxical nature of the matter and an understanding of the implications in such a paradox. In order to teach the reader about the paradoxical nature of the problem, the writer imitates the of the problem through the distortion of it brought to life in the of the text. The various aspects of the problems which the reader discovers in the course of his dialectical experience with the text leads him to an understanding of the of the problem itself, which is the author’s true subject and intent.

Now we are ready to imagine a third kind of work. Imagine a work of art constructed around some inherently paradoxical aspect of reality, whether it be physical nature or human nature. Since we are dealing with a paradox, it must have at least two possible alternatives, both equally likely and valid when viewed apart and yet mutually contradictory when viewed together. According to the method, the artist places certain questions in his work. Since he is dealing with a paradoxical matter of a dual nature, he must place in his work the questions and corresponding answers of both aspects of the paradox. This will cause violent argument and dissension within the reader as he tries to answer his questions. According to the method, the reader is depending upon the probability or likelihood that a character, object, or relationship has some level of meaning aside from a surface one. He is led to ask questions by two elements of the work; striking motifs – that is, continual recurrence of an unusual object or action throughout the text – and description, detail, analogy, simile, or metaphor which would seem excessive, odd, or out of place unless the artist intended some greater significance. When, through the entire work, motifs and metaphors grow into a suggestive framework which has too high and fine a level of organization to be accidental, the reader assumes it to be deliberate and questions the text to discover, if he may, the artist’s true intent. But the artist is imitating the paradoxical nature of the problem in the text. This imitation appears in the text as a framework with ambivalent properties and in the reader as a passionate struggle in his dialectical experience. Because the connotations of the work are constructed about eternally unresolvable problems, different conflicting interpretations are equally possible and valid. Camps of contention arise. The reader feels that great meaning, understanding, and insight lie just within his grasp. He is enticed to the work again and again. Only his desire is like the hunger and thirst of tantalus, something is just out of reach but eternally unattainable. His task is the task of sysiphus, simple and definable and seemingly within his abilities, and xxx eternally falling short of completion. In the Platonic sense, this kind of work or art is loved, for there is great possibility for understanding (for nothing is loved which is though impossible of attainment), and yet it can never be possessed. The question remains, which of these three kinds of works is greatest? I believe the answer to that depends upon the tastes and patience of the individual being asked. But I think it is clear that the third kind of work is most lasting.

* The drawing facing the sixth page contains an elk, peacock, shark, butterfly, lion, tiger, rabbit, book, coat, boot, hare, rake, barrel, catapillar, pigeon, yardstick, snail, match, turtle, owl, rhinoceros, antelope, watch, skull, cat, cow, giraffe, priest, mummy, humpty dumpty, squirrel, five fish, two indians, twelve faces, three mice, eleven dogs, three eagles, five letters, five ducks two camels, three elephants, seven men, two monkeys, two cymbals, four birds, four bears, four goats, eight frogs, two seals, three beavers, nine sheep, three ladies, five horses, five pigs, two chickens, four alligators, two boys, two babies, and two combs.

PART II: The Practical Application

Having outlined the method, I will now illustrate its practical application by a consideration of three epic poems; The Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer and the Aenead of Vergil. These choices will prove felicitous in demonstrating the method in two ways. First, the poet vergil, being a careful student of Homer’s works, chose certain aspects of the Iliad and the Odyssey to use in the development of his Aenead. These aspects, which Vergil chose, involve images, questions, and answers in the manner in which I have spoken. In showing that Vergil’s use of these images is compatible with Homer’s use of them, I hope that I will be able to lay firmer grounds for believing that the method of thought commonly employed by the beholder is also shared by the great artist as well. Secondly, Plato, also being a careful student of Homer, came to a certain understanding of the Iliad and the Odyssey. This understanding can easily be demonstrated by examining Plato’s use of Homer in his Dialogues. I will try to demonstrate that two of Homer’s most able students arrived at essentially the same understanding of his work and made similar use of that understanding in their own works as well. I hope that this demonstration will provide a persuasive argument in favor of the method as a meaningful way to approach a work of art.

Examining these three epics, I find certain significant details whose presence leads me to question why the poet placed them in the text. These details are not essential parts of the plot. Their absence would not change the poems at all in the judgment of many people. And yet for me these details are the heart of the poem which gives it life and makes it art. These details could be questioned in any order within the epics. Some details discovered earlier by the reader may later lead him to the discovery of other significant details in consequent readings. The details are the essential lines which sketch or determine the wisdom of the poem.


1. (Bk. I, 135) agamemnon: “Either the great-hearted achaians shall give me a new prize chosen according to my desire to atone for the girl lost, or else if they will not give me one I myself shall take her, your achilles’ own prize, or that of Ajax, or that of Odysseus, going myself in person; and he whom I visit will be bitter.”

2. (Bk. II, 800-875)
(line 801) “Hector, on you beyond all I urge this…”
(line 813)”This men call the Hill of the Thicket, but the immortal gods have named it the burial mound of dancing Myrina.
(line 830) “The strong son of Anchises was leader of the Dardanians, aeneas…”
(line 862) “Phorkys and godlike askanios were lord of the phrygians from askania…”
(line 875)”… and the whirling waters of xanthos.” (Bk XX, 73) “Against hephaistos stood the river who is called Xanthos by the gods, but by mortals scamandros.

(Bk. VI, lines 400-520)
(line 400-402) “…Hector’s son, the admired, beautiful as a star shining, whom Hector called scamandrios, but all of the others astyanax – lord of the city; since Hector alone saved ilion.”
(line 504) “But Paris in turn did not linger long in his high house.”
(line 516) “It was alexandros the godlike who first spoke to him:”

4. (Bk VIII, 220-225) “He (Agamemnon) went on his way beside the Achaians’ ships and their shelters holding up in his heavy hand the great colored mantle, and stood beside the black huge-hollowed ship of Odysseus, which lay in the midmost, so that he could call out to both sides, either toward the shelters of telamonian Ajax, or toward Achilles, since these two had drawn their balanced ships up at the utter ends, sure of the strength of their hands and their courage.

(Bk. XI,5-10) “She (Hate) took her place on the huge-hollowed black ship of Odysseus which lay in the middle, so that she could cry out to both flanks, either as far as the shelters of Telamonian Ajax or to those of Achilles; since these had hauled their balanced ships up at ends, certain of their manhood and their hand’s strength.”

5. (Bk. XXII, 143-153) ” So Achilles went straight for him in fury, but Hector fled away under the trojan wall and moved his knees rapidly. They raced along by the watching point and the windy fig tree always away from under the wall and along the wagon-way and came to the two sweet-running well springs. There there are double springs of water that jet up, the springs of whirling skamandros. One of these runs hot water and the steam on all sides of it rises as if from a fire that was burning inside it. But the other in the summer-time runs water that is like hail or chill snow or ice that forms from water.”


6. The title “Aenead”

7. (Bk. I,1) “Of arms and the man I sing…”

8. (Bk. IV, 274-277) Mercury delivering a message from zeus to Aeneas: “Consider your growing ascanius, the hope of your heir iulus, for whom the kingdom of italy and the Roman land are destined.”

9. (Bk. VI,295-310) “There in the center (of Hades) a huge and shady elm spreads out its aged arms in branches; here false dreams, they say, reside and cling beneath all of its leaves, and many shapes beside of strange wild beasts; Centaurs in their stalls, Two-formed Scyllas, hundredfold Briareus, the beast of Lerna, hissing and horrible, Chimaera armed with flames, the Gorgons, Harpies, the shadow-shape of Geryon, with three bodies. Shaking in sudden fear, Aeneas snatched his sword and turned its edge toward their approach, and, if his wiser comrade (Sibyl) had not warned him that they were tenuous incorporeal spirits flitting in hollow semblances of forms, he would have rushed and with vain steel slashed shadows.”

10. (Bk. VI, 905-910) “There are twin gates of sleep. One is of horn, they say, where an easy exit is gi en to shades which are true; the other is white and perfect, of gleaming ivory. Through it the Ghosts of the Underworld send false dreams to light. Anchises, his words completed, went with his son and the Sibyl and sent them out through the ivory gate.

I ask this question: Why did the poets speak in this manner in each of these passages? Any of these passages by itself, with the exception of the tenth, would be unlikely to raise much question in the reader’s mind upon the first hearing of the poem. And yet, when these ten passages are taken together and considered in light of the context in which the Iliad and the Aenead is set, they indicate a pattern which is too carefully organized and made use of in itself, and too necessary for understanding the action and outcome of the three epics to be considered accidental or unintentional on the part of the authors.

Finding a tentative interpretation:

What is it that we are told by the first five passages? The first and fourth passages establish a special kind of relationship between Achilles, Odysseus, and Ajax. The heros Ajax and Achilles are presented as extremes of some kind, while the hero Odysseus represents a mean between those two extremes. Or if one thought in terms of a balance, then Odysseus might be called the fulcrum of a balance with Ajax and Achilles at opposite ends of the balance’s arm. We also know that Ajax is closest to Troy. His ship is the first which the Trojans encounter as they attack, and Hector is the first Trojan to be thrown upon the ship in the attack. These facts orient this relationship between the Achaen heros with respect to Troy and the Achaean hero Ajax with respect to the Trojan hero Hector. Homer is often willing to explicitly weigh one hero against another upon Zeus’ Fate Balance.

(Bk. VIII, 70) “But when the sun god stood bestriding the middle heaven, the father balanced his golden scales, and in them he set two fateful portions of death, which lays men prostrate, for Trojans, breakers of horses, and bronze-armored Achaeans, and balanced it by the middle, The Achaeans’ death-day was heaviest. There the fates of the Achaeans settled down toward the bountiful earth, while those of the Trojans were lifted into the wide sky.”

(Bk. XXII,210) “But when for the fourth time they had come around to the well springs then the Father balanced his golden scales, and in them he set two fateful portions of death, which lays men prostrate, one for Achilles, and one for Hector, breaker of horses, and balanced it by the middle,…”

and Vergil also,

(Bk.XII, 730) “Jupiter himself lifted up the two scales with their balance made even, imposing a different fate on each of the pair (Turnus and Aeneas), which one the struggle would doom and which side destruction would cause to descend with its weight.”

Even Plato seems to have considered the possibility of some kind of relationship between homeric Heroes in the dialogue Lesser hippias.

Hippias: “For I say that Homer made Achilles the bravest man of those who went to Troy, and nestor the wisest, and Odysseus the wiliest.”

The second and third passages make a special distinction between the different names which immortals and mortals give to the same objects. I will denote this binomial nomenclature with the term “dual names” for the sake of convenience, representing such names in a hyphenated form, e.g. Xanthos-Scamandros, Scamandrius-Astyanax, Paris Alexandros, Iulus-Ascanius. “The Hill of the Thicket” in the second passage is our first introduction to a dual name. A few lines above this passage, Hector is introduced, a few lines below, Aeneas. Less than fifty lines beyond this passage, at the end of Book II, a figure named Askanios is mentioned in passing. The book ends speaking about the Xanthos river. In the third passage we are first introduced to Hector’s family. We find that his son has a dual name not between the immortals and the mortals, but between his father and the people of Troy. Hector calls his son Scamandrius, after the river outside Tory, but the people of Troy call him Astu-anax, Lord of the City. In this same passage we see Hector with his brother. His brother is denoted by the ancient name Paris, meaning fighter, and its greek translation Alexander, which may mean either “fighter” or “one who shuns or detests”. Paris’ two names have neither the distinction of godly and mortal nor the distinction of paternal and popular, but are apparently arbitrary. Plato has made note of this phenomena of dual names in his dialogue Cratylus.

(371d-392e) Hermogenes: “Why Socrates, what does Homer say about names, and where?

Socrates: “In many passages; but chiefly and most admirably in these in which he distinguishes between the names by which gods and men call the same things. Do you not think he gives in those passages great and wonderful information about the correctness of names? For clearly the gods call things by the names that are naturally right. Do you not think so?

Do you not know that he says about the river in Troyland which had the single combat with Hephaestus, “whom the gods call Xanthus, but men call Scamander”?

Well, do you not think this is a grand thing to know, that the name of that river is rightly Xanthus, rather than Scamander?

It is, I think, more within human power to investigate the names Scamandrius and Astyanax, and understand what kind of correctness he ascribes to these, which he says are the names of Hector’s son.

Which of the names of the boy do you imagine Homer thought was more correct, Astyanax or Scamandrius?

Look at it in this way: suppose you were asked, “Do the wise or the unwise give names more correctly?”

And do you think the women or the men of a city, regarded as a class in general, are the wiser?

And do you not know that Homer says the child of Hector was called Astyanax by the men of Troy; so he must have been called Scamandrius by the women, since the men called him Astyanax?

And Homer too thought the Trojan men were wiser than the women?

Then he thought Astyanax was more rightly the boy’s name that Scamandrius?

Let us, then, consider the reason for this. Does he not himself indicate the reason most admirably? For he says- “He alone defended their city and long walls.” Therefore, as it seems, it is right to call the son of the defender Astyanax (Lord of the City), ruler of that which his father, as Homer says, defended.

The Dialogue Cratylus debates whether there is any naturalness to names in the world of reality. I debate whether names denote natures in the world of the poet’s creation. Socrates is wrong in saying that Hector’s child was called Astyanax by the men of Troy and Scamandrius by the women. Hector gave the proper name Scamandrius to his son. The people of Troy called the boy Astyanax out of tribute to Hector as the defender of their city. My question is not which name is more proper by what is the distinction which the poet intended the two names to convey. Astyanax is obvious in its meaning, Lord of the City. The significance of the name Scamandrius is a more difficult question. It is the Xanthos-Scamander which battled with Achilles and was beaten by Hephaistos, swearing an oath never again to defend Troy from its fate. It was also the river Xanthos-Scamandros which protected the still living bodies of Trojans in its deep-eddying swirls, preserving them from Achilles’ wrath. I would like to say that the difference between Astyanax and Scamandrius is the difference between fighting and fleeing or, more specifically, between making a hopeless stand against an undefeatable opponent and sailing away from a burning city in order to found a new one. But this statement would be premature. I must wait until this conclusion is inescapable.

The fifth passage intimates that there are some kind of opposites or extremes present either in the scene of Hector’s defeat, in the Scamandros river, or in whatever the Scamandros river represents: Opposites in the same manner that hot and cold are opposites, extremes in the same sense that the hottest spring in winter and the coldest spring in summer are extremes.

What are we told by the second five passages? Vergil patterns his work after the Odyssey rather than after the Iliad. This is surprising when we consider that Vergil draws most of his material from the Iliad. The Odyssey is named for its hero Odysseus, who after a journey which “exhausts the sum of all miseries” arrives at the hope of “coming to a land of happy people and dying a serene old age”. The Iliad is named after the city which Achilles seals his fate to conquer, Ilium, a name which immortalizes the glory of Achilles for all generations to come. Vergil named his work after the hero Aeneas who, fleeing burning Troy, suffers a long journey and dies secure in the knowledge that his son and descendants will build a nation which will enjoy “no limit of time or possession endless power, and peace.” Vergil gives us good reason to compare Aeneas with Odysseus as well as to contrast the two.

It would be a rare person, who, reading the first page of the Aenead, would anticipate basin his entire understanding of the work upon the first three words. It is one thing to say that “arms and man” will be the subject of a poem, which is what the first line of the Aenead seems to be saying on the surface. But it is something very different to make the necessity and vainglory of combat and the prudence and cowardliness of the reservation of self and family into two extreme alternatives between which an individual stands and must choose. And yet these alternatives are established in the Aenead in a very poignant manner.

We see that Aeneas’ son, just as Hector’s son, bears a dual name, Iulus-Ascanius. In a message from Zeus he is referred to as the growing Ascanius but as the heir Iulus. I believe that Zeus is the only figure in the poem who would know the correct usage for these two names. I would like to say that the distinction between Iulus and Ascanius is the same as the distinction between Astyanax and Scamandrius, but again I must wait until this conclusion is inescapable.

In the ninth passage we learn that the false dreams of Hades are all creatures of a dual or manifold nature: Briareus, three monsters with a hundred hands; beast of Lerna, a Hydra with nine heads; Chimaera, a lion in front, a serpent in back; Gorgons, winged creatures with snakes for hair; Harpies, flying creatures with hooked beaks and claws; Geryon, a monster with three bodies. Without the aid of Sibyl or some external agent, Aeneas is unable to distinguish these false dreams from reality.

The import of the tenth passage is the most difficult question of all. Why does Anchises send Aeneas and Sibyl through the gate of false dreams? One answer is that they were not true shades but living beings. Another answer is that dreams which come after midnight were considered to be true while dreams before midnight were considered to be false. This would establish the time of day in which they left Hades. But I believe that it is most meaningful to answer this question in the light of the ninth passage. Aeneas and Sibyl left through the ivory gate because they, like the false dreams beneath the spreading elm, have a manifold nature. The sibyl is at times quiet, at times frenzied as she is ridden by Apollo, howling truths mingled with obscurities and falsehoods. Aeneas is forever between the arms and the man, his own soul a mixture of gentleness and blinding rage.

These images provide us with two propositions. That there is a balance among men implies that theres is a difference among men. That an individual has two natures may imply that he has two forces within him, that he has two alternatives from which to choose, or that he serves in two different capacities. The test of these images is whether these propositions are valid in the context of the work. A detailed interpretation of these three epics would detract from the purpose of this paper. I leave the question of the validity of these images open to the reader. I hope the reader will make good use of this question.

It is evident from the Dialogues that Plato shares with Vergil an understanding of these propositions in Homer. The Republic treats the problem of leading the good life. Plato’s conception of the kind o of education which leads to the good life and his choice of Odysseus as the one fortunate soul in the Myth of er embody Plato’s understanding of Homer.

(Bk. X, 618c-e) “And there, dear Glaucon, it appears, is the supreme hazard for a man. And this is the chief reason why it should be our main concern that each of us, neglecting all other studies, would seek after and study this thing – if in any way he may be able to learn of and discover the man who will give him the ability and the knowledge to distinguish the life that is good from that which is bad, and always and everywhere to choose the best that the conditions allow, and, taking into account all the things of which we have spoken and estimating the effect on the goodness of his life of their conjunction or their severance, to know how beauty commingled with poverty or wealth and combined with what hait of soul operates for good or for evil, and what are the effects of high and low birth and private station and office and strength and weakness and quickness of apprehension and dullness and all similar natural and acquired habits of the soul, when blended and combined with one another, so that with consideration of all these things he will be able to make a reasoned choice between the better and the worse life, with his eyes fixed on the nature of his soul, naming the worse life that which will tend to make it more unjust and the better that which will make it more just.”

(Bk. X,620,c-d) “And it fell out that the soul of Odysseus drew the last lot of all and came to make it’s choice, and, from memory of its former toils having flung away ambition, went about for a long time in quest of the life of an ordinary citizen who minded his own business, and with difficulty found it lying in some corner disregarded by the others, and upon seeing hit said that it would have done the same had it drawn the first lot, and chose it gladly.”

Plato expressed this understanding of Homer in one way in the Theatetus,

(Theatetus, 144b) Theodorus: “The combination of a rare quickness of intelligence with exceptional gentleness and of an incomparably virile spirit with both, is a thing that I should hardly have believed could exist, and I have never seen it before. In general, people who have such keen and ready wits and such good memories as he are also quick-tempered and passionate; they dart about like ships without ballast, and their temperament is rather enthusiastic than strong, whereas the steadier sort are somewhat dull when they come to face study, and they forget everything.”

and in another way, in The Statesmen

(Statesman, 306-308) Stranger: “To say that ‘one kind of goodness clashes with another kind of goodness’ is to preach a doctrine which is an easy target for the disputatious who appeal to commonly accepted ideas. This pair of virtues (courage and moderation) are in a certain sense enemies from old, ranged in opposition to each other in many realms of life. Let us see the principle at work wherever those mutually opposite qualities are manifested. We admire speed and intensity and vivacity in many forms of action and under all kinds of circumstances. But whether the swiftness of mind or body or the vibrant power of the voice is being praised, we always find ourselves using one word to praise it – the word is ‘vigorous’. We constantly admire quietness and moderation, in processes of restrained thinking, in gentle deeds, in a smooth deep voice, in steady balance in movement, or in suitable restraint in artistic representation. Whenever we express such approval do we not use the expression ‘controlled’ to describe all these excellences rather than the word ‘vigorous’?”

If speed and swiftness are excessive and unseasonable and if the voice is harsh to the point of being violent, we speak of all these as ‘excessive’ and even ‘maniacal’. Unseasonable heaviness, slowness, or softness we call ‘cowardly’ or ‘indolent’. One can generalize further. The very classes ‘energy’ and ‘moderation’ are ranged in mutual exclusiveness and in opposition to each other; it is not simply a case of conflict between these particular manifestations of them. They never meet in the activities of life without causing conflicts, and if we pursue the matter further, by studying people whose characters come to be dominated by either of them, we shall find inevitable conflict between them and people of the opposite type.

Men react to situations in one way or another according to the affinities of their own dispositions. They favor some forms of action as being akin to their own character, and they recoil from acts arising from opposite tendencies as being foreign to themselves. Thus men come into violent conflict with one another on many issues. Considered as a conflict of temperaments, this is a mere trifle, but when the conflict arises over matters of high public importance it becomes the most inimical of all plagues which can threaten the life of a community.”

The following diagram represents the understanding of Homer which Plato and Vergil shared and the uses which they made of their understanding.

(Diagram will be inserted when I gain access to a scanner)

What knowledge do these epic poems convey?

In every way of life there are alternatives. There are different goods which may be desired and possessed by men. We learn these things as we come to know the heros of the epic. No one good in itself is goodness, nor does the satisfaction of the desire for ay one good constitute happiness for a man. No excess is good. Certain different kinds of goods together do constitute goodness. The possession of certain of these goods in an appropriate measure does constitute happiness for a man. Which of these goods and what measure of them constitute happiness depends upon the kind of man who is to possess them. No power must be excessively increased, no weakness left unduly deficient. The choice of goods rests upon self-knowledge. The standard of measure is in the balance of conflicting goods which must be achieved. The result of such measure is a stable marriage of opposites. We learn these things from the actions of the heroes and their outcomes. We conclude that it is meaningful for men to speak of a happiness in life but that there may be a different kind of happiness in life for different kinds of men. Is this knowledge any different from the sort of knowledge we acquire from long years of experience with life and human nature? Is this not the most important knowledge for any man, how to live his life well from day to day? Is this knowledge of any different quality whether it is found through experience with men or through experience with works of art created by men who have an intimate knowledge of human nature and its imitation? Is the manner by which we discover this knowledge any different in life than in a work of art; that is, by taking the bare lines which are presented to you, as you meet different people and experience successes and failures, pleasures and pains, and continually viewing them from different perspectives and in relationship to other groups of lines in order to discover the most meaningful interpretations and, perhaps, a method?


History of Philosophy and Philosophy of History

September 17, 2011

History of Philosophy and Philosophy of History

Senior Essay – St. John’s  College, Annapolis, Maryland – 1971

To the Rose Upon the Rood of TimeRed Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!

W.B. Yeats

“… We must first take a general survey before we descend to particulars, else the whole is not seen for the mere details – the wood is not seen for the trees, nor PHILOSOPHY for mere philosophies.” – Hegel, Introduction to the History of Philosophy


Come near me while I sing the ancient ways:
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old
In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
Sing in their high and lonely melody.
Come near, that no more blinded by man’s fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.


An answer offered to the uncurious is superfluous. A remedy is useless, and sometimes harmful, to the healthy.

Is there a man who wonders why Hegel wrote the History of Philosophy?
Is there a man perplexed over the purpose of the Philosophy of History?
If there are two such men, I offer them answers.

Is there a man who is melancholy because he desires knowledge but believes it to be beyond his attainment? Is there a man who mourns virtue’s plight in the world? I offer a remedy for these two maladies.

This four-fold undertaking sounds ambitious. But it only appears four-fold to the undiscerning eye. The two curious men unwittingly share the same wonder. One answer will suffice for both. Nor is mine ven a three-fold task. The same remedy treats both unhapy men. It is one task which I undertake. My answer to the first pair serves as a remedy for the second.

I must caution at the outset that this prescription is ony potent for a melancholy which results from a peculiar embracing of the priciple of non-contradiction; for a despair which arises from an ardent belief that the good must prosper. I shall shortly caricature the attitudes of men who embrace this principle and this belief in this way.

The curious might well first wonder at the very titles History of Philosophy and Philosophy of History. These titles are easily confused because of their similarity. Wishing to denote one work, we find ourselves unintentionally invoking the other. These titles are the converse of one another.

The History of Philosophy is concerned with the truth and falsity of words. The Philosopy of History, being a kind of theodicy, deals with the goodness and evil of deeds. For these reasons, the works, beyond their titles, themselves share a certain conversity. We must inquire into the nature of truth and goodness in order to see this relationship.

Where is truth found but in words or good but in deeds? Should you point to actions in which you fid truth, I might say that they are no more than the gestures of a speaker. Should you retort that there is good and evil in words, I could reply that they are no more than the tools and weapons of men of action. If words are the world of truth and falsehood and deeds are the world of good and evil, then words and deeds themselves would seem to be worlds apart.

Jurisprudence rules that a man by thinking an evil deed is not thereby evil, but only if he perpetrates his thought in action. Jocasta expresses a similar sentiment to Oedipus; “Before this, in dreams too, as well as oracles, many a man has lain with his own mother. But he to whom such things are nothing bears his life more easily.”1 All actions, whether good or evil, are true insofar as they have occured and are described accurately in words. The truth or falsehood of words is incidental to their goodness or evil, for they are good or evil only insofar as they are intended by their author to cause acts to be committed. A false statement may be good insofar as it causes a good action to be performed. A true statement which causes an evil is thereby in itself evil. Aquinas suggests that we not adhere strictly to the law when it would result in discord or scandal.2 Nietzsche speculates that there are falsehoods in which it is necessary to believe for the sake of action which results in the believer.3 The statements ‘Cain killed Abel’, ‘Cassius and Brutus assassinated Caesar’, or ‘Judas betrayed Christ’ may be true insofar as these actions were committed. But the goodness of these actions does not follow from the truth of the statements.

Words and deeds seem worlds apart because their truth and goodness are not necessary consequences of one another. Yet words and deeds are intimately related in men, who speak and act. When speech does not avail, a man resorts to action. Men engaged in futile struggle may cease their fighting and settle their differences by arbitration. The conversity which the History of Philosophy and the Philosophy of History share lies in the motion of a man who is ‘converted’ from speech to action or vice versa.

Two realms separate in location may be connected by a road which men build and upon which men travel. A road may be travelled in either direction. Often quoted sayings mention the ‘road to knowledge’ and the ‘road to virtue’. “There is no royal road to geometry.” – Euclid. “There is no road or ready way to virtue.” – Browne, “Religion Medici”. If the perfection of truth in words is knowledge and the perfection of goodness in deeds is virtue, then perhaps there is only one road which lies between words and deeds or between knowledge and virtue. The History of Philosophy and the Philosophy of History are addressed to those who despair over knowledge and virtue, respectively. Despair moves men back and forth along this road between words and deeds. We might say that “the road can be looked on as the path of doubt, or more properly a highway of despair.”4

What follows are the attitudes of men who embrace the principle of non-contradiction and the belief that good wins out over evil:

A man speaks the truth if no man can contradict and refute his statements.

Socrates: “I think we should all be contentiously eager to know what is true and what is false in the subject under discussion, for it is a common benefit that this be revealed to all alike. I will then carry the argument through in accordance with my own ideas, and if you believe that what I admit to myself is not the truth, you must break in upon it and refute me.” – Gorgias (506)

To act correctly is to prosper.

Eliphas: “Think now, who that was innocent wever perished? or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” – Job (IV, 8)

If the one possesses the truth, he expects agreement from men to his statements. If the other is good, he expects to prosper in the world. Nevertheless, such men may find themselves refuted by others and plagued by the world. They are apt to regard this refutation or adversity as a sign of failure and subsequently fall into despair.

The History of Philosophy addresses itself to the problem of refutation . The refutation of one philosophical system by another is “a much misunderstood phenomenon… Most commonly the refutation is taken in a purely negative sense to mean that the system refuted has ceased to count for anything, has been set aside and done for. Were it so, the history of philosopy would be of all studies most saddening, displaying, as it does, the refutation of every system which time has brought forth.”5

The Philosophy of History addresses itself to the plight of virtue in the world. “In contemplating the fate which virtue, morality, and even piety experience in history, we must not fall into the Litany of Lamentations that the good and pious often, or for the most part, fare ill in the world, while the evil disposed and wicked prosper…. Our intellectual striving aims at realizing the conviction that what was intended by eternal wisdom, is actually accomplished in the domain of the existent, active spirit. Our mode of treating the subject is, in this aspect, a Theodicaea – A justification of the ways of God – so that the ill that is found in the world may be comprehended, and the thinking Spirit reconciled with the fact of the existence of evil.” 6

The History of Philosophy and the Philosophy of History need not address two different men. One man may experience the despair both of words and of deeds. The Faust which Goethe portrayed is such a man. Faust felt a futility in the pursuit of truth with words.

“I’ve studied now Philosophy
and Jurisprudence, Medicine,
And even, alas! Theology
All through and through with ardour keen!
Here now I stand, poor fool, and see
I’m just as wise as formerly.
Am called a master, even Doctor too,
And now I’ve nearly ten years through
Pulled my students by their noses to and fro
And up and down, across, about
And see, there’s nothing we can know!
That all but burns my heart right out.

Faust might never have left his study were he to have had access to Hegel’s works. The Phenomenology of the Spirit purports in its last chapter to offer Absolute Knowledge. It is not yet clear what the content of this Absolute Knowledge consists of; or whether a restless, middle-aged scholar would have been satisfied with such knowledge. But Faust did not have the benefit of Hegel’s labors. He resorted instead to the dark works of Nostradamus.

In order to embark upon a life of action, Faust wagers with the Devil and becomes a Job of modern times. The first chapter of Job serves as a model for the dialogue between God and Mephistophiles in the Heavenly Prologue. God sends Satan to Job and Mephistopheles to Faust. Faust’s turning from a life of study to a life of action is figured in his translation of John I,1.

‘Tis written: “In the beginning was the Word!” (1225-1235)
Here now I’m balked! Who’ll put me in accord?
It is impossible, the Word to high to prize,
I must translate it otherwise
If I am rightly by the Spirit taught.
‘Tis written: In the beginning was the Thought!
That your pen may not write too hastily!
Is it then thought that works creative, hour by hour?
Thus should it stand: In the beginning was the Power!
Yet even while I write this word, I falter,
For something warns me, this too shall I alter.
The Spirit’s helping me! I see now what I need
And write assured: In the beginning was the Deed!

There are two kinds of ghosts: the gosts of those no longer living and the ghosts of those yet unborn. Goethe’s ghost haunts the pages of the History of Philosophy and the Philosophy of History. Ghosts of Hegel’s notions haunt the lines of Faust. Goethe and Hegel were not unacquainted. “Goethe sent Hegel a delicate tumbler tinted yellow and containing a piece of black silk which made the yellow seem blue – a kind of symbol of Goethe’s theory of colors. The dedication read: ‘The Primary Phenomenon most courteously begs the Absolute to receive it graceously.’ “7 Hegel, perhaps by coincidence, describes Goethe as a kind of primary phenomenon, the phenomenon of a great mind, “A great mind is great in its experience; and in the motley play of phenomenon at once perceives the point of real significance. The idea is present in actual shapes, not as something, as it were, over the hill and far away. The Genius of a Goethe, for example, looking into nature or history, has great experiences, catches sight of the living principle, and gives expression to it.” Perhaps the poetry of Goethe served as a ‘primary phenomenon’ for the philosophy of Hegel. The phenomenon of the Fausts in the world, desperately turning between words and deeds, might have moved Hegel to write the Phenomenology of Spirit, the History of Philosophy, and the Philosophy of History.

The endeavors of poetry and philosophy do not necessarily exclude one another. Philosophy written in the form of poetry is nothing alien to our experience; viz., Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura. And who would not admit the poetic aspect of a Platonic Dialogue? Underlying Goethe’s poetry is a philosophy of a marked Hegelian character. And, although he was not noted for his verse, Hegel’s works contain imagery of considerable beauty. The appreciation of a philosophy’s beauty may justly be called extraneous by those who believe that philosophy has a purpose beyond beauty. But such an appreciation is far from frivelous. Hegel was not frivelous when he wrote such passages. This same man is known to have described the starry night sky as an ‘ugly eczema’ and as a ‘swarm of flies’. Are these the words of frivolity or sentimentality? No! They are an attack upon foolish sentiment. Yet, the Phenomenology of the Spirit verges upon poetry. It may be likened to an epic which describes the development of the spirit of man in this world. This development is a movement from words to deeds. The profundity of this subject may have inspired Hegel to express himself in a worthy style. If so, then it would be a mistake to neglect poetic passages whose imagery sheds light on important problems and their solutions.

In light of the above considerations, it would be fitting if Hegel were the man to cheer Faust out of his melancholy. Such a diversion would seemingly require the life’s work of a jester. But I am hardly guilty of duplicity in saying that Hegel accomplishes this in a trice. “How the deuce does he do that?” you ask. “Triplicity!” I reply.

Anyone who begins to study the works of Hegel will be startled by the frequency with which the number three appears. His use of the number three even influences the style of his writing. A glance at the table of contents in the Philosophy of History will reveal that it proceeds by sections of three. His major lectures, which treat philosophy, religion, and art, comprise nine volumes. The Phenomenology of Spirit is his only major work which is not noticibly ‘triplistic’, although an examination of its table of contents yields a result which is not surprising.

Three “friends” come to “console” Job in his affliction. Hegel offers a three of a different kind to a man like Faust. Surveying philosophy historically and philosophically, Hegel finds “something neither old nor new but perennial, 10, a coming to be and a passing away that itself does not come to be or pass away 11.”

He finds, in philosophy, that “In point of form Logical doctrine has three sides: (a) the Abstract side, or that of understanding: (b) the Dialectical, or that of negative reason: (c) the Speculative, or that of positive reason12… understanding corresponds to what we call the goodness of God. In nature, for example, we recognize the goodness of God in the fact that the various classes or species of animals and plants are provided with whatever they need for their preservation and welfare13… We have before this identified Understanding with what is implied in the popular idea of the Goodness of God; we may now remark of Dialectic, in the same objective signification, that its principle answers to the idea of His power. All things, we say, – that is, the finite world as such, – are doomed; and in saying so, we have a vision of dialectic as the universal and irresistable power before which nothing can stay, however secure and stable it may deem itself14… Speculative truth, it may also be noted, means very much the same as what, in special connection with religious experience and doctrines, used to be called Mysticism.”

If the first moment of Logic is scrutinized carefully, in it will be found the very same principle and belief which afflicts a man like Faust. The principle of non-contradiction is the principle of Abstract Understanding. The Logic states that “Contradiction is the very moving principle of the world: and it is ridiculous to say that contradiction is unthinkable, 16” and that “Instead of speaking by the maxim of excluded middle (which is the maxim of Abstract Understanding) we should rather say: Everything is opposite17.” The naieve impression of the goodness of God, which Hegel ascribes to Abstract Understanding, may easily give rise to the belief that the virtuous always prosper in the world. This impression is naieve because it is incomplete. It fails to recognize the power of God. A more complete impression of God might, as the second moment of Logic suggests, assume the form of His two servants. One is created. The other if begotten. Both are necessary. Looking to the third moment, only a divine vision, such as Job’s, can resolve God’s goodness, His power, and man’s virtue into a thoughtful appreciation which is above a mere stoic resignation to fate. Our fancy might envision, as the first moment, the monologue of God in Genesis, creating a garden; as the second moemnt, the dialogue of Christ and Anti-Christ in the wilderness; as the third, the Book of Revelation.

Similarly, in history, Hegel finds that the German World after the fall of Rome comprises three periods. “We may distinguish these periods as Kingdoms of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The Kingdom of the Father is the consolidated, undistinguished mass, presenting a self-repeating cycle, mere change – like the sovereignty of Chronos engulfing his offspring. The Kingdom of the Son is the manifestation of GOd merely in relation to the secular existence – shining upon it as an alien object. The Kingdom of the Spirit is the harmonizing of this antithesis. These epochs may be also compared with earlier empires. In the German aeon, as the realm of totality, we see the distinct repetition of earlier epochs. Charlemagne’s time may be compared with the Perian Empire18… To the Greek WOrld and its merely ideal unity, the time preceeding Charles V answers 19…. the third epoch may be compared with the Roman World20.” Having shown a design and a teology in the history of philosophy and of the world, that they are progressing to or have already reached an end, Hegel recociles contradictions and injustices with knowledge and virtue. For contradictions are a necessary part of the means by which philosophy develops into its end. And the end of philosophy, according to Hegel, is Absolute Knowledge. Evils are only necessary parts of the means by which history develops to its ultimate end. And the end of history is literally an end of history, a world which has reached a state whose only annals are the ‘blank pages’21 of happy life-ever-after. The Fausts in this world need no longer despair, either when refuted or when they suffer an evil. The despair which has arisen in the world from the nature of truth and falsehood and good and evil may be viewed negatively as defeat. But it may also be viewed positively as the means by which the spirit acheives Absolute Knowledge and a happy State. This despair is not an insurmountable obstacle for the spirit but a trellis which directs its growth. Speaking figuratively, what Hegel does by means of these two trinities in Logic and in history for a Faust is to transform a mountain into a flower. “The imperishable mountains are not superior to the quickly dismantled rose exhaling its life in fragrence.”22 If a man knows why “so mighty a form must trample down many an innnocent flower – crush to pieces many an object in its path,”23 he is then, as Pascal would say, “more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him: the universe knows nothing of this.”24Hegel literally turns the Island of Rhodes in philosophy and history into a rose.


Hic Rhodus, hic saltus
Her is Rhodes, here is your jump

“Erasmus quotes the Gree, gives a Latin translation, and continues: the proverb will be apt when someone is asked to show on the spot that he can do what he boasts he has done elsewhere.”26

Pascal noted that “words arranged differently have different meanings, and meanings arranged differently have different effects.” 27 Hegel notes that “Rhodus” may also mean “rose” and that “salta” is the imperative of the verb “to dance”. Hegel points out that, “with hardly any alteration, the proverb just quoted would run: “Here is the rose, dance thou here!”28 This metaphor came to his mind while thinking of the Rosicrucians.

Hegel often conjures the image of a plant when he is arguing about the true meaning of refutation. “…Contradiction appears in all development. The development of the tree is the negation of the germ, and the blossom that of the leaves, in so far as that they show that these do not form the highest and truest existence of the tree. Yet none of them can come into actual existence excepting as preceded by all earlier stages.” 29

The rose is no arbitrarily chosen image. A rose unfolds its petals in time. It is a plant which bears no edible fruit. For men, its only fruit is its blossom’s beauty. Hegel often describes the interation of understanding and reaso as the unfolding of the Idea or Notion in time. The different stages of this unfolding Idea appear to us as different philosophical systems in history. According to Hegel, the spirit bears no other fruit than the realization and description of this unfolding process.

The rose brings happiness to mind. It is also an ancient symbol of secrecy, as the phrase “sub rosa” suggests. The cross is a bitter image of suffering and of sin. It is also a joyous image of redemption and forgiveness. To strew a cross with roses and to dance about it is a metaphorical image of the logical operatoin of turning a negative result into a positive one. This is an important operation in the Logic of Hegel. Perhaps the most important exercise of this operation is Hegel’s definition of finite and infinite. “The things of nature are limited and are natural things only to such extent as they are not aware of their universal limit, or to such extent as their mode or quality is a limit from our point of view, and not from their own. No one knows, or even feels, that anything is a limit or defect until he is at the same time above and beyond it.” 30 According to Hegel, a man becomes infinite simply by recognizing his own finitude in discourse or in action. This is the secret of the rose. “Man, if he wishes to be actual, must be-ther-and-then, and to this end he must set a limit to himself. People who are too fastidious toward the finite never reach reality, but linger lost in abstraction, and their light dies away.”31 In a sense, Pascal’s ‘thinking reed’ Pensee exhibits the operation of becoming “infinite” through the recognition of a weakness or limit. Erasmus intended that the proverb be a challenge to the impossible. Such a challenge serves as a refutation of the boastful. Hegel tansforms this refutation into cause for victorious jubilation. “To recognize reason as the rose in the cross of the present and thereby to enjoy the present, this is the rational insight which reconciles us to the actual, the reconciliation which philosophy affords to those in whom there has once arisen an inner voice bidding them to comprehend, not only to dwell in what is subsstantive while still retaining subjective freedom, but also to possess subjective freedom while standing not in anything particular and accidental but in what exists absolutely.”32

This rose is no ordinary rose but a “thinking rose”. It is the flower of philosophies, unfolding its petals on a morning which lasts two thousand years, as the sun of self-consciousness is rising out of the West; on an afternoon whose evening is the fullness of time, as the sun of history sinks into the West. This flower of philosophies is like Margaret’s flower in Faust. Every petal is antinomous, except the last.

Margaret: He loves me – not – loves me – not
He loves me! (plucking off the last petal)Faust: Yes, my child! and let this blossom’s word
Be oracle of gods to you! He loves you!
You understand that word and what it means? He loves you!

Margaret: I’m all a-tremble!

Faust: Oh, shuder not! But let this look,
Let this hand-pressure say to you
What is unspeakable:
To give one’s self up wholly and to feel
A rapture that must be eternal!
Eternal! – for its end would be despair.
No! no end! no end!

This last petal is Hegel’s own philosophy, or rather Hegel’s description of the motion of refutation as philosophy progresses through the stages of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. For, to be precise, Hegel has no philosophy. Were his works a philosophy, they would prophesy their own refutation, or convict Hegel of being a false prophet. Alexander Kojeve describes Hegel’s work as a synthesis of syntheses 33 which cannot become a thesis for further attack. Hegel does not have a philosophy because he implies that he is not a philosopher. “To help bring philosophy nearer to the form of a science – that goal where it can lay aside the name of love of knowledge and be actual knowledge – that is what I have set efore me.” 34 He has ceased to be ‘wisdom-loving’ and has become ‘wise’. Hegel’s wisdom consists i knowing the real relation of truth to falsehood and the meaning of the phenomeon of refutation. This knowledge is ‘the dance about the rose’.

The dance about the rose is the bacchanalian whirl. “It is the process that generates and runs through its moments, and this, then, includes the negative as well – that which might be called the false if it could be considered as something from which one should abstract. The evanescent must, however, be considered essential – not in the determination of something fixed that is to be severed from the true and left lying outside it, one does not know where; nor des the true rest on the other side, dead and positive. The appearance is the coming to be and passing away that itself does not come to be or pass away; it is in itself and constitutes the actuality and the movement of the life of the truth. The true is thus the bacchanalian whirl in which no member is not drunken; because each, as soon as it detaches itself, dissolves immediately – the whirl is just as much transparent and simple repose.” 35

The music of this dance about this rose is composed by the spirit of the world and is heard by historians of philosophy who “may be compared to animals which have listened to all the tones in some piece of music, but to whose senses the unison, the harmony of their tones, has not penetrated.” 36 The musician is the spirit itself. I hesitate to call the orchestra a trio. “The content uttered by spirit and uttered about itself is, then, the inversion and perversion of all conceptions and realities, a universal deception of itself and of others. The shamelessness manifested in statingthis deceit is just on that account the greatest truth. This style of speech is the madness of the musician ‘who piled and mixed up together some thirty aris, Italian, French, tragic, comic, of all sorts and kinds; now, with a deep bass, he descended to the depths of hell, then, contracting his throat to a high, piping falsetto, he rent the vault of the skies, raving and soothed, haughtily imperious and mockingly jeering by turns;. The placid soul that in simple honesty of heart takes the melody of the good and true to consist in harmony of sound and uniformity of tones, i.e. in a single note, regards this style of expression as a ‘fantastic mixture of wisdom and folly, a melee of as much skill as low cunning, composed of ideas as likely to be right as wrong, with as complete a perversion of sentiment, whith as much consummate shamefulness in it, as absolute frankness, candour, and truth. It will not be able to refrain from breaking out into all these tones, and running up and down the whole gamut of feeling, from the depths of contempt and repudiation to the highest pitch of admiration and stirring emotion A vain of the ridiculous will be diffused through the latter, which takes away from their nature’; the former will find in their very candour a strain of atoning reconcilement, will find in their shuddering depths the all-powerful strain which gives to itself spirit.”37 I do not hesitate to call this music a waltze to Hegel’s ear. Hegel finds in this bizarre potporri of dissonant tones an hitherto uneard of harmony. These tones are none other than the philosophical systems which ‘such mighty forms’ as an Aristotle, a Bacon, or a Kant have produced.

Who is it that dances this bacchanalian whirl about the rose in three-quarter time? In a temporal metaphor, Hegel envisions the history of the world as the upbringing of a long-lived individual. “Imagination has often pictured to itself the emotions of a blind man suddenly becoming possessed of sight, beholding the bright glimmering of the dawn, the growing light, and the flaming glory of the ascending Sun. The boundless forgetfulness of his individuality in this pure splendor, is his first feeling, utter astonishment. But when the Sun is risen, this astonishment is diminished; objets around are perceived, and from them the individual proceeds to the contemplation of his own inner being (returning to the cave) and thereby the advance is made to the perceptio of the relationship between the two. Then inactive contemplation is quited for activity (turning from words to deeds); by the close of day, man has erected a building constructed from his own inner Sun; and when in the evening he contemplates this, he esteems it more highly than the original Sun. For now he stands in a conscious relation to his Spirit, and therefore a free relation. If we hold this image fast in mind, we shall find it symbolizing the course of History, the great Day’s work of the Spirit.” 38 It is Oedipus who dances.

The metaphor is appropriate. Aristotle observes that “…tragedy endeavours to keep as far as possible within a single circuit of the sun, or something near that.”39 Hegel treats the myth of Oedipus at some length in the Philosopy of Hostory in Part I, the “Transition to the Greek World”. Oedipus has a self-knowledge of sorts. That is to say, Oedipus knows what man in general is. He is able to answer the Sphinx’ riddle: “What is that which in the morning goes on four legs, at midday on two, and in the evening on three?”40 But Oedipus subsequently shows “a dire ignorance of the character of his own actions.”41 Oedipus knows man in general but he does not know man as individual. In order to acquire this knowledge, Oedipus must undergo a palingenesis, a backwards developent. He must experience a second birth. Accordingly, Oedipus enters Thebes on two feet by day. Here, his second childhood commences. Here, Oedipus literally returns to his mother’s womb. Staff in hand, he leaves Thebes on “three feet” in the darkness of blindness’ night. After a night can only come a dawn. At Colonnus, Oedipus, walking which his daughter’s support, becomes a creature of four legs. He here receives an especial and aweful knowledge concerning which Theseus alone is given only a hint. Oedipus is then taken in a terrible apotheosis. It is ambiguous whether he is taken up as a god or down to Hades.

In a section on the classification of historical data, Hegel proceeds to view the history of the world as a prosogenesis and palingenesis similar to those which may be recognized in Sophocles’ plays. The German Aeon is the second childhood of history and, like Oedipus’ palingenesis, results in a second dawn (as a term like Enlightenment, Eclaircissement, or Afklarung suggests) and an especial knowledge. “The Greeks and Romans had reached maturity within e’re they directed their energies outwards. The Germans, on the contrary, began with self-diffusion – deluging the world, and overpowering in their course the inwardly rotten, hollow political fabrics of civilized nations. Only then did their development begin,k kindled by a foreign culture, a foreign religion, polity and legistlation. The process of culture they underwent consisted in taking up foreign elements and reductively emalgamating them with their own national life. Thus theri history presents an introversion – the attration of alien forms of life and the bringing these to bear upon their own… The relation to an extraneous principle… wears the aspect of an internal evolution.” 42

It may not be inappropriate at this point for us to recall that Sophocles is an ancient authority on matters of old age. Cephalus relates this to Socrates, “… I remember hearing Sophocles the poet greeted by a fellow who asked, How about your service of Aphrodite, Sophocles – is your natural force still unabated? And he replied, Hush, man, most gladly have I escaped this thing you talk of, as if I had run away from a raging and savage beast of a master. I thought it a good answer then and now I think so still more. For in very truth there comes to old age a great tranquillity in such matters and a blessed release. When the fierce tensions of the passions and desires relax, then is the word of Sophocles approved, and we are rid of many and mad masters.” 43 Sophocles was also an accomplished dancer, as Hegel would have us know. “This glorious battle day presents the three greatest tragedians of Greece in remarkable chronological association: for Aeschylus was one of the combatants, and helped to gain the victory, Sophocles danced at the festival that celebrated it, and on the same day Euripides was born.” 44

The section “On the Classification of Historical Data” best represents the resemblance which Hegel found the history of the world to bear to Oedipus and the riddle of the Sphinx: “The History of the world travels from East to West, for Europe is absolutely the end of History, Asia the beginning. The History of the World has an East kat ezoxen; (the term east i itself is entirely realtive), for although the Earth forms a sphere, History performs no circle round it, but has, on the contrary a determinate East, viz., Asia. Here rises the outward physical Sun, and in the West it sinks down; Here consentaneously rises the Sun of self-consciousness, which diffuses a nobler brilliance45… The first phase – that with which we have to begin – is the East… It is the childhood of History…. 46 Continuing the comparison with the ages of the individual man, this would be the boyhood of History, no longer manifesting the repose and trustingness of the child, but boisterous and turbulent. The Greek World may then be compared with the period of adolescence, for here we have individualities forming themselves47 The Roman state, the severe labors of the Manhood of History48 The German world would answer in the comparison with the periods of human life to its Old Age.”49

The German WOrld experiences a second childhood in the three periods which are analogous to Asia, Greece, and Rome, respectively. This second chldhood is also a second harmony. “The harmoniousness of childhood is a gift from the hand of nature: the second harmony must spring from the labor and culture of the spirit.”50 In part, this second harmony is the harmony which Hegel found in the dissonance of hiplosophy. It may now be remarked that the Absolute Knowledge which Hegel offers a Faust has no content proper. Absolute knowledge is the Idea. “To spea of the Absolute Idea may suggest the conception that we are at length reaching the right thing and the sum of the matter. It is certainly possible to indulge in a vast amount of senseless declamation about the idea absolute. But its true content is only the whole system of which we have been hitherto studying the development54 The absolute idea may in this respect be compared to the old man who utters the same creed as the child, but for whom it is pregnant with the significance of a lifetime52… All work is directed only to an aim or end; and when it is attained, people are surprised to find nothing else but just the very thing which they had wished for. The interest lies in the whole movement53… Last of all comes the discovery that the whole evolution is what constitutes the content and interest.”54 The Idea of Absolute Knowledge is no goal of positive content which has been reached. It is the account of the process of Understanding, yolked with a law whcih it cannot obey, striving towards a positive content as towards a rainbow which it clearly envisions but ever approaches and a promised land which is never native. Absolute Knowledge is the journey itself from words to deeds. Faust must leave his study to attain it. The old law of abstract understanding is replaced by a new law of contradiction and a covenant under which those who exalt themselves are abased and those who humble themselves are exalted. Moreover, Hegel calls Absolute Knowledge the Calvary, the Golgotha of the Spirit, the hill of the skull. The skull is Understanding, which Hegel often describes as a ‘caput mortuum’. It may be said that Reason crucifies itself upon the Understanding, dies, and is ressurected.

“The Old Age of Nature is weakness; but that of Spirit is its perfect maturity and strength, in which it returns to unity with itself, but in its fully developed character as Spirit. This is the ultimate result which the process of History is intended to accomplish, and we have to traverse in detail the long track which has been thus curiously traced out. Yet length of time is something entirely relative, and the element of Spirit is Eternity. Duration, properly speaking, cannot be said to belong to it.”55 We may view the history of the world as an individual who has only just reached a maturity. In a sense, history reaches this maturity by dying. As the sun of History sets in the West, history ends. We may sympathize with Aquinas and pardon its past excesses and transgresions. “The same thing is not possible to a child as to a full grown man, and for which reason the law for children is not the same as for adults, since many things are permitted to children, which in adults are punished by law or are at any rate open to blame. In like manner, many things are permissible to men not perfect in virtue, which would be intolerable in a virtuous man.”56 We may also join with Solon in passing judgment on its happiness. “Call him, however, until he die, not happy but fortunate.”57

And here might this writing end, having satisfied two curious men and having solved the problem of two unhappy men. But what has Hegel done for Faust by revealing this threefold structure in philosophy and history? What significance does Hegel attach to the trinity of moments in the Logic and the trinity of periods in the German Aeon? This has been no ending but a deceptive cadence. Now, a truly plagal cadence follows.

Theism and Atheism

For Man, to become God is his

Blessed Yearning

Tell it the wise alone, for when
Will the crowd cease from mockery!
Him would I laud of living men
Who longs a fiery death to die.

In coolness of thos nights of love
Which thee begat, bade thee beget,
Strange promptings wake in thee and move,
While the calm taper glimmers yet.

No more in darkness canst thou rest,
Waited upon by shadows blind,
A new desire has thee possessed
For procreant joys of loftier kind.

Distance can hinder not thy flight;
Exiled, thou seekest a point illumed;
And, last, enamoured of the light,
A moth art in the flame consumed.

And while thou spurnest at the best,
Whose word is “Die and be new-born!”
Thou bidest but a cloudy guest
Upon an earth that knows not morn.

Goethe, “West-Eastern Divan”


Does hegel offer Faust divine knowledge? Doe history and philosophy possess a three fold structure because the world is the creation of a triune God? Is Hegel a Theist?

If Hegel offers Faust divine knowledge, his aid is a superfluous, impudent adumbration upon the reconciliation already offered to men long ago in the Bible. Faust has long had access to this knowledge and still despairs. We may infer from Faust’s study of theology and his familiarity with the New Testament that he must have been equally familiar with Job. Such a scholar, in modern times, would have more knowledge thatn Job himself concerning the relationship of Satan to God. If Faust is as sure of his salvation before he makes his bet as is God, in the Heavenly Prologue, of the wager;s outcome, then it is not Faust but Mephistopheles who stands in need of Hegel’s good tidings.

Hegel denies any appeal to divine knowledge. “Yet I might appeal to your belief in it, in this religious aspect. This appeal is forbidden, because the science of which we have to treat, proposes itself to furnish the proof of its correctness as compared with facts. The truth, then, that a Providence (that of God) presides over the events of the world consorts with the proposition in question, for Divine Providence is Wisdom. But to expalin History is to depict the passions of mankind, the genius, the active powers, that play their part on the great stage; and the providentially determined process which these exhibit, constitutes what is generally called the ‘plan’ of Providence. Yet it is this very plan which is supposed to be concealed from our view; which it is deemed presumption, even to wish to recognize.”1

Moreover, Christianity is not uniquely Trinitarian. The Greek theogeny also displays a trinity. “The Kindgom of the Father is a consolidate, undistinguished mass, presenting a self-repeating cycle, mere change- like that sovereignty of Chronos engulfing his offspring.”2 “Thus, it was first Chronos – Time – that ruled; the Golden Age, without moral products; and what was produced – the offspring of that Chronos – was devoured by it. It waas Jupiter – from whose head Minerva sprang, and to whose circle of divinities belong Apollo and the Muses – that first put a constraint upon Time, and set a bound to its principle of decadence 3…. Zeus and his race are themselves swallowed up, and that by the very power that produced them – the principle of thought, perception, reasoning insight derived from rational grounds, and the requirements of such grounds.”4 Thought giving rise to Chronos, Chornos giving rise to Jupiter, Jupiter givig rise to Minerva, and thought devouring them all; is a process which possesses the same triune properties whcih Hegel ascribes to the Christian Trinity. The Spirit of this trinity is no dove, but an owl. This principle of thought is not Minerva but her ravenous owls which “spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.”5

If the three moments of Logic and the three periods in history are not the fingerprints of a triune god lingering in the clay, we are faced with two possibilities. one is humerous and embarrasing. The other is awesome and frightening.

Why would Hegel demonstrate that the history of the world resembles the Greek myth of Oedipus and the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Is Hegel a numerologist?

He remarks that “the number Five is regarded as fundamental among the Chinese, and presents itslef as often as the number three among us. They have five Elements of Nature. They recognize fourquarters of Heaven and a center. Holy places, where alters are erected, consist of four elevations and one in the center.”6 Yet the number three has more significance than five. The history of the Chinese does not reveal five periods. Their’s is not a logic of five but of three. “The celebrated passage which is often quoted by the ancients (of the Orient) is this, ‘Reason has brought forth the one; the one has brought forth the two; the two have brought forth the three; and the three have produced the whole world.’ In this men have tried to find a reference to the Trinity7…. But if Philosophy has got no further than to such expression, it still stands on its most elementary stage. What is there to be found in all this learning?”8

Five is important among the Indians too. “Generally the Yogi has to spend a day between five fires, that is, between four fires occupying the four quarters of heaven, and the Sun.”9 Yet their logic is not a logic of fives but of threes. “It is noteworthy that in the observing consciousness of the Indians it struck them that what is true and in and for itself contains three determinations, and the Notion of the idea is perfected in three moments. This sublime consciousness of the trinity, which we find again in Plato and others, then went astray in the region of thinking contemplation, and retains its place only in Religion, and there but as a Beyond. Then the understanding penetrated through it, declaring it to be senseless; and it was Kant who broke open the road once more to its comprehension. The reality and totality of the Notion of everything, considered in its substance, is absorbed by the triad of determinations; and it has become the business of our times to bring this to consciousness.”10

It may be noted here that Kant was aware of the melancholy which can arise from a fruitless attempt at finding truth with words. He saw this melancholy as something peculiar to metaphysicians. For Kant, the antinomous petals of the flower of philosophy are systems of metaphysics which refute one another. The three critiques, in a sense, are the shears which are to prune this flower’s stem. “…., in all ages one Metaphysics has contradicted another, either in its assertions, or their proofs, and thus has itself destroyed its own claim to lasting assent. Nay, the very attempts to set up such a science are the main cause of the early appearance of scepticism, a mental attitude in which reason treats itself with such violence that it could never have arisen save from complete despair of ever satisfying our most important aspirations.” 11 Kant identifies two schools of thought on metaphysics in the metaphor which follows. “Metaphysics floated to the surface, like foam, which dissolved the moment it was scooped off. But immediately there appeared a new supply on the surface, to be ever eagerly gathered up by some, while others, instead of seeking in the depths the cause of the phenomenon, thought they showed their wisdom by ridiculing the idle labor of their neighbors.”12 Kant saw the necessity for a third position; that of one who finds a cause of the foam. Kant assumed this third position by attempting to demonstrate that what Metaphysics purports to do is impossible. Therefore, a science of metaphysics is impossible.

The shears which Kant designed to prune the flower of philosophies were triply bladed. Kant felt selfconscious about the triplistic character of his philosophy. “It has been thought a doubtful point that my divisions in pure philosophy should always be threefold. But that lies in the nature of the thing. If there is to be an apriori division, it must be either analytical, according to the law of contradiction, which is always twofold, or synthetical. And if in this latter case it is to be derived from apriori concepts (not as in mathematics from the intuition corresponding to the concept), the division must necessarily be trichotomy. For according to what is requisite for synthetical unity in general, there must be (1) a condition, (2) a conditioned, and (3) the concept which arises from the union of the conditioned with its condition.”13

For hegel, it does not suffice to say that three is in the nature of the thing. Spirit must reach full self-consciousness of the triad’s significance. “There are thus, according to Kant… twelve fundamental categories, which fall into four classes; and it is noteworthy, and deserves to be recognized, that each species of judgement again constitutes a triad…. It betrays a great instinct for the Notion when Kant says that the first category is positive, the second the negative of the first, the third the synthesis of the two. The triplicity, this ancient form of the Pythagoreans, Neo-Platonists and of the Christian religion, althought it here reappears as a quite external schema only, conceals within itself the absolute form, the Notion…. Kant does not follow up further the derivation of these categories, and he finds them imperfect, but he says that the others are derived from them. Kant thus accepts the categories in an empiric way, without thinking of developing of necessity these differences from unity. Just as little did Kant attempt to deduce time and space, for he accepted them likewise from experience – a quite unphilosophic and unjustifiable procedure.”14

I believe Hegel attempted to deduce space and time in the first chapter of The Phenomenology of the Spirit, in his analysis of the Here and the Now, which will be treated in the final section of this paper. Perhaps Hegel was able to uncover the ;cause of the bubbles’ in the Phenomenology and also leave the flower of philosophies intact. He concludes the Phenomenology with Schiller’s verse:

The chalice of this realm of spirits
Foams forth to God His own infinitude.15

There are odd moments when the use of the number three is unavoidable. There are even times when it is appropriate. Surely Caesar was not being Hegelian when he wrote “Omnia Gallia est divisa in partes tres.” Hegel is not blind to this, nor is he free of scorn for numerology. “Numbers have been much used as an expression of ideas, and this on the one hand has a semblance of profundity. For the fact that another significance than that immediately presented is implied in them, is evident at once; but how much there is within them is neither known by him who speaks nor by him who seeks to understand; it is like the witches’ rhyme (one time one) in Goethe’s Faust

This you must ken! (2540-2551)
From one make ten,
And two let be,
Make even three,
Then rich you’ll be.
Skip o’re the four!
From five and six,
The Witch’s tricks,
Make seven and eight,
‘Tis finished straight;
And nine is one,
And ten is none,
This is the witch’s one-time-one!

The less clear the thoughts, the deeper they appear.”16 Mephistopheles is in total accord with Hegel.

Much more if it is still to come (2555-2565)
I know it well, thus doth the whole bok chime;
I’ve squandered over it much time,
For perfect contradictions, in the end,
Remain mysterious alike for fools and sages.
The art is old and new, my friend.
It was the way in all the ages.
Through Three and One, and One and Three,
Error instead of truth to scatter.
Thus do men prate and teach untroubledly.
With fools who’ll bandy wordy chatter?
Men oft believe, if only they hear wordy pother,
That there must surely be in it some thought or other.

The witches’ one-time-one is strikingly reminiscent of the Pythagorean Tetraktus. “The Four is the triad but more developed, and hence with the Pythagoreans it held a high position. But in the triad the tetrad is in so far contained, as that the former is the unity, and other-being, and the union of both these moments, and thus, since the difference, as posited, is a double, if we count it, four moments result. From this the Pythagoreans proceed to the ten, another form of this tetrad. As the four is the perfect form of the three, this four-fold, thus perfected and developed so that all its moments shall be accepted as real differences, is the number ten, the real tetrad. Sextus syas: “Tetraktus means the number which, comprising within itself the four first numbers, forms the most perfect number, that is the number ten; for one and two and three and four make ten. Whenwe come to ten, we again consider it as a unity and begin once more from the beginning. (i.e. 11,12, 13)”.17 But the Tetraktus is merely the triad thrice perfected. And, according to Hegel, it is from this Pythagorean trinity and its descendents that the Christian Trinity evolved. “It is now comprehensible that Christians sought and found the Trinity in this threefold nature.”18 Hegel offers Faust neither divine knowledge nor numerology. Is this knowledge which he offers self-knowledge? Does consciousness see the world ina three-fiold manner, casting God in the image of its own perception? Is Hegel an atheist?

In the Philosophy of Religion Hegel states “I am a Lutheran, and a Lutheran I will remain.” But we cannot so simply dismiss the question of Hegel’s Theism or Atheism with this simple profession of faith. Hegel says that ‘the fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom.”19 He says this in the middle of the very significant section of the Phenomeology of the Spirit, entitled “Lordship and Bondage”. He does not mean here the Lord God in Heaven; but the master, the conqueror, the ‘lord of men’. Now, it is said in the beginning of Proverbs, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels; to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise and their dark sayings.”20 What is like the words of the wise? “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”21

Is Hegel’s wisdom the result of a fear, not of the Lord in heaven, but of the society which lords over him? If so, then Hegel’s words, the History of Philosophy and the Philosophy of History, are truly apples of gold in pictures of silver. When looked at casually, from a distance, they seem silver apples only. When examined more closely, a hint of gold is seen. When scrutinized carefully by the knowing eye, they are recognized as something bearing one kind of outward appearance: yet, in reality, they are inwardly something of a very different nature and worth; the pictures of silver, a Christian Theism; the Atheism, an inner gold in which man becomes God.

Such a doctrine would well warrant concealment. Hegel was not unaware of the dangerous consequences of imprudent philosophizing. He relates that “the opponents of Wolff caused it to be conveyed to King Frederick William I., the father of Frederick II., a rough man who took an interest in nothing but soldiers, that according to the determinism of Wolff, free will was impossible, and that soldiers could not hence desert of their own free will, but by a special disposition of God (pre-established harmony) – a doctrine which, if disseminated amongst the military, would be extremely dangerous. The king, much enraged by ths, immediately issued a decree that within forty-eight hours Wolff should leave Halle and the Prussian States, under penalty of the halter.”22

If any author does construct his works as apples of gold in pictures of silver, then a very interesting inference may be made concerning the tacit principle to which that author must adhere. The principle is that knowledge is virtue. Our assumption is that the doctrine which the author conceals in the apples of gold is such as may result in abuse or misuse on the part of the wicked or the foolish. Therefore, it must be either the author’s assumption or his hope that htose who have the knowledge to acquire the doctrine have also the virtue to possess it, while those who lack such virtue ipso facto lack the prerequisite knowledge to perceive the doctrine and, as a consequence, remain ignorant of the doctrine’s presence. The author must also either assume or hope that the lips of virtue are discreet.

It would not be difficult to construe Hegel;s writings as those of an hubristic man whose aspiration is to become a god. Hegel apparently disavows such an ambition by his endorsement of Goethe’s humble piece of advice: “The man who will learn to do something great must learn, as Goethe says, to limit himself. The man who, on the contrary would do everything, really does nothing and fails.”23

In what sense, though, does Hegel follow Goethe’s advice? He admits in his introduction to the Philosophy of History that the results are known to him because he has “traversed the entire field.”24 In the Phenomenology of the Spirit, he sets for himself the goal of Absolute Knowledge. Such a goal strikes us as an odd limit until we recognize it as being not a limit, but the fruit of a limiting process which has already taken place. I here iterate a few words on finitude from the previous section of this paper. “The things of nature are limited and are natural things only to such extent as they are not aware of their universal limit, or to such extent as their mode or quality is a limit from our point of view and not their own. No one knows, or even feels, that anything is a limit or defect, until he is at the same time above and beyond it.”

This limit which Hegel sets for himself, this finitude which he recognizes is, in words, the finitude of discourse, and in deeds, the finitude of actions. The finitude of discourse is the finitude of Understanding’s use of it. “Understanding must not go too far. Understanding is not an ultimate but, on the contrary finite, and so constituted that then carried to extremes, it veers round to its opposite.”25 What we say turns round to its opposite. What we attempt may lead to unexpected results. The finitude of actions becomes evident with the realization that it is not Fate which causes results opposite to those intended to come about but men’s own policy. “Napoleon, in a conversation which he once had with Goethe on the nature of Tragedy, expressed the opinion that its modern phase differed from the ancient, through our no longer recognizing a Destiny to whch men are absolutely subject, and that Policy occupies the place of ancient Fate. This therefore he thought must be used as the modern form of Destiny in Tragedy – the irresistible power of circumstances to whch individuality must bend.”26

It is the great figures of history who must come to a realization of this finitude of action. Of Caesar, Hegel says “It was not then, his private gain merely, but an unconscious impulse that occasioned the accomplishment of that for which time was ripe….27 Such individuals had no consciousness of the general Idea they were unfolding, while prosecuting those aims of theirs… If we go on to cast a look at the fate of these world-historical persons – we shall find it to have been no happy one. They attain no calm enjoyment; their whole life was labor and trouble; their whole nature was nought else but their master-passion. When their object is attained they fall off like empty hulls from the kernel.”28 In the words of Napoleon, “Du sublime au ridicule il n’y a qu’un pas.”29

Wehave an important clue to Hegel’s position concerning Theism and Atheism. He states, “There is no porposition of Heraclitus which I have not adopted in my Logic.”30 Such a proposition is the following: “Join together the complete whole and the incomplete, what coincides and what conflicts, what is harmonious and what discordant, and from out of them all comes one, and from one, all.”31 But a consequence of Heraclitus’ proposition is strangely neither theistic n0or atheistic. “Men are mortal gods and gods are immortal men; living is death to the former and dying is their life. Life is the death of the gods, death is the life of the gods; the divine is the rising through thought above mere nature which belongs to death.”34

Let us return once more to the Christian Trinity to see how Hegel employs the logic of Heraclitus. “It is not comprehensible that Christians sought and found the Trinity in this threefold nature. It has often been made a superficial reason for objecting to them; sometimes the idea of the Trinity as it was present to the ancients, was considered as above reason, as a secret, and hence, too high; sometimes it was deemed too absurd. But from the one cause or from the other, they did not wish to bring it into closer relation to reason. If there is a meaning in this Trinity, we must try to understand it. It would be an anomalous thing if there were nothingin what has for two thousand years been the holiest Christian idea; if it were too holy to be brought down to the level of reason, or were something now quite obsolete, so that it would be contrary to good taste and sense to try to find a meaning in it.”32

Hegel recognizes the very schools of thought which Kant identified in his metaphor. There are two schools of thought concerning triplicity. One deems it too high, the other, too absurd. Consequently, neither talks about triplicity at sufficient length to explain the significance behind it These same two schools are identified in the description of the third moment of Logic, Mysticism. The term Mysticism is used by one to denote all that is read and true, by the other, to denote all superstition and deception. On the one hand, these two schools are as opposed as flesh and spirit. On the other, they are united; as flesh and spirit are united in man; as all oppositions are united by the very fact of opposition. “It was forgotten that Identity and Opposition are themselves opposed, and the maxim of Opposition was taken even for that of Identity, in the shape of the principle of Contradiction. A notion, which possesses neither or both of two mutually contradictory marks, e.g. a quadrangular circle and a rectilineal arc ano less contradict this maxim, geometers never hesitate to treat the circle as apolygon with rectilineal sides33…. In the notion of a circle, center and circumference are equally essential; both marks belong to it: and yet center and circumference are opposite and contradictory to each other.”34

Hegel sees in triplicity both truth and deception and, therefore, the necessity for a third position. Three is uniquely neither Pythagorean nor Christian nor Kantian, but a basic number underlying many philosophies and religions. Two is the nature of any opposition; three, of mediation. It is man himself who is antinomous, not reality. Numberless pairs of feelings and opinions in opposition to one another war within his breast. This opposition requires mediation if man is to live with himself in peace. “Only it is not being in itself that is thus contradictory, for the contradiction has its source in our thought alone. Thus the same antinomy remains in our mind; and as it was formerly God who had to take upon himself all contradictions, so now it is self-consciousness…. But Kantian philosophy does not go on to grapple with the fact that it is not things that are contradictory, but self-consciousness itself. Experience teaches us that the ego does not melt away by reason of these contradictions, but continues to exist; we need not therefore trouble ourselves aobut its contradictions, for it can bear them.”35

Theism and Atheism are only one of the many antinomies in man. Hegel is neither Theistic nor Atheistic but a mediator of Thesim and Atheism. In Heraclitean fashion, he unites Theism and Athesim into what is neither theistic nor atheistic but something higher than either. His trinity is not the Christian Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are but being-in-itself, being-for-itself and being-in-and-for-itself in disguise.

We must remember what we first said. Words and deeds seem worlds apart because truth and falsehood in words has no relation to good and evil in deeds. We have neglected to ask ourselves how such entirely different things as words and deeds can manifest this same triplicity. We must recant and admit some connection between words and deeds; between the rational and the actual.

Solon said, long ago, that a word is a shadow of a deed. We are now requiring ourselves to understand how the word is made flesh. In this attempt, we make an additional requirement upon ourselves; namely, to bring together those two realms, knowledge and virtue, which we at first separate. This is a hard saying; that knowledge is virtue. Should we accept the principle that knowledge is virtue, we solve one problem. It is no longer difficult to understand the very curious thing that Mephistopheles, in the guise of Faust, writes in a student’s book, “Eritis sicut Deus, scientes bonum et malum.”36 Why would he not rather write, “You will become godlike, knowing truth and falsehood”? It was not a life of action upon which the student was about to embark, but a life of words and study.

Faust’s turn from words to deeds is no perplexity but a very natural movement from theory to practice. This motion should be seen in all students who are completing their studies. Knowing about truth and falsehood in words, they then reenter the world and face the problems of goodness and evil in action: the application of theory in practice.


Faust’s Wager

(lines 1692-1705)

If ever I lay me on a bed of sloth in peace,
That instant let for me existence cease!
If ever with lying flattery you can rule me
So that contented with myself I stay,
If with enjoyment you can fool me,
Be that for me the final day!
That bet I offer!

If to the moment I shall ever say:
“Ah, lingr on, thou art so fair!”
Then may you fetters on me lay,
The will I perish, then and there!
Then may the death-bell toll, recalling
Then from your service you are free;
The clock may stop, the pointer falling,
And time itself be past for me!


Faust does not travel the highway of despair from words to deeds unaccompanied. The Spirit of the World journeys with him. The Spirit recounts this Odyssey as it basks on Ithacan shores in the permanent noon of the Sun of Self-Consciousness, having vied with Athena and learned where her booty lies. This Spirit’s tale Hegel retells in the Phenomenology of the Spirit.

The Spirit’s Odyssey begins with words. “In sense-expression pure being at once breaks up into the two ‘thises’, as we have called them, one this as I, and one as object.” More precisely, pure being breaks up into three ‘thises’; I, Here, and Now. “Sense-certainty itself has thus to be asked: What is the This? If we take it in the two-fold form of its existence, as the Now and as the Here, the dialectic it has in it will take a form as intelligible as the This iteslf. To the question, What is the Now? we reply, for example, the Now is night-time. To test the truth of this certainty of sense, a simple experiment is all we need: write that truth down. A truth cannot lose anything by being written down, and just as little by our preserving and keeping it. If we look again at the truth we have written down, look at it now, at this noon-time, we shall have to say it has turned stale and become out of date1… The same will be the case when we take the Here, the other form of This. The Here is e.g. the tree. I turn about and this truth has disappeared and has changed round into its opposite: the Here is not a tree, but a house. The Here itslef does not disappear; it is and remains in the disappearance of the house, tree, and so on, and is indifferently house, tree. The This is shown… to be… Universality.”2

The Spirit is thus intimidated by Language. “Language… is the more truthful; in it we ourselves refute directly and at once our own ‘meaning’; and since universality is the real truth of sense-certainlty, and language merely expresses this truth, it is not possible at all for us even to express in words any sensuous existence which we ‘mean’.”3 Ego is drowned and obscured in the Universal. ” ‘I’ is merely universal, like Now, here or This in general. No doubt I ‘mean’ an individual I, but just as little as I am able to say what I ‘mean’ by Now, here, so it is impossible in the case of the I too. By saying ‘this Here’, ‘this Now’, ‘an individual thing’, I say all Thises, Heres, Nows, or Individuals. In the same way when I say ‘I’, ‘this individual I’, I say quite generally ‘all I’s ‘, every one is what I say, every one is ‘I’, this individual I. When philosophy is requested, by way of putting it to a crucial test – a test which it could not possibly sustain – to ‘deduce’, to ‘construe’, ‘to find a priori’, or however it is put, a so-called this thing or this particular man, it is reasonable that the person making this demand should say what ‘this thing’, or what ‘this I’, he means: but to say this is quite impossible.”4

Spirit’s self-defeat in Language engenders scepticism. Scepticism breeds despair, the despair of words. This despair moves Spirit to an act of desperation which is either murderous or suicidal. “We may be permitted here, in this appeal to universal experience, to anticipate with a reference to the practical sphere. In this connection we may answer those who thus insist on the truth and certainty of the reality of objects of sense, by saying that they had better be sent back to the most elementary school of wisdom, the ancient Elusinian mysteries of Ceres and Bacchus; they have not yet learnt the inner secret of the eating of bread and the drinking of wine. For one who is initiated into these mysteries not only comes to doubt the being of things of sense, but gets into a state of despair about it altogether; and in dealing with them he partly himself brings about the nothingness of those things, partly he sees thesse brig about their own nothingness. Even animals are not shut off from this wisdom, but show they are deeply initiated into it. They do not stand stock still before things of sense as if these were things per se, with being in themselves: they despair of this reality altogether, and in complete assurance of the nothingness of things they fall-to without more ado and eat them up.”5

The ultimate deed of the Spirit is recorded in ‘Lordship and Bondage.” Spirit’s experience with words gives rise to sceptical uncertainty of things and of self Spirit desires a recognition which will establish self-certainty. Desire for recognition is the desire for desire; the desire to control another’s desire, that is, to make oneself the object of another’s desire, the standard by thich that other deems itself ‘self’. Spirit recognizes itself in another ‘I’. Yet, for the very reason that the ‘I’ which Spirit sees is ‘other’, Spirit is uncertain of itself. These two ‘I’s challenge one another for recognition in an Homeric fashion. Mortal combat ensues, but mutual slaughter is not the outcome. One fears for his life and submits to slavery. The other becomes a master. The prize of victory is not the kind of recognition which was sought. Spirit desired the recognition of an equal. It now has recognition from a chattle, a ‘thing’. Spirit has merely exchanged the despair of words for the despair of deeds. Moreover, the victor has won the battle but lost the war. By becoming a master, he has lost any chance of achieving self-consciousness. Ironically, the slave is now in a position to achieve self-consciousness. The hands are crossed, so to speak, and the younger son receives the blessing.

The plot of Faust is remarkably similar to the ‘plot’ of the Phenomenology of the Spirit. We first find Faust caught up in the despair of words. As he sits at his desk, the moon rises into view. The moon is Reflection. Its light is the reflected light of the sun.

Faust: …and cease word-threshing from this hour. (385-392)
Oh, that, full moon, thou didst but glow
Now for the last time on my woe,
Whom I beside this desk so oft
Have watched at midnight climb aloft.
Then over books and paper here
to me sad friend thou didst appear!
A1 could I but on mountain height
Go onward in thy lovely light…

Faust is eventually given the opportunity to fulfill this wish if he so chooses. But presently, Faust takes a book of magic and conjures a spirit.

I feel the courage, forth into the world to dare. (465)

Faust is willing to risk his life in order to confront this spirit.

Unveil thyself! …Thou must! (467-500) ‘Tis I, I’m Faust, I am thy peer.

The spirit describes itself as an ocean.

Spirit: In tides of life, in action’s storm,
Up and down I wave
To and fro weave free,
Birth and the grave,
An infinite sea,
A varied weaving,
A radiant living,
Thus at Time’s humming loom its my hand that prepares
The robe ever-living the Diety wears.Faust: Thou who dost round the wide world wend,
Thou busy spirit, how near I feel to thee!

The spirit refuses to give Faust recognition.

Spirit: Thou art like the spirit thou canst comprehend,
Not me!Faust: Not Thee!
Whom then?
I, image of the Godhead!
And not even like to thee!

Faust shortly makes his wager with Mephistopheles and the two embark upon a long series of adventures which culminate in the ultimate deed, the satisfaction of a desired desire. This scene between Mephistopheles and Faust bears an obvious resemblance to Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, Matthew IV. But more important for our present purpose is this scene’s resemblance to Hegel’s chapter on ‘Lordship and Bondage”.

FaustPart II, Act IV (10130-10136)Mephistopheles: …
You have surveyed a boundless territory
The kingdoms of the world and all their glory; (Matt. IV)
Still – with that discontented air -
Did you not lust for something anywhere?

Faust: I did! A great work lured me on,
Divine it!

That can soon be done.
I’d seek some city…

Faust: With that I can not be contented. (10155)

Mephistopheles: Then, swelling with self conscious pride I’d raise
A pleasure castle in a pleasant place. (10160-10161)

Faust: Sardanapalus! Vile and new, I swear! (10176-10180)

Mephistopheles: Who could divine toward what ou would aspire?
It must have been sublimely bold in truth,
Toward the moon you’d soar and even higher;
Did your mad quest allure you there forsooth?

Faust is now given the opportunity to fulfill his earlier wish:

Ah could I but on mountain height (463-464)
Go onward in thy lovely light…

But Faust’s desire is no longer for objects of reflection. The object of Faust’s desire is no longer words but deeds. Moreover, Faust desires a desire.

Faust: By no menas! For this earthly sphere (10181-10201)
Affords a place for great deeds ever.
Astounding things shall happen here,
I feel the strength for bold endeavor,…

Lordship, possession, are my aim and thought!
The deed is everything, the glory naught.

Mephistopheles: …
confide to me the range of your caprices.

Faust: Mine eye was drawn out toward theopen ocean
That swelled aloft, self-towering and vaulting,
And then drew back its billows in commotion,
The broad expanse of level shore assaulting.

It is the sea, as the likeness of which the conjured spirit described itself, which Faust now desires. The moon is a body of weak reflection but of powerful influence on the tides. The ocean is moved by the moon. That is to say, the ocean ‘desires’ the moon.

Faust: It steals along, in countless channels flowing,
Fruitless itself and fruitlessly bestowing;
It swells and grows and rolls and spreads its reign
Over the loathsome, desolate domain.
Strong with a mighty will where wave on wave rolls on,
Reigns for a while, retires, and naught is done.
Even to despair it could harass me truly,
The aimless force of elements unruly!
Here dares my soul above itself to soar;
Here would I fight, of this be conqueror.

Faust’s desire is to control the ocean’s desire for the moon. Faust desires to limit the sea and oncover new ground upon which a city can be built.

In Act V, it is a blind Faust who comes at midnight upon what he believes to be a fulfilling of his desire. The sounds which he hears are not of shovels digging drainage channels, as he believes. They are the sound of his own grave being dug. Faust imagines:


Green fertile fields where straightway from their birth
Both men and beast live happy on the newest earth,
Settled forthwith along the mighty hill
Raised by a daring, busy peoples’ will.
Within, a land like Paradise; outside,
Up to the brink may rage the mighty tide,
And where it gnaws and would burst through or sap,
A common impulse hastes to close the gap.

It is this rapturous vision which looses Faust the wager. It is the vision of a perfect state.

Aye!Such a throng I fain would see. (11579-11603)
Then might I say, that moment seeing:
‘Ah, linger on, thou art so fair!’
The traces of my earthly being
Can perish not in aeons – they are there!
That lofty moment now I feel in this:
I now enjoy the highest moment’s bliss.

Time stops.All that subsequently transpires is in an eternal moment.

Mephistopheles: Him could no pleasure sate, suffice no bliss,
So wooed he ever changeful phantom’s favor.
This last vile, empty moemtn – this!
The poor wretch wished to hild it fast forever.
Him who against me stoutly held his stand,
Time conquers – here the old man lies in sand.
The clock stands still -Chorus: Stands still! No sound is heard.
The clock’s hand falls.

Mephistopheles: it falls, ’tis finished.

Chorus: ‘Tis past.

Mephistopheles: “Past” – ’tis a stupid word.
Past – why?
Past and pure naught, sheer uniformity!
Of what avails perpetual creation
If later swept off to anihillation?
“So it is past!” You see what that must mean?
It is the same as had it never been,
And yet whirls on as if it weren’t destroyed.
I should prefer the Everlasting Void.

So Faust is swept into the bacchanalian whirl.

The long journey from words to deeds is unavoidable if man is to become what he is. Faust would not have thanked Hegel for persuading him to remain in his study, nor would Hegel be pleased if Faust had.

The bacchanalian whirl is a device to cheat Mephistopheles in their wager. The fiar moment of that dance is ever-lingering and ever-fleeting. The bacchanalian whirl is a moving rest.

Psalms 55:6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

Hegel says that dialectic properly begins with Zeno. It was no accident that Zeno first applied dialectic to motion. Dialectic IS motion. motion is the dialectic of the Here and the Now. If the second moment of Logic is motion, then the first moment, Abstract Understanding, must be rest; Parmenides unconsciously perhed on one side of the antinomy. The third moment, Mysticism, which subsumes the first and second moments within itself, must be a moving rest. It is just such a moving rest in which Goethe leaves us.

Chorus Mysticus: All earth comprises (12104-12111)
Is symbol alone;
What here ne’er suffices
As fact here is known;
All past the humanly
Wourght here in love
The Eternal-Womanly
Draws us above.

Time was ‘of the essence’ for Hegel. A temporal paradox prompted him to write the History of Philosophy. hegel states this paradox in the Introduction as follows: “If thought which is essentially though is in and for itself and eternal, and that which is true is contained in thought alone, how, then, does this intellectual world come to hae a history? In history what appears is transient, has disappeared in the night of the past and is no more. But true, necessary thought – and it is only with such that we have to do – is capable of no change.”6

It is not words only but also deeds which suffer in this temporal paradox. “… there are also many most important things outside of philosophy, which are left unconsidered. Such are religion, political history, forms of government, and the arts and sciences.”7 Deeds, as well as words, being products of thought, must have a destination. “For hisotry seems at first to be a succession of chance events, in which each event stands isolated by itself, which has time alone as a connecting link. But even in political history we are not satisfied with this. We see, or at least divine in it, that essential connection or aim, and in this way obtain significance.”8 When is this destination reached?

The destination in words and desds is reached when a certain gap which was rent by thought in the fabric of time is by thought finally rewoven. Truth and falsehood are in the temporal realm of the ‘is’. Good and evil are in the temporal relm of the ‘ought to be’. On the day in which wouds and deeds coincide, then will the rational and the actual, the ideal and the real also coincide.

We may recall the ancient distinction between the historian and the poet. The task of thehistorian is to tell things exactly as they are. The task of the philosopher, it may be added, has often been tought to be the expression of what is. The poet tells things not as they are but as they ought to be.

This distinction between the historian and the poet may be seen in Hegel’s description of the three kinds of hisotry in the introduction to Philosophy of History. Of Original History, of which Herodotus and Thucydides are cited as examples, hegel say, “They simply transferred what was passing in the world around them, to the realm of re-presentative intellect. An external phenomenon is thus translated into an internal conception. In the same way, the poet operates upon the material supplied him by his emotions; projecting it into an image for the conceptive faculty. These original historians did, it is true, find statements and narratives of other men reay to hand. One person cannot be an eye or ear witness of everything. But they make use of such aids only as the poet does of that heritage of an already-formed language, to which he owes so much; merely as an ingredient.”9

Reflective History is somewhat more prosaic. “This first kind of Reflective History is most nearly akin to the preceding, when it has no farther aim than to present the annals of a country complete. Such compilations10… are, if well performed, highly meritorious. Among the best of the kind may be reckoned such annalists as approach those of the first class; who give so vivid a transcript of events that the reader may well fancy himself listening to contemporaries and eye-witnesses.”11

Hegel describes Philosophical History as a union, or sublimation, of the ‘ought’ of Original History and the ‘is’ of Reflective Hisotyr. “To insist upon Thought in this connection with history may, however, appear unsatisfactory. In this science it would seem as if Thought must be subordinate to what is given, to the realities of fact; that is its basis and guide; while Philosophy dwells in the region of self-produced ideas, without reference to actuality. Approaching history thus prepossessed, Speculation might be expected to treat it as a mere passive material; and, so far from leaving it in its native truth, to force it to conformity with a tyrannous idea, and to construe it, as the phase is, ‘a priori.’ But as it is the business of history simply to adopt into its records what is and has become, actual occurences and transactions; and since it remains true to its character in proportion as it strictly adheres to its data, we seem to have in Philosophy, a process diametrically opposed to that of the historiaographer. This contradiction, and the charge consequently brought against speculation, shall be expalined and confuted…. The only thought which Philosophy brings with it to the contemplation of History, is the simple conception of Reason; that Rason is the Sovereign of the World; that the history of the world, therefore, presents us with a rational process.”12

By uniting the ‘is’ and the ‘ought to be’, Philosophical History recognizes the rational in what is actual. The Ideal is recognized as actual and existent in the Real. Hegel sees the proper function of philosophy as the recognition and description of the union of the ‘is’ and the ‘ought’. “One word more about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it. As the thought of the world, it appears only when actuality is already there cut and dried after its process of formation has been completed. The teaching of the concept, which is also history’s inescapable lesson, is that it is only when actuality is mature that the ideal first appears over against the real and that the ideal apprehends this same real world in its substance and builds it up for itslef into the shape of an intellectual realm. When philosophy paints its grey in grey, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy’s grey in grey, it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerve spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk.”13

When this gap etween the ‘is’ and the ‘ought’ is finally rewoven, time stoops. That is, the quill which records the annals of the history of the world and of the history of philosophy comes to a halt. It may truly be said of the permanent noon of self-consciousness that ‘there is nothing new unders the sun.’ Nothing new is said. Nothing new is done. Of course, clocks continue to tick, provided that men still take an interest in building new clocks or repairing old ones. But will men still take this interest? Now the tocsin of war no longer sounds. Now men no longer raise their heads at the tolling of the bell. Now is an eternalnow. We must ask ourselves,”Is this a tragedy?” My only answer would be “Tes, and no,” which is an Hegelian answer and therefore begs the question. Though I do not know the answer, this question must continually be asked. If we ask ourselves whether Faust is a tragedy, I think our answers will provide us with a similar difficulty.

Fortunately, we are not forced to face these questions here. Without having answered them, we can see that Hegel was more successful with words than with deeds. His theory put to practice suffers an age-old fate. The three moments of Logic are more tenable than the three periods of the German Aeon. We will all, I am sure, entertain his notion of an end to philosophy far sooner than any notion of an end to history. We cannot accept Napoleon as history’s end. Nor had the end which Marx and Engels envisioned truly come to pass. We see, either to Hegel’s embarrassment or to shi glory, that the Sun of history has not stopped in the West of Germany, but has moved on. It may presently be lurking somewhere near the approximate vicinty from which it first arose. If so, then the sun of history might properly be said to have completed its circuit about the globe. And it may go round again before the light of the physical sun fades and dies. Perhaps the light of history comes from no sun, but from a dim, epoch-marking comet which Gibbon mentions:

“In the narrow space of history and fable, one and the same comet is already found to have revisited the earth in seven equal revolutions of five hundred and seventy-five years. The first, which ascends beyond the Christian era one thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven years, is coeval with Ogyges, the father of Grecian antiquity. And this appearance explains the tradition which Varo has preserved, that under his reigh the planet Venus changed her color, size, figure, and course; a prodigy without example either in past or succeeding ages. The second visit, in the year eleven hundred and ninety-three, is darkly implied in the fable of Electra, the seventh of the Pleiads, who have been reduced to six since the time of the Torjan war. That nymph, the wife of Dardanus, was unable to support the ruin of her country; she abandoned the dances of her sister orbs, fled from the zodiac to the north pole, and obtained, from her dishevelled locks, the name of the comet. The third period expires in the year six hundred and eighteen, a date that exactly agrees with the tremendous comet of the Sibyl, and perhaps of Pliny, which arose in the West two generations before the reign of Cyrus. The forth apparition, forty-four years before the birth of Christ, is of all others the most splendid and important. After the death of Caesar, a long haired star was conspicuous to Rome and to the nations, during the games which were exhibited by young Octavian in honor of Venus and his uncle. The vulgar opinion, that it conveyed to heaven the divine soul of the dictator, was cherished and consecrated by the piety of a statesman; while his secret superstition referred the comet to the glory of his own times. The fifth visit has been already ascribed to the fifth year of Justinian, which coincides with the five hundred and thirty-first of the Christian era. And it may deserve notice that in this, as in the preceeding instance, the comet was followed by remarkable paleness of the sun. The sixth return in the year eleven hundred and six, is recorded by the chronicles of Europe and China; and in the irst fervor of the crusades, the Christian sand the Mahometans might surmise, with eaqual reason, that it portended the destruction of the Infidels. The seventh phenomenon, of one thousand six hundred and eighty, was presented to the eyes of an enlightened age. The philosophy of Bayle dispelled a prejudice which Milton’s muse had so recently adorned, that the comet, “from its horrid hari shakes pestilence and war.’ Its road in the heavens was observed with exquisite skill by Flamstead and Cassini: and the mathematical science of Bernoulli, Newton, and Halley, investigated the laws of its revolutions. At the eighth period, in the year two thousand three hundered and fifty-five, their calculations may perhaps be verified by the astronomers of some future capital in the Siberian or American wilderness.”14

“I have to express my thinks to you for the attention with which you have listened to me while I have been making this attempt; it is in great measure due to you that my efforts have met with any measure of success. And it has been a source of pleasure to myself to have been associated with you in this spiritual community; I ought not to speak of it as if it were a thing of the past, for I hope that a spiritual bond has been knit between us which will prove permanent. I bid you a most hearty farewell.”- Hegel, conclusion to the History of Philosophy

Now, as I am born with the breath of these words into that world from which I came, I arm myself with the homily of this obscure man.

“Mind your till and till your mind.” – C.H. Spurgeon


Rosetta Stone Mandarin Chinese Notes

September 7, 2011

Rosetta Stone Mandarin (Simplified Characters) Level I, Lesson One – NOTES



Very useful pinyin dictionary for Mandarin

中国语文   中文

huì shuō Zhōngwén ma?

Do you speak Chinese?


Nǐ shuō zhōngguó huà ma?

My new Chinese name

Surname (first character)

畢- Bì – Complete

Given Name (middle character)

  • Wei
  • comfort, console, calm

Given Name (last character):

  • lun
  • debate; discuss; discourse

威廉 – william

威 – - prestige

廉 – - inexpensive incorrupt

honest and clean

You were born in the Year of the Ox

威論 -Wēi lùn -Prestige theory

威廉 -Wēilián – William

鐘 – Zhōng- bell

慰 Wèi – comfort

論 Lùn – theory

慰 論 – Bì wèi lùn –





猪 – Zhū – pig

竹 – Zhú – bamboo

做 – Zuò – do (cook)















“What is this?” = Zhè shì shén me


“What is this?” = Zhè shì shénme

zhe shi yi zhi bi = this is a pen


Zhè shì yī zhī gāngbǐ



fruit juice


Tā yǒu shū

He has book



Yī fèn bàozhǐ

a newspaper

yi ge nan hai zi he yi ge nan ren

A boy and a man





nan ren = man

麻  Má









have pins and needles







nǐ hǎo = How you?

nán rén = male(s) 男人

nǚ rén = female(s) 女人

nán hái zi = male child/children

一个男孩 – a boy

nǚ hái zi = female child/children

guǒ zhī  = fruit juice 果汁

chá  = tea 茶

shuǐ  = water

bào zhǐ = newspaper


爸爸 Bà ba – Father

母亲 mā ma = Mother

孩子 child hái zi

谁 who – shéi

弟弟 younger brother – dì di

女孩子 girl – nǚ hái zi

女 female – nǚ

妹妹 – younger sister – mèi mei

女儿 – daughter – nǚ’ér

有 – to have; to exist (there is/are) – yǒu

儿子 – son – ér zi

没 – not (negation) – méi

小 – small; little – xiǎo

高 – (a surname); tall; high – gāo

朋友 – friend – péng you

shū = book

人 (rén, “person”)

yí ge nǚ rén = 一个女人 = a female

yí ge nán rén = 一个男人 = a male

zhè ge nǚ rén zài hē  shuǐ 這個女人在喝水

woman drinks water – drinking = 在喝

zhè ge nán rén zài chī fàn 這個男人在吃飯 The male eating (at dinner)

吃飯 Chī fàn eat

yí  ge nán hái zi – a boy – 一個男孩子

yí  ge nǚ hái zi – a girl – 一個女孩子

yí  ge nán hái zài chī fàn 一個男孩子 在吃飯

A boy at dinner

yí  ge nán hái zi zài hē  shuǐ 個男孩子 在喝水

在喝 – drinking

在 – in

tā men zài kàn bào zhǐ

他們在看報紙 they read newspapers

tā zài hē chá

她 ta – she

在 zài – in

喝 hē – drink

茶 chá – tea

他們在 tā men zài – they

zài zuò fàn – prepare food

做 -  zuò – do

你在干什么 Nǐ zài gànshénme – What are you doing

在 – zài - in

zhè xiē nǚ

这个男孩子在吃饭 Zhège nán háizi zài chīfàn – the boys at dinner

这 this

个 a

男 nan – male

孩 Hái – child

这些男人在喝水  Zhèxiē nánrén zài hē shuǐ

子 Zi child

在 – Zài – in

吃 – Chī – eat

这些男人 Zhèxiē nánrén – these men

这些 Zhèxiē  – these

gong you???

手机 – Shǒujī –  phone

– chuāng hu – window

wei sheng jian

浴室 bathroom Yùshì

mǎ tǒng toilet 馬桶



电脑 – diàn nǎo  – computer (electric brain)


diàn – electrical

film / move – yǐng

kàn = watch/read/look at

看电影 Kàn diànyǐng – watch a movie

看电视 Kàn diànshì – watch televison

收听电台 Shōutīng diàntái listen to radio

现代科学技术 Xiàndài kēxué jìshù – modern science and technology


yí tào gōng yoù

公寓 Gōngyù – apartment

套 tào – set

一套衣服 Yī tào yīfú – A set of clothes

一套 Yī tào SET

一套 公寓 – Yī tào gōngyù – Apartment


房子 Fángzi – house

yí  zuò

座 Zuò Tower

仪座房子 – a house

仪 Yí – instrument

座 Zuò Tower

房 Fáng Room

子 Zi Child


一扇 yí shàn mén – a door

一台电视机 Yī tái diànshì jī – one television

一台 yí – a

一台收音机 Yī tái shōuyīnjī – a radio

yì tái

电脑 – diàn nǎo  – computer

一台台式电脑 yí tái tái shì diàn năo, desktop computer


一台笔记本电脑 yì tái bĭ jì bĕn diàn năo – laptop computer

zhè tái  diàn năo zài zhūo zi shang

这本书在桌子上 – Zhè běn shū zài zhuōzi shàng – The book on the table

桌子上 Zhuōzi shàng – table

zhè ge shōu yīn jī zài zhuōzi shàng

zhè ge shōu yīn jī zài yǐ zi shang

这只猫在电视上 Zhè zhǐ māo zài diànshì shàng Cat on TV


这个收音 Zhège shōuyīn – the radio

这把椅子 – Zhè bǎ yǐzi – this chair

zhè zhī māo zài diàn shì shang

在 zài – in

一只猫 -Yī zhǐ māo- a cat

這隻貓在 Zhè zhī māo zài – Cat in

猫在电视上 Māo zài diànshì shàng – cat on television


这 – zhè – this

支 zhī support

zhè ge

苹果 – Píngguǒ – apple

zhè ge = this


zhè xie = these

这 Zhè – this

這個 Zhège this

帽子 Màozi – hat

帽子里 Màozi lǐ – hat

zhè xiē yào shi zài xié zi lǐ


在鞋 Zài xié – in a shoe

子里 Zi lǐ Yard

在鞋子里 – Zài xiézi lǐ – in his shoes


这些钥匙 – Zhèxiē yàoshi – These key

这些钥匙 在鞋子里 -Zhèxiē yàoshi zài xiézi lǐ -The keys in his shoes

zhè tái diàn nǎo zaì chē lǐ

这台电脑 – zhè tái diàn nǎo – This computer


车 – Chē – car

里 – Lǐ – In

chuáng xià bian

床 -chuáng -bed

下边 – xià bian – under

zhuō zi xià bian

下表 – Xià biǎo- under table

桌子 – Zhuōzi – table

衬衫 chèn shān – shirt

chē shàng bian


chē vehicle

chéng ride ; to drive

cháng zhǎng long ; be good at

車上邊 Chē shàngbian – side of car

这是窗口 Zhè shì chuāngkǒu – this is window

yí shàn chuāng hu


窗 chuāng window

一扇窗戶 這 – Yī shàn chuānghù zhè – This is a window

这只猫在电视上  Zhè zhǐ māo zài diànshì shàng – cat on tv

yí ge mǎ tǒng

馬桶 – mǎ tǒng – toilet

wǎn chí

洗碗池 Xǐ wǎn chí – kitchen sink

yì jiān kè tīng – family room

kè tīng. 客厅 living room

一間客廳 – yì jiān kè tīng – a living room


zhè wèi mǔ qin  zài yōng bào tā nǚ ér

這位父親在擁抱他的兒子 The father hugged his son

Zhè wèi fùqīn zài yǒngbào tā de érzi

這 Zhè – This

位 wèi  position

父 – Fù – father

父親 – Fùqīn – father

母亲 – Mǔqīn – mother

親 – Qīn – parent

在 – Zài – in

擁 – Yōng – own

抱 – Bào – hold

他 – Tā – he

的-  De – Of

兒 – Er – Child

子 – - Child

兒子 – Érzi – Son

女儿 – Nǚ’ér – daughter

zhè ge mèi mei

mèimei younger sister


ge older brother
xiānsheng husband
tàitai wife
mèimei younger sister
wàigōng maternal grandfather


- di - brother

听收音机 tīng shōu yīn jī – listen to the radio

wǒ men zhù zài yí tào gōng yù lǐ

你的报纸在桌子上 -Nǐ de bàozhǐ zài zhuōzi shàng – your newspaper is on the table

我们住在一座房子里 -Wǒmen zhù zài yīzuò fángzi lǐ – we live in a house

我們住在一套公寓裡 – wǒ men zhù zài yí tào gōng yù lǐ- we live in an apartment

luó Rome
Paris , capital of France
Moscow , capital of Russia

你住在哪里 – Nǐ zhù zài nǎlǐ – where do you live

我们住- wǒ  men zhù – we live

你们住 – nǐ  men zhù – you live

yì ge nán rén hé yì zhī gǒu

a man and a dog


毛衣 – Máoyī – sweater

yí jiàn máo yī

一件 – Yī jiàn – A

褲 -Kù – pants

皮帶 – Pídài – belt

一条 – yì tiáo – A

北上广深 – Běishàng guǎng shēn – North of Guangzhou-Shenzhen

A man and a dog         Yīgè nánrén hé yī zhǐ gǒu 一個男一人和狗

A woman and her dog Yīgè nǚrén hé tā de gǒu 一個女人和她的狗

A girl and a horse        Yīgè nǚ háizi hé yī pǐ mǎ

A policeman and his horse     Yī wèi jǐngchá hé tā de mǎ

A man and his car       Yīgè nánrén hé tā de chē

A woman and her car Yīgè nǚrén hé tā de chē

A man and his cat       Yīgè nánrén hé tā de māo

A woman and her cat  Yīgè nǚrén hé tā de māo

They (girls) are eating their sandwiches        Tāmen zài chī tāmen de sānmíngzhì

They eat their apples. Tāmen zài chī tāmen de píngguǒ

They read Newspapers          Tāmen zài kàn tāmen de bàozhǐ

They (girls) look at their books            Tāmen zài kàn tāmen de shū

They look at their books          Tāmen zài kàn tāmen de shū

He reads his book       Tā zài kàn tā de shū

She reads her book    Tā zài kàn tā de shū

She ate her apple        Tā zài chī tā de píngguǒ

He ate his apple          Tā zài chī tā de píngguǒ

They (female) ate their apple  Tāmen zài chī tāmen de píngguǒ

Family Yī jiā rén

A woman and her daughter    Yīgè nǚrén hé tā nǚ ér

A man and his son      Yīgè nánrén hé tā érzi

A boy and his father    Yīgè nán háizi hé tā fùqīn

A girl and her mother  Yīgè nǚ háizi hé tā mǔqīn

Daughter         nǚ ér

Son      érzi

Father  fùqīn

Mother mǔqīn

A baby Yīgè yīng’ér

Two girls and their parents     Liǎng gè nǚ háizi hé tāmen fùmǔ

A girl and her parents  Yīgè nǚ háizi hé tā fùmǔ

A woman and her husband     Yīgè nǚrén hé tā xiānshēng

A man and his wife     Yīgè nánrén hé tā tàitài

A woman and her child           Yīgè nǚrén hé tā háizi

A father and his daughter        Yī wèi fùqīn hé tā nǚ’ér

Parents and their sons           Fùmǔ hé tāmen er zi

A mother and her baby boy     Yī wèi mǔqīn hé tā de yīng’ér

Parents and their daughter     Fùmǔ hé tāmen nǚ’ér

A man and his wife     Yī wèi xiānshēng hé tā tàitài

A father and his children         Yī wèi fùqīn hé tā háizi

A boy and his dog playing       Zhège nán háizi hé tā de gǒu zài wán

A woman and her cat playing Zhège nǚrén hé tā de māo zài wán

A mother and her daughters playing   Zhè wèi mǔqīn hé tā nǚ’ér zài wán

A father and his sons playing  Zhè wèi fùqīn hé tā érzi zài wán

The son is not playing, the father is playing    Zhège érzi méi zài wán, tā fùqīn zài wán

The children are not cooking, their father is cooking  Zhèxiē háizi méi zài zuò fàn, tāmen fùqīn zài zuò fàn

The father is not reading a book, his daughter is reading a book       Zhè wèi fùqīn méi zài kàn shū, tā nǚ’ér zài kàn shū

Who is drinking Juice?            Shuí zài hē guǒzhī?

Who is sleeping          Shuí zài shuìjiào?

Who is playing?          Shuí zài wán?

Who is eating?            Shuí zài chīfàn?

This is my daughter    Zhè shì wǒ nǚ’ér

This is my son            Zhè shì wǒ érzi

This is my mother       Zhè shì wǒ mǔqīn

This is my bike            Zhè shì wǒ de zìxíngchē

This is my bed            Zhè shì wǒ de chuáng

This is my father         Zhè shì wǒ fùqīn







ā ē ī ō ū ǖ

á é í ó ú ǘ

ǎ ě ǐ ǒ ǔ ǚ

à è ì ò ù ǜ

a e i o u ü


ā ē ī ō ū ǖ

á é í ó ú ǘ

ǎ ě ǐ ǒ ǔ ǚ

à è ì ò ù ǜ

a e i o u ü

(a spare in case I clobber characters)

yì jiān kè tīng

chá    茶

sān míng zhi        三明治 Sandwich

zhè xiē       這些

miàn bāo    麵包 Bread

yóu yǒng    游泳

tā men        他們

ni˘ hao˘       你好

nǚ rén         女人

hē guǒ zhī  喝果汁

nán rén       男人

kàn shū      看書

hái zi 孩子

guǒ zhī       果汁

nǚ hái zi      女孩子

zhè ge        這個

chī fàn.       吃飯

shui˘  水

xiě zì 寫字

tā men zài chī fàn.        她們在吃飯。

kàn bào zhǐ 看報紙

zuò fàn       做飯

pǎo bù        跑步

kàn    看

tā men zài xiě zì. 他們在寫字。

hàn    和

zhè zhī gǒu zài kāi chē.          這隻狗在開車。

bào zhi˘      報紙

huáng se    黃色 Yellow

miàn bāo hàn shui˘       麵包和水 Bread and water

yì zhī māo  一隻貓 A cat

niú nǎi         牛奶 milk

jī dàn 雞蛋 eggs

zài jiàn        再見 Goodbye

yí ge píng guo    一個蘋果 An apple

shu¯ 書

kā fēi 咖啡 Coffee

méi yǒu, tā méi zài shuì jiào. 沒有,她沒在睡覺。No, she did not in sleep

méi yǒu      沒有

shuì jiào     睡覺 Sleep

kā fēi hàn yí ge jī dàn   咖啡和一個雞蛋 Coffee and an egg

yì tiáo yu    一條魚 A fish

zhè zhī gǒu zài chī dōng xi.   這隻狗在吃東西。 The the dog eating

yì zhī gǒu   一隻狗 A dog

lán se         藍色 Blue

mǐ fàn hàn yí ge píng guo     米飯和一個蘋果 Rice and an apple

mǐ fàn         米飯

zhè ge nǚ hái zi zài zǒu lù.     這個女孩子在走路。This girl walking

duì    對

yì zhī māo zài xiě zì.     一隻貓在寫字。A cat on writing

xiě zì 寫字

tā yǒu yì běn shū.         他有一本書。He has a book

zhè zhī gǒu zài yóu shuǐ.        這隻狗在游水。Dog at swimming

zhè tiáo yú zài yóu.       這條魚在游。Fish in the swim

tiān kōng    天空 Sky

yì duǒ huā  一朵花

zhè duǒ huā hěn xiǎo.  這朵花很小。

bái se         白色

yì pǐ ma      一匹馬

tiān kōng shì lán sè de.         天空是藍色的。

tā men shì jǐng chá.      他們是警察。

jǐng chá      警察

zhè pǐ mǎ zài yóu shuǐ ma?   這匹馬在游水嗎?

zhè tiáo yú hěn dà.       這條魚很大。

tā men yǒu yí fèn bào zhǐ.     他們有一份報紙。

yí fèn bào zhǐ      一份報紙

nǐ zài zuò shén me?     你在做甚麼?

zuò    做

shén me     甚麼

zhè zhī māo zài shuì jiaò.      這隻貓在睡覺。

yì liàg che¯          一輛車

liàng  輛

hóng se      紅色

kāi chē       開車

yī shēng     醫生

zhè shì shén me?        這是甚麼?

zhè ge qiú shì hóng sè de.   這個球是紅色的。

qiú     球

cǎo   草

tài yáng      太陽

tài yáng shì huáng sè de.      太陽是黃色的。

zhè pǐ mǎ zài pǎo.        這匹馬在跑。

pǎo   跑

yì tiáo yu zài kàn bào zhǐ.       這條魚在看報紙。

hēi se         黑色

zài jiàn        再見

cǎo shì lǜ sè de. 草是綠色的。

wu˘    五

lán     藍

zhè shì mǐ fàn.    這是米飯。

sì      四

wǒ yǒu yì běn lǜ sè de shū.  我有一本綠色的書。

zhè lǐ 這裡

duō shǎo    多少

zhè lǐ yǒu duō shǎo tiáo yú?  這裡有多少條魚?

lǎo shī        老師

shǒu jī        手機

zhè ge nán hái zi méi yǒu bǐ. 這個男孩子沒有筆。

bǐ.      筆

méi yǒu      沒有

nín yǒu shén me?        您有甚麼?

xué shēng  學生

lǜ       綠

niǎo dàn     鳥蛋

zhuō zi        桌子

duō shǎo wèi jǐng chá?          多少位警察?

liù      六

zài mǎi yí jiàn dà yī.      在買一件大衣。

mǎi    買

yí jiàn dà yī 一件大衣

zhè zhī māo shì hēi sè de.    這隻貓是黑色的。

yí jiàn          一件

zhè xiē nǚ hái zi shì jiě mèi.   這些女孩子是姐妹。

yīng ér        嬰兒

zhè ge nán rén dài zhe mào zi.       這個男人戴著帽子。

dài     戴

mào zi        帽子

xié zi 鞋子

niǎo   鳥

diàn huà     電話

yí jiàn dà yi 一件大衣

chuān         穿

pán zi         盤子

yi˘ zi  椅子

wǎn   碗

yì jiā rén     一家人

kù zi  褲子

yí jiàn chèn shān 一件襯衫

zhè duǒ huā shì hóng sè de. 這朵花是紅色的。

tài yáng      太陽

zhè wèi yī shēng yǒu bào zhǐ.         這位醫生有報紙。

yī shēng     醫生

wèi    位

yì tiáo qún zi        一條裙子

yì tiáo         一條

sì ge wǎn   四個碗

zhè lǐ yǒu liǎng ge shǒu jī.     這裡有兩個手機。

lǐ        裡

péng you    朋友

yì zhāng chuáng  一張床

xiōng dì      兄弟

méi   沒

wán   玩

zhè ge ér zi méi zài wán, tā fù qīn zài wán.        這個兒子沒在玩,他父親在玩。

xiān sheng 先生

yì dǐng mào zi      一頂帽子

nǐ jǐ suì?     你幾歲? nǐ jǐ suì?

nǐ duō dà?  你多大?

yí jīen gōng yu     一間公寓

yí jīen fáng zi       一間房子

yí shàn mén        一扇門

yì tái diàn shi       一台電視

diàn nǎo     電腦

yí shàn chuāng hu        一扇窗戶

mǎ tǒng      馬桶

yào shi       鑰匙

yì jiān kè tīng       一間客廳

yí jīen chú fáng    一間廚房

yí shàn chuāng hu        一扇窗戶

yōng bào    擁抱

qīn     親

xià biān       下邊

shōu yīn jī   收音機

tīng    聽

zhàn  站

zuò    坐

bēi zi 杯子

tā shì cóng měi guó lái de.    她是從美國來的。

cóng 從

jìn      近

yuǎn  遠

rèn shi        認識

gāo xìng     高興

rèn shi nǐ hěn gāo xìng 認識你很高興。

míng zì       名字

nǐ jiào shén me míng zì?       你叫甚麼名字?

wò shì        臥室

chú fáng     廚房

yí tào xī zhuāng   一套西裝

yì tiáo pí dài        一條皮帶

yì tiáo lǐng dài      一條領帶

yí jiàn máo yi       一件毛衣

niú zǎi ku    牛仔褲

zǐ se  紫色

huī se         灰色

tóu fa          頭髮

jīn sè 金色

kě      渴

è       餓

lěng  冷

rè      熱

bìng le        病了

hěn hǎo      很好

jiā rén         家人

zhèng zài   正在

一      one Yī

二      two Èr

三      three Sān

四      four Sì

五      five Wǔ

六      six Liù

七      seven Qī

八      eight Bā

九      nine Jiǔ

十      ten Shí

Dialogue with Psychiatrist in India

June 13, 2011

Dialogue With A Psychiatrist


(highlight from dialogue):
“When Individual Self perishes; Universal Self is Born”
“Only when your particular individual self perishes may that
Universal Self be born in its stead”

(Note: “Mad_Shrink” is actually a minor alteration of the screen name which he has chosen)

Mad_Shrink: Hello, Sitaram, so, how’re you doing today?

Sitaram: You are the psychiatrist whom I met on-line in yahoo chat last week, yes?

Mad_Shrink: Yes , you have a good memory

Sitaram: Yes, you were flattering. You said I was “expansive”…

Sitaram: and you said that I gave you an inferiority complex

Mad_Shrink: I accessed your website

Sitaram: Thanks for visiting.

Mad_Shrink: You have a sharper memory than I could ever imagine

Sitaram: Actually, I am very forgetful and absent-minded, but your words happend to stick in my mind.

Mad_Shrink: Yes, I read some of your inter-faith dialogues

Mad_Shrink: and think that you are expansive

Sitaram: Do you find anything useful there, or of interest?

Mad_Shrink: I’ve learnt a lot already

Sitaram: Ah, good! I like it when people learn.

Mad_Shrink: ..although I have’nt seen too many pages.

Sitaram: It is good to use our minds.

Mad_Shrink: Yes, of course.

Sitaram: Dont forget, you can download the entire site to your hard drive in minutes and view off-line.

Mad_Shrink: How does one do that?

Sitaram: You must be able to use pkzip or winzip to unzip the files that you download.

Mad_Shrink: Will you please explain, I am new to computers.

Sitaram: pkzip,winzip is free shareware, from http://www.pkware.com

Sitaram: Yes… you click on my INDEX OF PAGES

Mad_Shrink: Yes?

Sitaram: Then, the first three items will download 100 pages at a time

Mad_Shrink: and then?

Sitaram: each download takes less than 5 minutes

Mad_Shrink: and then, how do I access them later?

Sitaram: then… you must have pkzip winzip installed,… which is I think from http://www.pkware.com

Sitaram: When you unzip them… they expand in a directory to files called page001.htm , page002.htm, etc

Sitaram: up to page255.htm

Mad_Shrink: OK, I’ll try to do as you say

Sitaram: Then you simply key into your browser for example c:myfilespage001.htm, if the htm files are in a folder called myfiles on drive c: , and you will be viewing everything in your brower… but without need for internet

Mad_Shrink: I want you to talk to me today about the Bhagvad Gita, please?

Mad_Shrink: if you wish

Sitaram: Did you give me your email… are you on my email list?

Sitaram: I send out about 5 articles today…..

Mad_Shrink: what, in your erudite opinion, is the essence of the Bhagvad? in very brief

Mad_Shrink: your knowledge of comparative theology is indeed awesome

Sitaram: Thanks for kind words….

Mad_Shrink: and you are well-read, indeed

Sitaram: Some of the articles I send out are simply interesting ones I find on the internet…

Sitaram: Today, I found a nice one on srimad Bhagavatam

Mad_Shrink: I often wonder how you found so much time to do so much?

Mad_Shrink: anything you’d like to tell me about the Bhagvad Gita, once again, please?

Sitaram: well… I just emailed you that one article on srimad bhagavatam

Sitaram: but… since you ask…

Sitaram: I will say….. some of the things i like to mention frequently from Gita

Mad_Shrink: I’d like to know your perception of the essence of the Gita not quotations, please, if you do not mind

Sitaram: Ch 4 vs 11 In whatever way people approach Me, I accept them…

Mad_Shrink: your own viewpoint

Sitaram: people everywhere follow My path….

Mad_Shrink: so, do that

Mad_Shrink: I approach you in this way

Sitaram: of course…. there are other translations of that verse which are more sectarian….

Mad_Shrink: no quotations, please, talk to me, don’t show off your knowledge

Sitaram: hmmm….. but…. I am trained to think in this fashion… giving references for everything….

Mad_Shrink: I want to know the essence of the Gita, in your opinion, your views

Sitaram: usually, people reject anything which is not substantiated

Mad_Shrink: No, I am interested in you as a person relating to me, not as a mouth-piece

Sitaram: It is like asking me to write to you, but without using letters of the alphabet, since I would be showing off my knowledge of the alphabet

Mad_Shrink: You have a point

Sitaram: to talk about Gita,… we must quote the Gita

Sitaram: to talk about Gospels, we must quote Gospels

Mad_Shrink: but the analogy is not quite accurate

Mad_Shrink: I am seeking your opinion

Mad_Shrink: I do not mean to say that I know so much that I can discuss with you

Sitaram: there are a certain number of dialogues at my website, where I speak theology apart from any scripture or textual reference….

Mad_Shrink: I am interested in relating to YOU

Sitaram: yet you must realize that whatever I say,…. I am only the sum total of everything which I have internalized…

Mad_Shrink: here, on the net

Sitaram: I have a suggestion for you,… an idea….

Mad_Shrink: fine, tell me

Sitaram: have you ever read Dostoevsky?

Mad_Shrink: yes

Sitaram: the Brothers Karamazov?

Mad_Shrink: No , I have read Crime and Punishment and The Idiot

Sitaram: the first 100 pages or so is an account given by the fictional character, the monk Zossima….in Brothers Karamazov

Mad_Shrink: You are very factually oriented, brother

Sitaram: the monk Zossima tells how as a young man, he rejected a career in the military to take up the orthodox monastic spiritual life

Mad_Shrink: I wonder how your family ever coped with you, or did they?

Sitaram: But I am trying to make a point for you…

Mad_Shrink: Alright , go ahead

Sitaram: If you read Doestoevsky’s account… you will see that….

Mad_Shrink: yes?

Sitaram: Someone like Zossima…. BECOMES ZOSSIMA,…. precisely by internalizing all the scriptures until they become second nature

Mad_Shrink: Yes

Sitaram: in other words…. the indivuality of Zossima is not what is interesting

Mad_Shrink: That is true, indeed, but you are stuck midway

Sitaram: that individuality dies as part of the spiritual developmental process; that which TRULY interests us is the personality which evolves as a living embodiment of those scriptures and traditions….

Mad_Shrink: I also thought, albeit open to criticism, that you are a poor listener

Sitaram: so…. a Ramakrishna, or a Ramana Marharshi fascinates us PRECISELY because their own individuality perished as they became LIVING EMBODIMENTS of the traditions that they represent.

Mad_Shrink: You are pontifical

Sitaram: but.. I am addressing myself in a very precise way to your first objection… but you do not have the attention span to pursue the thought to its conclusion…. ( I know that sounds harsh), and you mix in too much of I, Me, My ego which makes it difficult for you to listen and perhaps benefit…

Mad_Shrink: I merely asked you to tell me your view of the essence of the Gita, from your gleanings

Sitaram: but… then in a bizzare fashion… you forbade me to quote from the Gita…

Mad_Shrink: to quote, yes

Sitaram: Yet anyone and everyone who speaks on Gita is expected to quote from gita

Mad_Shrink: But where was your originality?

Sitaram: The object is precisely NOT to be original.. that is the very point that you are missing… Although I have written 2000 pages on these things.. which you may download and read…. yet you want me to speak DIRECTLY to you… on the same subject… which is a desire that stems from your personal ego….

Mad_Shrink: Do i have a right to disagree?

Sitaram: So when I try to oblige your desire…

Mad_Shrink: Yes, I am listening

Sitaram: then you feel you must CONTROL the manner in which I discourse

Mad_Shrink: Fine, go ahead

Sitaram: which also stems from your personal ego…

Mad_Shrink: and tell me using the form you wish

Sitaram: I am merely trying to hold up for you a mirror so you may perhaps see your own psychodynamics

Mad_Shrink: I understand and I do not mean any offence

Sitaram: you currently have obstacles, impediments to your inquiry…

Mad_Shrink: for at a level, I have tremendous respect for a person such as you

Sitaram: until you understand and remove these ego impediments… you will not benefit from readings or discourse

Mad_Shrink: Yes, I am grateful that you point this out

Sitaram: If you truly want to understand, and to BECOME the Gita, Upanisads, Gospels, Dhammapada… then you must give up desires for originality

Mad_Shrink: but you could have just said that earlier

Sitaram: Only when your particular individual self perishes may that Universal Self be born in its stead.

Mad_Shrink: stopped me there, saying that you will decide the form or that it is not possible for you to have me control the way you would answer the question

Sitaram: so, getting back to Doestoyevsky, Zossima is of interest only when, through a process, his individuality dies… and Zossima becomes an embodiment of the Gospels….

Mad_Shrink: I understand

Sitaram: but if you can manage to download my website to your local drive you can read for yours the highlights of dialogues I have had over past 2 years….

Mad_Shrink: why do you always get back to your website?

Sitaram: which is, in some ways BETTER than speaking to me directly

Mad_Shrink: You probably are right, I’ll try that

Sitaram: Since I am an organic being… with moments of weariness, forgetfulness, etc….

Mad_Shrink: Your style is too expansive for me

Sitaram: …so, writing is a tool which distills and synthesizes something that is MORE than me at any given moment

Mad_Shrink: I prefer a simple, straightforward chat, do not mean to be hurtful

Sitaram: If we could chat with Plato or Socrates… it would not be as rewarding as a Platonic dialogue for the same reason…

Mad_Shrink: but I find your manner a trifle adversarial

Sitaram: Those figures which we admire in history… we come to know them ONLY THROUGH that distillation of writing and tradition

Mad_Shrink: I know exactly what you mean

Sitaram: Which by its very nature is LARGER THAN LIFE…

Mad_Shrink: You are right! Yes, sitaram

Sitaram: SO you see, if you met me face to face… well… I might be a disappointment after the ME that you might come to know through my writings

Mad_Shrink: sure

Sitaram: but I understand peoples need to have something straight from “the horses mouth” so to speak…

Sitaram: actually,.. you have raised some intersting issues in this dialogue of ours

Mad_Shrink: Thank you, sitaram, like what for instance?

Mad_Shrink: What issues?

Mad_Shrink: Please?

Sitaram: Well… our entire discussion of the person we meet in writings vs the person in real life

Mad_Shrink: and one may now add net life

Sitaram: that the literary persona is LARGER than life…. just like the moviestar on screen is more striking than in person


Reader response to Dialogue with Psychiatrist

===== (a readers response):

I enjoyed that post of your dialogue with the psychiatrist. Would a meeting with the Buddha be a disappointment? All the stories I’ve read about encounters with the Buddha (or Ramkrishna Paramhansa) are eloquent about the peace radiating from the person. The person impressed more than the words. Would you then make a distinction between (learning and knowledge) on one hand and (enlightenment and self-knowledge) on the other? Can the latter be attained without the former?

I have a question that I think Mad-Shrink was leading to… With all your learning of Theology, Hindu and otherwise, would you consider yourself to be happy and enlightened?

I’m not trying to be rude. I’m just curious.

=============(my reply):

Actually, you are correct in pointing out that Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi and others wrote little or nothing themselves, and did radiate a tremendous grace or peace. In fact, Someset Maughm had a meeting with Ramana Maharshi and, because he was an “intellectual” totally conditioned to that “literary presence”, he totally missed the point of sitting with Ramana Maharshi in silence. I was rather hastily trying to make a point to the psychiatrist, a point which still has validity, though it does not precisely apply to people like Ramakrishna or Ramana Maharshi.

Lord Krisha said “Better to do ONE’S OWN DHARMA, even if imperfectly, rather than to do another’s Dharma to perfection.

I am reminded of some of those New Yorker cartoons of the clown sitting in his dressing room forlornly reciting Hamlet before the mirror. The clown desires to play Hamlet. Mr. Spock of Star Trek grows to detest his portrayal of a Vulcan alien, to the point of writing a book entitled “I am not Spock”.

I am a failure at many different things at life, but curiously successful in this strange little thing I have been doing for the past two years. I personally believe that I am doing that Dharma which I was ment to do in this lifetime, however imperfectly I may be doing it. I myself am a means to some greater end. That end has nothing to do with my own personal happiness or enlightenment, other than the fact that it is “good” to do ones own Dharma, to surrender to it. I am also aware that I may very likely pay for my activities one day with my life. That is something which I realized long ago and accepted as “part of the job”. If you take what I was told in my dream with any seriousness, in page 1 of my website, then you realize that I must be reborn several more times to be “purified” through suffering.

One of the pages at my website states that “we are exactly what we should be at each point in time”. Someone was scandalized by this and said, “Does that mean that people should be prostitutes or drug dealers.” My answer was that people like Gandhi and Mother Theresa and Ramana Maharshi were as much ineluctably drawn to satyagraha, charity, and ascetical tapas, as the thief or prostitute or drug addict is drawn to their life and activities. It is part of a karmic cause and effect that each of us must work through. There was a necessity for Hitler and Ravanna; without them there would be no Schindler’s List, and no Ramanand Sagar (or Tulsidas) Ramayan. For all we know, a bee is happy makeing honey, the viper is happy making venom, and the cow is “happy” making milk; yet all three drink from the same pool of water to quench their thirst.

Bottom line: If you are circus clown, and know you were meant to be a circus clown, and have surrendered to that Dharma, then be a GOOD circus clown. Dont pine away because you are not playing Hamlet.

(the reader then asks):

Why didn’t Krsna reveal the message of the Geeta to Duryodhan? If Arjun *needed* the Geeta at that point because he was hesitating from doing his duty, does that mean that the Kauravas were ‘better’ (in a loose sense)? They were fairly committed to their Dharma. Is there a bias in the cosmos towards ‘good’ or is there no such thing as ‘good’? What does the Geeta say about this? Why did Krsna side with the Pandavas?

I understand intuitively when you say that your dharma may not be coupled strongly with your peace of mind.

Your comment about the viper reminded me of a rather heart-warming thought that I read in this book called ‘The snake-bite survivor’s club’ or something like that. It was to the effect that ‘It is only in India that you might learn not to fear the snake, and indeed learn to love it.’


(my reply):

Why does Lord Krsna manifest to Arjuna and not Duryodhan? Lord Krishna says (paraphrasing): “Whenever righteousness declines, and unrighteousness increases, I will descend and Manifest Myself, in every age.”

It is true that Lord Krishna appeared to Arjuna, but that does not mean that the Supreme Lord manifests to EACH and every one of us personally when we are in need.

Through all the centuries of history of the Jewish peoples, God appeared in some personal fashion to only a relative handful: Moses, Abraham, Samuel, David, Job, Elijah, Elisha, etc.

It IS TRUE that God will manifest in some way to each of us during our lives, if we are ripe for it, but for the majority of us, that manifestation is WITHIN our reading, meditation, and absorption into such Divine Lilas as the Geeta, Gospels, the Torah, etc. And if we take the Anugita seriously, with Arjuna’s predicament, that even though he was given spiritualized vision and was allowed to see the Lord’s Universal Form or Satsvarup; now the radiance of that experience was fading to a dim memory, and Arjuna approaches Krishna asking what he should do.

Even though only certain Apostles beheld the Transfiguration of Christ on Mt. Tabor as a radian Being of Light surrounded by Prophets in transcendent dialogue, yet when that moment ended, as all moments end, those apostles were left with there original embodied human frailty and doubts.

That is why Jesus said “Yea, blessed are you who see these things, but far more blessed are those who never see and yet believe.” In the Ramayan, Shabari’s most blessed moment was NOT when she met her Lord Ram face to face; but was rather that moment in her devotion, her bhakti when she attracted the Lord’s attention. Lord Krishna says a very perplexing thing: “All sentient beings, embodied jivas, are the same in My eyes and I treat them all equally; yet My devotee is most dear to me.” This would seem to be a contradiction, would it not?

Since the Lord as the author and master of all dualities transcends all dualities, i.e. is immanent in each quality as its source (I am the cleverness of the cheater, I am the old man upon the staff, I am the young maiden, I am the green parrot with the red eyes); hence the eight siddhis or powers of the Lord seem mutually contradictory. The Lord may become infinitely great, or infinitessimally small; He may become heavy as a mountain, or light as a feather….. etc etc…. but here is the most significant of the Lord’s abilities… He may become absolute master, BUT ALSO HE MAY SUFFER ABSOLUTE BONDAGE AND SERVITUDE.

One of the names of Lord Krsna is Damodar, which means “bound at the waiste or stomach”.

When Mother Yashoda attempts to bind young Lord Krsna to a pillar for His impish pranks, she discovers that all the rope in the village is not enought to encompass Him. No matter how much she adds, it always falls short by half an inch. But finally, Lord Krishna allows Himself to be bound. Is this not strikingly similar to the Crucifixion? The imagery is the same, The Infinite takes human birth and suffers to be bound.

It is bhakti (devotion) which binds the Lord.

I could say much much more, but this post is sufficiently long.


SOME WEEKS LATER (9/20/2000),… the dialogue with Mad_Shrink resumes:

Mad_Shrink: STOP “I” ing me to death with every sentence. Simply talk with me without constantly saying “I”, “I”, “I”

=======connection is lost

Mad_Shrink: You left! Was I too harsh? Did I anger you?

Mad_Shrink: sorry

Sitaram: no.. i clicked wrong button and closed the chat window

Mad_Shrink: fine

Mad_Shrink: yes, back to your question “is there some the confluence of all religions”

Sitaram: sorry for my grammer…. i was taught from ealiest childhood that it is the greatest impropriety to stray from correct grammar and spelling, so I do not feel comfortable unless I frequently use the personal pronoun.

Mad_Shrink: never mind

Sitaram: it is a cultural thing…

Mad_Shrink: let’s talk about religion

Mad_Shrink: the confluence

Mad_Shrink: the Jehad

Mad_Shrink: please

Sitaram: ok… wait a minute.. i want to take a moment to add you to my yahoo pager list… this yahoo pager is very new to me

Mad_Shrink: i do not wish to do that

Mad_Shrink: please

Sitaram: aha.. it worked fine…

Sitaram: ohhh… sorry.. didnt see your last post

Sitaram: so.. then… simply deny request

Mad_Shrink: never mind

Sitaram: sorry

Mad_Shrink: never mind

Mad_Shrink: accepted

Sitaram: didnt mean to be presumptuous

Mad_Shrink: but you always are presumptuous

Mad_Shrink: never mind

Sitaram: you see.. i have a problem with absentminded ness….. and i speak with hundreds…. so its more convenient,for people i really like

Mad_Shrink: the confluence of all religions

Sitaram: to have them on a buddy list

Sitaram: ok back to confluence

Mad_Shrink: what is the common thread running through all the religions?

Sitaram: let me gather my thoughts one second

Sitaram: we must distinguish between two aspects of “confluence”,…. point of origin (more properly effluence, i suppose), and teleological/eschatological confluence (or unity) if that should indeed ever come to pass

Mad_Shrink: what is eschatological mean?

Sitaram: there is the issue of the common origin/source of all religiosity/spirituality….

Mad_Shrink: sorry

Mad_Shrink: what does,,,,,,

Mad_Shrink: yes

Mad_Shrink: what is eschatology?

Sitaram: in greek (you must be patient with me, i speak greek, and someties think in greek)

Mad_Shrink: please

Mad_Shrink: oh

Mad_Shrink: i see

Sitaram: eschatos means temporal end…… but not necessary a final teleology or goal towards which something is perfecting

Sitaram: Teleios means “end” in the sense of a perfected goal towards which things were striving

Mad_Shrink: what is your understanding of the Holy Spirit?

Sitaram: for example… if the sun explodes tomorrow, or a comet strikes the earth,… that is the eschatological end of things (but with no purpose of design…)… simply a temporal end

Sitaram: but…. a “final judgement” a “second coming” a “new heaven/new earth”… the things which Abrahamic religions dwell on… such is a teleiological end

Mad_Shrink: fine

Mad_Shrink: thank you

Mad_Shrink: Holy Spirit?

Sitaram: and… to have an even better understanding… it helps to be somewhat familiar, as a good example of this, of the thinking of Hegel…. and his notion of “an end of History”,

Sitaram: sorry.. i know you are now impatient to change subjects to “holy spirit”

Sitaram: though we have not delt adequately with first question of “confluence of all religions”

Mad_Shrink: not a “change” of subjects at all

Sitaram: but… i aim to please….

Sitaram: ok… regarding question of Holy Spirit… one moment

Mad_Shrink: please do not aim to please me

Mad_Shrink: i wonder how you must be in your personal life

Mad_Shrink: you hardly ever pay attention to what the other is saying…..

Sitaram: it is my nature, a cultural thing… like the grammar business of personal pronouns,… or my habit of trying to proceed along one line of thought in a certain progression

Mad_Shrink: perhaps because you have so much to tell

Sitaram: you are unfair in your criticism…. because i am bending over backwards to do things “your way”….

Mad_Shrink: very linear

Sitaram: not that im angry or offended… but in one breath.. you say “do not try to please me”.. but in another….you insist that everything be “your way” =======(loss of internet connection. I log back in and resume dialogue)

Mad_Shrink: hi

Mad_Shrink: glad i waited

Sitaram: sorry… i often loose connection

Mad_Shrink: what happened?

Mad_Shrink: you were logged out?

Sitaram: static on phone line

Sitaram: perhaps

Mad_Shrink: oh

Sitaram: sometimes i get 6 hours straight… no problems

Mad_Shrink: i do not mean to hurt you

Sitaram: other time, i get “booted” every 30 minutes

Mad_Shrink: but in a dialogue, you can’t necessarily be so linear

Sitaram: no… actually… i think i rather understand the “psychodamics” of how you perceive me, and interact with me…

Mad_Shrink: one often gets interrupted

Mad_Shrink: and one has to change

Mad_Shrink: track

Sitaram: but… were i to speak candidly… you would think me presumptuous

Mad_Shrink: you may not be able to reach the completion of a thought

Mad_Shrink: unless you are alone

Mad_Shrink: i believe you are not a good listener

Sitaram: you see… you were quite accurate, in our initial meeting, when you described me as “expansive”

Mad_Shrink: but you want complete conformity from those who listen to you

Mad_Shrink: in the way they need to listen

Sitaram: but… you fail to see that it is YOU who insists on complete conformity… an you project that on me…

Mad_Shrink: till you have completed your linear thought to it’s logical conclusion

Sitaram: if i may share something with you in all sincerity and candor

Mad_Shrink: i think there is a mismatch here

Mad_Shrink: please share

Mad_Shrink: waiting, Sir

Sitaram: in the past 2 years… of chatting with literally hundreds of people.. literally 12 and 16 hours per day….. you are unique in certain things which you have insisted upon/or said

Mad_Shrink: this was not candid

Sitaram: and… my website is a audit trail of many of those dialogues

Mad_Shrink: not candid at all

Sitaram: im not finished with my thought

Mad_Shrink: waiting, Sir

Sitaram: you lack the patience to even allow me to compose my thoughts and express myself

Mad_Shrink: fine

Mad_Shrink: and do you ever listen?

Sitaram: in 2 year (full time)… with HUNDREDS…no one has become angry at my use of personal pronouns… for example

Sitaram: no one has ever insisted that i discuss a scripture.. but use absolutely no quotations…

Mad_Shrink: fine, so that is unique?

Sitaram: i am trying to help you get some insight into your own “personality”

Mad_Shrink: so?

Mad_Shrink: so?

Mad_Shrink: so?

Mad_Shrink: you are indeed kind

Sitaram: you are a VERY PROUD individual… and that pride gets in your way…

Mad_Shrink: sarcasm very much intended

Mad_Shrink: how do you know?

Sitaram: you see.. you are angry… and i am not

Mad_Shrink: yes, i am proud

Sitaram: i realize that it is difficult for a physician, such as yourself, to approach someone such as me, a self taught layperson, with no degrees….

Mad_Shrink: that is untrue

Sitaram: it is the very nature of our society to view MDs in a special light

Mad_Shrink: untrue, again

Mad_Shrink: some deserve it

Sitaram: even our President is “Mr President”…. but we always say Dr. and Mrs. Smith

Sitaram: you know.. I will share something with you that I read in David Viscott’s autobiographical book “The Making of a Psychiatrist”

Mad_Shrink: please do

Sitaram: Viscott pointed out the great irony that….. the very process of Medical School and Residency to train a Psychiatrist, tends to allow only those who are “hard boiled owls”…. to make the grade

Sitaram: in other words… thick skinned, highly competitive, driven…etc

Mad_Shrink: yes, true in general

Mad_Shrink: now you will be happy because i agreed with you

Sitaram: and yet in practice… they are engaged in an activity which requires compassion in the utmost… and perhaps…. a great degree of humility

Sitaram: aha.. but… you again project YOUR OWN happiness at “receiving approval”… upon me

Sitaram: if you will read through my website.. you will understand how little such agreement means to me……

Mad_Shrink: sitaram, thank you for your valuable insights, i would like to leave

Sitaram: i am sorry you feel that way

Mad_Shrink: bye, sitaram

Sitaram: i do hope, if you are calmed down… you will chat with me in the future

Mad_Shrink: well, you are overestimating me

Mad_Shrink: bye, sitaram

Mad_Shrink: sitaram?

Sitaram: this is very sad

Sitaram: i hope you reflect upon these issues

Mad_Shrink: sure

Mad_Shrink: sure

Sitaram: actually… we both have something to gain by continued dialogue

Mad_Shrink: bye, sitaram

Sitaram: bye…

Mad_Shrink: bye

Sitaram: you must one day confront this enemy within you

Sitaram: or you will never know peace

Mad_Shrink: which enemy?

Mad_Shrink: which enemy?

Mad_Shrink: which enemy?

Sitaram: your anger, your pride… your stubbornness… your desire to control

Mad_Shrink: thank you, again

Sitaram: you will not be able to properly serve your patients… unless you change

Sitaram: I can help you with some suggested readings.. such as David Viscott’s autobiography… and some other works in psychology, psychiatry

Sitaram: such readings would not be the advice of a layperson like myself…but would be words from fellow physicians

Mad_Shrink: thank you, sitaram, you send mail regularly anyway

Mad_Shrink: bye, sitaram

Sitaram: bye… I am most saddened by your behavior

Sitaram: for your sake..not for my own

Mad_Shrink: i meant that in your mail, you send references anyway

Mad_Shrink: for that, we do not have to chat

Sitaram: would you prefer that i send you some thoughts on this matter in email…

Mad_Shrink: no, please

Sitaram: perhaps you would find email less upsetting than on line chat

Mad_Shrink: you have humiliated me enough, without bothering to get to know or understand me

Sitaram: but… it is you who humiliate yourself… that is what the demon of pride does…

Mad_Shrink: alright

Sitaram: look at great personalities like Jesus or Gandhi…. who were never humiliated…

Mad_Shrink: how would you know?

Sitaram: humility is the vaccination against humiliation

Mad_Shrink: how would you know?

Sitaram: it is most evident in their lives and writings….

Mad_Shrink: but you have taught me one thing

Sitaram: you know a very great woman Eleanor Roosevelt said it best…

Sitaram: No one can humiliate you without your consent

Mad_Shrink: and that is, this kind of dialogue cannot appreciate the non-verbal nuances of expression

Sitaram: she was a very unattractive woman, in the public eye, with a handicapped husband who was unfaithful to her

Mad_Shrink: thank you for that

Mad_Shrink: this is a very deficient “form”

Sitaram: yet.. she never allowed herself to be humiliated



Sitaram: humiliation and anger is an admmission of defeat

Sitaram: I do not have a great desire “to be right”

Mad_Shrink: I take this lesson today with me

Sitaram: I do have a desire to assist others who are trying to improve themselves… along whatever path


Mad_Shrink: YES

Sitaram: are you sincere… or is this sarcasm


Mad_Shrink: THANK YOU

Mad_Shrink: NO

Mad_Shrink: SINCERE


Sitaram: have I truly helped you see something of value

Mad_Shrink: IN THE MIND

Sitaram: ?

Mad_Shrink: YES, YOU HAVE

Sitaram: there is perhaps a purpose for our meeting…


Sitaram: things do not happen without purpose

Sitaram: there is something which you need from me, and you have been attracted to communicate with me….


Sitaram: we must both be patient and discover what that “something ” is…

Mad_Shrink: yes

Mad_Shrink: yes

Mad_Shrink: yes

Mad_Shrink: but not on this impersonal net

Sitaram: i have a suggestion… but perhaps you will find my suggestion strange, or even egotistical… but… it has come to my mind just now

Mad_Shrink: this is definitely my last net chat with you

Sitaram: really!

Mad_Shrink: tell me, please

Sitaram: I thought you were finding something of value.. with your last statements

Sitaram: ah… my suggestion…

Mad_Shrink: what came to your mind just now?

Sitaram: I am thinking of Ramana Maharshi…..

Mad_Shrink: yes

Sitaram: how people would come and simply have “darshan”, sit silently in his presence….

Sitaram: when we look into someones face… something is communicated…

Sitaram: so.. here is my strange idea…..

Mad_Shrink: true

Mad_Shrink: yes?

Sitaram: get a photo of ramana marharshi… and also a picture (drawing of Shirdi Sai Baba)…..

Sitaram: and finally… go to page 1 of my website and print out the photo of me there…..

Sitaram: perform this unusual experiment….

Mad_Shrink: and?

Sitaram: spend some time looking at those three pictures…. ramana and sai for the obvious darshan…

Mad_Shrink: and?

Sitaram: but look too at my picture… my face…. to access that about me…in me… which does not come easily in typed words

Mad_Shrink: ok

Sitaram: and perhaps…. something in you will change, which will facilitate further discussions

Mad_Shrink: bye, sitaram

Sitaram: of course.. another possibility in the future is yahoo voice chat in a private chat room,

Sitaram: where we can hear each others voice

Sitaram: do you think my idea has any merit… or does it seem foolish to you?

Mad_Shrink: i do not know

Sitaram: you need not answer today

Mad_Shrink: fine, thank you, sitaram

Sitaram: your welcome

Mad_Shrink: may i leave now?

Sitaram: certainly… i hope you return

Mad_Shrink: bye

Mad_Shrink: God Bless

Sitaram: the both of us… blessing

Mad_Shrink: i am small, you are knowledgeable

Mad_Shrink: bye

Is Detroit a Dangerous City?

May 2, 2011

A college student on the subway asked if Detroit is a dangerous city. I said I suspect yes but I suggested google searches.



In November 2007, the city of Detroit had been named the most dangerous city in the country by the Morgan Quitno report published by CQ Press (the FBI discourages the use of its crime statistics for the direct comparison of cities as Morgan Quitno does in its “Most Dangerous Cities” rankings).[20] due to the many variables that influence crime in a particular study area such as population density and the degree of urbanization, modes of transportation of highway system, economic conditions, and citizens’ attitudes toward crime.


Inkscape. Draw Freely.

March 17, 2011


Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®


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