Posts Tagged ‘Camus’

Why Should We Write?

January 30, 2010

Two Facebook friends say that readership must be the main motive to write and readership results only if one writes something great or something controversial.

My reply:
Controversy becomes dated and is short-lived. Nowadays only historians discuss the Teapot Dome scandal. Besides, we should write for ourselves primarily. Readership should be secondary. Writing is an extension of oneself; an alembic which concentrates our ideas and feelings into the meta-person of our authorship. Salman Rushdie observes that each novel takes on a life of its own. Camus calls posterity “a paltry eternity.” Harper Lee was “a one book wonder” (“To Kill a Mockingbird”) who has remained silent ever since. Socrates says that misology is closely related to misanthropy. Sartre wrote an essay about “why we write.”


Sartre says, of style, that “[e]veryone invents his own, and one judges it afterward. It is true that subjects suggest the style, but they do not order it. There are no styles ranged a priori outside of the literary art”.

Sartre claims that “the function of the writer is to act in such a way that nobody can be ignorant of the world and that nobody may say that he is innocent of what it’s all about” (ibid. 321). Sartre here seems to be implying that there is some sort of truth which the author has access to which is conveyed to a reader through the medium of fiction (for how can one alleviate anothers ignorance without having some access to truth?).

Sartre makes a distinction between two different ways of artistically portraying objects: (1) as signs (that is, representations of ideas) and (2) as things (where we focus on the thing being portrayed as opposed to what the thing symbolizes). For example, we may consider a flower. One may either consider a white rose as a sign of fidelity, or conversely, one can consider the rose as a thing in itself; one can become lost in the texture and shape and sensation of perceiving a flower.

Prose,” Sartre says, “is, in essence, utilitarian” (ibid. 316). Prose is meant to get things done; it’s meant to be an action in itself but it is also meant to be a catalyst for further action.

“The writer can guide you and, if he describes a hovel, make it seem the symbol of social injustice and provoke your indignation” (ibid. 306) such that you are moved to act. That is the purpose of prose writing, according to Sartre.

Camus said that “a novel is never anything but a philosophy expressed in images. And in a good novel the philosophy has disappeared into the images. But the philosophy need only spill over into the characters and action for…the plot to lose its authenticity, and the novel its life”


I’m a writer. I write every day of the year. Even when I have no pending client work cluttering my desk, I never allow the sun to set without the jotted thoughts of my day, for the best moments of each earthly orbit should never be abandoned. Of course I carry my own quirks and struggles. Writing isn’t always as fluid as I like, clients aren’t always as easy as I hope, and my string of successes and mountains of money are no doubt a tad late to the party. But I would never call myself tortured. Writing is expression and I’ve found myself fortunate enough, midway through my third decade, to find the pleasure of doing it for a living.


The Socratic Method

November 20, 2009

William: you know, love and deep friendship is definitely possible in cyberspace
William: you and I, Steve and you, are proof
William: me and Krishna, me and Geetanjali

Aida yes

– Friday November 20 2009, 04:57 –

William: lunch time?
William: I am now in my beloved Ubuntu operating system

Aida I just had lunch
Aida today is weekend
Aida how are you?

William: went to sleep at 9 pm and woke up at 3am

Aida wow

Aida what time is it there now

William: excited to be making progress in learning Linux
William: almost 5am in New York. What time is it there in Iran?

Aida it is 1:30 pm here in Tehran

William: did you have lunch

Aida do you know how I can use Socratic method?

Aida yes I did.

William: you mean, you desire a tutorial in use of socratic method

Aida yes

William: i would liken it to Zen Buddhist Koan method

William: which means that books which instruct in Koan, give insight into socratic

William: in a nutshell: Socrates has TWO nick names in the dialogues

Aida I want to extract the truth in myself and people without offending them and as if they have discovered it themselves

Aida yes?

William: one is NARKE which means sting-ray, it is where we get our work NARCOTIC

William: because Socrates NUMBS his interlocuter into APORIA, which means cul-de-sac, no-way=out

Aida haha

William: he does this by a technique called ELNENCHYS, which means refutation
Aida refutation?what is it

William: and it is part of a process called DIALECTIC which Plato likens to a weavers loom with WARP AND WOOF, threads at 90 degrees
Aida what is warp and woof

William: ok… hypothetically, lets say that YOU are prepossessed or convinced of some position

William: it might be regarding a medical treatment

William: or, political issue

William: or whatever

William: so, by means of dialogue, question and answer,

William: i maneuver you into the position where you contradict yourself

William: and i help you to reach a BLANK WALL, in which you suddenly FREELY admit to yourself and others that you did NOT really know what you took for granted

Aida can we practice that

Aida but what if am smart enough?

William: now, socrates is also called MID-WIFE

Aida I know

William: in the sense that he helps people GIVE BIRTH to understanding

William: but, there is a joke in plato about WIND EGGS
Aida yes?

William: IN nature there are times when a bird does lay an empty egg
William: which has nothing but air inside

William: but it is also a pun on FLATULENCE
William: in other words, if someone is full of shit… they give birth to fart
William: so, it is a bit of platos humor

Aida haha

William: now, the very best way is to actually read the dialogues

Aida but socrates thinks we are all full of wisdom but we have forgotten the truth we carry

William: one brief dialog with Meno, Socrates attempts to prove that mathematical knowledge is inherent even in an uneducated slave boy

William: so, Socrates takes a slave boy, and questions him about a geometric issue of triangles
William: socrates seems to demonstrate that, through eliciting questions, the slave boy arrives at the true answer….
William: for Socrates, this means that the soul has pre-existence…
William: otherwise where would such understanding come

– 05:07 –
Aida interesting.
Aida do you think he is right?

William: second, Socrates (plato) sees geometric and mathematical truth as EXISTING as IDEAL FORMS (eidos) or plural EIDEI

William: WELL, this is very interesting, Einstein and Kurt Godel were friends, and mathematicians

Aida yes?

William: Kurt Godel passionately believed that the elements of number and geometry had some real existence in another dimension

William: whereas, Einstein saw them as ad hoc tools

Aida what is ad hoc?

William: and not having any sort of Platonic existence as ideal forms

William: ad hoc is latin for TOWARDS THIS END OR GOAL

William: IT is a contrivance or tool, a means to and end, and once the end is acheived, the tool is discarded

William: Wittgenstein speaks of this in Tractatus

William: Wittgensten says that we construct a LADDER of sorts, which is some ad hoc method, for us to ascend to some higher plane of understanding, and once we arrive, we push away and discard the ladder

William: same with Mahayana buddhism….

Aida we invented geometry and numbers etc

William: Samsara is the 10001 things in life which mess our minds…
William: the VEHICLE or boat, is a contrivance of ideology, which helps us arrive at the other shore

William: but ONCE WE ARRIVE we leave the boat behind
William: the boat was not the end, but only a means to an end

Aida yes

William: one sees this symbolism in Homer, when Odysseus is advised to take a ships oar (for rowing), place it on his shoulder

Aida but it mattters a lot in the beginning

William: and begin a pilgrimage to some distant unknown land

– 05:12 –

William: he is told that eventually, someone who has never seen the ocean will ask him what that strange object (the oar ) is

William: when THAT happens, then he must plant the oar in the ground, and make a sacrifice, and he will be purified

William: now, of course, Homer is mythos,…. but the story is very useful for us to understand the ad hoc nature of language and axiomatic systems

Aida I dont understand

William: and, sometimes, we make the error of seeing THOSE as an end in themselves, with a substantive reality

Aida why should he plant the oar
Aida and how he will be purified

William: well, the oar is a TOOL, which is only useful at sea, to propel a ship

William: but, in a desert, it is useless

Aida yes

Aida like religion which is useless in this century

William: so, in life, and in cultures, we often see that individual or even nations, cling to something which was really meant as a transitional tool

Aida yes

Aida like money ,,,

William: for example, in pre-history, before writing, there was only discourse and oral tradition

William: around a campfire

Aida how exciting

William: THEN writting was devised

Aida else I could talk to nietzsche and plato

William: THEN, the liveliness of the tradition kind of DIED, as the redacted and codified text became something SACRED in itself

Aida they dont move around my campfire

William: which is a form of idolatry
William: and your example of money is excellent
William: in pre-history, no money, but communal tribal survival where there is no concept of private property
William: and the SHARING means survival of the small struggling group or species
William: THEN money as coins of precious metal is devised

Aida but lets not get distracted from our aim which was to learn socratic method
Aida but lets not get distracted from our aim which was to learn socratic method
Aida dialectics.

William: then, love of people is replaced with love of money, and people become a MEANS to an end , rather than an end in themselves

William: now, Kant says that once people become only a MEANS to an end, that is the source of the unethical

– 05:17 –
Aida I wonder if there is an end even.

William: and Azar Nafisi, in “Reading Lolita in Tehran” offers the notion that the Iranian Govt. does to its people what the old man in Lolita, Humbert Humbert does to little Lolita

William: namely, he OBJECTIFIES her

William: she is no longer a person, with a life of her own, to be nurtured

Aida what do you mean objectify

William: but instead she is an object, a possession, for him to hold on to for his own gratification

Aida yes men usually think that way of their wives

William: when we love another in a non-erotic sense, as a parent for a child, we are not selfish, we endeavor to lead the child to INDEPENDENCE, which naturally involves their distancing themselves from us

Aida they forget they are similar human beings who have to live their lives.

William: to lead a life of their own

Aida well usually parents cant take that independence without suffering

William: that is why in old testament bible in genesis, in early pages, it says that the children leave the parents and cling to the new spouse

William: so, what we selflessly love, we are willing to give up one day, for the sake of their independence

William: but a selfish love is treating person as OBJECT for our own needs, and so, we do not EMPOWER them towards independent self-hood
Aida yes..I always thought what is the use of me getting mom sacrificed her life to prepare everything that is needed for my growth?and development and what is the point of me leaving her
William: a modern expression of socratic method is exemplified by that one psychotherapist, i will think of name in a minute, who wrote “On Becoming a Person”

Aida oh
Aida is it a book

William: he developed a technique of REFLECTING back to the patient, like a mirror, what the patient was really trying to say.

William: i think i must google on his name
Aida yes please
William: Carl Rogers

– 05:23 –
William: and his technique is Rogerian

Aida aha

William: in otherwords, often, in discourse, we do not really LISTEN well to the OTHER person

William: we are anxious to express our SELF , our own notion
William: BUT, if we become Rogerian, we act as a MIRROR, for that person to explore their true feelings

Aida that is true.I talked with my boyfriend today. and realized myself doing that.

Aida so he got bored and left.!

William: we reflect BACK to them, in slightly different words, what we perceive them to say

Aida I usually try to be the mirror.but sometimes I like to be seen find myself in others

William: AND we act in a positive manner, as if we agree, as if they are really helping us to understand something

Aida yes perfect

William: but in reality, we are allowing ourselves to serve as a kind of SCAFFOLDING to help them construct their own edifice or building of self

Aida true

William: but you see, a builders SCAFFOLD, the bars and ladders that allow the builder to scale the walls and roof of the structure

Aida but the problem is

William: they are AD HOC

Aida usually people do not talk what we like to talk about
William: and when the edifice is finish, the scaffolding is dismantled and perhaps discarded

William: well, you see, for example… with you and me….. you suddenly ask about socratic method

Aida how can we lead the conversation to some meaningful subject
Aida yes.but you are my type.

William: so, i transform myself into an instrument , a tool , which can possibly help lead YOU to your own conception , understanding, of socratic method

William: but, to be such a teacher, a socratic teacher, requires the ability to shift into a selfless non-egoistic mode

– 05:28 –
William: i must take one minute to refil humidifier for wife, and give her pill for thyroid be right back

Aida sure

William: back, quick like a bunny

Aida hi

Aida is she fine?

William: Bertrand Russell commented that all of the history of philosophy is but a footnote to PLATO

Aida what does it mean

William: she wakes up, takes thyroid med, sleeps for an hour more, and then she can eat

William: well, it is very helpful to read Bertrand Russell’s History of Philosophy

Aida yes am reading that

William: to gain grand overview of western philosophy

Aida I have read half of it

Aida but then decided to read each philosopher

William: now, Russell means that, in essence, Plato posed everything, every problem, issue that the next 2500 years has attempted to address
Aida about him there first and then his works

– 05:33 –
William: and he is quite correct, regarding the west

Aida that is perhaps true

William: BUT, One cannot make the same claim about EASTERN, buddhist, hindu, taoist, philosophy

Aida why not?

William: now, one CAN claim this about Arab Islamic thought in the sense that they were heavily influence by Aristotle, and preserved the greek writings for the west

William: ah, hmmm…. well, that would take me some time to put into laypersons terms

William: the DIFFERENCE between platos west, and the east, likes hidden in the understanding of JAIN philosophy, and taoism

William: as two repositories

Aida i dont know much about eastern philo

William: BUT, east and west come together in 20th century with the workers in relativity and quantum

William: as a matter of face, on physicist, a personal friend of einstein, designed his own heraldric emblem based upon the YIN YANG symbol

Aida yes?

William: and, during the lifetime of einstein, kurt godel, max plank, heisenberg, and the other fellow whom i forget, with the yin yang heraldry

William: they debated about the eastern vs western ways of understanding reality,….

William: so for first time in history it came together
Aida interesting

William: one may also gain insight into the merging of east and west by reading the writings of… oh my, i just had his name, aha…. Radhakrishnan

– 05:38 –
Aida is he indian?

William: who was a prime minister of India, but also, a consummate scholar of both eastern and western tradition

William: yes, an Indian scholar, prime minister for a period

William: i have a collection of modern essays ABOUT the works of Sarvapal Radhakrishnan

William: you see how my memory skips like record with a scratch
William: that is why google helps so much

William: like, i google on “the making of a person” and come up with Carl Rogers name

Aida your memory is amazed

William: i cannot retain everything at once
William: no one can

Aida true
Aida am reading about how to improve memory
Aida how to use mneomonics?

William: it has to do with something called MULTIMIND which was coined by Robert Ornstein, a researcher into the psychology and physiology of consciousness, in the 1970s along with Charles Tart

Aida how can you have a multimind

William: you see, in the human brain, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny
William: so, we have multimind structures, from very primative to most advanced, and they are multitasking

Aida what do you mean by ontogeny and phylogeny

William: so, at same time as we philosophize about ethics, another part is a neanderthal seeking food, violence

William: ok,… consider the development from embryo to child to adult

Aida yes?

William: each stage of development in womb, the ONTOLOGY or becoming… emulates the evolutionary PHYLOGENY

William: kingdom, phylum, class , order family genus species
William: which is Linnaeus
William: in the 17th century

William: and, curiously , it resembles certain operating systems and sofware products

– 05:43 –
Aida ontology means development of the person?

William: which of necessity, preserve backwards compatibility to earlier platforms

William: well, ontos means being existence palpable reality
William: logos means reason, understanding , expository expression in language

William: so the logos of the ontos , is an account of BECOMING
Aida and phylogeny is?

William: in platos Timaeus, BECOMING is the middle ground between non existence and BEING

William: phylos is a family or tribe

Aida interesting!

William: but, first are ancient seas, with millions of years of lightening striking the chemical laden waters
William: until, organic compounds form
William: and those begin to acquire a behavior, like a meme, to replicate
William: and those become bacteria, which is quite different from a nucleated cell
William: the bacterium has no nucleus but had the ribosome directive activity

Aida yes and

William: so, right now, we use the various classes of bacteria, as laboratories to understand synthesis

Aida this is ontogeny?

William: but the ONTOLOGY, or evolutionary development, over eons
William: produces various levels or phyla of organisms

William: and in the GENOME study, we can quantify the similarity and different

William: BUT, each new stage, bears deep within the markings, the heritage, of earlier stages

Aida this is not true

– 05:48 –
William: so, for example, in the brain, the Limbic SYSTEM is VERY PRIMITIVE, and yet it is perhaps there that our moment to moment experience of consciousness is SYNTHESIZED

Aida there are differences between procaroytes and eukariotic creatures

William: aha, but, it IS true, and as long as you embrace the resistance, and say that it is not true, then you have an empediment to the understandings

William: yes, but ALWAYS, there is some common precursor

Aida no I mean it is not that they carry the primitive state forms

William: just as there is common precursor to human and neaderthal

Aida but that they have things in common

William: i was trying to remember the procaroytes aud eukariotic terms
William: regarding bacteria…

Aida am confused what was the main track

William: now, everything boils down to the big question, is reality ultimately digital or analog

William: which hinges on HOLISM vs REDUCTIONISM

William: holism says that the whole is GREATER than a sum of the parts, and that cognitive analytical axiomatic analysis will never breach the gap
William: wherease REDUCTIONISM is that the whole is PRECISELY the sum of the parts, and that through analysis, we can ultimated digitize everything precisely
William: descartes dreamed that one day there would be an equation for a tree

Aida yes. he believed in reductionism

William: hegel dreamed of an END TO HISTORY, which means ABOSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE where they succeed in string theory AND CAN ultimately express symbolically what is happening in the ontology of being

William: so, from big bang beginning, to final heat death of maximum enthropy

– 05:53 –
William: where nothing further can happen, because thermodynamically there is no more potential energy
William: you see, life lives upon negative entropy
William: entropy is a measure of disorder

Aida yes

William: a crystal is a highly ordered structure with potential energy
William: when crystal is disolved, energy is released
William: it also gets into Carl Jungs monograph on The Nature of the Psyche
Aida yes

William: can you not post for one minute, until i say hello, i have one system message

Aida how can you correlate all those things
Aida sure


William: you see,…. discourse and writing itself is an artificial PROJECTION of a multidimensional process of multimind, into a linear discourse of axiomatic precations

Aida talking to you is like reading a james joyce novel
Aida one needs some big refrence book to see what your words are reffering to.

William: so, in an aristotelian syllogism is A implies B, implies C….. emplies Z, ergo, Q.E.D. (quod erat demonstrandum) we have demonstrated what was to be shown

William: that is LINEAR

William: but, my mind, my understanding, is not linear, it is many many things at once

William: my 60 years of experience
William: sO, If you mathematically project a 3 dimensional shape onto two dimensions

– 05:59 –
William: you have something you may graph and use as a tool, but it is DIFFERENT from the original object of three diminsions under consideration
William: BUT, suppose we seek a model of some economic phenomenon, or some metabolic phenomenom,…. it may have 10 or 20 dimensions
William: but, we cannot deal with 10 or 20 dimensions at once
William: so, we seek an axiomatic model, as a tool, which allows us to deal with it
William: but, you see, our moment to moment experience of CONSCIOUSNESS, IS A Process of data reduction…

Aida yes

William: we selectively ignore a myriad of external and internal experience, to focus on our discussion, or an opera…. or ball game

Aida yes

William: BUT, when that funciotion of brain BREAKS DOWN and we are overwhelmed simultaneously of ALL sensations
William: then it is madness
William: it is psychosis
William: i am forgetting better word
William: it is the stage beyond nurotic
William: neurotic
Aida nervous breakdown!
William: well, yes, psychotic… better yet SCHIZOPHRENIC

Aida yes.psychotic

Aida what was the exact name of the book of carl rodgers?

William: a neurotic person understands whee and who they are, but, the overemphasize things which are unimportant, and they are caught in a circle of repition, like a broken record

William: carl rogers “on becoming a person”

William: now, carl rogers had one psychotic patient….
William: he merged so closely with her, that HE began to suffer psychotic symptoms
William: and he speaks of that danger

– 06:04 –
William: aristotle said the one unique characteristic of being human is MIMESIS, we love to IMITATE
William: and that allows us to adapt
William: we BECOME Like fish with scuba, and like birds with plains
William: planes
William: but what is our virtue, and makes possible survival in diverse ecological niches
William: can also be our enemy

Aida how can we distinguish ourselves from our enviroment

William: whenever we become locked into one mode, even when changing circumstances demand a shift in gears to some opposite mode

Aida and how exactly know what we say or do is beloning to us and not external words.

William: each of our faculties has a positive necessary function, fear, desire , lust, hunger, weariness
William: but, each can become imbalanced and become pathological
Aida I wonder how one can generate new ideas out of nothing.
William: if our species did not have an overwhelming sexual dimension, we would not have survied for 500,000 years

Aida yes.

William: BUT if we cannot bridle the sexual side, then we cannot be doctors or lawyers of professors
William: similary if we bridle or suppress TOO Much, then that becomes a patholgy

Aida why not?

William: think of anorexia
Aida it takes time?

William: a virtue of moderation taken to an extreme which becomes a pathology

Aida sorry got disconneted

William: there is a healthy place for anger, it is a useful tool for survival, and even for healthy function society

Aida I wonder how can one balance all those elements
Aida make balance between*

William: but, when anger becomes unconrolled, then it is destructive, and also, it becomes an END IN ITSELF rather than simply a means to an end

– 06:09 –
William: so, the whole greek thing was, balance, moderation, the MIDDLE WAY, the mean between the extremes

Aida for example………I was thinking to acheive what I want to in my life I dont have time to get married and have children etc

William: so, it is like the goldilock fairytale

Aida what is it

William: one bowl of porrige is too hot, the next is to cold, and third is just right

William: goldilocks

Aida oh

William: and the three bears

Aida yes
Aida aha yes
Aida it was funny story

William: it is a childrens story , but it illustrates balance, moderation, in a simple way

William: no matter HOW Complex something is, there is always some simple model or parable to illustrate it

Aida yes a guy asked his class why should she rest in the bears house after eating porridge etc

Aida a student said…to commit suicide!
William: and a parable or a sufi teaching story, is a tool to reshape our mind to better comprehend the REAL problem

Aida hey wait a second

Aida can we study a problem of me

William: well, again, WIttgenstein reachs the higher plateau, and then kick away the ad hoc ladder which helped him to get there
William: you see, bible, koran, vedas, and roman law, are all ladders which help us to evolve to where we are

Aida are you listening?

William: BUT, at some point, we must let go, and adopt something that suits TODAYS
William: oh, the problem of you
William: well, i see you from a great distance, and have my theories
William: but, i may be mistaken
William: for example your boyfriend, now ex, was a ladder which helped you to make a certain life transition
William: and it was positive
William: BUT, if you stay with that, it becomes counterproductive

– 06:14 –
William: a ladder which serves its purpose and one point, becomes a crutch, if we do not let go

Aida but I havent said my problem yet

William: so, say your problem

Aida but you do not listen…

William: i was speaking of my perception of your problem
William: so i am listening
William: you ask me to address grand issues of all history
William: i cant go to warp speed, and easily put on the breaks

Aida yes but then you disconnect from me.

William: i am listening

Aida and then you forget am talking to you.

William: well, it depends on how dear the topic at hand is
William: to you
William: i am listening now

Aida yes the topic is dear.

William: state your problem

Aida but you forgot we wanted to practice socratics dialect and not a one way speech

William: your NEXT problem

Aida ok now my turn!

William: well, you MUST carefully read all the dialogues, and study what Socrates is doing

William: and ask questions

Aida but you leap from one subject to the other and I get confused
William: but, what is the life circumstance in your life where you desire to use socratic method

William: because, my mind works as it does, multidimensional
Aida and lose the track of our subject

William: and i try to project it to linear
William: for you

Aida it is interesting.. but at the end you have said too many beautiful statements but we cant reach the end

William: plus, you must understand, i can afford the luxury to be multidimensional ME, because long ago I gave up the chance to be a directed and disciplined YOU

Aida we can not have a meaningful conclusion of what was said.
Aida am not disciplined

William: well, you must understand, discourse has its limits, the next stage is writting essay or book

Aida that is my problem
Aida I have too many interests

William: SO, if you could have lunch with Pplato himself, it would NOt BE as good as reading Plato’s republic

Aida and want to understand too many things

– 06:19 –
William: because, a writer, SPENDS YEARS, distilling everything into one book or essay

Aida yes I read his republic

William: so, at any given moment, the author is LESS than his work

Aida but I am talking to you now.and not reading hid republic

William: and he at times STUDIES his own work
William: because it has become a scaffolding which surrounds the cathedral

Aida can I ask something

William: he constructed it, true, but he must climb about in it,…. he cannot be everywhere at once, on the dome, and at the windows

William: yes
William: ask

Aida which methods you think works best being multidimensional and gain a little of everything or being one dimensional and going in to depth of one subject only?


William: you confront your own frustration

Aida since I have this problem…………………

William: you see, i cannot give you a Sitaram pill, to swallow, and instantly become 60 yr old sitaram

William: yet, when we approach a teacher, that is what we desire
William: which is only natural

Aida in order to improve in my studies………..I have to put all the time I have on studying medicine

William: now, what is your precise roblem
William: exactly, at each moment in our life, we GIVE UP 1000 possible futures, in order to actualize only ONE

Aida but I love to learn …I like to read philosophy and psychology and history and art I like to paint and practice my violin

William: so, successful life, is a process of data reduction
William: success is a process of intentional failures

Aida but if I do that I wont be able to organize my studies to the level that I could continue them the way I desire.

William: we give up chance to be a ballerina or concert pianist, in order to be physician or politican

Aida but I can not do that..I mean I can not be a physician only

William: and as physician, we give up chance to be surgeon or anestheosiologist, in order to become our one specialty

– 06:24 –
William: lets say nephrologist, or cardiovascular
William: or neurologist

Aida I want to understand life

Aida and it is not all written in medical books

William: it is division of labor
William: well, you want to be , what do the call it, POLYMATH

Aida yes and unfortunately I want it to be perfect.

William: actually, though i sounds blasphemous, you want to be God, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent
William: now, that is a GOOD desire, for it is a desire to perfect oneself

Aida I mean I want to be the best I can be in my job and also in whatever am interested in
Aida but it contradicts…I mean I can not focus on everything and be perfect in them
Aida yes I cant be god..

William: we desire ALL that is good, but we must make choices, and settle for what is reachable, achievable, based upon our own gifts and shortcomings, and the age and society and technology in which we live

Aida and I reproach myself of not being able to be one

William: so the woman who wrote Pride and Prjudice, Jane Austin, had to be content with paper and quill and ink
William: no word processor, no internet

Aida we make choices but we do not know if they are the best ones

William: and she had to make do with a patriarchal society, with victorian morals, which frowned upon the woman author

Aida for example I can put time to succeed in my career only and study and study
Aida and of course it is a precious career
Aida but I worry to lose my human side and goals and become narrow-minded and lose insight about why I am doing my job

William: there is a story about a donkey, who is surrounded by many different buckets of grain, delicious,…. all at an equal distance

Aida why am living it
Aida or giving life back to people

William: but because the donkey cannot decide which is best to approach
William: he sits there, hungry

Aida yes am the donkey

William: because to chose any one bucket, is to give up and ignore the others
William: now, diffeent story,…. thee are many piles of hay, and many hungry cows
William: but, there is also a dog

Aida I dont sit there but I go toward each for a while and then doubt!!!
William: the dog cannot eat the hay

– 06:30 –
Aida and go back to the other direction

William: but the dog is selfish and barks at all the cows, to keep them fromt he hay

Aida haha

William: so, you are caught in an existential trap
William: which you may explore with Kierkegaard and Sartre and Camus

Aida yes I recognize myself while reading them

William: Sartre speaks of the young man, in war torn france, who is his mothers only support, but his friends join the underground resistance
William: he is damned whatever choice he makes

Aida I really worry not to live my life they way I want to lead it
Aida yes?

William: if he stays to care for mother, he is unpatriotic bastard who does not joint his comrads in underground resistance of nazis
William: but if he is patriot, and good comrad, his is bastard to abandon his poor mother

Aida yes

William: so, damned if he does, and damned if he doesnt
William: so this is the BIND…

Aida I feel that way

William: i forget the best term

Aida bondage?

William: but the schizophrenice is a pathology which seeks to escape from the intolerable DOUBLE BIND

William: ACTUALLY, when i was only age 4
William: i noticed the dog in the next yard, on a chain
William: i realized he was in a double bind

Aida how come?

William: but i could not put it into words
William: well, he wanted one thing, but the chain kept him back
William: he had two directives, mutually exclusive
William: lets say, his job is to chase way the intruder

– 06:35 –
William: but, when he runs to do that job, the chain chokes him and pulls him back
William: so, my mother was placing me in a similar bind
William: and i told her about the dog

Aida wow
Aida how cute

William: i exlained to her that she was doing to me just what the dog was in
William: but, she could not catch the analogy

Aida how could you do that in age 4?

William: because, SHE had two conflicting goals to place upon me
William: well, that was how my mind was…

Aida how exciting

William: also, i heard someone say “time passes QUICKLY when we have a pleasant passtime, but SLOWLY when we have an unpleasant task
Aida yes
Aida can I ask something?

William: SO, i thought they meant quite litterally that TIME itself changes
William: but listent
William: I DID AN EXPERIMENT at age 4
William: at nap time, i took my most favorite book, whcih was soft blue colors, about virgin mary

Aida are you sure it happened then

William: and looked at it
William: yes, positive
William: and while i looke at the pleasant book, i tried to judge the speed of time
William: then i switched to my LEAST favorite book, a harsh red on fireengines

Aida wow

William: and as i looked at that, i tried to sense the slowing down of time

Aida how?
Aida haha

William: but, i realize that one could not detect the change in time
William: so, that was my existential experiment at age 4

Aida wow very impressive

William: so, you see, such Sartrean things are innate in the human mind
William: because, i was illeterate, i couldnot read
William: and there was no telivision
William: and only music on radio
William: so i could not have overheard
William: and the people around me did not read or discuss such matters

Aida so how could you measure couldnt read the clock

– 06:40 –
William: BUT, the point was, i constructed an experiment
William: i attempted to measure

Aida yes .very unbelievable

William: but, yet, not uncommon
William: Ramanujan was a poor boy in india with no schooling
William: he found a handbook of mathematics, no proofs, just the formulae
William: and he independently PROVED, and derived all the equations

Aida is it possible?

William: Ramanujan died in his 40s

Aida do you think we all can do that?

William: but he was one of the greatest minds in NUMBER THEORY
William: and number theory is called the QUEEN of all mathematics

William: number theory involves statements like, all prime numbers

Aida can I ask you something ?again

William: and greater and lesser infinities…
William: yes

Aida now that you are 60 …do you think you lived your life and gained what you wanted to?

William: so, you see, at 4, i was like socrates slave boy in the Meno
Aida did you reach where you wanted to reach
William: well, i had many blessings
William: i never knew war or hunger and had good health and dental care
William: i had luxury of liberal education

Aida no I mean human achievements……..

William: and freedom from constraints of professional requirements like university
William: i did not have to “publish or perish”
William: i had my own printing press and soap box of internet

Aida but didnt you want to do that?

William: well, it HAPPENDED…
William: i didnt set out to be this or that
William: opportunities arose and i chose them

Aida I mean when you were 30
Aida what did you think of your 60
Aida what you wanted to gain and you gained it or not?

William: of course, i had notions of goals, but that was an illusion
William: well, what i did gain was the opportunity to become what i am
William: you see, and acorn is not an oak tree

Aida how do you feel now that those goals arent fulfilled?

– 06:45 –
William: yet, its essense is an oak tree
William: so, we BECOME what we are
William: an infant is not Bertrand Russel, or Walt Whitman, or Barack Obama
William: but, it is a seed containing that ultimate personal
William: so we become what we are
William: by labor, chance, circumstance, serendipity

William: if one reads the Nobel acceptance speech of Hemingway, and then of Faulkner

Aida and if we dont become what we wanted to become do we feel we wasted life?

William: who were always lifelong enemies

Aida I really worry to waste my life

William: as they embodied literary values / goals which were diametrically opposed
William: then one sees how their life unfolded
William: and the extent to whcih they were fulfilled
William: and the extent to which they were frustrated and failed
William: and throw in F. Scott Fitzgerald

Aida yes?

William: so, in that limited literary context, one may explore the drama of the very question which you pose, about the individual as the pass through life

William: making choices….and with each choice, giving up forever a 1000 possible futures
William: to actualize ONE future
William: and it is an act of faith

Aida and you know then we are not sure we really made those choices.freely

William: we cannot know, at the moment that we risk our lives to cross a berlin wall
William: we cannot know whether it is our doom, or our salvation
William: BUT, even inaction is an action
William: if we do nothing, that too is a choice, and has consequences

Aida so you do not regret for whatever choices you made?

William: if we are the donkey who never approaches one of the equidistant food buckets
William: well, i often think about these things

– 06:50 –
William: and, i could choose to mourn and have regrets
William: but yet, what I became, Sitaram, was a unique opportunity


William: to say and do things at a stage in history when no one else could afford to say and do those things
William: without suffering consequences
William: because i was no one, there were no constraints

William: imagine you are rev. Billy Graham, or he Dali Lama, or Pope Benedict, but suddenly you walk along a beach one morning with Mic Jagger
William: and you suddenly are inspired by some truth that Mic Jagger possesses

Aida who is Mic Jagger?
William: Mic Jagger is a successful rock star singer
William: and age 70 he still belts out songs like age 20

William: and he embodies wild rebellion
William: but, because you are Dali Lama, or Pope, you are CONSTRAINED to be true to what you embody

William: otherwise, millions become disillusioned, and you give up your special persona

Aida haha

William: so, your very success, in being what you have become, is a chain, a limtation

Aida true

William: so, you are not totally free…

Aida that is true

William: there is a part of me which feels talented to explore in writing my sexuality
William: BUT, if i do that, i become branded as a porn writer
William: so, i give up what i have as Sitaram

Aida aha

– 06:55 –
William: and, the author of Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, gives up is persona if he begins to write as I write
William: so, whatever ladder we climb to reach whatever cloud or plateu
William: we must KICK AWAY that ladder, so we lose our precious ladder

Aida yes

William: PLUS we are stuck one the top of Everest, but we cannot not be on top of Killimanjaro, or Madderhorn, or Grand Titons

William: so, there are many heights, many depths, but we must choose one…

Aida how do we know it is the right one

William: but in one Psalm in bible, it says, “I go up to the highest moutain and Thou are there Lord, so I go to the deepest ocean, and Thou are also there,… and whereve I go, I cannot escape you, but neither can I join with you and unite with you in an absolute fashion

Aida or there is no right or wrong path

William: but, it is all realtive, sujective, contextual
William: i cannot tell someone to become Sitaram, they must become THEIR OWN Sitaram

William: which may be very different from me, but it is all essential

William: That Argentinean writer.
William: Jorge Luis Borges

Aida yes?

William: writes a story about an orthodox man, who spends his life chasing and persecuting an Heresiarch
William: a leader who teaches heresy
William: finally, he captures the Heresiarch, and execute him
William: the, he too dies, and comes before God

– 07:00 –
William: only to learn that, for God, both HE and the Heresiarch, are important components of some much larger organism
William: some much larger being…. and BOTH are essential
William: just as in musical harmone

William: the three notes of a chord are DIFFERENT,
William: yet in combination, they become something beyond themselves

Aida superhuman?

William: a Neapolitan sixth is a major 7th chord build upon the flatted second note of the scale of the piecee
William: so, it sounds as a profound punctuation
William: discordant, yet, making a point
William: so e.e. cummings speaks of “the dilemma of flutes”

William: it comes back to Platos analogy of Dialectic being the weavers loom
William: there is the WARP, the treads running vertically
William: and the WOOF, whcih run horizontally
William: and the SHUTTLE which weaves in and out,….

Aida ?

William: and it s a continual process of SEPARATING and CONJOINING of opposites
William: but the product is a TAPESTRY
William: and the tapestry on one side, depicts a picture
William: but on the back side, is all loose threads
William: there is a famous tapestry from the middle ages
William: depicting the norman conquests
William: or, the prehistoric cave paintings

Aida yes?

William: my vision, my view, is based upon these 60 years

– 07:05 –
William: but, it is unique to me…
William: to share it, you would have to be me, to have lived through the 50s and 60s and 70s

Aida what is unique?

William: MY view, my understanding, my contentment, my frustration
William: same with Hardy “Jude the Obscure”, same with V. Woolf and “Orlando”
William: I couldnt remember yesterday that the Novella was “Orlando”
William: but i saw the book this morning on my shelves

Aida yes?

Aida and
William: someone said to Helen Keller (the blind deaf from birth) “life is filled with suffering” and she answered “BUT it is also filled with the OVERCOMING OF SUFFERING
William: so, as lincoln said “each person is about as happy as they make up their mind to be
William: cognitive therapy “is my cup half empty or half full”

Aida true

William: in highschool, had i known what i know now, i could have rejected liberal arts, beecome an accountant CPA, and perhaps been wealthy, financially secure
William: but i would not be able to speak with you today of these matters
William: now, perhaps, some of my thoughts will live on for 1000 years

– 07:11 –
William: and become a part of something much larger

Aida yes.I wouldnt talk with you now if you were an accountant
William: but, had i become wealthy accounant,… at the end… my house would be sold, my art collection,…. relatives would take the inheritance, and perhaps it would ruin them, they might become gamblers or alcoholics
William: NOW, what we have discussed these past years…..become seeds which i plant in tehran, and seed which you plan in new york

Aida maybe you would go to different museums around the world and explore more
William: so, perhaps that grows in the next generation, to something that works a lasting peace an harmony
William: between our cultures
William: so, are we being wastrels, with empty talk, idling our time
William: OR, is this the most essential dialogue
William: which will build something enduring, like the Great Wall of China, which is the only man made structure which is visible from outer space
William: and yet the Great Wall itself is crumbling….
William: and Venice is sinking


Aida it is essential at least to me

William: because like every good ladder, and every seamans OAR, there comes a time when it is pushed away, or planted in the ground and sacrificed
William: so, like shakespear says in Lear….. we are on the stage for our hour, and we rant as a mad man, with great sound and fury
William: and it passes away, as the tinkling of bells and the sounding of brass symbols
William: Hegel saw Napoleon one day, pass through a town , in all his glory

– 07:16 –

Aida yes?

William: and yet Napoleon had his Waterloo
William: so, we play roles, and in the end, all passes
William: Solomon’s wisdom – THis too shall pass

Aida what remains then?

William: the riddle “what is the ONE THING i may say to you that, if you are sad, you shall become happy, but if you are happy, you shall become sad
William: the answer is “This too shall pass
William: sickness passes, health passes, poverty passes, wealth passes,
William: nothing endures

Aida life passes.

William: yet, if it were not for constant change, there would be no drama

Aida so it loses its meaning.

William: and we draw the meaning of our life from that drama
William: without failure, there can be no victory
William: yet victory carries failure within itself like the seed which carries withing the oak tree

William: such is life
William: but, we have some good conversation
William: there is a cartoon of Charlie Brown from Snoopy, Charles SHultze
William: wearing his baseball cap and catchers mitt
William: never winning a game
William: always the losing team
William: but he grins, and says, we may not win many games, but we have some great conversations

Aida haha


Aida I enjoyed talking with you
William: so, have i helped a little

Aida yes very

William: yes, and I cannot be me without questions like yours
William: every answer is meanings outside of the context of a question

Aida thank you for sharing time!

William: and thank you for asking

Aida it made me relieved so much.

William: yes,….. therapeia, in greek, is a process of maintaining balance, and realieveing pressures

William: or releasing pressures
William: kind of a discursive acupuncture
William: one, a patient said to his therapist, whatever shall i do when you are no longer around

Aida yes?

William: the therapist (Sheldon Kopp) said, by then you shall become YOUR OWN therapist, and internalize these discussions

Aida ok I have to become my own therapist now!

William: just as, even when our parents have passed, we leave a room, and hear our mother or father say SHUT OFF THE LIGHT
William: CLOSE THE DOOR, you dont live in a barn
William: we internalize

Aida haha

William: we become our own parent our own teacher

Aida our own lover and friend

William: our own judge jury and executioner/jailor

Aida and child

William: yes, that oo
William: that too

Aida I always find myself guilty and execute myself

William: yes, but then, the next day, you give birth to yourself again and like the Phoenix arise from your own ashes

Aida I have to find another judge within me!

William: but, if you were not driven by that torment, that suffering, you would not struggle and strive up the mountain

Aida now I have to do something with my life uncle wiggly.

William: your Sisyphean task
William: you ARE doing it
William: you are exactly as you SHOULD be at any given moment

– 07:27 –
William: that is the message of the Bhagavad-Gita
Aida yes., in a more practical passive now.

William: and various eastern gurus

Aida only mentally active

William: the saint, the thief, the tyrrant despot, the prostitute, the scientist, the politician the lawyer

Aida have to form the thoughts and give birth to ideas and then act based on them

William: each are what they should be, at that moment

Aida ah that is beautiful message

William: unravelling the karmic knots of many previous existence

William: without hitlers opression we would not have things like Viktor/s Mans Search for Meaning

Aida haha

William: or that movie… now i forget the name AHA SCHINDLER’S LIST
William: the movie about the man who saves all the jews
Aida I was readiung the search for the meaning
William: all i can think of now is jacobs ladder….
Aida it really made me I couldnt continue
William: but that is not the movie
William: it will come to me
Aida now you take care of yourself and hug concordia for me
William: sams message, jacobs ladder
William: ok…. yes.

Aida love you !
Aida you helped me gigantically

William: luv you to very much, my daughter
William: but, in a pinch i would marry you, if it made sense, ha ha

Aida thanks..take care@}

William: a means to an end
William: a ladder to that cloud

Aida am no good wife.. I have no time

William: to be kicked away

Aida yes

William: but, it would be a marriage of celibacy

Aida I prefer to be your niece

William: much like my current one

Aida be well !!

William: you too sweet heart
William: in love, we become what is needed by the other
William: but when we love ourselves properly, then we become what we need when we need it

– 07:32 –
William: and then move on
William: now, run along
William: and play nicely

Camus and The Sanctity of Unity

August 9, 2009

One morning, I began to think about “The Myth of Sisyphus” by Albert Camus.

Albert Camus (1913–1960) is not a philosopher so much as a novelist with a strong philosophical bent. He is most famous for his novels of ideas, such as The Stranger and The Plague, both of which are set in the arid landscape of his native Algeria.

Like existentialism, phenomenology influenced Camus by its effort to construct a worldview that does not assume that there is some sort of rational structure to the universe that the human mind can apprehend.

Camus, when he first wrote about exile, was a man, far from his home, who was struggling against a seemingly omnipotent and senselessly brutal regime.

The central concern of The Myth of Sisyphus is what Camus calls “the absurd.” Camus claims that there is a fundamental conflict between what we want from the universe (whether it be meaning, order, or reasons) and what we find in the universe (formless chaos). We will never find in life itself the meaning that we want to find. Either we will discover that meaning through a leap of faith, by placing our hopes in a God beyond this world, or we will conclude that life is meaningless.

Camus opens the essay by asking if this latter conclusion that life is meaningless necessarily leads one to commit suicide. If life has no meaning, does that mean life is not worth living? If that were the case, we would have no option but to make a leap of faith or to commit suicide, says Camus. Camus is interested in pursuing a third possibility: that we can accept and live in a world devoid of meaning or purpose.

I wonder if our purpose in a meaningless universe is to find meaning in the meaninglessness, create meaning where there is no meaning, and impose meaning upon that meaninglessness. Perhaps meaninglessness is a necessary ingredient for freedom. If there is a pre-existing meaning and order, then that which pre-exists becomes law
for us, and law constricts our freedom.

If we reject conventional theology and philosophy, then what remains for us?

Perhaps Camus had the answer!

Stop and think how even the omnipotence of God is threatened by laws and order. There are two verses in the Bible (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) which state that “God cannot lie.”

Allah of the Qu’ran, on the other hand, is more free and potent than such an honest-Abe Jehovah, for Islam states that Allah has the power to abrogate and overturn any and every established rule or command.

Sura 2:106 “Whatever communications We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?”

Plato presents us with the famous “Euthyphro Dilemma” which asks: “Is what you’re doing pious because it is loved by God, or does God love what you’re doing because what you’re doing is pious?”

Honest-Abe-Jehovah is forbidden to lie because of the pre-existing absolute standard of good and evil to which even God is subject. So Jehovah loves virtue because of its intrinsic objective absolute nature as something good. Allah on the other hand, is more powerful since Allah is free to designate whatever Allah pleases as pious and virtuous, and is not even bound by Allah’s own judgment, but may abrogate that judgment at any time and designate something completely different as pious and virtuous.

Confronted by meaninglessness, we seek transcendence to rise above and escape.

Sisyphus must struggle perpetually and without hope of success. So long as he accepts that there is nothing more to life than this absurd struggle, then he can find happiness in it, says Camus.

Camus gives four examples of the absurd life: the seducer, who pursues the passions of the moment; the actor, who compresses the passions of hundreds of lives into a stage career; the conqueror, or rebel, whose political struggle focuses his energies; and the artist, who creates entire worlds. Absurd art does not try to explain experience, but simply describes it. It presents a certain worldview that deals with particular matters rather than aiming for universal themes.

Camus discusses the very meaning of existence and life itself. I observe that to justify absurdity is to impose a measure of order upon it.

We can be certain of only two things: our “nostalgia for unity” and our inability to find an answer in the world.

Think about “unity.” We study the “UNI”verse in a “UNIV”ersity where we constantly strive for a “G.U.T.” (Grand Unifying Theory) Our various religions stress “MONO”theism, or the “UNITY” of the Trinity. Our
government adopts the maxim “E Pluribus Unum” (From the many, one.) We preach a creed of one God, one faith, one baptism, one wife, one husband, one nation under God, indivisible, and so forth. My very deployment of the word “one” with such frequency becomes onerous to the reader. We even make “top ten lists” of novels and many other things, which implies that there is a NUMBER ONE at the top of the list. We speak of “the great American novel.” It is amusing to note that, even though we have TWO eyes and TWO ears and TWO cerebral hemispheres, yet we experience only ONE unified field of vision and hear only ONE harmonious composition and have only ONE stream of consciousness. The number one seems to have a sanctity all its own. The sanctity of unity gives a new and different meaning to the one greatest prayer of Judaism, the Shema: “Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God, the Lord is ONE.” Numero Uno is a god for us in many ways.

If the absurd man does not need to explain or justify his life and behavior, why did Camus write this essay, which is, essentially, an explanation and justification of the absurd worldview? The irony of writing an essay to justify the absurd reminds me of an episode from the Simpsons, “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming,” in which the side-kick of Crusty the Clown, Sideshow Bob (voice of Kelsey Grammer), a frustrated Shakespearean actor, seizes control of all the television stations, in an attempt to censure and silence the very medium which enslaves him to the absurd role which he plays.


Bob: Oh, and one more thing. I’ve…stolen a nuclear weapon. If you do not rid this city of television within two hours, I will detonate it. Farewell.

— Bob’s evil parting words, “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming”

The TV turns off. The crowd begins to panic. The TV clicks back on again.

Bob: By the way, I’m aware of the irony of appearing on TV in order to decry it. So don’t bother pointing that out.

There is irony in the use of the logical vehicle of exposition, the essay, to justify the position of one who embraces absurdity.

There is an irony in using the very medium which one seeks to decry.

To embrace absurdity is to decry reason. To use reason to justify embracing absurdity is ironic. Perhaps the universe cannot exist without some speck of absurdity in its foundation.

One must consider Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem which suggests that, beyond math, any logical system (a philosophy, a religion, etc.) must be either incomplete or contain antinomies.

The seed of chaos is the mote in the oyster’s eye which the pearl of order soothes and conceals.

Tom Wolfe blinks, perplexed, at his nacreous dawns.

Perfection is the greatest flaw.

I should not leave any reader behind, bewildered by my mention of Tom Wolfe.

I am quite happy with the sentence above which came to me only this morning as I wrote: The seed of chaos is the mote in the oyster’s eye which the pearl of order soothes and conceals.

One of my Internet friends, in Yahoo chat, asked me the source of that quote. I explained that I made had made it up just now. I realize the idea is not new or unique. I have seen other metaphors and parables regarding oysters and pearls.

I was about to use the word “speck” or “grain” but suddenly I remembered the words of Jesus: “You attempt to remove the mote in your brother’s eye, yet you have a plank in your own eye.”

If you do a Google search, as I did just now, you will find the following link which quotes Carl Sagan.

Carl Sagan’s Mote

Our planet is a mote, a speck, a grain in the universe. Thanks to the King James translation, and its power over our English language, the word mote will forever connote Jesus’ censure. A speck and a grain are simply small particles, morally neutral, but a mote is a moral flaw, and one which afflicts us, impairs our vision and causes us suffering, or at the very least, annoyance.

The oyster applies layer upon layer of nacre year after year upon this mote until the mote is no longer small and annoying, but large and lustrous, a thing of beauty, much sought after.

We are like Tom Sawyer and his friends with our buckets of nacre and brushes, white washing that old fence until it becomes the “pearly gates” of heaven itself. That is, we apply logic and reason and order to cover up all that ugly chaos and absurdity, and transform it into some metaphysical system, or a revealed religion, or a constitutional democracy.

If our world is a mote in the eye of the universe, then perhaps human consciousness is the gland which whitewashes the irritant with nacre.

When I recently began to read Tom Wolfe’s “Look Homeward Angel” I noticed that he was fond of the word “nacreous.”

Nacreous means shiny and bright without glittering or sparkling, like mother-of-pearl. Mother-of-pearl is the hard, pearly layer that is found inside certain marine shells, such as oysters. Nacreous is also used to
describe certain groups of bacteria. Nacreous comes from the Greek word “nacre” meaning “mother of pearl,” and the Greek word “osus” meaning “characterized by.” Put the two words together and you have “characterized by mother-of-pearl.”

When Tom Wolfe writes of a “nacreous dawn” I immediately think of Homer’s frequent phrase, the formulaic “rosy-fingered dawn.”

Camus once said, “Perhaps the greatest sin of all is to yearn for some after-life and ignore the implacable grandeur of this life which we already possess.”