Monthly Archives: August 2012
After someone recently tried to convince me that Harry Potter was as good an example of literature as anything, I turned, for the first time to the pages of Herman Melville for comparison. There was none. For all her superb story telling, J.K. Rowling doesn’t come close. In the first few lines of Moby Dick you’re swept away to a salty reality that feels true in every sense. You long to escape the tyranny of the shores and embrace a mortal challenge in a much more visceral way than you want to watch Harry escape the Dursley’s to attend magic school.
The port would fain give succor; the port is pitiful; in the port is safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm blankets, friends, all that’s kind to our mortalities. But in that gale, the port, the land, is that ship’s direst jeopardy; she must fly all hospitality; one touch of land, though it but graze the keel, would make her shudder through and through. …
All deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore.
Sometimes a question is the best response.
Answer: I am a true solipsist. (Gorgias)
Question: So why tell me?
A: There is no truth. (Gustave Flaubert)
Q: Is that true?
A: Knowledge is unknowable. (Francisco Sanches)
Q: How do you know?
A: It is irrational to assume that tomorrow will be anything like today. (David Hume)
Q: So you learned to speak, read, and write because…?
A: All cultures are equally valid. (Franz Boas)
Q: Including those that teach that all other cultures are invalid?
A: Truth is created, not discovered. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Q: Did you just make that up?
A: There is no free will. (Baron d’Holbach)
Q: What makes you say that?
You see, every one of the “answers” above follow from valid, methodically reasoned logical arguments. But these narrow conclusions cannot stand beyond the boundaries of the premises that lead to them.