Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (19)

My deeply felt desire for novelty was satisfied by Giovanni Malfenti, so different from me and from all the people whose company and friendship I had sought in the past. Having gone though two university departments, I was fairly cultivated, thanks also to my long inertia, which I consider highly educational. He, on the contrary, was a great businessman, ignorant and active. But from his ignorance he drew strength and peace of mind, and I, spellbound, would observe him and envy him.

Paranoid @ 50

On this day, Paranoid, was released. To mark this milestone, Rhino have released a fancy vinyl package. This classic album was the first of a three classic album run of 70s foundational soundscapes, the others being Master of Reality and Volume IV, my mother buying them for me back in the day. These three albums, but especially Paranoid, have stood the test of time. Ask any millennial YouTuber in the reaction genre, and wherever their own primary musical tastes are, they will say that Paranoid sounds fresh to them as it ever was. Most come to the realization that Paranoid is in a class of its own. My favourite track off the album is Fairies Wear Boots. See the AllMusic take.

The Moviegoer: quotes (21)

“One last question to satisfy my idle curiosity. What has been going on in your mind during all the years when we listened to music together, read the Crito, and spoke together—or was it only I who spoke—good Lord, I can’t remember—of goodness and truth and beauty and nobility?”

Another cry and the ramoneur is gone. There is nothing for me to say.
“Don’t you love these things? Don’t you live by them?”
“What do you love? What do you live by?”
I am silent.
“Tell me where I have failed you.”
“You haven’t.”
“What do you think is the purpose of life—to go to the movies and dally with every girl that comes along?”

. . .

Now in the thirty-first year of my dark pilgrimage on this earth and knowing less than I ever knew before, having learned only to recognize merde when I see it, having inherited no more from my father than a good nose for merde, for every species of shit that flies—my only talent—smelling merde from every quarter, living in fact in the very century of merde, the great shithouse of scientific humanism where needs are satisfied, everyone becomes an anyone, a warm and creative person, and prospers like a dung beetle, and one hundred percent of people are humanists and ninety-eight percent believe in God, and men are dead, dead, dead; and the malaise has settled like a fall-out and what people really fear is not that the bomb will fall but that the bomb will not fall—on this my thirtieth birthday, I know nothing and there is nothing to do but fall prey to desire.

Nothing remains but desire, and desire comes howling down Elysian Fields like a mistral. My search has been abandoned; it is no match for my aunt, her rightness and her despair, her despairing of me and her despairing of me and her despairing of herself. Whenever I take leave of my aunt after one of her serious talks, I have to find a girl.


A Confederacy of Dunces: quotes (20)

I am really quite fatigued as my first working day draws to a close. I do not wish to suggest, however, that I am disheartened or depressed or defeated. For the first time in my life I have met the system face to face, fully determined to function within its context as an observer and critic in disguise, so to speak. Were there more firms like Levy Pants, I do believe that America’s working forces would be better adjusted to their tasks. The obviously reliable worker is completely unmolested. Mr. Gonzalez my “boss,” is rather a cretin, but is nonetheless quite pleasant. He seems eternally apprehensive, certainly too apprehensive to criticize any worker’s performance of duty. Actually, he will accept anything, almost, and is therefore appealingly democratic in his retarded way.

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Pathologizing Ideology, Epistemic Modesty and Instrumental Rationality

Here is an open access reprint in VoegelinView (with minor amendments) of a chapter that first appeared in The Mystery of Rationality: Mind, Beliefs and the Social Sciences, eds. Gérald Bronner and Francesco Di Iorio.

Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (18)

Mother Nature wants this but cannot direct us openly, because at that time of life we haven’t the slightest thought of children, so she induces us to believe that our wife will also bring about a renewal of ourselves: a curious illusion not confirmed by any text. In fact, we live then, one beside the other, unchanged, except for an acquired dislike of one so dissimilar to oneself or an envy of one who is our superior.

The Moviegoer: quotes (20)

It is my mother’s way to see life, past and present, in terms of a standard comic exaggeration. If she had spent four years in Buchenwald, she would recollect it so: “So I said to him: listen, Mister, if you think I’m going to eat this stuff, you’ve got another think coming.”

. . .

One night he heard an in credibly beautiful voice sing the whole of Winterreise. He was sure it was delirium until the next morning when he met the singer, an Austrian engineer who sang lieder better than Lotte Lehmann, etc. When he finished I was practically beside myself with irritable pleasure and became angry with the others because they were not sufficiently moved by the experience.

. . .

In Feliciana we used to speculate on the new messiah, the scientist-philosopher-mystic who would come striding through the ruins with the Gita in one hand and a Geiger counter in the other.


A Confederacy of Dunces: quotes (19)

He noticed with interest that the old woman was beginning to nod at her desk. Working conditions looked wonderful.

“I have a valve which is subject to vicissitudes which may force me to lie abed on certain days. Several more attractive organizations are currently vying for my services. I must consider them first.”

“Mrs. Levy is a brilliant, educated woman. She’s taken a correspondence course in psychology.”

“I hate to disappoint you, sir, but I am afraid that the salary is not adequate. An oil magnate is currently dangling thousands before me trying to tempt me to be his personal secretary. At the moment, I am trying to decide whether I can accept the man’s materialistic worldview. I suspect that I am going to finally tell him, ‘Yes.'”

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