Friendship Brings Beauty into Your Life

It is the depth and vibrancy of friendship that brings beauty into your life. Friendship is the ground you plant your tree in, the fertile basis of your flourishing. Friendship creates a continuous vitality around you, and in you. The friend may be a bird, or a cat, or a frail person who is dying. Still, if the friendship is strong, it will purify the circle of your living as a drop of the prophet’s blood does the ground it falls on.
True friends sacrifice wealth and reputation, everything, for each other. When asked why, they say, I wish I had more to give. Abu Bakr and the other companions of Muhammad lived in such friendship.

– Bahauddin
(trans. Coleman Barks & John Moyne)

Thinking today about being a friend to oneself.

Friendship Brin…

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“This destructive and monstrous opinion that no one, or few, should philosophize, has much invaded the minds of almost everybody. As if it were absolutely nothing to have the causes of things, the ways of nature, the reason of the universe, the counsels of God, the mysteries of heaven and earth very certain before our eyes and hands, unless someone could derive some benefit from it or acquire profit for himself.”
– Pico della Mirandola, “On the Dignity of Man”

“This destructi…

As for what “begins” then “beyond” absolute knowledge, unheard-of thoughts are required, thoughts that are sought across the memory of old signs.

– Jacques Derrida, Voice and Phenomenon

As for what “be…


“The products of the culture industry are such that they can be alertly consumed even in a state of distraction.”
– Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment

I see this at work in “The Bachelor,” where each ‘high point’ of an episode is given in the preview of the episode, in the previews before commercial breaks within the episode, and then recounted by numerous contestants in the one-on-one confessionals after they occur.

I probably saw the same 3 seconds of this rollercoaster footage at least 4 times while viewing the most recent episode of "The Bachelor."

I probably saw the same 3 seconds of this rollercoaster footage at least 4 times while viewing the most recent episode of “The Bachelor.”

This show, and so many other reality TV shows like it, are designed to be consumed in a state of distraction. While browsing Facebook, shopping online, texting.

“The products o…

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Philosophy is an ever-renewed experiment of its own beginning.

– Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception

Philosophy is a…

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The Writer’s Technique in Thirteen Theses
By Walter Benjamin

I. Anyone intending to embark on a major work should be lenient with himself and, having completed a stint, deny himself nothing that will not prejudice the next.
II. Talk about what you have written, by all means, but do not read from it while the work is in progress. Every gratification procured in this way will slacken your tempo. If this regime is followed, the growing desire to communicate will become in the end a motor for completion.
III. In your working conditions, avoid everyday mediocrity. Semi-relaxation, to a background of insipid sounds, is degrading. On the other hand, accompaniment by an etude or a cacophony of voices can become as significant for work as the perceptible silence of the night. If the latter sharpens the inner ear, the former acts as a touchstone for a diction ample enough to bury even the most wayward sounds.
IV. Avoid haphazard writing materials. A pedantic adherence to certain papers, pens, inks is beneficial. No luxury, but an abundance of these utensils is indispensable.
V. Let no thought pass incognito, and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.
VI. Keep your pen aloof from inspiration, which it will then attract with magnetic power. The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself. Speech conquers thought, but writing commands it.
VII. Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Literary honor requires that one break off only at an appointed moment (a mealtime, a meeting) or at the end of the work.
VIII. Fill the lacunae in your inspiration by tidily copying out what you have already written. Intuition will awaken the process.
IX. Nulla dies sine linea—but there may well be weeks.
X. Consider no work perfect over which you have not once sat from evening to broad daylight.
XI. Do not write the conclusion of a work in your familiar study. You would not find the necessary courage there.
XII. Stages of composition: idea—style—writing. The value of the fair copy is that in producing it you confine attention to calligraphy. The idea kills inspiration; style fetters the idea; writing pays off style.
XIII. The work is the death mask of its conception.

The Writer’s Te…

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There are many guises for intelligence.
One part of you is gliding in a high windstream,
while your more ordinary notions take little steps and peck at the ground.

Conventional knowledge is death to our souls,
and it is not really ours. It is laid on.
Yet we keep saying we find “rest” in these “beliefs.”

We must instead become ignorant of what we have been taught
and be instead bewildered.

Run from what is profitable and comfortable.
Distrust anyone who praises you.
Give your investment money, and the interest
on the capital, to those who are actually destitute.

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
I have tried planning long enough.
From now on, I’ll be mad.

— Rumi

A challenging and brilliant poem by one of my favorite poets, Rumi.