Many critics assume unfairly that D.S.M.-5 is shilling for drug companies. This is not true. The mistakes are rather the result of an intellectual conflict of interest; experts always overvalue their pet area and want to expand its purview, until the point that everyday problems come to be mislabeled as mental disorders.
We need to get back to Enceladus and check it out.
Concerning methodology of social science, Hume makes one particularly striking claim: the human sciences are in a sense easier than natural sciences. A more common argument – due to Comte, perhaps, though my memory fails me – is that physics is simpler than chemistry, which is simpler than biology, then again simpler than psychology, and then social sciences, because each builds upon the other. I understand how particles work, hence understand physics, but I need to know how they interact to understand chemistry, how molecules affect lifeforms for biology, how the brain operates to understand psychology, and how brains and bodies interact with each other and history to understand social science. Hume flips this around entirely. He is an empiricist, and notes that to the extent we know anything, it is through our perceptions, and our own accounts as well as those of other humans are biased and distorted. To interpret perceptions of the natural world, we must first generalize about the human mind: “the science of man is the only solid foundation.” Concerning the social world, we are able to observe the actions and accounts of many people during our lives, so if we are to use induction (and this is Hume, so of course we are wary here), we have many examples from which to draw.
Work never seems to me a reality, but a way of getting rid of reality.
I should be a film editor. I’m a magician. And if I’m good, it’s because I should be a film editor. Bach should have written opera or plays. But instead, he worked in eighteenth-century counterpoint. That’s why his counterpoints have so much more point than other contrapuntalists. They have passion and plot. Shakespeare, on the other hand, should have been a musician, writing counterpoint. That’s why his plays stand out from the others through their plot and music.
Your fragility is also your strength.
The homeland of a writer, [someone] said, is his language. […] Though it’s also true that a writer’s homeland isn’t his language or isn’t only his language but the people he loves. And sometimes a writer’s homeland isn’t the people he loves but his memory. And other times a writer’s only homeland is his steadfastness and his courage. In fact, a writer can have many homelands, and sometimes the identity of that homeland depends greatly on what he’s writing at the moment. It’s possible to have many homelands, it occurs to me now, but only one passport, and that passport is obviously the quality of one’s writing. Which doesn’t mean writing well, because anyone can do that, but writing incredibly well, and not even that, because anyone can write incredibly well. So what is top-notch writing? The same thing it’s always been: the ability to peer into the darkness, to leap into the void, to know that literature is basically a dangerous undertaking.
Roberto Bolaño. From Between Parenthesis which I happily discovered at the local library last week.
A philosophy teacher I had once said (something like) you could do worse than to read a little Montaigne every day, to which I would add Bolaño.
All of us are collectors. We are not simply collectors of prints or drawings, we are collectors of interesting moments. If we are alive, we saturate ourselves within states of affairs that we can support. What I’ve been emphasizing is how sensitive we are, and how we sell ourselves the rightness of certain things. We like something, and we begin to think that this represents a state of finality. This finality is fiction. Shall I support what I find in life, or shall I take exception? Shall I say, “I only like this, I don’t like that?” We could go to the world’s greatest banquet, a feast for gourmets, and have a miserable night if were going to be specialists about liking this or not liking that. Each thing would interfere with the next thing. States of affairs are interrelationships.
Mammoth productive facilities with computer minds, cities that engulf the landscape and pierce the clouds, planes that almost outrace time—these are awesome, but they cannot be spiritually inspiring. Nothing in our glittering technology can raise man to new heights, because material growth has been made an end in itself, and, in the absence of moral purpose, man himself becomes smaller as the works of man becomes bigger. Gargantuan industry and government, woven into an intricate computerized mechanism, leave the person outside. The sense of participation is lost, the feeling that orginary individuals influence important decisions vanishes, and man becomes separated and diminished.
When an individual is no longer a true participant, when he no longer feels a sense of responsibility to his society, the content of democracy is emptied. When culture is degraded and vulgarity enthroned, when the social system does not build security but induces peril, inexorably the individual is impelled to pull away from a soulless society. This process produces alienation—perhaps the most pervasive and insidious development in contemporary society.
- I spent lots of time in libraries. My favorite is the Brookline Public Library (main branch) despite finding my librarian-nemesis there.
- I was quietly depressed for much of the year. Today I feel balanced and happy.
- I didn’t keep a consistent journal, but there were a few things I wrote that helped me in tough spots, and when I read them now I’m amazed I wrote them. I will try to write more in 2012.
- I count my one big accomplishment reading and finishing 2666. It’s like (so far) having some caged animal, who now and then produces a growl or paces restlessly, disturbing my thoughts.