This page represents where I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) was at the beginning of my recovery from The Catastrophe which consumed close to two decades of my always too short life time. This was a point in time where, by fortunate accident, Robbie asked me if I would like to contribute here in APtS. Writing for here helped me begin to recover my mind, my soul (even if has less helped Robbie). What I wrote in this particular page is "dated"; it shows where I was at the time. I have made further progress digging myself out of the black hole of such a long wasted period of my life, which came after the period of light doing my dissertation at TC. From light to darkness. Both a mind and a body are terrible things to waste, but it is what it is, and I'm trying to make the most I can out of what little time I may have left.
Bradford Robert McCormick/My canon
Why do people want "surprise endings" in books? Is it because they cannot create anything, so that to keep from being bored they wilfully make themselves ignorant of what they could easily know to be able to eat up time "discovering" what they have hidden from themselves? Why aren't kids taught to read the end of a book first so that, like the captain of a ship, they can have an idea of where they are trying to go?
There once was an inmate in Alcatraz prison who was kept in solitary confinement for months in a totally dark cell where he could not see anything and had nothing to do. How did he keep his sanity? He ripped one button off his prison uniform shirt. He would throw it wildly, some random place in his cell. Then for hours he would crawl around on the floor looking for it in the pitch black darkness. When at last he found the button, he started this little game all over again. By repeatedly searching for the button he kept himself from going insane. Are all the surprise-enders in such a dire condition of life as that man?
I (BMcC) have an undated picture of an old Packard Motor Car Company Service Bulletin. At the top of the page it says:
We Learn from Others
At the bottom of the page:
EVERY OWNER A SALESMAN
In our present age of what I call "free fall/aneurysm capitalism" (the gig economy, etc.), I think this is rather inspirational, but also sad (because Packard Motor Car Company no longer exists).
By "canon" I understood defining texts. I would like to propose that we need to go forward to the past to reclaim our future, skipping over -- i.e., rising above -- a lot of what Hermann Broch called "the clamour of the non-existent":fashionable chatter, including but not limited to "Wokeness" and Political Correctness -- which disgustingly suffocatingly surroundingly soils me, even if not you, my reader. I nominate for our canon the lecture: "Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity" ("the Vienna Lecture", 1935), by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), which is available for free on The Internet (do a Google search).
All Gaul is divided into three parts (Julius Caesar). My current reading self-assignment/study space is oriented around 3 books: (1) History: Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror", (2) Philosophy of science: Norwood Russell Hanson's "Discovery and Perception: An Introduction to Scientific Inquiry", and (3) Psychoanalysis: Wilfred Bion's "A Memoir of the Future". I think that should pretty much encompass, better: embrace, all things, or at least all the things that should be of intellectual concern to me at this time and for which I already do not have enough time, beyond The New York Times, The BBC, CNN and some non-fiction essays in The New Yorker magazine.
This list does not comprise my canon, but only my canon du jour. My full canon definitely includes Hermann Broch's "The Sleepwalkers" and Elizabeth Eisenstein's "The Printing Press as an Agent of Change", but also, shorter reads: Wilfred Owens' "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori", Edmund Husserl's "Vienna lecture", "Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity", and Sophocles' "Œdipus cycle" plays, and Bertolt Brecht's "Galileo", but I could go on and on here, so I wlll here stop.
Would that I lived in a land where not only "To err is human" was acknowledged (our present POTUS is infallible), but also "To study is human" was a watchword (no, that's what students do in a place called school, and we all want the pandemic to be over so we can get back our normal life of commuting to the Office, going on cruises to "escape", and attending football games in large crowds).
Below is a picture (from sometime late summer or fall 2020) of my current "study space" (excluding The New York Times [subscriber since 1 January 1995], The BBC and CNN):
- The philosophy of science (what is the objective world?, etc.).
- The history of the fourteenth century (ref.: Our time of Covid-19 pandemic, etc.)
- Psychoanalysis (just started; looks like its going to be a "trip").
- Edmund Husserl and Eugen Fink (very difficult book).
Oh, yes, Haydn's piano trios, a handcraft coffee cup and a "mask", at left.
But today (05 July 2020) I am distracted by a book which sounds timely: Kamo-no-Chomei (1155-1216CE): Hojoki / Visions of a Torn World". Not only does it sound timely, but also, like many classical things Japanese, it is blessedly succinct: 91 pages including Introductory material and end notes, and with lots of white space in the text. "Less is more" was practiced in pre-1300CE Japan, including palaces, temples, National Treasure swords, tea bowls, as well as poems. I think they also had spirits in everything, including humble objects of everyday life, and, if this is not exactly correct, I think they would honor this idea.
To understand the world of today, hold it up to the world of long ago.
Hello, Dr. François Rabelais! Let's have some good safe salubrious fun! Ex libris guest powder room of home of a small-time grand dame: Uncle John's Bathroom Reader,
Bathroom Readers' Institute, St. Martin's Griffin, Trade Paperback | $18.99. The doctor is in.
Of course, by March 2021, all this had changed. I got distracted by Professor Walter G. Andrews essay: "Killing the cats", which led me to his book "The Age of Beloveds" [which prudently comes with a plain cover], a footnote in which led me to "The Invention of Sodomy in Curistian Theology" (Mark Jordan), with interludes in Carl Schorske's "Thinking with History", and Walter J. Ong SJ's "Fighting for liife". and partially reading John Wild's posthumous essays: "The promise of phenomenology".
Now on to Marxist sociologist Arnold Hauser's: "Mannerism" (1965), which I also came across as a footnote citation in "The Age of Beloveds", a book sufficiently old that it came in 2 volumes with Volume 2 being "plates" -- old-style monochrome pictures of paintings → reading this book being an endeavor to try to understand what Robert Venturi, one of the great Culture Criminals of the 20th Century, blabbed on about in his screed against rationality and aged Quakers: "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture". I am hoping to verify that Robert Venturi(AIA PBUH?) didn't know what he was writing about, but just used Mannerism as a cat for his
cat dog and pony show, like he used Professor Paul Rudolph as a cat to kick. Crescit eundo.