Monday, 24 November 2008

The Consolations Of Philosophy and get off my damn lawn.

Bruce takes on a Hong Kong Triad houseplant.

Gran Torino.

"Nothing human can be alien to me. Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto. I am a man, [a human being] [therefore] nothing human can be foreign to me". Roman writer Terence [Terentius] [c. 190-160 BCE] Sheridan Conlaw.

Dear sports, I know you too may be feeling a little stressed, under pressure, frustrated or plain old sickened. I know I do.

Which is rather surprising, considering I thought I was one of the minor Gods. Sadly, I was rather rudely mistaken. Would a God feel pain from a six year old fist in the groin? Or would “You suck Dad!” elicit “Thanks for the endorsement, kid”. Nope. Or would they? Tah dah! What the Hell do I know?

Why the Hell ain’t I in America making money for my wonderfully feeble and almost writing? Ah, the Hell with it. When do I get that call from Clint Eastwood? Or Roger Eastwood, the fruiterer? Or Mark Steyn, the non-fruiterer? Or even that nice old Mrs Freeblemeister from downstairs. Sure, she smells like mothballs and sardines, but she always has those fabulous Madeleine Cakes...I'll never forget them.

So what went wrong, kids? Well, a man can only make so many mistakes of judgement...

Ah, thus the philosophical consolations of Alain De Botton, Bruce Lee and The Three Stooges. I hope you dig this. These are a few of my favourite things among many I guess. Hey,'s a kick. Use some today! Colonel Neville.

“In Ancient Greece or Rome, philosophers were seen as natural authorities on the most pressing questions. However, since then, the idea of finding wisdom from philosophy has come to seem bizarre. Enter a university department today and ask to study wisdom, and you will politely but firmly be shown the door.

The Consolations of Philosophy sets out to refute the notion that good philosophy must be irrelevant and gathers together six great philosophers who were convinced of the power of philosophical insight to work a practical effect on our lives.

Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche are read for the light their work can shine on certain great universal problems, among them, unpopularity, poverty, inadequacy, lovelessness and timidity. The book amounts to a guide to wisdom - as well as to the practical utility of philosophy”. From The Consolations Of Philosophy by Alain De Botton.

Status Anxiety by Alain De Botton: “ a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety.

We care about our status for a simple reason: because most people tend to be nice to us according to the amount of status we have (it is no coincidence that the first question we tend to be asked by new acquaintances is ‘ What do you do?’). With the help of philosophers, artists and writers, the book examines the origins of status anxiety (ranging from the consequences of the French Revolution to our secret dismay at the success of our friends), before revealing ingenious ways in which people have learnt to overcome their worries in their search for happiness. It aims not only to be entertaining, but wise and helpful as well”.

Al on why authentic philosophy always considers the value and meaning of love: "Love...interrupts at every hour the most serious occupations, and sometimes perplexes for a while even the greatest minds. It does not interfere with the negotiations of statesmen and the investigations of the learned. It knows how to slip its love-notes and ringlets even into ministerial portfolios and philosophical manuscripts...It sometimes demands the sacrifice, sometimes of wealth, position and happiness."

Why should such deception even be necessary? Because, for Schopenhauer, we would not reliably assent to reproduce unless we first had lost our minds.

The intellect understands only so much as is necessary to promote reproduction - which may mean understanding very little.

6. The analysis surely violates a rational self-image, but at least it counters suggestions that romantic love is an avoidable escapade from more serious tasks, that it is forgivable for youngsters with too much time on their hands to swoon by moonlight and sob beneath bedclothes, but that it is unnecessary and demented for their seniors to neglect their work because they have glimpsed a face on a train.

By conceiving of love as biologically inevitable, key to the continuation of the species, Schopenhauer's theory of the will invited us to adopt a more forgiving stance towards the eccentric behaviour to which we are so often subject". Alain De Botton. Philosophy.

Maverick Philosopher. "I don't endorse the following example, but it is worth thinking about. Suppose we want to explain why the universe exists, and we want to do so without recourse to anything transcendent of the universe: we seek a satisfactory immanent explanation.

Suppose further, contrary to current cosmology, that the universe always existed. Let's also assume that to explain the parts of a whole is to explain the whole. To adapt an example of Paul Edwards, suppose the Three Stooges are hanging out at the corner of Hollywood and Vine on a certain afternoon.

To explain why the boys are there at that time it suffices to explain why Larry is there, why Moe is there, and why Curly Joe is there. Having explained why each is there, one has explained why the trio is there. It would be senseless to demand an explanation of why the trio is there after one has been given satisfactory explanations of why each member of the trio is there. The trio is not something over and above its members.

Applying this Hume-Edwards principle -- the principle that to explain the parts of a whole is to explain the whole -- to the universe, one could say that to explain why the universe exists it suffices to explain why each phase of the universe exists, so that, if each phase of the universe has an explanation, then eo ipso the universe has an explanation. Now if the universe is temporally infinite in the past direction, and each phase of the universe is caused by an earlier phase, then every phase of the universe has a causal explanation in terms of an earlier phase.

Since no phase, no temporal part, of the universe lacks an explanation, and since the universe as process just is the whole of these temporal parts, and since to explain the parts of a whole is to explain the parts, it seems to follow that the universe is self-explanatory, that its existence can be accounted for in wholly immanent terms. It looks as if a beginningless universe could be causa sui. Let us assume arguendo that this very bad argument I have just inflicted on you is not bad.

In this argument it appears that the infinite regress of causes does positive explanatory work. For if there were a temporally first event, or a temporally first phase of the universe, then one could demand an explanation of it, and this demand could not be immanently satisfied. But if every event or phase has an explanation in terms of an earlier event or phase, then this demand cannot be made. What we have then is a putative example of an actually infinite regress that is not merely harmless, but positively helpful unto explanation".

Reflections On Gung Fu by Bruce Lee.

"Gung fu is so extraordinary because it is nothing at all special. It is simply the direct expression of one's feeling with the minimum of lines and energy. Every movement is being so of itself without the artificiality with which we tend to complicate them. The closer to the true Way of gung fu, the less wastage of expression there is.

Gung fu is to be looked at without fancy suits and matching ties, and it remains a secret while we anxiously look for sophistication and deadly techniques. If there are really any secrets at all, they must have been missed by the "seeing" and "striving" of its practitioners (after all, how many ways are there to come in on an opponent without deviating too much from the natural course?). Gung fu values the wonder of the ordinary, and the idea is not daily increase but daily decrease.

Being wise in gung fu does not mean adding more but being able to remove sophistication and ornamentation and be simply simple, like a sculptor building a statue not by adding, but by hacking away the unessential so that the truth will be revealed unobstructed. Gung fu is satisfied with one's bare hands without the fancy decoration of colourful gloves, which tend to hinder the natural function of the hands. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity while halfway cultivation runs to ornamentation.

There are three stages in the cultivation of gung fu: namely, the primitive stage, the stage of art, and the stage of artlessness.

The primitive stage is the stage of original ignorance in which a person knows nothing of the art of combat. In a fight he simply blocks and strikes instinctively without concern as for what is right and wrong. Of course, he might not be so-called scientific, but he is, nevertheless, being himself.

The second stage, the stage of art, begins when a person starts his training. He is taught the different ways of blocking and striking, the various ways of kicking, of standing, of moving, of breathing, of thinking. Unquestionably he is gaining a scientific knowledge of combat, but unfortunately his original self and sense of freedom are lost, and his action no longer flows by itself. His mind tends to freeze at different movements for calculation and analysis.

Even worse, he might be "intellectually bound" and maintaining himself outside the actual reality.

The third stage, the stage of artlessness, occurs when, after years of serious and hard practice, he realises that, after all, gung fu is nothing special and instead of trying to impose his mind on the art, he adjusts himself to the opponent like water pressing on an earthen wall, it flows through the slightest crack. There is nothing to "try" to do but be purposeless and formless like water. Nothingness prevails; he no longer is confined.

These three stages also apply to the various methods being practiced in Chinese gung fu. Some methods are rather primitive with basic jerky blocking and striking. On the whole, they lack the flow and change of combinations. Some "sophisticated" methods, on the other hand, tend to run to ornamentation and get carried away by grace and showmanship. Whether from the so-called "firm" or "gentle" school, they often involve big, fancy movements with a lot of complicated steps toward one single goal (it is like an artist who, not satisfied with drawing a simple snake, proceeds to put four beautiful and shapely feet on the snake).

When grasped by the collar, for example, these practitioners would "first do this, then this, then finally that", but of course the direct way would be to let the opponent have the pleasure of grasping the collar and simply punch him straight on the nose! To some martial artists of distinguishing taste, this would be a little bit unsophisticated; too ordinary and unartful. However, it is the ordinary that we use and encounter in everyday life.

Art is the expression of the self; the more complicated and restrictive a method is, the less opportunity there is for expression of one’s original sense of freedom. The techniques, although they play an important role in the earlier stage, should not be too complex, restrictive, or mechanical. If we cling to them we will become bound by their limitations.

Remember that man created method, and method did not create man, and do not strain yourself in twisting into someone’s preconceived pattern, which unquestionably would be appropriate for him, but not necessarily for you. You yourself are "expressing" the technique and not "doing" the technique; in fact, there is no doer but the action itself. When someone attacks you, it is not which technique that you use, but the moment you’re aware of his attack you simply move in like sound, an echo without any deliberation. It is as though when I call, you answer me, or when I throw something, you catch it. That’s all.

After all these years of practice in the different schools I have found out this: that techniques are merely simple guide lines to tell the practitioner that he has done enough! Of course, different people have different preferences and therefore I will include different techniques of both the Northern and the Southern schools of gung fu. Observe closely the differences as well as the similarities of utilisation". An article written by Bruce Lee that was never published written on December 21th 1964 to illustrate the different techniques used by the different schools of Gung Fu.

Philosophies. Bruce Lee.

"It may surprise those who think of Bruce Lee primarily as a martial artist that his true passion was philosophy. Even more surprising is the extent of his knowledge of both Eastern and Western philosophy".

Bruce Lee: "If I tell you I'm good, you would probably think I'm boasting, If I tell you I'm no good, You KNOW I'm lying.

Be Formless, shapeless like water. Now if you put water into a cup it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle, you put it into a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash, be water my friend. If there is a God, he is within. You don't ask God to give you things, you depend on God for your inner theme.

Before I practised the Way, A cloud was just a cloud and a mountain was just a mountain. After I'd studied the Way, a cloud was no longer a cloud, a mountain was no longer a mountain. Now that I understand the Way, A cloud is again just a cloud, a mountain is just a mountain. (The clouds and mountains are simply kicks and punches).

The mind is like a fertile garden in which anything that is planted, flowers or weeds, will grow. Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it. The more relaxed the muscles are, the more energy can flow through the body. Using muscular tensions to try to "do" the punch, or attempting to use brute force to knock someone over, will only work to opposite effect.

Mere technical knowledge is only the beginning of Kung Fu, to master it, one must enter into the spirit of it. There are lots of guys around the world that are lazy. They have big fat guts. They talk about chi power and things they can do, but don't believe it.

I'm not a master, I'm a student-master, meaning that I have the knowledge of a master and the expertise of a master, but I'm still learning, So I'm a student-master. I don't believe in the word master, I consider the master as such when they close the casket.

Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there.

Jeet Kune Do, It's just a name, don't fuss over it. There's no such thing as a style if you understand the roots of combat.

When I look around I always learn something, and that is to be yourself always, express yourself, and have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate him. Now that seems to be the prevalent thing happening in Hong Kong, like they always copy mannerism, but they never start from the root of his being and that is, how can I be me?

Put every great teacher together in a room, and they'd agree about everything, put their disciples in there and they'd argue about everything. By adopting a certain physical posture, a resonant chord is struck in spirit.
Wine may become so dilute that few will drink of it.

Eventually, you learn to read groups of words. Where a student will see three motions, the experienced man will see one, because he see's the overall energy path. The void is no mere emptiness, but is real, free and existing. It is the source from which all things arise and return.

It cannot be seen, touched or known, yet it exists and is freely used. It has no shape, size, colour or form, and yet all that we see, hear, feel and touch is "it". It is beyond intellectual knowing and cannot be grasped by the ordinary mind. When we suddenly awake to the realization that there is no barrier, and has never been seen, one realizes that one is all things, mountains, rivers, grasses, trees, sun, moon, stars, universe are all oneself.

There is no longer a division or barrier between myself and others, no longer any feeling of alienation or fear. Realizing this, results in true compassion. Other people and things are not seen as apart from oneself, on the contrary, as one's own body".Via bruceleedivinewind com

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