Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist – Paul Kingsnorth

In biology, ecology, ethics on April 30, 2012 at 07:58


Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist – Paul Kingsnorth – Orion Magazine

I became an “environmentalist” because of a strong emotional reaction to wild places and the other-than-human world: to beech trees and hedgerows and pounding waterfalls, to songbirds and sunsets, to the flying fish in the Java Sea and the canopy of the rainforest at dusk when the gibbons come to the waterside to feed. From that reaction came a feeling, which became a series of thoughts: that such things are precious for their own sake, that they are food for the human soul, and that they need people to speak for them to, and defend them from, other people, because they cannot speak our language and we have forgotten how to speak theirs. And because we are killing them to feed ourselves and we know it and we care about it, sometimes, but we do it anyway because we are hungry, or we have persuaded ourselves that we are.

Read more here


Mary Fonseca’s “Letter from Lisbon”: portents of plague

In news, political science, sociology on April 29, 2012 at 23:27


Mary Fonseca’s “Letter from Lisbon”: portents of plague – RadioOpenSource

More recently, people who know a bit more about Europe as a whole have pointed out that before the crise hit, the Germans were only too eager to buy the bonds that countries of Southern Europe put on the market, thus showering us with the money we needed to import the Mercedes and BMWs they wanted us to enjoy. Besides, our banks were indulging in the sexy new financial operations they learned about from Wall Street and the City of London.

There’s a lovely song by Stephen Foster, “Hard times, hard times come again no more.” I don’t know of one that corresponds in Portuguese, although the language has lots of expressions about hard times: years are either ones of “vacas gordas” or “vacas magras” (fat cows or thin cows) or “Quem nấo tem cấo, caҫa com gato” (“Who has no dog must hunt with his cat.”) Maybe the resignation of rural folk will have to do, for a while.

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Silence – John Zerzan

In philosophy, sociology on April 29, 2012 at 00:56


John Zerzan, Silence,

Civilization is a conspiracy of noise, designed to cover up the uncomfortable silences. The silence-honoring Wittgenstein understood the loss of our relationship with it. The unsilent present is a time of evaporating attention spans, erosion of critical thinking, and a lessened capacity for deeply felt experiences. Silence, like darkness, is hard to come by; but mind and spirit need its sustenance.

Native Americans seem to have always placed great value on silence and direct experience, and in indigenous cultures in general, silence denotes respect and self-effacement. It is at the core of the Vision Quest, the solitary period of fasting and closeness to the earth to discover one’s life path and purpose. Inuit Norman Hallendy assigns more insight to the silent state of awareness called inuinaqtuk than to dreaming. Native healers very often stress silence as an aid to serenity and hope, while stillness is required for success in the hunt. These needs for attentiveness and quiet may well have been key sources of indigenous appreciation of silence.

The deepest passions are nurtured in silent ways and depths. How else is respect for the dead most signally expressed, intense love best transmitted, our profoundest thoughts and visions experienced, the unspoiled world most directly savored? In this grief-stricken world, according to Max Horkheimer, we “become more innocent” through grief. And perhaps more open to silence – as comfort, ally, and stronghold.

Read the essay here

The Rhetorica – BibliOdyssey

In art, books, history on April 27, 2012 at 09:43



Guillaume Fichet (1433-?1480) was a leading humanist figure during the French Renaissance. As a lecturer in theology, philosophy and rhetoric, Fichet was awarded a doctorate and professorship and became Rector of the University of Paris (Sorbonne).

Together with an academic colleague, Fichet was responsible for bringing the newly created printing press to Paris for the first time in 1471, where it was installed at the Sorbonne.

It is with some measure of irony that the manuscript seen above from 1471 – essentially a record, in Latin, of 10 years of secular teachings by Fichet on the art of rhetoric – was also among the earliest books to be published by Fichet’s printing press in that first year.

The top image above shows this manuscript of Fichet’s teachings being presented to a representative from the royal family who sponsored the work, Princess Yolanda of Savoy. A total of four hand-written manuscripts of ‘The Rhetoric’ were known to have been produced.

See more here

Teachings of Diogenes

In philosophy on April 26, 2012 at 09:22

Teachings of Diogenes — Read more at David Quinn’s website

Diogenes was asked, “Tell me, to what do you attribute your great poverty?”

“Hard work,” he replied.

“And what advice can you offer the rich?”

“Avoid all the good things in life.”


“Because money costs too much. A rich man is far poorer than a poor man.”

“How can that be?”

“Because poverty is the only thing money can’t buy.”

Diogenes was asked, “What is the difference between life and death?

“No difference.”

“Well then, why do you remain in this life?”

“Because there is no difference.”


In uncategorized on April 23, 2012 at 00:00

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On this website I hope to present passages from books, links to articles published on the web, films and opinions.

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