Storm's coming. There's been no rain yet, only a few ecstatic bursts of enormous hailstones, but there's an epic quality to the wind; the top branches of the pines are moving in full circles, and superiposed on a sky that isn't black but livid, vivid pinkish at the horizon and radiating up. I went to bed and got up again, and padded dowstairs barefoot to find someone had left the agarbathi still burning. The wind, the shadows, the feeling of enormity beyond the glass - all very melodramatic, and I don't think I'm going to sleep through this.
Which is faintly exasperating, as I went to bed early to sleep off whatever lurgy I have contracted this time - it's a sort of swaying-from-side-to-side, my-mother-is-chasing-me-with-an-
auroscope kind of lurgy - and am failing quite conspicuously at that. I imagine I'll drop off when the rain starts.
So, in the meantime, I am going to do gloriously productive things like, er, memes, and reformatting my iPod for the Mac (which has a name! it was originally "Julian", which didn't stick, so I tried again with Nemi Montoya, after the Norwegian comic character
, and this seems to be working), and er, maybe read more on Descartes. (I have spent two days reading pretty much nothing else, and am reaching the conclusion that I don't like him much. Well, I like bits of him. I like the Dreaming Argument far too much, because it's a cliche and it's a cliche for a reason. How do we know we're not dreaming? We don't, is the answer. Isn't that neat? It's a question with a straightforward answer. Round about the week I started thinking about it for the first time - well, explicitly; I'm told I asked this question at a fairly tender age, which probably says rather a lot about me - I was walking down the High Street past Exam Schools and saw, at eye-level, done in white chalk, the words: "are you awake?"
It's still there, I believe. I say I believe, because I could have dreamed it.
The problem here, of course, is that Descartes' project of discovering indubitable truth can't be done if he's mad - his word, although what he means is probably reducible into suspension of rationality - but it can
be done in a dream. Maybe he dreamed his entire project, but still. That makes me, reading it four hundred years later, part of the self-same dream, and I, like him, have to assume my own continuing rationality.
(Now I come to think of it, this is why philosophers go crazy. They start the day by consciously assuming
their own rationality.)
Anyway, yes. I like the Dreaming Argument. I even like the cogito, because it's got a lovely feel to it, phenomenologically speaking; you can complain at length about his unexamined metaphysics and his confusion of normative and factual indubitability (oh my, I love my subject), but that comes later: first of all, you go through sensory perceptions, the Dreaming Argument, through madness and malevolent forces and you find yourself exactly where he was, in the aha, I exist!
place. I doubt, therefore I am. Isn't that great? I sit here and I can't know who I am or why I am or what the world is like or if it exists at all, but I am
Then, of course, you end up getting enormously distracted by his "proofs" of God, which I dislike immensely, but the First Meditation is wonderful.
...er. Amazingly enough, I did not open this update window in order to talk at length about Cartesian doubt. Um. Go and look at the Philosophical Lexicon
. It makes me laugh far too much, and does not involve (much about) Descartes.
Moving swiftly on, yes. The reason I had been putting off reformatting my iPod is because it would reset all my play counts to zero, which is a little disconcerting after three years. They're going slowly up again, although it may be a while before I've listened to Dar Williams' "The Ocean" 246 times, again. (It amuses me still that likethesun2
happened to tell me in a rec-your-friends-specific-things meme that I must listen to the song, I'd love it - and I, because I am just that predictable, proceeded to listen to it about fifty times in one day. The day in question is the on which I wrote "What The Ocean Can Know of a Body
", so there was a happy ending all round, except for Mulder and Scully.)
Speaking of Dar Williams, she is great
and never stops being so. She's one of the few artists I primarily like for her lyrics; my current most-played song is "February
", which is very simply arranged and sung, but the lyrics are just... haunting. (and I tried to remember, but I said, "what's a flower?" / you said, "I still love you"
Also, and infamously, "When I Was A Boy
", which used to be the first song on a playlist I had called "the personal is political", because I'm subtle like that. It's one of her anecdotal songs, which starts off as a song about how gender roles inhibit and damage girls and women, and it's poignant and nice, until the last verse, which twists it all around and.... yes. Yes. Again, very simple musically, and the lyrics break me.
My other song of the moment is, courtesy of chiasmata
" by Laura Marling - again, lyrically lovely.
Yes, yes, iTunes, do get on with transferring 1692 songs, I appreciate it. Oh, ye gods, I am dull. This is what happens when I sit at home vaguely lurgyfied and read a lot of continental rationalism. Thankfully, bright and early on Thursday morning, I am going far up north to see hathy_col
for the first time in a million gazillion years - three months - and help her perambulate a giant inflatable Dalek electoral candidate around the streets of St Andrews. There will be joy and non-computer-based social interaction and rampant geekery and jelly babies and joy again, and I love how some things, at least, don't ever change.