Phil Gyford’s website

New York Review of Books, 12 January 2006

From ‘Salvation Through Laughter’ (subscribers only) by Charles Simic, on Witold Gombrowicz.

…writing about existentialism, he [Gombrowicz] had this to say:

It seems impossible to meet the demands of Dasein and simultaneously have coffee and croissants for an evening snack. To fear nothingness, but to fear the dentist more. To be consciousness, which walks around in pants and talks on the telephone. To be responsibility, which runs little shopping errands downtown. To bear the weight of significant being, to install the world with meaning and then return the change from ten pesos.

I only have the vaguest recollection of what Dasein is but it still tickled me. (I must also admit that although it’s only a couple of months since I read that article I now couldn’t tell you the first thing about Gombrowicz and until I began sorting out my notes I would have denied I’d even heard of him. I wonder what the point of reading is sometimes.)

Next, a snippet from ‘The Unquiet American’ (again subscribers only) by Pankaj Mishra on Edmund Wilson:

In 1931, Wilson had scolded Allen Tate for refusing to believe in progress, “the faith on which my own ideas are based.” “I can’t see,” Wilson wrote, “that people who don’t think so and are not religious are ever able to give life any meaning at all.” In 1940, he had asserted that “all our intellectual activity, in whatever field it takes place, is an attempt to give a meaning to our experience.”

Two other articles I marked as worth remembering (both also linked from my Links feed for what it’s worth):

‘The Coming Meltdown’ (free to read) by Bill McKibben
I underlined this review of two books on environmental disaster when I read it. Not sure why now, but still.
‘The Way to a Fair Deal’ (subscribers only) by Jeff Madrick
Interesting review of Benjamin M. Friedman’s ‘The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth’.

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Thursday 4 May 2006, 5:35pm

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