In general, I’m concerned with understanding the excellence of those activities that most interest me. For instance: The Articulate Expression of an Idea or Opinion. Philosophy and Teaching. Food. Artistic Process. Customer Service. Music. Media. Bullshit.
Here is a series of quotes that best capture how I find myself as an instance of being-in-the-world.
This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. – Rainer Maria Rilke. First Letter to a Young Poet. (6, Mitchell Translation.)
If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live. – Martin Luther King, Jr., speech, Detroit, Michigan, June 23, 1963.
The role of the philosopher, then, is not to rule the city but to be its “gadfly,” not to tell philosophical truths but to make citizens more truthful. – Hannah Arendt. “Philosophy and Politics.” 1954.
It is absolutely correct and proper to say that “You can’t do anything with philosophy.” It is only wrong to suppose that this is the last word on philosophy. For the rejoinder imposes itself: granted that we cannot do anything with philosophy, might not philosophy, if we concern ourselves with it, do something with us? – Martin Heidegger. (12, Introduction to Metaphysics.)
The true knight of faith is a witness, never a teacher. – Søren Kierkegaard. (107, Fear and Trembling.)
He [The Greek] is in fact an excellent all-rounder; he has surpassing aretê [excellence]…It was aretê that the [Olympic] games were meant to test—the aretê of the whole man, not a merely specialized skill. – H.D.F. Kitto. (173, The Greeks.)
Gonzo journalism is a style of reporting based on William Faulkner’s idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism — and the best journalists have always known this. True gonzo reporting needs the talents of a master journalist, the eye of an artist/photographer and the heavy balls of an actor. Because the writer must be a participant in the scene, while he’s writing it — or at least taping it, or even sketching it. Or all three. Probably the closest analogy to the ideal would be a film director/producer who writes his own scripts, does his own camera work and somehow manages to film himself in action, as the protagonist or at least a main character. -Hunter S. Thompson.
“How much truth can a spirit bear, how much truth can a spirit dare? … that became for me more and more the real measure of value.” — Friedrich Nietzsche (reference needed)
“How one tries to improve bad arguments.—Some people throw a bit of their personality after their bad arguments, as if that might straighten their paths and turn them into right and good arguments—just as a man in a bowling alley, after he has let go of the ball, still tries to direct it with gestures.”– Friedrich Nietzsche (reference needed)
“We are all increasingly anxious in America to be unobtrusive, we are reluctant to make our voices heard, hesitant about claiming our right; we are afraid that our cause is unjust, or that if it is not unjust, that it is ambiguous; or if not even that, that it is too trivial to justify the horrors of a confrontation with Authority; we will sit in an oven or endure a racking headache before undertaking a head-on, I’m-here-to-tell-you complaint. That tendency to passive compliance, to a heedless endurance, is something to keep one’s eyes on — in sharp focus.”–William F. Buckley (Why don’t We Complain?)
“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part!”–Mario Savio (Speech on Sproul Hall)
“What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., and if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life … You see, I know that it is difficult to think well about “certainty”, “probability”, “perception”, etc. But it is, if possible, still more difficult to think, or try to think, really honestly about your life and other people’s lives.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein (reference needed)
A friend to all is a friend to none. –Aristotle (reference needed)