nicholas latkovic

vade mecum (Latin, "go with me") n. a favorite book carried everywhere; a handbook of useful information kept at one's side

gift of ubiquity

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“… thanks to the mobility of the camera, to the multiplicity of shots, I am everywhere at once. . . . I know that I am in the movie theatre, but I feel that I am in the world offered to my gaze, a world that I experience ‘physically’ while identifying myself with one or another of the characters in the drama — with all of them, alternatively. This finally means that at the movies I am both in this action and outside it, in this space and outside of this space. Having the gift of ubiquity, I am everywhere and nowhere.”

—Jean Mitry, French film theorist, critic and filmmaker

Written by nlatkovic

September 26, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Posted in Film

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Jazz 625: The Dave Brubeck Quartet

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“The idea was that jazz used to challenge the public and make them think in terms more advanced rhythmically than they were used to thinking in. In the ’20s, it was hard to get a group of people to clap on two and four. One, two, three, four… this was difficult.

Well, we haven’t gone much further. The public is ready for something new because everybody that listens to jazz can clap on two and four. At this period, 30 years is long enough to be stuck there.

It’s time that the jazz musicians take up their original role of leading the public into more adventurous rhythms. ‘Take Five’ is proof of it. After all, the kids are tired of rock ‘n’ roll, too, and yet they can dance in 5/4 time. We’re the only group that I know… we can play an entire concert and not play in 4/4 or even in 3/4.”

—Dave Brubeck, jazz pianist and composer

“The Dave Brubeck Quartet.” Hosted by Steve Race. Jazz 625. BBC. 25 Aug. 1964.

the means to perseverance

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4p45s: “It is the part of a wise man to refresh and restore himself, in moderation, with good food and drink, with perfumes, with the beauty of lush plants, with decoration, with music, with sports, with the theater, and with other things of this kind, which one can enjoy without harm to another.”

If one seeks to persevere, drink and food are part of the means to that end. So, if one interacts with them in the right way, they will bring laetitia and will do so in a way that does not harm other prospects for it. For a person overwhelmed by alcoholism or gluttony, however, drink and food, as a means to different ends in different circumstances, may also do harm (3p56s, II/185 21-28):

“Among these species of affects, which (3p56) must be very numerous, gluttony, drunkenness, lust, greed, and ambition are prominent, all of which are nothing other than notions of love or desire that explain the nature of the affect through the object to which it relates. For by gluttony, drunkenness, lust, greed and ambition we understand nothing other than an immoderate desire for or love of eating, drinking, sex, wealth, or glory.”

LeBuffe, Michael. From Bondage to Freedom: Spinoza on Human Excellence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Written by nlatkovic

September 14, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Posted in Health

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Maria Bamford

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Maria Bamford

Comedian Maria Bamford had a bench installed in front of her house to help her overcome her shyness. (Tierney Gearon for The New York Times)

Related:

Corbett, Sara. ” The Weird, Scary and Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford.” The New York Times. 17 Jul. 2014.

Written by nlatkovic

August 25, 2014 at 7:47 PM

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freedom through separation

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The author is building interconnected readings of imagination, error and desire in Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics, a philosophical treatise published in 1677. On Spinoza’s theory of the passions, we can misjudge our own natures and fail to understand the sorts of beings that we really are; we are not well known to ourselves, and the self-knowledge that is the foundation of virtue and freedom is elusive and fragile.

5p2: “If we separate emotions, or affects, from the thought of an external cause and join them to true thoughts, then love or hate toward an external cause and also the vacillation of mind that arises from these affects are destroyed.”

Love and hate are passions in which laetitia [joy] or tristitia [sadness] accompanies the thought of some external cause. So, we might say, for example, that Anna’s love for Vronski is a kind of happiness that she has in thinking of him, and that, by 5p2, she might overcome this harmful passion — both the trouble that it causes now, “vacillation,” and also the trouble that, as a passion it is likely to lead to — by separating that happiness from the thought of this external object, Vronksi, who causes it.

. . . So, by the definition of love, if Anna no longer thinks of Vronski, it follows uninterestingly that her passion, whatever it is, can no longer be a variety of love.

. . . Spinoza emphasizes the right understanding of passion and its subsequent transformation at 5p3 and 5p4:

5p3: “An effect that is a passion ceases being a passion as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea of it.”

5p4: “There is no affect of the body, of which we cannot form some clear and distinct concept.”

These propositions suggest that it is not enough for Anna simply not to think of Vronski. In order to transform her own feelings and to avoid the harm they cause, Anna must also be self-reflective and try to understand herself and her emotions.

. . . To take the example of a passion, Anna may contemplate Vronski, and think of his him as the cause of her harmful passion, but, on Spinoza’s account of imagination, besides being mistaken about Vronski, Anna may be entirely wrong in thinking him the underlying source of the passion and the problem. It would be a mistake, on Spinoza’s account of imagination, to say that detaching her passion from the thought of Vronksi is good for Anna just because in doing so, she comes no longer to dwell on the external cause of her passion.

She certainly may have been dwelling on Vronski; her real problem, however, may be a failure to have recognized the true external cause of her passion (her unhappy marriage; her sense of confinement, and her separation from good company) at all. Detaching her passion from the thought of Vronski would be better understood as an important first step for Anna in doing what she can do for herself, which is to understand her passion as it is in her and insofar as it produced by her.

. . . However, nobility and tenacity are not immune to the other hazards of this method. Spinoza acknowledges generally in several passages in the Ethics that human beings may always be overpowered by external causes. . . . Some passions, we may assume, will always be overwhelming. This point I think is clear in the way that Spinoza qualifies 5p10 itself:

5p10: “So long as we are not agitated by affects that are contrary to our nature, we have the power of ordering and connecting the affections of the body following the order the intellect.”

LeBuffe, Michael. From Bondage to Freedom: Spinoza on Human Excellence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 45-46, 75, 96-97. Print.

Written by nlatkovic

July 12, 2014 at 8:13 PM

Oprah Winfrey on definition

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“I will do well because I am not defined by a show. I think we are defined by the way we treat ourselves, and the way we treat other people.”

—Oprah Winfrey, talk show host and philanthropist

60 Minutes, 1986.

Written by nlatkovic

July 9, 2014 at 8:03 PM

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the child is the wisest of all

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Another question which from the very beginning occupied Reich’s mind was how the general deconstruction of natural living functioning could be prevented.

In our civilization, as in most other civilizations, it is the adults (that is the more or less twisted characters) who set the goals for the education, (that is the formation) of children and adolescents, and in general it must be said that they set the goals so as to serve their own convenience and to perpetuate their own prejudices. Only some rather primitive peoples, such as the Eskimos, take quite a different view of education and of the upbringing of children.

According to the ancient religion of the Eskimos, an aspect which Christianity has only partly succeeded in destroying, the child is the wisest of all, and therefore the worst misdeed a man can do is to thwart a child. To the Eskimos, this is not just a theoretical or theological belief, but they act according to it, to the amazement of all ‘civilized’ observers.

Raknes, Ola. “Chapter 2: Psychoanalytic Period.” Wilhelm Reich and Orgonomy : the great psychologist and his controversial theory of life energy. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1970. 24-25. Print.

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July 9, 2014 at 7:59 PM

Posted in Learning

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