Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hitler's ventriloquist

The weird shit I find late at night! There seems to be no end to it. I'm now on a search for very early talkies, most of them made in 1929. That was the change-or-die year for most movie studios and their stars. Erich von Stroheim had a great villain's voice, heavily-accented, and would have come into his own and been a huge talkie star, except for the fact that he was (with the exception of Adolf Hitler) the nastiest man who ever lived. I think his personality was just too thuglike and violent to appeal to anyone. Even Peter Lorre wore eyeshadow, which seemed to soften him a bit.

I love the noisy soundtracks on these 1929ers, the thumps and thuds, the ringing sound (?) and whirring, no doubt the sound of the camera. To solve the problem, someone had the idea of enclosing the camera/man in a soundproof booth, with the result that he could only work for 10 minutes or so before falling into a gasping, sweating faint. When someone realized you only need to put the camera in the soundproof booth, it was a great day for technology.

I made a ton of gifs of this wonderfully awful thing because it was one of the first examples of that now-stock character, the devil-doll with a life of its own. This was imitated and/or elaborated-upon in various movies and Twilight Zone episodes. It has always puzzled me why a grown man wants to shove his hand up the back of an artificial boy and make his mouth move, but never mind. It is very late at night, so I should not get into how anatomically correct the dummy would have to be.

This ghastly phosphorescent image laid over an impenetrable hell-hole of black is like something out of your worst nightmare, the kind you can't wake up from. Then when you do wake up, something even worse happens, and you realize you haven't woke up yet. Then something even worse happens. . . 

And now it gets straaange. Here, the Little Wooden Boy discourses on something-or-other (who cares anyway? This would've been better as a silent), while at the other end of the table his master, looking like he's attending an SS banquet, calmly shoves food into his mouth. The marvel being that the little squicker can move his mouth and talk WITHOUT a hand shoved up his back. And can yatter on even though Stroheim is putting away the bratwurst like there's no tomorrow. So he can make his boy talk even with a sausage in his mouth. All done by mind control. They teach you this in Nazi training camp.


Yes. This guy makes Peter Lorre look like a pussycat. I can't think of anyone more evil in the movies. Not sure what happened to Stroheim - will have to look it up. He belonged to a certain time/sensibility, and reminds me of the German expressionists, Bertolt Brecht, and that infamous and oft-parodied painting, The Scream. Or maybe I just want to scream when I see him. I also think of Harvey Korman's dead-on impersonation of him in Carol Burnett's sendup of Sunset Boulevard (the last movie he appeared in, I think, in 1950). 

Ah, his love-hate relationship with his dummy, his Instrument, his thing. No doubt an extension of his poor nasty self. The dummy probably didn't feel very much, though he's the kind of conversationalist I'd like to sit across from at my next dinner party. Note that Stroheim's acting style is quite "silent film-ish", his punches very pulled. There is a slowness here too, with pauses that take forever. 

It took several years for Hollywood/actors to figure out how to DO sound films. Most pictures from 1929 were packed with high-kick, early-Busby-Berkeley-style production numbers, and this one is no exception. These have nothing to do with the main plot. Early talkies were very static in the dramatic scenes, the actors hunched around a stationary microphone hidden behind a potted palm. No one had yet figured out the concept of the sound boom. The dance numbers were no doubt added so the audience could see something MOVE once in a while.

The stars who burst to the forefront in this tenuous, genre-shifting era were people like Cagney and Garbo and Edward G. Robinson, with quirky voices that stuck in the head. Stroheim's voice was malignantly nasty, and creeped people out too much for them to pay to listen to him for two hours. He did however direct a monster of a film called Greed which, in its first cut, ran to 10 hours. I think Turner Classics is showing it next week in its entirety, with a 58-minute introduction by Robert Osborne.  (I plan to post my 90-second gif version in the very near future, or not, since I think my gif program just collapsed.) Having sat through 10 hours of Greed, one critic commented that Stroheim was "a genius. . . badly in need of a stopwatch." Or an on-off switch.

The dummymeister, predictably, goes nuts. My favorite part is all the chorus girls running away from him. The dummy swings from his hand like a useless appendage. In another scene he drags it around like Linus's blanket, the head bumping along behind him. This man is beyond unpleasant. He is EVIL, and though audiences seemed to dig it during the silent era, his talkies did not burn up the track. He went into a long and predictably bitter decline until Sunset Boulevard, which starred another great silent movie relic, Gloria Swanson, along with sad-faced Buster Keaton, who always seemed to be trying to make the best of a bad deal.

Zee end, meine liebchen.

POST-SCRIPT. And don't tell me he was Austrian. They ALL say that.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Betty White - all right (and Bill, you're my thrill)

I realize this blog, uneven as it is, has become dominated by the gif. The reason is this: I was born in 1954, and anything that helps me capture obsolete technology (particularly old TV) is magic to me. I can illustrate a point in ten seconds. And they're easy to make, boyo, even though I have come to the conclusion that my beloved Gifsforum is no more. 

What's even more curious is the fact that I can't find ANYTHING about it, not even on one of those message boards that has been pretty much been replaced by Twitter. Where did it go? It had infinitely more flexibility than Makeagif, though I will have to admit it got the proportions wrong and stretched a lot of them. They weren't nicely cropped like most of these are. But it was fast, and you could make things run backwards.

Anyway, enough complaining. Along with William Shatner, Betty White is the only living/actively performing person who remembers/was working in TV in the 1950s. I think this is pretty astonishing. Though Betty looks like a well-preserved older woman, Shatner looks about 65. You have to wonder what these two did, what sort of bargain they struck, and with whom.

Quite a fox, he was, and well before Star Trek, versatile, fit into any show, could play just about anything, and always worked. When the work fell through after Star Trek (type-casting: he is one of the very few actors who beat it), he lived out of his truck for a while and did Loblaws commercials in Toronto, some of which survive (we'll get to them later! He still does ads which I enjoy watching, but now he doesn't need to.)

Note from his  manner of speaking that he already has the Kirkian sense of drama. Jeffrey Hunter was the original Captain Kirk, and he was let go and replaced: too dull by half, I think, and he couldn't do those wrestling moves that became his trademark. Without the histrionics that made him famous, the show would have crashed and burned before it got off the launching pad.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The stag in the cathedral

This is worth watching on YouTube because it's high-res enough to watch full-screen. If you do, you will feel that you are there in the cathedral. It's eerie and very beautiful. The stag moves as easily and naturally as if he's at home in the forest. I'm not sure of the circumstances of this because there was no narration. Let us hope he walked out of there and found his way home with the same grace and ease.

WAAAAAAAH! Mockingbird - Carly Simon & James Taylor

Compare to the original. This is more Motown-flavoured, and it works for me, but there are no visuals so it's hard to make a comparison. It's the WAY James and Carly perform it, with such exuberance, sexiness and joy, that makes it so irresistible. But it's nice to have the two of them to compare and contrast.  Inez and Charlie Foxx were a briefly-famous brother-sister act and had a couple of hits.

150 "Niet" Sayings that will Change Your Life

"Pretty Niet, eh?": 150 Profound Quotes by Friedrich Nietzsche

150 Profound Quotes by Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a German philosopher, cultural critic, and scholar, who is considered one of the most influential of all modern thinkers.

Nietzsche has explored various topics related to the human condition such as individuality, truth, morality, religion, history, culture and nihilism. The central point of his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation”, which focuses on life in this world instead on the world beyond.

In his brilliant career, Nietzsche published several major works of philosophy. Among the best known are Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Twilight of the Idols and Beyond Good and Evil.

His writings, especially on religion and morality in contemporary civilization, influenced many major thinkers and writers of the 20th century.
What does not kill me, strengthens me.'Apophthegms and Darts', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into you.'Apophthegms and Darts', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
It is true we love life; not because we are used to life, but because we are used to loving.'First Part: Reading and Writing', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
And life, in spite of ourselves, is not devised by morality.'Author's Preface', Human, All Too Human (1878)
In the mountains of truth you never climb in vain. Either you already reach a higher point today, or you exercise your strength in order to be able to climb higher tomorrow.Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions (1879)
Against tedium even the Gods struggle in vain. The Antichrist (1888)
The secret of realising the largest productivity and the greatest enjoyment of existence is to live in danger!'Book Fourth: Sanctus Januarius', The Gay Science (1882)
What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal.'Zarathustra's Prologue', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
Without music, life would be a mistake.'Apophthegms and Darts', Twilight of the Idols (1889)
In revenge and in love woman is more barbarous than man.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.'Man alone by Himself', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Even God has his hell: it is his love for man.'Second Part: The Pitiful', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)

He who despises himself, nevertheless esteems himself thereby, as a despiser.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
A little health on and off is the best remedy for the invalid.The Wanderer and His Shadow (1880)
Existence really is an imperfect tense that never becomes a present.On the Use and Abuse of History for Life (1874)
Close beside my knowledge lies my black ignorance.'Fourth and Last Part: The Leech', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
Only thoughts won by walking are valuable.'Apophthegms and Darts', Twilight of the Idols (1889)
Therefore he gives man hope, in reality it is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torments of man.'The History of the Moral Sentiments', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Our vanity is most difficult to wound just when our pride has been wounded.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
There is always some madness in love. But there is always, also, some method in madness.'First Part: Reading and Writing', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
Necessity is not an established fact, but an interpretation.'The Will to Power in Science', The Will to Power (1901)
A pair of powerful spectacles has sometimes sufficed to cure a person in love.'Wife and Child', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Fear is the mother of morals.'The Natural History of Morals', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
A man pays dearly for being immortal: to this end he must die many times over during his life.'Why I Write such Excellent Books: Thus spake Zarathustra', Ecce Homo (1888)
There is more reason, sanity and intelligence in your body than in your best wisdom.'First Part: The Despisers of the Body', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute.'Man in Society', Human, All Too Human (1878)

Success has always been the greatest liar.'What is Noble?', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
What is good? — All that increases the feeling of power, will to power, power itself, in man. The Antichrist (1888)
The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies, but also to hate his friends.'First Part: The Bestowing Virtue', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
The best author will be the one who is ashamed to become a writer.'Concerning the Soul of Artists and Authors', Human, All Too Human (1878)
The man who is being punished is no longer he who has done the deed. He is always the scapegoat.The Dawn (1881)
There is a haughtiness of kindness which has the appearance of wickedness.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
In everything there is one thing impossible – rationality!'Third Part: The Bedwartfing Virtue', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
He who cannot give anything away cannot feel anything either.'The Will to Power in Art', The Will to Power (1901)
There are no eternal facts, as there are likewise no absolute truths.'First and Last Things', Human, All Too Human (1878)
No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.'Schopenhauer as educator', Untimely Meditations (1876)
What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
Man is for woman a means: the purpose is always the child.'First Part: Old and Young Women', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
Facts are precisely what is lacking, all that exists consists of interpretations.'The Will to Power in Science', The Will to Power (1901)

Thoughts are the shadows of our sentiments — always, however, obscurer, emptier, and simpler.'Book Third', The Gay Science (1882)
To recognise untruth as a condition of life.'Prejudices of Philosophers', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
We often contradict an opinion when it is really only the tone in which it is expressed that is unsympathetic to us.'Man in Society', Human, All Too Human (1878)
“Belief” means not-wishing-to-know what is true.The Antichrist (1888)
Man is the cruellest animal.'Third Part: The Convalescent', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
In praise there is more obtrusiveness than in blame.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
Whoever has not got a good father should procure one.'Wife and Child', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!'Second Part: The Tarantulas', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
That which makes man revolt against suffering, is not suffering as such, but the senselessness of suffering.'Second Essay: Guilt, Bad Conscience, and the like', On the Genealogy of Morality (1887)
Wit is the epitaph of an emotion.Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions (1879)
Our destiny rules over us, even when we are not yet aware of it; it is the future that makes laws for our today.'Author's Preface', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Two different things wants the true man: danger and diversion. Therefore wants he woman, as the most dangerous plaything.'First Part: Old and Young Women', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)

Blessed are the forgetful: for they “get the better” even of their blunders.'Our Virtues', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
A good author possesses not only his own intellect, but also that of his friends.'Concerning the Soul of Artists and Authors', Human, All Too Human (1878)
One should hold fast one’s heart; for when one lets it go, how quickly does one’s head run away!'Second Part: The Pitiful', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual.'Book Third', The Gay Science (1882)
Insanity in individuals is something rare — but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
There is not sufficient love and goodness in the world to permit us to give some of it away to imaginary beings.'The Religious Life', Human, All Too Human (1878)
One pays back a teacher badly if one remain merely a scholar.'First Part: The Bestwing Virtue', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
My concept of freedom. — The worth of a thing lies sometimes not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it — what it costs us.'Roving Expeditions of an Inopportune Philosopher', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
There is an innocence of admiration: it is possessed by him to whom it has not yet occurred that he himself may he admired some day. 'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
All mankind is divided, as it was at all times and is still, into slaves and freemen; for whoever has not two-thirds of his day for himself is a slave, be he otherwise whatever he likes, statesman, merchant, official, or scholar.'The Signs of Higher and Lower Culture', Human, All Too Human (1878)
In the true man there is a child hidden: it wants to play.'First Part: Old and Young Women', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
The most perfidious manner of injuring a cause is to vindicate it intentionally with fallacious arguments.'Book Third', The Gay Science (1882)
Danger which first teaches us to know our resources, our virtues, our shield and sword, our genius — which compels us to be strong… 'Roving Expeditions of an Inopportune Philosopher', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
He whom the flames of jealousy surround, at last, like the scorpion, turns the poisoned sting against himself.'First Part: Joys and Passions', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
The unreasonableness of a thing is no argument against its existence, but rather a condition thereof. 'Man alone by himself', Human, All Too Human (1878)

Perhaps I know best why man is the only animal that laughs: he alone suffers so excruciatingly that he was compelled to invent laughter.'Nihilism', The Will to Power (1901)
Is not life a hundred times too short for us — to bore ourselves?'Our Virtues', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star. 'Zarathustra's Prologue', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
When one has much to put into them, a day has a hundred pockets.'Man alone by Himself', Human, All Too Human (1878)
We recover best from our unnaturalness, from our spirituality, in our savage moods…'Apophthegms and Darts', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
For in fact, nothing is more democratic than logic: it is knows no respect of persons, and takes even the crooked nose as straight.'Book Fifth: We Fearless Ones', The Gay Science (1882)
He who wishes one day to fly, must first learn standing and walking and running and climbing and dancing: – one does not fly into flying!'Third Part: The Spirit of Gravity', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)

Belief in the truth commences with the doubting of all those “truths” we once believed.Truth Will Have No Other Gods Alongside It (1879)
Every nation, every individual, has unpleasant and even dangerous qualities.'A Glance at the State', Human, All Too Human (1878)
The maturity of man — that means, to have reacquired the seriousness that one had as a child at play.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
Idleness is the parent of all psychology.'Apophthegms and Darts', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
But the worst enemy you can meet, will you yourself always be; you waylay yourself in caverns and forests.'First Part: The Way of the Creating One', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)

One will seldom go wrong if one attributes extreme actions to vanity, average ones to habit, and petty ones to fear.'The History of the Moral Sentiments', Human, All Too Human (1878)
What we experience in dreams, provided we experience it often, pertains at last just as much to the general belonging of our soul as anything “actually” experienced; by virtue thereof we are richer or poorer.'The Natural History of Morals', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
The commonest falsehood is that by which one deceives one’s self: the deception of others is a relatively exceptional case.The Antichrist (1888)
How is it? Is man only a mistake of God? Or God only a mistake of man?'Apophthegms and Darts', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
Only where there are graves are there resurrections.'Second Part: The Grave Song', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets successfully through many a bad night.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
Neither necessity nor desire, but the love of power, is the demon of mankind. You may give men everything possible health, food,shelter,enjoyment but they are and
remain unhappy and capricious, for the demon waits and waits; and must be satisfied.The Dawn (1881)
Truly, he who possesses little is so much the less possessed: praised be a little poverty!'First Part: The New Idol', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
If there is something to pardon in everything, there is also something to contemn!'Nihilism', The Will to Power (1901)

Woman learns how to hate in proportion as she — forget now to charm.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
Marriages which are contracted for love (so-called love-matches) have error for their father and need (necessity) for their mother.'Wife and Child', Human, All Too Human (1878)
What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment.And just the same shall man be to the overman: a laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment.'Zarathustra's Prologue', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
Art is not merely an imitation of the reality of nature, but in truth a metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside thereof for its conquest.The Birth of Tragedy (1872)
The vanity of others is only counter to our taste when it is counter to our vanity.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
The “kingdom of heaven” is a state of the heart – not something to come “beyond the world” or “after death.”The Antichrist (1888)
The best friend will probably get the best wife, because a good marriage is based on talent for friendship.
(known as: It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.) Human, All Too Human (1878)
Art raises its head where creeds relax.'Concerning the Soul of Artists and Authors', Human, All Too Human (1878)
There exists in the world a single path along which no one can go except you: whither does it lead? Do not ask, go along it.'Schopenhauer as educator', Untimely Meditations (1876)
Art is the only task of life.'The Will to Power in Art', The Will to Power (1901)
No one is such a liar as the indignant man.'The Free Spirit', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
We are all growing volcanoes, which will have their hours of eruption: how near or how distant this is, nobody of course knows, not even the good God.'Book First', The Gay Science (1882)
When one has one’s wherefore of life, one gets along with almost every how.
(known as: He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.)'Apophthegms and Darts', Twilight of the Idols (1888)

Out of the deepest must the highest come to its height.'Third Part: The Wanderer', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
The fact that an intellect contains a few worms does not detract from its ripeness.Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions (1879)
When a man has finished building his house, he finds that he has learnt unawares something which he ought absolutely to have known before he began to build.'What is Noble?', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
We are responsible to ourselves for our own existence; consequently we want to be the true helmsman of this existence and refuse to allow our existence to resemble a mindless act of chance.'Schopenhauer as educator', Untimely Meditations (1876)
It is the privilege of greatness to confer intense happiness with insignificant gifts.'Man alone by Himself', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Words are only symbols for the relations of things among themselves and to us, and nowhere touch absolute truth.Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks (1873)
Let us be on our guard against saying that death is contrary to life. The living being is only a species of dead being, and a very rare species.'Book Third', The Gay Science (1882)
For this is hardest of all: to close the open hand out of love, and keep modest as a giver.'Second Part: The Child with the Mirror', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
Nothing has been more dearly bought than the minute portion of human reason and feeling of liberty upon which we now pride ourselves.The Dawn (1881)
To be ashamed of one’s immorality is a step on the ladder at the end of which one is ashamed also of one’s morality.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
Stupidity in a woman is unfeminine.The Wanderer and His Shadow (1880)

It is not the struggle of opinions that has made history so turbulent; but the struggle of belief in opinions.'Man alone by Himself', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Culture is liberation, the removal of all the weeds, rubble and vermin that want to attack the tender buds of the plant.'Schopenhauer as educator', Untimely Meditations (1876)
Fanatics are picturesque, and mankind prefers observing poses to listening to reasons…The Antichrist (1888)
Man is a rope stretched between animal and overman – a rope over an abyss.'Zarathustra's Prologue', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.'Roving Expeditions of an Inopportune Philosopher', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
He who has seen another’s ideal becomes his inexorable judge, and as it were his evil conscience.Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions (1879)
To talk much about oneself may also be a means of concealing oneself.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
A young man can be most surely corrupted when he is taught to value the like-minded more highly than the differently minded.The Dawn (1881)
We sometimes remain faithful to a cause merely because its opponents never cease to be insipid.'Man alone by Himself', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be entreated not to hit the nail at all.The Wanderer and His Shadow (1880)

It is the stillest words which bring the storm. Thoughts that come with doves’ footsteps guide the world.'Second Part: The Stillest Hour', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
Sensuality often forces the growth of love too much, so that its root remains weak, and is easily torn up.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
The demand to be loved is the greatest of presumptions.'Man alone by Himself', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Our treasure is where the beehives of our knowledge are.'Foreword', On the Genealogy of Morality (1887)
If a woman possesses manly virtues, she is to be run away from; and if she does not possess them, she runs away herself.'Apophthegms and Darts', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
But what after all are man’s truths? They are his irrefutable errors.'Book Third', The Gay Science (1882)
Forgetting our purpose is the most frequent form of folly.The Wanderer and His Shadow (1880)
Man is something that is to be surpassed.'Zarathustra's Prologue', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
Egoism belongs to the essence of a noble soul.'What is Noble?', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)

There are many kinds of eyes. Even the Sphinx has eyes — therefore there must be many kinds of “truths,” and consequently there can be no truth.'The Will to Power in Science', The Will to Power (1901)

When art arrays itself in the most shabby material it is most easily recognised as art.'Concerning the Soul of Artists and Authors', Human, All Too Human (1878)
The admiration of a quality or of an art may be so strong as to deter us from aspiring to possess that quality or art.Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions (1879)
Not when the truth is filthy, but when it is shallow, does the discerning one go unwillingly into its waters.'First Part: Chastity', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
One does not hate as long as one disesteems, but only when one esteems equal or superior.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
The wisest men in all ages have judged similarly with regard to life: it is good for nothing.'The Problem of Socrates', Twilight of the Idols (1888)
Our character is determined more by the absence of certain experiences than by the experiences we have undergone.Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions (1879)
There is no such thing as moral phenomena, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
It is an excellent thing to express a thing consecutively in two ways, and thus provide it with a right and a left foot. Truth can stand indeed on one leg, but with two she will walk and complete her journey.The Wanderer and His Shadow (1880)
Do ever what you will – but first be such as can will.'Third Part: The Bedwarfing Virtue', Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)

A great value of antiquity lies in the fact that its writings are the only ones that modern men still read with exactness.Notes (1874), The Portable Nietzche
Many a man fails to become a thinker for the sole reason that his memory is too good.Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions (1879)
Before the effect one believes in other causes than after the effect.'Book Third', The Gay Science (1882)

He that humbleth himself wishes to be exalted.'The History of the Moral Sentiments', Human, All Too Human (1878)
Extreme positions are not relieved by more moderate ones, but by extreme opposite positions.'Nihilism', The Will to Power (1901)
Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.'Schopenhauer as educator', Untimely Meditations (1876)
Not joy but joylessness is the mother of debauchery.Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions (1879)
Presumption in connection with merit offends us even more than presumption in persons devoid of merit, for merit in itself offends us.'Man in Society', Human, All Too Human (1878)
By means of music the very passions enjoy themselves.'Apophthegms and Interludes', Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
I still live, I still think; I must still live, for I must still think.'Book Fourth: Sanctus Januarius', The Gay Science (1882)

APPENDIX (a): The Gay Science (1882):

"Nietzsche never married. Nietzsche proposed to Lou Salomé three times, but his proposal was rejected each time.[90] The Nietzsche scholar Joachim Köhler has attempted to explain Nietzsche's life history and philosophy by claiming that Nietzsche was homosexual. Köhler argues that Nietzsche's syphilis, which is "usually considered to be the product of his encounter with a prostitute in a brothel in Cologne or Leipzig, is equally likely, it is now held, to have been contracted in a male brothel in Genoa".[91] Köhler also suggests Nietzsche may have had a romantic relationship as well as a friendship with Paul Rée. Köhler's views have not found wide acceptance among Nietzsche scholars and commentators. Allan Megill argues that while Köhler's claim that Nietzsche was in confrontation with homosexual desire cannot simply be dismissed, "the evidence is very weak" and Köhler may be projecting twentieth-century understandings of sexuality on nineteenth-century notions of friendship.[92] Other scholars have argued that Köhler's sexuality-based interpretation is not helpful in understanding Nietzsche's philosophy.[93][94] Some like Nigel Rodgers and Mel Thompson have argued that continuous sickness and headaches hindered Nietzsche from engaging much with women. Yet, they bring other examples in which Nietzsche expressed his affections to other women, including Wagner's wife Cosima Wagner."[95]

APPENDIX (b): The Horse of Turin

"In Turin on 3rd January, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Alberto. Not far from him, the driver of a hansom cab is having trouble with a stubborn horse. Despite all his urging, the horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver loses his patience and takes his whip to it. Nietzsche comes up to the throng and puts an end to the brutal scene, throwing his arms around the horse’s neck, sobbing. His landlord takes him home, he lies motionless and silent for two days on a divan until he mutters the obligatory last words, 'Mutter, ich bin dumm!' ['Mother, I am stupid!' in German] and lives for another ten years, silent and demented, cared for by his mother and sisters. We do not know what happened to the horse."

Blogger's Blather. I found an amazing number of artistic representations of Nietzsche's horse, none of which were very respectful. Many were of the My Little Pony variety, and I am sure the horse didn't look like that. Though many accounts of his spectacular breakdown mock and jeer at his mental illness and claim his family "threw him into an asylum", the truth is he had untreated syphilis which eventually gets into the brain, acting similarly to TBI (traumatic brain injury). It's not too damn funny, folks. And they looked after him at home.

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PLEASE click on this link!

PLEASE click on this link. This is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, and I haven't found a way to embed it. Most of these things show up on YouTube sooner or later. Meanwhile, please, I just want everyone to see it. I don't know why my craziness extends far enough to think anyone will notice or care, but it does.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Just you

Little Sexpot (short fiction)

It’s not that she wasn’t grateful. When you don’t get to go anywhere on a Saturday night because everyone thinks you’re a loser and full of shit, you should be grateful for any kind of social contact at all.

Or so her siblings thought. Her sister Noreen was thirteen years older than she was, and obviously Mum and Dad were going to trust her with her little sister's wellbeing. Besides, it was good for her to “get out”, much better than hiding in her room crying like she always did.

Her older brother Don had lots of friends too, and their wives came along, but that didn’t stop the “goings-on” that were considered to be all part of the fun. She noticed the minute she stepped into the babble and funk of these parties that she was the mascot, younger than anyone else by ten years or more. Was she game? A target? Who knew, but what she did know was that she was supposed to be grateful.

There was an obnoxious creep called Shivas, but after a while she figured out that it wasn’t his real name, that it came from his habit of making a certain drink called a Shivas Special. Chivas Regal and one ice cube. Another was Tang crystals dissolved in vodka.

They were all quite interested in seeing how the mascot would react to having her glass filled and refilled. After all, she was allowed wine at home. Lots of it. Her parents didn’t frown on her drinking and even seemed to think it was “good for her”. Her brother and sister waved the banner of booze at every opportunity, insisting it was an unalloyed good, even when they woke the next day vomiting and ashen.

The party deteriorated over time, got louder, with people bumping together and the smell of pot wafting under door-cracks. Once she felt a hand, someone’s hand, didn’t know whose. Then her brother’s best friend started smiling at her. She looked the other way. Like the Ugly Duckling, she just didn’t believe it at first.

But then he sort of beckoned with his eyes. Come upstairs with me. Upstairs?? His wife was over in the corner flirting with her brother like they always did. Did she dare to do this, could she sneak up with him and –

This is how it always happened.

It happened because her brother’s friend was a really good kisser. He knew the spots to touch. Her body responded like flame, though she felt overpowering shame at her reaction. She knew she wasn’t supposed to feel this way, to feel anything at all. But she also knew she had caused this, somehow. He managed to convey without words that he had always found her attractive and not mousy or fat.

All she knew about sex she had learned from books, the books stashed in her father’s bureau drawer under his underwear and pajamas. When her parents were away at choir practice, she took them out. They were very clinical and  did not deal with passion or pleasure, as if those sensations did not belong in the field of sex.

But she knew about erections, because he was pressing his against her body with force. Her heart beginning to race, she wondered if she would be raped. She wondered if she should fight back, break away. But the truth is, she loved the attention.

“Hey, you two!” a voice came up the stairs. “Get down here, will you? Quit messing around.” It was a woman’s voice, and at first she wondered if it was the man’s wife.  When she came downstairs, stumbling a little, she saw it was her brother’s girl friend, her makeup badly askew. The woman grabbed her around the waist and squeezed: “Little Lolita,” she crooned. “Little sexpot.”

The booze continued to flow. Her sister held court in an astonishing display of vanity and narcissism, “looking after” her little sister by ignoring her and handing her over to the good graces of Shivas and his endless noxious drinks. People made less and less sense. She felt more hands on her and didn’t know who they were.

She remembered trying to tell her sister about what was happening to her at these parties, what was being done to her. Done to her by married men with their wives in the next room (or even the same room). Her older sister rolled her eyes a bit and said, “I don’t know why you’re so upset! You don’t seem to have any friends your own age. This way you can have a social outlet with the grownups.”

When she told her a little bit about the seductions, she shook her head.

“Are they having sex with you?” For one second, concern seemed to flicker in her eyes.


“I didn’t think so. You’re exaggerating. I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little smooch and a snuggle.  Look, we’re trying to include you and I really think you should be more grateful.”

Much later, she read about something called Walpurgis Night, a sort of witch’s Sabbath with hideous swarms of demonic figures that swept through communities leaving blackened wreckage in their wake. But this was supposed to be an advantage for her, a social outlet!
How many 14-year-olds wouldn’t give their right arm to be included in a group of adults with full-blown adult privileges?

She would go home after midnight, stagger into the bathroom and throw up all the Chivas Regal. The next morning, pale as a spook, she would throw up again, with her mother hearing her but saying nothing.

Her mother knew. She knew everything. Wanted to be rid of this social liability, to hand her over. Keep her happy. Later that day the family received a bouquet. She knew it was from her brother’s friend, the one who had pinned and groped her. It couldn’t be anyone else.

Had a great time last night," the sloppily-written tag read. "See you next week."

It was not signed. Incredibly, her parents did not ask who had sent it, but put the pink roses in a vase on the table. 

Twenty years later, the family was absolutely horrified to learn that Little Sister had joined AA. It was a total disgrace to the family, who had never had problems like that and never would. It was obviously an act of hostility on her part. They could never understand why she wasn't more grateful for all they had done for her. When she began to see a therapist, it was even worse, for that implied that the family was crazy. Then they decided that SHE was the one who was crazy, and the matter was closed.

Post-script. Some years later my brother's friend, the one who liked to send me roses, lost his job and all his money and (finally) his wife, and shot himself in the head. I suppose these things never end well. For me, they never end at all. 

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An almost normal life (short fiction)

A young woman sits in the waiting room of a psychiatrist’s office. She flips through old magazines full of celebrity diets and recipes for lavish desserts, uninterested.

“OK, Sandra, you can go in now.”

Into the throne room. The palace of no return. Or something like that. Since her bipolar diagnosis (and why is everyone suddenly bipolar? Wasn’t it multiple personality disorder a few years ago?), everything has been turned upside-down.

She is on five different medications, two of them to deal with side effects from the other three. These are (supposedly) working in tandem at relatively low levels which are (supposedly) easier on body and brain. Or at least that’s the theory, until the next one comes along.


“Dr. Turnstile.” (She has never quite gotten used to that name, which made her guffaw the first time she heard it.)

“So how are we doing these days.”

Not a question, but a statement, always in the plural.

“Oh, we’re. .  . just fine. But to tell you the truth, doctor, it could be better.”

“Feeling a touch of depression lately?” (He picks up his clipboard and begins to make notes.

“A touch. It’s been. . .I don’t know. Remember I told you about my brother?”

”The one who got married last year.”

“No, the other one. I mean. . .”

“Refresh my memory.”

“The one I’ve been talking about for the past five sessions.”

“I detect a note of irritability.” He makes another note.

“Yes, a note. He’s in jail now. Embezzlement. The guy is just too clever for his own good. He’s appealing, of course. I don’t mean that kind of appealing.”


“Never mind, it’s just a lame joke.”

“So apart from your brother going to jail. . . “

“Oh, everything’s just hunky-dory.”

“I detect a note of sarcasm.”

“That’s because I’m lying. Everything isn’t hunky-dory. You remember my boy friend, Robert –“

“The accountant."

“Lawyer. We broke up. It was. . . I don’t know, pretty bad.”

“Are you taking your medication?

She blinks. “I wouldn’t dream of going off it.”

“Would you like me to raise the doseage on the Seroquel?”


“The Lamotrigine?”


“The lithium?”


“Then let’s discuss non-medication-oriented strategies for managing the mild depression you seem to be experiencing right now.”


“Yes. You remember what I told you in our previous sessions. The principles of cognitive therapy indicate that feelings arise from thoughts. If thoughts are excessively negative, emotions will soon follow suit.”

“I always had a problem with that one.”

“Yes, I realize there has been some resistance to treatment. This must be overcome if you are to become truly well.”

Can I be truly well if I’m bipolar?”

“Not in the usual sense. But in a relative sense, as opposed to experiencing severe episodes, then it’s possible for someone with bipolar disorder to live an almost normal life."

“Almost normal. I see. So nut cases can only get so much better before they hit a wall.”

"Sandra, that is a completely irresponsible statement.”

“But I’m just sayin’. There’s only so far a bipolar can go. The chain is pretty short.”

“That’s why it is so imperative for you to adhere strictly to the principles of cognitive therapy.”

“You see, there’s where I can’t follow you. I find it hard to believe that every emotion is just an offshoot of a thought, and that every thought can be controlled.”

“Maybe not every thought. But people have more control than they think.”

“Do they now. Then I wonder why we even need medication.”

“Sandra, you know why. You have inherited a chemical imbalance of the brain which tends to trigger extreme mood swings, which in turn skews your thoughts toward the negative.”

“But the thoughts lead to the mood swings, don't they? I'm confused."

“There is no need to twist my words around."

“OK then, cognitive therapy. That means I’m supposed to reframe negative events – “

"Now you’re on the right track.”

“. . . Reframe negative events so that they become positive. Let’s see. So breaking up with Robert was really a good thing.”

“Yes, yes – continue – “

“No matter how much I loved him, I – I don’t know. I can’t think of anything.”

“How about this for an alternate hypothesis. There is a possibility that this breakup will free you to explore other possibilities. You’re young. There are other fish in the sea.”

“Other fish.”

“Maybe even better fish. Have you thought of that? And how about your brother? Can we shed a more positive light on his situation, which is, after all, self-created?"

“Oh, maybe he’ll turn his life around in jail. Have a religious conversion, write a book, marry some woman on the outside who’s willing to wait fifteen years until he gets out.”

“Again, the note of sarcasm.”

“Yeah, but I just can’t do this. This cognitive therapy, it implies we can control just about every thought, and thus every feeling that we have. We can just decide.”

“Yes, more than most people realize.”

“Isn’t this creating your own reality? Isn’t that what crazy people do?”

“Sandra, you are deliberately poking holes in the therapeutic process.”

“Poking holes. Doctor, I wish it were as simple as deciding how to feel.”

“But to a large extent, Sandra, it is. Cognitive therapy is, after all, the primary mode of treatment in modern therapeutic practice.”

"Then why have they stopped saying that about being gay?”

He looks disconcerted, puts down his clipboard.

“You know. They used to say being gay was something you could change if you just decided to. You know, made up your mind.”

“That was many years ago.” He shifts in his chair.

“In other words: yes, you might be attracted to men, but that’s a choice. You can choose something else, a girl in other words, any time you want to.”

“That’s very simplistic.” He is turning a shade of pink.

“But according to the principles of cognitive therapy, it should work. You should be able to change your feelings of attraction to men just by changing your thoughts. Am I right?”

”The DSM specifically states – “

“Forget the DSM. Say you’re gay. You want to be straight, or your mother wants you to be straight. Hell, let’s face it, even with the progress we’ve made, it’s still easier to be straight than gay. You don’t have to explain yourself all the time.  So, just change your thoughts about the subject and you won’t have those feelings any more! Think about girls instead. Finito. Problem solved.”

“We aren’t discussing sexual orientation now, Sandra.”

“Yes we are. Haven’t you been listening?”

Dr. Turnstile has the look of a fish sliding down a chute and landing helplessly in the ocean. It is imperative that they change the subject before he loses any more ground.

Sandra fixes him with her incandescent blue eyes.

“It just comes down to a decision. Am I right? But the thing is, doctor – you haven’t made that decision yet. Have you?”

A young woman sits in the waiting room of a psychiatrist’s office. She flips through an old magazine with screaming headlines about Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest on the cover, bored.

“OK, Sandra, you can go in now.”

She tosses the magazine on the table, gets up from her chair and walks into Dr. Turnstile’s office.

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