Wednesday 4th of August 2021

an amusement park for philosophers…

This is an unreal hall, like a pinball machine parlour where a dozen skilled philosophers are playing, scoring extra points by shaking their individual pinned platform without going “tilt” which would be instant disqualification…
While pressing the side buttons to push the steel ball back up, they concentrate on the ball that zaps from electrified magnetic mushroom to electrified magnetic mushroom, until the levers miss it and the ball falls in the bottom back hole… Some of them play two-balls, three-balls, five-balls all together. A penny a ball, the games are cheap… Instead of going “tilt” or reaching maximum points, one of the machine goes: “Jesus!”… Another one goes: "Allah”… But the Queen of Denial (the Nile) is having an orgasm…: Aaaah… Free game. Who made the machines?

Thus we enter the world of Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie…

Published in German last September (2019), Habermas’s Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie (History of Philosophy or something like that)... spans over 3,000 years in about 1,700 pages. At more than one million words on the subject, it marks the apogee of Habermas' career. Habermas seeks a thorough reconceptualisation of the gamut of human history. “Philosophical problems,” he writes, are distinctive from merely “scientific” ones in their “synthetic force.” For Habermas, the fragmentation of modern life has hardly exhausted philosophy’s capacity for bold questions and architectonic structure. Sure, but philosophie has nothing to do with the price of fish. Meanwhile, sciences are killing esoteric philosophy in its bed of straw where la cucarracha frolics. Before this the divine kings made sure we went on stylistic errants with muskets and pilums, while they ruled the world and made us build palaces. Making sense of all this is useless because there is no sense, unless we invent one.

One of the problem with Habermas is being a philosophical secular bod who accept religious beliefs in the shaping of our societies… Yes, we know the history of humankind is based on angsts, fear and arse tightening… We’re monkeys who thus invented the toilet bowl. What we need to know is how to get out of the present slump with Trump without falling asleep or dead with Joeeee… Our troubles have their origins in our beliefs in them divine kings… They still rule in disguises behind cash-gods… So, like Diderot we need to hang our muddy boots, after having killed the two-headed beasts… But we’re useless at it.

All the dissertations in the world do not teach us how to make bread...

Antoine Girard, sieur de Saint-Amant (1594- 1661) was a libertine French poet, possibly a clever bullshitter, who enjoyed all the pleasures of life. He liked to eat, drink, smoke and be lazy.

According to Antoine, his father was a merchant who had been a sailor that had commanded for 22 years “a fleet of ships for Queen Elizabeth" – a statement that had no verification. Antoine "obtained a patent of nobility", and sucked up to various noblemen, including the duc de Retz and the comte d'Harcourt. Antoine saw a bit of military service and spent time in various countries, including England, which he hated and inspired him to write a "violent poem" about that country, Albion (1643). He also went to Poland where he held a court appointment for two years. Whoever send him there must have had a sense of the ridicule.

Saint-Amant wrote a lot of poetry. His Albion and Rome Ridicule set the style of the new "burlesque poem". In his later years he went for some serious subjects without much success and produced an epic, Moyse sauvé (1653) (Moses is saved). He is mostly remembered for his bawdy literary works and Bacchanalian songs... Débauche is one of the most remarkable convivial poems of its kind.

Saint-Amant's poem “Le Paresseux”, written in middle French, is a master work dedicated to indolence, idleness, laziness, lethargy… My guess is that he suffered from chronic fatigue, from time to time (or hangovers from boozing too much), but enjoyed it...

Le paresseux… (The Lazy Guy)

Overwhelmed with laziness and melancholy,
I rest in a bed in which I feel ragged,

Like a boneless hare sleeping in a paté,

Or like a Don Quijote inside his dreary folly.

There, without worrying about the Italian wars,

Count Palatine, nor about his royalness,

I dedicate a beautiful hymn to this idleness

Where my languid soul is as if half-buried.

I find this pleasure so sweet and so charming,

That I believe goods will come to me while sleeping,

And I already see my paunch expand from these filling,

And hating work so much, that, with eyes half-closed,

One hand out of the sheets, my dear Baudoin, barely

Could I bring myself to write these verses for you.

Translation by Jules Letambour

Note: we've already discussed Habermas at:

Note: I used the pinball machine analogy rather than the one-arm bandit (gambling machine) to parallel the world of philosophy. When playing the pinball, there is no other rewards than extra games and showing skill at preventing the ball to be swallowed by the black hole, until getting maximum points for skilled uselessness.

In gambling machines, whatever we do, we loose as we leave the result to mechanical (now electronic) calculations designed to make players loose no matter how many times they win.

Life is more like a gambling machine. Philosophy is more like a pinball machine. We, the V.I.P plebs, play in the gambling parlours (or on our dumbPhones for Badbet) hoping for the jackpot.

The bogans play “video games” (all day) where the characters are major nasty brutes on all sides — none good — with swords, horns and thorns, and a useless armour considering a well-aimed single thumb press of a console-button blows them up sky high… Fun...

never leave this cup empty of wine...




Bacchus! You watch our debauchery,

By your holy portrait that I sketch

By illuminating my muzzle

From wine I drink without water;

By your crown of ivy,

By the splendour of this tall glass,

By your dreaded grape,

By your eternal health,

By the honour of your jolly fiestas,

Through your countless conquests,

By blows never given, but drunk,

By your glorious attributes,

By the howling of the Maenads,

By the high taste of carbonnades,

By your whites and clarets,

By the most famous cabaret,

By the sweet song of your orgies,

By the radiance of red faces,

By table open to all comers,

By the fine bits of your cabal,

By the drum and the cymbal,

By your bells which are pots,

By your burps that are signs,

By your high and sacred mysteries,

By your furious panthers,

By this place so fresh and so sweet,

By your goat, bawdy like us,

By your fat bitch Ariana,

By the old man riding the donkey,

By the satyrs, your cousins,

By the flower of the best grapes,

By these bisques so famous,

By these smoked tongues of beef,

By this tobacco, your only incense,

By all innocent pleasures,

By this spice-lacquered ham,

By this long sausage pendant,

By the majesty of this pitcher,

By mass, tope, jack and hooker,

By this olive that I eat,

By this cheerful orange passport,

By this old cheese rot,

In short by Gillot, your favourite,

Receive us in the happy troop,

Of the frank knights of the cup,

And, to show us you are divine,

Never leave this cup empty of wine.







Translation by Jules Letambour...

don't panic, become a philosopher....

If you haven't yet spent a few moments this year staring out the window, chin in hand and ruminating on the meaning of life — or its absence — then the chances are it's only a matter of time. 

Friedrich Nietzsche once observed that when things are going well, we tend not to bother ourselves too much with the how or the why of our delight. 

Pain, on the other hand, makes philosophers of us all.

And right now, there seems to be more than enough pain to go around. COVID-19 is laying waste to people's lives and livelihoods, outrage over racial injustice has thousands out on the streets, and — in case it had slipped your mind, what with everything else going on — the planet continues to heat up at a terrifying rate.

So don't be surprised if in the middle of all this gloom, you find snatches of Philosophy's Greatest Hits rattling around in your head like old Beatles tunes. 

You might, for example, be using your enforced quasi-leisure to embark on some sort of self-help journey, bearing in mind Socrates' famous observation that "the unexamined life is not worth living". 

You might be resolving to keep your chin up and your attitude positive, recalling Leibniz's dictum that "we live in the best of all possible worlds" (this one also works surprisingly well if you're in a bitter, ironic frame of mind).

Or — confined at home with a messy flatmate, or three bored kids and a moody spouse — you might be pondering the wisdom of Sartre's deathless phrase: "Hell is other people."

Sartre was an existentialist, a major figure in a philosophical tradition that's making something of a comeback in 2020 (along with stoicism, of which more below). But what is it about this mid-20th-century thinker that makes him relevant to life in the 21st?

Why Sartre suits self-isolation 

In many respects, Sartre's philosophy was tailor-made for the rigours of self-isolation. As an existentialist, he subscribed to all those lugubrious theses about each of us being cast adrift in an absurd, meaningless universe, battling constantly against the dread and nausea occasioned by our own cosmic insignificance. 

But from all this he drew some surprisingly upbeat conclusions.

For one thing, Sartre believed that the absence of any divine plan or purpose gave human life a high degree of possibility and freedom — from God, but also from each other. 

He argued that "existence precedes essence", meaning that who and what we are — our "essence" — is determined by our behaviour and actions, rather than by some sort of innate nature, or by a set of qualities projected onto us by someone else.


Read more:



Read from top and the many philosophical soup kitchen articles by Gus on this site....