I close my eyes, yet I still see
I can not hide from what's inside of me
I hear my thoughts, but they're not clear
And now I tremble with fear
No one can tell me what's sane
You see the tears I cry
But you can't feel my pain
No title can classify me
I'm a person with feelings
A number I refuse to be
Don't try to live my life
You cannot talk for me
Now I'm on the brink, brink of insanity
Sometimes I stare into space
I try to think about another place
Where happiness I'll see
I'll find a place for me and find some sanity
Sometimes I look at you
And I wonder what will I do
Will my mind stay intact
How will I react, will I do any harm to you
Open my eyes, but I can't see
Maybe the hatred has blinded me
There's not a sound, yet I still hear
Now the pain is so clear
Sometimes I stop to think
Or maybe my thinking just stops
Doesn't matter anyway
No one hears what I say, I'm on the brink of insanity
Well I know him but not his name
In everyone, yet not the same
Play with the cards i'm dealt, worse I never felt
I'm playing a sick man's game

Many years ago, around this time I went to Kashmir. This was a song about a region my ancesters grew up near and one that is dear to my heart. When I visited there during the summers, I grew up in its apple orchards and lush green meadows, dreamed on the banks of its freshwater streams. I went to school to see the local children, remember them sitting on straw mats and remembering tables by heart. After school, I saw that little children would rush half-way home, tear off their uniforms and dive into the cold water. Then quickly dry their hair, so their parents would not find out what they had done. It brings tears in my eyes as I recall it. Sometimes, my niece felt daring and would skip an entire day of school to play cricket.

The village I lived in lies in the foothills of the Himalayas. During summer breaks, I would trek to the meadows high in the mountains carrying salt slates for the family cattle, sit around a campfire and play the flute for hours. The chilling winter would turn the boys and girls of our small village into one huge family - huddled together in a big room, we would listen to stories till late into the night. Sipping hot cups of the traditional salt tea, the village elder who had inherited the art of storytelling would transport us to the era of his tales. He had never been to school but he remembered hundreds of beautiful stories by heart as my grandmother had done when I was a little child.

As the days and months passed, and as the routes the militants took to cross the border became known to Indian security forces, the bodies began to arrive. Lines of young men would disappear on a ridge as they tried to cross over or return home. The stadiums where we had played cricket and soccer, the beautiful green parks where we had gone on school excursions as children, were turned into martyrs' graveyards. One after another, those who had played in those places were buried there, with huge marble epitaphs detailing their sacrifice.

I had known that. But I visited Kashmir every time some maniac pulled the trigger and killed innocents. I would run to my room, throw a few shirts, jeans, a notebook and my camera into my backpack, lock my room and head for the airport. I began calling my friends in Kashmir to find out where the massacre had occurred. I wanted to know which village it was in.

Now as I recall: "Nobody cares about us," an elder told me. He did not speak like a Kashmiri. And he hated Muslims. I could not muster the courage to tell him that many of my friends were. I told him I was a Hindu from Kolkata. As I walked around, trying to locate the people from my part of Kashmir, a 50-something man in a white kurta appeared out of a narrow, dingy lane.

As the death toll of Kashmiris mounted, the world saw the violent movement only as the outcome of a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan which had its roots in the 1947 partition. India always called the rebellion a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist movement, while Pakistan projected it as a jihad - a Kashmiri struggle to join Pakistan just because they shared a common faith. Tragedy of Kashmir owes its origin to conflicts of many world leaders. They unfortunately overlooked the sign posts and took wrong turns. That speeding prooved suicidical on mountain roads. But shelter was taken under banality, ambiguity, inanities and what is worse disinformation. Indian people have been fed on lies and illusions. Facts and situations about Kashmir have been twisted on the fond hope that tomorrow may be all right.

But I share a bond with Kashmir. And it is a strong bond. I belong to Kashmir, but as a region we are partners in the grief and misery of our beautiful valley. Today, there are more than 500 martyrs' graveyards dotting Kashmir, and every epitaph standing on a grave tells a story - a tragic story of generations. Engraving epitaphs has become a lucrative business.

Today I decided to bend my rules a little bit and write a factual daylog.

It occurs to me that all the energy I use in a day can be easily converted to Joules, the basic SI unit of energy. I use electricity, gasoline, and food to power just about everything I do, and there are very few things that I can't keep track of directly. Now a great deal of energy is wasted in efficiency losses here (especially in lighting and driving), but I'm not figuring how much energy I'm applying here, I'm figuring how much energy usage I'm responsible for, which includes efficiency loss. Besides, if we start considering efficiency losses, the definition of efficiency comes into play. One might consider the energy that is wasted heating a car's engine as an efficiency loss, unless one is driving in the winter when this heat proves very useful in warming the driver.

I eat somewhat less than 2,000 food calories a day. Electricity is metered and I get billed for it every month. I fill up my car's gas tank weekly from a metered pump. Heat and water are included with my rent, however, so I can't keep track of those very easily. If I consider a typical summer day I can exclude heat, but I'll have to ignore the energy involved in pumping water into my apartment unfortunately, as I have no good way to estimate that with any degree of accuracy. Likewise, I'll ignore the energy I am responsible for at work, because my share of the total is negligible and would make little difference if I wasn't there.

I eat roughly 2,000 food calories per day. 1 food calorie = 4.184E3 Joules, so this works out to a daily total of about 8E6 Joules.

My electric bill averages out to about 200 kiloWatt-hours per month. 1 kWh = 3.6110E06 Joules, so this works out to a total of 720E6 Joules per month, or 24E6 Joules per day.

I fill up my car with roughly 8 gallons of gas in a normal week (I have a half-hour freeway commute to work). Of course this is highly variable depending on how many errands I have to run that week, or if I'm driving to visit my parents, but a normal week is typically about 8 gallons (1.14 per day). A gallon of gas contains about 100E6 Joules, so my daily gasoline usage is about 110E6 Joules.

So to compare:

Food            Electricity     Gasoline        Total Daily Energy Use
2,000kCal       5,700kCal       26,000kCal      34,000kCal
2kWh            6.7kWh          30kWh           39kWh
8MJ             24MJ            110MJ           140MJ
0.01 gal/gas    0.25 gal/gas    1.1 gal/gas     1.4 gal/gas
6% of total     17% of total    77% of total

This is about 50 GigaJoules per year, or 500 gallons of gas, which is roughly the energy you can get from the nuclear fusion of half a gallon of deuterium fuel.

For more fun with energy, see:

It's Sunday, and there are gale force winds from the east - that means cold! Brrrr.

It's Sunday - the Biblical day of rest. For some perhaps. It's usually a busy day for me - everyone (myself included, so I'm not complaining!) expecting a huge roast dinner. Then there's washing to sort, the ironing, all the usual stuff. Plus last minute homework (should've been done days ago) - 'Help me please mum'; and an enormous Sunday paper with umpteen sections strewn across the coffee table to sit there, mostly unread, until next Saturday.

Looking out the window - nothing's resting outside either. Flocks of birds fly erratically against the wind - 'Why go that way?', I wonder. It crosses my mind for a moment that they might be swallows beginning their migration, but they fly south not east, and, I'm not sure, but I think they should've gone by now. Barely turned leaves and ripe fruits fight to hold onto their branches a little longer.

Then up from the shrubbery, a red admiral butterfly, looking overlarge and awkward as it flaps its wings - also heading into the wind, heading east. Struggling.

Why do we make life unnecessarily difficult for ourselves? How good it would be to soar above it all and go just where the wind takes us.

Basted eggs.

Always a promising way to start an adventure; getting thrown out of a bar at last call and having Richard say "Let's get some basted eggs". Next thing you know, we're at Denny's.

Just in case you're not sure what a basted egg is, don't feel alone. Nobody really knows for sure. If you ask a dozen short order cooks you'll get a dozen different interpretations. The only constant is that it is an egg that is somehow cooked. Currently, the dishwasher at my Denny's is the only one who has a definate idea of what "basted egg" really means; I think it somehow involves frying & steaming simultaniously.

Back to last night. I was a man on a mission; I knew, walking in the door, that I was going to make a serious order - something not on the menu, something defnately not "good" for me.

and for the the coup de grace
  • two basted eggs, face-to-face with two more strips of bacon sandwitched between them.
Somewhere along the lines the words "tell the cook that, if he does this right, there's an extra five bucks in it for him". I take my basted eggs seriously and I don't want some cook making a mess of them.

I won't go too far into the details of consumption; it was a big decadent meal. There's something erotic about dipping fried chicken into liquid egg yolks. Dipping that combination into the gravy just pushed the drunken food eating to another dimension.

Nine hours later and I still feel well fed.

Prefatory remark: We are (all of us) exactly the kind of people we worry about becoming. And none of us is ever going to realize it. Also, I've noticed that I use 'And' to start a lot of sentences, I think I do it because it sounds dramatic and deep, some kind of rhetorical flourish that adds profundity to something obvious. My apologies!

Ennui and its lack .....

Today this is how things stand: all ambition has been erased and then the bits that were left over (there are always leftovers) were ground into dust, baked into bread and sold piecemeal to fate.

So verbose and also shut up. This is how it really is. After three days of solid drinking and 'partying' I've been evacuated of all human feeling. That I know why it is the case doesn't really change the fact that this is the case.


  • Brendan is moving back to Halifax, and from there he hopes to move to Japan.
  • Matt is talking about doing editing professionally instead of doing his Ph.D.
  • Peru is still waiting for his cheque, and I imagine that is very irritating.
  • Sara reports to me that Dylan went on a date last night. This seems exciting.

Castles, Clouds, Vomit and UFO-Ghosts.

The last fifteen or so times I've painted (i.e., all summer long)there have been no real difficulties and I've been quite happy both with the process and with the product. Friday was different for the first time in a while. Same ol' spot but new and expensive colours... and I'm all gung-ho wanting to do something new. I didn't end up doing anything very new at all, though I did manage to add one eyed UFO-Ghosts to the iconography, which is nice. Instead, I got all hot and bothered and worried about the piece not coming off nicely, maybe because I'm used to liking my stuff (in a way that I never did before this year). It was strange to really worry about it not coming off well... I basically wasted enough paint for 3 pieces trying to 'fix' the 'mistakes' I made while painting. It was strange though, perhaps, a helpful reminder that I can still fuck up even with my semi-played out styles. In the end I did like the piece, but it wasn't exciting and by now I should be moving onto something new!

And also, bombing has been ridiculous lately. I keep trying to do new stuff on the fly and it ends up looking retarded. I do, however, have a good new idea which can't but be awesome. Castles, clouds, maybe some vomit...even a dinosaur or two.

RIP Jacques Derrida 1930-2004

So I really was a bit surprised that Derrida left this earth on Friday. Having recently seen the Derrida movie, and noting how healthy and vigourous Derrida actually is, I assumed he had at five or ten years left in him. But I suppose cancer takes even the healthy and that's what we all have to look forward to unless something changes dramatically.

The final years of Derrida's life proved to be quite interesting and fruitful philosophically, and (for me at least) his later works and inquiries showed how human he really was (when I began thinking of him just as a trickster). I actually feel that we've lost a bit of our depth with the loss of Derrida and he'll certainly be missed.

Friendship and hatred go out together.

And this something I've yet to fully realize. You can only love someone if it's possible for you also to hate them. Otherwise what you have isn't friendship but an association, looser or closer.

Do I even have friends?

That is a hard question, and one I doubt I'll answer for myself.

The bigger question is if I'm capable of being a friend myself, and that's something I'm even less sure of!

Your advice is the subtlest of poisons, and mine too... and moreso!

Is I really so shallow as all that?

I don't think what I am is so much shall as vapid, or vacuous. I'm empty of a lot of things, but that doesn't necessarily mean I lack the capacity for depth (though that might certainly be the case, and facts point to it....). But if we want to talk essences, and I'm in the mood to do just that, then mine might very well.... full to the brim!

(with what is an other and a harder inquiry!)

Achille C. Varzi

The history of what follows:

poikax says Have you ever heard of this guy Achille C. Varzi? (http://www.columbia.edu/~av72/bio.html) Came up in a google search for 'spatial theory'.

A paraphrase of my response: No I haven't heard of him, someone should do a writeup or just cut and paste his negative biography on E2.

poikax says The true shit indeed. His auto-bio owned me, renewed my faith in philosophy. Definitely C&P time. I'm off to Maine in T-minus 6min.s for a wedding so its on you playa'.

So I've taken it upon myself to do what is required of me. Here, friends, is Achille C. Varzi's....

Truly Negative Biographic Sketch

This is not my official CV, so don’t take it seriously. But then, again, didn’t Wittgenstein say that we should not expound on what we cannot speak about? (I am not sure he wasn’t cheating, but I can’t help disagreeing with those who dislike that thought.)

I don’t live in Italy now, but I was not born in the USA (and not in this century). I’m not dead either, thank goodness, at least not yet. And I am not a student anymore.

My work has nothing to do with engineering or business administration, but I don’t mind that. It never occurred to me that philosophy might not be the right choice. On the other hand, no one ever told me philosophy doesn’t pay well, so I shouldn’t say I don’t have regrets. Don’t we all?

My first book (Holes, of which I was not the only author) was about nothing. Or maybe that’s not quite true; it just was not about the usual sort of thing a materialist philosopher writes about. For holes are not material objects, hence their identity and persistence conditions are not easy to pin down. (Nor is it easy to account for their causal role, if any. Don’t forget Locke!) Yet there’s no doughnut without a hole, so one cannot just ignore the issue. At least, we didn’t think one can.

Not that the other books are concerned with more solid stuff. For instance, Parts and Places (also not by me alone) does not dismiss boundaries and empty receptacles. And Events isn’t exactly about material things, either. Likewise for other, non-dissimilar editorial projects on vagueness, time-travel, or the borders of Wyoming.

In logic, I didn’t do much for a while except worrying about truth-value gaps. Of course gluts aren’t less tricky, so I could not ignore them. But I cannot say I’m an expert and An Essay in Universal Semantics does not provide a theory that many would endorse. I haven’t met anybody who dislikes it, actually, but neither have I met somebody who really likes it.

As for the rest, I won’t add much. My work in progress is not devoted only to such topics but it goes without saying that I am not done with it yet. One thing I’m not ashamed of is that I do not just write for the "philosophical community". Somehow I don’t think that that would be right. Nor do I write exclusively for the grown-ups. But Roberto and I have not found the time (or perhaps the energy) to do something useful with our philosophical stories for children. Not yet.

And do I dislike teaching? Of course not. On the contrary, there is not much in life that I like better—were it not for the vast amounts of time spent grading.

And now for some more opinionated rambling....

To own things is to become less human. To live in a house someone else built, only slightly less so. And who really thinks of themself as a genuinely good person? Is it as easy as all that? I wonder if in my life I've met someone like that. It seems possible, even probable, but what would that feeling be like? To feel at home in life for a change! But that isn't where we're headed. Unforunate and aimless wanderers all of us!

But beautiful and horrible nonetheless!

And uncertain.

How do you feel? It's URGENT!

  • Well I still feel exactly the same way about copyright laws and stealing other people's words for your own purposes.
  • I feel worried that we've changed society so much to accomodate automobiles and I also worry that we haven't quite sensed where that reshaping has taken us, not yet and not fully.
  • I feel much better about my relationship with the woman I love. I feel like we're going in the same direction for a change and it's really quite nice.
  • But damn if I don't MISS her more than ever because of that!
  • I feel more comfortable reading Kant than I have in a long time, but I'm still not at home in his thinking, I still feel like I'm reading Kant wrong somehow and that the beautiful and human feeling I get out of it might be a misinterpretation (and isn't that something to worry about?).
  • I still don't know how I feel about my future, about my chances of getting into doctoral programmes, about whether or not I want to continue swimming in academia, about how much I want to travel if I do at all, about where I could possibly live, about a lot of things in this general vein.
  • Lately I've felt happy about my parents, they're good people and genuinely proud of me. But, of course that one is a double-edged sword: I feel like I can't really repay their kindness and I also feel like I'm aloof and unconcerned (a lot of the time) with them. And that's something to change!

O Nostalgia! Thy name is foodstuffs!


...how can I become something different than this thing which I am?

The day goes as usually. Nothing out of the ordinary, except this horrible pain in my head. The lights art the LARP last night made me sick.

Eating the McDonald's I couldn't stomach last night, I sit back in my chair and absorb myself in the various message boards, and anime that distract me from what I really need to be doing.

Everything goes along, and then I find that Christopher Reeve has died. I was suprised dispite knowing full well his condition. I guess those little news blerbs of him regaining mobility in his left finger told me he was going to be whole again.

That turned out fine.

I wasan't a big fan. I had only seen the Superman movies when they first came out, then one movie on tv about time travel. I don't even know why I'm upset about this.

Yay, my first daylog.

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