Friday, May 18, 2007

Down a Beer for Bertrand...

It's the birthday of British philosopher, logician, mathematician, and social critic Bertrand Russell, author of Why I Am Not A Christian and In Praise of Idleness, among myriad other interesting works.

Here's a particularly apt quote, given that today is Bike to Work Day:

"Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves."

And another, particularly apt all the time in the land of bilk and money:

"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly. "

And while you're toasting Mr. Russell, raise a glass to all those fine human beings who decided to depart from convention today and take their metabolically-powered vehicles, despite the looming threat of rain. À votre santé!


gmr2048 said...

man, who *wouldn't* bike in today? I mean, really. Free tshirt. Free cliff bar? Those car divers don't know what they're missing! haHA! Suckers!

AteMrYeats said...

Excellent photo.

Freewheel said...

Those are good quotes - applicable to many things.

iconoclasst said...

a-mr-y, I could swear I took that pic, but Butch claims it's his work (my idea, and perhaps my hand). Alas, my pix are usually of such execrable quality that I'm forced to yield to his memory.

DT said...

I remember that pic, it's from Pizza Paradiso. I've got a couple pics like that, so I wouldn't be surprised if both you and Bush took the same pics...

Kent said...

Dr. Iconoclasst,

I have aspired for many years to study philosophy and have dabbled in an amateur would seem that you're a venerable sage.... I've read a bit and taken an intro to Philosphy course at NOVA (mostly the Greeks) and was wondering, if you could recommend one read - a first read - to someone trying to break the surface...what would it be?

Oh and you're right on, that Pampered Peddlers guy is missing the point entirely. From my experience though, there's no point bothering with dudes like that, they'll never get it.


iconoclasst said...

buKit -

"Venerable sage"...ha! (Sorry, had to laugh.) "Venerable bullshit arteest" is probably much closer to the truth. Bit of a dabbler myself, and of the genus amateur, to be sure.

Listing but one text is tough (impossible?), because some materials are bona fide philosophy, while others are considered social criticism/commentary. And really, anyone who claims (s)he has a favorite philosophical work probably hasn't read much philosophy, n'est ce pas?

Thus, the following list of what I (and, more importantly, some true venerable sages) consider seminal works, some more accessible than others, and presented in no particular order other than that dictated extemporaneously by the tyranny of the subconscious mind (see what I mean by “venerable bullshit arteest”?):

Friedrich Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil and Human, All Too Human
Henri Lefebvre - The Production of Space
Jean Baudrillard - Simulacra and Simulation and Symbolic Exchange and Death
Guy Debord - Society of the Spectacle
Raoul Vaneigem - The Revolution of Everyday Life and Declaration of the Rights of Human Beings
Martin Heidegger - Being and Time
Maurice Merleau-Ponty - Phenomenology of Perception
Pierre Bourdieu - Language and Symbolic Power

I deliberately avoided some of the more ponderous works from certain philosophers/critics (can you say “Sartre” and “Kant” and “Hegel”?) and also tried to keep it relatively contemporary, interesting? Mix and match as you see fit.

gwadzilla said...


did you put absynthe on your cheerios?