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I think I like Montaigne.

I was reading his essay today entitled “That Intention is the Judge of our Actions,” which is basically a brief statement on how not to be a total scumbag.  In fact, it’s so brief, I’m actually going to quote the whole damn thing for you.

“‘Tis a saying, “That death discharges us of all our obligations.” I know
some who have taken it in another sense. Henry VII., King of England,
articled with Don Philip, son to Maximilian the emperor, or (to place him
more honourably) father to the Emperor Charles V., that the said Philip
should deliver up the Duke of Suffolk of the White Rose, his enemy, who
was fled into the Low Countries, into his hands; which Philip accordingly
did, but upon condition, nevertheless, that Henry should attempt nothing
against the life of the said Duke; but coming to die, the king in his
last will commanded his son to put him to death immediately after his
decease. And lately, in the tragedy that the Duke of Alva presented to
us in the persons of the Counts Horn and Egmont at Brussels,
–[Decapitated 4th June 1568]–there were very remarkable passages, and
one amongst the rest, that Count Egmont (upon the security of whose word
and faith Count Horn had come and surrendered himself to the Duke of
Alva) earnestly entreated that he might first mount the scaffold, to the
end that death might disengage him from the obligation he had passed to
the other. In which case, methinks, death did not acquit the former of
his promise, and that the second was discharged from it without dying.
We cannot be bound beyond what we are able to perform, by reason that
effect and performance are not at all in our power, and that, indeed, we
are masters of nothing but the will, in which, by necessity, all the
rules and whole duty of mankind are founded and established: therefore
Count Egmont, conceiving his soul and will indebted to his promise,
although he had not the power to make it good, had doubtless been
absolved of his duty, even though he had outlived the other; but the King
of England wilfully and premeditately breaking his faith, was no more to
be excused for deferring the execution of his infidelity till after his
death than the mason in Herodotus, who having inviolably, during the time
of his life, kept the secret of the treasure of the King of Egypt, his
master, at his death discovered it to his children.–[Herod., ii. 121.]

I have taken notice of several in my time, who, convicted by their
consciences of unjustly detaining the goods of another, have endeavoured
to make amends by their will, and after their decease; but they had as
good do nothing, as either in taking so much time in so pressing an
affair, or in going about to remedy a wrong with so little
dissatisfaction or injury to themselves. They owe, over and above,
something of their own; and by how much their payment is more strict and
incommodious to themselves, by so much is their restitution more just
meritorious. Penitency requires penalty; but they yet do worse than
these, who reserve the animosity against their neighbour to the last
gasp, having concealed it during their life; wherein they manifest little
regard of their own honour, irritating the party offended in their
memory; and less to their the power, even out of to make their malice die
with them, but extending the life of their hatred even beyond their own.
Unjust judges, who defer judgment to a time wherein they can have no
knowledge of the cause! For my part, I shall take care, if I can, that
my death discover nothing that my life has not first and openly declared.”

WASN’T THAT WONDERFUL? 

Now, before I even start to talk about that, let’s talk about the word PHASE.

Now, some people are not FAZED by the fact that there are two words that sound like this, and have decided to gradually PHASE in a new era of interchangeable words, where you could switch PHASES in a paragraph and use either one of two words that have completely different definitions while remaining completely UNFAZED by your own heinous molestation of the laws of the English language.

IN SHORT:

PHASE: To gradually move into or pass through. Ex: “To phase out the exploding Prius.” Nerdy definition: To pass through something as though it is immaterial; ex: “Kitty Pryde can phase through solid objects!”

FAZE: To cause to doubt, or to doubt. I know the context, probably everyone else does too. Ex: “The cat was unfazed by the sudden appearance of a second laser pointer, and redoubled his efforts to capture them.”

DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE

OR I WILL SHOW UP AT YOUR HOUSE AND SING “ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE” INTO YOUR EAR WITH A MEGAPHONE.

Now back to Montaigne.

In my opinion, if I am going to take anyone’s advice on matters of honor, it will either be a 15th-century Frenchman,  a samurai, or Brad Pitt. I don’t know what Brad Pitt’s stance on honor is, but if he told it to me, I would take his advice, because let’s face it, he’s kinda awesome.

I agree with Montaigne there.  Your actions define your words, not the other way around.  Only what you do can justify what you say. Et cetera.

In other news, I’ve been reading Jung.  I really do love reading his stuff. It’s so nice to be reading a complex (yet bizzarely intuitive) argument against the thought that evil is merely the “absence” of good, or privatio boni, and then to have the author pause and note that the phrase privatio boni sounds remarkably like a euphemism.

I’m not even joking, that actually happened. And it was wonderful.

Now here we go. Finally. It’s been two nights now that I’ve had something to say, but finally we’ve gotten to the moment of truth: I have nothing at all coming to mind. Right now all I’m doing is writing about nothing coming to mind.

In other news, I’ve got the best dinner ever. Forget the dining hall–a big piece of cheese, a big piece of bread, and a pear is all I need. Once I’m done with my evening “morning” pages, I’ll sit down, slap it all onto my one plate, pour some blue Gatorade into my Dalek mug, and chow down while writing my latest story.

Hey, here’s something! A writing tip. I was thinking about it the other day, and perhaps the best bit of advice I got was from a screenwriter, who advised me to try and encapsulate each story I write in one sentence.

Before you start writing.  Before you start mapping out the story, even perhaps before you have characters. Sit down. Write the story in one sentence.

A short sentence; not one of those mideaveal sentences that goes on and on, like all those 15th-century Frenchmen loved to write; sometimes those just grate on the nerves, and you really want to skip ahead, particularly in the greatest and most notorious users of this style: Descartes, Montaigne, and even Alexandre Dumas (one of these things is not like the other!) fall into this category.

No, write a REAL sentence.

Then do three sentences–one for each major movement of the story. Let’s do Lord of the Rings in a sentence.

A band of heroes must come together and carry a powerful object to a volcano in the land of darkness, to defeat the evil wizard once and for all.

Now Lord of the Rings in three sentences, one for each book.

A band of heroes travels through forests, caves, and enchanted woodlands on a quest to defeat the Dark Lord. Even though they are split up, they still possess the strength to change fate and guide the course of events.  Finally, as the world begins to fall into chaos, the dark lord’s greatest weapon is destroyed, and ONCE AGAIN THE DAY IS SAVED, THANKS TO THE POWERPUFF GIRLS.

Can you see how it helps? How it makes the story just a little bit easier to grasp?  Even just a bit of help is good. A bit of clarity in the story-writing process.

Twelve minutes left. Part of me is tempted to go and watch the latest episode of Doctor Who. Who would know? (ha, ha).

But no. I will not succumb.

I actually am running out of ideas, which is a problem.

I’ve just added a metric crapload of music to my ipod. A lot of Irish folk/rock and Beethoven. Interesting contrast, there.

I like Beethoven. There’s an exuberance and a mania to his music that just strikes a chord with me.

GET IT?

But seriously, enough music jokes. They’re starting to fall flat. If I don’t find some sharp-er ones, I’ll be be-clef-t of words, and frankly to continue treble-ing you with bad puns like this would be a base treachery indeed.

…yeah.

I packed six books for college. I brought Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, Hodgeman’s “Areas” and “More,” Jung’s “Memories/Dreams/Reflections,” a collection of Jung’s writings on the subject of evil, and The Ghost Map.  Oh, and the computer game known as Prototype. Why did I bring that? I have no idea.  In retrospect I should have instead brought my copy of Snatch. That movie I would watch every night forever until the end of always.

All the cicadas are dying. It’s sad. I really am not fond of seeing things die. But they’ve had their fun, I imagine–they got to fly around in the sun, getting it on with one another, making really loud irritating noises while we’re trying to study…

Heyyyyyyyy, cicadas seem to have a lot in common with UC Santa Cruz students!

THAT WAS A LOW BLOW. I APOLOGIZE.

I watched Fight Club last night.

[spoilers]

With friends. It was awesome, even if it was a slightly innacurate representation of Multiple Personality Disorder. You see, normally in cases of MPD, I would advise seeing a doctor…and not shooting yourself in the face.  I think that form of therapy went out when Descartes finally succumbed to the crab-person mind-slaving machine that had been stalking him for four decades. The irony is staggering, as was Descartes.

Well, I’ve got 45 seconds left on the clock. I hope this episode of Doctor Who is entertaining, at the very least–I would hate for it to be boring. That would be sad–but so far, I haven’t been bored yet. I’ve had a few “WHAT THE F” moments, but no boredom.

THAT IS ALL.

–Tor

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