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Es ist eine Hauptkunst des Philosophen, sich nicht mit Fragen zu beschäftigen, die ihn nichts angehen.

It is one of the chief skills of the philosopher not to occupy himself with questions which do not concern him.

Wittgenstein´s journals, 1 May 1915, tr. Anscombe

This vital abstention.


1. So i invited Juniper for a spontaneous coffee. Turns out she has a computer course about social media on Monday (she told me last week but i forgot) so couldn’t come. She looked pleasingly upset and said: “You could probably explain about all this Facebook and Twitter better than the teacher. He is so boring. He is a…what is the word, someone who just knows computers and nothing else?”

“A geek? A German geek?”

She savoured the word. “A geek? That sounds very strange.”

i have taught her several terms of abuse, including “scum” and “filth”. All my favourite curse words are new to her; she looks appalled that i not merely know but use such words, that i casually refer to the 19-year-old should-be-in-Nam apprentice engineer shits as “filthy scum” and wish them to be dropped butt naked into the middle of Afghanistan or Baghdad to be sodomized by Muslims.

2. Anyway, we arranged a non-spontaneous coffee on Wednesday. She said: “I hope you will not be bored to have coffee with me again.” i just gave her a special Elberry disgusted/amused headshake. Later i reflected that she is so wonderful because she has no idea how wonderful she is. She said brightly: “‘And you must give me all the secret information about how your party was on Saturday.” i froze and hummed and hawed, remembering two other teachers talking about porn shops and dildos and anal sex, then said: “It was very manly and virile.”

3. A friend translated the poem i wrote for Juniper into Latin, and here it is, stressed syllables underlined:

semper iterum pro te

advadet ante novembrem


4. Well, it will all end badly but that aside i haven’t felt this in about 8 years and i thought i never would again. i have precisely three days left with her and probably won’t see her again after Friday. Four times before i was so graced, and each time a door opened in my life. The inevitable doom of each is of no importance; it is only important to be ready for the suffering that will come. i feel giddy and wry and very very alive, off-kilter though i be:

To my surprise, Juniper hasn’t called the cops yet. We went to another teacher’s farewell party on Friday; by chance, as we say in Middle Earth, we ended up sitting next to each other for four exemplary hours. Discussing an obnoxious student, who had treated her like a skivvy when she brought him coffee, i nobly offered: “Next time, i’ll give him his damn coffee. i’m not nice like you. i can be cruel.”

She murmured in a kind of “I’m not sure I should unleash you”/”It would be amusing” way, so, encouraged, i continued:

“i can be cruel for you, if you want. Ask me, and i’ll crush your enemies. Let me be cruel for you.”

She looked suitably nonplussed/pleased/horrified/entertained. Later, i reflected that this is the most romantic thing i’ve said in over a decade. After midnight, i walked her most of the way home. She is very capable and brave but, as i said, “if i let you walk alone i would worry about you all weekend”. We parted before the end, as she a) didn’t want me to go out of my way for her, and b) she probably prefers it if no one knows exactly where she lives, and c) she probably wanted to get in a fight and kill someone without witnesses. i should see her tomorrow at work, and since we both finish at around 4, i might invite her for a spontaneous coffee, though it wouldn’t really be all that spontaneous, since i’ve been fantasizing about it all weekend.

i reflected that i have until Thursday evening to establish some manner of connection, and she is exceedingly guarded against intimacy. She likes me but she relishes solitude and privacy, aloneness; as do i. She is almost Finnish. She seems wholly uncorrupted, non-human, even. She drinks ginger tea. She “does sport” to burn off aggression. She is soft and gentle and lovely. She speaks Spanish. She is capable and brave and quiet. She is amused by me and my ways. She has been to Durham. She drank Cuban rum with Castro. She wishes she could be a cat so she could “lie about in a very comfortable place doing nothing and not feel guilty.” Her eyes are pure lake blue, the Lady of the Lake indeed. She walks like a dancer or a killer. She is taller and probably stronger than me. She dresses like Jason Bourne. She is Jason Bourne.

Die Worte sind wie die Haut auf einem tiefen Wasser.

Es ist klar, daß es auf dasselbe hinauskommt zu fragen, was ist ein Satz, wie zu fragen, was ist eine Tatsache – oder ein Komplex.

Words are like the film on deep water.

It is clear that it comes to the same thing to ask what a sentence is, and to ask what a fact is – or a complex.

Wittgenstein´s journal, 30 May 1915, tr. Anscombe

1. The coffee with Juniper went surprisingly amazingly well. It was so awesome it was kind of surreal and dream-like. We sat in the afternoon sun drinking our coffee and talking; i admired her silently, then as it were shrugged and told her she has “the most beautiful voice i’ve ever heard.” She blushed and told me i was exaggerating.

“Not at all. i thought about it. i know women with nice voices. But yours is the most beautiful.”

Apparently, no one has ever praised her voice, which seems strange given that even Kevin, a 24-year-old sex maniac teacher, who would i fear not understand the MILF Dynamic, says her voice is pure music. Perhaps they are daunted, as she seems so self-contained and impeccable. It amuses me as, in 2005, one of the few decent managers i had, a pretty almost-MILF, had generally-blue eyes which changed colour from day to day, and when i told her this she was both pleased & surprised, since no one had told her.

Likewise with Juniper, she seems unaware of her own grace. i exacted a promise to stay in touch via email when i leave UT; she postscripted her promise: “and when you are in Munich you will send me a picture of yourself so I can see you are well.”

i am delicately hoping that nothing terrible will happen in my last days. i half-expect to turn up to work tomorrow to find her reserved, distant, already regretting our unspontaneous coffee, a step away from calling the cops to get a restraining order. This wouldn’t surprise me but i am occasionally surprised.

2. Aside from Juniper and the local park i will not greatly miss UT. The view out of the windows at work:

It is really horrible.

3.  i’m glad i’m Elberry and not a Ken doll (of Ken & Barbie fame). An excerpt from Ken’s secret diary:

So the car ride itself was pretty uneventful, given that I spent it at the bottom of a bag. Still, exciting just to know I was in a car. When we got to the campground, Lindsey was told to play with her brother Scott for awhile, and for the two of them to “just shut up” for a second while the grown-ups figured out how to raise the tent-trailer they borrowed from the Fletchers. So that’s how Sun Sensation Barbie and I met one of Scott’s friends, Grimlock.

Grimlock is so fucking cool. He is a dinosaur, which is awesome, but he is also a robot too! I know, right? He has got a gun and a sword and he’s been on TV. That stupid idiot Lindsey wanted Grimlock to marry Sun Sensation Barbie, but Grimlock wasn’t having any of that, and he bit Barbie right in the goddamned leg! Fucking right! Anyways, Grimlock lent me his sword and we fought for a little while. Lindsey got bored pretty quick and that was the end of that, but I was exhilarated. That was maybe the happiest minute of my life.

4. i went to a cool pub on Monday with Gordon, an improbable friend of my hippy flatmate. In the hip but not hippy pub we heard music by the Alin Coen Band. i youtubed it and then came across Illute via the usual youtube linking:

So, it’s not just Rammstein and Wagner.

5. On Saturday, the terrifying Morgana will reclaim the furniture she lent me 12 months ago. If i can find a flat with the Viking, it will probably be unfurnished. Since each time i move flat/house i am beset by mountains of possessions, i am drawn to the prospect of living in a furniture-less flat, sleeping in the corner curled up like a dog. When i told this to Juniper, she suggested i at least procure a dog basket and some dog biscuits; she then confessed to having almost eaten dog biscuits, because “they look so delicious.”

Had she eaten the dog biscuits, i would have proposed marriage.

Je älter ein Wort ist, desto tiefer reicht es.

The older a word, the deeper it reaches.

Wittgenstein´s journals, 5 March 1915, tr. Anscombe)

image by Tamara Lichtenstein

1. 9 days before i leave Ultima Thule i have a date with Juniper, the lovely MILF receptionist at work – a modestly sexy coffee tomorrow afternoon. i tried to tie her down to a particular date.

She hummed and hawed: “I prefer spontaneous coffee, if we both finish work at the same time, then we can go for a spontaneous coffee. We tried to find a time. But it did not happen…”

“Spontaneous coffee is fine if we’re both here for another five years but in 9 days the chances are slim,” i said, gravely.

Earlier i had noted that i have discovered a really cool pub, just two weeks before leaving UT forever. “i never realised there were all these cool places in Ultima Thule,” i moaned.

“Well, you know Ultima Thule is not like Munich,” she said, hesitantly. “It is not a very cool town.”

“Yes but there are some cool places. This happens to me everywhere i live, i find cool places just before i leave forever.”

“But when you are new in a place there is no urgency, you think you have forever. In your last days you are more concentrated,” she said, with a wry look.

This is true for emotions and desires also. Romantic love, for example, or the desire for vengeance, are concentrated and lit by time limits, earthly constraints. And vice versa – in love, you feel, very acutely, that she will die, that you don’t have much time; even if you have several decades, you don’t have much time. It is natural that philosophers have often favoured boys and MILF, those whose bloom is of relatively short duration. There is little time for one’s desire. It is in this sense that one can understand Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s critique of the 47 Ronin.

2. Today the Viking is viewing a flat in Munich. There must be something wrong with it, as it’s been on the market for a couple of weeks, and the landlady just posted a new ad, lowering the bond by 100 €. If i can’t find a bearable flat i will crash with the Viking in Würzburg (his current ‘hood) and seek Munich accommodation from there. i will, i think, cancel or try to freeze my medical insurance, as 600 €/month is insane for a man on precisely zero Euros a month. The situation is pretty grim, albeit not as horrible as in Kiel last year, as i now know i can at least teach English, whereas then i thought i was hopeless and absolutely useless at everything, thanks to i_____a, my first employer/exploiter. But if i don’t get enough work almost immediately in April, i am fucked beyond redemption.

Grim as it is, i have a good feeling about Munich, as i had a bad feeling about X-burg (Erfurt, in fact). With horrible age i increasingly trust these inexplicable feelings. i don’t like big cities and i don’t like expensive cities and i don’t like the idea of Bavarians

but i nonetheless have a peculiarly good feeling about Munich. These feelings will not stand up to examination but since they have always served me well i continue to obey them. One thing is sure – with the Viking at my side, all will be well. The man is a hardcore sexual maniac and badass Roman Catholic, he has a huge unregulated Moses beard and he is permanently armed. i will use him to destroy my foes and subdue cities and nations and peoples, while i stay at home getting drunk and writing great novels on my body in marker pen.

Also, Bavaria shouldn’t be wholly bad. One of my perverted students said Bavarian girls are very very pretty, or very very ugly (apparently, the ugly ones are born of incest). If i can avoid the very very ugly ones, Munich should be interesting.  Also, someone described Bavarians as being akin to Yorkshiremen, and as a true plain-spoken West Yorkshireman i hope to feel at least temporarily at home there.

Being Yorkshire is a state of mind; one must, of course, have been born and raised in Yorkshire, preferably West Yorkshire, but sometimes honorary Yorkshireness may be extended to individuals from neighbouring counties, such as Cumbria and Finland. Any real curmudgeon can apply for Yorkshire statue, if he is willing to demonstrate his loathing of big cities, hippies, apple polishers, dolts, dullards, churls, unduly small dogs, horrible cats, the dative, concrete, burqas, traffic, Literary Theory, tourists, academia, modern r & b, beetroot, Tuesdays, overdue emphasis on Tyr, silly hats, New Age shite, Leeds, chavs, Muslims of the loud shouty exploding variety, stale bread, foul women, dwarves, modern translations of the Bible, modernity in general, roads, shitty German techno, fingernail clippings in your tea, Communism/Socialism, having to pay tax to fund hippies, unripe pineapples, torn jeans, loud neighbours, graffiti, etc. etc. Here is a typical honorary Yorkshireman, Jack the Poacher from Withnail and I – he appears 2.05 minutes in:

3. i am starting to enjoy Slavoj Zizek’s book Living in the End Times but i do wish he would stop banging on about Jacques Lacan. Every couple of pages he references Lacan like a poodle looking anxiously to its master. i imagine Zizek is far more intelligent & learned than me, but he has a flawed character; he too often displays the impulse to name-check, to flourish academic jargon. He reminds me of a charlatan magician, wearing a black velvet cloak covered with sigils and what have you; he waves his magic wand; he wears a daunting top hat; he is liberally festooned with sorcerous adornments and gimcracks. A philosopher cannot get very far by this road. The true philosophenweg is small and nondescript; it is quiet, out of the way; it does not draw attention to itself with arcane dealings & ballyhoo.

i intensely distrust repeated name-checking. This is one of many reasons i recoil somewhat from Wittgensteinians, who, while undoubtedly much more intelligent & learned than me, commit a primary error: they suppose Wittgenstein was a prophet, that he possessed the truth, and so they try to work out what he would say in such and such a situation, what he really meant. It is one thing to do research, because a particular writer interests one; it is another to slavishly obey another’s real or supposed verdicts. This is a profound character flaw and will inhibit the mind, howsoever powerful it may be; and this is one reason not to linger overlong in academia, where such worship is common.

i think i can safely say that Zizek is not from Yorkshire:


We watch the launch of missiles, the grandeur of warships afloat, the thrill of jets flying low over targets, the pretty orange and black flowering of distant explosions, the flash of missiles landing in cities lighting the night sky. We are not shown what it looks like afterwards. People would rush from the room gagging if the truth came on their TV screens at 10 pm. Most of us have never even seen a corpse, let alone a charred or dismembered one. We have not been powerless and defenceless in a city under bombardment (I am haunted by the fact that during the bombing of Baghdad dozens of women went into premature labour through terror. Who wants to be responsible for that?) My own brief experience of war zones has forever cured me of imagining that there is such a thing as a humanitarian war.

No kidding:

Six Libyan villagers are recovering in hospital after being shot by American soldiers coming in to rescue the U.S. pilots whose plane crash-landed in a field. The helicopter strafed the ground as it landed in a field outside Benghazi beside the downed U.S. Air Force F-15E Eagle which ran into trouble during bombing raid last night.And a handful of locals who had come to greet the pilots were hit – among them a young boy who may have to have a leg amputated because of injuries caused by a bullet wound.

Not so diligently is Ceres, according to the Fables, said to have sought her daughter Proserpina, as I seek for this idea of the beautiful, as if for some glorious image, throughout all the shapes and forms of things (‘for many are the shapes of things divine’); day and night I search and follow its lead eagerly as if by certain traces.

(Milton to Charles Diodati, London, 23 September, 1637)

(photo courtesy of Shkoda Maria)

Another typically English tale, of grotesque orclike chavscum, and lenient/pusillanimous judges. Several people have now told me the Daily Mail is full of lies but all my life in England, in Huddersfield, Durham, Leeds, and Manchester, i have repeatedly directly witnessed things like this, or heard of it from friends/co-workers; and the last time someone told me not to trust the DM i simply located a matching article in the Guardian, covering the same story, and sent it to the sceptical rosy-tinter. i think the rich, able to live a nice cosseted life, can half-ignore the ugliness and brutality that is just normal in England these days, but if you observe what is there, you will see; and if you refuse to observe, you won’t. These rosy-tinters remind me of a scene in one of Theodore Dalyrmple’s essays:

Recently, for example, I was invited to a lunch at a famous and venerable liberal publication, to which I occasionally contribute articles that go against its ideological grain. The publication’s current owner is a bon vivant and excellent host who made several scores of millions in circumstances that still excite considerable public curiosity. Around the lunch table (from which, I am glad to say, British proletarian fare was strictly excluded) were gathered people of impeccable liberal credentials: the one exception being myself.

On my right sat a man in his late sixties, intelligent and cultivated, who had been a distinguished foreign correspondent for the BBC and who had spent much of his career in the United States. He said that for the last ten years he had read with interest my weekly dispatches—printed in a rival, conservative publication—depicting the spiritual, cultural, emotional, and moral chaos of modern urban life, and had always wanted to meet me to ask me a simple question: Did I make it all up?

i generally don’t wish violence upon my friends/acquaintances, but a bit of street brutality can do wonders.

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