Taking Pleasure In Things

Campagnolo Super Record Brake Levers

Campagnolo Super Record Brake Calipers

Campagnolo Nuovo Record Crankset, 1974


Work In Progress: Schwinn Paramount

Took a 4ft cheater bar to break the BB out. Rust. But the frame and threads were not compromised. The gods have provided us with oxalic acid to take care of rust.


(A Few Further) Aphorisms: Woman

100. What is generally understood as moral is conduct which women find acceptable.

101. Men are expected to sublimate their instincts and desires to this morality. If he does not, she makes him understand that he does not get this woman.

110. Her morality makes important demands: he will mate with and desire only her; he will be generous with her in all ways; he will give her more attention than himself; he will protect her from all dangers; he will listen to her; he will be there to restore her confidence; and he will make her laugh.

115. He sins when these demands are not met, and is a less desirable mate.

117. What of his demands? He is not allowed to have demands.

118. Man is not allowed to have his morality.

119. To have her he must not make demands. To have her he must change his behavior.

129. There are some who demand a long history of acceptable behavior before he is allowed to have her. He must prove repeatedly his moral fitness.


Overheard at a Bank

"That sure is some life you've had," said the young banker.

"Yes. Yes, it is," the old man said. "I realized in youth that happiness was knowing I could do anything I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. They told me that this was not possible. But I found that it was, just that the only limiters of that happiness were other people. They said that money or other circumstances would limit you, but that wasn't true either. It was only people that prevented you and you had to let them."

"I should walk out of this bank today and start traveling. Seeing things."

"Most feel as you do and do nothing. It's as if the life they wish they had is a comfort of sorts--that maybe this life is practice and they'll get a shot at doing it right later on. It helps to believe in heaven."

"I believe in heaven," said the young banker. "If I can just make some more money I will start to live like you have."

The old man was silent.

Then he said, "I think it is good that you believe in heaven. But for me heaven is the opposite of happiness."



Aphorisms: Woman

6. It is a woman's meaning to build a home, to secure a mate who will protect her and that home, and to populate that home with tiny miniatures.

18. Beware the woman who after a certain age still does not want or have children.

20. The woman who chooses to go childless is a sickness, an abomination to her nature. She suffers from a perversion of the instincts. She suffers from a lack of meaning.

21. The damage runs deep in the childless woman and her sickness can manifest itself in many dangerous ways. Men should avoid her.

39. Creation is the only possible curative for the childless woman. Only art can overcome the sickness in her nature. Only art can redeem her.

40. The woman artist is the one who has given up child bearing and overcome this flaw in her instincts. This woman can be great. She can be as great as any man. Perhaps she can be greater.

55. No woman who builds a home and makes children can be great.


New Reflections on the Working Poor

The addictions now make sense in a broader way. The excessive smoking and drinking, maybe other substances too (you might even include the sugary foods and sodas), is not simply a form of chemical escape from their misery--and by their misery I mean the car payments due on a car they owned a decade ago, the consumer debt for sofas and stereos and outfits and jewelry they no longer possess, the spouse that stalks them, the children they pay child support for, etc. etc. The cigarettes and alcohol and other toxins are in fact a way of shortening their miserable lives, thereby shortening the misery.

A shortened life does not bother them. They may be troubled by the idea of crippling diseases and reduced faculties, but their current misery is too tangible to be overwhelmed by a distant, vague fear of emphysema or liver failure. Instead, the thought that the poisons they put into their bodies could shorten their lives is a welcoming thought. There is nothing at all wrong with checking out a little early. And to feel good while doing it makes it all the more agreeable.

Finally, their laziness and aversion to hard work means they don't even get the exercise the activity of the job offers them. But when your aim is to weaken and die, any form of exercise is anathema.


The Old (brev. 1972)

All the old shit is nice and beautiful but it's not made any longer because it costs more and doesn’t work like the new shit. The new shit is ugly and cheap and made by zips. But the new shit works really well without any of the old frustrations. So this beautiful old thing can’t handle 28t? So I’d have to pull off a Rally long cage and attach it to make this fucker work with the 13t-28t? Could pulling the axle far back in the dropout get this fucker to take 28? Even then it is said not to shift all that smoothly.

Or do I just say fuck it with the old Italian and go old French--they say the Huret Duopar will do everything I am looking for and still be old and exclusive and get some old bike-head worked into a lather over. But they’re fragile--as most French are--and they can lose this little irreplaceable washer that renders them useless.

I want to go up that mountain and if I need 28t to do it I want the 28t smooth and without frustration. The 28t needs to be there for me when I need it most. Getting caught up in this old thing may have been a mistake. I’m too caught up in it already and I only just started. I want modifications to the old that improve its performance, yet remain faithful to the old and what the old represents. The old is the hand-made, the careful, the simply elegant, the substantial, and when it is broken it can be repaired. The new, the cheap throwaway, that shatters into pieces and is made by the zipperhead’s machine is not the way to go. Even if it functions smoothly it cannot be the way to go.



Sometimes you stick your dick in shit
And sometimes you stick it in heaven.

On Stoicism

The problem with Stoicism is that tranquility is its end, and not a means to an end. Yes, there were some Stoics who embraced a certain responsibility to achievement, a sort of honor that results from great action, but this remains vague in most of the writing. True too, there were some great men who were Stoics-- Marcus Aurelius, Cato, Seneca. But one has to conclude there were many, many more who were not great in any way, though were exceedingly tranquil.

And that's the problem. There is the real possibility that you don't do shit with your life after you've achieved the deep tranquility Stoicism offers.

I think men should aspire to greatness, which means the defeat of ideas and men that are your contemporaries, or who came before. To see who wins is man's highest meaning. Life should be competitive, and the losers should be crushed and never pitied. In this way something like advancement is possible, and one makes his contribution to the question of man's advance. An advance towards what, I cannot say. This could be an advance without a goal. It may not be an advance then, you say. Okay, you said it. But let's have battles and see who wins. Let's see who's got more power, the better idea, the better kettlebell routine, the better poem, the better sense of how to dress, the better way of placing skids with the forklift, the better arm bar--it don't matter. Let's debate and fight about every fucking thing and get hot and bothered about it and decide who's best. Let's go for the fucking knockout every second of every round and never let up, not once. And let's not stop until all the pity, all the love of neighbors, all the laziness, all the niceness and good etiquette, all the bad diets and habits and all the other carelessnesses have been stomped on and buried, as deep as we can bury them so they cannot be dug up again.

I think the Stoic tranquility gets in the way of this. And that's where I think Stoicism is wrong and why I think, on its own, it won't get you anywhere. But securing tranquil moments so that clear thinking is possible is important. If you are too disturbed by the world you may not be capable of anything great. Stoicism is a good method for gaining those tranquil moments. But becoming a tranquil idiot should not be your goal.


Ardmore, PA

Javad often asked of you. What news did I have? There was a time when all I knew was that you may or may not be in Budapest, or somewhere in Bulgaria. He explained to me that I was wrong not to know. You must find him, he said. What if something has happened to him? I said that I did not know, there was really no way of knowing. I was here and he was there, or maybe elsewhere. I did not have reliable information. He sat quietly, looking ahead at where the black and white photo of Arvo Part, the great Estonian composer, hung between the bookshelves. He sipped at his scotch. I sipped at mine.

We were sitting in his basement drinking and talking as we had done since I was at the university. His wife and child had long since gone to bed and it was very early in the morning now. We had arrived at the final third of the bottle and the silence had come over him. I had not fully adjusted to these long silences but had stopped trying to end them with talk and I was trying to convince myself to enjoy this one. I understood that he was remembering his closest friend, who had died in Iran, a death that he was unable to give up. His friend, a great Iranian actor and painter and poet, had been thrown from a horse drawn buggy while filming a scene, and had stuck his head against some rocks. Javad had last seen him before the revolution in 1979. In Iran he was buried somewhere and there was now only his wonderful self-portrait that hung on the wall behind us. It was one of my favorite paintings and I always thought it might have hung in one of the museums and become the favorite of many other people.

Javad understood, perhaps better than I, that people live and die and sometimes get into trouble and if a person was important you did not let them disappear, but you searched them out. He understood that when they were dead and you heard of it later, and you were far away and you would never see them again, when all you had was the scotch and one painting on your wall--and it was even rumored that some fools had taken his other paintings and simply destroyed them, burned them or thrown them onto a trash heap-- that then their death would not be possible to accept. Javad worried that you were potentially in trouble somewhere, at that very moment, and that your life and work were to be lost and my finding out of it later, when I could do nothing, would be as destructive to me as it had been to him. I sipped at my scotch uneasily and waited for him to speak.

What I did not know was that you were safe. You had successfully escaped a deceitful and dangerous woman and fled Budapest to Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. You were there under the assumption that I lived not far from you at the base of the Piren Mountains. You had recently traveled in the mountains and passing by a small hut in Banska had heard a pocket trumpet, what you believed was my pocket trumpet, playing along to a jazz record. The jazz great of the mountains, known only to the locals as “Stoil”, you falsely believed was me.
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