Physical Risk

5. For a certain man his most important act is to risk himself. To seek out cruelty; to test himself in the harshest environments; to watch men beside him be smashed or obliterated; to run out of food and water on a hot and lonely steppe ― through this experience he recovers the religious. He passes beyond language and is visited by the gods. The problems of sitting are resolved.

11. He would not speak of transcendence, that activity of sitters & cowards ― men who separate their minds from their bodies. He has come to a special knowledge of the spirit through a challenge of the body. He conceives himself with a new sense, from a new aspect. Many forms of life have been nullified. There are few men with whom he is able to speak.

15. In place of philosophy or psychiatry or science or banking or the church, a certain man should seek out a particular experience to dissolve a particular problem. For the problem cannot be answered, only made to disappear.

18. Fearing to leave his culture, he receives answers to his problem that are insufficient. He cannot see the answer is tainted by the problem itself. From within his culture the problem cannot be made to disappear.


Stay Needful, My Brothers

1. To live at the level of his needs is a measure of a man’s strength. To choose to live according to those needs, and to refuse anything more, an even greater strength. To have never been needful ― indeed, to fear it ― the worst of weaknesses.


Good / Bad Philosophy

22. Philosophy is considered productive in so far as it causes one man to act in a new way; that he becomes its silent example, a living beacon to other men. Some men will be sensitive to the example of his life, while others will miss it entirely.

26. Bad philosophy attempts to speak for all men. Through generality and extension it assumes its own internal calculus and often becomes the play-thing of the academic. Good philosophy, by contrast, is intended for a particular man and resists extension to other men. But do not assume that bad philosophy cannot change the world; if practiced, it simply does not change the world in the way it was intended.

30. When the philosopher generalizes about all men he is not far from attempting to redirect the world.

33. If one could speak of all men, one could speak of changing or directing them. But one only speaks from a particular form of life. To change the world is to bend other men around that form. Some bend to it easily, but many are broken.


“Can one learn this knowledge? Yes; some can. Not, however, by taking a course in it, but through ‘experience’. ― Can someone else be a man’s teacher in this? Certainly. From time to time he gives him the right tip. ― This is what ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’ are like here. ― What one acquires here in not a technique; one learns correct judgments. There are also rules, but they do not form a system and only experienced people can apply them right. Unlike calculating rules.” ― Wittgenstein

1. The problem with the objective stance (where Reason is thought to reside) is it supposes man might subtract himself from experience. It supposes he might uncover what is truthful by not being a part of it. Indeed, the idea of scientific objectivity goes against the idea of engagement in the world (even of there being a world ― there are only components and causal relationships). Truth, the objective man surmises, exists solely with man and his special vantage point upon the world: from beyond it. Man attempts to make himself world-less, without direct experience in the world, studying it from afar, and in doing so he claims to know it.

2. This leads him to undermine the question of how to live. One who can truly ask this question is one who begins by examining the idea of how he is worldly. Only when man can grasp his worldliness can he begin to ask in what manner he should act in the world.

9. By being reasonable man risks losing the world.

12. One begins to grasp at truth when one stops looking for the formula. Indeed, it is where systematic description begins to fail. It is as if he were trying to retell a dream ― the chasm between the dream images and feeling, and the words he uses to recount it is vast. He feels in recounting the dream the limitation of his language, its insufficiency.

16. His technological inventions show him the correctness of his scientific method. He believes that the same reasonableness he uses to control the world may be put to use in his own life. But this same method when applied to himself entirely misses the mark. Problems and method pass each other by.

22. Poets and religious men disappeared at the same time.

41. How unfortunate that his religious belief has been limited to appeals made during hardship. The man who loses his child to accident laments, “Everything happens for a reason.”

42. It is as if the man said, there is a reason for this and I summon God to provide it. Surely it did not happen accidentally, or by bad luck. This mystery shall be solved. The child was too important. There is the assumption that despite the horror of the child’s death it will finally in the future lead to something better. The child will be redeemed. The father will look back at the child’s death and say “That is why it happened.” The man’s appeal is to reason and not to God.

45. What is religious is only a placeholder until a reasonable explanation can be made.

49. The difference of this age from another is in the following statements: “Everything happens for a reason” and “Everything happens by the grace of God.” The former implies the reasonableness of God’s plan, that it can be made clear by men. The latter leaves it all to God: what is mysterious to men is accepted as mysterious.

57. The inability to explain cruelty and suffering brings into existence the gods. The gods dwell in this place of mystery. It is where reason cannot go.

63. The Muslims are a more religious ― and stronger ― people because of their comfort living within God’s mystery. They feel no need to explain their suffering.

88. What of the time when explanation began and ended with the gods? When a man who was physically blinded was understood to truly see?


Home Depot Profiles In Courage

New Preface

These stories are the result of some years working on the overnight freight team at a Home Depot. There is much, however, that wasn't written and won't appear in this book. For some things are too hard to write and others you save for another occasion even if you cannot be sure that it will come.

There is nothing of Felicia and her years of crack addiction in Detroit, her molestations and rape while living in the streets; nor of Heather, Doug’s wife, who worked the cash registers and didn’t understand when a customer gave her extra coins in order to receive a bill as change ― she looked at the coins strangely, then thrust them back saying it wasn’t right and threatened to call a manager; nor is there anything about the man in the white Mercedes who parked behind the garden area and shot himself in the face. Corey found him, his jaw and nose shot off, blood splaying everywhere, holding where his face had been, hopping around and moaning ― But he’s got a white Mercedes, Doug said. Why should he want to kill himself? They were still discussing it in the lunchroom when the man died a week later.

Neither is there anything about Robert the Jew, who ate whoever’s lunch he wanted from the refrigerator, one time even offering Puerto Rican Dave a bite of his own sandwich. When someone caught him with their food or there wasn’t anything he wanted, Robert didn’t hesitate to root through the garbage. I once watched him pull up from the bottom of the trash bin a blackened, days-old bagel and quickly consume it.

And what of old Jay the ex-con, who had nubs for fingers on both his hands and was rumored to be the disowned son of the Kraft family. Jay moved slowly on his crutches, coughing, and smoking whenever he had the chance, the cancer slowly destroying him. He told fantastic stories about pointing handguns at sheriffs and beating up train conductors, all of them ending in clever escapes or police escorts back to his home with never any charge. Jay was an alcoholic and disappeared for months at a time into treatment centers.

Nor is there mention of 'Slick' Nick, big and slow-moving, who was run over by a car at 16 and spent two years in a coma. If you didn’t see him for a week he forgot who you were. Slick worked the parking lot pushing carts but regularly disappeared to prune the calluses on the soles of his feet. They grew quickly and required weekly attention, he said, and when they had grown too large or he had trimmed them too deeply, Nick claimed he was unable to work. The sight of Nick in the electrical aisle with his shoes off, hacking at his calluses with a penknife, had caused a number of customers to complain to management.

It might have been a better book if these other characters had appeared in it but this will have to do for now. To some readers the truth of these stories will be manifest, while to others, perhaps too educated and financially fortunate, they will only be regarded as fiction.

Bogota, Colombia
March 2012
Copyright © Moraline Free