UFO Conjecture(s)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ufologists: How to think!

The New York Review of Books, in its October 10th issue, has a review by Tim Parks Associate Professor of Literature and Translation at IULM University in Milan of Zibaldone, designated as “The Greatest Intellectual Diary of Italian Literature.”

The “diary” is by Giacomo Leopardi and was written in the 1800s, and contains four-and-half thousand pages of thought and rumination by Leopardi which, Parks writes, has the “breadth and depth of thought compared to the work of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.” [Page 28]

Some excerpts from the review (which can be found, in its entirety at NYRB.com) are pertinent to some who visit and comment here:

A conflicted psychological state is posited when one knows, but chooses not to know, because knowledge is neither helpful nor attractive. Given the ever-present danger of disillusionment, denial is the default. [Page 28]

… knowledge does not help us to live; on the contrary it corrodes those happy errors, or illusions … that give life meaning, shifting energy to the mental and rational and away from the physical and instinctive, where, in complicity with illusion, happiness lies. [Page 28]

Thought … can crucify and torment a person. [Page 28]

… if beliefs and illusions foster activity and excitement, which are always a pleasure, the deconstruction of those beliefs leads to inertia and unhappiness. [Page 29]

The Zibaldone … begins to assume the tone of an across-the-board attack on received wisdom, notions of progress, and pieties of every kind. [Page 29]

Leopardi makes a distinction between self-love or self-regard on the one hand and egotism or self-centeredness on the other …

For the person whose self-regard has been undermined by ill health, old age, failure, disillusionment, or a society … which has a poor opinion of itself, retreats into self-centeredness; in trouble or danger, he will defend himself and his own interests at all costs, careless of the destiny of those closest to him. Another’s troubles make no impression on him while another’s success is a motive for envy. [Page 29]

[Leopardi] comes back to questions of envy and compassion … (how much easier it is to feel compassion for a pretty girl rather than an ugly old man) … he delves into the questions of how aesthetic responses alter over the centuries, compelling us to acknowledge the relative nature of … knowledge or judgment. [Page 29]

… the mind finds repose not in knowledge but in everything it cannot know … [Page 30]
… why not interest oneself in the most frivolous things, if life in general [is] meaningless? [Page 30]

We are told that there is no point in speaking of things that cannot be known; that any meaning attributed to life is a product of the imagination and hence precarious and infinitely more so once we become aware of this fact … [Page 30]

Parks goes on, “Merely to list the subjects Leopardi tackles in Zibaldone would more than fill this article. So many of his intuitions look forward to the work of future philosophers, to absurdism and existentialism; again and again the voices of Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Wittgenstein, Gadda, Beckett, Bernhard, Cioran, and many others seem to murmur on the page(s).” [Page 30]

So, those of you who think you are thoughtful and intellectual, I suggest a dollop of Leopardi’s “diary.” It may help you realize how little we know and how little we really think.



  • "if beliefs and illusions foster activity and excitement, which are always a pleasure, the deconstruction of those beliefs leads to inertia and unhappiness."

    Often leads? Sometimes leads? Usually leads? Seldom leads? Possibly leads? There's a missing logical clarifier -- often indicative of incomplete thinking.

    If I deconstruct the story of Santa Claus and learn that dad is really Santa, is that going to necessarily lead me to unhappiness? I don't believe so. If my mind has not yet been properly cultivated to VALUE truth, then it might. But who here really wants to argue that we'd all, as adults, be happier believing nonsense if it makes us feel better (about ourselves)?

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Tuesday, September 24, 2013  

  • Maybe one should read the whole "diary" to get context.

    I and reviewer Parks pulled something from the text that may do an injustice to the whole.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, September 24, 2013  

  • RR,

    The whole is made up of the constituent parts. This guy is sloppy, as I pointed out.

    Each sentence has a truth value. And that one is so obviously false that I simply CAN wait on the rest.

    I chose the example I did because it EASILY dismisses the sentence/claim as untrue. Unless, of course, you want to argue that we'd all be happier if we never learned the truth about Santa -- or anything else for that matter.

    Some of us are happier knowing the truth about The Wizard (of Oz), even if it does smash our hopes of His sending us back home.

    If you'd be happier believing that the Wizard CAN send you home -- a FALSE HOPE, to say the least -- just say so. I don't believe that even YOU believe that.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Tuesday, September 24, 2013  

  • You are not going to eat the pie because a fly landed on the outer crust?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, September 24, 2013  

  • I'm not going to eat that pie because it is made of unwholesome ingredients -- untruths.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Tuesday, September 24, 2013  

  • Rich,

    Ufologists think!... But badly imho.
    They made extraordinare claims from anecdoctes, tales, legacies, photos, videos, pseudo radar-correlations, etc. and so on ; with the "will to believe on UFO" (fortean things) and the making-of the UFO myth you are the witness yourself ;) We are lucky to be the witnesses of a modern myth !

    Ufology and its residual cases (despite the majority of IFO cases - explained - where we found EXACTLY the same ingredients, a priori strangeness, etc. than in the residual cases, so the call to the residual cases is a fallacy, but ufologist dont care about IFOlogy) are something like it:


    Sorry, but frankly ;)


    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Tuesday, September 24, 2013  

  • Every scientific principle that was determined to be valid was at one time considered to be a series of anomalies.

    We ourselves are such an anomaly, a series of unanswered questions.

    The truth is colorless, neither excited or disillusioned in relation to the human condition.

    I suggest that if we knew more regarding the agnostic truth, it would be an impetus to know more, as it has been historically.

    The more science learns of the nature of our environment the more mysterious it has become, from Newtonian principles to Einstein's claim of a watch like precision to Quantum physics.

    I suggest the human condition and the truth are polar opposites, always seeking an integration.

    Whether it is Santa Claus or material UFO there must be deleterious artifacts in this process, as a self comforting psychology poised against an unknown truth.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, September 25, 2013  

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