October 20th to 28th

Immanent contentment

The formula for Montaignean immanent contentment is moderation through variation: an arrangement of our dispositions, our pursuits, and our pleasures that is calculated to keep us interested, ‘at home’, and present in the moment but also dispassionate, at ease, and in balance.

(Why We Are Restless, by Benjamin and Jenna Silber Storey)

Walking again

I’ve started walking to and from work —7.4 km round plus 3 km at break time make more than 10 km work-daily —not bad.

Misandry —you didn’t know the word, did you?

No, of course not, what do you think I am?

Misoginy’s the talk of the town, but misandry’s all the rage’ (comment by Garth Wood at Marginal Revolution).

Now Reading — The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

All warfare is based on deception.

Though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.

Do not repeat the tactics that have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.

When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.

Social Economics

If peer pressure and other forms of social capital have enormous power over choices, it becomes much more important to make wise decisions in selecting peers and other determinants of such capital. —Gary Becker & Kevin Murphy, Social Economics.

Now Reading — The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

In a desperate position, you must fight.

There are roads that must not be followed, armies that must not be attacked, towns that must not be besieged, positions that must not be contested, commands of the sovereign that must not be obeyed.

There are five dangerous faults that may affect a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a nasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor that is sensitive to shame; (5) over solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.

Nuestra vida

La conciencia reflexiva nos ofrece lo que denominamos nuestra vida: la suma de todo lo que hemos oído, visto, sentido, esperado y sufrido desde el nacimiento hasta la muerte. —Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow.

La experiencia intrínsecamente gratificante

Cuando la experiencia es intrínsecamente gratificante, la vida está justificada en su presente, en vez de ser el rehén de un hipotético beneficio futuro. —Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow.

Now Reading —El conflicto social moderno, by Ralph Dahrendorf (1988)

El primer ciudadano es el varón libre de la Atenas del siglo V aC. Con todas sus limitaciones, tuvo que pasar mucho tiempo antes de que alguna nación moderna se aproximara a este ideal.

Las sociedades modernas se exponen a tres riesgos políticos:

  1. La versión absoluta del liderato: la autocracia
  2. La versión absoluta de la administración: la burocracia
  3. La versión absoluta de la participación: la democracia

Un rey preguntó

Un rey preguntó a un hombre santo: «¿Te acuerdas de mí?». El hombre santo contestó: «Sí, pienso en ti cuando me olvido de Dios». Muslih-ud-din Saadi.

A flame

A flame is a stream of hot gas.

He felt the urge

On my way to work today, October 28th, I’ve seen, at 7:40 in the morning, in Palma, Mallorca, Spain, at a temperature of 20°C, a man who had stopped and parked his car in the gutter of a heavy-traffic road just to fill up the antifreeze container with its corresponding antifreeze fluid.

He must’ve felt the urge to.

October 16th and 18th

Now Reading — I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me, by Jerold J. Kleiman & Hal Straus

BPD is the only medical diagnosis partially defined by self-injuring behavior. Self-mutilation—except when clearly associated with psychosis—is a hallmark of BPD. This behavior may take the form of self-inflicted wounds to the genitals, limbs, or torso. For these borderline patients, the body becomes a road map highlighted with a lifetime tour of self-inflicted scars.

The self-inflicted pain may reflect the need to feel, to escape an encapsulating numbness.

Ideological-prejudiced energy foolishness

The world will regret not having gone nuclear and still not being willing to.

At least they found it

Hate crimes is the leftist equivalent to the rightist defense of morality and tradition. Both are a powerful instrument to squash dissent and personal freedom. Kudos to the new left for having come up with such terrific construct —your average totalitarian’s dream made true.

It makes sense

‘En Mallorca, robar un coche no sale a cuenta; otra cosa es que me digas Madrid o Barcelona”.

[Overheard at that particular café in Son Castelló where disreputable-looking people peacefully gather around street tables with upholstered chairs while having some hot beverage or another].

Now Reading — Why We Are Restless, by Benjamin and Jenna Silber Storey

As Blaise Pascal pointed out long ago, even the fortunate can be unhappy. And their unhappiness can be particularly persistent, for when people seem to have solid reasons for feeling better than they do, they often believe themselves obliged to let their unhappiness go unexamined.


This dinner prayer I found it online, liked it and adapted it a little, resulting in this:

For food that stays our hunger,
For rest that brings us ease,
For homes where the loved ones live,
We give you, O Lord, our thanks for these.
In a world where so many are hungry,
May we eat this food with humble hearts. Amen.

Somehow, though, I keep on stumbling at it when I say it out loud. So, I decided to make a Spanish version, which would go like this:

Por esta comida que nos quita el hambre,
por el descanso que nos proporciona este momento,
por la presencia en la mesa de nuestros seres queridos,
te damos las gracias, Señor, humildemente. Amén.

The problem is, not having a religious family or friends, I only say this prayer when I eat alone. So, a further adaptation is:

Por esta comida que me quita el hambre,
por el descanso que me proporciona este momento,
por la gracia de querer y ser querido,
te doy las gracias, Señor, humildemente. Amén.

Speaking of prayers, don’t forget the one you learnt from Yentl, the film:

Hear me, Oh Lord, master of the Universe, thou hast given me a son, who brings me great pride, and pleasure. And for this kindness, I thank thee forever and ever.

And the oldest, not yet surpassed in meaning, conciseness, essence, and compromise. Read it fresh:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil. Amen.
Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, 
santificado sea tu nombre;
venga a nosotros tu reino;
hágase tu voluntad 
así en la tierra como en el cielo.
El pan nuestro de cada día dánosle hoy;
perdónanos nuestras deudas,
así como nosotros perdonamos a nuestros deudores;
no nos dejes caer en la tentación,
y líbranos del mal. Amén.  

Enjoy the aftertaste

There’s a film that’s not bad, Dragged Across Concrete (2018) – IMDb —and Mel Gibson is outstanding in his role. Two cops are mounting guard in their car. One of them (Vince Vaughn) is taking ages at finishing his meal, but when the other one (Mel Gibson) gets (understandably) mad at him for doing so, he says that’s the right way of eating —you’re ruining it if you take your next morsel before the aftertaste for the previous one is gone.

I’m guilty of that. M. told me once I walk so fast through the countryside that I can’t and don’t enjoy the scenery, and he’s right. The same with food —I tend to gulp it down, without concern for the aftertaste. That’s a mistake I’ll intend to mend.

[Spoiler next]

Good play of some version of the prisoner’s dilemma —if he (Gibson) had only taken Tory Kittles’ word for what was worth and shaken hands with him instead of putting a gun on his temple…

12th and 13th

Oct 12, 2021

Phone calls

Called M. from the top of the Mirador de Ses Barques, but he didn’t answer the phone. Why should I do such an unusual thing, a thing so un-me, as to videocall him? Well, he phoned yesterday in his usual style —I call, you do the talking, I show absolute no excitement for anything. When I told him that wasn’t the way to call, he said, Well, you don’t ever call me, do you? And that’s true. So I decided to start calling him, the right way —with something good and lively to tell, briefly, and not at some usual time or another, so he a) can get some satisfaction, hopefully, and b) learn by example and imitation to make good phone calls. But he didn’t answer the phone, so I guess all it’s been to no avail.

Field trip to Mirador de Ses Barques

I took a carrot with me and eat it —and the humble, low-caloric piece made its work very well and let me get back my previously wasted energy. Carrots have gained their way to my food pyramid.

Really nice paths there.

Watched Take Shelter (2011) – IMDb

Directed by Jeff Nichols. Schizophrenia —interesting and terrifying. Curious how another (better) film, All the Bright Places (2020) – IMDb, dealing in the maniac-depressive illness, got me interested in psychiatric disorders, so I read An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison. That led to the one I’m reading right now, I Hate You —Don’t Leave Me, by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus, about the BDI (Borderline Personality Disorder).


Alan Watts has it right —smell is the most neglected sense, notwithstanding the fact that its effects are powerful, not the least reason of it because they tend to be unconscious. So I thought that you could try some kind of Pavlovian classical conditioning, by way of associating a particular smell to a state of wellbeing, and then use the smell to provoke the good feeling. I think it particularly useful when applied at home with small children —a pity I didn’t think of it when bringing up M. Anyway, I’m interested now so I’ll look into it —better late than never.

Oct 13, 2021

An occurrence

Si estás un poco mal, estás mejor que si estás muy bien.

Driving notes

I learnt two things through M.’s studying the circulation code in order to get his license. First, that you have a whole two minutes to park the car before you’re sent off, with no limit in the number of maneuvers you can do. Should had I known it earlier, I’d had spared myself a lot of trouble. Now, when I have one of those days when you simply aren’t inspired enough to insert the car inline when the distance allowed is less than half a meter longer than the length of your car, and you’re blocking their way to other cars, I can easily get out and explain to the nice driver behind that I think I’ll make ample use of my two minutes’ time and my limitless number of maneuvers, thank you.

Second, the rearview mirror located at the right isn’t compulsory. Since I learnt that, I’ve been having less and less use of that particular gadget. I’ve adjusted my central rearwiew mirror to point rightwards, so that I have that side covered. Of course, you lose depth in your straight rear vision, but it’s not really important to notice cars far away behind. This new disposition, I find it helps me not to get my eyes off the road ahead. And then I can use the right rearview for what it’s really worth —to help you park your car inline on the spot in time and form.

My new wristwatch

I’ve got a new wristwatch. Not beautiful like my previous one was, but very nice indeed, blue-faced with no printed numbers, with little marks signaling the minutes and big marks at the multiples of five, its sphere encased in a metallic bezel and held by an equally metallic chain. Too heavy (100 g), of course, and cheaply made —someday I’ll have a wristwatch in which the seconds hand will always, always lie exactly upon its mark (not half a millimeter before or after) for a second, before going to the next one and lying exactly upon its mark; I promise.

Born to be awful

It’s a nice creature, if you’re able to overcome your ancestral fear and prejudice when you look at it. It comes occasionally at dusk to feed on the fruits of one of the trees at the backyard in the house by the sea. It can well well spend an hour there if left undisturbed, going easily and silently from branch to branch, leaning back on its hind legs to raise its slender body up to reach for those little, no doubt delicious little fruits. Should it have a fluffy tail instead of a shorn, long, cartilaginous one, it’d be a squirrel, and I’d be inviting my friends over just for us to enjoy the show.

It’s not squirrel, of course, though. As you’ll surely have figured it out by now, it’s a rat. The least thing I’d do is to tell any of my friends, or they’d start making excuses not to come at all for supper. I’ve already cut off the branches I suspect it used to take advantage of to make its way to the tree. J. loudly and vehemently scared it off the other day, and we’ve seen no sign of it again since yet.

You can’t.

What is like to be depressed

I reaped a bitter harvest from my own refusal to take lithium on a consistent basis. A floridly psychotic mania was followed, inevitably, by a long and lacerating, black, suicidal depression; it lasted more than a year and a half. From the time I woke up in the morning until the time I went to bed at night, I was unbearably miserable and seemingly incapable of any kind of joy or enthusiasm. Everything—every thought, word, movement—was an effort. Everything that once was sparkling now was flat. I seemed to myself to be dull, boring, inadequate, thick brained, unlit, unresponsive, chill skinned, bloodless, and sparrow drab. I doubted, completely, my ability to do anything well. It seemed as though my mind had slowed down and burned out to the point of being virtually useless. The wretched, convoluted, and pathetically confused mass of gray worked only well enough to torment me with a dreary litany of my inadequacies and shortcomings in character, and to taunt me with the total, the desperate, hopelessness of it all. What is the point in going on like this? I would ask myself. Others would say to me, “It is only temporary, it will pass, you will get over it,” but of course they had no idea how I felt, although they were certain that they did. Over and over and over I would say to myself, If I can’t feel, if I can’t move, if I can’t think, and I can’t care, then what conceivable point is there in living?

The morbidity of my mind was astonishing: Death and its kin were constant companions. I saw Death everywhere, and I saw winding sheets and toe tags and body bags in my mind’s eye. Everything was a reminder that everything ended at the charnel house. My memory always took the black line of the mind’s underground system; thoughts would go from one tormented moment of my past to the next. Each stop along the way was worse than the preceding one. And, always, everything was an effort. Washing my hair took hours to do, and it drained me for hours afterward; filling the ice-cube tray was beyond my capacity, and I occasionally slept in the same clothes I had worn during the day because I was too exhausted to undress.

During this time I was seeing my psychiatrist two or three times a week and, finally, again taking lithium on a regular basis. His notes, in addition to keeping track of the medications I was taking—I had briefly taken antidepressants, for example, but they had only made me more dangerously agitated—also recorded the unrelenting, day-in and day-out, week-in and week-out, despair, hopelessness, and shame that the depression was causing: “Patient intermittently suicidal. Wishes to jump from the top of hospital stairwell”; “Patient continues to be a significant suicide risk. Hospitalization is totally unacceptable to her and in my view she cannot be held under LPS [the California commitment law]”; “Despairs for the future; fears recurrence and fears having to deal with the fact that she has felt what she has felt”; “Patient feels very embarrassed about feelings she has and takes attitude that regardless of the course of her depression she ‘won’t put up with it’ ”; “Patient reluctant to be with people when depressed because she feels her depression is such an intolerable burden on others”; “Afraid to leave my office. Hasn’t slept in days. Desperate.” At this point there was a brief lull in my depression, only to be followed by its seemingly inevitable, dreadful return: “Patient feels as if she has cracked. Hopeless that depressed feelings have returned.”

At the time, nothing seemed to be working, despite excellent medical care, and I simply wanted to die and be done with it. I resolved to kill myself. I was cold-bloodedly determined not to give any indication of my plans or the state of my mind; I was successful. The only note made by my psychiatrist on the day before I attempted suicide was: “Severely depressed. Very quiet”.

An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison.

What I’ve been watching

J’accuse (2019), by Roman Polanski. Polanski takes the focus away from Dreyfus and puts the light on the army officer who started to unravel the plot; it’s a dull officer conducting a dull investigation presented in a dull way, but I think the director does this on purpose, as a way to highlight, against this background of dullness, the core of the matter —the evil of injustice and the importance of honor. Score: 7.

Inside Man (2006), by Spike Lee. Nothing of value here —a pastiche not very competently made. It’s the kind of film I dislike to see —not too bad to drop but not good enough to watch, so you end up wasting your time. Available on Amazon Prime Video. Score: 5.

Only Angels Have Wings (1939), by Howard Hawks. If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you know I like films who depict masculinity well, virtues and vices of it all along —and this film does exactly so, in section coping with grief. Plus: a good story perfectly told and played. Plus: Rita Hayworth, of course. Plus: a final sequence that surprises you and give full meaning to the film. Score: 9.

Fitzcarraldo (1982), by Werner Herzog. Sorry guys at the IMDB who so highly regard this film —I couldn’t finish it. Score: 4. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Walk the Line (2005), by James Mangold. Life-story of Johnny Cash as told by himself in his book Man in Black. Kudos to Joaquim Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon for his great singing of all the songs in the film (and their acting, too). The problem with this film is —Cash, as depicted here, is neither an interesting character or a likeable one; furthermore, his character isn’t well constructed —it’s somewhat incoherent. Slight spoiler next: stop here —I liked the scene when he at last kills his father, in the Freudian way of course. Watch on Prime Video. Score: 7.

An Honest Liar (2014), by Tyler Measom & Justin Weinstein. Watch on Plex for free. Documentary about the life of James ‘The Amazing’ Randi, made possible thanks to a Kickstarter funding. Randi was a believer in truth, and those are precious; he was a giant in courage, intelligence and defiance. Don’t miss the part when Randi’s magicians fool once and again the scientists who are testing them. Score: 8.

Nelyubov (Loveless, 2017), by Andrey Zvyagintsev. Very interesting film, very well made, slow-paced but never boring. It has one of the most shocking, powerful scenes I’ve ever seen, out of the blue. Beautiful cinematography, too. A terrible story, more terrible because so ordinary. Score: 9.0

Can you write more beautifully than this?


La princesa está triste… ¿qué tendrá la princesa?
Los suspiros se escapan de su boca de fresa,
que ha perdido la risa, que ha perdido el color.
La princesa está pálida en su silla de oro,
está mudo el teclado de su clave sonoro
y en un vaso, olvidada, se desmaya una flor.

El jardín puebla el triunfo de los pavos reales.
Parlanchina, la dueña, dice cosas banales,
y vestido de rojo, piruetea el bufón.
La princesa no ríe, la princesa no siente;
la princesa persigue por el ciclo de Oriente
la libélula vaga de una vaga ilusión.

¿Piensa acaso en el príncipe de Golconda o de China,
o en el que ha detenido su carroza argentina
para ver de sus ojos la dulzura de luz,
o en el rey de las islas de las rosas fragantes,
o en el que es soberano de los claros diamantes,
o en el dueño orgulloso de las perlas de Ormuz?

¡Ay!, la pobre princesa de la boca de rosa
quiere ser golondrina, quiere ser mariposa,
tener alas ligeras, bajo el cielo volar;
ir al sol por la escala luminosa de un rayo,
saludar a los lirios con los versos de mayo,
o perderse en el viento sobre el trueno del mar.

Ya no quiere el palacio, ni la rueca de plata,
ni el halcón encantado, ni el bufón escarlata,
ni los cisnes unánimes en el lago de azur.
Y están tristes las flores por la flor de la corte;
los jazmines de Oriente, los nelumbos del Norte,
de Occidente las dalias y las rosas del Sur.

¡Pobrecita princesa de los ojos azules!
¡Está presa en sus oros, está presa en sus tules,
en la jaula de mármol del palacio real;
el palacio soberbio que vigilan los guardas,
que custodian cien negros con sus cien alabardas,
un lebrel que no duerme y un dragón colosal!

¡Oh, quién fuera hipsipila que dejó la crisálida!
(La princesa está triste, la princesa está pálida.)
¡Oh visión adorada de oro, rosa y marfil!
¡Quién volara a la tierra donde un príncipe existe
(la princesa está pálida, la princesa está triste)
más brillante que el alba, más hermoso que Abril!

—¡Calla, calla, princesa —dice el hada madrina—,
en caballo con alas hacia acá se encamina,
en el cinto la espada y en la mano el azor,
el feliz caballero que te adora sin verte,
y que llega de lejos, vencedor de la Muerte,
a encenderte los labios con su beso de amor!

Rubén Darío (1867-1916)