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Proust and Thinking about Thinking

Proust and Thinking about Thinking

Did anyone ever think more about thinking than Marcel Proust? (internal link)

Or is that the wrong question?

We hold more conversations with ourselves than with anyone else. But do we record them and write them down? Proust detailed his character’s inner monologue to an astounding degree.

He also well described day to day events but we have other authors as good or better at doing that.

From The Sweet Cheat Gone.

“Mademoiselle Albertine has gone!” How much farther does anguish penetrate in psychology than psychology itself! A moment ago, as I lay analysing my feelings, I had supposed that this separation without a final meeting was precisely what I wished, and, as I compared the mediocrity of the pleasures that Albertine afforded me with the richness of the desires which she prevented me from realising, had felt that I was being subtle, had concluded that I did not wish to see her again, that I no longer loved her. But now these words: “Mademoiselle Albertine has gone!” had expressed themselves in my heart in the form of an anguish so keen that I would not be able to endure it for any length of time. And so what I had supposed to mean nothing to me was the only thing in my whole life. How ignorant we are of ourselves.

— translator unknown

From The Guermantes Way:

It has been said that silence is strength; in a quite different sense it is a terrible strength in the hands of those who are loved. It increases the anxiety of the one who waits. Nothing so tempts us to approach another person as what is keeping us apart; and what barrier is so insurmountable as silence? It has been said also that silence is torture, capable of goading to madness the man who is condemned to it in a prison cell. But what an even greater torture than that of having to keep silence it is to have to endure the silence of the person one loves!

Robert said to himself: ‘What can she be doing, to keep so silent as this? Obviously she’s being unfaithful to me with others.’ He also said to himself: ‘What have I done that she should be so silent? Perhaps she hates me, and will go on hating me for ever.’ And he reproached himself.

Thus silence indeed drove him mad with jealousy and remorse. Besides, more cruel than the intangible enclosure, true, but an impenetrable one, this interposed slice of empty atmosphere through which nevertheless the visual rays of the abandoned lover cannot pass. Is there a more terrible form of illumination than that of silence, which shows us not one absent love but a thousand, and shows us each of them in the act of indulging in some new betrayal?

Sometimes, in a sudden slackening of tension, Robert would imagine that this silence was about to cease, that the letter was on its way. He saw it, it had arrived, he started at every sound, his thirst was already quenched, he murmured: ‘The letter! The letter!’ After this glimpse of a phantom oasis of tenderness, he found himself once more toiling across the real desert of a silence without end.

— translator unknown

Uncategorized video

Wuthering Heights by Jess Anderson and Hanna Goodall

I never thought of anyone covering Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. Why try? But I just found out that there is a small raft of singers who attempt it.

Kate Bush in the original sings in a key many vocalists can’t reach momentarily let alone throughout an entire song. In that range she was trying to give voice to the central character which is a ghost named Kathy.

Kate once described “that voice” as not her own but Kathy’s. Do you think the song’s tone sounds haunting? Oh, yeah, the ghost. Haunting. You’re getting it now.

I’m sure opera singers can pull off Wuthering Heights but it is amazing to see pop artists try. Two versions, one studio, one essentially street karaoke. Both fantastic.

p.s. Turn on the closed captions!

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More on Writing for Machines

I’ve written many times on SEO (internal link) and how as a writer I feel compromised and sad that today’s most important reader is a machine.

Humans don’t collect their thoughts and organize their tasks the way search engines do. Therefore, we have to alter our own preferences to cater to bots and algorithms. Otherwise, a client will not get on page one when Google returns results. And if they are not on page one then they are invisible.

A two, three, or four hundred page website is commonly built for businesses in extremely competitive markets. Say, an injury attorney in Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Diego, or Chicago. (A massive web presence responds to massive compettion.)

Given that digital deluge, let me describe the importance of content to the search engines. After all, content is king. Right?

Let’s assume a three hundred page website covering every basic aspect of law in a practitioner’s field, something often done to implement what is called topic authority. Considering this is The Law, most humans would prioritize on keeping any existing page current. Statutory and case law are always changing and a lawyer always wants to be accurate and up-to-date.

Google doesn’t see it that way.

A brand new page with fresh content on a very minor bit of law will drive that site’s statistics upward more than revising an existing, important page. Go figure.

It is a truly weird world when a lawyer goes to trial with the latest cites and yet their website may discuss old cites.

Given the economies of the day, no lawyer has the budget to continually update 300 pages, aside from those inaccurate pages pointed out by real humans.

Instead, that new page on dog bite law for a particular community, say one of 15 in a large metro that the attorney covers, wins out, stat wise, over updating an important page on child custody law. Why?

Because another page on a new topic has been added to that practitioner’s site. Google favors authoritative sources and it considers a website covering every topic niche to be authoritative.

Statistics prove this again and again. It’s not the way any organized business worker works. Yet, here we are, accepting inaccuracy and maintaining digital libraries with out of date books.

You see the results of this whenever you search on a changing topic like fixing a computer glitch. Advice less than six month old is probably worthless or confusing.

That’s because the article came out before the problem was fixed with an update. Or, perhaps a system software redesign leaves you staring at a blank field where the old advice said a critical checkbox should be.

We can time limit Google searches to help out with our own personal searches. But who cleans up the client’s website? Who cleans up the web?

What next?


Some of my writing related to this page (all internal links)

More on Writing for Machines (More on business writing for bots and algorithms) YOU ARE HERE

What Content Authority Means in SEO and Why it is Important (Discussing fundamentals of a content authority website)

Do I Need to Repeat Myself? (Business writing must incorporate SEO techniques)

Deeper into SEO (A Berkeley Writing for Social Media course fails)

Who/m are We Writing For? (The end reader today may not be human)


Kessinger / Literary Licensing Update

December 27, 2021

Jake Mayer checks in:

I’ve been following Kessinger/Literary Licensing since I’ve been involved in reprint publishing for the past 12 years. I have no idea about the employment scams, etc, listed above.

What I do know is that Kessinger/Literary Licensing has managed to have the first re-printing of public domain (and not-so-public domain) works to market, often with shoddy interiors and no cover design. Amazon is a wild west of book arbitraging and publishing, so this is in itself not shocking.

What is shocking is that Amazon has been increasingly prohibiting all but the first re-republisher of public domain works from the marketplace, and even banning other publishers who attempt to list the same title. This means that Kessinger/Literary Licensing has been given a monopoly on hundreds of thousands (millions?) of book titles on Amazon, as other publishers will be denied a level playing field to produce better quality lower cost editions, despite the fact that books in the public domain are IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN(!)

It is infuriating, unfair, and likely illegal, but as noted- who is going to do anything.

What keeps this story on my radar is Whitefish, MT. With a population of fewer than 8,000 residents, not only to these resident include Roger Kessinger and his book empire, but also famed neo-Nazi Richard Spencer (external link), and billionaire Michael Goguen—another fun guy (external link)

WTF is going on in Whitefish, and how are Kessinger and Bezos involved?


Dear Jake,

Sorry for the delay in responding. Hope your holidays are going well. Thanks for the fascinating report. Why Whitefish? More probably, Montana, with Whitefish as its center.

I suspect Montana’s thin population allows well financed lobbyists to more easily influence bill writing. Not so much scrutiny. Got to be tax law or some such. Look at New Mexico, with more foreign insurance companies incorporated there than any other state in America. Does that make sense? Of course not.

Unless you look at what NM charges for incorporating compared to other states, could be significant, and whatever other favorable conditions are granted. Someone has probably been walking around Whitefish with bags of money, Whitefish itself possibly the power center of Montana. Without looking it up, Whitefish may be a really nice place to live in Montana.

Thanks again.

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From Jubilate Agno by Christopher Smart (1722 – 1771)

From Jubilate Agno

by Christopher Smart (1722 – 1771)

All cats deserve an awesome poem, here, Smart writes what is certainly the most awesomeness ever penned for a cat.The brilliant John Frederick Nims relates,

“After Cambridge, Smart supported himself in London by prolific hack writing. The strain of years of overwork, financial struggle, and excessive drinking led in 1756 to a breakdown and his confinement – for the next seven years he was either in a private home or a public institution for the insane.”

“Deeply religious as he was, and meditating on himself and the nature of poetry while so confined, he began to write with vigor and originality.”

“After his release he did some of his best work; his life was quiet and industrious. He could not, however, earn a living; in 1770 he was arrested for debt and committed to prison, where he died the following year.”

As to the poem itself, Nims continues,

” . . . . ‘Jubilate Agno’ means ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’;  the Lamb is Christ. The poem was written during the four years Smart spent in a private home for the insane, confined their because of excesses brought on by his drinking and his unconventional religious practices,”

“Protected, in the madhouse, from alcohol and the distractions of life in the world, and reasonably happy with his gardening and his cat Jeoffry, Smart wrote ‘Jubilate Agno’ as a kind of spiritual journal: a hymn of praise to God for His works and an invitation to all of us to join in that praise.”

Nims, John Frederick, The Harper Anthology of Poetry (1981) Harper & Row, New York.

This editor’s cat, Fremont, né John Charles Fremont the Explorer.


For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually—Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

Charmingly read by the young Lysa L.


From Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot

Too tired to properly discuss. Perhaps later.


Revised Procession Footage

Bryan Smalley’s funeral (internal link)

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

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Overly sensitive types at the start of the Snowflake Era began substituting the word “problem” for the word “issue.” Today, “issues” is everywhere. Your car no longer has any problems but instead a number of issues to be taken care of.

Realizing that the word “issues” was far too soft for more serious problems, the word “problematic” came into being. Something like a problem, just less confrontational and direct. Which is the whole problem.

Here’s some nonsense from the Fresno Bee:

“Kern Valley State Prison is a maximum security Level IV prison that houses 4,600 male inmates, some of whom are considered the state’s most problematic inmates.”

Problematic? A writer can’t call these vicious murders and rapists problem inmates? The writer can’t follow common sense and reality enough to use the word “problem”? Who is the writer protecting with that language? Whose sensitivity are they damaging?

I wouldn’t use the word “some”, either, since Level IV means you are in for a violent crime. All of them are brutal and vicious thugs and we all know it. Everyone knows it. Everyone.

So, again, why is the writer using the word problematic?

A reporter’s whole job is to report the facts. Don’t write if you can’t write the truth.

These dangerous career criminals need their lives represented accurately to inform society of the risk these people pose. We don’t need a reporter with sensitivity issues. That’s problematic.


Nobody Knows my Troubles but God

Moby. Natural Blues.

Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Went down the hill, the other day
Soul got happy and stayed all day
Went down the hill, the other day
Soul got happy and stayed all day
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Went in the room, didn’t stay long
Looked on the bed and brother was dead
Went in the room, didn’t stay long
Looked on the bed and brother was dead
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God

Songwriters: Richard Melville Hall / Vera Hall / Alan Lomax


Rocket Vapor Trail Over Pahrump

Moon is to the west, undoubtedly a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, some 350+ miles to the West.