Poetry from 04/2014

27 April 2014


Our next issue of Cafe Philosophy will feature the topic of Existentialism and we recommend watching this excellent video on the subject.  But first a short aphorism by Friedrich Nietzsche

Injustice and filth they throw after the lonely one: but, my brother, if you would be a star, you must not shine less for them because of that.
And beware of the good and the just! They like to crucify those who invent their own virtue for themselves—they hate the lonely one.  Friedrich Nietzsche




18 April 2014

William Barrett on Existentialism, part 3 of 3

William Barrett and Bryan Magee discuss Existentialism in terms of Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre.


The book by Henry Miller: The Air-Conditioned Nightmare referred to in this video by William Barrett chronicles Miller’s return to America in 1939. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is a collection of sketches, set out on a cross-country journey to re-discover his homeland and all infused by Miller’s judgments and generalizations, variously insightful, humorous and poetic.



The Age of Anxiety

Faces along the bar

Cling to their average day:

The lights must never go out,

The music must always play . . .

Lest we should see where we are,

Lost in a haunted wood,

Children afraid of the night

Who have never been happy or good.

"The Age of Anxiety" (published 1947) is the strangest flower of a marvellously fertile period. It would come to inspire a symphony and a ballet and win the Pulitzer prize. It was the last long poem WH Auden would ever write.


17 April 2014

William Barrett on Existentialism, part 2 of 3

Heidegger and Modern Existentialism"
From the 1978 BBC series "Men of Ideas" with Bryan Magee.

William Christopher Barrett (1913–1992) was a professor of philosophy at New York University from 1950 to 1979. Precociously, he began post-secondary studies at the City College of New York when 15 years old. He received his PhD at Columbia University. He was an editor of Partisan Review and later the literary critic of The Atlantic Monthly magazine. He was well known for writing philosophical works for nonexperts. Perhaps the best known among these were Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy and The Illusion of Technique, which remain in print.





THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
 Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
 Little we see in Nature that is ours;
 We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
 The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
 The winds that will be howling at all hours,
  And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
  For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
  It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
  A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
  So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
  Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
  Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
  Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

(Society is so bent on making and spending money in smoky factories and fast-paced business enterprises that it ignores the pristine glory of nature, which is a reflection of the divine. This is a universal theme that remains relevant in today's world.)
William Wordsworth is believed to have composed the poem in 1802, when the Industrial Revolution was in full flower. No doubt the materialism the revolution engendered was one of the reasons Wordsworth wrote the poem. He published it in 1807 as part of a collection, Poems in Two Volumes.



William Barrett on Existentialism

An interview with William Barrett. Discusses the fact that the philosophy of Existentialism seems to flourish best in nations recently defeated in war, as in Germany after the First World War, when its outstanding representative was Martin Heidegger, or France after the Second World War, when the outstanding figure was Jean-Paul Sartre. The thought of these key figures is examined, with the accent on Heidegger.



"It is the familiar that usually eludes us in life." William Barrett



7 April 2014

The Road to Freedom

"Freedom is not an end in itself, nor is it an engine that drives you.  It is an action!

The important thing isn't in the freedom but in the road you take to get to it."

The Road to Freedom, describes the life of the French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. The three-part BBC documentary: Human All To Human, shows that Sartre believes it is up to each individual human being to give his or her own life a meaning and a purpose.