Monday, October 8, 2012

A Knave of the First Rate

"Be judge yourself, I'll bring it to the test,
Which is the basest creature, man or beast
Birds feed on birds, beasts on each other prey,
But savage man alone does man betray:
Pressed by necessity; they kill for food,
Man undoes man, to do himself no good.
With teeth and claws, by nature armed, they hunt
Nature's allowance, to supply their want.
But man, with smiles, embraces. friendships. Praise,
Inhumanely his fellow's life betrays;
With voluntary pains works his distress,
Not through necessity, but wantonness.
For hunger or for love they bite, or tear,
Whilst wretched man is still in arms for fear.
For fear he arms, and is of arms afraid:
From fear, to fear, successively betrayed.
Base fear, the source whence his best passions came.
His boasted honour, and his dear-bought fame.
The lust of power, to whom he's such a slave,
And for the which alone he dares be brave;
To which his various projects are designed,
Which makes him generous, affable, and kind.
For which he takes such pains to be thought wise,
And screws his actions, in a forced disguise;
Leads a most tedious life in misery,
Under laborious, mean hypocrisy.
Look to the bottom of his vast design,
Wherein man's wisdom, power, and glory join:
The good he acts. the ill he does endure.
'Tis all from fear, to make himself secure.
Merely for safety after fame they thirst,
For all men would be cowards if they durst.
And honesty's against all common sense,
Men must be knaves, 'tis in their own defence.
Mankind's dishonest: if you think it fair
Among known cheats to play upon the square,
You'll be undone.
Nor can weak truth your reputation save,
The knaves will all agree to call you knave.
Wronged shall he live, insulted o'er, oppressed,
Who dares be less a villain than the rest.

Thus sir, you see what human nature craves,
Most men are cowards, all men should be knaves;
The difference lies, as far as I can see.
Not in the thing itself, but the degree;
And all the subject matter of debate
Is only, who's a knave of the first rate"

~ Lord John Wilmot, excerpted from A Satyre Against Mankind (1675).

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Comfortless Philosophy

"I shall be told, I suppose, that my philosophy is comfortless -- because I speak the truth; and people prefer to be assured that everything the Lord has made is good. Go to the priests, then, and leave philosophers in peace! At any rate, do not ask us to accommodate our doctrines to the lessons you have been taught. That is what those rascals of sham philosophers will do for you. Ask them for any doctrine you please, and you will get it. Your University professors are bound to preach optimism; and it is an easy and agreeable task to upset their theories."

 ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism: On the Sufferings of the World (from The Works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Walter J. Black, Inc., New York: 1932).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Photography of Lee Jeffries

Mr. Jeffries' stunning portraits capture every nuance of his subjects in gritty noir fashion. Dynamic emotional expressions, hidden quirks, and quietly cultivated mannerisms are all revealed with impressive detail. Few photographers have such a talent for capturing that bizarre spark which blazes in humanity, and Jeffries manages to render the human animal in all of its provocative strangeness.

Be sure to view the artist's full portfolio here:


Monday, August 27, 2012

Angels Sang to Me (Just Before I Fell to the Ground, Unconscious)

This preview is an instrumental interlude from my new project, Caligo. The title and mood allude to Robert Schumann's mental breakdown -- just before being committed to an insane asylum -- where he reported hearing celestial angels dictate to him a work composed by the dead spirit of Franz Schubert. [1]

1. For a detailed and insightful look at the mental breakdown of Robert Schumann as a symptom of paresis due to tertiary syphilis, see Deborah Hayden's excellent book, POX: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis. (Amazon.)

Saturday, August 25, 2012


We rot
and shed our ambitions
in mangy, leprous strings;
Flaking putrescent failure
couched in lofty dreams and pretty, painted sentiment.
Each successive step
yields a complimentary wound –
A festering chancre
which stains,
then fades with time.
Lost to memory,
Hidden from sight;
and waiting.