Inquisition - Obsession - Imp of the Perverse

The Imp of the Perverse


   In the consideration of the faculties and impulses -- of the prima mobilia of the human soul, the phrenologists have failed to make room for a propensity which, although obviously existing as a radical, primitive, irreducible sentiment, has been equally overlooked by all the moralists who have preceded them. In the pure arrogance of the reason, we have all overlooked it. We have suffered its existence to escape our senses solely through want of belief -- of faith; -- whether it be faith in Revelation, or faith in the Kabbala. The idea of it has never occurred to us, simply because of its supererogation. We saw no need of impulse -- for the propensity. We could not perceive its necessity. We could not understand, that is to say, we could not have understood, had the notion of this primum mobile ever obtruded itself; -- we could not have understood in what manner it might be made to further the objects of humanity, either temporal or eternal. It cannot be denied that phrenology and, in great measure, all metaphysicianism have been concocted a priori. The intellectual or logical man, rather than the understanding or observant man, set himself to imagine designs -- to dictate purposes to God. Having thus fathomed, to his satisfaction, the intentions of Jehovah, out of these intentions he built his innumerable systems of mind. In the matter of phrenology, for example, we first determined, naturally enough, that it was


the design of the Deity that man should eat. We then assigned to man an organ of alimentiveness, and this organ is the scourge with which the Deity compels man, will-I nill-I, into eating. Secondly, having settled it to be God's will that man should continue his species, we discovered an organ of amativeness, forthwith. And so with combativeness, with ideality, with causality, with constructiveness, -- so, in short, with every organ, whether representing a propensity, a moral sentiment, or a faculty of the pure intellect. And in these arrangements of the principia of human action, the Spurzheimites, whether right or wrong, in part, or upon the whole, have but followed, in principle, the footsteps of their predecessors; deducing and establishing everything from the preconceived destiny of man, and upon the ground of the objects of this Creator.    It would have been wiser, it would have been safer, to classify (if classify we must) upon the basis of what man usually or occasionally did, and was always occasionally doing, rather than upon the basis of what he took it for granted the Deity intended him to do. If we cannot comprehend God in his visible works, how then in his inconceivable thoughts, that call the works into being? If we cannot understand him in his objective creatures, how then in his substantive moods and phases of creation?
   Induction, a posteriori, would have brought phrenology to admit, as an innate and primitive principle of human action, a paradoxical something, which we may call perverseness, for want of a more characteristic term. In the sense I intend, it is, in fact, a mobile without motive, a motive not motivirt. Through its promptings we act without comprehensible object; or, if this shall be understood as a contradiction in terms, we may so far modify the proposition as to say, that through its promptings we act, for the reason that we should not. In theory, no reason can be more unreasonable; but, in fact, there is none more strong. With certain minds, under certain conditions it becomes absolutely irresistible. I am not more certain that I breathe, than that the assurance of the wrong or error of any action is often the one unconquerable force which impels us, and alone impels us to its prosecution. Nor will this overwhelming tendency to do wrong for the wrong's sake, admit of analysis, or resolution into ulterior elements. It is radical, a primitive impulse -- elementary. It will be said, I am aware, that when we persist in acts because we feel we should not persist in them, our conduct is but a modification of that which


ordinarily springs from the combativeness of phrenology. But a glance will show the fallacy of this idea. The phrenological combativeness has, for its essence, the necessity of self-defence. It is our safeguard against injury. Its principle regards our well-being; and thus the desire to be well is excited simultaneously with its development. It follows, that the desire to be well must be excited simultaneously with any principle which shall be merely a modification of combativeness, but in the case of that something which I term perverseness, the desire to be well is not only aroused, but a strongly antagonistical sentiment exists.    An appeal to one's own heart is, after all, the best reply to the sophistry just noticed. No one who trustingly consults and thoroughly questions his own soul, will be disposed to deny the entire radicalness of the propensity in question. It is not more incomprehensible than distinctive. There lives no man who at some period has not been tormented, for example, by an earnest desire to tantalize a listener by circumlocution. The speaker is aware that he displeases, he has every intention to please; he is usually curt, precise, and clear; the most laconic and luminous language is struggling for utterance upon his tongue; it is only with difficulty that he restrains himself from giving it flow; he dreads and deprecates the anger of him whom he addresses; yet, the thought strikes him, that by certain involutions and parentheses this anger may be engendered. That single thought is enough. The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing, and the longing (to the deep regret and mortification of the speaker, and in defiance of all consequences) is indulged.
   We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow; and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the


conflict within us, -- of the definite with the indefinite -- of the substance with the shadow. But, if the contest has proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which prevails -- we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies -- it disappears -- we are free. The old energy returns. We will labour now. Alas, it is too late!    We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into the abyss -- we grow sick and dizzy. Our first impulse is to shrink from the danger. Unaccountably we remain. By slow degrees our sickness and dizziness and horror become merged in a cloud of unnamable feeling. By gradations, still more imperceptible, this cloud assumes shape, as did the vapour from the bottle out of which arose the genius in the Arabian Nights. But out of this our cloud upon the precipice's edge, there grows into palpability, a shape, far more terrible than any genius or any demon of a tale, and yet it is but a thought, although a fearful one, and one which chills the very marrow of our bones with the fierceness of the delight of its horror. It is merely the idea of what would be our sensations during the sweeping precipitancy of a fall from such a height. And this fall -- this rushing annihilation -- for the very reason that it involves that one most ghastly and loathsome of all the most ghastly and loathsome images of death and suffering which have ever presented themselves to our imagination -- for this very cause do we now the most vividly desire it. And because our reason violently deters us from the brink, therefore do we the most impetuously approach it. There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a plunge. To indulge, for a moment, in any attempt at thought, is to be inevitably lost; for reflection but urges us to forbear, and therefore it is, I say, that we cannot. If there be no friendly arm to check us, or if we fail in a sudden effort to prostrate ourselves backward from the abyss, we plunge, and are destroyed.
   Examine these and similar actions as we will, we shall find them resulting solely from the spirit of the Perverse. We perpetrate them merely because we feel that we should not Beyond or behind this there is no intelligible principle; and we might, indeed, deem this perverseness a direct instigation of the arch-fiend, were it not occasionally known to operate in furtherance of good.
   I have said thus much, that in some measure I may answer


your question -- that I may explain to you why I am here -- that I may assign to you something that shall have at least the faint aspect of a cause for my wearing these fetters, and for my tenanting this cell of the condemned. Had I not been thus prolix, you might either have misunderstood me altogether, or, with the rabble, have fancied me mad. As it is, you will easily perceive that I am one of the many uncounted victims of the Imp of the Perverse.    It is impossible that any deed could have been wrought with a more thorough deliberation. For weeks, for months, I pondered upon the means of the murder. I rejected a thousand schemes, because their accomplishment involved a chance of detection. At length, in reading some French memoirs, I found an account of a nearly fatal illness that occurred to Madame Pilau, through the agency of a candle accidentally poisoned. The idea struck my fancy at once. I knew my victim's habit of reading in bed. I knew, too, that his apartment was narrow and ill-ventilated. But I need not vex you with impertinent details. I need not describe the easy artifices by which I substituted, in his bed-room candle stand, a wax-light of my own making for the one which I there found. The next morning he was discovered dead in his bed, and the coroner's verdict was -- 'Death by the visitation of God.'
   Having inherited his estate, all went well with me for years. The idea of detection never once entered my brain. Of the remains of the fatal taper I had myself carefully disposed. I had left no shadow of a clue by which it would be possible to convict, or even suspect, me of the crime. It is inconceivable how rich a sentiment of satisfaction arose in my bosom as I reflected upon my absolute security. For a very long period of time I was accustomed to revel in this sentiment. It afforded me more real delight than all the mere worldly advantages accruing from my sin. But there arrived at length an epoch, from which the pleasurable feeling grew, by scarcely perceptible gradations, into a haunting and harassing thought. It harassed me because it haunted. I could scarcely get rid of it for an instant. It is quite a common thing to be thus annoyed with the ringing in our ears, or rather in our memories, of the burthen of some ordinary song, or some unimpressive snatches from an opera. Nor will we be the less tormented if the song in itself be good, or the opera air meritorious. In this manner, at last, I would perpetually catch myself pondering upon my security, and repeating, in a low under-tone, the phrase, 'I am safe.'


   One day, whilst sauntering along the streets, I arrested myself in the act of murmuring, half aloud, these customary syllables. In a fit of petulance I re-modelled them thus: 'I am safe -- I am safe -- yes -- if I be not fool enough to make open confession.'
   No sooner had I spoken these words, than I felt an icy chill creep to my heart. I had had some experience in these fits of perversity (whose nature I have been at some trouble to explain), and I remembered well that in no instance I had successfully resisted their attacks. And now my own casual self-suggestion, that I might possibly be fool enough to confess the murder of which I had been guilty, confronted me, as if the very ghost of him whom I had murdered -- and beckoned me on to death.
   At first, I made an effort to shake off this nightmare of the soul. I walked vigorously -- faster -- still faster -- at length I ran. I felt a maddening desire to shriek aloud. Every succeeding wave of thought overwhelmed me with new terror, for, alas! I well, too well, understood that to think, in my situation, was to be lost. I still quickened my pace. I bounded like a madman through the crowded thoroughfares. At length, the populace took the alarm and pursued me. I felt then the consummation of my fate. Could I have torn out my tongue, I would have done it -- but a rough voice resounded in my ears -- a rougher grasp seized me by the shoulder. I turned -- I gasped for breath. For a moment I experienced all the pangs of suffocation; I became blind, and deaf, and giddy; and then some invisible fiend, I thought, struck me with his broad palm upon the back. The long-imprisoned secret burst forth from my soul.
   They say that I spoke with a distinct enunciation, but with marked emphasis and passionate hurry, as if in dread of interruption before concluding the brief but pregnant sentences that consigned me to the hangman and to hell.
   Having related all that was necessary for the fullest judicial conviction, I fell prostrate in a swoon.
   But why shall I say more? To-day I wear these chains, and am here! To-morrow I shall be fetterless! -- but where?

The Raven

horizontal spaceOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición : 1478-1834

In 1492, the year the new world of the Americas was discovered, the Jews of Spain where asked to convert to Catholocism or leave. Those that remained where conversos. 

Don Luis Maria--Francisco de Goya--1783.

The painting by El Greco, I have seen at the Met, is sublime...

Cardinal Fernando Nino de Guevara : 1541-1609
There is nothing more seductive, enticing for man than freedom, however, there is nothing that torments him more - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Grand Inquisitor speaking to the second coming of Christ. 

Black Death - Europe : 1346-1353

Don't waste time fighting battles that are not this is not the black death, it is a building going up on Smith Street. 

Smith Street - 2014

Abraham Floyd's Dreams

Exhausted, Abraham Floyd arrived at his office one morning and somewhat annoyingly had a lot of trouble opening the back door. He preferred the rear entrance because it happened to be a bit quieter. That way he could slip up the stairs unnoticed making his way into his office before he called his first patient for the day. However, on this day he seemed frustrated as he wriggled the key for a few moments and every turn sent a painful jolt through his aching body. Abe had been dreaming a lot lately and consequently he was sleeping poorly. Each night his dreams seemed more and more vivid.

Abe’s old office of twenty years was gone and had moved down the road into a new building. How could he not have noticed? The building he was trying to enter was now derelict and waiting to be knocked down for the new development, which even he had been anticipating. There was absolutely no one about except for a few birds using their beaks to toss around scraps of paper in the morning sun.

After a hasty and embarrassed retreat during which he hoped no one noticed him, he made his way to his new office. He was half an hour late and the waiting room was packed. He was apologetic and made a moderately loud announcement for all his patients to hear that he had been caught up getting to work. The patients look bored and restless shuffling magazines and looking at their watches. They were not interested. They just wanted him to get on with his day.

Antonio Corelli was the first patient. He wanted Abraham to write a letter. He told Abraham that it was a very straightforward matter. It was just a letter addressed “To whom it may concern”, followed by an outline of Antonio’s general health.

Antonio, he knew, was a builder and a well-known Mafia boss about town. He sponsored a national football team and had a hand in various gambling venues. Abe had known him for many years though only superficially through his annual health checks and not much more. Some had said to Abe that Antonio was a good connection to have, though Abe had always been wary of him. Once though, Antonio’s son Johnny had come asking for a prescription for testosterone injections to help build up his muscles but Abe had politely declined the request after explaining the risks of steroids that included cancer. Johnny never came back after that.

‘It’s just a simple letter’, exclaimed Antonio in his thick Italian accent. ‘I’m getting a bit older and I want to start going to the gym again. These people, they are so risk worried these days, about every little thing, that I might sue them if I die on the tread mill, so that when I went for my first session they told me that I needed a clearance from doctor saying that I was fit for the gym. Ridiculous, huh…’ he went on. ‘That’s fine Antonio’ replied Abraham calmly, ‘however I cannot do it right at this moment as I am running a little behind, as you can see. Not that that is your problem, I understand. I will do it in the afternoon and post it to your secretary. She will have it in no time’. ‘Fine, fine…’ replied Antonio, picking up his hat and leaving.  

Abe thought about writing the letter immediately but instead and on instinct called his next patient Paul who came in with his father Michael who worked in the Ford factory though by now Abe imagined he had probably lost his job. A stream of patients followed and Abe became absorbed in their exhausting lists of problems that seemed endless and beyond solution. As the day wore on Abraham felt increasingly nervous, though why he could not calculate. That afternoon he chose not to write the letter that Antonio had asked for but rather, he decided, to think a little more about it over night and do it the next day, perhaps.

That night his dreams were once again vivid but he could not establish if they were more or less vivid than the night before. He dreamt that he had broken his leg in a car accident and was then arrested in the aftermath of the collision. He had been trying to maneuver his car into a small lane into which it did not fit, that have had been designed for motorcycles and bikes. The police arrived and after examining the scene would not offer him the medical assistance that was necessary. Instead they kept calculating the possible damage bill and putting it to Abe. It seemed that he was at fault for the accident. The situation seemed hopeless until some reassurance came to him when he realised that he may escape any trouble by threatening to sue the police for not offering vital medical assistance for his broken leg but rather insisting on interviewing him and performing mundane calculations about the damage bill.

When he awoke he thought more about this troubling dream and reached for his left leg to make sure that it was not injured. In doing this he recalled that there was some confusion about how the injury had occurred. The broken leg had not come about during the accident after all but later that day, hours later, when some goons, from God-knows where, had arrived and assaulted him. His anxiety abated when he reminded himself that it was just a dream.

Abe’s work that day was fortunately uneventful, as the restless night had made him tense. There were no peculiar phone calls and he saw mostly regular patients though a couple were new to the practice. Abe had a few good experiences and smiled at the secretary as he left the office at the end of the day. He had his dinner at the continental restaurant in the company of close friend. Abe chose the steak tartare off the menu but immediately regretted the decision because he thought the raw meat, though he loved it so much, might affect his dreams. Following this, he went to bed fearfully.

In the morning he awoke in good cheer for he either had no dreams at all or he could not remember them. Either way he was satisfied. He arrived at work a few minutes early and thought again about writing the letter for Antonio, however, his attention was absorbed by other matters and so he procrastinated further for what he thought were good reasons.

It was Wednesday, the day that he would always take a long lunch break. He caught the tram to Smith-Bridge Road where he sat down to eat Sushi at his usual place and had a glass of green tea. He decided he would wander up the street a little further to explore his old surgery a second time and to work out why he made the mistake two days earlier.

‘Of course’, he thought to himself as he saw the construction vehicles arriving for the demolition. ‘Antonio is knocking it down to build a huge apartment complex and shopping precinct. How could I have forgotten? In fact, I had been renting the old building from him for years!’ 

Suddenly he became confused again by his dreams and could not recall whether the goons had come and threatened him at his home after his dreams had finished the previous night or whether they had in fact been in the final ending to the dream as he had first imagined. The goons had certainly not broken his leg because he was walking fine and felt no pain. ‘That was certainly part of the dream’, he exclaimed. He stopped walking for a moment and thought further on the matter. The threat that they may have made was uncertain. What had now become certain to him though, as he looked over his shoulder, in case any one should be following him, or perhaps preparing to make another threat, was that this was no ordinary letter that Antonio was asking for but in fact it was a favour.

Abe thought more about the situation as he moved away from the demolition site. ‘What on earth could he want a letter from me for?’ He could not for a moment imagine what lay in his power that Antonio could possibly need. Antonia was a rich and powerful man. He owned most of the buildings on Smith-Bridge Road. ‘If only he would leave me alone! Why has he chosen me to bother in his quests? I am a mere civilian!’ And with that thought he quickened his pace, hopped onto the tram and made his way back to the office to continue with his afternoon session. Abe felt increasingly overwrought as the afternoon wore on. He arrived home in a state of panic, poured himself some cognac with ice in a tumbler, toasted himself and watched the evening news, as was his habit.

That night his sleep was worse. Firstly, he couldn’t get to sleep. His mind was racing. He tried many a trick he had ever offered any insomniac that had ever passed through his office until the fatigue of effort finally dragged him off to sleep. He awoke feeling more tired than when he went to bed. He thought he heard someone in his house. Perhaps footsteps. It is only my cat being playful, he thought to himself. It can’t be Antonio’s goons. Surely?  

Abe suspected that Antonio might have been threatening him by way of the goons because he needed the letter for something, however, he was adamant that he would not write the letter. Abe was certain that there were illegal goings-on and he wanted no part in them and by writing the letter he too would be an accomplice in these crimes of which he knew nothing about.

‘Antonio will ultimately be caught because he and his family are fools’, he muttered to himself, ‘and then I will be unable to practice medicine because of the letter I wrote for him. Fancy that! Such stupidity. Why should I write such a letter?’ He heard more noises in the house. ‘It could be Antonio’s goons’, he thought to himself.

Abe was divorced, freshly. He had two young girls whom he adored and wished to provide for. Antonio was going to ruin all of this. Furthermore, perhaps Abe could meet a new woman and fall in love, but who would marry a doctor who had lost his license to practice because he had been a co-conspirator with a petty inner city chapter of the Mafia. All these possible disastrous outcomes were one thing but his mind kept coming back to the letter. That was the problem. The idea that he could not provide for his daughters because of the letter that he had to write for this Mafioso was so abhorrent to him that he felt he needed to go to the bathroom and vomit. For a moment though he feared leaving his bedroom as he thought that the goons might still be in the house. He must wait until there are no further sounds, proof that the goons had gone, and then he could do what was required.

He lay in bed thinking. ‘Why does he send his cronies around to my home and threaten me. Do I have to go out there and plead with them.’ Completely wrought with fatigue and burnout, Abe was unable to determine whether this had really happened or whether he dreamt it. ‘Of course’, he reassured himself, ‘there is no-one in the house, it is all in my imagination.’

He jumped out of bed and dressed himself quickly in a suit and tie. ‘I will go to Antonio’ he pronounced in front of the mirror, ‘and apologise for being unable to write the letter.’ Abe felt an air of confidence spread through his body. ‘I will be honest and open and that will solve everything. I will say, “I am sorry Antonio but I cannot write the letter. Please excuse me now, I have to go!” And that is that.’

He rushed out of the house, caught the ‘812’ tram and got off outside the offices of Mr. Antonio Corelli. He rushed up the stairs and pleaded with the secretary that he needed to see Mr. Corelli right away. The secretary seemed perplexed and told him not to worry, pleading with Abe to calm down.

Mr. Corelli was in a meeting and as Abe waited his thoughts transformed themselves until he was no longer certain about anything. What he did know, though, and of this he was certain, that no matter what Antonio had wanted the letter for, what ever petty purpose Antonio had in mind, it no longer mattered, for he no longer feared Antonio, his son or his cronies. He would walk straight into the office and tell Antonio this. That he no longer feared the Mafia and what it might do with him if he did not comply. Oh no! He was a man of integrity and he had a spine. What was the worst Antonio could do, shoot him? Go ahead! Abe was beyond fear at this time. He would go in to the office and cry out to Antonio that he feared him not, come what may… 

Thales (Θαλῆς: circa 500 BC) = Brokers Gin : Premium 47% Alcohol

When Thales described that everything came from water, the question of whether or not he is right is irrelevant. The proposition that everything is composed of water is absurd given what we know now - of course we haven't found the truth but rather a more refined ignorance. 

However, Thales did put forth the proposition that the natural world came to be in and of its own accord. What? A world responsible for its own creation! Without supernatural requirement! Everything could be explained by what was available to human perception - that could be touched and from that discerned - what material we could discern. He was a naturalist.

Sometimes a Street -- 11 Nov 12

Sometimes I like to think that the worlds is created from Broker's Premium Gin. It would make my life a little easier and those around me a little more uncomfortable.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The tribes of Europe (Gothic, Germanic, Franks...), having no recourse to faith or belief in "the scriptures", were, in the mind of Aquinas, accessible through reason. And so, with the scriptures of the Israelites and the philosophical treatises of the Ancient Greeks, he fused together an argument that he must have believed would convince and convert these tribes to Christianity.

In the philosophy of Christian religion in the centuries that have followed there has been little progress made in the ways in which religious argument is executed. Reason remains largely useless and we rely of faith, that great inexplicable sensation of the infinite.

Saint Thomas Aquinas -- Diego Velázquez

A Song of Ice and Fire

The characters are quite interesting. Tyrion is essentially a good person with some bad habits. Samwell is brave, even though almost everything he says and does attempts to indicate the opposite, Jon Snow the bastard is good son. 

August 2014

Free Spirits


What is the seal of liberation? - No longer being ashamed in front of oneself. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882) (Translated by Walter Kaufmann - 1974)

Mourning and Melancholia


It is this sadism alone that solves the riddle of the tendency to suicide which makes melancholia so interesting – and so dangerous. So immense is the ego’s self-love, which we have come to recognise as the primal state from which instinctual life proceeds, and so vast is the amount of narcissistic libido which we see liberated in the fear that emerges at a threat to life, that we cannot conceive how that ego can consent to its own destruction. We have long known, it is true, that no neurotic harbours thoughts of suicide which he has not turned back upon himself from murderous impulses against others, but we have never been able to explain what interplay of forces can carry such a purpose through to execution. The analysis of melancholia now shows that the ego can kill itself only if, owing to the return of the object-cathexis, it can treat itself as an object – if it is able to direct against itself the hostility which relates to an object and which represents the ego’s original reaction to objects in the external world. Thus in regression from narcissistic object-choice the object has, it is true, been got rid of, but it has nevertheless proved more powerful than the ego itself. In the opposed situations of being most intensely in love and of suicide, the ego is overwhelmed by the object, though in totally different ways.

Civilisation and It's Discontents

At the height of being in love the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away. Against all the evidence of his senses, a man who is in love declares that 'I' and 'you' are one, and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact

Man the 'Prosthetic' God
Man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic god. When he puts on all his auxillary organs he is truley magnificent; but those organs have not grown onto him and they still give him much trouble at times.

Thanatos : return to our inorganic state

Broker's Premium Strength
The Cutlass
Tanqueray 10
No. 3 London Dry


Quina-Fina or Q-Tonic 
Fever-Tree Mediterranean

She will use little expressions and that will widen the abyss between us….She will say, "when I was a child" - or "when I am old" - or "never in all my life" - That stabs me, Mercury…. We miss something, Mercury - the poignancy of the transient - the intimation of mortality - that sweet sadness of grasping something you cannot hold. Jean Giraudeax - Amphitryon 38

Stalin gave me the impression of a grey blur which flickered obscurely and left no trace.
Nikolai Sukhanov

No man enjoys the true taste of life but he who is willing and ready to quit it. Seneca

Death is the condition that makes it possible for us to live authentically.
Responsibility avoiding defences:
  • innocent victim
  • losing control
  • out of my control
Only after one takes suicide seriously does one take one's life seriously. Irvin Yalom

The bar door slammed open and noise, voices, poured in off the street. A man was collapsed outside on the pavement and a small crowd had surrounded him. A derelict histrionic woman was fanning him with a folded newspaper.  He appeared to be old man with a grey beard, clutching a bottle and gurgling.  An ambulance arrived. It turned out it wasn’t an emergency at all. They said he was in no imminent danger and lifted him into the sitting position onto a bench. He thanked them profusely, bitterly upset at having caused them to be called out, to which to the middle aged ambulance officers replied that it was not a problem at all. There were rumours bad Dank that did it, until someone else clarified the situation and said that it had nothing to do with the Dank but rather the man had a tumour in his chest. Mifune

Dionysus against the Crucified

Go Pies

A patient with chronic pain will develop behaviours around that pain that, to the outside observer, may appear to have no sense, logical sequence, or recognisable pattern, however, to the internal view of the sufferer, these ritualistic patterns make perfect sense, even though, conscious of the abnormal appearance to the outside eye, may not be taken as far as is desired in the quest for relief - fear of exposure results in their failure to fully thrive. So it is with the anxiety, with mental pain. It presents the sufferer as a curiosity. A somewhat non-sensical character, in a battle to avoid using too many techniques to subdue the anxious thoughts, for fear of transparency- extract from Mifune's Diary

Louis-Ferdinand Céline

And between whiles you boast of having managed to be rid of your unhappiness, but everyone knows, don't they, that you've not done any such thing but are just as miserable as you well can be. As you grow uglier and uglier and more repulsive, playing this game as you grow old, you can't even conceal your unhappiness any longer, your failure; and in the end your face has become only an ugly expression which takes twenty, thirty or more years to come up from your stomach onto your face. That is what a man will achieve, that and that alone, -- an ugly expression which he has spent a lifetime making and often even then hasn't managed to finish off properly, because of how difficult and complicated an expression it would have to be to reflect his real soul without missing anything out
Louis-Ferdinand Celine

George Soros and the pain of taking risk and Thomas Hardy

In the ill-judged execution of the well-judged plan of things the call seldom produces the comer, the man to love rarely coincides with the hour for loving. Nature does not often say “See!” to her poor creature at a time when seeing can lead to a happy doing; or reply “Here” to a body’s cry of “Where?” till the hide-and-seek has become an irksome, outworn game. We may wonder whether at the acme and summit of human progress, these anachronisms will be corrected by a finer intuition, a closer interaction of the social machinery than that which jolts us round and along; but such completeness is not to be prophesised, or even conceived as possible.
“Justice” was done, and the President of the Immortals (in the Aeschylean phrase) had ended his sport with Tess. And the d’Urberville knights and dames slept on in their tombs unknowing.

Thomas Hardy- Tess of the Durbervilles

George Soros

Investing Structure

We position the fund to take advantage of larger trends – we call this marco-investing – and then, within those larger trends we also pick stocks and stock groups

Let’s say we use our money to buy stocks. We pay 50 percent in cash and we borrow the other 50%. Against bonds we borrow a lot more. For $1,000 we can buy at least $50,000 worth of long-term bonds. We may also sell stocks or bonds short in the hope of buying them back later cheaper. Or we take positions – long or short – in currencies or index futures. The various positions reinforce each other to create this three-dimensional structure of risks and profit opportunities. Usually two days – one up day, and one down day – are sufficient to tell us how the fund is positioned.
Buying Options

When you buy options, you’re paying the professionals a hefty premium for providing you with a leverage that we can create cheaper ourselves by borrowing against our securities.
Investment Theory

They’re generally constructed on the assumption of efficient market theory. That theory is in conflict with my theory of imperfect understanding and reflexivity. I think that those methods work 99% of the time, but they break down 1% of the time. I am more concerned with that 1%.

We are willing to invest our capital along three axes: we have stock exposure, we have interest-rate exposure and we have currency exposure.

Occasionally, there is a fourth axis because we do from time to time take positions in commodities.

Our understanding of the world in which we live is imperfect. The situations we need to understand in order to reach our decisions are usually affected by those decisions. There is an innate divergence between the expectations of the people taking part in the events and the actual outcome of the events. Sometimes the divergence is so small that it can be disregarded, but at other times it is so large that it becomes an important factor in determining the course of events. This is not an easy idea to communicate.

“Imperfect understanding”

Classic economic theory assumes that market participants act on the basis of perfect knowledge. That assumption is false. The participants perceptions influence the market in which they participate, but the market action also influences the participant’s perceptions.
Using Leverage

Managers of bond funds, if they have a positive view on interest rates, can lengthen the maturity of their portfolio to at most, 15 years. When they have a negative view, they can keep the average maturity short. We have a much greater freedom to manoeuvre. When we are bearish, we sell short; when we are bullish, we don’t have to buy long maturities; we can buy short maturities and use a lot of leverage.

Thinking is part of the reality that people have to think about.

The belief that financial markets tend towards equilibrium and it is only government interference that prevents them from assuring a best allocation of resources……is both false and misleading.

The Concept of Reflexivity

The concept of reflexivity is very simple. In situations that have thinking participants, there is a two-way interaction between the participant’s thinking and the situation in which they participate.

Reflexivity renders participants understanding imperfect and ensures their actions will have unintended consequences.

Reflexivity and Economic Theory

The efficient market hypothesis claims that market prices fully reflect all the extant information. The closely related rational expectations theory holds that, in the absence of exogenous shocks, financial markets tend towards an equilibrium that accurately reflects the participants’ expectations. Together, these theories support the belief that financial markets, left to their own devices, assure the optimal allocation of resources.

The Human Uncertainty Principle

If perfect understanding were possible, there would be no room for human creativity.
Market Forces

I look for conditions of disequilibrium.

To others, being wrong is a source of shame; to me, recognising my mistakes is a source of pride. Once we realise that imperfect understanding is the human condition, there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.

It hurts me to lose money and it gives me pleasure to win.

Trend is your friend most of the way; tend followers only get hurt at inflection points, where the trend changes. Most of the time I am a trend follower, but all of the time I am aware that I am a member of a herd and I am on the look out for inflection points.

There is nothing more self-destructive than denying your feelings. Once you are aware of your feelings you may not feel the need to show them. But sometimes, especially when you are under great strain, the need to hide it may make the strain intolerable. I remember an occasion, early in my career when I was practically wiped out in my personal account, yet I had to carry on in my job as if there was nothing wrong. The strain was unbearable. I could hardly bring myself to go back to the office after lunch. That is why I encourage my associates to share their problems.

Risk Taking

Risk taking is painful. Either you are willing to bear the pain yourself or you try to pass it on to others. Anyone who is in a risk taking business but cannot face the consequences is no good.

Going to the brink is something else – it serves a purpose. There is nothing like danger to focus the mind, and I do need the excitement connected with taking risks in order to think clearly. It is an essential part of my thinking ability. Risk taking is, to me, an essential ingredient in thinking clearly.

When you are a serious risk taker, you need to be disciplined. The discipline that I used was a profound sense of insecurity, which helped to alert me to problems before they got out of hand.

Once you take your success for granted, you let down your guard.

I refuse to remain the slave of my business.

George Soros 

Tanqueray10+Fentimans+Lime = most likely my favourite drink on earth...
Sipsmith+Fentimans+Lemon = near to perfection, last drink kind of stuff...
Beefeater24+Fentimans+Lime = an upbeat note onto the classic G&T. 
Martin Miller Westbourne+Fever-Tree+Lime = smooth and curvaceous, divine not sublime
The Botanist+Fentimans+Lime = admirable, noisy, youthful arrogance...
Plymouth Navy Strength+Fever-Tree+Lime = sombre, perhaps dark mood
The Botanist+Fever-Tree+Lime = near perfect G & T. 
Sipsmith+Fentimans+Lime = ding, dong, the brain is dead!
Hayman's Old Tom+Fever-Tree+Lime: parting is such sweet sorrow...
Hendrick's+Fever-Tree+Lebanese Cucumber = fresh summer breeze 
Sipsmith+Fever-Tree+Lime = spicy heaven or cool hell...
Hendrick's+Fentimans+Lebanese Cucumber = nearly there, cool breeze in winter
Gin Mare+Fever-Tree+Rosemary = mediterranean spice travel, a little mountainous
Martin Miller's+Fever-Tree + Lime 
London No. 3 + Fever-Tree
Melbourne Gin Co. + Fentimans
Gin Mare + [nothing can save this gin]
Four Pillars + Fentimans
Hendrick's + Capi or Fever-Tree
Bombay Sapphire + Fever-Tree
The Cutlass + Cascade 
Sipsmith + Fentimans
Half-Moon Orchard neat... = delicious spicy heat 

Sonnet No. 1

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes, Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel, Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel. Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

- Shakespeare, Sonnet No. 1

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes, the 17th Century English philosopher who lived through the chaos of the English civil war and the Thirty Years War, built his political philosophy on a conception of security that has become dominant in modern society. In his 1651 masterpiece, Leviathan, Hobbes argued that humans unconstrained by laws would, through competition for wealth and pre-eminence, create a persistent state of insecurity that would ultimately prevent them from attaining either:

In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of earth; no navigation, for use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing such things that require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’
Hobbes’s conception established a total and binary opposition between peace, a state of physical and material security, allowing the pursuit of higher goals, and war, a pervasive, debilitating sense of foreboding of “every man, against every man”.

For war, consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known for as the nature of foul weather, lieth not in a shower or two of rain; but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war, consisteth not in actual fighting; but in the known disposition thereto, during all time there is assurance to the contrary."

In this conception, Hobbes was being faithful to the etymology of the word “war”, which derives from the old French “guerre”, meaning “confusion”, “discord” and “strife”. According to a long Western tradition, then, insecurity and security are mutually exclusive physical and material conditions that fundamentally determine the quality of human life. In Hobbes’s theory, “man is a creature civilised by the fear of death”. Hobbes’s entire system of civil society and the state are built form a single “purging emotion” – the fear of death. The Hobbesian conception of security builds an intimate dynamic between physical and material security, in which unconstrained acquisitiveness and competition lead to physical insecurity, and in which physical security is the essential precondition to humans’ bounded pursuit of physical and other achievements. This conception ahs informed our understanding of the human condition, and the widespread popularity of Abraham Maslow’s argument that only physiological necessities precede security in the hierarchy of human needs demonstrates that most people find this conception to be intuitively correct. The priority of physical and material security has informed domestic and international natural and positive law, providing a widely recognised basic right of self-defence that trumps most other rules, norms and considerations. According to this conception, war is only justified when it is required to re-establish conditions of physical and material security or forestall physical and material insecurity.

Michael Wesley – “The search for moral security” : Australian Financial Review, 28th January, 2005.

Otter and Budd Street:  27_April_2012_8pm

Fentimans :       95.0
Fever-Tree :      94.0
Fever-Tree Medi : 93.5
Quina Fina :      92.6
Tiro :            92.0
San Pelligrino :  91.5
Capi :            90.9
Schweppes :       90.7
Cascade :         93.3
Q-Tonic :         90.0

There is another, more fundamental danger, namely man's restriction of himself and constriction of his horizons to include only his work to which, so the Book says, he has been sentenced to after his expulsion from paradise. If he accepts work as his only obligation, and 'what works' as his only criterion of worthwhileness, he may become the conformist and thoughtless slave of his technology and of those who are in a position to exploit it - Eric Erikson, Childhood and Society, 1950

Up people do not go down

11 November 2013 - 10am

Then Wear the Gold Hat - Thomas Parke D'Invilliers (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry "Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!"