April 22

Amber pages:

One of my background agendas for writing this blog - indeed, it has been the background agenda for most of the books I have written these past forty years - is to provide for myself a structure, and within the structure both a discipline and a goal, in order to find out about people and "things" that I have heard of, that I feel I should know something about, preferably more than just "something", because actually I know absolutely nothing at all about them. 

Such is the case with Immanuel Kant, born today in 1724, who I am able to state with total conviction was a philosopher, and then to add, equally certainly, that when we accuse someone of "canting", of "talking a lot of cant", that word is spelled with a "c" and not a "k", and so we are not making accusations against said Immanuel. And there my knowledge ends (and no, I have no idea what are the source and origins and meaning of the word "cant"). I can list him with Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer as three of the most important European philosophers (but I know virtually nothing about Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer either, and I think I can say "of the Enlightenment", but... and now I am really struggling.

So, pause, and I will come back when I have undertaken the discipline and fulfilled the goal...

Precisely the same is true of Madame de Stael, born today in 1766

Whereas I could write reams (but probably shan't) about

Nikolai Lenin (whose real name was Vladimir Ilyitch Ulyanov), born today in 1870, the leader of Russia's second revolution in 1917, the Bolshevik Communist one that overthrew the Menshevik government of Kerensky...

And ditto Vladimir Nabokov, novelist, born today (or possibly tomorrow) in 1899

Whereas the opportunities for some hyperlinks to some serious jazz music, and an entire album of Joni Mitchell songs, is virtually irresistible when I notice that today, in 1922, the great jazz bass player Charlie Mingus was born... but I already did that, for his obituary, on January 5

Which leaves only two other birthdays that interest me: 
J. Robert Oppenheimer in 1904... but I have that piece set up for writing on January 27... and Sir Yehudi Menuhin, violin virtuoso, born today in 1916, who interests me, but not really all that much.

So I guess it's back to Kant and Madame de Stael, or the lights on this page may get stuck in amber for a while.

The illustration at the top of the page was taken on my Miami-San Francisco road trip in 2013: Robert J Oppenheimer visible, General Leslie Groves seen the way that Moses saw God, outside Fuller Lodge, where most of the important activity for the Manhattan Project took place

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