The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Step by step

October 16th, 2018 · No Comments

“The compassionate mother, regarding her infant child, always strives to establish the child’s well-being. If she strives to establish the child’s well-being, she will endeavour to rid the child of calamities. If she endeavours to rid the child of calamities, her reflection and consideration become thorough. If her reflection and consideration are thorough, she will attain the principles of affairs. If she attains the principles of affairs, she will certainly accomplish her purposes. If she is certain of accomplishing her purposes, she will not hesitate in her action. To make no hesitation is called ‘bravery’.” – The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu (trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

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Maxed out

October 15th, 2018 · No Comments

“No greater crime than submitting to desire. No greater misery than not knowing sufficiency. No greater fault than avarice. Therefore, who knows sufficiency’s sufficiency is always sufficient.” – Lao Tzu, “Moderation of Desire” (quoted in The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu, trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

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Add only a dash of salt

October 14th, 2018 · No Comments

“Govern a big country as you would fry small fish: neither gut nor scale them.” – Lao Tzu, “How to Be in Office” (quoted in The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu, trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

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No muzzle-loaders left

October 13th, 2018 · No Comments

“Those who do not know the right way to political order, always say, ‘Never change ancient traditions, never remove existing institutions.’ Change or no change, the sage does not mind. For he aims only at the rectification of government. Whether or not ancient traditions should be changed, whether or not existing institutions should be removed, all depends upon the question whether or not such traditions and such institutions are still useful for present-day political purposes.” – The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu (trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

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It’s nothing personal

October 12th, 2018 · No Comments

“When the cartwright finishes making carriages, he wants people to be rich and noble; when the carpenter finishes making coffins, he wants people to die early. Not that the cartwright is benevolent and the carpenter is cruel, but that unless people are noble, the carriages will not sell, and unless people die, the coffins will not be bought.” – The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu (trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

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October 11th, 2018 · No Comments

“If all officials indulge in studies, sons of the family are fond of debate, peddlars and shopkeepers hide money in foreign countries, and poor people suffer miseries at home, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler is fond of palatial decorations, raised kiosks, and embanked pools, is immersed in pleasures of having chariots, clothes, and curios, and thereby tires out the hundred surnames and exhausts public wealth, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler is greedy, insatiable, attracted to profit, and fond of gain, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler enjoys inflicting unjust punishment and does not uphold the law, likes debate and persuasion but never sees to their practicability, and indulges in style and wordiness but never considers their effect, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler is stubborn-minded, uncompromising, and apt to dispute every remonstrance and fond of surpassing everybody else, and never thinks of the welfare of the Altar of the Spirits of Land and Grain but sticks to self-confidence without due consideration, then ruin is possible.

The ruler who relies on friendship and support from distant countries, makes light of his relations with close neighbours, counts on the aid from big powers, and provokes surrounding countries, is liable to ruin.

If the ruler is boastful but never regretful, makes much of himself despite the disorder prevailing in his country, and insults the neighbouring enemies without estimating the resources within the boundaries, then ruin is possible.

If words of maids and concubines are followed and the wisdom of favourites is used, and the ruler repeats committing unlawful acts regardless of the grievances and resentments inside and outside the court, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler is narrow-minded, quick-tempered, imprudent, easily affected, and, when provoked, becomes blind with rage, then ruin is possible.

If the state treasury is empty but the chief vassals have plenty of money, native subjects are poor but foreign residents are rich, farmers and warriors have hard times but people engaged in secondary professions are benefited, then ruin is possible.”

The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu (trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

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Indeed it is, and a rare thing at that

October 10th, 2018 · No Comments

“The sage is the one who scrutinizes the facts of right and wrong and investigates the conditions of order and chaos. Therefore, when governing the state he rectifies laws clearly and establishes penalties severely in order to rescue all living beings from chaos, rid All-Under-Heaven of misfortune, prohibit the strong from exploiting the weak and the many from oppressing the few, enable the old and the infirm to die in peace and the young and the orphan to grow freely, and see to it that the frontiers be not invaded, that ruler and minister be intimate with each other, that father and son support each other, and that there be no worry about being killed in war or taken prisoner. Such is one of the greatest achievements.” – The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu (trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

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Dating the death of god

October 9th, 2018 · No Comments

“In the West, the unity of the traditional world was lost with the Reformation and the ‘wars of religion’ that followed. The modern State then bursts on the scene with the task of reconstituting this unity—secularized, this time—no longer as an organic whole but instead as a mechanical whole, as a machine, as a conscious artificiality.” – Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War (emphasis in original)

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The last thing it wants to do is win

October 8th, 2018 · No Comments

“The continuity of the modern State—from absolutism to the Welfare State—shall be that of an endlessly unfinished war, waged against civil war.” Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War (emphasis in original)

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The new and improved new and improved

October 7th, 2018 · No Comments

“The historicity specific to the fictions of ‘modernity’ is never that of a stability gained once and for all, of a threshold finally surpassed, but precisely that of a process of endless mobilization. Behind the inaugural dates of the official historiography, behind the edifying epic tale of linear progress, a continuous labor of reorganization, of correction, of improvement, of papering over, of adjustment, and even sometimes of costly reconstruction has never stopped taking place. This labor and its repeated failures have given rise to the whole jittery junk heap of the ‘new.’ “ – Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War (emphasis in original)

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It’s obvious

October 6th, 2018 · No Comments

“We can recognize the fragile formations of power by their relentless attempts to posit fictions as self-evident. Throughout Modern Times, one of these fictions typically emerges as a neutral center, setting the scene for all the others. Reason, Money, Justice, Science, Man, Civilization, or Culture—with each there is the same phantasmagoric tendency: to posit the existence of a center, and then say that this center is ethically neutral.” – Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War (emphases in original)

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The state of affairs

October 5th, 2018 · No Comments

“Because King Ling of Ch`u liked slender waists, the country became full of starvelings; because Duke Huan of Ch`i was by nature jealous and fond of women, Shu Tiao castrated himself in order to administer the harem; because Duke Huan liked different tastes, Yi-ya steamed the head of his son and served Duke Huan with the rare taste.” – The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu (trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

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Long ago and far away

October 4th, 2018 · No Comments

“When the Grand Way was pursued, a public and common spirit ruled All-under-Heaven; they chose worthy and able men; their words were sincere, and what they cultivated was harmony. Thus men did not love their parents only, nor treat as children only their sons. A competent provision was secured for the aged till their death, employment for the able-bodied, and the means of growing up to the young. They showed kindness and compassion to widows, orphans, childless men, and those who were disabled by disease, so that they were all sufficiently maintained. Males had their proper work, and females had their homes. They accumulated articles of value, disliking that they should be thrown away upon the ground, but not wishing to keep them for their own gratification. They laboured with their strength, disliking that it should not be exerted, but not exerting it only with a view to their own advantage. In this way selfish schemings were repressed and found no development. Robbers, filchers, and rebellious traitors did not show themselves, and hence the outer doors remained open, and were not shut. This was the period of what we call the Great Community.” – The Li Ki (trans. James Legge)

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Put another log on the fire

October 3rd, 2018 · No Comments

“The trick of life is never to take the last run, when the mountain is awash in incandescent blue and gold, when the lines and slopes are thinning out and it would be just a quick wait to get on the lift, when your body is spent but you yearn for one last run. This is the time to go home.” – Betsy Lerner, The Bridge Ladies

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The old guard

October 2nd, 2018 · No Comments

“All of the men go first. Men who went to work every day, smoked cigars and wore fedoras, men who might have strayed but didn’t leave their wives, trade them in for younger models. Played ball with their sons and walked their daughters down the aisle at their weddings. These were men who poured tumblers of scotch and read the paper when they got home. Men who golfed on the weekend, played tennis, pinochle, poker, and couples Bridge with their wives. They didn’t read GQ or Esquire, didn’t need to. They knew how to tie a tie, do a push-up, and wax the Cadillac. They took Polaroid pictures at birthday parties and paid the bills. That their wives didn’t have to work was a point of pride, as was putting their children through college, affording a second home in a gated community in Boca or Palm Beach with automatic sprinklers and manicured putting greens. They left nest eggs and continued to take care of their wives from the grave.” – Betsy Lerner, The Bridge Ladies

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Circling the drain

October 1st, 2018 · No Comments

“Whenever I read an article about the unexpected benefits of aging, I groan. It’s not fun, you don’t become wiser, and worse, the world is hurtling away from you. Old age is nothing if not managing losses: physical ability, appearance, memory, spouses, friends, economic independence, and finally freedom.” – Betsy Lerner, The Bridge Ladies

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What counts and how, and who decides

September 30th, 2018 · No Comments

“ ‘Are you bipolar?’ My daughter was ten when she asked me. We were in her bed reading together before she went to sleep. It was something I knew I had to tell her one day, but I didn’t expect it to come out this soon, and in the moment she had taken me by surprise. I felt instantly awash in shame. By way of explanation, she said that her friend’s mother had googled me. Google. Fucking Google. For the first time I regret having written a memoir about my illness. She was a toddler when I wrote it. At the time, a handful of friends suggested that it was irresponsible of me; what would my daughter think when she was old enough to read it? Insulted by the question, I was cavalier in my response. Aren’t men allowed to write about their illnesses, their affairs, their acts of aggression and unkindness? Why are women held to a higher standard? Why is our mothering called into question when we reveal something unpleasant? All of my indignation fell away when my daughter looked up at me. I had told the world my story, only now I faced the only person for whom the truth mattered.” – Betsy Lerner, The Bridge Ladies

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Such wealth you should have

September 29th, 2018 · No Comments

“Old Jewish curse: May you be rich enough to own a house with 100 rooms, and may you be found dead in every one of them.” – Trump’s Potemkin Village, Wonkette, December 20, 2017

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And afterwards, too, sometimes

September 28th, 2018 · No Comments

“Before flaws look like style, they look like flaws.” – Maria Adelmann, “Basket Weaving 101”

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Ins and outs

September 27th, 2018 · No Comments

“There are two sides to the world that have to fit together somehow, but do not seem to fit together in a way that we presently understand. One is the existence of sensations and other mental processes that are felt by an agent; the other is the world of biology, chemistry, and physics.” – Peter Godfrey-Smith, Other Minds

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And probably should floss

September 26th, 2018 · No Comments

“A man who resembles a rodent should never wear tweed.” – Mark Helprin, “The Schreuderspitze”

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Shake, rattle, and roll

September 25th, 2018 · No Comments

“There is a limit to the amount of misery and disarray you will put up with, for love, just as there is a limit to the amount of mess you can stand around a house. You can’t know the limit beforehand, but you will know it when you’ve reached it.” – Alice Munro, “Bardon Bus”

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Dinner at the nothing burger diner

September 24th, 2018 · No Comments

“The images, the language, of pornography and romance are alike; monotonous and mechanically seductive, quickly leading to despair.” – Alice Munro, “Bardon Bus”

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Not guilty

September 23rd, 2018 · No Comments

“She had never been able to get rid of the fourteen-year-old girl within herself who was ashamed of her breasts and had the disagreeable feeling that she was indecent, because they stuck out from her body and were visible. Even though she was proud of being pretty and having a good figure, this feeling of pride was always immediately curtailed by shame. She rightly suspected that feminine beauty functioned above all as sexual provocation and she found this distasteful. She longed for her body to be related only to the man she loved. When men stared at her breasts in the street it seemed to her that they were invading a piece of her most secret privacy which should belong only to herself and her lover.” – Milan Kundera, “The Hitchhiking Game” (trans. Suzanne Rappaport)

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Where they fester

September 22nd, 2018 · No Comments

“Childish desires withstand all the snares of the adult mind and often survive into ripe old age.” – Milan Kundera, “The Hitchhiking Game” (trans. Suzanne Rappaport)

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No laughing matter

September 21st, 2018 · No Comments

“A man lives a sad life when he cannot take anything or anyone seriously.” – Milan Kundera, “Edward and God” (trans. Suzanne Rappaport)

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It’s been known to happen

September 20th, 2018 · No Comments

“If you run your mouth long enough, you’ll say something sensible.” – Dale Wisely, Editor, Right Hand Pointing

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Sorry, can’t help you

September 19th, 2018 · No Comments

“You are free and that is why you are lost.” – Nadine Gordimer, quoting Franz Kafka, in “Letter from His Father”

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Or doesn’t

September 18th, 2018 · No Comments

“It’s an exceptionally smart man who isn’t marked forever by the sexual theories he hears from his father.” – Saul Bellow, “A Silver Dish”

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Snarky lot

September 17th, 2018 · No Comments

“Some in their discourse desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold all arguments, than of judgment, in discerning what is true; as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought.” – Francis Bacon, “Of Discourse”

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