Madman Counsel and the Cringe Path

Salient Writing and Philosophy Lenses, in honor of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

In honor of the passing of the Great American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I’ve pulled together incisive words from some likeminded hopeful radicals. But first, from Ferlinghetti’s 2007 manifesto Poetry As Insurgent Art:

If you would be a poet, write living newspapers. Be a reporter from outer space, filing dispatches to some supreme managing editor who believes in full disclosure and has a low tolerance for bullshit.

Ferlinghetti: “poetry’s rock star”


Snippets of Writing Advice from a Madman

Author Karan Mahajan recently tweeted out a 69-page list of quotes and snippets the legendary Denis Johnson collected.

It’s phenomenal writing advice curated by a “madman” writer and, as such, is no normie regular list. It includes such gems as:

Some ideas require a graphic language if they are not to be violated.
-Marcel Duchamp of his “Glass”

… something, I’m certain, of which Jack Butcher is living proof.

And the list transcends mere writing guidance, such as:

Having the critics praise you is like having the hangman say you have a pretty neck.
- Eli Wallach

In fact, the list transcends just about everything and deposits this gold in the soul:

Only paradise or the sea could make me give up music.
Music is everything.
God himself is nothing more than an acoustic hallucination.
- E.M. Cioran (Tears & Saints)

To check out the full 69-page treasure trove, click to the PDF here.


“The Cringe Path”

Writer, philosopher, and steward of The Stoa, Peter Limberg has one of the most courageous and forthright writing practices. His daily newsletter has become a balm, a depth charge, and an inspiration. His recent post entitled “The Cringe Path” resonated for its thrust and clarity.

He sourced a fantastic Alain de Botton quote:

Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.

From this inspiration he developed the idea of “the cringe path: the trail of cringe one must leave behind them.” A golden aphorism for anyone building their thing in public.

It’s a beautiful Stoic frame akin to shirking comforts, cold showers, and fasting. Seed growth and prepare for progress by developing an expectation that today’s successes will become tomorrow’s SMHs.

Read his full post here for deeper context and for his inspiring candor. He also offers profound coaching sessions with an inimitable presence.


“Why I Am Not a Stoic”

Author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson has been too often mistaken for a Stoic via his edgy brand of advice giving. He wrote this thoughtful piece to set the record straight on why he is in fact not a Stoic. In the process he gives a taut, damn near exhilarating breakdown of four old schools of Greek philosophy: Cynicism, Skepticism, Epicureanism, and Stoicism.

After the 101 session on the history and core tenets of the four schools, he treads into a cogent reasoning for his own personal departure from Stoicism. To clarify where his thinking aligns, he brings in Buddhism (and a tidy 101 on its view) as well as Existentialism (+101), and compares how each stands up and sounds down for him in his life and learning.

It’s delightful reading, particularly for anyone who
a) wants to know more about any of these schools of thought,
b) wants to listen to salient renderings of them, or
c) has a felt sense that the following summation aligns:

All there is to do is develop enough self-awareness to take responsibility in each and every moment for the choices we make, even when they blow up in our faces.


One final leave-behind from Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind, one of the first books of poetry I owned.

I am waiting for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe for anarchy.

Blessings to you all.

-Griff