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cymbeline

Whom best I love I cross. I swerve. I stand on fire. Meal and bran, contempt and grace. To commix With winds that sailors rail at, in simple and low things To prince it much. Flow, flow, you heavenly blessings: Royalty unlearned, honor untaught; our fangled world, his radiant roof; the government of patience As chaste as unsunned snow——The same dead thing alive. Whom we reckon ourselves to be, so we do. Fear no more… I’ll drink the words. As many inches as you have oceans. Fear no more, the dream’s here still. Firing it only here, even when I…

two gentle

Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness And on a love-book pray for my success Till I have found each letter in the letter Whereon this month I have been hammering. Repair me with thy presence. Forsake unsounded deeps to dance on sands. Not being tried and tutored in the world And partly seeing you are beautified How could he see his way to seek out you? Hope is a lover’s staff, walk hence with that. I cannot leave to love, and yet I do. I am impatient of my tarriance. Didst thou but know the inly touch of love…

two noble

Weak as we are, and almost breathless swim In this deep water. But touch the ground for us no longer time Than a dove’s motion when the head’s plucked off, O, my petition was Set down in ice, which by hot grief uncandied Melts into drops; so sorrow, wanting form, Is pressed with deeper matter. O woe, You cannot read it there; there through my tears, Like wrinkled pebbles in a glass stream. Pray you, say nothing, pray you, Who cannot feel nor see the rain, being in it. Let the event, that never-erring arbitrator, tell us What we know…

the wordes moote be cosyn to the dede

Now have I toold you shortly in a clause, Th’estaat, th’array, the nombre, and eek the cause Why that assembled was this compaignye In Southwerk, at this gentil hostelrye That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle. But now is tyme to yow for to telle How that we baren us that ilke nyght, Whan we were in that hostelrie alyght; And after wol I telle of our viage And all the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage. But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye, That ye n’arette it nat my vileynye, Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere, To…

language rules

“…Furthermore, all correspondence referring to the matter was subject to rigid “language rules,” and, except in the reports from the Einsatzgruppen, it is rare to find documents in which such bald words as “extermination,” “liquidation,” or “killing” occur. The prescribed code names for killing were “final solution,” “evacuation” (Aussiedlung), and “special treatment” (Sonderbehandlung); deportation—unless it involved Jews directed to Theresienstadt, the “old people’s ghetto” for privileged Jews, in which case it was called “change of residence”—received the names of “resettlement” (Umsiedlung) and “labor in the East” (Arbeitseinsatz im Osten), the point of these latter names being that Jews were indeed…

grant a mercy death

“… None of the various ‘language rules,’ carefully contrived to deceive and to camouflage, had a more decisive effect on the mentality of the killers than this first war decree of Hitler, in which the word for “murder” was replaced by the phrase “to grant a mercy death.” Eichmann, asked by the police examiner if the directive to avoid “unnecessary hardships” was not a bit ironic, in view of the fact that the destination of these people was certain death anyhow, did not even understand the question, so firmly was it still anchored in his mind that the unforgivable sin…

geflügelte worte

“Before Eichmann entered the Party and the S.S., he had proved that he was a joiner, and May 8, 1945, the official date of Germany’s defeat, was significant for him mainly because it then dawned upon him that thenceforward he would have to live without being a member of something or other. “I sensed I would have to live a leaderless and difficult individual life, I would receive no directives from anybody, no orders and commands would any longer be issued to me, no pertinent ordinances would be there to consult—in brief, a life never known before lay before me.”…

writing

I would like to write the history of this prison, with all the political investments of the body that it gathers together in its closed architecture. Why? Simply because I am interested in the past? No, if one means by that writing a history of the past in terms of the present. Yes, if one means writing a history of the present. –Discipline and Punish +++ We write in water. –All is True (4.2.46)  

green courts

Totell’s Miscellany 15 (Henry Howard)– Prisoned in windsor, he recounteth his pleasure there passed. S0 cruell prison how coulde betide, alas, As proude Windsor? where I in lust and ioye, With a kinges sonne, my childishe yeres did passe, In greater feast than Priams sonnes of Troy: Where eche swete place returns a taste full sower, The large grene courtes, where we were wont to houe, With eyes cast vp into the maydens tower. And easie sighes, suche as folke drawe in loue: The stately seates, the ladies bright of hewe: The daunces shorte, longe tales of great delight: With…

at ones

Totell’s Miscellany 4 (Henry Howard):  Description of the fickle affections panges and sleightes of loue. SVche waiward waies hath loue, that most part in discord Our willes do stand, whereby our hartes but seldom doe accord. Disceit is his delight, and to begile, and mock The simple hartes whom he doth strike with froward diuers strok. He makes the one to rage with golden burning dart, And doth alay with leaden colde agayn the other hart.Whote glemes of burnyng fire, and easy sparkes of flame In balance of vnegall weight he pondereth by aime. From easy forde, where I might…

strange informations

[The ‘less bad’ passage from Book I of Utopia feels particularly relevant this election season.] +++ That’s how things go in the commonwealth, and in the councils of princes. If you cannot pluck up bad ideas by the root, or cure long-standing evils to your heart’s content, you must not therefore abandon the commonwealth. Don’t give up the ship in a storm because you cannot hold back the winds. You must not deliver strange and out-of-the-way speeches to people with whom they will carry no weight because they are firmly persuaded the other way. Instead, by an indirect approach, you…

the true come on

QUICKNESS Henry Vaughan FALSE life! a foil and no more, when   Wilt thou be gone? Thou foul deception of all men That would not have the true come on.   Thou art a Moon-like toil; a blinde         5   Self-posing state; A dark contest of waves and winde; A meer tempestuous debate.   Life is a fix’d, discerning light,   A knowing Joy;        10 No chance, or fit: but ever bright, And calm and full, yet doth not cloy.   ’Tis such a blissful thing, that still   Doth vivifie, And shine and smile, and hath the skill        15 To please without Eternity.  …

obliquid / aliquid

+++ … that power and vertue which ye spake,That ye here worke, doth many changes take,And your owne natures change: for, each of youThat vertue have, or this, or that to make,Is checkt and changed from his nature trew,By others opposition or obliquid view. -Spenser, Mutability canto VII,  54 +++ Those hours, that with gentle work did frameThe lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,Will play the tyrants to the very sameAnd that unfair which fairly doth excel:For never-resting time leads summer onTo hideous winter and confounds him there;Sap cheque’d with frost and lusty leaves quite gone,Beauty o’ersnow’d and bareness…

double malady / double penance

+++Long languishing in double malady,  of my hearts wound and of my body’s grief:  there came to me a leech that would apply  fit medicines for my body’s best reliefVain man (quoth I) that hast but little prief:  in deep discovery of the mind’s disease,  is not the heart of all the body chief?  and rules the members as it self doth please.Then with some cordials seek first to appease,  the inward languor of my wounded heart,  and then my body shall have shortly ease:  but such sweet cordials pass Physicians art.Then my life’s Leech do you your skill reveal,  and with one salve both heart and body heal.Spenser 50+++O,…

all things one

SOLIMAN: … You move me; yet remove I not.Man comprehends a man, but not a king.I feel myself (tis true) and I feel you;How to itself can power then prove untrue?Succession on the present never winsBut by the death of body, or of spirit:Let not misprision wound me in thy love:Great inequality of worth you yieldTo them, you think can on my ruins build. +++ CAMENA … In what a labyrinth is honor cast,Drawn divers ways with sex, with time, with state?In all which error’s course is infinite,By hope, by fear, by spite, by love, and hate;And but one only…

thin lines hardly seen but never ended

Caelica LXXVII The heathen gods finite in power, wit, birth,Yet worshipped for their good deeds to men,At first kept stations between heaven and earth,Alike just to the castle and the den;Creation, merit, nature duly weighed,And yet, in show, no rule but will obeyed. Till time, and selfness, which turn worth to arts,Love into compliments, and things to thought,Found out new circles to enthrall men’s heartsBy laws; wherein while thrones seem overwrought,Power finely hath surprised this faith of man,And taxed his freedom at more than he can. For to the scepters, judges laws reserveAs well the practic, as expounding sense,From which…

the violence of singularity

LITTLEWIT: …Well, go thy ways, John Littlewit, Proctor John Littlewit—one o’ the pretty wits o’ Paul’s, the Little Wit of London, so thou art called, and something beside. When a quirk or a quiblin does scape thee, and thou dost not watch, and apprehend it, and bring it afore the constable of conceit—there now, I speak quib too—let ’em carry thee out ‘o the Archdeacon’s court into his kitchen, and make a Jack of thee, instead of a John. There I am again, la! LITTLEWIT: … But give me the man can start up a Justice of Wit out of…

an index

Like as the sun in a diameter Fires and inflame the objects removed far And heateth kindly, shining lat’rally, So beauty sweetly quickens when tis nigh, But being separated and removed, Burns where it cherished, murders where it loved. Therefore even as an index to a book, So to his mind was young Leander’s look. Hero and Leander, 607-614

end / And, as the long divorce of steel falls on me … fall away / Like water from ye

+++ BUCKINGHAM: …You few that loved meAnd dare be bold to weep for Buckingham,His noble friends and fellows, whom to leaveIs only bitter to him, only dying:Go with me like good angels to my endAnd, as the long divorce of steel falls on me, Make of your prayers one sweet sacrificeAnd lift my soul to heaven. … Heaven has an end in all. Yet, you that hear me,This from a  dying man receive as certain:Where you are liberal of your loves and counsels,Be sure you be not loose; for those you make friendsAnd give your hearts to, when they once perceiveThe…

again

+++ FAUSTUS: Was this the face that launched a thousand shipsAnd burnt the topless towers of Ilium?Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.[They kiss]Her lips sucks forth my soul. See where it flies!Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.[They kiss again]Here will I dwell, for heaven be in these lips… –Dr Faustus A-text, 5.1 +++ ROMEO: If I profane with my unworthiest handThis holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready standTo smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss. JULIET: Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,Which mannerly devotion shows in this;For saints…

his deadly imprisonment was the other

+++ ANTHONY: This is very true, cousin, indeed, and well objected too. But then you must consider that he is not in danger of death by reason of the prison into which he is put peradventure but for a little brawl, but his danger of death is by the other imprisonment, by which he is prisoner in the great prison of this whole earth, in which prison all the princes of the world be prisoners as well as he. If a man condemned to death were put up in a large prison, and while his execution were respited he were,…

forgetting ourselves

Socrates: Oh Phaedrus, if I don’t know my Phaedrus I must be forgetting who I am myself—and neither is the case. Phaedrus 228a. +++ Phaedrus: … Don’t make me say what you said: “Socrates, if I don’t know my Socrates, I must be forgetting who I am myself.” Phaedrus 336c +++ … Socrates: I do believe you will, so long as you are who you are. Phaedrus: Speak on, then, in full confidence. Phaedrus 243e +++ Socrates: When someone utters the word “iron” or “silver,” don’t we all think of the same thing? Phaedrus: Certainly. Socrates: But what happens when…

know how

A prince, therefore, need not necessarily have all the good qualities I mentioned above, but he should certainly appear to have them. I would even go so far as to say that if he has these qualities and always behaves accordingly he will find them harmful; if he only appears to have them they will render him service. He should appear to be compassionate, faithful to his word, kind, guileless, and devout. And indeed he should be so. But his disposition should be such that, if he needs to be the opposite, he knows how. You must realize this: that…

between

But since my intention is to say something that will prove of practical use to the inquirer, I have thought it proper to represent things as they are in a real truth, rather than as they are imagined. Many have dreamed up republics and principalities which have never in truth been known to exist; the gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that a man who neglects what is actually done for what should be done moves towards self-destruction rather than self-preservation. The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously…

he must study rivers

So [the Prince] must never let his thought stray from military exercises, which he must pursue more vigorously in peace than in war. These exercises can be both physical and mental. As for the first, besides keeping his men well organized and trained, he must always be out hunting, so accustoming his body to hardships and also learning some practical geography: how the mountains slope, how the valleys open, how the plains spread out. He must study rivers and marshes; and in all this he should take great pains. Such knowledge is useful in two ways: first, if he obtains…

if I am outside myself (II)

From Montaigne’s On Practice:  Lo here what I daily prove. Let me be under a roofe, in a good chamber, warme-clad, and well at ease, in some tempestuous and stormy night. I am exceedingly perplexed and much grieved for such as are abroad and have no shelter: But let me be in the storme my selfe, I doe not so much as desire to be else-where: Only to be continually pent up in a chamber seemed intolerable to me. (Florio) +++Here is what I experience every day: if I am warmly sheltered in a nice room during a stormy and tempestuous night, I…

hovering

+++ … God, the maker of the whole world, prohibited the eating of the tree of knowledge, as if knowledge was poisonous to happiness.  […] Perhaps I shouldn’t omit the argument that folly seems to be pleasing to the higher powers because it is accepted as an excuse for errors, whereas the knowing man receives no pardon. […] Even more cogent is the example of Christ on the cross when he prayed for his enemies: “Father, forgive them”–he made no other excuse for them than their ignorance–“for they know not what they do.” In the same vein, Paul writing to…

[invisible bullets]

+++ But let me go back to a topic on which I barely started: what force do you suppose brought into civil concord those primitive men, savage as their native rocks and forests–what force if not mutual flattery? The lyres of Amphion and Orpheus can signify nothing else. What impulse recalled the Roman plebeians, on the brink of mutiny, to their civic allegiance? Was it a philosophic discourse? Scarcely. Rather, it was a ridiculous and puerile fable about the belly making its apology to the other members of the body. Hardly any better was the tale told by Themistocles about…

trembling

+++ The career of Socrates shows clearly how little philosophers are worth in the common business of life. Though he was called wise by the oracle of Apollo–and that wasn’t the wisest of his judgments–he tried only once to bring up a matter of public business, and then he was hooted out of the assembly. In fact, he wasn’t altogether silly, for he declined the epithet of “wise,” saying it belonged only to a god; and he also said a sensible man should keep clear of public business. But he would have done better to warn anyone aspiring to be…

if I am myself outside

From Montaigne’s On Practice:  Lo here what I daily prove. Let me be under a roofe, in a good chamber, warme-clad, and well at ease, in some tempestuous and stormy night. I am exceedingly perplexed and much grieved for such as are abroad and have no shelter: But let me be in the storme my selfe, I doe not so much as desire to be else-where: Only to be continually pent up in a chamber seemed intolerable to me. (Florio) +++Here is what I experience every day: if I am warmly sheltered in a nice room during a stormy and tempestuous night, I…

unchanging style; unbroken discourse

“…And now, if you would know it, among my most familiar friends I will publish in simple language what I think, on which I have always kept silence and deemed silence fitting. In my view, even the best orators, those who can speak with the utmost ease and elegance, unless they are diffident in approaching a discourse and diffident in beginning it, seem to border on the shameless, although that can never come to pass. For the better the orator, the more profoundly is he frightened of the difficulty of speaking, and of the doubtful fate of a speech, and…

one question

But now, how stands the wind? See, how stands the vanes? The ships are safe, thou say’st, and richly fraught? Why, how now, countrymen? Why flock you thus to me in multitudes? Fond men, what dream you of their multitudes? What at our hands demand ye? How, my lord, my money? Is theft the ground of your religion? What or how can I multiply? What? Bring you scripture to confirm your wrongs? Why stand you thus unmoved by my laments? Why weep you not to think upon my wrongs?  Why pine not I and die in this distress? You partial…

calling it what it once had been

+++ XXIIThe same so sore annoyed has the knight,  That welnigh choked with the deadly stinke, His forces faile, ne can no lenger fight. Whose corage when the feend perceiv’d to shrinke, She poured forth out of her hellish sinke Her fruitfull cursed spawne of serpents small,  Deformed monsters, fowle, and blacke as inke, With swarming all about his legs did crall,And him encombred sore, but could not hurt at all. XXIII As gentle Shepheard in sweete even-tide, When ruddy Phoebus gins to welke in west,  High on an hill, his flocke to vewen wide, Markes which do byte their hasty supper best, A cloud of combrous gnattes do him molest, All striving…

Volpone

With fine delusive sleights when I am lost in blended dust, And hundred such as I am, in succession — like an old smoked wall, on which the rain ran down in streaks, Made all of terms and shreds Within a human compass. O, there spoke… To his drug-lecture draws your itching ears, … or am in love Sir, if I do it not, draw your just sword And score your vengeance on my front and face; Mark me your villain that stop the organs, and, as Plato says, Assassinates our knowledge. …such a hail of words She has let…

correct correction

+++ O Lord! I dread: and that I did not dread I me repent; and evermore desire Thee Thee to dread. I open here, and spread My fault to thee… O Lord! As I have thee both pray’d, and pray, (Although I Thee be no alteration. But that we men, like as ourselves, we say, Measuring thy justice by our mutation) Chastise me not, O Lord! In thy furor, Nor me correct in wrathful castigation For that thy arrows of fear, of terror, Of sword, of sickness, of famine, and of fire, Stick deep in me: I, lo! From mine…

Is a trap

“Bentham’s Panopticon is the architectural figure of this composition. We know the principle on which it was based: at the periphery, an annular building; at the centre, a tower; this tower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the inner side of the ring; the peripheric building is divided into cells, each of which extends the whole width of the building; they have two windows, one on the inside, corresponding to the windows of the tower; the other, on the outside, allows the light to cross the cell from one end to the other. All that is needed, then,…

equal moments, equal speed

For no sooner do we begin to live in this dying body, than we begin to move ceaselessly towards death. For in the whole course of this life (if life we must call it) its mutability tends towards death. Certainly there is no one who is not nearer it this year than last year, and tomorrow than today, and today than yesterday, and a short while hence than now, and now than a short while ago. For whatever time we live is deducted from our whole term of life, and that which remains is daily becoming less and less; so…

of equal moment

And we indeed recognize in ourselves the image of God, that is, of the supreme Trinity, an image which, though it be not equal to God, or rather, though it be very far removed from Him—being neither co-eternal, nor, to say all in a word, consubstantial with Him—is yet nearer to Him in nature than any other of His works, and is destined to be yet restored, that it may bear a still closer resemblance. For we both are, and know that we are, and delight in our being, and our knowledge of it.  Moreover, in these three things no…

continuing in instant prayer

From St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans +++ 8:35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?8:36: As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted among sheep for the slaughter.8:37: Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.8:38: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,8:39: Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be…

lost lights

+++ The most widespread fellowship existing among men is that of all with all others. Here we must preserve the communal sharing of all the things that nature brings forth for the common use of mankind, in such a way that whatever is assigned by statutes and civil law should remain in such possession as those laws may have laid down, but the rest should be regarded as the Greek proverb has it: everything is common among friends. The things that are common to all men seem to be of the kind that Ennius defines in one case, from which…

:

Between techniques of knowledge and strategies of power, there is no exteriority, even if they have specific roles and are linked together on the basis of their difference. -Foucault +++ Writing: Exteriority. -Blanchot +++

when in fact we were moved

Perhaps one day people will wonder at this. They will not be able to understand how a civilization so intent on developing enormous instruments of production and destruction found the time and the infinite patience to inquire so anxiously concerning the actual state of sex; people will smile perhaps when they recall that here were men—meaning ourselves—who believed that therein resided a truth every bit as precious as the one thy had already demanded from the earth, the stars, and the pure forms of their thought; people will be surprised at the eagerness with which we went about pretending to…

what one says and does not say

Silence itself—the things one declines to say, or is forbidden to name, the discretion which is required between different speakers—is less the absolute limit of discourse, the other side from which it is separated by a distinct boundary, than an element that functions alongside the things said, with them and in relation to them within over-all strategies. There is no binary division to be made between what one says and does not say; we must try to determine the different ways of not saying such things, how those who can and those who cannot speak of them are distributed, which…

rags of heart (be not unite)

[… ] what did become   Of my heart when I first saw thee? I brought a heart into the room,   But from the room I carried none with me.          If it had gone to thee, I know Mine would have taught thine heart to show   More pity unto me; but Love, alas!   At one first blow did shiver it as glass. Yet nothing can to nothing fall,   Nor any place be empty quite; Therefore I think my breast hath all   Those pieces still, though they be not unite; And now, as broken glasses show A hundred…

windows in sentences

“Its windows never sparked so much as on the days when the sun hardly appeared, so that, if it was gray outside, we were sure it would be beautiful inside the church; one was filled to its very top by a single figure like a king in a game of cards, who lived up there, under an architectural canopy, between heaven and earth (and in whose slanting blue light, on weekdays sometimes, at noon, when there is no service—at one of those rare times when the church, airy, vacant, more human, luxurious, with some sun on its rich furniture, looked…

light had destroyed the telegraph office

“We would return by way of the station boulevard, which was lined by the most pleasant houses in the parish. In each garden the moonlight, like Hubert Robert, scattered its broken staircases of white marble, its fountains, its half-open gates. Its light had destroyed the Telegraph Office. All that remained was one column, half shattered but still retaining the beauty of an immortal ruin. I would be dragging my feet, I would be ready to drop with sleep, the fragrance of the lindens that perfumed the air would seem to me a reward that one could win only at the…

reason your viceroy in me, me should defend

“On the other hand,” I said, “if there are any examples, in the speeches or actions of distinguished men, of endurance in the face of everything, then these are models for our guardians to observe and listen to. For example:  He smote his chest, and thus rebuked his heart.  ‘Bear up, my heart. You have borne yet worse than this.’  “Yes, those are unquestionably the right models,” he said.  -Plato, The Republic, Book III, 390; quoting the Odyssey, 20.17-18 +++ Heart, my heart, so battered with misfortune far beyond your strength, up, and face the men who hate us. Bare your chest…

things, countries, years

+++  A sleeping man holds in a circle around himthe sequence of the hours, the order of the years and worlds. He consults them instinctively as he wakes and reads in a second the point on the earth he occupies… Perhaps the immobility of the things around us is imposed on them by our certainty that they are themselves and not anything else, by the immobility of our mind confronting them. However that may be, when I woke thus, my mind restlessly attempting, without success, to discover where I was, everything revolved around me in the darkness, things, countries, years….

all’s well, all is whole

LAFEU: What prince is that? CLOWN: The black prince, sir; alias, the prince of darkness; alias, the devil.LAFEU: Hold thee, there’s my purse: I give thee not this to suggest thee from thy master thou talkest of; serve him still. CLOWN:  I am a woodland fellow, sir, that always loved a great fire; and the master I speak of ever keeps a good fire. But, sure, he is the prince of the world; let his nobility remain in’s court. I am for the house with the narrow gate, which I take to be too little for pomp to enter: some that humble themselves may; but the many will be too chill and tender, and…

have honed me, half owned me

A LOVELY LOVE Let it be alleys. Let it be a hallWhose janitor javelins epithet and thoughtTo cheapen hyacinth darkness that we soughtAnd played we found, rot, make the petals fall.Let it be stairways, and a splintery boxWhere you have thrown me, scraped me with your kiss,Have honed me, have released me after thisCavern kindness, smiled away our shocks.That is the birthright of our lovely loveIn swaddling clothes. Not like that Other one.Not lit by any fondling star above.Not found by any wise men, either. Run.People are coming. They must not catch us hereDefinitionless in this strict atmosphere. -Gwendolyn Brooks,…

completed partly (2)

+++ Nor will his vision of the beautiful take the form of a face, or of hands, or of anything that is of the flesh. It will be neither words, nor knowledge, nor a something that exists in something else, such as a living creature, or the earth, or the heavens, or anything that is — but subsisting of itself and by itself in an eternal oneness, while every lovely thing partakes of it in such sort that, however much the parts may wax and wane, it will be neither more nor less, but still the same inviolable whole. Symposium …

completed partly

+++ They both smiled, standing there. They both felt a common hilarity, excited by the moving waves; and then by the swift cutting race of a sailing boat, which, having sliced a curve in the bay, stopped; shivered; let its sails drop down; and then, with a natural instinct to complete this picture, after this swift movement, both of them looked at the dunes far away, and instead of merriment felt come over them some sadness–because the thing was completed partly, and partly because distant views seem to outlast by a million years (Lily thought) the gazer and to be…

two-hearted

+++ Heart, my heart, so battered with misfortune far beyond your strength, up, and face the men who hate us. Bare your chest to the assault of the enemy, and fight them off. Stand fast among the beamlike spears. Give no ground; and if you beat them, do not brag in open show, nor, if they beat you, run home and lie down on your bed and cry. Keep some measure in the joy you take in luck, and the degree you give way to sorrow. All our life is up-and-down like this. -Arkhilokhos 67, trans. R. Lattimore +++ Batter my…

twin compasses are two

+++ He took the golden compasses, preparedIn God’s eternal store, to circumscribe This universe, and all created things: One foot he centered, and the other turned Round through the vast profundity obscure; And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, This be thy just circumference, O world, Thus God the Heaven created, thus the earth, Matter unformed and void: Darkness profound Covered the abyss: but on the watery calm His brooding wings the spirit of God outspread, And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth Throughout the fluid mass; but downward purged The black tartareous cold infernal dregs, Adverse to…

study in water

+++ Well, after this, said Socrates, when I was worn out with my physical investigations, it occurred to me that I must guard against the same sort of risk which people run when they watch and study an eclipse of the sun; they really do sometimes injure their eyes, unless they study its reflection in water or some other medium. I conceived of something like this happening to myself, and I was afraid that by observing objects with my eyes and trying to comprehend them with each of my other senses I might blind my soul altogether. So I decided…

in the same service as the swans

+++ Does the absolute reality which we define in our discussions remain always constant and invariable, or not? Does absolute equality or beauty or any other independent entity which really exists ever admit change of any kind? Or does each one of these uniform and independent entities remain always constant and invariable, never admitting any alteration in any respect or in any sense?        They must be constant and invariable, Socrates, said Cebes.        Well, what about the concrete instances of beauty—such as men, horses, clothes, and so on—or of equality, or any other members of…

it is the living

+++        Is not what we call death a freeing and separation of soul from body?       Certainly, he said.       And the desire to free the soul is found chiefly, or rather only, in the true philosopher. In fact the philosopher’s occupation consists precisely in the freeing and separation of soul from body. Isn’t that so?       Apparently.       Well then, as I said at the beginning, if a man has trained himself throughout his life to live in a state as close as possible to death, would it not be ridiculous for…

moral phenomena

+++    “Evil … had lost the quality by which most people recognize it—the quality of temptation.” Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, 1963 +++ “Moral law is an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak.”  Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, 1985 +++ “Morality is the herd instinct in the individual.” Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1882 +++ “‘As the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.’ The instinct of antipathy against an Indian grows in the backwoodsman with the sense of good and bad, right and wrong. In one…

brutal

+++If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my country. -E.M. Forster, What I Believe+++ The best thing I could say in honour of Shakespeare, the man, is that he believed in Brutus, and cast not a shadow of suspicion on the kind of virtue which Brutus represents! It is to him that Shakespeare consecrated his best tragedy. It is at present still called by a wrong name, to him, and to the most terrible essence of lofty morality. Independence of soul! that is the question at…

increase, perfection

+++ When I consider every thing that growsHolds in perfection but a little moment, -Sonnet 15 +++ I believe that artists often do not know what they can do best, because they are too vain and have fixed their minds on something prouder than those small plants seem to be that really can grow on their soil to perfection and are new, strange, and beautiful. They do not think much of what is actually good in their own garden or vineyard; and their love and insight are not of the same order. -Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Chapter 87, Of the vanity…

only connecting

+++ The heart is an organ of fire. -Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient +++ The mind is a connecting organ. -I.A. Richards, The Philosophy of Rhetoric +++ … Assaying by his devilish art to reachThe organs of her fancy, and with them forgeIllusions as he list, phantasms and dreams… -John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV, 801-803 +++Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.-E.M. Forster, Howards End +++

after all

From Tender is the Night +++ “You know, you’re a little complicated after all.” “Oh no,” she assured him hastily. “No, I’m not really–I’m just a—I’m just a whole lot of different simple people.” +++chasuble, noun. A sleeveless outer vestment worn by the officiating priest at mass.bey, noun.  a :  a provincial governor in the Ottoman Empire b :  the former native ruler of Tunis or Tunisia 2 —used as a courtesy title in Turkey and Egypt onanism, noun. onanistic, adj. Coitus interruptus; masturbation. Pulling out.  corium, noun. Dermis; skin. 

all the delusions

My favorite sentences from A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean: +++ The canyon was glorified by rhythms and colors. +++ My brother’s wet shirt made it easy to see his strength. +++ Rhythm was just as important as color and just as complicated. +++ His wet shirt bulged and came unbuttoned with his pivoting shoulder and hips. +++ Ranchers holding their intestines in their hands would ride in from the back country looking for “the RN” to sew them together again. +++ I was glad I didn’t have to drive — I had too many other things to…

a brittle crazy glass

+++ THE WINDOWS by George Herbert LORD, how can man preach thy eternal word?        He is a brittle crazy glass:Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford        This glorious and transcendent place,        To be a window, through thy grace. But when thou dost anneal in glass thy story,        Making thy life to shine withinThe holy Preachers, then the light and glory        More rev’rend grows, and more doth win;        Which else shows watrish, bleak, and thin. Doctrine and life, colours and light, in…

False sorrow’s tears

+++ KING RICHARD: And say, what store of parting tears were shed? AUMERLE: Faith, none for me, except the north-east wind,Which then grew bitterly against our faces,Awaked the sleeping rheum, and so by chanceDid grace our hollow parting with a tear. –Richard II, 1.4, 5-9 +++ BUSHY:Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadowsWhich shows like grief itself but is not so.For sorrow’s eye, glazed with blinding tears,Divides one thing entire to many objects—Like perspectives, which, rightly gazed upon,Show nothing but confusion; eyed awry,Distinguish form. So your sweet majesty,Looking awry upon your Lord’s departure,Finds shapes of grief more than himself…

self-fulfilling vocabulary

+++ Transume, verb. To transfigure, transform, metamorphose. Parturition, noun. Childbirth. Giving birth. Viscid, adj. Glutinous, sticky. Alimentary, adj. Of or relating to sustenance or nourishment. Labile, adj. Liable to change, easily altered. +++

Knock, breathe, shine

+++ Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you   As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;   That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend   Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.   I, like an usurpt town, to another due,          Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,   Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,   But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.   Yet dearely I love you, and would be loved fain,   But am betroth’d unto your enemy:…

Bitter air

+++ “There were only the two of them on the mountain flying in the euphoric, bitter air, looking down on the hawk’s back and the crawling lights of vehicles on the plain below, suspended above ordinary affairs and distant from tame ranch dogs barking in the dark hours.” Annie Proulx +++

The meteor of the snow

“A snow storm was falling around us. The snow storm was real; the preacher merely spectral; and the eye felt the sad contrast in looking at him, and then out of the window behind him, into the beautiful meteor of the snow.” Emerson, Divinity School Address 

As if I did not begin and end by loving you

Derrida mourning his mother is my favorite Derrida. +++ As if I loved only your memory and confession of me but who would I be, me, if I did not begin and end by loving you in my private language deprived of you, that very one, the untranslatable one, in which the jokes leave us floored… like the day on which a premeditation of love had dictated to me for immortality, no, for posterity, no, for the truth that you are, et lux tua veritas, et veritas tu, [And thy law is the truth, and thou are the truth] “don’t…

A binding accident; handsome and convincing

Sentences from Tender Buttons, by Gertrude Stein. +++ A kind in glass and a cousin, a spectacle and nothing strange a single hurt color and an arrangement in a system to pointing. +++ Certainly glittering is handsome and convincing. +++ Cut cut in white, cut in white so lately. Cut more than any other and show it. Show it in the stem and in starting and in evening coming complication. +++ Pick a barn, a whole barn, and bend more slender accents than have ever been necessary, shine in the darkness necessarily. Actually not aching, actually not aching, a stubborn…

The feelings I don’t have

TO WOMEN AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED by D.H. Lawrence The feelings I don’t have I don’t have.The feeling I don’t have, I won’t say I have.The feelings you say you have, you don’t have.The feelings you would like us both to have, we neither of us have.The feelings people ought to have, they never have.If people say they’ve got feelings, you may be pretty sure they haven’t got them.So if you want either of us to feel anything at allYou’d better abandon all ideas of feelings altogether. +++

Where has your first dream vanished now? Your dream.

+++ Letters to a Stranger, by Thomas James, is one of my favorite books of poetry. It was James’ first and only collection, published in 1973. The poems in this book stun me, over and over again. James’s poems are filled with his singular turns of phrase (“whitely established”…”nest of rubble”) and odd but clear images (“your hands are gloved in shadow”…”sheeping coming unstuffed like ancient cushions”). I’m incredibly glad that Gray Wolf brought Letters to a Stranger back into print in 2008, but so many of my favorite poems are still impossible to find online. Here are my two absolute…

That God can be such a bitch sometimes

+++ AND when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. AND I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.AND Abram fell on his face: And God talked with him, saying, As for me… -GENESIS 17 +++

FYI

+++ versicle, noun. A short sentence said or sung by the minister in a church service, to which the congregation gives a response. popsicle, noun. A piece of flavored ice or ice cream on a stick. +++

To teach the sea what it may do

+++ A VALEDICTION: OF WEEPING by John Donne  Let me pour forth My tears before thy face, whilst I stay here, For thy face coins them, and thy stamp they bear, And by this mintage they are something worth,          For thus they be          Pregnant of thee; Fruits of much grief they are, emblems of more, When a tear falls, that thou falls which it bore, So thou and I are nothing then, when on a diverse shore.          On a round ball A workman that hath copies by, can lay An Europe, Afric, and an Asia, And quickly make that, which…

Sleep of the sword / bright guarantee of God

+++ Time and again, foul things attacked me,Lurking and stalking, but I lashed out,gave as good as I got with my sword.My flesh was not for feasting on, there would be no monsters gnawing and gloatingover their banquet at the bottom of the sea.Instead, in the morning, mangled and sleepingthe sleep of the sword, they slopped and floatedlike the ocean’s leavings. From now onsailors would be safe, the deep-sea raidswere over for good. Light came from the east, bright guarantee of God, and the waveswent quiet; I could see headlandsand buffeted cliffs. –Beowulf, Heaney translation, 559-574 +++ mizzle, noun.Light rain; drizzle. kith,…

Rhetorical things

chiasmus: A rhetorical or literary figure in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order, in the same or a modified form; inversion in the second of two parallel forms. But O, what damned minutes tells he o’erWho dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet strong loves. —Shakespeare, Othello 3.3 antimetabole: the repetition of words or ideas in successive clauses, but in transposed grammatical order. Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. –JFK +++ Milton, Upon the Circumcision: O more exceeding love or law more just? Just law indeed, but…

vocab via Beowulf, Heaney

tumulous, adj. Having many mounds or small hills. lambent, adj.1. Flickering lightly over or on a surface: lambent moonlight.2. Effortlessly light or brilliant: lambent wit.3. Having a gentle glow; luminous.  chthonic, adj. Concerning, belonging to, or inhabiting the underworld. oneiric, adj. Of or relating to dreams or dreaming.

Sun-thaw

+++ FROST AT MIDNIGHT By Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Frost performs its secret ministry,Unhelped by any wind. The owlet’s cryCame loud—and hark, again! loud as before.The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,Have left me to that solitude, which suitsAbstruser musings: save that at my sideMy cradled infant slumbers peacefully.‘Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbsAnd vexes meditation with its strangeAnd extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,With all the numberless goings-on of life,Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flameLies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;Only that film, which fluttered on the…