Archive for March, 2016

Inseparable from Human Affairs

March 27, 2016

It is a misfortune, inseparable from human affairs, that public measures are rarely investigated with that spirit of moderation which is essential to a just estimate of their real tendency to advance or obstruct the public good; and that this spirit is more apt to be diminished than promoted, by those occasions which require an unusual exercise of it.

(Federalist Papers 37)

Various Wills

March 20, 2016

Shakespeare’s will:

Item I gyve and bequeath to mr richard Hamlett Sadler Tyler thelder XXVIs VIIId to buy him A Ringe; to William Raynoldes gent XXVIs VIIId to buy him a Ringe; to my godson William Walker XXVIs VIIId in gold and to my ffellowes John Hemynges, Richard Burbage and Heny Cundell XXVIs VIIId A peece to buy them Ringes.

Aristotle’s Will, (a statue considered a compensation for childlessness). Barge on the Cumberland river. Pioneer Ten, plaque, Voyager record.

The Struggle to be Bad

March 13, 2016

“Because to be bad, Mother, that is the real struggle: to be bad — and to enjoy it! That is what makes men of us boys, Mother. But what my conscience, so-called, has done to my sexuality, my spontaneity, my courage! Never mind some of the things I try so hard to get away with — because the fact remains, I don’t. I am marked like a road map from head to toe with my repressions. You can travel the length and breadth of my body over superhighways of shame and inhibition and fear. See, I am too good too, Mother, I too am moral to the bursting point — just like you!” (Portnoy’s Complaint.)


March 7, 2016

Hamlet [2.2.422-424], Hamlet speaking:

O, old friend! Why, thy face is valanc’d since I saw thee last. Com’st thou to beard me in Denmark?

Beard as a verb has the sense of “confront, oppose with” (see). Valanced is draped or curtained, like a bed. Noun form here.

Knowledge and Art / Proust

March 4, 2016

Although I think this must be right, and that writing does not require knowledge or learning in the same sense that the sciences do, I think also that learning may operate as a sort of acid vat in which one’s bad taste, except for the most adamantine chunks of it, as well as other impurities, may be made with repeated dunkings to dissolve (which may be what Proust means in what follows by “that tact which our invention acquires”) — from William Carter’s Marcel Proust, A Life (pp.293):

Marie complained in her letter sent with the poems of not being a learned person, which provokes Proust to reply with a deeply held belief about language and art: “Strictly speaking, no knowledge is involved, for there is none outside the mysterious associations effected by our memory and the tact which our invention acquires in its approach to words.” The poet must find his own way in the sea of words by using a navigational system that remained mysterious. The charts, when discovered and retrieved, always lay within. “Knowledge, in the sense of something which exists ready-made outside us and which we can learn as in the Sciences — is meaningless in art.”