Archive for April, 2021

Old Posts: Quotations

April 30, 2021

Continuing my inventory of old posts here are the quotations I’ve gathered over the years. To kick it off, three much thought of passages from Hawthorn, Beckett & Thoreau respectively:

Hawthorne, The Marble Faun: “Chance and change love to deal with men’s settled plans, not with their idle vagaries. If we desire unexpected and unimaginable events, we should contrive an iron framework, such as we fancy may compel the future to take on inevitable shape; then comes in the unexpected, and shatters our design in fragments.”

Samuel Beckett, Molloy: “Not to want to say, not to know what you want to say, not to be able to say what you think you want to say, and never to stop saying, or hardly ever, that is the thing to keep in mind, even in the heat of composition.”

Thoreau, Journals :“The bad are frequently good enough to let you see how bad they are, but the good as frequently endeavor to get between you and themselves.” 


Quotations: Molloy; As You Like It; “Vesuvius’ crater for an inkstand” (Moby Dick) Goodwood’s speech (Portrait of a Lady), “austere composition” (Dionysius of Halicarnassus); those who work much (Thoreau), That thing is not human, but I am human (Pierre); debate and conversation (Theatetus), Kierkegaard,Thoreau, Journals. whitman, a terrific towering palisade of dark mossy massiness Pierre, Murphy’s mind, Mark of Zorro, *, Hegel, *, Song of Myself, Uncle Dick, Portnoy’s Complaint, Inseparable from Human Affairs, My Life, Swimming, “empty pockets clean hands“, democratic man, Disembodied, middle class*, Palinurus, MLK, *, Une Patrie Inconnue*An ignorance truly bovine , “It’s real, it’s us“, *, end of nature, *, Wilde, Rousseau. (From Melville’s Pierre, interesting for its mention of Ishmael.) Balzac . From Life of Johnson. Portnoy’s Complaint. “When you act you know if your acts are evil or good” “Today my deepest wish…” “Wishing I were a negro”; Hawthorne, The Marble Faun; Bill Mckibben, The End of Nature,Pain, unlike pleasure, wears no mask. Pope Francis Tweet,“Virtue is only difficult through our own fault.” (Rousseau), ‘I died my whole life long and now I will really die. My life was sweeter than other people’s and my death will be all the more terrible.’…. [KAFKA],Ecclesiastes 11:7-10, Crane and Hemingway (Unterecker), ““You can always tell when a man is writing his own name….Lucretius: odors must be made of larger motes than voices, since they do not pass through stone . . . Matisse on wives of painters. “Turn aside from the somewhat narrow path of poetry and take the still narrower one of knight-errantry” (Don Quixote), He is the Philistine who upholds and aids the heavy, cumbrous, blind, mechanical forces of society, and who does not recognise dynamic force when he meets it (Wilde), Johnson: so much writing, so little reading. War and Peace: the King is History’s Slave.  Un lagarto que a Él (Quixote), Horace, Odes 2.15.13-14; Dissonance as a token of manliness in music, Moses as portrait of the essential incompleteness to human life (kafka), dead as he is in his own lifetime, he is the real survivor (Kafka), Kafka: forever starting my radius, Couple Pope quotes, Supreme and Beautiful Actions (Emerson), Pretension cannot act,Refuge from life, The Worst Man does more good than evil (Johnson), “Dramas deprived of all dramatic incident” (Fry on Cezanne still lives), Auerbach on Stendhal, Wallace Stevens The humble, Song of Myself, 48, take not the measure of they goodness , Whispering and Clucking (Faulkner), “Impovernment of the booble by the bauble for the bubble.” (FW) An unearthly day-colored substance (Faulkner) (*), Spinoza on timidity, PREFACE to Dorian Gray, 

April 29, 2021

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I w i r i f
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April 28, 2021

Huh: Benches are “bleachers” because the boards are bleached by the sun. Bleach is related to black but not (apparently) to blanch, which comes from (fr.) blanc, which itself comes from blank.


April 27, 2021

(This is part of an inventory I’m conducting of old posts). What I call my “shapes” I’d intended as Kalligrams –essentially visual poems or poems containing visual elements– but somehow they never took on a poetic element and remained mere Designs, mostly uninteresting. Here are a few I consider to be standouts followed by the rest. (Note that these can appear rather different in different browswers.)

81, 84,
77, 80,
27, 103

Shapes: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) *(21)* (22) (23) (24) (25) (26) *(27)* (28) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) (38) (idea of shapes) (39) (40) (41) (42) (43) (44) (45)* (46) (47)* (48) (49) (50) (51) (52) (53) (54) (55) (56) (57) (58) (59) (60) (61) (62) (63) (64) (65) (66) (67) (68) (69) (70) (71) (72) (73) (74) (75)* (76) (77)* (78) (79)* IDEA* (81)* IDEA* (83) (84)* (85) (86) (87)* (88)* (89) (90) (91) (92) (93)* (94) (95) (96) (97) (98) (99) (100) (101)* (102) (103)* (104) (105)* (106) (107) (108) (109) (110) (111) (112) (113)(Thoughts on Shapes)

April 26, 2021

This interpretive dance of the Perseverance landing is so interesting. For starters: the room, the motorcycle helmet, the circling, the backpack.

Granite and Steel

April 25, 2021

Doing some sleuthing. Marianne Moore’s Granite and Steel so clearly evokes Crane’s To Brooklyn Bridge in its subject and themes — and I find that “granite and steel” is actually a phrase that occurs in Crane’s Atlantis (which is also about the bridge)– I must wonder what she was thinking here. The title seems to acknowledge a debt, yet the poem itself does not seem fully aware of its extent   — seems almost an effort to reimagine Crane’s poem. (Alternatively, maybe if one writes about the bridge one is just bound to be confined to certain topics, such as seagulls and cables and harmony and Liberty.)

Without the strength to “burn it all now,” committing writing instead to zip disc

April 24, 2021

Whenever I contemplate taking action to save my writing in some semi-permanent fashion, I hear two quarreling voices:

–Not only did Kafka not save his writing, says the first voice, Kafka asked for his writing to be destroyed after his death, so your writing must be very special indeed if you propose now to make all these back up files! And not just Kafka, but many others, whose faith has concerned something less conservative, have left it entirely in the hands of readers and publishers and in the strength of their ideas, to determine what shall endure of their work.

–But wouldn’t you feel stupid, says the second voice, to wake up one morning and, still alive, find all your writing had vanished? For perhaps not all of that time you spent writing has been wasted, and now there is no proof whatsoever of your stylistic excesses! If you are really a strong enough person to enjoy or endure such a loss, you should be a strong enough person to take it into your own hands and burn it all down now, if it’s even possible!

(Ay and now there is the rub, the second voice adds, after some rumination, the second voice being very much the sort that will say “there’s the rub”; for it is perhaps as impossible to destroy what’s on the internet as it is to save what’s on it. One can only curate. On the internet, perhaps only a few abstruse, highly technical matters will, after all, prove to have really occurred.)

–Now recently a third voice, which I’m calling the voice of experience, I have heard speaking somewhat in this vein: it is not in you to be as noble as Kafka but it is in you to avoid feeling excessively stupid for the things you might do or neglect to do. So let us not have more of the same from you, pursuing what you think of as the noble while achieving what it is universally understood as stupid; let us just do that thing that is commended by common sense, and make some backup files.

Well, I have been attending to that voice of experience lately and studiously creating backup files of whatever work I see the slightest reason to preserve –of which there is not too much, I must say– and in the process making catalogues of a sort of the old posts I’ve made here for later reference. This is the point of this present post — as an alert that those old post “catalogues” or inventories, are coming.

April 23, 2021

(Conclusion.) And many more such notes the attendant has made since 2012 or thereabouts, when the store’s existence first seemed jeopardized by new development; nevertheless secure in the faith that for now he has more than satisfied his customers’ appetites for his morsels and sweepings, he hereby hangs his apron on the rack and declares solemnly this to be —


(Conclusory poem)

Appendices: A , B , C , D, E

The old and new vacuum

April 22, 2021

The old vacuum cleaner leaves in its wake
The same stuff it was intended to take.
The old vacuum cleaner, resembling life,
Rolls endlessly over the same fallen stuff.

The new vacuum resembles conquering death,
Each crumb like a person taken up in its breath.
And though it should leave the carpet pristine,
I think we do rightly distrust this machine.

(Chance Sweepings)

Iliad 7; 421-423

April 22, 2021

Ηελιος μεν επειτα νεον προσεβαλλεν αρουρας,
εξ ακαλαρρειταο βαθυρροου Ωκεανοιο
ουρανον εισανιων· οι δ ‘ηντεον αλλαλουσιν.

προσβαλλω: to smite (here of the rays of the sun). αρουρας: fields, ground, space, earth, soil. ακαλαρρειτης: peaceful, still, silently or gently flowing, Epithet of Ocean. βαθυρροου: with deep, steady, flow. εισανιων (pres. part. εισανειμι): to ascend or climb to. ‘ηντεον (< ανταω): to meet with, encounter. // On νεον here, Cunliffe says it’s taken as an adverb “newly, recently, just now…”

Then Helios newly touched the cultivated fields
rising from the peaceful deep flowing ocean
into heaven; and they met with each other.

Lattimore. Now the sun of a new day struck on the ploughlands, rising/ out of the quiet water and the deep stream of the ocean/ to climb the sky. The Trojans assembled together.

Spinoza: Definitions of Affects

April 21, 2021

From Book III of Spinoza’s Ethics, translated by Edwin Curley, in order of their appearance. (I made this without realizing Spinoza himself recapitulates all the affects and their definitions at the end of Book III, and so didn’t quite go all the way through.)

Will.  When the mind strives to preserve itself, only with respect to itself. [Prop 9]

Appetite. When the mind strives to preserve both itself and the body in its being. [Prop 9]

Desire. Different from appetite only insofar as it is self-aware. Desire is appetite aware of itself. [Prop 9]

Joy. “By Joy, therefore, I shall understand… that passion by which the Mind passes to a greater perfection…” [Prop 11]

Sadness. “And [I understand] by Sadness, that passion by which it passes to a lesser perfection.” [Prop 11]

Pleasure/Cheerfulness. That affect of Joy that is related to the Mind and Body at once. [Prop 11]

Pain/ Melancholy. That affect of Sadness that is related to the Mind and Body at once. [Prop 11]

Love. Love is nothing but Joy with an accompanying idea of external cause. [Prop 13]

Hate. Hate is nothing but Sadness with an accompanying idea of external cause. [Prop 13]

Hope. “Hope is nothing but an inconstant joy which has arisen from the image of a future or past thing whose outcome we doubt.” [Prop 18]

Fear. “An inconstant sadness that has also arisen from a doubtful thing.” [Prop 18]

Confidence. Hope becomes confidence as the element of doubt is removed. [Prop 18]

Despair. Fear becomes despair as the element of doubt is removed. [Prop 18]

Gladness. “A joy which has arisen from the image of a past thing whose outcome we doubted.” [Prop 18]

Remorse. “A sadness which is opposite to gladness.” [Prop 18]

Pity. “Sadness that has arisen from injury to another.” [Prop 22]

Opposite of Pity. “By what name we should call the joy that arises from another’s good, I do not know.” [Prop 22]

Favor. “Love toward him who has done good to another.” [Prop 22]

Indignation. “Hate toward him who has done evil to another.” [Prop 22]

Envy. “Hate, insofar as it is considered so to dispose a man that he is glad at another’s ill fortune and saddened by his good fortune.” [Prop 24]

Pride. “A joy born of the fact that a man thinks more highly of himself than is just.” [Prop 26]

Overestimation. “The joy born of the fact that a man thinks more highly of another than is just.” [Prop 26]

Scorn. Thinking less highly of another than is just. [Prop 26]

Pity / Emulation. When we imagine something like us to be affected by an affect, we ourselves are similarly affected. When that imitation is related to sadness it is pity, when related to Desire, it is emulation. [Prop 27]

Benevolence. “This will or appetite to do good, born of our pity for the thing on which we wish to confer a benefit, is called Benevolence, which is therefore nothing but a Desire born of pity.” [Prop 27]

Ambition/ Human Kindness. “This striving to do something (and also to omit doing something) solely to please men is called Ambition, especially when we strive so eagerly to please the people that we do or omit certain things to our own injury, or another’s. In other cases, it is usually called human kindness.” [Prop 29] “This striving to bring it about that everyone should approve his love and hate is really Ambition” [Prop 31].

Praise/ Blame. “The Joy with which we imagine the action of another by which he has strived to please us I call Praise. On the other hand, the Sadness with which we are averse to his action I call Blame.” [Prop 29]

Love of Esteem, Shame / Self-esteem, Repentance. “Joy accompanied by the idea of an internal cause, we shall call love of esteem, and the Sadness contarary to it, Shame — I mean when the Joy or Sadness arise from the fact that the man believes that he is praised or blamed. Otherwise I shall call the Joy accompanied by the idea of an internal cause, Self-esteem, and the Sadness contrary to it, Repentance.

Jealousy. “This Hatred toward a thing we love, combined with Envy, is called Jealousy, which is therefore nothing but a vacillation of mind born of Love and Hatred together, accompanied by the idea of another who is envied.” [Prop 35]

*Longing. One doesn’t only desire a thing, but to desire it as when one’s desire was new. The sadness for the absence of such accidental causes of ones joy is longing. [Prop 36]

Timidity, A Sense of Shame, Consternation. “Further, this affect, by which a man is so disposed that he does not will what he wills, and wills what he does not will, is called Timidity, which is therefore nothing but fear insofar as a man is disposed by it to avoid an evil he judges to be future by encountering a lesser evil (see Prop 28). But if the evil he is timid toward is Shame, then the timidity is called a Sense of shame. Finally, if the desire to avoid a future evil is restrained by a Timidity regarding another evil, so that he does not know what he would rather do, then the Fear is called Consternation, particularly if each evil he fears is of the greatest.” [Prop 39]

Anger. “The striving to do evil to him we hate is called Anger.”

Vengeance. “The striving to return an evil done to us is called Vengeance.”

[Starting from here, I’m just grabbing from wikisource].

This mental modification, or imagination of a particular thing, in so far as it is alone in the mind, is called Wonder ; but if it be excited by an object of fear, it is called Consternation, because wonder at an evil keeps a man so engrossed in the simple contemplation thereof, that he has no power to think of anything else whereby he might avoid the evil. If, however, the object of wonder be a man’s prudence, industry, or anything of that sort, inasmuch as the said man, is thereby regarded as far surpassing ourselves, wonder is called Veneration ; otherwise, if a man’s anger, envy, &c., be what we wonder at, the emotion is called Horror. Again, if it be the prudence, industry, or what not, of a man we love, that we wonder at, our love will on this account be the greater (III. xii.), and when joined to wonder or veneration is called Devotion. We may in like manner conceive hatred, hope, confidence, and the other emotions, as associated with wonder ; and we should thus be able to deduce more emotions than those which have obtained names in ordinary speech. Whence it is evident, that the names of the emotions have been applied in accordance rather with their ordinary manifestations than with an accurate knowledge of their nature.

To wonder is opposed Contempt, which generally arises from the fact that, because we see someone wondering at, loving, or fearing something, or because something, at first sight, appears to be like things, which we ourselves wonder at, love, fear, &c., we are, in consequence (III. xv. Coroll. and III. xxvii.), determined to wonder at, love, or fear that thing. But if from the presence, or more accurate contemplation of the said thing, we are compelled to deny concerning it all that can be the cause of wonder, love, fear, &c., the mind then, by the presence of the thing, remains determined to think rather of those qualities which are not in it, than of those which are in it ; whereas, on the other hand, the presence of the object would cause it more particularly to regard that which is therein. As devotion springs from wonder at a thing which we love, so does Derision spring from contempt of a thing which we hate or fear, and Scorn from contempt of folly, as veneration from wonder at prudence. Lastly, we can conceive the emotions of love, hope, honour, &c., in association with contempt, and can thence deduce other emotions, which are not distinguished one from another by any recognized name.

When the mind contemplates its weakness it feels pain […] This pain, accompanied by the idea of our own weakness, is called humility ; the pleasure, which springs from the contemplation of ourselves, is called self-love or self-complacency. 

More on Cowardice and Consternation

Daring is the desire, whereby a man is set on to do something dangerous which his equals fear to attempt. Cowardice is attributed to one, whose desire is checked by the fear of some danger which his equals dare to encounter. Consternation is attributed to one, whose desire of avoiding evil is checked by amazement at the evil which he fears.

Explanation.Consternation is, therefore, a species of cowardice. But, inasmuch as consternation arises from a double fear, it may be more conveniently defined as a fear which keeps a man so bewildered and wavering, that he is not able to remove the evil. I say bewildered, in so far as we understand his desire of removing the evil to be constrained by his amazement. I say wavering, in so far as we understand the said desire to be constrained by the fear of another evil, which equally torments him : whence it comes to pass that he knows not, which he may avert of the two.