Yet Naked Lunch, and all the great works of all the bad people above named [Toni Morrison, Doris Lessing, Anne Sexton, Derek Walcott, Oscar Wilde, Charlotte Brontë], are worthwhile not because they offer moral wisdom—very little great literature, aside from a few obvious exceptions (e.g., Middlemarch), does that—but because they provide irreplaceably intelligent or intricate or intense experiences of the world.
—John Pistelli, “Against Intellectual Biblioclasm” (13 January 2018; my emphasis)
When there is a question of meaning, instead of looking to the dictionaries, one should look at etymologies.
—Dr. Joseph Suglia, “A Few Words of Introduction to PRINCIPLES OF ENGLISH USAGE: STANDARD WRITTEN AMERICAN ENGLISH” (15 April 2018)
(Solid advice. Get thee, fair reader, to the Online Etymology Dictionary—that is, if you don’t have a copy of Skeat, Partridge, or Barnhart.)
Hubris and nemesis encompass Aristotelian logic and escape it.
—Outsideness (14 May 2017)
[I’ve lost a stable electronic location for this tweet, but it remains searchable. Having echoed through my brain for months, it might as well externalize itself here.]
The message can only be relayed from a lurker at the threshold to a prospective sharer of the feast.
—Harold Bloom, The Visionary Company, rev. ed. (1971). My emphasis.
(This accidental reference of a third-rate Lovecraft collaboration hides in Bloom’s reading of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Asynchronic gothboicliques lurk in the lines of influence.)
“The poet delights in disorder only. If it were not so, the most poetical thing in the world would be the Underground Railway.”
“So it is,” said Mr. Syme.
“Nonsense!” said Gregory, who was very rational when anyone else attempted paradox. “Why do all the clerks and navvies in the railway trains look so sad and tired, so very sad and tired? I will tell you. It is because they know that the train is going right. It is because they know that whatever place they have taken a ticket for that place they will reach. It is because after they have passed Sloane Square they know that the next station must be Victoria, and nothing but Victoria. Oh, their wild rapture! oh, their eyes like stars and their souls again in Eden, if the next station were unaccountably Baker Street!”
“It is you who are unpoetical,” replied the poet Syme. “If what you say of clerks is true, they can only be as prosaic as your poetry. The rare, strange thing is to hit the mark; the gross, obvious thing is to miss it. We feel it is epical when man with one wild arrow strikes a distant bird. Is it not also epical when man with one wild engine strikes a distant station? Chaos is dull; because in chaos the train might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street or to Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole magic is in this, that he does say Victoria, and lo! it is Victoria. No, take your books of mere poetry and prose; let me read a time table, with tears of pride. Take your Byron, who commemorates the defeats of man; give me Bradshaw, who commemorates his victories. Give me Bradshaw, I say!”
“Must you go?” inquired Gregory sarcastically.
“I tell you,” went on Syme with passion, “that every time a train comes in I feel that it has broken past batteries of besiegers, and that man has won a battle against chaos. You say contemptuously that when one has left Sloane Square one must come to Victoria. I say that one might do a thousand things instead, and that whenever I really come there I have the sense of hairbreadth escape. And when I hear the guard shout out the word ‘Victoria,’ it is not an unmeaning word. It is to me the cry of a herald announcing conquest. It is to me indeed ‘Victoria’; it is the victory of Adam.”
—G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
Great cinema is Heraclitean, dull cinema is Parmenidean—very roughly speaking.
—Meta-Nomad, “Blog: TSPDT2, Outside” (29 January 2018)
(A handy distinction.)
We’ve come to realize that the Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century.
—Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.; qtd. in Joseph Berger, “Access to Details on Wealthy Donors Fueled Theft Ring,” NYTimes (16 December 2011)
The first Tao Te Ching I ever saw was the Paul Carus edition of 1898, bound in yellow cloth stamped with blue and red Chinese designs and characters. It was a venerable object of mystery, which I soon investigated, and found more fascinating inside than out. The book was my father’s; he read in it often. Once I saw him marking notes from it and asked what he was doing. He said he was marking which chapters he’d like to have read at his funeral. We did read those chapters at his memorial service.
I have the book, now ninety-eight years old and further ornamented with red binding-tape to hold the back on, and have marked which chapters I’d like to have read at my funeral.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, “Introduction,” Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way (1997)
To live till you die
is to live long enough.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, w/J.P. Seaton, trans., Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way (1997)
No striving with supreme powers.
—Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1638/1651)
(This is the grimmer lesson to be gleaned from today’s introduction of the 17th President & and the new First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Spenser W. Kimball, 12th President, explains:
There have been some eighty apostles so endowed since Joseph Smith, though only eleven have occupied the place of the President of the Church, death having intervened; and since the death of his servants is in the power and control of the Lord, he permits to come to the first place only the one who is destined to take that leadership. Death and life become the controlling factors.
—Spencer W. Kimball, “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” (6 October 1972)
[My emphasis.] The succession of LDS leadership is Darwinian; death—natural process & index from the Outside—is the selection mechanism.)
This malady [clinical lycanthropy], said Avicenna, troubleth men most in February, and is nowadays frequent in Bohemia and Hungary, according to Heurnius.
—Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1638/1651)
(Cf. Nabi Banazadeh, Ali Kheradmand, & Mansoureh Nasirian, “Rare Variant of Lycanthropy and Ecstasy,” Addict Health 1:1 [2009, Summer]:
Patient was a 28-year-old, unemployed, married male living in Kerman province, Iran. His education level was 5th grade and was brought to Beheshti Psychiatry Hospital in Kerman for his aggressiveness and restlessness. The patient complained of people who were observing him with an intention to harm.
The patient believed that his father had changed to a boar and frequently attacked him, his brother had changed to a horse and sometimes kicked him, and his mother changed to a donkey and continuously brayed. He said that his soul sometimes left his body and went to various places with these animals and found what others do in their houses. He also stated that there was an angel protecting him and he could hear some people talking to him about his daily activities. He believed that there was a chicken in his head capturing his body and pushing his brain with thoughts that were not his. He believed that his wife was wearing a ring and by moving it puts more stress on his brain and more unpleasant feeling and for this reason had asked his wife to move out.
It was found in his history that following taking many ecstasy pills for opium cessation in an unofficial opium cessation center, he developed some delusional symptoms. He had been under physician’s observation for several months and after relative recovery, he stopped his medications and the symptoms aggravated again. There was no history of mental problems before taking ecstasy. He had persecutory delusions, depersonalization, passivity, loss of ego boundary, out of body experience, synesthesia, lycanthropy, thought insertion delusions and auditory and visual hallucinations. His time, place and person orientation and memory were intact. His neurological exam showed no important point. He had normal brain CT scan and MRI. Based on his history and diagnostic criteria of DSM-IV-TR, the patient was admitted with schizophrenia diagnosis and received 15 mg olanzapine daily. His lycanthropic symptoms stopped after two weeks of treatment and other symptoms improved gradually after second month of admission.
My emphasis. Happy Wolf Moon!)