“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!)
“What has *being informed* done for you?”
—@Logo-Daedalus, “” (22 December 2017)
(Inform, the transitive verb, means “to give form or shape to; to give vital organizing power to; to give life to; to imbue and actuate with vitality; to animate; to mold; to figure; to fashion.” Antithetically, inform, the adjective, means “without regular form; shapeless; ugly; deformed” (my emphasis); its root is “not + form.”
The whole tweet & its thread is excellent, a contemporary variant of this caustic paragraph from Thoreau’s “Life Without Principle“:
Just so hollow and ineffectual, for the most part, is our ordinary conversation. Surface meets surface. When our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper, or been told by his neighbor; and, for the most part, the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper, or been out to tea, and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post-office. You may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters, proud of his extensive correspondence, has not heard from himself this long while.
[My emphasis.] Save your minds.)
I’ve successfully avoided a promised post on hyper-racism in the Book of Mormon & the same topic as it touched upon the Land/Shutdown LD50/New Centre rumpus. [Edit: This was cleaned out of my drafts, & the last reference has not aged well over the course of eight months.] Both require nimble scrambles up a slippery slope that bottoms out on stupefaction.
So imagine my surprise to find a Marxist poet implicitly making the distinction I tried to make explicitly with my earlier post: that race, as a proxy for speciation, is now firmly downstream of class or SES. But that’s precisely what Damn the Caesars does, fusing Marx & Darwin in a paragraph that has a strangely alt-right texture:
Fuck Trump. Until he and the whole of his genus are entirely removed from the sanctuary of political power they presently inhabit, how can this not be the first and most enduring concern of any reasoning US citizen? Fuck Trump and fuck every intellectually underdeveloped cretin associated with that fascist, racist, trans-hating, woman-hating, billionaire rapist. There can be, as Margaret Thatcher so memorably insisted, no alternative. Out or holocaust. For anyone sensitive to instant-by-instant developments across the past year there can be no purchase whatsoever that resides between these two positions. We know what this is. We have known all along. Fuck the fascists.
(My emphasis.) Here not merely a separate species, like Homo bourgouis, but a separate genus: completely dehumanized! That “there can be no purchase whatsoever … between these two positions” is astute. The dialectic fails & that’s okay. There are moments when synthesis is neither needed nor wanted. The alternatives are the blockchain metaphor of a hard fork and the biological metaphor of speciation. The latter won’t remain a figure of thought; it is the shape of things to come.
Why have we none [no grace] for books, those spiritual repasts; a grace before Milton, a grace before Shakespeare, a devotional exercise proper to be said before reading the Fairy Queen?
—Charles Lamb, “Grace Before Meat” (1823)
(Lamb cedes this extension of “the solitary ceremony of manducation” to “the use of a certain snug congregation of Utopian Rabelæsian Christians,” which is a double shame, first that we don’t specific devotional exercises for specific authors & acts of reading, and second that there isn’t an actual congregation of Utopian Rabelæsian Christians.)
The one man who has ever made me wish I had a penis is Norman Mailer.
—Alex Mar, “A Female Author’s Love for the Proudly Sexist Norman Mailer,” The Aesthete (undated)
(Not a bad sentence with which to start an essay on a subject as torturous as the sexual politics of reading Mailer. The title is bad, but I assume that’s an editorial imposition and that the much better “My Norman Mailer, Myself” of the article’s URL is Mar’s chosen title. Her penis envy, Mar clarifies, is figurative*: “I wanted a dick like his to swing around—you know, in the literary sense.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get that far because the second of three intervening sentences—”I was just out of college and starting a new life, living a few blocks from the paper he founded …, in an East Village studio so lopsided anything you dropped would roll across the floor”—hoops the mind with panniers of such self-satisfaction that the only sane response is to close the tab immediately.
*This is a disappointment. Imagine a literal legion of Mailer-steeped transmen marching through Provincetown, maniples hefting their synthetic man-poles in salute to a fellow prisoner of sex.)