Serviceable sentences, 62/10,000

Religion must be a crab, not a cultivated tree.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Journal V (1844-1845), in Selected Journals 1841-1877 (ed. Lawrence Rosenwald)

(Cf. from Webster’s 1913:

“crab,” n.: [Bot.] A crab apple—so named from its
harsh taste. See “crab,” adj.

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl. —Shak.

“crab,” adj.: Sour; rough; austere.

Cf. from etymonline:

Old English crabba, from a general Germanic root (compare Dutch krab, Old High German krebiz, German krabbe, Old Norse krabbi “crab”), related to Low German krabben, Dutch krabelen “to scratch, claw,” from PIE root *gerbh– “to scratch, carve” …. French crabe (13c.) is from Germanic, probably Old Norse.

The zodiac constellation name is attested in English from c. 1000; the Crab Nebula (1840), however, is in Taurus, the result of the supernova of 1054, and is so called for its shape.

“… [T]he Crab Nebula … is in Taurus.”

Cf. WokeCapital: “Another scenario is that we get a new religion that allows us to function in productive ways. Don’t ask me how we get from here to there” [emphasis added].)


Serviceable sentences, 61/10,000

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)


Serviceable sentences, 60/10,000

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.)


Serviceable sentences, 58/10,000

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.)


“Man has won a battle against chaos”


“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)

Ursula K. Le Guin, 1928-2018

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)