Archive for 2004
Μὴ οὖν προδόται γένησθε ὑμῶν αὐτῶν, γενόμενοι δ’ ὅτι ἐγγύτατα τῇ γνώμῃ τοῦ πάσχειν καὶ ὡς πρὸ παντὸς ἂν ἐτιμήσασθε αὐτοὺς χειρώσασθαι, νῦν ἀνταπόδοτε μὴ μαλακισθέντες πρὸς τὸ παρὸν αὐτίκα μηδὲ τοῦ ἐπικρεμασθέντος ποτὲ δεινοῦ ἀμνημονοῦντες. κολάσατε δὲ ἀξίως τούτους τε καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ξυμμάχοις παράδειγμα σαφὲς καταστήσατε, ὃς ἂν ἀφιστῆται, θανάτῳ ζημιωσόμενον. τόδε γὰρ […]
to paraphrase Henry James.
Crambe repetita (4)
Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit.
the very marrow
I’ve reached a point where the OED is of no use, for it cannot tell me why some people call them zucchini and other people call them courgettes, nor can it tell me on earth they were not more popular before the mid-twentieth century. The most it can say is that the young fruit of […]
I shall say but little at present of their Learning, which for many Ages hath flourished in all its Branches among them: But their Manner of Writing is very peculiar; being neither from the Left to the Right, like the Europeans; nor from the Right to the Left, like the Arabians; nor from up to […]
de pumilis libellis
…by falsifying him into something monstrously charming and extraordinary they hope to be able to keep him alive forever. — Pär Lagerkvist (2002.47, p. 159) Owing to my best efforts to keep an open mind and my almost miraculous attempts to overcome my aversion for the word ‘snark’ and most people who use it, the […]
These people have excellent sculptors and professional designers. Their pipes, tomahawks, sticks, spoons carved out of horn, etc., embellish our ethnographic collections. – Marcel Mauss (2004.11, p. 43f.)
when in Rome
διόπερ οἱ μὲν ἄνδρες τὰ τείχη προκατελάμβανον καὶ τοὺς πρὸ τῆς πόλεως εὐκαίρους τόπους, αἱ δὲ γυναῖκες περιπορευόμεναι τοὺς ναοὺς ἱκέτευον τοὺς θεούς, πλύνουσαι ταῖς κόμαις τὰ τῶν ἱερῶν ἐδάφη· τοῦτο γὰρ αὐταῖς ἔθος ἐστὶ ποιεῖν, ὅταν τις ὁλοσχερὴς τὴν πατρίδα καταλαμβάνῃ κίνδυνος. – Polybius (9.6.3–4) ploratus mulierum non ex priuatis solum domibus exaudiebatur, sed […]
birds, for the
fulica atra ‘blissfully easy to identify’
χρύσειοι <δ’> ἐρέβινθοι ἐπ’ ἀϊόνων ἐφύοντο and golden chickpeas were growing on the banks – Sappho (Voigt fr. 143) trans. Anne Carson. I once sat through a lecture wherein the speaker claimed that the presence of an imperfect verb was sufficient to prove the presence of a narrative. Though that notion seems a bit silly […]
There are people who do not love their lives, for they ride bicycles on ice-covered pavement without a helmet.
As the abandonment of periodic arrangement really makes the colon useless, it would be well (though of course any one who still writes in formal periods should retain his rights over it) if ordinary writers would give it up altogether except in special uses, independent of its quantitative value, to which it is being more […]
the author disinterested in finances…
de aquis urbis Romæ
Because everyone is familiar with Frontinus and is eager for more information about aqueducts and Roman water-supply, allow me to recommend A. Trevor Hodge’s charming survey Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply. Hodge eschews incomprehensibility (in so far as possible) and has the virtue, which Ashby lacks, of a modern bibliography. He is, however, rather chatty […]
I was sitting on the floor outside one of the meeting rooms at a rather silly academic conference—as one does, you know: it makes one ‘memorable’. It was the morning of, I think, the third day, about fifteen minutes before the first round of papers was to begin. As I was sitting on the floor, […]
splitted in the midst
Currently (and actively) reading (in no particular order): François Rabelais. Gargantua and Pantagruel. trans. J. M. Cohen. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955. J. Innes Miller. The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire, 29 BC to AD 641. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969. Michel Foucault. The Archeology of Knowledge. trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. London: Routledge, 1989 (1969). Goethe. Die […]
the world discovered
I seem to be collecting Theophrastian anthologies. By which I mean the text of John Earle’s Microcosmography (1628) is available here for the amusement and edification of all and sundry. Here’s an excerpt from ‘A Down-right Scholar’: The time has got a vein of making him ridiculous, and men laugh at him by tradition, and […]
History of Sanitary Sewers: quite. WaterHistory.org: ‘Our objective is to explore prehistoric and historic water projects worldwide … without taking ourselves too seriously. We are particularly interested in the effect that water has on the quality of life.’ From Creek to Sewer: Sewerage and Drainage in Philadelphia. Let me remind you once again of our […]
8. Philaletheia, the disinterested love of scholarly truth, can lead one into some strange places. The connection of the two marginalia is the urge to recover the sense of an ancient text in full and accurately; to probe past the obscurity of poet and translator alike, to what Lycophron’s persona thought was to happen in […]
Crambe repetita (5)
Henry James, Madame de Mauves.
‘I mean, Thessaly wasn’t precisely on the cutting edge of epigraphy…’ said the student. ‘To coin a phrase…’ replied the teacher.
I call that day good in which I may spend the morning in bed reading Aubrey’s Brief Lives (cf.) and Cornelius Nepos. When Oxford surrendred, the first thing General Fairfax did was to sett a good Guard of Soldiers to preserve the Bodleian Library. ’Tis said that there was more hurt donne by the Cavaliers […]
fragment of a dialogue Is there a reason you haven’t bathed in almost a week? Is there a reason you consider my personal hygiene to be of general interest? Answer the question. Yes. There is a reason. Would you care to elaborate? When have I ever cared to elaborate? Let me rephrase: please share your […]
the mind diseased
Modern Greece, in history and literature, has been viewed as a transitory moment squeezed between two larger and more important entities. Viewed chronologically, modern Greece rests between the glory of the classical Greek past and the hope of a resurrected Greek future, which in many Western minds ought to resemble the democracies of Western Europe […]
adventurous students always read classics.
Among the Romanes a Poet was called Vates, which is as much as a diviner, foreseer, or Prophet, as by his conjoyned words Vaticinium, and Vaticinari, is manifest, so heavenly a title did that excellent people bestowe uppon this hart-ravishing knowledge, and so farre were they carried into the admiration thereof, that they thought in […]
plain and little.
athletes and academics.
Crambe repetita (6)
Collins, The Woman in White.
Idem classi praefectus circumvehens Peloponnesum, Laconicen populatus, classem eorum fugavit, Corcyram sub imperium Atheniensum redegit sociosque idem adiunxit Epirotas, Athamanas, Chaonas omnesque eas gentes, quae mare illud adiacent. quo facto Lacedaemonii de diutina contentione destiterunt et sua sponte Atheniensibus imperii maritimi principatum concesserunt, pacemque iis legibus constituerunt, ut Athenienses mari duces essent. quae victoria tantae […]
de arte poetica liber
To my great embarrassment, I mistook this overview of William Blades’s Enemies of Books (via) for a poem; e.g.: Bagford the biblioclast. Illustrations torn from MSS. Title-pages torn from books. Rubens, his engraved titles. Colophons torn out of books. Lincoln Cathedral Dr. Dibdin’s Nosegay. Theurdanck. Fragments of MSS. Some libraries almost useless. […] The care […]
A Sudden Liberating Thought
with no sudden crisis of conscience
it was the distance…
The Victim of Prejudice
or, the difficulties of being desired
a love-song, a love-song.
I was quite pleased with myself: I managed to trim a ten-paragraph letter down to nine words, excluding salutation. Sadly, neither the grammar nor spelling were all that they should be, and I am pleased no more.
a philosophical expedition to Abissinia
The Green Dwarf
to the dogs
Volkswagens and other historical anecdotes
I cannot think of a writer I dislike more than William Butler Yeats; mind you, I’m sure such an author exists – the literary world would be a sad place indeed if the most unlikeable creature it could offer was WBY – but I can’t think of one right now. Aside from being a pompous […]
Directions to Servants
lessons for masters
Crambe repetita (7)
Alexander Pope, Martinus Scriblerus.
Lately I’ve been thinking (very slowly) about the word choir and, in particular, its appearance in two familiar poems. The first is Wilfred Owen’s ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth‘, and the relevant passage (ll.5–8) runs as follows: No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, — The […]
Portrait of the Author
Love and Freindship (sic)
the perils of misspelling for young authors
…for certainly Life is so Pretious, as it ought not to be Ventured, where there is no Honour to be Gain’d in the Hazard, for Death seems Terrible, I am sure it doth to Me, there is nothing I Dread more than Death, I do not mean the Strokes of Death, nor the Pains, but […]
meme (ex machina): Intrigue me? The impression is that the lay-out of the whole area resembled that of the Seraglio in Constantinople, with palaces, barracks, and other royal buildings set in an area of parkland. A house of sin you may call it, but not a house of darkness, for the candles are never out; […]
…the judgement that someone is unliterary is like the judgement ‘This man is not in love’, whereas the judgement that my taste is bad is more like ‘This man is in love, but with a frightful woman’. And just as the mere fact that a man of sense and breeding loves a woman we dislike […]
Happily Miss Carridge was a woman of few words. When body odour and volubility meet, then there is no remedy (43). * * * Her mind was so collected that she saw clearly the impropriety of letting it appear so (79). – Samuel Beckett Murphy (1938)
A Man may make a Remark – In itself – a quiet thing That may furnish the Fuse unto a Spark In dormant nature – lain – Let us divide – with skill – Let us discourse – with care – Powder exists in Charcoal – Before it exists in Fire – – Emily Dickinson913 […]
ex magna turba…
Nihil mihi nunc scito tam deesse quam hominem eum, quocum omnia, que me cura aliqua adficiunt una communicem, qui me amet, qui sapiat, quicum ego cum loquar nihil fingam, nihil dissimulem, nihil obtegam. abest enim frater ἀφελέστατος et amantissimus. †Metellus† non homo, sed ‘litus atque aër’ et ‘solitudo mera’. tu autem, qui saepissime curam et […]
Crambe repetita (8)
Beirette BL, Agfa Ultra 100, f2.8/60 14 April 2004
To move away from one thing is not necessarily to approach another, though this may be the unintended consequence; to move towards an object does not require departing from another – but this, too, often happens. Few can observe their impulses with perspicacity.
A view (14)
Agfa Silette. Agfa Ultra 100, 3.4/30 8 May 2004 locus ille animi nostri stomachus ubi habitabat olim concalluit. privata modo et domestica nos delectent, miram securitatem videbis; cuius plurimae mehercule partes sunt in tuo reditu. nemo enim in terris est mihi tam consentientibus sensibus. – Cicero, ad Atticum, iv.18.2.15ff. (emphasis mine) Incidentally, does it worry […]
‘As is’ he she we they you you you I her so pronouns begin the dance called washing whose name derives from an alchemical fact that after a small stillness there is a small stir after great stillness a great stir – Anne Carson
…once we have recognised that knowledge in itself is good for man, we shall need to invent no pretexts for studying this subject or that; we shall import no extraneous considerations of use or ornament to justify us in learning one thing rather than another. If a certain department of knowledge specially attracts a man, […]
a Turkish winter
marks of the excellent man.
they say it’s May
cf. She schools the flighty pupils of her eyes, With levell’d lashes stilling their disquiet; And puts in leash her pair’d lips lest surprise Bare the condition of a realm at riot. If he suspect that she has ought to sigh at His injury she’ll avenge with raging shame. She kept her love-thoughts on most […]
Crambe repetita (9)
Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband.
Put down the apple Adam
Mortality is fatal Gentility is fine Rascality, heroic Insolvency, sublime […] A coward will remain, Sir Until the fight is done; But an immortal hero Will take his hat and run… – Emily Dickinson No. 2
give pearls away and rubies
From my new copy of A. S. F. Gow’s A. E. Housman, a Sketch. It was Housman’s custom to spend three weeks or a month every summer in France, choosing each year a new district, exploring it by car, and studying the architecture, the local dishes and the local wines. Usually he flew to Paris, […]
quis autem non magis solos esse…
not ashes yet, or cinders.
postation · postpositive · postprandial · post-haste · dumb as a post · postage · postulate · postilion · postalize · imposture · postliminy · by post · ‘ oh, omne animal triste!’ · postless · post-mortem · posthumous · posterity · post factum · ergo propter hoc
a love-song, a love-song.
we like sheep
a versifying Pet-lamb.
modesty & the art of pronunciation.
An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting
At the end of March there was a puff piece about Anne Carson in the NY Times, occasioned by a staged reading of her translation of, I think, Euripides’ Hekabe. One short passage attracted my attention: For all this, Ms. Carson said, she is not a poet. ‘Homer’s a poet,’ she said. ‘I would say […]
No. 35 Holywell St. I will be to you wine in the cellar and the more modestly or rather indolently I retire into the backward Bin, the more falerne will I be at the drinking… – John Keats, letter to Benjamin Bailey 21 May 1818
The Sacred Font
and other puzzles
Crambe repetita (10)
‘Olive Pratt Rayner’, The Type-Writer Girl.
Postcard (from the editor of the text to his godmother) found in a copy of ‘Urne Buriall’ and ‘The Garden of Cyrus’ … according to the notion I have of reason, neither the written treatises of the learned nor the set discourses of the eloquent are able of themselves to teach the use of it. […]
Three chairs on the deck of the house opposite rock of their own volition, looking at the sea and seven sail-less sailboats. The bright pink flowers of potted geranium plants refuse to lose their petals. And I, sadly, am reading William Hazlitt.
καὶ μικρὸν μὲν ἀνεκάθισεν, ἀνθρώπων τοσούτων ἐπερχομένων, καὶ διέβλεψεν εἰς τὸν ᾿Αλέξανδρον. ὡς δ’ ἐκεῖνος ἀσπασάμενος καὶ προσειπὼν αὐτὸν ἠρώτησεν, εἴ τινος τυγχάνει δεόμενος, ‘μικρὸν’ εἶπεν· ‘ἀπὸ τοῦ ἡλίου μετάστηθι’. – Plutarch Alexander 14.4 τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἀνθρώπους ὄντας παραλόγως περιπεσεῖν τινι τῶν δεινῶν οὐ τῶν παθόντων, τῆς τύχης δὲ καὶ τῶν πραξάντων ἐστὶν ἔγκλημα, […]
Martha’s Vineyard. The rough brick wall bore in chalk the legend: ‘PROPERTY IS THEFT’; heedless, I read ‘PROPERTIUS IS DEFT’, which seemed a strange idea. Also, apropos of nothing: He is a small, broad-shouldered man, with the thin, dead-looking fair hair, mild eyes, and bulging, over-heavy forehead of the German vegetarian intellectual. He wears sandals […]
Books to be packed. She sat rather glumly looking at her own hands, her chin drawn in as though suffering from indigestion, or a surfeit of English. – Patrick White The Vivisector, p. 317. I am, as it were, at sea. The most difficult part of packing books is deciding which ones I am most […]
The look of sunflowers bent in the streetlight. Streets butting into dead ends and empty lots (still smelling of farmland), signposted ‘private property, trespassing, loitering forbidden’. Circumspect distance maintained between pedestrians while waiting for the crosswalk signal in pseudo-suburbia: ca. eight feet. Inconvenient end of the concrete sidewalk in molehills, broken glass, blackberry brambles and […]
Crambe repetita (11)
Thomas Carlyle, Two Notebooks.
When reading, I don’t always look up the words I don’t know the meaning of – usually because context is enough, but often just because of laziness. This habitual sloth set me on a false scent with the following passage: Nobody, probably not even Kathy, need ever be aware of his spiritual child Katherine Volkov; […]
A view (15)
point of view.
Crambe repetita (12)
Samuel Butler, Notebooks.
Started reading The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugrešić. The novel proper begins as follows: 1. ‘Ich bin müde,’ I say to Fred. His sorrowful, pale face stretches into a grin. Ich bin müde is the only German sentence I know at the moment (3). I note this only because ‘Ich bin müde’ was […]
a quiet evening
from the Cowley Image Archive All was sunshine and flowers until the library delivered the wrong book for an interlibrary loan. I don’t care what the critics say, Allen Mandelbaum is no Gavin Douglas.
Curses! Foiled again!
Relics of the book trade; but see also a more impressive collection. O. W. Holmes, The Poet at the Breakfast Table: Joyce Kilmer, Trees and Other Poems: ibidem H. W. Auden, Greek Prose Phrase-Book: A. Kiesling, ed. Seneca Rhetor: Newton & Treat, Outline for Review: Roman History: Lord Houghton, Life and Letters of John Keats: […]
Crambe repetita (13)
John Bedford, Old Worcester China.