The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

July 2021


2 July 2021, around 9.37.

A view of Constantinople

A view of Constantinople, ca. 1635, by Matthäus Merian

Somewhat jokingly I said that I wanted the shelves to reflect the great arc of history, not a hodgepodge of regional narratives. In the beginning, this was fine. There was room, narrative room, to arrange the books in something like a chronology to present something like a story – Gilgamesh cozying up to the Presocratics – yielding the impression of lights turning on, one-by-one, through the windows of apartments on different city blocks, or the gradual appearance of different planets, stars, and constellations as dusk settles into night.

Byzantium appears to be the sticking point, perhaps because of the appearance of continuity, of duration, perhaps because it marks a point in the chronology where other interests come into play, where the Mongols and the Armenians have to find a way to sit comfortably next to each other on the shelf with their different legacies and timelines, and somehow the Georgians are there too and where do the Venetians fit in? (And there’s a history on the T’ang and a book of Korean chronicles that somehow need to slip in near the seventh and twelfth centuries, respectively.)

It is perhaps as well to acknowledge that the library will never be unpacked, that it might not even be a library at all, but simply a temporary gathering of books resting on their journey someplace else. They are all on shelves for the moment, though, and now there’s even room for a few more.


10 July 2021, around 5.45.

‘The superiority of intellectual to sensual pleasures consists rather in their filling up more time, in their having a larger range, and in their being less liable to satiety, than in their being more real and essential.’ —Malthus, in the midst of being cranky about Godwin


11 July 2021, around 13.23.

‘The moment we allow ourselves to ask why some things are not otherwise, instead of endeavouring to account for them as they are, we shall never know where to stop; we shall be led into the grossest, and most childish absurdities’ —Malthus, ray of sunshine

‘Leisure is, without a doubt, highly valuable to man; but taking man as he is, the probability seems to be that, in the greater number of instances, it will produce evil rather than good.’ (ibid)

re: vision

14 July 2021, around 9.11.

—All ideas come in some measure from misunderstanding, from a misreading of a situation or a text or an intention. Thinking, then, in its purest form, is a type of error – a constant going astray, or wander—

—No. Too broad.

—Most ideas—


—Some ide—

—Some? Really? No.

—There are ideas—

—No. Too vague.

—Ideas come from misunder—


—What? What was wrong with that? What do you want me to say? What on earth would please you?

—Be quiet until you have something interesting to say.


25 July 2021, around 6.47.

a picture of a book and some dramatic sunlight

…the soul and body are joint-sharers in every thing they get: A man cannot dress, but his ideas get cloth’d at the same time; and if he dresses like a gentleman, every one of them stands presented to his imagination, genteelized along with him—so that he has nothing to do, but take his pen, and write like himself.

Tristram Shandy

…There are few things more pleasant than starting a fine summer morning at the tail end of rereading a favorite book in a comfortable room with a dog (or some other friend, I suppose) at one’s side.

ego hoc feci mm–MMXXIV · cc 2000–2024 M.F.C.

« earlier :: later »