The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Citation (71)

In reading old texts, the greatest delight does not lie precisely in the verbal curiosa but, quite the reverse, the commonest words are given a mystic-homely emphasis: instead of ‘blue’ all one has to write is ‘blew’ & that banal word becomes at once important, isolated, of great value like the rarest jewel. That is the main sense of archaism: it hallows and ritualizes triviality. It is not just ordinary words which step out before us in hieratic actor’s masks, but the most elementary grammatical relationships and clause structures: subject—predicate, an attributive and its noun, co-ordination & subordination—all at once pop to the surface in these antiquated sentences like protruding veins or bone structures slipping out of overcooked fish: one sees before one’s eyes the embryonic grid of the language’s logic, the still flexible wax bones: “how nature Geometrizeth”—as Browne writes.

—Miklós Szentkuthy (Towards the One & Only Metaphor, trans. Tim Wilkinson, p. 300)


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