Critical theory is the shroud in which we bury absolute truth, which, with Mr. Kurtz, is dead.
There is little to be gained by navel-gazing save a more perfect understanding of the navel; the umbilicus is not, however, a subject suited to every inquirer.
One should take an interest in everything; to be interested in everything, though, is to be content to know nothing — is such contentment possible?
There are fine views to be had — if one does not mind sitting on a fence.
The only thing grander than hearing at long last from someone you were afraid you would never hear from again is not hearing from someone you have no desire to know.
The history of humanity is that of dogs which bite and howl when bitten.
A fondness for wisdom in the abstract is, of course, perfectly compatible with ignorance of particulars.
Lack of opportunity is no proof of virtue.1
Afterword: why does the sudden realisation that I shall never read Ruskin’s Stones of Venice in its entirety bring tears to my eyes? Is it an allergic reaction to a lack of mad art historians? Or is it something more?
Epilogue: they dove into the pavement and disappeared.
Postscript: a verse, averse, aversion.
Addendum: It is thought that some Roman playwright was not a native Latin speaker because he played too much with the sound of words. Terence, I think.[↩]
If you have found a silk purse, it would be absurd to keep the sow’s ear ‘just in case’.
Only a fool would use a cleaver to lance a boil.
BONUS Epicurian Gnōmē!
Τῆς αὐταρκείας καρπὸς μέγιστος ἐλευθερία.
Freedom is the finest product of self-sufficiency.1
—Gnomologium Vaticanum Epicureum, No. 77.
Yes, yes, I know karpos means ‘fruit’ or ‘harvest’ – but I don’t really like the idea of autarkeia (another tangled concept, but there’s no helping it) reaping the whirlwind. If you don’t like the translation of megistos (lit. greatest, largest) as ‘finest’, well, there it is – those who live by the LSJ die in the middle of Liddell.[↩]
It is the lot of the fool to wait another’s pleasure.
I grow tired of waiting.
It is easier to pretend to dislike what one does not wish to leave; this is true of places and people.
It is a shame to write with such abundant style and yet offer so little evidence of thought.
I am satisfied with the butterfly in the field; I have no need to see it dead and pinned in a box.
It was like trying to understand the constitutional history of the United States by reading about the Anasazi.
I no longer have conversations – I have grammatical encounters.
That world-weary prose does nothing for your figure.
One ought not to mistake the grinding of axes and the rattling of hobbyhorses for the murmur of conversation.
It is presumptuous to expect weasels to fly; they much prefer burrowing.
One finds a holophrase: men – one still awaits the longed-for day.1
- Oh yes that is the grammarian’s pun – cannot one caper apud hædis, or is that day not yet at hand? [↩]
The mind, too, is a dog that needs walking.
To describe a place requires more than the negative space of one’s impressions.