More specifically concerning: words
26.03.02 – Tuesday
Now there’s a word I don’t like: spiritual. Heard in these contexts: ‘I’m not religious or anything, but I am very spiritual…’ -or- ‘yeah, you know, he’s all spiritual and shit.’ Spritual people supposedly tap into the grand essence that is, the great non-materialistic who-knows-what, all without the aid of organized religion. In general, they […]
Socrates was married, you know, and his wife, Xanthippe, was a shrew. Perhaps that’s why he liked to sit in the cobbler’s shop and talk with young aristocrats about the meaning of words. ‘The only thing I know is that I don’t know anything.’ How many a man has said that, in the course of […]
For words have a weight beyond their meaning, the sound of the stithy drawing measure from the iron of Elizabethan poetry, skirting the Joycean quicksilver to forge a something other than consciousness—a feeling, then, a fear. The chthonic sibilance and uneven lisp hammering out associations and leaving nothing but the need to hear.
The trouble with Shakespeare
The spirit of contrariety indulged in the boy, leads the man into serious quarrels, into brawls, fights, and duels. I have known a most tragic duel to arise from a dispute about a passage of Shakespeare. The parties were friends when they began. One quoted the passage, the other asserted he had misquoted it. Instead […]
apropos of nothing
mizzling, vbl. n. (var., misling; also ppl. a.) ‘The action of mizzle — the falling of very fine rain; fine rain or drizzle’ — thus the OED. A variety of precipitation called by vulgar persons (such as myself) spitting, on account of its exasperating (nay, provocative) inconsistency: it is neither really rain nor really mist. […]
general principles • moral turpitude • progressive non-action • radical self-sufficiency • righteous indignation • pompous twit
I have the misfortune to own a first edition of Trees and other Poems by one Joyce Kilmer; it has filled many a dull hour with indignant mirth and there the matter might have ended, had it not been for the following stanza in ‘Old Poets’: For these young flippertigibbets A-rhyming their hours away They […]
on the origins of regret.
Wherefore, I beckoned to Gioffredo to take the ankles: but I myself took the hollow armpits; and terribly the head waggled between. In this manner we flung the dead slave from the balcony: but, after we had heard the splash of his fall in Tiber, we returned, expecting new events. (chapter xii) ‘Terribly the head […]
poena sine fine
After reading Donna Wilson’s Ransom, Revenge, and Heroic Identity in the ‘Iliad’ (based on the dissertation she prepared for the University of Texas, Austin) the largest question I have for the author concerns her relationship with her father. Her discussion of the character of reparation in the Iliad emphasizes the role of the father in […]
I feel sick
It began with the pulp of a pumpkin which was kept in a cookpot atop the dishwasher on Halloween. Why it was kept, I know not. After a week, however, even I knew it stank. Indeed, to the very heavens. The future eminent medievalist concurred, declaring she felt nauseated. Once the windows were opened and […]
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 […]
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 […]
adventurous students always read classics.
meme (ex machina):1 Intrigue me?2 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.3 A house of sin you may call it, but not a house of darkness, for the candles are never out; […]
‘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
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 hoc1 Post scriptum: postreme.
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.1 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 falerne1 will I be at the drinking… – John Keats, letter to Benjamin Bailey 21 May 1818 Defined as Of or pertaining to the ager Falernus in […]
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; […]
Our ancestors wrote prose in long, beautiful sentences, convoluted like curls; although we still learn to do it that way in school, we write in short sentences that cut more quickly to the heart of the matter; and no one in the world can free his thinking from the manner in which his time wears […]
You reach a point in learning a language – usually sometime shortly after you can successfully ask and understand the way to the lavatory – when one word, usually a little word, will trip you up in supposed subtleties, tumble you into an ecstasy of confusion out of all proportion to its importance in actual […]
to have done
…in the course of the years the study of foreign languages had become almost a mania with Chwostik, indeed a sort of collector’s mania (as exemplified by his acquiring Armenian as a particularly exquisite ‘piece’)… – Heimito von Doderer(The Waterfalls of Slunj, p. 144) This is how we spent our morning: sitting on the floor […]
aydqan mard es
The more languages you know, the more of a (hu)man you are.
Sow seeds for flowers right now, I thought this spring, and sowed many more than usual
The other sign in the classroom says ‘Knowledge is essential to freedom’.
Il y a de certaines choses dont la médiocrité est insupportable : la poésie, la musique, la peinture, le discours public. – La Bruyère (Les Caractères, I.7) * * * Words are not terms, and thus are not like buckets and kegs from which we scoop a content that is there. Words are wellsprings that are found […]