July 30, 2008: Darwin has a horrid doubt - 0 Comments

"With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"

July 22, 2008: Peter Klappert on experimentation - 0 Comments

"Experimentation should not be confused with mere dilettantism: the quest is serious, the stakes are mortal, the poet's desire must answer a desire in the reader."

- Klappert, from his course overview 80 Works, 1999.

July 12, 2008: Shakespeare on death - 0 Comments

Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
Let's choose executors and talk of wills:
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke's,
And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?

My lord, wise men ne'er sit and wail their woes,
But presently prevent the ways to wail.

July 10, 2008: Eliot, from The Waste Land - 0 Comments

"After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience"

"These fragments I have shored against my ruin."

- T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, 1922

July 9, 2008: Eliot and exploring - 0 Comments

"Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In the end is my beginning."

- T.S. Eliot, East Coker (Four Quartets), 1943

July 8, 2008: Eliot and time - 0 Comments

"Time and the bell have buried the day"
- T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton (Four Quartets), 1943

July 6, 2008: Williams on Caesar - 0 Comments

"'Caesar,' Considine answered, ' knew of it. I am sure he did. This man who had so many lovers, who could bear all hardships and use all comfort, who was not athlete or lover or general or statesman or writer, but only those because he was Caesar, who founded not a dynasty but a civilization, whose children we are, who dreamed of travelling to the sources of the Nile and sailed out to the strangeisland whither the Gallic boatmen rowed the souls of the dead, who was lord of all minds and natures, didn't he dream of other waters and set sail living for a land where the spirits of other men are but helplessly driven? Rule the world? He was the world; he mastered it; the power that is in it burned in him and he knew it; he was one with it.'"

- Williams, Shadows of Ecstasy, 1950

I love that man-of-the-world phrase, 'could bear all hardships and use all comfort.'

July 4, 2008: Richard II on impartiality - 0 Comments

"Now, by my scepre's awe, I make a vow,
Such neighbour-nearness to our sacred blood
Should nothing privilege him, nor partialize
The unstooping firmness of my upright soul:
He is our subject, Mowbray, so art thou;
Free speech and fearless I to thee allow."

- Shakes, King Richard II, 1595.

July 2, 2008: Williams on belief and fanaticism - 0 Comments

- "I only meant that I should like you to believe that Roger's quite serious, and a little unhappy."
- "Unhappy!" Philip exclaimed. "Roger!"
- "Certainly unhappy," Sir Bernard said. "He's fanatic enough to believe passionately and not sufficiently fanatical to believe that other people ought to believe."

- Williams, Shadows of Ecstasy, 1950