Samuel Ward was a 16th-17th century Puritan preacher, and therefore generally an unlikable guy all around. He is most famous for complaining loudly about silly things threatening Christian institutions. Mainly, I think that the caricature from this printing of his sermon Woe to Drunkards is hilarious. Why is “O MANERS. O TYMES.” upside down? I have no fucking clue, but it’s great.
A little more than a year ago I sat in Patricia Risso’s classroom thinking long and hard about why I was there. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. In the first place, for the past two years education has been an emotional subject. I let go of everything else in my life to get my education. Every other ambition, thought, or consideration went to the wind. For a year I starved, penniless, having let someone who I had thought was a lifelong friend take me for all I was worth and nearly leave me homeless. For the first time in my life, I began thinking of suicide. No matter the view from the outside, I came to classes every single day with the sense that, somehow, I had to succeed as a student, or all the pain I was subjecting myself to would mean nothing. But this was even more than that. This was ingrained in the fiber of who I was. Why did I start studying the Middle East?
When I was eight years old, I woke up and came downstairs and saw my mother crying in the living room. I sat down with her and watched the attack on the World Trade Center. She didn’t turn the television off or say anything at all. I understood what was happening, but I didn’t understand why.
“When each reflects upon the condition of the other, we think that we can appreciate the sorrows of the slave ; but we cannot counterbalance these with the bliss which springs from ignorance and from the exuberance of mere animal life.
“On the other hand, while the slave must often look upon the white man with envy,–chiefly because he is better fed and clothed, and has less labor to perform than himself,–how very far he is from any possible sympathy with the woes which civilization entails!–disappointed ambition, unrequited affection, society’s poisonous breath of slander, loss of property, the fruit of that very tree of knowledge which we are all so anxious to reach, and which, when attained, so often disagrees with our mental digestion, sometimes changing the faith of childhood to scepticism in maturer years; even the wisdom which grasps ‘ star-eyed [sic on the space after the quote] Science,’ receiving in return her ‘ message of despair!’ Is freedom from all this misery nothing to set off against the white man’s superiority? And of these evils how little does the slave know in his own person! Therefore it is that he pities us as little as we envy him.
-John Codman, Ten Months in Brazil (Lee and Shepard, 1867), chapter 10 pp. 84-85
A world gone to hell to return to a “regular” posting schedule sometime soon-ish. Maybe. Hopefully. My project on Burton and Blunt is going to be an actual paper now, so those updates will start soon and not stop for the two-semester academic year.
No one will read this, and that’s OK.
I just got in the mail the abridged English translation of Ibn Taymiyah’s treatise on the Jinn, a light 135 pages with multiple appendices, from a shady Saudi Arabian bookstore.
Malcolm X, Malik al-Shabaz, was born on May 19 in 1925. He was assassinated in 1965. Incidentally, although his life followed a wide arc, the vast majority of his posthumous supporters conveniently ignore all the uncomfortable bits about his legacy. Incidentally the wholesale willingness to completely ignore the legacy of famous people, thereby disarming them of all danger or significance or intelligence, is the only real American pastime.
But right now I’m more interested in talking about the hilarious, knee-slapping news that popular music lyrics are now at a 3rd grade reading level. Of course, it’s not like anyone who cares about this news is interested in talking about the fact that Ernest fucking Hemingway also wrote at a below high school level. Some of his writing has been rated below George Bush speeches. That’s George Bush, who is famously depicted by every other political cartoonist as a monkey. The only people who really care about that news are people who just want to confirm their own cultural superiority over black people and poor whites.
Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.
-Catullus 85, elegiac couplet.
I don’t know the exact moment that Catullus pulled me out of the year long fog brought on by the nonsensical Latin of Disce! Latinam, but every successive poem I read pulls me further out. The second line implies an entirely passive role for the lover: love and hate cruelly subject themselves to us. Lesser emotions like joy and snap anger are things we can dissolve in a stoic calm, but love and hate overpower us in beautiful and horrible moments of clarity.
This particular poem is Catullus’ most famous couplet, for good reason. I am convinced that the utter paradox of love has not been so convincingly summarized anywhere else. I won’t translate it, in part because I’m utterly inept in Latin and in part because I don’t think it should be translated.
Passing through Greece he paid a visit to the ancient site of Mycenae, where the Lion Gate had recently been unearthed by the excavations of Heinrich Schliemann.
We Still Kill the Old Way is a terrible film. It’s a piece of trash. The only redeeming element is that this movie didn’t suck harder. Everything from the premise to the humor is both inane and lackluster.
My buddy looks at me and he says something about Comic Con, how there was this guy there selling beer to everyone. He was tall, dark-haired, with slender proportion. Mexican or Indian descent, with that special tan that lets you know he was not a True American. His helpful smile let you know he was lying to you. His eyes had sunken into his skull, leaving deep chasms not unlike the deep spaces under my brow when I turn my head down. He says this guy looked like the type who just spent his whole life trying to fix his emotional problems with substance abuse. He tried everything. He ran the gamut of Hunter S. Thompson impressions and came up short. After trying everything, he resolved to wallow in his own misery and became consumed by it. In time, his physical form came to reflect his own self-destruction, an ongoing and endless suicide. I said no, that’s not it at all. He’s miserable because he’s selling beer at Comic Con. Can you even imagine anything sadder than that?
[If you choose to read past this, be warned: it sucks. I was drunk and my creativity only lasted one quarter as long as I wanted it to.]