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Showing posts from March 11, 2018

the end of poetry? 2

“In an enlightened age there will be much intelligence, much science, much philosophy, abundance of just classification and subtle analysis, abundance of wit and eloquence, abundance of verses, and even of good ones; but little poetry. Men will judge and compare; but they will not create. They will talk about the old poets, and comment on them, and to a certain degree enjoy them. But they will scarcely be able to conceive the effect which poetry produced on their ruder ancestors, the agony, the ecstasy, the plenitude of belief. The Greek Rhapsodists, according to Plato, could scarce recite Homer without falling into convulsions. The Mohawk hardly feels the scalping  knife while he shouts his death-song. The power which the ancient bards of Wales and Germany exercised over their auditors seems to modern readers almost miraculous. Such feelings are very rare in a civilised community, and most rare among those who participate most in its improvements. They linger longest among the peasa

the end of poetry?

Better theories and worse poems When Thomas Macaulay went to Cambridge in 1818, everybody expected he would do brilliantly, since he had been born doing brilliantly – talking brilliantly, reading Latin when he was five, making up brilliant arguments when he was 15, and so on. He did shine at Cambridge, but he didn’t take away the highest honors. This was due to his detestation of Mathematics. Classic Barbie said, “math is hard”. Too bad classic Barbie was never stuffed with Macaulay’s words to his Mom about the subject: “I can scarcely bear to write on Mathematics or Mathematicians. Oh for words to express my abomination of that science, if a name sacred to the useful and embellishing arts may be applied to the perception and recollection of certain properties in numbers and figures! Oh that I had to learn astrology, or demonology, or school divinity! Oh that I were to pore over Thomas Aquinas, and to adjust the relation of Entity with the two Predicaments, so that I were exe

Classic hollywood kisses

Daniel Harris’s “The Romantic”, from an essay from 1999, made the surprising argument – or rather, exhibited the   surprising implication – that the Production Code, the Catholic-generated censorship manual for movies in the era between the beginning of the talkies in the thirties to the late fifties – actually encoded a device that pornographers now generally use.   “During the heyday of romantic Hollywood films, the cinematic kiss was not a kiss so much as a clutch, a desperate groping, a joyless and highly stylized bear hug whose duration was limited by official censors who also stipulated that the actors' mouths remain shut at all times, thus preventing even the appearance of French kissing, which was supplanted by a feverish yet passionless mashing of unmoistened lips. This oddly desiccated contact contrasted dramatically with the clawing fingers of the actresses' hands which, glittering with jewels, raked down their lovers' fully clothed backs, their nails ex

Revised version, Borges and Mctaggart

Here's a little number I tossed off a while ago. This morning I revised it. McTaggart and Borges If you are a man or woman of a certain age, according to all the wisdom literature I know, and it is a peaceful Sunday morning, and the adventures that have been the wind in your back - or the life you have sloughed - have come to a standstill for one moment, then you turn your reflections to time and its possibility, or even its possible non-existence, a non-existence that would annul the fact that you are a man or woman of a certain age, that it is Sunday, that adventure could have ever happened to you, and that you have a moment to reflect. Reflect on time one must, because we are not watches. Watches toil not, neither do they sow – even though our language has given them hands and a face. Instead, they infinitely visit the same neighborhood of numbers. One can imagine watches different –one can imagine a little computer that you could strap to your wrist and that wou