Friday, July 06, 2007


Oh yes, lots of busyness within and outwith the household this past week, & oddly not moved to blog much. Which is okay, since my synapses have been firing only at random moments lately, & I’ve had nothing much anybody would want to read. Cassirer’s Philosophy of the Enlightenment wound up, with a luminous account of 18th-century aesthetics from Shaftesbury (almost) to Kant; a nice weighty contrast to the celeb-snapshots of Nicolson’s The Age of Reason and Norman Hampson’s sturdy but hasty (in that Penguin series) way The Enlightenment. Who wouldn’t find etwas to ponder in Goethe’s maxims?:
The smallest hair casts its shadow.

When a man reflects on his physical or moral state, he usually decides that he is ill.

All that is lyrical must be very reasonable as a totality, and in its detail a little bit unreasonable.

The world is a bell that is cracked: it clatters, but it does not ring out clearly.

We really only learn from books we cannot judge. The author of a book we could really judge ought surely to be learning from us.

There is nothing more dreadful than active ignorance.
Shaftesbury’s Characteristicks, I find, is written in such a wonderfully breezy, high-spirited style that it’s difficult to get the attention to sit still and attend properly to his aesthetics. Lessing’s Laoco├Ân beckons.
On the poetry front, Susan Wheeler’s Source Codes, Melanie Nielson’s Civil Noir, and (once again) poor dead Ronald Johnson’s The Shrubberies.
at Satyr’s campground
Rainbow’s saturnalia
offering scapegoat
capering around firepit
Glossage: Ron belonged to (was founder of?) The Rainbow Motorcycle Club, a group of guys into collecting motorcycle leathers – boots, chaps, jackets, who knows what – and gathering out in the woods, where much beer was drunk and food barbequed; capering ensued. No-one actually owned a motorcycle.
Our Independence Day celebration – beer, barbeque, nor really capering… – was mostly rained out, leaving the adults to sit around kvetching about the depths into which the Republic has fallen, while four cranky pre-schoolers deconstructed the upstairs.
I am too old, too awkward, and by far too zaftig to have taken up rollerblading, even if P. has acquired her first set of skates & demands that Daddy accompany her. Tuesday I was sure I was concussed; yesterday I bought a helmet. I have bruises in places upon which the sun doesn’t shine.


Brian said...

When Monkey was of an age to desire such things, I was still mobile enough to provide her with company. I worry, since Amy and I are hoping to do this, that I will be asked again, 20 years later, 40 pounds heavier, and with much weaker ankles. I will hurt myself, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

I envy you the reading, Mark! I'm teaching 12 hours a week these days, all in the morning; by the time I get home, the kids beckon and fret.

Lovely maxims, all of them.

You bought your daughter skates? You let them in the house? You're mad, sir! Mad!

Robert Z said...

Lessing, eh? I will be teaching parts of it in a class on ekphrasis this fall -- be forewarned that any particularly pithy comments you make might well reverberate on the other side of this sandbar we call a state.

Now, off to preorder that book!