Thursday, July 12, 2007


“The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalerus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timbers in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.”
–Plutarch’s Life of Theseus
Those lovely circular movements: like when I began reading Plutarch earlier this summer in order to refresh my memory & choose some texts for next spring’s graduate seminar on the poetics theory & practice of biography, then wandered by circuitous paths thru some very bad pulp science fiction, some Ronald Johnson, then – by way of comparison with RJ’s concrete poetry – my old obsession Ian Hamilton Finlay (expect a book one of these days, I’m sure of it), who led me to histories of the French Revolution (into which flowed a parallel stream of reading on the Enlightenment) & accounts of Revolutionary neo-classicism – i.e., back to Plutarch. “What splendour, it all coheres…”
Shaftesbury: “The most ingenious way of becoming foolish, is by a System.”

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