Thursday, January 27, 2005



"I would like to care less about the things other people say about me, but I can't imagine caring less. I think people pay heavy prices for armor and callousness." -- Tony Kushner, in an interview for The New Yorker, 3 January 2005

* * *

"There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient." -- From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

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Nought can Deform the Human Race /
Like to the Armour's iron brace. /
When Gold and Gems adorn the Plow /
To Peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow.

-- William Blake, from "Auguries of Innocence"

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"If there is any reaction to the Greeks which may be called typical of our age as compared with preceding times, it is, I think, a feeling that they were a very odd people indeed, so much so that when we come across something they wrote which seems familiar to our own way of thinking, we immediately suspect that we have misunderstood the passage. It is the unlikeness of the Greeks to ourselves, the gulf between the kind of assumptions they made, the kind of questions they asked and our own that strikes us more than anything else. ...

"Take, for instance, the following passage from the Timaeus:
"Such was the whole plan of the eternal God about the god that was to be, to whom for this reason he gave a body, smooth and even, having a surface in every direction equidistant from the centre, a body entire and perfect, and formed out of perfect bodies. And in the centre he put the soul, which he diffused throughout the body, making it also to be the exterior environment of it; and he made the Universe a circle moving in a circle, one and solitary, yet by reason of its excellence able to converse with itself, and needing no other friendship or acquaintance. Having these purposes in view he created the world a blessed god."
"... Even those of us whose mathematical equipment is of the most meager, have so imbibed the modern conception of number as an instrument for explaining nature, that we can no more think ourselves back into a state of mind where numbers were regarded as physical or metaphysical entities so that one number was 'better' than another than we can return to a belief in sympathetic magic. Nor is the Platonic assumption about the moral nature of the godhead any less peculiar to us [than] his shape. We may or may not believe that god exists, but the only kind of god in which we can think of believing is a god who suffers ... the kind of god who is both self-sufficient and content to remain so could not interest us enough to raise the question of his existence."

-- W. H. Auden, from "The Greeks and Us"

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I may as well confess myself the author /
Of several books against the world in general. /
To take them as against a special state /
Or even nation's to restrict my meaning. /
I'm what's called a sensibilist, /
Or otherwise an environmentalist. /
I refuse to adapt myself a mite /
To any change from hot to cold, from wet /
To dry, from poor to rich, or back again. /
I make a virtue of my suffering /
From nearly everything that goes on round me. /
In other words, I know wherever I am, /
Being the creature of literature I am, /
I shall not lack for pain to keep me awake. /
Samoa, Russia, Ireland I complain of, /
No less than England, France, and Italy. /
Because I wrote my novels in New Hampshire /
Is no proof that I aimed them at New Hampshire.

-- Robert Frost, from "New Hampshire"

Collective Improvisation:

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