As disabled 37-year-old Megan Mariah Barnes was shaving her pubes for the benefit of her new boyfriend in the driver’s seat of her 1995 Ford Thunderbird, her ex-husband Charles Judy took the steering wheel while riding bitch. Thus conjoined in harmonious operation of her automobile across the Florida Keys, they slammed into the back of a 2006 Chevrolet pickup driven by David Schoff. Barnes was charged with the misdemeanor second offense of driving with a revoked license and the felony of leaving the scene of a crash involving injuries. Judy, who had switched seats with his ex-wife in a futile attempt to claim responsibility for her offense, was not charged: “iussisti enim et sic est, ut poena sua sibi sit omnis inordinatus animus.” For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
|ecce respondeo dicenti, ‘quid faciebat deus antequam faceret caelum et terram?’ respondeo non illud quod quidam respondisse perhibetur, ioculariter eludens quaestionis violentiam: ‘alta,’ inquit, ‘scrutantibus gehennas parabat.’ aliud est videre, aliud ridere: haec non respondeo.
— Aurelius Augustinus, Confessiones
See, I answer him that asketh, “What did God before He made heaven and earth?” I answer not as one is said to have done merrily (eluding the pressure of the question), “He was preparing hell (saith he) for pryers into mysteries.” It is one thing to answer enquiries, another to make sport of enquirers. So I answer not.
— Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
|La Fontaine, entendant plaindre le sort des damnés au milieu du feu de l’Enfer, dit : « Je me flatte qu’ils s’y accoutument, et qu’à la fin, ils sont là comme le poisson dans l’eau. »
— Chamfort, Maximes et Pensées, Caractères et Anecdotes
La Fontaine, hearing complaints of the lot of the damned in the midst of hellfire, said: “I trust that they get accustomed to it, and that in the end, they rest there as fish in water.”
— Chamfort, Maxims and Thoughts, Characters and Anecdotes
|FEU. Purifie tout. — Quand on entend crier « au feu », on doit commencer par perdre la tête.
— Gustave Flaubert, Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues
FIRE. Purifies everything. — Upon hearing the cry of “Fire!”, one must begin by losing his head.
— Gustave Flaubert, Dictionary of Received Ideas
|Il y a du Dante, en effet, dans l’auteur des Fleurs du Mal, mais c’est du Dante d’une époque déchue, c’est du Dante athée et moderne, du Dante venu après Voltaire, dans un temps qui n’aura point de saint Thomas.
— Jules Barbey D’Aurevilly, Les Poètes
There is Dante, in effect, in the author of the Flowers of Evil, but it is a Dante of the fallen era, an atheistic and modern Dante, a Dante who comes after Voltaire, in a time that will have no saint Thomas.
— Jules Barbey D’Aurevilly, The Poets
|Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς.||Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.|
There is but one truly serious moral problem, and it is that of apology. To make an apology, man must both acknowledge an external standard and defer to it. This much is easily attained. The hard part comes in requiring that his deference be both sincere and spontaneous. Continue reading onanistic apologetics III
The sources of Rousseau’s success are instructive. His was, and remains, the earliest and the greatest of all tales of self-consecration. The idea of the writer immortalizing himself through his work is as old as Horace. The idea of the writer immortalizing his work through his life is entirely modern. It is tempting to wax paradoxical in discussing this course of creation. In cultivating his paranoia by eliciting quarrels from his best friends, Jean-Jacques never ceased to extol his virtues as the finest example of man’s innate goodness. While defending the rights of children, he caused his five illegitimate offspring to be abandoned at the door of a foundling hospital, without so much as looking at them. After ending his formal education before entering his teens, he fashioned himself into an oracular educationist. Through pretending to eschew judgment in his accounts of himself, he relentlessly indicted individuals along with their institutions. Widely acknowledged as the heroic progenitor of the French Revolution, and thence of modernity as such, he opens himself up to plaudits and anathemas as an implacable terrorist or self-righteous totalitarian. In avoiding this embarrassment of epithets, the best approach is through plain facts. Continue reading onanistic apologetics II
“John Cage tells the story somewhere of going to a concert of music composed by a friend of his. The composer had also written the programme notes for the music in which he said, among other things, that he hoped his music might go some way to diminishing the suffering in the world. After the concert his friend asked him what he thought of the event and Cage answered, ‘I loved the music but I hated the programme notes.’ ‘But don’t you think there’s too much suffering in the world?’ the friend asked, obviously put out. ‘No,’ Cage replied, ‘I think there’s just the right amount.’”
Edvard Munch, Scream, 1893
Here, as always, Proust is completely detached from all moral considerations. There is no right and wrong in Proust nor in his world. (Except possibly in those passages dealing with the war, when for a space he ceases to be an artist and raises his voice with the plebs, mob, rabble, canaille.) Tragedy is not concerned with human justice. Tragedy is the statement of an expiation, but not the miserable expiation of a codified breach of a local arrangement, organised by the knaves for the fools. The tragic figure represents the expiation of original sin, of the original and eternal sin of him and all his ‘soci malorum,’ the sin of having been born.
‘Pues el delito mayor
Del hombre es haber nacido.’
In der That ist die Ueberzeugung, daß die Welt, also auch der Mensch, etwas ist, daß eigentlich nicht seyn sollte, geeignet, uns mit Nachsicht gegen einander zu erfüllen: denn was kann man von Wesen unter solchem Prädikament erwarten? — Ja, von diesem Gesichtspunkt aus könnte man auf den Gedanken kommen, daß die eigentlich passende Anrede zwischen Mensch und Mensch, statt, „Monsieur“, „Sir“, u.s.w., seyn möchte „Leidensgefährte, Socî malorum, compagnon de misères, my fellow sufferer.“ So seltsam dies klingen mag; so entspricht es doch der Sache, wirft auf den anderen das richtige Licht und erinnert an das Nötigste: an die Toleranz, Geduld, Schonung und Nächstenliebe, deren jeder bedarf und die daher auch jeder schuldig ist.
In fact, the conviction that the world and man is something that had better not have been, is of a kind to fill us with indulgence towards one another; for what can one expect from being in such predicaments? — Indeed, from this point of view, we might well consider the proper form of address among men to be, not “Monsieur”, “Sir”, and so on, but “Leidensgefährte, Socî malorum, compagnon de misères, my fellow-sufferer”. This may perhaps sound strange, but it is in keeping with the facts; it puts others in a right light; and it reminds us of that, which is after all the most necessary thing in life — the tolerance, patience, regard, and love of neighbor, of which everyone stands in need, and which, therefore, every man owes to his fellow.