the texas defense

In criminal law, the claim that the deceased victim “needed killing” is known as “the Texas defense”, also designated as “misdemeanor homicide”. On Wednesday, 27 August 2014, a jury acquitted David Barajas of murder at the Brazoria County Courthouse in Angleton, Texas. Barajas had been accused of fatally shooting one Jose Banda in December 2012 near Alvin, minutes after a car driven by Banda hit a truck that Barajas and his two sons were pushing after it ran out of gas, killing twelve-year-old David Jr. and eleven-year-old Caleb. Although Banda was found slumped in his seat at the crash site, with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit and a bullet wound to the head, no witnesses saw a shooting, and no weapon was ever recovered. As the case was about to go to trial, Texas media picked up an analysis by kibitzing Houston defense attorney Joel Androphy: “It’s not the right way to do it, but jurors a lot of times make judgments based on moral responsibility, not legal responsibility.” Amplifying this point, the commentariat cited a case two years earlier, when the grand jury in Lavaca County, Texas, declined to indict the man who admittedly pummeled to death the alleged molester of his 5-year-old daughter.

The Texas defense is arguably a misnomer, given that its definitive statement is found in a 1870 appellate court ruling in Kentucky:

Speaking of assured and continual danger to life, this court, in the case in 2 Duvall, defined the principle of self-defense as follows: “Like the sword of Damocles, the threatened danger is continually impending every moment and everywhere. The threatened man may be waylaid or otherwise attacked unawares without the possibility of defense or of escape, and may never, day or night, feel safe, or actually be so, while his enemy lives, who whenever he may see him or wherever he may find him may be anxious and able to kill him. And does either human or divine law require such prolonged agony and peril; or can the best and most prudent men suicidably forbear to strike for riddance, if they have the courage to defend themselves, in the only way of secure and lasting escape?”
    Now if a man feels sure that his life is in continual danger, and that to take the life of his menacing enemy is his only safe security, does not the rationale of the principle as thus defined allow him to kill that enemy whenever and wherever he gives him a chance and there is no sign of relenting? But before a jury should acquit they should be well satisfied that the killing was not the offspring of bad passion, but solely of a thorough and well-founded belief that it was necessary for security. And here lies the danger of misapplication. It is difficult to be assured that the act was thus necessary and done in good faith. Of that, however, the jury and not the court must judge; and in that judgment they can not be too self-poised and careful before they conclude that the peril of the accused was imminent and incessant, and that he, well assured of it, honestly believed that his only safe remedy was to destroy the power to execute the threats. And if he was authorized to believe and did considerately apprehend that his own exile or the death of his persevering enemy, watching to kill him, was, like the tabula in naufragio, the only safe mode of rescue, might he not lawfully choose his remedy and throw his enemy overboard? Why should he be required still to wait an assault and to endure longer haunting and hazard when he might at any moment become the victim of his own forbearance, and when self-defense might be impossible or unavailing? Why let the sword still hang over him? Why not remove it out of sight when he may, and not passively linger until it unexpectedly falls and strikes his heart unresisted? The recognition of the perfect right to do so in such a crisis appears to us consistent with both principle and policy. It seems to us conservative. It might afford more security and prevent more assassinations than the lame law of punishment ever could, and the manly and opportune assertion of this universal birthright may teach the reckless who thus maliciously beset the pathway of the peaceable that they will be likely to bring destruction on their own heads. This preventive principle will go hand in hand with civilization and philosophical jurisprudence as a palladium of personal security and social order and peace. Properly guarded, it may do more good than harm.

Carico v. Commonwealth, 70 Ky. (7 Bush) 124 (1870)

A more casual application of the same principle took place in the same year, well above the Mason-Dixon line in Anderson, Indiana:

    A TRAGEDY THAT SHOCKED ANDERSON.
    Louis Titherington was a cab driver who lived in the house now occupied by Dr. J.W. Fairfield as a sanitarium at the corner of Meridian and Thirteenth streets.
    Titherington went to his home on the 19th of October, 1870, in an intoxicated condition and became engaged in an altercation with his wife and sister-in-law, a Miss Jenkins, who lived in the family. He was in the act of severely chastising Miss Jenkins, and, it is said, had whipped his wife, when Daniel Jenkins, her brother, came into the house and ordered him to desist in his abuse, when he turned upon Jenkins and made threats of violence, whereupon Jenkins drew a revolver and opened fire upon Titherington, filling his body with leaden missiles, causing almost instant death. Jenkins was placed under arrest and indicted by the Grand Jury, and on a trial in the Circuit Court was acquitted on the ground that the killing was justifiable.
    On the trial was exhibited a large lock of hair which Titherington had pulled out of the head of one of the women. Titherington was a familiar personage on the streets of Anderson for a quarter of a century, having been at one time a half owner of the bus and transfer line, which was a good paying property.
    “Lew,” as he was known by the people, was not a bad man when not drinking, but disposed to be unruly when imbibing to excess. He was mixed up in a great many street fights and other troubles, the result of too much liquor. His headquarters for many years before his marriage was at the old United States Hotel. He was known by every traveling man from New York to San Francisco who stopped in Anderson.
    John Alderman was for many years his partner and they made money fast and spent it with lavish hands. One of the jurors who tried Jenkins said after the trial was over that “the jury thought that he was not exactly justified, but that Titherington needed killing anyway, and that they just voted to let him off.”
    Neal Daugherty was City Marshal at the time of the killing and arrested Jenkins. Andrew J. Griffith was Sheriff and Randle Biddle his deputy.
    Titherington left a widow, but no children. He was a brother to Robert Titherington, who yet lives in Anderson.

—John La Rue Forkner and Byron H. Dyson, Historical Sketches and Reminiscences of Madison County, Indiana, 1897, pp. 511-512

    Unsurprisingly, the Texas defense was popular with the Texas Rangers. In his memoirs, James B. Gillett describes its application to a fellow Ranger:

After our return from our month’s scout in Mexico, Captain [George W.] Baylor received a new fugitive list from the Adjutant-General, and in looking over its pages my eyes fell on the list of fugitives from Hamilton County, Texas. Almost the first name thereon was that of James Stallings with his age and description. I notified Captain Baylor that Stallings was a fugitive from justice. Baylor asked me what Stallings had been indicted for and I replied for assault to kill.
    “Well, maybe the darned fellow needed killing,” replied the captain. “Stallings looks like a good ranger and I need him.”
Not many days after this I heard loud cursing in our quarters and went to investigate. I found Stallings with a cocked pistol in his hand standing over the bed of a ranger named Tom Landers, cursing him out. I could see Stallings had been drinking and finally persuaded him to put up his pistol and go to bed. The next morning I informed Captain Baylor of the incident, and suggested that if we did not do something with Stallings he would probably kill someone. The captain did not seem inclined to take that view. In fact, I rather believed Captain Baylor liked a man that was somewhat “on the prod,” as the cowboys are wont to say of a fellow or a cow that wants to fight.

—James B. Gillett, Six Years with the Texas Rangers, 1875-1881, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1925, pp. 264-265

Melville Davisson Post, a prolific chronicler of crime in Harrison County, West Virginia, provided a popular account of the Texas defense in 1897:

If a Mexican was so short-sighted as to slip his knife into a tenderfoot, some one shot the Mexican, and the crowd “lickered up.” If the faro dealer killed his man, it was usually because the man needed killing, and certainly the faro dealer was the best judge of this. On the contrary, if one shot the dealer, this was considered a public calamity, demanding an explanation, since the dealer was a quasi public functionary, and the convenience of the citizen required that the game should continue. One’s life was perhaps the cheapest thing below the Central Pacific Railroad, and it was entirely the duty of the individual to see that it was maintained. If one was unsteady on the trigger, or caught napping on the draw, one was held to have died by virtue of contributory negligence.
    To be sure there was law, and machinery for its execution; but the machinery was liberal, and had ideas of its own, and the law adhered with supreme unconcern to its maxim—De minimis non curat lex.

—Melville Davisson Post, The Man of Last Resort, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1897, pp. 62-63

In 1906, Ambrose Bierce pointed out the deficiency of the underlying principle: “HOMICIDE, n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another—the classification is for advantage of the lawyers.” And yet no advantage of the lawyers is to be lost on the blameless slayer. As a red-blooded American, I wish and hope for naught but praiseworthy homicides to take place in our fair land. Short of that, may all our righteous homicides be found praiseworthy by the juries of our peers.

наука умеет много гитик

У меня здесь 2 чемодана книг и ни одной тряпки. Тряпки мне не нужны, а из книг хотелось бы иметь более или менее живописное описание природы и географии Центр. Азии, т.е. Монголии, Синцзяна и бассейна Хуан-Хэ. Вася, если тебе не трудно будет, сделай для меня экстрактные выписки; ведь ты как потамолог и лимнолог, наверно, имеешь книги по Тариму, Лоб-нору, Хуан-Хэ и монгольским озерам и рекам, а добавить климат, геоботанику, зоогеографию и т.п. несложно. Помнишь, ты мне давал справку по р. Или; так вроде этого. Дело в том, что я сейчас занимаюсь хуннами, а из геогр. литературы у меня для справок есть только ску[д]нейший Обручев и геологии у него больше чем географии. Хочу похвастаться: я, за это время, настолько вдумался в историю Азии, что моя диссертация теперь кажется мне юношеской работой. Но и я работаю больше для собственного удовольствия, чем для извлечения выгоды. Как ни жаль, а науку и выгоду совместить трудно.
    [По ж]енско-семейному вопросу прими мой совет.
    1) Ты сам [винов]ат, что не следовал народной мудрости: Всякую тварь на хуй пяль, Бог увидит — хорошую пошлёт. Птица была [у мен]я 32-я, и то я считаю, что мне повезло.
    2) Женщина [когда] хочет жить с мужчиной, старается, инстинктивно, стать [так]ой какой он хочет её видеть. Поэтому она, незаметно [для] себя и без усилий со стороны мужа, переделывается. [В]спомни: в Туруханске Наташа и Матрёна начали приобретать манеры дам. Конечно, это с них соскочило, как только мы расстались, но если-бы мы жили вместе?
    Однако следует помнить, что возможны любые неожиданности и не очень размякать. Женщины как лошади — любят чувствовать крепкую узду. При ухаживании не будь настойчив. Показывай, что ты в любую минуту готов бросить. И будь готов, как-бы это не было трудно. Женщина, чувствуя пренебрежение, начинает сама быть активной, а это ускоряет процесс. Если-же она не обращает на это внимания — бросай, ничего не выйдет. В любви как на войне — всегда будь настороже. Ты ещё достаточно молод, чтобы проделать всё это. Пусть первый, второй блин будут комками, даже это неизбежно, но может и наладится. Если-же ты ещё затянешь — махни рукой. А иного пути нет. Но при этом не бросай научных занятий. Женщина будет требовать от тебя времени, но от науки не отрывай для неё ничего. Она с этим примирится если любит и тем более если равнодушна. Я сообщаю тебе элементарные истины, но надо начинать, как в школе, с таблицы умножения, иначе ничего не получится.
    — Лев Николаевич Гумилёв — Василию Никифоровичу Абросову, 18 января 1955 г.
    Опубликовано в журнале “Мера”. СПб., 1994. N4.

de tranquilitate animi

A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says is never accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something that he can understand. I would rather be reported by my bitterest enemy among philosophers than by a friend innocent of philosophy.
Le compte rendu par un homme sot de ce qu’un homme d’esprit dit n’est jamais exact, parce que celui-là traduit inconsciemment ce qu’il entend en quelque chose qu’il peut comprendre. Je préfère être rendu compte par mon pire ennemi parmi les philosophes que par un ami innocent de la philosophie.
Отчёт дурака о том, что говорит умный никогда не бывает правильным, потому что первый бессознательно переводит то, что он слышит в то, что он может понять. Я бы предпочёл, чтобы обо мне отчитывался мой злейший враг среди философов, чем друг, неиспорченный философией.

— Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, 1945

Je disois : « C’est une chose extraordinaire que toute la philosophie consiste dans ces trois mots : je m’en fous. »

I’d say: “It’s an extraordinary fact that all philosophy comes to these five words: I don’t give a fuck.”

Я бы сказал: «Как удивительно, что вся философия сводится к трём словам: мне это похуй&raquo.

the last biggest lie

What are the five biggest lies?
    “The check is in the mail.”
    “I won’t come in your mouth.”
    “Some of my best friends are Jewish.”
    “Black is beautiful.”
    “I’m from your government, and I’m here to help you.”

— Blanche Knott (Ashton Applewhite), Truly Tasteless Jokes, 1983, p. 104

“I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

— William F. Buckley Jr., Yale alumnus, Rumbles Left and Right: A Book about Troublesome People and Ideas, 1963, p. 134

report on resistentialism

It is the peculiar genius of the French to express their philosophical thought in aphorisms, sayings hard and tight as diamonds, each one the crystal centre of a whole constellation of ideas. Thus, the entire scheme of seventeenth century intellectual rationalism may be said to branch out from that single, pregnant saying of Descartes, ‘Cogito ergo sum’ – ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Resistentialism, the philosophy which has swept present-day France, runs true to this aphoristic form. Go into any of the little cafés or horlogeries on Paris’s Left Bank (make sure the Seine is flowing away from you, otherwise you’ll be on the Right Bank, where no one is ever seen) and sooner or later you will hear someone say, ‘Les choses sont contre nous.’ ‘Things are against us.’
    This is the nearest English translation I can find for the basic concept of Resistentialisin, the grim but enthralling philosophy now identified with bespectacled, betrousered, two-eyed Pierre-Marie Ventre. In transferring the dynamic of philosophy from man to a world of hostile Things,’ Ventre has achieved a major revolution of thought, to which he himself gave the name ‘Resistentialism’. Things (res) resist (résister) man (homme, understood). Ventre makes a complete break with traditional philosophic method. Except for his German precursors, Freidegg and Heidansiecker, all previous thinkers from the Eleatics to Marx have allowed at least some legitimacy to human thought and effort. Some, like Hegel or Berkeley, go so far as to make man’s thought the supreme reality. In the Resistentialist cosmology that is now the intellectual rage of Paris Ventre offers us a grand vision of the Universe as One Thing – the Ultimate Thing (Dernière Chose). And it is against us.
    Two world wars have led to a general dissatisfaction with the traditional Western approach to cosmology, that of scientific domination. In Ventre’s view, the World-Thing, to which he sometimes refers impartially as the Thing-World, opposes man’s partial stealing, as it were, of consciousness – of his dividing it into the separate ‘minds’ with which human history has made increasingly fatal attempts to create a separate world of men. Man’s increase in this illusory domination over Things has been matched, pari passu, by the increasing hostility (and greater force) of the Things arrayed against him. Medieval man, for instance, had only a few actual Things to worry about – the lack of satisfactory illumination at night, the primitive hole in the roof blowing the smoke back and letting the rain in, and one or two other small Things like that. Modern, domesticated Western man has far more opportunities for battle-losing against Things – can-openers, collar-studs, chests of drawers, open manholes, shoelaces…
    Now that Ventre has done it for us, it is easy to see that the reaction against nineteenth-century idealism begun by Martin Freidegg and Martin Heidansiecker was bound eventually to coalesce with the findings of modern physics in a philosophical synthesis for our time. Since much stress has been laid on the ‘scientific’ basis of Resistentialism, it will not be out of place here, before passing on to a more detailed outline of Ventre’s thought, to give a brief account of those recent developments in physical science which have so blurred the line that separates it from metaphysics. It is an account which will surprise those whose acquaintance with Ventre is limited to reading reviews of his plays and who, therefore, are apt to think that Resistentialism is largely a matter of sitting inside a wet sack and moaning.
    A convenient point of departure is provided by the famous Clark-Trimble experiments of 1935. Clark-Trimble was not primarily a physicist, and his great discovery of the Graduated Hostility of Things was made almost accidentally. During some research into the relation between periods of the day and human bad temper, Clark-Trimble, a leading Cambridge psychologist, came to the conclusion that low human dynamics in the early morning could not sufficiently explain the apparent hostility of Things at the breakfast table – the way honey gets between the fingers, the unfoldability of newspapers, etc. In the experiments which finally confirmed him in this view, and which he demonstrated before the Royal Society in London, Clark-Trimble arranged four hundred pieces of carpet in ascending degrees of quality, from coarse matting to priceless Chinese silk. Pieces of toast and marmalade, graded, weighed, and measured, were then dropped on each piece of carpet, and the marmalade-downwards incidence was statistically analysed. The toast fell right-side-up every time on the cheap carpet, except when the cheap carpet was screened from the rest (in which case the toast didn’t know that Clark-Trimble had other and better carpets), and it fell marmalade-downwards every time on the Chinese silk. Most remarkable of all, the marmalade-downwards incidence for the intermediate grades was found to vary exactly with the quality of carpet.
    The success of these experiments naturally switched Clark-Trimble’s attention to further research on resistentia, a fact which was directly responsible for the tragic and sudden end to his career when he trod on a garden rake at the Cambridge School of Agronomy. In the meantime, Noys and Crangenbacker had been doing some notable work in America. Noys carried out literally thousands of experiments, in which subjects of all ages and sexes, sitting in chairs of every conceivable kind, dropped various kinds of pencils. In only three cases did the pencil come to rest within easy reach. Crangenbacker’s work in the social-industrial field, on the relation of human willpower to specific problems such as whether a train or subway will stop with the door opposite you on a crowded platform, or whether there will be a mail box anywhere on your side of the street, was attracting much attention.
    Resistentialism, a sombre, post-atomic philosophy of pagan, despairing nobility, advocates complete withdrawal from Things. Now that Ventre has done the thinking for us it is easy to see how the soil was being prepared for Resistentialism in the purely speculative field by the thought of Martin Freidegg (1839-1904) and Martin Heidansiecker (1850-1910), both well known anti-idealists and anti-intellectualists. It is in the latter’s Werke (Works) published at Tübingen in 1894, that the word Resistentialismus first appears, although it has not the definite meaning assigned to it by Ventre. It is now possible to trace a clear line of development to Ventre from Goethe, who said, with prophetic insight into the hostility of one Thing, at least, ‘Three times has an apple proved fatal. First to the human race in the fall of Adam; secondly to Troy, through the gift of Paris; and last of all, to science through the fall of Newton’s apple’ (Werke, XVI, 17). Later we find Heidansiecker’s concept of Dingenhass, the hatred of Things. But in the confused terminology of this tortured German mystic we are never sure whether it is Things who hate us, or we who hate the Things.
    To the disillusioned youth of post-war France there was an immediate appeal in Ventre’s relentlessly logical concept of man’s destiny as a néant, or No-Thing, and it was the aesthetic expression of this that gave Resistentialism such great popular currency outside the philosophical textbooks. Ventre himself is an extraordinarily powerful dramatist; his first play, Puits Clos, concerns three old men who walk ceaselessly round the bottom of a well. There are also some bricks in the well. These symbolize Things, and all the old men hate the bricks as much as they do each other. The play is full of their pitiful attempts to throw the bricks out of the top of the well, but they can, of course, never throw high enough, and the bricks always fall back on them. Puits Clos has only recently been taken off at the little Theatre Jambon to make room for another Resistentialist piece by Blanco del Huevo, called Comment sont les choses? Del Huevo is an ardent young disciple of Ventre, and in this play, which is also running in London under the title The Things That Are Caesar, he makes a very bold step forward in the application of Resistentialist imagery to the theatre. He has made Things the characters, and reduced the human beings to what are known in Resistentialist language as Poussés. The nearest English translation that suggests itself for this philosophical term is ‘pushed-arounds’.
    The chief ‘characters’ in Comment sont les choses? are thus a piano and a medicine cabinet; attached to the piano is Poussé Number One – no human beings are given actual names, because names are one of the devices by which man has for so long blinded himself to his fundamental inability to mark himself out from the Universe (Dernière Chose). Poussé Number One is determined to play the piano, and the piano is determined to resist him. For the first twenty minutes of Act I, he plays a Beethoven sonata up to a certain bar, which always defeats him. He stops, and plays this bar over a hundred times, very slowly. He gets it right. He begins the sonata again and when he gets to this bar he makes the very same mistake. He pours petrol on the piano and is just about to set it on fire when he hears a huge crash from the bathroom, also visible to the audience on the other side of a stage partition.
    All this time the medicine cabinet has been resisting the attempts of Poussé Number Two to fix it on the wall, and it has now fallen into the bath. Poussé Number One who is in love, naturally, with Poussé Number Two’s wife, Poussée, mimes his derision at the woeful lack of manhood of one who cannot even dominate Things to the extent of fixing a medicine cabinet. While he does so, the piano, with the tragic irony of a Greek chorus, speaks of Poussé Number One’s own hubris and insolence in imagining that he can master the piano. Poussé Number Two is too busy to retaliate, as he is sweeping up the mess of camphorated oil, essence of peppermint, hair cream, calamine lotion, and broken glass towards the plug end of the bath, meaning to swill them out with hot water. He is desperately anxious to get this done before Poussée arrives home. She comes, however, while he is still trying ignominiously to get the bits of glass off one sticky hand with the other sticky hand, the glass then sticking to the other sticky hand and having to be got off with the first sticky hand (a good example of choses co-rélatives in the Resistentialist sense). Poussée expresses her scorn and asks her husband, all in mime, why he can’t play the piano like Poussé Number One (who has persuaded her that he can). Eventually she goes out with Poussé Number One, and Poussé Number Two, exhausted by his labours at the bath, falls into it and into a deep coma.
    Act II is extremely unconventional, and although some critics have hailed it as a great attempt to break down the modern separation between players and audience it seems to me to be the weakest part of the play, the nearest to a mere philosophical treatise. The curtain simply goes up on a Resistentialist exhibition, and the audience are invited to walk round. While they are examining the exhibits, which contain not only Resistentialist paintings but also what Ventre as well as Del Huevo calls objets de vie (chests of drawers, toothpaste caps, collar buttons, etc.), the stage manager comes on in his shirt sleeves and reads the chapter on sex from Ventre’s Résistentialisme. Ventre takes a tragic view, of sex, concerned as it is with the body, by which the World-Thing obtains its mastery over human territory. In so far as man is not merely a body he is only a pseudo-Thing (pseudo-chose), a logical ‘monster’. Ventre sees woman, with her capacity for reproduction indefinitely prolonging this state of affairs, as the chief cause of humanity’s present dilemma of Thing-separation and therefore Thing-warfare. Love between humans, i.e. between Man (Not-woman) and Woman (Notman), perpetuates bodies as Things, because a man, in being a Not-woman, shows the capacity of all things for being only one Thing (it is all much clearer in the French, of course). Just as a man is a Not-woman, he is also a Not-sideboard, a Not-airplane. But this is as far as man can go in Thing-ness, and if it were not for women we could all die and be merged comfortably in the Universe or Ultimate Thing.
    In Act III, the action, if one can call it that, is resumed. When the curtain goes up Poussé Number Two is discovered still lying in the bath. The tragedy of man’s futile struggle against the power of Things begins to draw towards its fatal climax as we hear a conversation between the piano and the medicine cabinet in which the piano suggests an exchange of their respective Poussés. The piano, realizing that Poussée doesn’t know anything about music anyway and will probably accept Poussé Number One’s word that he can play, queering the pitch for Things, with this ambivalent concept of love, wishes to lure Number Two on instead. (In Ventre’s system, Things are quite capable of emanations and influences by reason of their affinity with man’s Thing-Body or Not-other.) Accordingly, when Poussé Number Two wakes up in the bath he feels a compulsive desire to play the piano, forgetting that his fingers are still sticky – and of course it is not his piano anyway. The piano, biding its time, lets him play quite well. (In Resistentialist jargon, which unashamedly borrows from the terminology of Gonk and others when necessary, the resistance of the I-Thing is infinite and that of the Thou-Thing is zero – it is always my bootlaces that break and of course Poussé Number Two thinks he is playing Poussé Number One’s piano.) Number Two only leaves the instrument when he hears the others coming back. He goes to the bathroom and listens through the partition with a knowing smile as Poussé Number One begins to play for Poussée. Naturally, his fingers stick to the keys, the piano being an I-Thing for him, or so he thinks. This makes Poussé Number Two feel so good that he actually manages to fix the medicine cabinet. Poussée, returning to him disillusioned from the pseudo-pianist, flings herself into his arms, but it is too late. He has cut an artery on a piece of the broken glass sticking out of the medicine cabinet. In despair she rushes back to the music room, where Poussé Number One has just lit a cigarette to console himself and think out the next move. (‘As if that mattered,’ says the piano scornfully.) As she comes in there is a great explosion. Poussé Number One has forgotten the petrol he had poured on the piano in Act 1.
    The drama is not the only art to have been revivified in France (and therefore everywhere) by Resistentialism. This remorseless modern philosophy has been reflected in the work of all the important younger composers and painters in Paris. Resistentialist music, based on acceptance of the tragic Thing-ness, and therefore limitation, of musical instruments, makes use of a new scale based on the Absolute Mathematical Reluctance of each instrument. The A.M.R. of the violin, for instance, is the critical speed beyond which it is impossible to play it because of the strings’ melting. The new scale is conceived, says Dufay, as ‘a geometric rather than a tonic progression. Each note is seen as a point on the circumference of a circle of which the centre is the A.M.R. The circle must then be conceived as inside-out’. Dufay has expressed in mathematical terms that cosmic dissatisfaction of the artist with the physical medium in which he is forced to work. Kodak, approaching the problem from a different angle, has taken more positive steps to limit the ‘cosmic offence-power’ of the conventional scale by reducing the number of notes available. His first concerto, for solo tympanum and thirty conductors, is an extension of the argument put forward some years ago, in remarkable anticipation of Resistentialism, by Ernest Newman, music critic of the London Sunday Times, who said that the highest musical pleasure was to be derived much more from score-reading than from actual performance. Kodak is now believed to be working on a piece for conductors only.
    I have left Resistentialism in painting to the end because it is over the quarrel between Ventre and Agfa, at one time his chief adherent among the artists, that the little cafes and bistros of the Quartier Latin are seething today. When Agfa first came under Ventre’s influence he accepted the latter’s detachment, not so much Franciscan as Olympic, from Things. His method was to sit for hours in front of a canvas brooding over disasters, particularly earthquakes, in which Things are hostile in the biggest and most obvious way. Sometimes he would discover that the canvas had been covered during his abstraction, sometimes not. At any rate, Agfa enjoyed a succès fou as a painter of earthquakes and recently he has shown himself impatient of the thoroughgoing néantisme (no-thingery) of Ventre, who insists relentlessly that to conform completely to the pure Resistentialist ideal a picture should not only have no paint but should be without canvas and without frame, since, as he irrefutably points out, these Things are all Things (ces choses sont toutes des choses).
    The defection of Agfa and of other ‘moderates’ among the Resistentialists has been brought to a head by the formation, under a thinker named Qwertyuiop, of a neo-Resistentialist group. The enthusiasm with which medieval students brawled in the streets of Paris over the Categories of Being has lost none of its keenness today, and the recent pitched battle between Ventristes and followers of Qwertyuiop outside the Café aux Fines Herbes, by now famous as Ventre’s headquarters, has, if nothing else, demonstrated that Paris still maintains her position as the world’s intellectual centre. It is rather difficult to state the terms of the problem without using some of the Resistentialists’ phraseology, so I hope I may be pardoned for briefly introducing it.
    Briefly, the issue is between Ventre, the pessimist, and Qwertyuiop, the optimist. Ventre, in elaborating on his central aphorism, les choses sont contre nous, distinguishes carefully between what he calls chose-en-soi, the Thing in itself, and chose-pour-soi, the Thing for itself. Chose-en-soi is his phrase for Things existing in their own right, sublimely and tragically independent of man. In so far as Ventre’s pregnant terminology can be related to traditional western categories, chose-en-soi stands for the Aristotelean outlook, which tends to ascribe a certain measure of reality to Things without reference to any objective Form in any mind, human or divine. There are even closer parallels with the later, medieval philosophy of Nominalism, which says, roughly that there are as many Things as we can find names for; Ventre has an interesting passage about what he calls inversion (inversion) in which he exploits to the full the contrast between the multiplicity of actions which Things can perform against us from a slightly overhanging tray falling off a table when the removal of one lump of sugar over-balances it, to the atomic bomb and the paucity of our vocabulary of names on such occasions.
    The third great concept of Ventre is le néant (the No-Thing). Man is ultimately, as I have said, a No-Thing, a metaphysical monster doomed to battle, with increasing non-success, against real Things. Resistentialism, with what Ventre’s followers admire as stark, pagan courage, bids man abandon his hopeless struggle.
    Into the dignified, tragic, Olympian detachment of Ventre’s ‘primitive’ Resistentialism the swarthy, flamboyant Qwertyuiop, has made a startling, meteoric irruption. Denounced scornfully by the Ventristes as a plagiarist, Qwertyuiop was, indeed, at one time a pupil of Ventre. He also asserts the hostility of Things to man – but he sees grounds for hope in the concept of chose-pour soi (the Thing for itself) with which it is at least possible to enter into relationship. But he is more a dramatist than a philosopher, and what enrages the Ventristes is the bouncing optimism of his plays and also the curious symbolic figure of the géant or giant which appears in them all. This giant is a kind of Resistentialist version of Nietzsche’s superman, a buskined, moustachioed figure who intervenes, often with great comic effect, just when the characters in the play are about to jump down a well (the well is, of course, a frequent Resistentialist symbol – cf. Ventre’s own Puits Clos).
    The Ventristes point out acidly that in the first edition of Résistentialisme the word géant appears throughout as a misprint for néant. Friction between the two groups was brought to a head by Qwertyuiop’s new play Messieurs, les choses sont terribles, (loosely, Gentlemen, Things are Terrible). On the first night at the Théatre des Somnambules, the Ventristes in the gallery created an uproar and had to be expelled when, at the end of the second act, the inevitable giant had stepped in to prevent three torturings, seven betrayals, and two suicides. The battle was renewed later with brickbats and bottles when Qwertyuiop and his followers interrupted one of Ventre’s choseries, or Thing-talks, at the Café aux Fines Herbes. Five of the moderates and two Ventristes were arrested by the gendarmerie and later released on bail. All Paris is speculating on the outcome of the trial, at which many important literary figures are expected to give evidence.
    It is, however, not in the law courts that the influence of Resistentialism on our time will be decided. It is in the little charcuteries and épiceries of the Left Bank. It is in the stimulating mental climate of Paris that the artists and dramatists will decide for themselves whether there is any future for art in the refined philosophical atmosphere to which Ventre’s remorseless logic would have them penetrate. Although Qwertyuiop has succeeded in attracting many of Ventre’s more lukewarm followers among the arts, who had begun to rebel against the Master’s uncompromising insistence on pictures without paint and music without instruments, without any Things at all, there seems no doubt that Ventre is the greater thinker, and it is an open question whether he will achieve his object of persuading the world to abandon Things without the indispensable help of the artistic confraternity in moulding public opinion.
    There is no doubt, either, that Ventre’s thought strikes a deep chord in everyone daring these sombre, post-atomic times. Ventre has, I think, liberated the vast flood of creative hatred which makes modern civilization possible. My body, says Ventre, is chose-en-soi for me, a Thing which I cannot control, a Thing which uses me. But it is chose-pour-soi for the Other. I am thus a Hostile Thing to the Other, and so is he to me. At the same time it follows (or it does in the French) that I am a No-Thing to the world. But I cannot be united or merged with the WorldThing because my Thing-Body, or Not-Other, gives me an illicit and tragically deceptive claim on existence and ‘happiness’. I am thus tragically committed to extending the area of my always illusory control over the Thing-body – and as the ‘mind’ associated with my Thing-body is merely the storing up of recollected struggles with Things, it follows that I cannot know the Other except as one of the weapons with which the World-Thing has increased its area of hostile action.
    Resistentialism thus formalizes hatred both in the cosmological and in the psychological sphere. It is becoming generally realized that the complex apparatus of our modern life – the hurried meals, the dashing for trains, the constant meeting of people who are seen only as ‘functions’: the barman, the wife, etc. – could not operate if our behaviour were truly dictated by the old, reactionary categories of human love and reason. This is where Ventre’s true greatness lies. He has transformed, indeed reversed the traditional mechanism of thought, steered it away from the old dogmatic assumption that we could use Things, and cleared the decks for the evolution of the Thing-process without futile human opposition. Ventre’s work brings us a great deal nearer to the realization of the Resistentialist goal summed up in the words, ‘Every Thing out of Control.’

—Paul Jennings, The Jenguin Pennings, 1963, reprinted from Town & Country.

the man who taught his asshole to talk

Did I ever tell you about the man who taught his asshole to talk? His whole abdomen would move up and down you dig farting out the words. It was unlike anything I ever heard.
    This ass talk had sort of a gut frequency. It hit you right down there like you gotta go. You know when the old colon gives you the elbow and it feels sorta cold inside, and you know all you have to do is turn loose? Well this talking hit you right down there, a bubbly, thick stagnant sound, a sound you could smell.
    This man worked for a carnival you dig, and to start with it was like a novelty ventriliquist act. Real funny, too, at first. He had a number he called “The Better ‘Ole” that was a scream, I tell you. I forget most of it but it was clever. Like, “Oh I say, are you still down there, old thing?”
    “Nah I had to go relieve myself.”
    After a while the ass start talking on its own. He would go in without anything prepared and his ass would ad-lib and toss the gags back at him every time.
    Then it developed sort of teeth-like little raspy in-curving hooks and started eating. He thought this was cute at first and built an act around it, but the asshole would eat its way through his pants and start talking on the street, shouting out it wanted equal rights. It would get drunk, too, and have crying jags nobody loved it and it wanted to be kissed same as any other mouth. Finally it talked all the time day and night, you could hear him for blocks screaming at it to shut up, and beating it with his fist, and sticking candles up it, but nothing did any good and the asshole said to him: “It’s you who will shut up in the end. Not me. Because we dont need you around here any more. I can talk and eat and shit.”
    After that he began waking up in the morning with a transparent jelly like a tadpole’s tail all over his mouth. This jelly was what the scientists call un-D.T., Undifferentiated Tissue, which can grow into any kind of flesh on the human body. He would tear it off his mouth and the pieces would stick to his hands like burning gasoline jelly and grow there, grow anywhere on him a glob of it fell. So finally his mouth sealed over, and the whole head would have have amputated spontaneous — (did you know there is a condition occurs in parts of Africa and only among Negroes where the little toe amputates spontaneously?) — except for the eyes you dig. Thats one thing the asshole couldn’t do was see. It needed the eyes. But nerve connections were blocked and infiltrated and atrophied so the brain couldn’t give orders any more. It was trapped in the skull, sealed off. For a while you could see the silent, helpless suffering of the brain behind the eyes, then finally the brain must have died, because the eyes went out, and there was no more feeling in them than a crab’s eyes on the end of a stalk.

—William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch, 1959

no duty to perform?

As is well known, Holmes’s theory of liability rested on two interlocking principles. First, the primary purpose of the law is to ‘induce external conformity to rule’, [The Common Law, (M. DeW. Howe edn., 1963), p. 42.] and second, personal moral blameworthiness is not generally an ingredient of liability. [Ibid., pp. 42-3.] I turn first to consider how Holmes applied these central principles to the case of contract. Naturally enough we find many of the same themes as in his theories of liability in the criminal law and in tort. There is, for a start, Holmes’s hostility to the role of morals, expressed in extraordinarily vehement language in ‘The Path of the Law’. [Holmes complained that his own way of looking at the law of contracts ‘stinks to the nostrils of those who think it advantageous to get as much ethics into the law as they can.’ 10 Harv. L. Rev. 457, at p. 462 (1897).] Morality helps put the cart before the horse and makes people think that it is morally wrong to break a contract, and that there is a duty to perform a contract. Not so, says Holmes. The duty to perform a contract is imaginary, and the right to the other party’s performance is even more imaginary. A contracting party has a choice—to perform or to pay damages for not performing. To enter into a contract is not to assume any duty to perform, and is thus analogous to committing a tort. Holmes thus presents his marvellous apothegm: committing a contract is more or less the same thing as committing a tort, except that in the former case liability is conditional on non-performance. [See Pollock-Holmes Letters (ed. M. DeW. Howe, 1941, published in America under the title, Holmes-Pollock Letters), vol. i, at p. 177, vol. ii, at pp. 199-200, 233.] A contract is, in effect, a way of allocating a risk, the risk of non-performance or non-occurrence of an event. [The Common Law, pp. 324-6.] This, in Holmes’s words, frees the subject from the ‘superfluous theory that contract is a qualified subjection of one will to another, a kind of limited slavery’. [Ibid., p. 235.] Many of us today would share Holmes’s satisfaction at the dissolution of that quasi-metaphysical nonsense in his cynical acid. Holmes’s theory of the nature of contractual liability also leads to the conclusion that damages should be limited to those that can reasonably be regarded as part of the risks assumed by the defendant. So punitive damages can be ruled out, the contract-breaker’s motives become immaterial, and perhaps, more generally, damages should be kept on the low side. 
    Lastly, Holmes’s thoughts on contract focus on the external standards of liability and the unimportance of actual internal intention. Mistake, fraud, and the like affect the validity of contract not by reason of a deficiency in the will of the contracting parties, or a failure of assent, but for other, more external reasons. [Ibid., pp. 245-6, 253.] Such external reasons might include the fact that ‘there is no second party, or the two parties say different things, or essential terms seemingly consistent are really inconsistent as used’. [Ibid., p. 246.] Holmes even made the remarkable assertion that the ‘true ground’ of decision in the famous case of Raffles v. Wichelhaus, [(1864) 2 H. and C. 906.] involving the steamship Peerless, was ‘not that each party meant a different thing . . . but that each said a different thing’. [The Common Law, p. 242.] As Grant Gilmore said, this was, ‘even for Holmes an extraordinary tour de force’. [The Death of Contract (1974), p. 41.]
    —P.S. Atiyah, Essays on Contract, Oxford University Press, 1986, pp. 57-58

fowler on pedantry and purism


Henry Watson Fowler
10 March 1858 – 26 December 1933

Pedantic Humour. No essential distinction is intended between this & Polysyllabic Humour; one or the other name is more appropriate to particular specimens, & the two headings are therefore useful for reference; but they are manifestations of the same impulse, & the few remarks needed may be made here for both. A warning is necessary, because we have all of us, except the abnormally stupid, been pedantic humourists in our time. We spend much of our childhood picking up a vocabulary; we like to air our latest finds; we discover that our elders are tickled when we come out with a new name that they thought beyond us; we devote some pains to tickle them further, & there we are, pedants & polysyllabists all. The impulse is healthy for children, & nearly universal—which is just why warning is necessary; for among so many there will always be some who fail to realize that the clever habit applauded at home will make them insufferable abroad. Most of those who are capable of writing well enough to find readers do learn sooner or later that playful use of long or learned words is a one-sided game boring the reader more than it pleases the writer, that the impulse to it is a danger-signal—for there must be something wrong with what they are saying if it needs recommending by such puerilities—, & that yielding to the impulse is a confession of failure. But now & then even an able writer will go on believing that the incongruity between simple things to be said & out-of-the-way words to say them in has a perennial charm. Perhaps it has for the reader who never outgrows hobbledehoyhood; but for the rest of us it is dreary indeed. It is possible that acquaintance with such labels as pedantic & polysyllabic humour may help to shorten the time it takes to cure a weakness incident to youth.
    An elementary example or two should be given. The words homoeopathic (small or minute), sartorial (of clothes), interregnum (gap), or familiar ones:—To introduce ‘Lords of Parliament’ in such a homoeopathic doses as to leave a preponderating power in the hands of those who enjoy a merely hereditary title./While we were motoring out to the station I took stock of his sartorial aspect, which had change somewhat since we parted./In his vehement action his breeches fall down & his waistcoat runs up, so that there is a great interregnum.
    These words are like most that are much used in humour of either kind, both pedantic & polysyllabic. A few specimens that cannot be described as polysyllabic are added here, & for the large class of long words, the article Polysyllabic Humour should be consulted:—ablution; aforesaid; beverage; bivalve (the succulent); caloric; cuticle; digit; domestics; eke (adv.); ergo; erstwhile; felicide; nasal organ; neighbourhood (in the n. of, = about); nether garments; optic (eye); parlous; vulpicide.

    Pedantry may be defined, for the purpose of this book, as the saying of things in language so learned or so demonstratively accurate as to imply a slur upon the generality, who are not capable or desirous of such displays. The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else’s ignorance. It is therefore not very profitable to dogmatize here on the subject; an essay would establish not what pedantry is, but only the place in the scale occupied by the author; & that, so far as it is worth inquiring into, can better be ascertained from the treatment of details […].

    Polysyllabic Humour. See Pedantic Humour for a slight account of the impulse that suggests long or abstruse words as a means of entertaining the hearer. Of the long as distinguished from the abstruse, terminological exactitude for lie or falsehood is a favourable example, but much less amusing ad the hundredth than at the first time of hearing. Oblivious to their pristine nudity (forgetting they were stark naked) is a less familiar specimen. Nothing need here be added to hat was said in the other article beyond a short specimen list of long words or phrases that sensible people avoid. Batavian, Caledonian, Celestial, Hibernian & Milesian for Dutch, Scotch, Chinese, Irish. Solution of continuity, femoral habiliments, refrain from lacteal addition, & olfactory organ for gap, breeches, take no milk, & nose. Osculatory, pachydermatous, matutinal, diminutive, fuliginous, fugacious, esurient, culinary, & minacious, for kissing, thick-skinned, morning, tiny, sooty, timid, hungry, kitchen, & threatening. Frontispiece, individual, equitation, intermediary, cachinnation, & epidermis, for face, person, riding, means, laughter, & skin. Negotiate & peregrinate for tackle & travel.

    Purism. Now & then a person may be heard to ‘confess’, in the pride that apes humility, to being ‘a bit of a purist’; but purist & purism are for the most part missile words, which we all of us fling at anyone who insults us by finding not good enough for him some manner of speech that is good enough for us. It is in that disparaging sense that the words are used in this book; by purism is to be understood a needless & irritating insistence on purity or correctness of speech. Pure English, however, even apart from the great number of elements (vocabulary, grammar, idiom, pronunciation, & so forth) that go to make it up, is so relative a term that almost every man is potentially a purist & a sloven at once to persons looking at him from a lower & a higher position in the scale than his own. The words have therefore not been very freely used; that they should be renounced altogether would be too much to expect considering the subject of the book. But readers who find a usage stigmatized as purism have a right to know the stigmatizer’s place in the purist scale, if his stigma is not to be valueless. […]

—Henry Watson Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage: The Classic First Edition,
Oxford University Press, 2009 (1926), pp. 426-427, 444, 474-475

старый добрый ёзель

СТАРЫЙ ДОБРЫЙ ЙОСИФ

1. Ах, Йосиф, Йосиф, старый добрый Йосиф, —
Какие есть на свете имена.
Состриг ли ты свою больную мо́золь,
Иль до сих пор она тебе нужна?

Ах, Йосиф, Йосиф, славный, добрый Йосиф,
Состриг ли ты любимую мозо́ль?
Зачем чтоб наступали все,
Лучше, чтоб упали все.
Выставить лишь ножку ты изволь.

Припев:

С добрым утром, тётя Хая, ой-ёй-ёй.
Вам посылка из Шанхая, ой-ёй-ёй,
А в посылке три китайца, ой-ёй-ёй,
Три китайца красят яйца, ой-ёй-ёй.



2. Я как-то встретил Йосифа на рынке,
Он жидкость от мозо́лей покупал,
В зубах держал сметану Йосиф в крынке,
Ну, а руками мо́золь обнимал.

Хотел я поздороваться с ним чинно,
Улыбку сотворил и шляпу снял,
Но Йосиф вдруг заметил тётю Хаю,
Нырнул кормой и мимо прошагал.

Припев.

3. Так вот она какая, тётя Хая,
Йосиф, видно, с нею не в ладах.
Ей кто-то шлет посылки из Шанхая,
А Йосиф умирает в мозоля́х.

Но Йосиф сострижет больную мо́золь
И кой-кому намнёт еще бока,
И вспомнит он тогда про тётю Хаю
И ей подставит ножку, а пока…

Припев.

2-й и 3-й куплеты исполняются на мелодию первой части 1-го куплета.

За основу мелодии песни взят фокстрот “Джозеф” (музыкальная обработка А. Цфасмана, не позднее 1941 года). Слова и мелодия записаны с голоса Г. Димонда не позднее 1980 года.


Шел трамвай десятый номер… Городские песни. Для голоса в сопровождении фортепиано (гитары). / Сост. А. П. Павлинов и Т. П. Орлова. СПб., “Композитор – Санкт-Петербург“, 2005. Переделка песни 1920-х гг. “Тетя Хая” на мелодию фокстрота 1920-х гг. “Joseph“. Написана в начале 1970-х годов в Ленинграде Рудольфом Фуксом для Аркадия Северного.

Из книги Игоря Ефимова и Дмитрия Петрова “Аркадий Северный, Советский Союз!” (2007):

Ну, и наконец, Фукс даёт “путёвку в жизнь” ещё одной тёте, в пару к тёте Бесе, – тёте Хае!!! На мотив джазовой мелодии 20-х годов “Joseph” ещё с нэповских времён были известны весёлые куплеты с припевом про трёх китайцев. Рудольф знает же только припев, и дописывает к нему куплеты опять-таки сам. И, что особенно примечательно, на основе “личных впечатлений“, привезённых им всё из того же Бердичева:
      Ах, Ёзель, Ёзель, старый, добрый Ёзель,
      Какие есть на свете имена!
      Состриг ли ты свою больную мoзоль,
      Иль до сих пор она в тебе видна?
“…Именно Ёзель, а не Йозеф, как стали потом петь. Так звали дядю моей жены. И мозоль у него была, и все об неё спотыкались. Вот я про это и сочинил песню” – так рассказывал об этом Рудольф Фукс. История, действительно, куда как содержательна… Что не помешало, однако, стать этой песне очень популярной. “Как раз в это время кто-то нам принёс кассету с записями Аркадия Северного. Голос Аркаши всем очень понравился, но песни на кассете были не очень интересные, кроме одной – про тётю Хаю. А точнее – про дядю всем известного Рудика Фукса, про которого Рудик эту песню и написал, и которого звали Йозеф. Мы её выучили, и первый раз сыграли на дне рождения нашего официанта, которого тоже звали Юзя. Песня настолько понравилась народу, что мы её стали играть каждый день раз по десять на заказ” – так вспоминал потом о своих впечатлениях от этого поэтического шедевра будущий “Брат Жемчужный” Евгений Драпкин.

ВАРИАНТ

Йозеф

Ах, Йозеф, Йозеф, старый добрый Йозеф, —
Какие есть на свете имена!
Состриг ли ты свою больную мо́золь,
Иль до сих пор она в тебе жива?

Ах, Йозеф, Йозеф, старый добрый Йозеф,
Состриг ли ты любимую мозо́ль?
Лучше чтоб не знали все,
Лучше чтоб упали все, …
Выставить лишь ножку ты изволь!

С добрым утром, тётя Хая, ай-ай-ай!
Вам посылка из Шанхая, ай-ай-ай!
А в посылке три китайца, ой-ой-ой!
Три китайца красят яйца, ой-ой-ой!

Я как-то встретил Йозефа на рынке, —
Он жидкость от мозо́лей покупал.
В зубах держал сметны Йозеф крынку,
Ну а руками — руками мо́золь обнимал.

Хотел я поздороваться с ним чинно,
Улыбку сотворил и шляпу снял, —
Но Йозеф вдруг заметил тётю Хаю, —
Вильнул кормой — и мимо прошагал!

С добрым утром, тётя Хая, ай-ай-ай!
Вам посылка из Шанхая, ай-ай-ай!
А в посылке три китайца, ой-ой-ой!
Три китайца красят яйца, ой-ой-ой!

Так вот она, какая тётя Хая, —
И Йозеф с нею, видно, не в ладах, —
Ей кто-то шлёт посылки из Шанхая,
А Йозеф умирает в мозоля́х!

Но Йозеф сострижёт больную мо́золь
И кой-кому, ой, кой-кому намнёт бока!
И встретит он тогда и тётю Хаю,
И ей подставит ножку, а пока…

С добрым утром, тётя Хая, ай-ай-ай!
Вам посылка из Шанхая, ай-ай-ай!
А в посылке три китайца, ой-ой-ой!
Три китайца красят яйца, ой-ой-ой!

Тексты песен из репертуара Аркадия Северного, Тихорецкий концерт (1979 г.).

JOSEPH! JOSEPH!
(Sammy Cahn / Nellie Casman / Saul Chaplin / Samuel Steinberg)

The Andrews Sisters – 1938

A certain maid I know, is so afraid her boy
Will never ask her, will she name the day
He calls on her each night, and when she dims the light
It’s ten to one that you would hear her say

Oh Joseph, Joseph, won’t you make your mind up
It’s time I knew just how I stand with you
My heart’s no clock that I can stop and wind up
Each time we make up after being through

So listen Joseph, Joseph time is fleeting
And here and there my hair is turning grey
My mother has a fear, wedding bells I’ll never hear
Joseph, Joseph, won’t you name the day

Oh Joseph, won’t you name the day
Oh Joseph, won’t you name the day
Oh Joseph, won’t you name the day
Name the day, name the day

Oh Joseph, make your mind up
It’s time I knew just how I stand with you
My heart’s no clock that I can wind up
Oh Joseph, each time we make up after being through

Oh Joseph, Joseph, Joseph, time is fleeting
And here and there my hair is turning grey
My mama has a fear, wedding bells I’ll never hear
Oh Joseph, Joseph, Joseph, won’t you name the day

Oh Joseph, won’t you name the day
Oh Joseph, won’t you name the day
Oh Joseph, won’t you name the day
Name the day, name the day

Also recorded by: Stanley Black; Ruby Braff; Café Accordion Orch.; London Festival Orch.; Glenn Miller; Russ Morgan & His Orch.; Gus Viseur.

there

                        HERE
I must quit sleeping in the afternoon.
I do it for my heart, but all too soon
my heart has called it off. It does not love me.
If it downed tools, there’d soon be nothing of me.
Its hammer beat says You are, not I am.
It prints me off here like a telegram.
What do I say? How can the lonely word
know who has sent it out, or who has heard?
Long years since I came round in her womb
enough myself to know I was not home,
my dear sea up in arms at the wrong shore
and her loud heart like a landlord at the door.
Where are we now? What misdemeanor sealed
my transfer? Mother, why so far afield?
                                               —Don Paterson
                    The New Yorker, 23 January 2012