The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

The Art of Tetman Callis header image 1

The routine burden of evil

February 6th, 2016 · No Comments

“It is easy to be a victim, you don’t have to do a thing, you simply weep and bleed—but, ah, the beater, to be the beater is not a role whose easy mastery is readily admittable; sympathies in such a cause are not idly, not routinely, not frequently enlisted; and were they to be, what then?” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

Not a mensch

February 5th, 2016 · No Comments

“Sure, Adolf Hitler knew how to play the piano (badly), how to type (slowly), how to drive a car (erratically), how to draw (inadequately), how to write (drivel), how to remember (photographically), and how to bombast (beautifully). But bombast isn’t bombing. He was in fact a petty little twerp. A man of such meager means he could only wish the way the weasel wishes it were a looker like the tiger and a lord like the lion. What I wonder about are all of those who weren’t twerps who willed what Hitler wished, who pondered and planned and organized and sacrificed in order to establish the thousand-year Reich, who donned the uniforms and fired guns and made planes and prepared food and forged those famous chains of command, who invented and connived and lied and stole and killed, because they willed what the little twerp wished; they, who idolized a loud doll, who loved the twerps-truths, who carried out the wishes of a murderous fool, an ignoble nobody, a failure so unimportant that failure seems a fulsome description of him.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Adolf Hitler · Lit & Crit · The Second World War · William H. Gass

But everyone knows more is better

February 4th, 2016 · No Comments

“Slowly slime is covering the earth, more of it made every day—more whiny people, more filthy thoughts, crummy plans, cruddy things, contemptible actions—multiplying like evil spores (we were told to be fruitful, not to trash the place); so that now there are more artifacts and less art, more that is tame, little that is wild, more people, fewer species, more things, less world, more of the disappointment we all know so well, the defeats which devour us, the hours we spend with our heads buried in our books, blinding our eyes with used up words, while the misspending of our loins leads to more lives and less life—just think (we members of the better species) what divine sparks we might have played at being, and come and gone with spirit; instead, around us, as before, nobodies are killing nobodies for nothing.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

The politics of resentment

February 3rd, 2016 · No Comments

“Revolutionaries and other malcontents, because they are not in the place of power, or perhaps, in a nation, are the country’s restive minorities, or sometimes because they are spiteful courtiers out of favor: these desperadoes—sort of, aren’t they?—preach a rigid dogma to their followers, and wild relativism to the rest. Anarchists. Communists. Suffragettes. Separatists. Special pleaders. Splinter groups. Sects. The way they try to weaken official opposition, and get a hearing for themselves. Foxes make good chickens, the foxes say, pretending to cluck kindly in the direction of the henhouse. Then, having tempted tolerance to get in, their fangs vote.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · Politics & Law · William H. Gass

Depends on how you look at it

February 2nd, 2016 · No Comments

“Relativism as a theory really reflects an intellectual failure of nerve which is the result of Colonial guilt, commercial greed, the placation of the mob, and a total loss of taste.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

Equal equals

February 1st, 2016 · No Comments

“We who are as good as you swear to you who are no better than we, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws; but if not, not.” – Council of Aragon Oath of Allegiance (J. H. Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law

Playing the trump card

January 31st, 2016 · No Comments

“Who of us has not destroyed our enemies in our heads. Suppose but a whisper of our wishes leaked out and half a continent was ready to rise and do your bidding? Orders are easy. Liquidate the trailer parks. Murder motorbikers. Silence the soaps. Clean up the town. Bust up the trusts. It is the killing—hands-on and nearby—that takes fortitude and commitment.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · Politics & Law · The Second World War · William H. Gass

This will be on the final

January 30th, 2016 · No Comments

“History, I do believe, is not a mighty multitude of causes whose effects we suffer now in some imaginary present; it is rather that the elements of every evanescent moment endeavor to hitch a ride on something more permanent, living on in what lives on, lengthening their little life by clinging to a longer one, and in that manner, though perhaps quite unintentionally, attaching what will be to what still is (and so far has survived).” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

Undisguised

January 29th, 2016 · No Comments

“To be free is the greatest blessing the world never gives.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Lit & Crit · Politics & Law · William H. Gass

You will not be the last one left

January 28th, 2016 · No Comments

“Death, they say, is democratic. Right? It makes no class distinctions: richer or poorer, better or worse, sick or well, white or black, jew or gentile; o mortal is mortal o, don’t we moan? and mother will go though she suckled us, and father will go though he paid our way, and brother will fall and sister sicken, the snow, the poet says, is subject to the same, the beauty of the breast, damp on a wet stoop, light on a bright day, look on a face, every strength of character, every vice, every species, every holy place, the list of the fragile even has its end, though the list is as long, o mortal is mortal as mortal o, as any which can be composed; whereas the momentary song, which seeks to save itself in memory, and reemerge through another’s tongue, on other lips, which infects mankind with its rhythms, meanings, metaphors, and rhymes, its sentiments and small desires, and tries to placate the implacable by praising it, fearing its powers, praying to its priests, crying mortal is mortal o mortal o, such a resourceful tune is doomed just as certainly as the solidist theory, the grandest design, the most convoluted plot, the simplest, plainest, purest line.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

It’s just another word

January 27th, 2016 · No Comments

“It’s a war of lie against lie in this world where we are, fancy against fantasy, nightmare throttling nightmare like two wedded anacondas, and anyone who’s taken in is nothing but a bolo and a bumpkin. But that’s just exactly what we all are—hoddydoddies—aren’t we? Aren’t we all so hungry, anxious, eager to believe? like men in prison, aren’t we skinny to be screwed? and don’t we think that we’ve escaped to freedom when we drink our wits out, dance our reason loose, and crack our nuts between the fat legs of some four-mark whore?” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

We do so love our rights

January 26th, 2016 · No Comments

“To love is to trust another with your self-esteem. And then to see them measure you, to see the red line drop into the bulb at the bottom—my god, how you hate yourself, then, for the gift of your vanity, the care of your conceit! Think of it: you have given someone else the right to think ill of you.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel (emphasis in original)

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

There’s bees and spiders in there

January 25th, 2016 · No Comments

“If we had the true and complete history of one man—which would be the history of his head—we would sign the warrants and end ourselves forever, not because of the wickedness we would find within that man, no, but because of the meagerness of feeling, the miniaturization of meaning, the pettiness of ambition, the vulgarities, the vanities, the diminution of intelligence, the endless trivia we’d encounter, the ever present dust.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

All against all

January 24th, 2016 · No Comments

“Clashes are perfectly normal, what is the purpose of the pitiless bronze? certainly labor and management cheat one another—are suspicious, sullen, lazy, greedy, deceitful, Mafia-manipulated—you name it, no surprises, ordinary shiftlessness, ordinary exploitation, ordinary rapacity; physicians pill their poor patients to death and then bill the estates, which are already being fucked over by lawyers who specialize in quarrels and in quarreling: in instigating quarrels, nurturing and sustaining quarrels, in broadening quarrels, in aggravating and deepening them, in spelling quarrels (pretending the word needs no q, arguing against doubling the r), in quarreling among themselves then, in sucking quarrels so dry they whapper back and forth like sheets in the wind (whereas the Third Reich tried to eliminate quarrelsome elements, sought peace inside itself, sought to flatten fulminations); but no one likes their state, their place, or what they’re doing—the copper quarters their pockets, the two-dollar bill; thus riders kick their horses, peasants beat their oxen, dissociated personalities play mean pranks upon their not-so-innocent other selves; wars break out in the bleachers; psychoanalysts betray confidences and make out with their patients; journalists rake muck and ruin reputations; mystics and assorted fakes, lovers, men of the cloth, the soil, the sea: all go at it. The sparrows have learned from us how to fuss and sputter, squirrels saw away at their grievances; locusts stridulate; thorns prick; aspens clatter. What a world!” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · Politics & Law · William H. Gass

Rats on a treadmill

January 23rd, 2016 · No Comments

“What will we do when we lose the war? Prepare for the next one.” – Julius J. Epstein, Cross of Iron

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Politics & Law · The Forever War · The Second World War

Ugly pictures

January 22nd, 2016 · No Comments

“Each generation will rewrite history in its own image.” – Halvard Leira, “International Relations Pluralism and History—Embracing Amateurism to Strengthen the Profession”

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit

They’re not going to pay you, anyhow

January 21st, 2016 · No Comments

“Amateurism is obviously differentiated from professionalism, but the criteria for differentiation here is not payment or quality. What distinguishes an amateur is not that he or she is not paid, nor that he or she is doing something in an inexpert way. Rather, the central notion of amateurism is the motivation to engage in a game or other practice for the sake of the game or practice itself. An amateur does what he or she does because of a love of the activity. There is no denying that amateurism carries a certain leisure-class connotation. A discourse of amateurism emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century, replete with clearly observable practices of rule making, exclusion and inclusion; amateurism was used by the elites to exclude and differentiate themselves from anyone engaged in manual labor.” – Halvard Leira, “International Relations Pluralism and History—Embracing Amateurism to Strengthen the Profession” (internal quotes and cites omitted)

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Lit & Crit

Not to mention any readers

January 20th, 2016 · No Comments

“Disciplinary boundaries and boundary-keeping circumscribe which channels of publication are seen as relevant and also where specific types of work will be acceptable. Hence, they are also ultimately decisive for the possibilities of getting tenure and promotion.” – Halvard Leira, “International Relations Pluralism and History—Embracing Amateurism to Strengthen the Profession”

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Lit & Crit

Haters gotta hate

January 19th, 2016 · No Comments

“Lay the length of a lasting love alongside any hate, that of the Armenians, for instance, the Turks for the Greeks, the Serbs for everybody. Do you suppose if the Armenians had been done a good turn back then, instead of being thinned, they would remember? three square meals and clean clothes in corded bales and darned blankets and bandages and modern medicines for their festers and their flu? would such deeds be held tenderly against generations of grateful hearts? No one would think so. No one. No.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

And not a garter, my friend

January 18th, 2016 · No Comments

“Who wants to stir up even a chicken if it hankers to be a snake?” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

Not even in there

January 17th, 2016 · No Comments

“I know that men are capable of anything; that all of the things possible to men are therefore possible for me. There is no final safety from oneself.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

Guilty as charged

January 16th, 2016 · No Comments

“It should be clear—plain to any person—open to any eye—that historical chronicles are chronologies of crime, and that any recital of the past constitutes an indictment.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

Flavor-of-the-month club

January 15th, 2016 · No Comments

“O yes, O yes, O yes, O yes, I am aware, O how I know, that there are those who write like tenors, stock their books as though each were a fish pond, dry goods, hardware, or a pantry; who jerry-build, compose sentences like tangled spaghetti, piss through their pens and otherwise relieve themselves, play at poetry as if they were still dressing dolls, order history as though it were an endless bill of lading; but there were genuine bookmen once: Burton, Montaigne, Rabelais and other list-makers, Sir Thomas Browne and Hobbes, in the days when a book was not just a signal like a whiff of smoke from a movie Indian or a carton of cold crumb-covered carryout chicken, but a blood-filled body in the world, a mind in motion like a cannonball.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

What’s the price on that?

January 14th, 2016 · No Comments

“Everywhere nothing now but a revocation of the muse. Cancel Clio, cross out sweet Calliope, for history’s been buggered by ideology, and farts its facts in an odorous cloud, while poets have no breath whatever, are in another business presently, where Parnassus is a pastry, and produce their poems promptly on request like short-order cooks shake forth a batch of fries. Mark out Melpomene. The lines of the anonymous are nothing like the lives of the saints; a celebrity is but a draft from his fans; crooks establish dynasties on stolen dimes.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

And this is why the Internet is free

January 13th, 2016 · No Comments

“Of all the rights of the citizen, few are of greater importance or more essential to his peace and happiness than the right of personal security, and that involves, not merely protection of his person from assault, but exemption of his private affairs, books, and papers, from the inspection and scrutiny of others. Without the enjoyment of this right, all others would lose half their value.” – Justice Field, In re Pacific Railway Commission, 32 Fed. 241

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Busybodies on the government payroll

January 12th, 2016 · No Comments

“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” – Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmsted v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Catch it if you can

January 11th, 2016 · No Comments

“The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” – Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmsted v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

To be so clean again

January 10th, 2016 · No Comments

“We lie with the Fates from our first conception; for it is said—and truly too—that the flesh is built up over the bones at birth by the caresses of those star-guarding harlots whose pawed passage clings there like a cloth, just as the soul in our life is the silted delta of the senses, their accumulated fat; and it is Clotho whose touch becomes our tissue, and Atropos who trims it to the shape we’ll take, and Lachesis who then stitches it about us like a shroud; so when we go to ground, as eventually we must, we lose our lusts with our linens, arising on the last day as clean and shriven as the one on which we were begot.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

It might not prove the joist we sought to hammer

January 9th, 2016 · No Comments

“We live in a world of whirling air just as Anaximenes concluded, a world of whiffs, puffs, breaths, zephyrs, breezes, hurricanes, monsoons, and mistrals; and if they all died away suddenly, and we were Sargasso’d in a sea of circumstance, then one small draft through a winter window might drive us at our destiny like a nail.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass

Fancy a fancy-eating tree

January 8th, 2016 · No Comments

“A flat and wooden style, words nailed like shingles to the page, the earnest straightforward bite of the spike, is the one which suits sincerity; sincerity cannot gambol, cannot play, cannot hedge its bets, forswear a wager, bear to lose; sincerity is tidy; it shits in a paper sack to pretend it’s innocent of food; it cannot quote its masters like Montaigne, or fly its fancy even in a tree, or pun upon a wholesome opportunity, draw up lists like Burton, burst at all its seams; sincerity makes every day dull Sunday, does lump sums, keeps tabs, lies through its honesty like a Bible-beater’s pious threats and Great Good News.” – William H. Gass, The Tunnel

→ No CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · William H. Gass