The Art of Tetman Callis

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

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July 24th, 2021 · No Comments

“In Great-Britain it is said their constitution relies on the house of commons for honesty, and the lords for wisdom; which would be a rational reliance if honesty were to be bought with money, and if wisdom were hereditary.” – Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

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July 23rd, 2021 · No Comments

“Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word consider how it is spelt, and if you do not remember it, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well.” – Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to Martha Jefferson”, November 28, 1783

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July 22nd, 2021 · No Comments

“How far men, who labour under the pressure of accumulated distress, and are irritated by a belief that they are treated with neglect, ingratitude, and injustice in the extreme, might be worked upon by designing men, is worthy of very serious consideration.” – George Washington, “Letter to Lund Washington”, March 19, 1783

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July 21st, 2021 · No Comments

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence; true friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation. Let your heart feel for the affliction, and distresses of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse; remembering always, the estimation of the Widows mite. But, that it is not every one who asketh, that deserveth charity; all however are worthy of the enquiry, or the deserving may suffer. Do not conceive that fine Cloaths make fine Men, any more than fine feathers make fine Birds. A plain genteel dress is more admired and obtains more credit than lace and embroidery in the Eyes of the judicious and sensible.” – George Washington, “Letter to Bushrod Washington”, January 15, 1783 (emphases in original)

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July 20th, 2021 · No Comments

“I want my poems to have edges. To be more like a photograph than a movie. 35mm, a rule of dimensions: what is and is not in the shot. If you want to include more in the image than will fit, you have to change where you stand. Either that or change the world: Move the saltshaker in front of the woman. Ask her to scoot closer to the light. In the poem, I can pretend the saltshaker was there, or neglect mention of it. The woman can keep moving. I’m writing her in one way, but this is not how it is, she’s already out of the light, and though I call her back, she’s gone. The room is a room and goes around me in every direction, populated with objects I can’t hope to include. I move close to the saltshaker and find that it’s filled with tiny stones. This isn’t true, but I live in the lawless room of the stanza. Every image I write is a lie. I feel guilty and proud.” – Victoria Kornick, “Migraine Season”

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July 19th, 2021 · No Comments

“A Suedish Minister having assembled the Chiefs of the Sasquehanah Indians, made a Sermon to them, acquainting them with the principal historical Facts on which our Religion is founded, such as the Fall of our first Parents by Eating an Apple, the Coming of Christ to repair the Mischief, his Miracles and Suffering, &c. When he had finished, an Indian Orator stood up to thank him. What you have told us, says he, is all very good. It is indeed bad to eat Apples. It is better to make them all into Cyder. We are much obliged by your Kindness in coming so far to tell us those things which you have heard from your Mothers. In Return I will tell you some of those we have heard from ours. In the Beginning our Fathers had only the Flesh of Animals to subsist on, and if their Hunting was unsuccessful, they were starving. Two of our young Hunters having killed a Deer, made a Fire in the Woods to broil some Parts of it. When they were about to satisfy their Hunger, they beheld a beautiful young Woman descend from the Clouds, and seat herself on that Hill which you see yonder among the blue Mountains. They said to each other, it is a Spirit which perhaps has smelt our broiling Venison, & wishes to eat of it: let us offer some to her. They presented her with the Tongue: She was pleased with the Taste of it, & said, your Kindness shall be rewarded. Come to this Place after thirteen Moons, and you shall find something that will be of great Benefit in nourishing you and your Children to the latest Generations. They did so, and to their Surprise found Plants they had never seen before, but which from that ancient time have been constantly cultivated among us to our great Advantage. Where her right Hand had touched the Ground, they found Maize; where her left hand had touch’d it, they found Kidney-beans; and where her Backside had sat on it, they found Tobacco. The good Missionary disgusted with this idle Tale, said, what I delivered to you were sacred Truths; but what you tell me is mere Fable, Fiction & Falsehood. The Indian offended, reply’d, my Brother, it seems your Friends have not done you Justice in your Education; they have not well instructed you in the Rules of common Civility. You saw that we who understand and practice those Rules, believed all your Stories; why do you refuse to believe ours?” – Benjamin Franklin, “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”

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July 18th, 2021 · No Comments

“Savages we call them, because their manners differ from ours, which we think the Perfection of Civility; they think the same of theirs. Perhaps if we could examine the manners of different Nations with Impartiality, we should find no People so rude as to be without any Rules of Politeness; nor any so polite as not to have some remains of Rudeness. The Indian Men, when young, are Hunters and Warriors; when old, Counsellors; for all their Government is by the Counsel or Advice of the Sages; there is no Force, there are no Prisons, no Officers to compel Obedience, or inflict Punishment. Hence they generally study Oratory; the best Speaker having the most Influence. The Indian Women till the Ground, dress the Food, nurse and bring up the Children, and preserve and hand down to Posterity the Memory of Public Transactions. These Employments of Men and Women are accounted natural and honorable. Having few Artificial Wants, they have abundance of Leisure for Improvement by Conversation. Our laborious manner of Life compared with theirs, they esteem slavish and base; and the Learning on which we value ourselves; they regard as frivolous and useless.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”

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July 17th, 2021 · No Comments

“Wherever a discretionary power is lodged in any set of men over the property of their neighbours, they will abuse it. Their passions, prejudices, dislikes, will have the principal lead in measuring the abilities of those over whom their power extends; and assessors will ever be a set of petty tyrants, too unskilful, if honest, to be possessed of so delicate a trust, and too seldom honest to give them the excuse of want of skill.” – Alexander Hamilton, “The Continentalist No. VI”

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July 16th, 2021 · No Comments

“It is impossible to devise any specific tax, that will operate equally on the whole community. It must be the province of the legislature to hold the scales with a judicious hand and ballance one by another. The rich must be made to pay for their luxuries, which is the only proper way of taxing their superior wealth.” – Alexander Hamilton, “The Continentalist No. VI”

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July 15th, 2021 · No Comments

“Experience will teach us, that no government costs so much as a bad one.” – Alexander Hamilton, “The Continentalist No. VI”

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July 14th, 2021 · No Comments

“We may destroy our civilization, but we cannot escape it. We may savor a soured remorse at the growth of civilization, but that will yield us no large or lasting reward. There is no turning back: our only way is a radical struggle for the City of the Just.” – Irving Howe, “The City in Literature”

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July 13th, 2021 · No Comments

“I have come to be convinced that it is only the unbending observance of custom that sustains life in an urban circumstance.” – Gordon Lish, What I Know So Far

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July 12th, 2021 · No Comments

“The suspicion of the city and all it represents seems to run so deeply in our culture that it would be impossible to eradicate it, even if anyone were naive enough to wish to. In its sophisticated variants it is a suspicion necessary for sanity, if only because modern civilization cannot yield very much to its demands. And perhaps, for all we know, it is a suspicion emblematic of some ineradicable tragedy in the human condition: the knowledge that makes us cherish innocence makes innocence unattainable.” – Irving Howe, “The City in Literature”

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July 11th, 2021 · No Comments

“The suspicion of artifice and cultivation, the belief in the superior moral and therapeutic uses of the ‘natural,’ the fear that corruption must follow upon a high civilization—such motifs appear to be strongly ingrained in Western Christianity and the civilization carrying it. There are Sodom and Gomorrah. There is the whore of Babylon. There is the story of Joseph and his brothers, charmingly anticipating a central motif within modern fiction: Joseph, who must leave the pastoral setting of his family because he is too smart to spend his life with sheep, prepares for a series of tests, ventures into the court of Egypt, and then, beyond temptation, returns to his fathers. And there is the story of Jesus, shepherd of his flock. Western culture bears, then, a deeply-grounded tradition that sees the city as a place both inimical and threatening. It bears, also, another tradition, both linked and opposed, sacred and secular: we need only remember St. Augustine’s City of God or Aristotle’s view that ‘Men come together in the city in order to live, they remain there in order to live the good life.’ ” – Irving Howe, “The City in Literature”

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July 10th, 2021 · No Comments

“In literature the natural is a category of artifice.” – Irving Howe, “The City in Literature”

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June 28th, 2021 · No Comments

“One does not regret anything as long as one does not notice what one has lost.“ – Guy de Maupassant, “In the Wood” (trans. McMaster, et al.)

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June 24th, 2021 · No Comments

“Men I find to be a Sort of Beings very badly constructed, as they are generally more easily provok’d than reconcil’d, more disposed to do Mischief to each other than to make Reparation, much more easily deceiv’d than undeceiv’d, and having more Pride and even Pleasure in killing than in begetting one another; for without a Blush they assemble in great armies at NoonDay to destroy, and when they have kill’d as many as they can, they exaggerate the Number to augment the fancied Glory; but they creep into Corners, or cover themselves with the Darkness of night, when they mean to beget, as being asham’d of a virtuous Action. A virtuous Action it would be, and a vicious one the killing of them, if the Species were really worth producing or preserving; but of this I begin to doubt.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to Joseph Priestley”, June 7, 1782

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June 23rd, 2021 · No Comments

“No one is safe. The world is corrupt. All we can do is dance. “ – Tammy Heejae Lee, “Roe Soup Dance”

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June 22nd, 2021 · No Comments

“I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free.” – Bob Dylan, “Murder Most Foul”

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June 21st, 2021 · No Comments

“If Five Louis-d’ors may be of present Service to you, please draw on me for that Sum, and your Bill shall be paid on Sight. Some time or other you may have an Opportunity of assisting with an equal Sum a stranger who has equal need of it. Do so. By that means you will discharge any Obligation you may suppose yourself under to me. Enjoin him to do the same on Occasion. By pursuing such a Practice, much Good may be done with little money. Let kind Offices go round. Mankind are all of a Family.” — Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to William Nixon”, September 5, 1781

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June 20th, 2021 · No Comments

“If fortune should smile upon us, it will do us no harm to have been prepared for adversity; if she frowns upon us, by being prepared, we shall encounter it without the chagrin of disappointment.” – Alexander Hamilton, “Letter to Elizabeth Schuyler”, August 1780

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June 19th, 2021 · No Comments

“From Socrates forward, there are countless witnesses to the value of irony for the private individual: as a complex, serious method of seeking and holding one’s truth, and as a method of saving one’s sanity. But as irony becomes the good taste of what is, after all, an essentially collective activity — the making of art — it may prove less serviceable. One need not speak as categorically as Nietzsche, who thought the spread of irony throughout a culture always signified the floodtide of decadence and the approaching end of that culture’s vitality and powers. In the post-political, electronically connected cosmopolis in which all serious modern artists have taken out premature citizenship, certain organic connections between culture and “thinking” (and art is certainly now, mainly, a form of thinking) may have been broken, so that Nietzsche’s diagnosis no longer applies. Still, there remains a question as to how far the resources of irony can be stretched. It seems unlikely that the possibilities of continually undermining one’s assumptions can go on unfolding indefinitely into the future, without being eventually checked by despair or by a laugh that leaves one without any breath at all.” – Susan Sontag, “The Aesthetics of Silence”

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June 18th, 2021 · No Comments

“Of everything that’s said, one can ask: why? (Including: why should I say that? And: why should I say anything at all?)” – Susan Sontag, “The Aesthetics of Silence”

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June 17th, 2021 · No Comments

“A landscape doesn’t demand from the spectator his ‘understanding,’ his imputations of significance, his anxieties and sympathies; it demands, rather, his absence, that he not add anything to it. Contemplation, strictly speaking, entails self-forgetfulness on the part of the spectator: an object worthy of contemplation is one which, in effect, annihilates the perceiving subject.” – Susan Sontag, “The Aesthetics of Silence”

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June 16th, 2021 · No Comments

“There remains the inescapable truth about perception: the positivity of all experience at every moment of it. As John Cage has insisted, ‘there is no such thing as silence. Something is always happening that makes a sound.’ (Cage has described how, even in a soundless chamber, he still heard at least two things: his heartbeat and the coursing of the blood in his head). Similarly, there is no such thing as empty space. As long as a human eye is looking there is always something to see. To look at something that’s ’empty’ is still to be looking, still to be seeing something — if only the ghosts of one’s own expectations. In order to perceive fullness, one must retain an acute sense of the emptiness which marks it off; conversely, in order to perceive emptiness, one must apprehend other zones of the world as full.” – Susan Sontag, “The Aesthetics of Silence”

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June 15th, 2021 · No Comments

“Is there such an agent as a single agent? Each individual admittedly houses several identities or role-players. Is the agent an individual or does his individuality reside in a part he plays? Is he a cluster of attitudes seen through time, or a single facet caught in action and engagement?” – George Kubler, “Style and Representation of Historical Time”

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June 14th, 2021 · No Comments

“The rapid Progress true Science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is impossible to imagine the Height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the Power of Man over Matter. We may perhaps learn to deprive large Masses of their Gravity, and give them absolute Levity, for the sake of easy Transport. Agriculture may diminish its Labour and double its Produce; all Diseases may by sure means be prevented or cured, not excepting even that of Old Age, and our Lives lengthened at pleasure even beyond the antediluvian Standard. O that moral Science were in as fair a way of Improvement, that Men would cease to be Wolves to one another, and that human Beings would at length learn what they now improperly call Humanity!” – Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to Joseph Priestley” (February 8, 1780) (emphasis in original)

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June 13th, 2021 · No Comments

“This is what I know: If you spend your entire life on a leash, then all that matters is the length of the chain.” – Daniel Riddle Rodriguez, “How to Be Royal”

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June 12th, 2021 · No Comments

“Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes; And whereas it is generally true that the people will be happiest whose laws are best, and are best administered, and that laws will be wisely formed, and honestly administered, in proportion as those who form and administer them are wise and honest; whence it becomes expedient for promoting the publick happiness that those persons, whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposits of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens, and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance; but the indigence of the greater number disabling them from so educating, at their own expence, those of their children whom nature hath fitly formed and disposed to become useful instruments for the public, it is better that such should be sought for and educated at the common expence of all, than that the happiness of all should be confided to the weak or wicked.” – Thomas Jefferson, “A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge”

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June 11th, 2021 · No Comments

“It is not only vain, but wicked, in a legislator to frame laws in opposition to the laws of nature, and to arm them with the terrors of death. This is truly creating crimes in order to punish them.” – Thomas Jefferson, “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments”

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