The Art of Tetman Callis

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

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January 22nd, 2022 · No Comments

“It is futile to fight with the state. If it wants to put you in prison, you may be sure that it will put you there.” – Andrey Konstantinov, “In the Law and Outside the Law. From His Cell in Manhattan, Ivankov Continues To Direct His Empire”

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January 21st, 2022 · No Comments

“The judge, even when he is free, is still not wholly free. He is not to innovate at pleasure. He is not a knighterrant, roaming at will in pursuit of his own ideal of beauty or of goodness. He is to draw his inspiration from consecrated principles. He is not to yield to spasmodic sentiment, to vague and unregulated benevolence. He is to exercise a discretion informed by tradition, methodized by analogy, disciplined by system, and subordinated to the primordial necessity of order in the social life. Wide enough in all conscience is the field of discretion that remains.” – Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process

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January 20th, 2022 · No Comments

“The common law is but the accumulated expressions of the various judicial tribunals in their efforts to ascertain what is right and just between individuals in respect to private disputes. The common law, however, is not static. By its nature, it adapts to changing circumstances. The common law is affected by the felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, and intuitions of public policy, and it embodies the story of a nation’s development through many centuries. It is generally agreed that two of the most significant features of the common law are: (1) its capacity for growth and (2) its capacity to reflect the public policy of a given era. The common law does not consist of definite rules which are absolute, fixed, and immutable like the statute law, but it is a flexible body of principles which are designed to meet, and are susceptible of adaption to, among other things, new institutions, public policies, conditions, usages and practices, and changes in mores, trade, commerce, inventions, and increasing knowledge, as the progress of society may require. So, changing conditions may give rise to new rights under the law. The common law is always a work in progress and typically develops incrementally, i.e., gradually evolving as individual disputes are decided and existing common-law rules are considered and sometimes adapted to current needs in light of changing times and circumstances.” – Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., Michigan Supreme Court, Price v. High Pointe Oil Co., 2013 (edited for clarity; internal cites and quotes omitted)

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January 19th, 2022 · No Comments

“French logic is very simple. Whatever the French do is logical because the French are doing it.” – James Baldwin, Another Country

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January 18th, 2022 · No Comments

“The trouble with a secret life is that it is very frequently a secret from the person who lives it and not at all a secret for the people he encounters. He encounters, because he must encounter, those people who see his secrecy before they see anything else, and who drag these secrets out of him; sometimes with the intention of using them against him, sometimes with more benevolent intent; but, whatever the intent, the moment is awful and the accumulating revelation is an unspeakable anguish. The aim of the dreamer, after all, is merely to go on dreaming and not to be molested by the world. His dreams are his protection against the world. But the aims of life are antithetical to those of the dreamer, and the teeth of the world are sharp.” – James Baldwin, Another Country (emphasis in original)

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January 17th, 2022 · No Comments

“Strangers’ faces hold no secrets because the imagination does not invest them with any. But the face of a lover is an unknown precisely because it is invested with so much of oneself. It is a mystery, containing, like all mysteries, the possibility of torment.” – James Baldwin, Another Country

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January 16th, 2022 · No Comments

“The occurrence of an event is not the same thing as knowing what it is that one has lived through. Most people had not lived—nor could it, for that matter, be said that they had died—through any of their terrible events. They had simply been stunned by the hammer. They passed their lives thereafter in a kind of limbo of denied and unexamined pain.” – James Baldwin, Another Country

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January 15th, 2022 · No Comments

“The white South said that it knew ‘niggers,’ and I was what the white South called a ‘nigger.’ Well, the white South had never known me—never known what I thought, what I felt. The white South said that I had a ‘place’ in life. Well. I had never felt any ‘place’; or, rather, my deepest instincts had always made me reject the ‘place’ to which the white South had assigned me. It had never occurred to me that I was in any way an inferior being. And no word that I had ever heard fall from the lips of southern white men had ever made me really doubt the worth of my own humanity.” – Richard Wright, Black Boy

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January 14th, 2022 · No Comments

“Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books; consequently, my belief in books had risen more out of a sense of desperation than from any abiding conviction of their ultimate value. . . . It had been my accidental reading of fiction and literary criticism that had evoked in me vague glimpses of life’s possibilities.” – Richard Wright, Black Boy

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January 13th, 2022 · No Comments

“Some people derive joy and understanding from the dogmas of different religions, and that’s one way to organize your life. I don’t find that possible because I don’t think any of the received religions do justice to what I’ve discovered about the physical world. It’s not so much that they’re wrong, although many details are wrong, but they just don’t do justice to the profound surprises that science turns up about how big the universe is, how old it is, how many little things go into making the big things we experience in life.” – Frank Wilczek, 2004 Nobel Laureate in Physics (interviewed by Steve Paulson in “Beauty is Physics’ Secret Weapon”)

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January 12th, 2022 · No Comments

“We could only say things about the world as a whole if we could get outside the world, if, that is to say, it ceased to be for us the whole world. Our world may be bounded for some superior being who can survey it from above, but for us, however finite it may be, it cannot have a boundary, since it has nothing outside it.” – Bertrand Russell, “Introduction to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

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January 11th, 2022 · No Comments

“If I were a member of the class that rules, I would post men in all the neighborhoods of the nation, not to spy upon or club rebellious workers, not to break strikes or disrupt unions; but to ferret out those who no longer respond to the system in which they live. I would make it known that the real danger does not stem from those who seek to grab their share of wealth through force, or from those who try to defend their property through violence, for both of those groups, by their affirmative acts, support the values of the system in which they live. The millions that I would fear are those who do not dream of the prizes that the nation holds forth, for it is in them, though they may not know it, that a revolution has taken place and is biding its time to translate itself into a new and strange way of life.” – Richard Wright, Black Boy

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January 10th, 2022 · No Comments

“Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness.” – Richard Wright, Black Boy

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January 9th, 2022 · No Comments

“Among the topics that southern white men did not like to discuss with Negroes were the following: American white women; the Ku Klux Klan; France, and how Negro soldiers fared while there; Frenchwomen; Jack Johnson; the entire northern part of the United States; the Civil War; Abraham Lincoln; U. S. Grant; General Sherman; Catholics; the Pope; Jews; the Republican party; slavery; social equality; Communism; Socialism; the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution; or any topic calling for positive knowledge or manly self-assertion on the part of the Negro.” – Richard Wright, Black Boy

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January 8th, 2022 · No Comments

“As long as there’s suffering, you can only be so happy. How can a person be happy if he has misfortune? Does money make a person happy? Some wealthy billionaire who can buy 30 cars and maybe buy a sports team, is that guy happy? What then would make him happier? Does it make him happy giving his money away to foreign countries? Is there more contentment in that than giving it here to the inner cities and creating jobs? Nowhere does it say that one of the government’s responsibilities is to create jobs. That is a false premise. But if you like lies, go ahead and believe it. The government’s not going to create jobs. It doesn’t have to. People have to create jobs, and these big billionaires are the ones who can do it. We don’t see that happening. We see crime and inner cities exploding, with people who have nothing to do but meander around, turning to drink and drugs, into killers and jailbirds. They could all have work created for them by all these hotshot billionaires. For sure, that would create a lot of happiness. Now, I’m not saying they have to — I’m not talking about communism — but what do they do with their money? Do they use it in virtuous ways? If you have no idea what virtue is all about, look it up in a Greek dictionary. There’s nothing namby-pamby about it.” – Bob Dylan (interviewed by Robert Love in AARP The Magazine)

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January 7th, 2022 · No Comments

“In nations where the dogma of popular sovereignty reigns, each individual constitutes an equal share of the sovereign and participates equally in the government of the state. Thus each individual is supposed to be as enlightened, as virtuous, and as strong as every other individual. Why, then does the individual obey society, and what are the natural limits of his obedience? He obeys society, not because he is inferior to those who rule it, or less capable of governing himself than anyone else, but because union with his fellow men seems useful to him, and because he knows that such union cannot exist without a regulatory power. In everything to do with the duties of citizens to one another, he has therefore become subject. In everything that regards himself alone, he remains master. He is free and owes an account of his actions only to God. Whence this maxim: the individual is the best as well as the only judge of his own interest, and society has the right to direct his actions only when it feels injured by his activities or when it requires his cooperation.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (trans. Arthur Goldhammer)

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January 6th, 2022 · No Comments

“In New England provision was made from the first for the care of the poor. Strenuous efforts were made to maintain the roads, and officials were appointed to monitor their condition. Town governments kept open records of deliberations at public meetings as well as of deaths, marriages, and births of their citizens. Clerks were designated to maintain these records. Officials were assigned to administer intestate property, others to establish the boundaries of inherited land, and still others whose principal function was to preserve the public tranquility. Legislation concerned itself with a thousand details in order to anticipate and satisfy a host of social needs.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (trans. Arthur Goldhammer)

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January 5th, 2022 · No Comments

“It is often difficult, in examining New England’s earliest historical and legislative records, to perceive the bond between the immigrants and the land of their ancestors. We find them regularly exercising sovereign powers: they appoint magistrates, make peace and war, establish rules of order, and adopt laws as if answerable to God alone. Nothing is more curious and at the same time more instructive than the legislation of this period. Here above all lies the key to the great social enigma with which the United States confronts the world today. As a characteristic example of that legislation, we may choose the code of laws adopted in 1650 by the small state of Connecticut. Connecticut’s lawmakers first took up the question of penal laws. In drafting those laws, they on the strange idea of drawing upon sacred texts: ‘Whosoever shall worship any deity other than the Lord God,’ they began, ‘shall be put to death.’ This was followed by ten or twelve similar provisions taken literally from Deuteronomy, Exodus, and Leviticus. Blasphemy, witchcraft, adultery, and rape were punishable by death. A son who failed to honor his father and mother was subject to the same penalty.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (trans. Arthur Goldhammer)

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January 4th, 2022 · No Comments

“Mama says she named me by flipping open her English textbook to a random page and pointing. Angela, it said, like an angel. I know this story is fake, because if it were real, my name would be something like Fish or Lawyer.” – Angie Sijun Lou, All We Ask Is You to be Happy (emphasis in original)

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January 3rd, 2022 · No Comments

“There is no known historical period when the Sahara has not been inhabited by man. Most of the other larger forms of animal life, whose abode it formerly was, have become extinct. If we believe the evidence of cave drawings, we can be sure that the giraffe, the hippopotamus and the rhinoceros were once dwellers in the region. The lion has disappeared from North Africa in our own time, likewise the ostrich. Now and then a crocodile is still discovered in some distant, hidden oasis pool, but the occurrence is so rare that when it happens it is a great event. The camel, of course, is not a native of Africa at all, but an importation from Asia, having arrived approximately at the time of the end of the Roman Empire—about when the last elephants were killed off. Large numbers of the herds of wild elephants that roamed the northern reaches of the desert were captured and trained for use in the Carthaginian army, but it was the Romans who finally annihilated the species to supply ivory for the European market.” – Paul Bowles, “Baptism of Solitude”

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January 2nd, 2022 · No Comments

“Security is a false god; begin making sacrifices to it and you are lost.” – Paul Bowles, “Notes Mailed at Nagercoil”

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January 1st, 2022 · No Comments

“There ain’t no Devil, there’s just God when he’s drunk.” – Tom Waits

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December 31st, 2021 · No Comments

“My father passed away and this is what I found myself remembering—not the things that were, but the things that were not: the places not visited, the words not said, the stories not shared.” – Olga Grushin, “Portrait of My Father”

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December 30th, 2021 · No Comments

“People do not obey, unless rulers know how to command; obedience is a lesson taught by commanders. A true leader himself creates the obedience of his own followers; as it is the last attainment in the art of riding to make a horse gentle and tractable, so is it of the science of government, to inspire men with a willingness to obey.” – “Lycurgus,” Plutarch’s Lives (trans. A. H. Clough)

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December 29th, 2021 · No Comments

“A ruler’s first end is to maintain his office, which is done no less by avoiding what is unfit than by observing what is suitable. Whoever is either too remiss or too strict is no more a king or a governor, but either a demagogue or a despot, and so becomes either odious or contemptible to his subjects.” – “Comparison of Romulus with Theseus,” Plutarch’s Lives (trans. A. H. Clough)

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December 28th, 2021 · No Comments

“No one can hurt you the way a mother can. No one can love you the way a mother can.” – Kira Madden, “The Greeter”

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December 27th, 2021 · No Comments

“What ultimately lets us move on is not acceptance but boredom.” – Mary South, “The Promised Hostel”

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December 26th, 2021 · No Comments

“It is the general feeling of all who have occasion for wicked men’s service, as people have for the poison of venomous beasts; they are glad of them while they are of use, and abhor their baseness when it is over.” – “Romulus,” Plutarch’s Lives (trans. A. H. Clough)

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December 25th, 2021 · No Comments

“If life is occasionally interesting in anecdote, it’s not in the actual living.” – Mary South, “Architecture for Monsters”

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December 24th, 2021 · No Comments

“That age produced a sort of men, in force of hand, and swiftness of foot, and strength of body, excelling the ordinary rate, and wholly incapable of fatigue; making use, however, of these gifts of nature to no good or profitable purpose for mankind, but rejoicing and priding themselves in insolence, and taking the benefit of their superior strength in the exercise of inhumanity and cruelty, and in seizing, forcing, and committing all manner of outrages upon every thing that fell into their hands; all respect for others, all justice, they thought, all equity and humanity, though naturally lauded by common people, either out of want of courage to commit injuries or fear to receive them, yet no way concerned those who were strong enough to win for themselves.” – “Theseus,” Plutarch’s Lives (trans. A. H. Clough)

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