The Art of Tetman Callis

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

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December 8th, 2022 · No Comments

“It was winter, and in the rain and the dark few men would venture either over the labyrinth of lava or through the marsh—the two approaches to our fortress; and, further, we had ghostly guardians. The first evening we were sitting with the Serahin, Hassan Shah had made the rounds, and the coffee was being pounded by the hearth, when there rose a strange, long wailing round the towers outside. Ibn Bani seized me by the arm and held to me, shuddering. I whispered to him, ‘What is it?’ and he gasped that the dogs of the Beni Hillal, the mythical builders of the fort, quested the six towers each night for their dead masters. We strained to listen. Through Ali’s black basalt window-frame crept a rustling, which was the stirring of the night-wind in the withered palms, an intermittent rustling, like English rain on yet-crisp fallen leaves. Then the cries came again and again and again, rising slowly in power, till they sobbed round the walls in deep waves to die away choked and miserable. At such times our men pounded the coffee harder while the Arabs broke into sudden song to occupy their ears against the misfortune. No Bedouin would lie outside in wait for the mystery, and from our windows we saw nothing but the motes of water in the dank air which drove through the radiance of our firelight. So it remained a legend: but wolves or jackals, hyaenas, or hunting dogs, their ghost-watch kept our ward more closely than arms could have done.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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December 7th, 2022 · No Comments

“The dead men looked wonderfully beautiful. The night was shining gently down, softening them into new ivory. Turks were white-skinned on their clothed parts, much whiter than the Arabs; and these soldiers had been very young. Close round them lapped the dark wormwood, now heavy with dew, in which the ends of the moonbeams sparkled like sea-spray. The corpses seemed flung so pitifully on the ground, huddled anyhow in low heaps. Surely if straightened they would be comfortable at last. So I put them all in order, one by one, very wearied myself, and longing to be of these quiet ones, not of the restless, noisy, aching mob up the valley, quarrelling over the plunder, boasting of their speed and strength to endure God knew how many toils and pains of this sort; with death, whether we won or lost, waiting to end the history.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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December 6th, 2022 · No Comments

“Will not perfection, even in the least of things, entail the ending of this world? Are we ripe for that? When I am angry I pray God to swing our globe into the fiery sun, and prevent the sorrows of the not-yet-born: but when I am content, I want to lie for ever in the shade, till I become a shade myself.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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December 5th, 2022 · No Comments

“Palestine became a land of milk and honey to those who had spent forty years in Sinai: Damascus had the name of an earthly paradise to the tribes which could enter it only after weeks and weeks of painful marching across the flint-stones of this northern desert: and likewise the Kaseim of Arfaja in which we spent that night, after five days across the blazing Houl in the teeth of a sand-storm, looked fresh and countryfied. They were raised only a few feet above the Bisaita, and from them valleys seemed to run down towards the east into a huge depression where lay the well we wanted: but now that we had crossed the desert and reached the Sirhan safely, the terror of thirst had passed and we knew fatigue to be our chief ill. So we agreed to camp for the night where we were, and to make beacon fires for the slave of Nuri Shaalan, who had disappeared from our caravan to-day. We were not greatly perturbed about him. He knew the country and his camel was under him. It might be that he had intentionally taken the direct way to Jauf, Nuri’s capital, to earn the reward of first news that we came with gifts. However it was, he did not come that night, nor next day; and when, months after, I asked Nuri of him, he replied that his dried body had lately been found, lying beside his unplundered camel far out in the wilderness. He must have lost himself in the sand-haze and wandered till his camel broke down; and there died of thirst and heat. Not a long death—even for the very strongest a second day in summer was all—but very painful; for thirst was an active malady; a fear and panic which tore at the brain and reduced the bravest man to a stumbling babbling maniac in an hour or two: and then the sun killed him.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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December 4th, 2022 · No Comments

“Arabs of means rode none but she-camels, since they went smoother under the saddle than males, and were better tempered and less noisy: also, they were patient and would endure to march long after they were worn out, indeed until they tottered with exhaustion and fell in their tracks and died: whereas the coarser males grew angry, flung themselves down when tired, and from sheer rage would die there unnecessarily.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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December 3rd, 2022 · No Comments

“The Bedu were odd people. For an Englishman, sojourning with them was unsatisfactory unless he had patience wide and deep as the sea. They were absolute slaves of their appetite, with no stamina of mind, drunkards for coffee, milk or water, gluttons for stewed meat, shameless beggars of tobacco. They dreamed for weeks before and after their rare sexual exercises, and spent the intervening days titillating themselves and their hearers with bawdy tales. Had the circumstances of their lives given them opportunity they would have been sheer sensualists. Their strength was the strength of men geographically beyond temptation: the poverty of Arabia made them simple, continent, enduring. If forced into civilized life they would have succumbed like any savage race to its diseases, meanness, luxury, cruelty, crooked dealing, artifice; and, like savages, they would have suffered them exaggeratedly for lack of inoculation. If they suspected that we wanted to drive them either they were mulish or they went away. If we comprehended them, and gave time and trouble to make things tempting to them, then they would go to great pains for our pleasure. Whether the results achieved were worth the effort, no man could tell. Englishmen, accustomed to greater returns, would not, and, indeed, could not, have spent the time, thought and tact lavished every day by sheikhs and emirs for such meagre ends. Arab processes were clear, Arab minds moved logically as our own, with nothing radically incomprehensible or different, except the premiss: there was no excuse or reason, except our laziness and ignorance, whereby we could call them inscrutable or Oriental, or leave them misunderstood. They would follow us, if we endured with them, and played the game according to their rules. The pity was, that we often began to do so, and broke down with exasperation and threw them over, blaming them for what was a fault in our own selves. Such strictures like a general’s complaint of bad troops, were in reality a confession of our faulty foresight, often made falsely out of mock modesty to show that, though mistaken, we had at least the wit to know our fault.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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December 2nd, 2022 · No Comments

“Shepherds were a class apart. For the ordinary Arab the hearth was a university, about which their world passed and where they heard the best talk, the news of their tribe, its poems, histories, love tales, lawsuits and bargainings. By such constant sharing in the hearth councils they grew up masters of expression, dialecticians, orators, able to sit with dignity in any gathering and never at a loss for moving words. The shepherds missed the whole of this. From infancy they followed their calling, which took them in all seasons and weathers, day and night, into the hills and condemned them to loneliness and brute company. In the wilderness, among the dry bones of nature, they grew up natural, knowing nothing of man and his affairs; hardly sane in ordinary talk; but very wise in plants, wild animals, and the habits of their own goats and sheep, whose milk was their chief sustenance. With manhood they became sullen, while a few turned dangerously savage, more animal than man, haunting the flocks, and finding the satisfaction of their adult appetites in them, to the exclusion of more licit affections.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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December 1st, 2022 · No Comments

“Nine-tenths of tactics were certain enough to be teachable in schools; but the irrational tenth was like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and in it lay the test of generals. It could be ensued only by instinct (sharpened by thought practising the stroke) until at the crisis it came naturally, a reflex.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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November 30th, 2022 · No Comments

“War upon rebellion was messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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November 29th, 2022 · No Comments

“At last we camped, and when the camels were unloaded and driven out to pasture, I lay down under the rocks and rested. My body was very sore with headache and high fever, the accompaniments of a sharp attack of dysentery which had troubled me along the march and had laid me out twice that day in short fainting fits, when the more difficult parts of the climb had asked too much of my strength. Dysentery of this Arabian coast sort used to fall like a hammer blow, and crush its victims for a few hours, after which the extreme effects passed off; but it left men curiously tired, and subject for some weeks to sudden breaks of nerve. My followers had been quarrelling all day; and while I was lying near the rocks a shot was fired. I paid no attention; for there were hares and birds in the valley; but a little later Suleiman roused me and made me follow him across the valley to an opposite bay in the rocks, where one of the Ageyl, a Boreida man, was lying stone dead with a bullet through his temples. The shot must have been fired from close by; because the skin was burnt about one wound. The remaining Ageyl were running frantically about; and when I asked what it was Ali, their head man, said that Hamed the Moor had done the murder. I suspected Suleiman, because of the feud between the Atban and Ageyl which had burned up in Yenbo and Wejh; but Ali assured me that Suleiman had been with him three hundred yards further up the valley gathering sticks when the shot was fired. I sent all out to search for Hamed, and crawled back to the baggage, feeling that it need not have happened this day of all days when I was in pain. As I lay there I heard a rustle, and opened my eyes slowly upon Hamed’s back as he stooped over his saddle-bags, which lay just beyond my rock. I covered him with a pistol and then spoke. He had put down his rifle to lift the gear; and was at my mercy till the others came. We held a court at once; and after a while Hamed confessed that, he and Salem having had words, he had seen red and shot him suddenly. Our inquiry ended. The Ageyl, as relatives of the dead man, demanded blood for blood. The others supported them; and I tried vainly to talk the gentle Ali round. My head was aching with fever and I could not think; but hardly even in health, with all eloquence, could I have begged Hamed off; for Salem had been a friendly fellow and his sudden murder a wanton crime. Then rose up the horror which would make civilized man shun justice like a plague if he had not the needy to serve him as hangmen for wages. There were other Moroccans in our army; and to let the Ageyl kill one in feud meant reprisals by which our unity would have been endangered. It must be a formal execution, and at last, desperately, I told Hamed that he must die for punishment, and laid the burden of his killing on myself. Perhaps they would count me not qualified for feud. At least no revenge could lie against my followers; for I was a stranger and kinless. I made him enter a narrow gully of the spur, a dank twilight place overgrown with weeds. Its sandy bed had been pitted by trickles of water down the cliffs in the late rain. At the end it shrank to a crack a few inches wide. The walls were vertical. I stood in the entrance and gave him a few moments’ delay which he spent crying on the ground. Then I made him rise and shot him through the chest. He fell down on the weeds shrieking, with the blood coming out in spurts over his clothes, and jerked about till he rolled nearly to where I was. I fired again, but was shaking so that I only broke his wrist. He went on calling out, less loudly, now lying on his back with his feet towards me, and I leant forward and shot him for the last time in the thick of his neck under the jaw. His body shivered a little, and I called the Ageyl, who buried him in the gully where he was. Afterwards the wakeful night dragged over me, till, hours before dawn, I had the men up and made them load, in my longing to be set free of Wadi Kitan. They had to lift me into the saddle.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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November 28th, 2022 · No Comments

“It is blood that makes the cash grow green.” – Justin King, “Let’s talk about new defense spending on Ukraine”

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November 27th, 2022 · No Comments

“Even in situations of poetry the French remained incorrigible prose-writers, seeing by the directly-thrown light of reason and understanding, not through the half-closed eye, mistily, by things’ essential radiance.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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November 26th, 2022 · No Comments

“Your good and my good, perhaps they are different, and either forced good or forced evil will make a people cry with pain. Does the ore admire the flame which transforms it?” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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November 25th, 2022 · No Comments

“Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever chose; but in fact each hill and valley in it had a man who was its acknowledged owner and would quickly assert the right of his family or clan to it, against aggression. Even the wells and trees had their masters, who allowed men to make firewood of the one and drink of the other freely, as much as was required for their need, but who would instantly check anyone trying to turn the property to account and to exploit it or its products among others for private benefit. The desert was held in a crazed communism by which Nature and the elements were for the free use of every known friendly person for his own purposes and no more. Logical outcomes were the reduction of this licence to privilege by the men of the desert, and their hardness to strangers unprovided with introduction or guarantee, since the common security lay in the common responsibility of kinsmen.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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November 24th, 2022 · No Comments

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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November 23rd, 2022 · No Comments

“When we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep: and was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.” – T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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November 22nd, 2022 · No Comments

“Even simple farmers are capturing Russian soldiers every day, and all of them say the same thing: They don’t know why they are here. These are not warriors of a superpower. These are confused children who have been used. Take them home.” – Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, March 3, 2022

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November 21st, 2022 · No Comments

“Men with small money will still impress each other over beer, men with medium money will find ways to barter, and men with large money will slice this country like cake if they get sad enough, bored enough.” – Eloghosa Osunde, “Good Boy”

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November 20th, 2022 · No Comments

“You, reading this, you’re here, alive, because your parents synced and you showed up. That’s it. Even if they planned for a child, it was still a raffle draw. A hand went in a bowl and picked you. The tree shook and a fruit fell down. If it pains you to read, then cry. It’s deeper for your mum because she probably pushed so hard her body gasped, only for your ungrateful head to come out of it.” – Eloghosa Osunde, “Good Boy”

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November 19th, 2022 · No Comments

“I’m not the kind of guy who believes in hell, or in a god who imagines a lake of fire. I just can’t see it—you have a mind that’s wider than the sky and that is what you use it to picture? To me, that sounds too petty, too human, too undivine to be real. People sell all kinds of gods all the time. I know the One that moves me and it’s not the one I was raised on. To me, you can’t say you’re love, choose to roast people for eternity, and then pretend it breaks your heart. Pick a side.” – Eloghosa Osunde, “Good Boy”

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November 18th, 2022 · No Comments

“The most dangerous thing in the world is a second lieutenant with a compass.” – Justin King, “Let’s talk about a BBC analysis of Russian personnel”

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November 17th, 2022 · No Comments

“It is evident that there is considerable operator bias introduced in designing fuzzy networks. This may not be satisfactory for complex problems where the actual relationships are not understood to begin with.” – H. K. D. H. Bhadeshia, “Neural Networks in Materials Science”

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November 16th, 2022 · No Comments

“Sir Steward, the Bailiff, Robert by name, who is here, complaineth of William of the street, who is there, that against the peace of the lord, he sent Thomas, his son, on such a day, at such an hour, in the year that now is, over the wall newly built and erected, and commanded him to carry off of every manner of fruit at his will, and when the bailiff heard the fruit being knocked down, he marvelled who this could be, and at once entered the lord’s garden, and found the boy right high on a costard tree, which he had cultivated for the lord’s use, because of its goodness; he made him come down, and attached him without doing any villany, and debonairely asked him by whose commandment and whose sending he entered the lord’s garden over walls well closed on all sides, and the boy answered and said, that William, his father, who is present there, bade him enter the garden, and urged him on to the tree with the best fruit.” – John Marshall Gest, quoting from Vol. IV of the Selden Society, in The Lawyer in Literature

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November 15th, 2022 · No Comments

“There be three kinds of unhappy men: He that hath knowledge and teacheth not ; He that teacheth and liveth not thereafter; He that knoweth not and doth not enquire to understand.” – Sir Edward Coke, Commentary on Littleton

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November 14th, 2022 · No Comments

“A right cannot die: trodden down it may be, but never trodden out.” – Sir Edward Coke, Commentary on Littleton

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November 13th, 2022 · No Comments

“Hope is the dream of a waking man.” – Sir Edward Coke, Institutes of the laws of England

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November 12th, 2022 · No Comments

“There is no greater injustice than when under colour of justice injury is done.” – Sir Edward Coke, Institutes of the laws of England

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November 11th, 2022 · No Comments

“There is no knowledge (seemeth it at the first of never so little moment) but it will stand the diligent student in stead at one time or other.” – Sir Edward Coke, Commentary on Littleton

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November 10th, 2022 · No Comments

“Pedantry is a useless display of learning, or perhaps a display of useless learning—at any rate, the term involves the double idea of display or affectation and uselessness.” – John Marshall Gest, The Lawyer in Literature

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November 9th, 2022 · No Comments

“Now, if a man wants to have his estate properly settled, it is absolutely necessary for him to die. It is not enough for him to disappear, no matter for how long, if he neglects this simple preliminary. When he comes back unexpectedly, and makes himself generally disagreeable, his return to the scene of his former activities will disarrange the most careful administration, and even if his supposed death was mourned, his reappearance will be even more sincerely lamented.” – John Marshall Gest, The Lawyer in Literature

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