Month: June 2022

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:36 am

“Sumer, its rise and fall, provides the historian with the most ancient example of the poignant irony inherent in man’s fate. As the Sumerian literary documents make amply manifest, it was the competitive drive for superiority and preeminence, for victory, prestige, and glory, that provided the psychological motivation sparking the material and cultural advances for which the Sumerians are justifiably noted: large-scale irrigation, technological invention, monumental architecture, writing, education, and literature. Sad to say, this very passion for competition and success carried within it the seed of destruction and decay. In the course of the centuries, Sumer became a ‘sick society’ with deplorable failings and distressing shortcomings: it yearned for peace and was constantly at war; it professed such ideals as justice, equity, and compassion, but abounded in injustice, inequality, and oppression; materialistic and short-sighted, it unbalanced the ecology essential to its economy; it was afflicted by a generation gap between parents and children, and between teachers and students. And so Sumer came to a cruel, tragic end, as one melancholy Sumerian bard bitterly laments: Law and order ceased to exist; cities, houses, stalls, and sheepfolds were destroyed; rivers and canals flowed with bitter waters; fields and steppes grew nothing but weeds and ‘wailing plants.’ The mother cared not for her children, nor the father for his spouse, and nursemaids chanted no lullabies at the crib. No one trod the highways and the roads; the cities were ravaged and their people were killed by the mace or died of famine. Finally, over the land fell a calamity ‘undescribable and unknown to man.’ – Samuel Noah Kramer, “Sumerian History, Culture, and Literature”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:17 am

“The Sumerians, according to their own records, cherished goodness and truth, law and order, freedom and justice, mercy and compassion—and abhorred their opposites. The gods, too, preferred the ethical and the moral to the unethical and the immoral. Unfortunately, in their inscrutable fashion, they had created sin, evil, suffering, and misfortune, and there was little that could be done about it. The proper course for a Sumerian Job to pursue was not to complain and argue, but to plead, lament, and wail, tearfully confessing his sins and failings. And since the great gods were far away in the distant sky and might have more important matters to attend to, the Sumerian theologians evolved the notion that each individual, or at least each head of a family, had a special personal god, a kind of good angel, who would hear his prayer and through whom he would find his salvation.” – Samuel Noah Kramer, “Sumerian History, Culture, and Literature”

Tetman Callis 3 Comments 5:22 am

“Slavery was a recognized institution of Sumerian society. The temples, palaces, and rich estates owned slaves and exploited them for their own benefit. Many slaves were prisoners of war; these were not necessarily foreigners, but could be Sumerians, from a defeated neighboring city. Slaves were also recruited in other ways: freemen might be reduced to slavery as punishment for certain offenses; parents could sell their children as slaves in time of need; or a man might turn over his entire family to creditors in payment of a debt, but for no longer than three years. The slave was the property of his master. He could be branded and flogged, and was severely punished if he attempted to escape. He did have certain legal rights, however: he could engage in business, borrow money, and buy his freedom. If a slave, male or female, married a free person, the children were free. The sale price of slaves varied with the market and the quality of the individual for sale. The average price for a grown man was ten shekels, which at times was less than the price of an ass.” – Samuel Noah Kramer, “Sumerian History, Culture, and Literature”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:40 am

“The economic and social life of Sumer was characterized by the all-pervading concepts of law and justice. Significant economic and legal reforms were introduced as early as the twenty-fourth century B.C. by the Lagash ruler Urukagina. Law codes were promulgated as early as the twenty-first century, and one of these, the Ur-Nammu law code, has been recovered in part. Sumerian legal documents have been excavated in large numbers: contracts, deeds, wills, promissory notes, receipts, and actual court decisions that became legal precedents. In theory, it was the king who was responsible for the administration of law and justice; in practice, the city governor or his representative, the mashkim, attended to the administrative and legal details. Court cases were usually heard by tribunals of three or four judges. Suits could be brought either by private parties or by the government. Evidence was taken in the form of statements from witnesses and experts, or was obtained from written documents. Oath-taking played a considerable role in court procedure.” – Samuel Noah Kramer, “Sumerian History, Culture, and Literature”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:59 am

“A second chance—that’s the delusion. There never was to be but one. We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” – Henry James, “The Middle Years” (emphasis in original)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:42 am

“Contrary to the State’s argument that it has discretion to charge whatever and whomever it desires, the separation of powers doctrine does not justify depriving a person of his or her constitutional rights.” – Judge J. Bustamante, State of New Mexico v. Mark Rendleman, et al.

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:18 am

“Sweet recreation barr’d, what doth ensue But moody and dull melancholy,—Kinsman to grim and comfortless despair,—And, at her heels, a huge infectious troop Of pale distemperatures and foes to life?” – William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:08 am

“Few among us are qualified to testify as to whether God is dead, or alive, or wandering somewhere in exile (the possibility I tend to favor).” – Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:34 am

“It was my grandmother who told me, sleep with a bunch of men, so that when the right one comes along, you’ll know what you’re doing.” – Alexa Junge, “A Little Bit of Knowledge”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:29 am

“DJ’s traditional position on gender is not something he learned at home. While he was always into all the traditional boy things—cars, trucks, guns—until he was four, the boy things he liked were just the things he happened to like. He liked guns because he liked guns, not because boys were supposed to like guns. Then one day we packed DJ off to preschool. The teachers at his progressive Montessori school would sooner feed children tacks than force boys to do boy things and girls to do girl things. No, it was the other children who indoctrinated DJ into the world of gender expectations. From day one, it was the boys versus the girls. And there wasn’t much the adults could do about it. When the children weren’t engaged in Talmudic discussions about which toys or activities were male or female, the boys were chasing the girls around the yard during recess. And what did DJ learn from the other children about marriage? It was a boy and girl thing, his classmates all agreed. And it wasn’t an agreeable thing to the boys. Marriage was a weapon, something the girls would threaten to do to the boys if they ever actually caught them. To turn the tables, the girls only had to threaten to marry the boys. Marriage was nuclear cooties. Once the threat was issued, the boys would turn tail and run, the girls chasing after them now, like a bunch of magnetized pinballs whose charge had suddenly reversed. So to DJ, it didn’t make any sense that his two dads, both boys, would contemplate marrying each other. Boys weren’t supposed to be interested in marriage anymore than they were supposed to be interested in dolls, or dresses, or fairy tales about princesses. Marriage was a girl thing.” – Dan Savage, The Commitment

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:43 am

“As a child, I used to try to love God but at the same time I was afraid He would lean down out of heaven and take a bite out of my head.” – Paulette Jiles, “Dune Trek”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:40 am

“This is the way it works: Only saints and bandits know how unimportant is the human body. Include soldiers. The pair is the smallest unit in which the more highly developed life forms can endure cosmic dimensions.” – Paulette Jiles, “Dune Trek”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:52 am

“All fear the witch, and so I do. Quiet times are what we’re owed. Men alive are trouble. Makers.” – E. J. Cullen to Q, The Quarterly 1, Spring 1987

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:32 am

“A good railroad man is ALWAYS ON TIME.” – George H. Baker, Standard Railroad Signals: Fireman’s and Brakeman’s Preparatory Instruction – PART ONE (emphasis in original)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:36 am

“Ours is a time in which every intellectual or artistic or moral event is absorbed by a predatory embrace of consciousness: historicizing. Any statement or act can be assessed as a necessarily transient ‘development’ or, on a lower level, belittled as mere ‘fashion.’ The human mind possesses now, almost as second nature, a perspective on its own achievements that fatally undermines their value and their claim to truth. For over a century, this historicizing perspective has occupied the very heart of our ability to understand anything at all. Perhaps once a marginal tic of consciousness, it’s now a gigantic, uncontrollable gesture—the gesture whereby man indefatigably patronizes himself.” – Susan Sontag, “Thinking Against Oneself: Reflections on Cioran”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:24 am

“Nobody ever says I am your prisoner without believing somehow in clemency, in mercy or in short memories, it is not something said by battered wives or people held in unnumbered rooms or children with cigarette burns.” – Paulette Jiles, “The James Poems”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:55 am

“WANTED POSTER – Jesse Woodson James: five feet eleven inches tall, brown hair, regulation killer-blue eyes. In photographs appears to be considering shooting the photographer. Does not test out well. Approaches casual strangers in an intimate way and interferes massively in their private lives. Is trapped in the dead hole and neither moves nor changes. Steals horses. Inhabits a discolored landscape through which only one, treacherous path is known to pass. Has the appearance of many ballistics with a flat trajectory. This man is occupied by an army of scars, tip of middle finger left hand missing, and one large scar on chest which oft has spoken with bloody lips. Is always breaking out afresh. Cultivates a desperado aura and can most often be seen in the penny dreadfuls, spotted regularly in novels, poems, ballads, and folktales. Men claiming to be James can be differentiated from him in that they pose willingly in front of cameras, they make political speeches. These people are not the genuine article and are confused. Jess James was never confused about anything in his life, which will last exactly thirty-seven years, five months, three days, fourteen hours, and ten minutes.” – Paulette Jiles, “The James Poems”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:15 am

“Wives live in a different country, a country of women without civil wars, or trains, or motivations. They arrive with bandages.” – Paulette Jiles, “The James Poems”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:00 am

“Anybody who wanders around the world saying, ‘Yes, I’m from Texas,’ deserves whatever happens to him.” – Hunter S. Thompson, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:48 am

“Teeth outlast everything. Death is nothing to a tooth. Hundreds of years in acidic soil just keeps a tooth clean. A fire that burns away hair and flesh and even bone leaves teeth dazzling like daisies in the ashes. Life is what destroys teeth. Undiluted apple juice in a baby bottle, sourballs, the pH balance of drinking water, tetracycline, sand in your bread if you were in the Roman army, biting seal-gut thread if you are an Eskimo woman, playing the trumpet, pulling your own teeth with a pliers.” – Jane Smiley, “The Age of Grief”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:45 am

“When you get elected President I think the first thing they do is take you in a room and say you know you’re not gonna do shit. Your hands are tied and Congress have the whole thing locked down and we all get screwed.” – Willie Nelson (interviewed by Martin Chilton in Telegraph Music, 2012)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:23 am

“Take the happiest man, the one most envied by the world, and in nine cases out of ten his
inmost consciousness is one of failure. Either his ideals in the line of his achievements are pitched far higher than the achievements themselves, or else he has secret ideals of which the world knows nothing, and in regard to which he inwardly knows himself to be found wanting.” – William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:36 am

“Alcibiades. He was the Golden Boy of 4th century Athenian culture. Pericles was his guardian, Plato his teacher. A fine athlete, a brilliant general, handsome, marvelously intelligent, popular, everything. A summation of the Golden Age. And what happened? He went bad. He was vain, treacherous, selfish, sacrilegious, debauched, dishonest, and a traitor twice over. His aid to the enemy during the Syracuse campaign destroyed Athens. Just about the finest product of the most notable civilization man has accomplished, and it turned out like that. This haunts me.” – Jack Gilbert (interviewed by Gordon Lish in Genesis West, Issue #1, 1962)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:41 am

“I’ll tell you, it’s much easier to say why a poorly written story is bad than why a really good story is good.” – Mikhail Iossel, Love Like Water, Love Like Fire

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:28 am

“When you’re young, you think there’ll be plenty of time for everything in your life: counting all the grains of sand in the Sahara Desert, seeing all the people in the world, becoming greater than Jesus and Lenin and Lomonosov and Pushkin and Einstein all rolled into one, reuniting at some point with everyone you’ve met once in your life, befriending every man, falling in love with every woman. . . . Life is a process of gradually coming to terms with the meaning and the very concept of neverness. Never—well, so be it. Quoth the raven: Oh well, them’s the breaks. Get used to it. Get over it. Life is a perishable proposition of rapidly diminishing returns. You could’ve become this or that; you could’ve been here and there and everywhere; but that didn’t happen—and well, so be it. There won’t be, in the end of your life, a joyous, transcendentally meaningful regathering of everyone you’ve ever met on your path, with stories shared and wine flowing and laughter lilting and happiness abounding and life never-ending—well, so be it.” – Mikhail Iossel, “Life: How Was It?”