Month: October 2023

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:44 am

“Playing at dice is one of their most serious employments; and even sober, they are gamesters: nay, so desperately do they venture upon the chance of winning or losing, that when their whole substance is played away, they stake their liberty and their persons upon one and the last throw. The loser goes calmly into voluntary bondage. However younger he be, however stronger, he tamely suffers himself to be bound and sold by the winner. Such is their perseverance in an evil course: they themselves call it honour. Slaves of this class, they exchange in commerce, to free themselves too from the shame of such a victory. Of their other slaves they make not such use as we do of ours, by distributing amongst them the several offices and employments of the family. Each of them has a dwelling of his own, each a household to govern. His lord uses him like a tenant, and obliges him to pay a quantity of grain, or of cattle, or of cloth. Thus far only the subserviency of the slave extends. All the other duties in a family, not the slaves, but the wives and children discharge. To inflict stripes upon a slave, or to put him in chains, or to doom him to severe labour, are things rarely seen. To kill them they sometimes are wont, not through correction or government, but in heat and rage, as they would an enemy, save that no vengeance or penalty follows. The freedmen very little surpass the slaves, rarely are of moment in the house; in the community never, excepting only such nations where arbitrary dominion prevails. For there they bear higher sway than the free-born, nay, higher than the nobles. In other countries the inferior condition of freedmen is a proof of public liberty.” – Tacitus, Tacitus on Germany (trans. Thomas Gordon)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:39 am

“In social feasts, and deeds of hospitality, no nation upon earth was ever more liberal and abounding. To refuse admitting under your roof any man whatsoever, is held wicked and inhuman. Every man receives every comer, and treats him with repasts as large as his ability can possibly furnish. When the whole stock is consumed, he who has treated so hospitably guides and accompanies his guest to the next house, though neither of them invited. Nor avails it, that they were not; they are there received, with the same frankness and humanity. Between a stranger and an acquaintance, in dispensing the rules and benefits of hospitality, no difference is made. Upon your departure, if you ask anything, it is the custom to grant it; and with the same facility, they ask of you. In gifts they delight, but neither claim merit from what they give, nor own any obligation for what they receive. Their manner of entertaining their guests is familiar and kind.” – Tacitus, Tacitus on Germany (trans. Thomas Gordon)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:30 am

“Silver and gold the Gods have denied them, whether in mercy or in wrath, I am unable to determine.” – Tacitus, Tacitus on Germany (trans. Thomas Gordon)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:11 am

“Pythagoras is said to have discovered the fact that two similar strings under the same tension and differing only in length, when sounded together give an effect that is pleasant to the ear if the lengths of the strings are in the ratio of two small integers. If the lengths are as one is to two, they then correspond to the octave in music. If the lengths are as two is to three, they correspond to the interval between C and G, which is called a fifth. These intervals are generally accepted as ‘pleasant’ sounding chords. Pythagoras was so impressed by this discovery that he made it the basis of a school—Pythagoreans they were called—which held mystic beliefs in the great powers of numbers. It was believed that something similar would be found out about the planets—or ‘spheres.’ We sometimes hear the expression: ‘the music of the spheres.’ The idea was that there would be some numerical relationships between the orbits of the planets or between other things in nature. People usually think that this is just a kind of superstition held by the Greeks. But is it so different from our own scientific interest in quantitative relationships? Pythagoras’ discovery was the first example, outside geometry, of any numerical relationship in nature. It must have been very surprising to suddenly discover that there was a fact of nature that involved a simple numerical relationship. Simple measurements of lengths gave a prediction about something which had no apparent connection to geometry—the production of pleasant sounds. This discovery led to the extension that perhaps a good tool for understanding nature would be arithmetic and mathematical analysis. The results of modern science justify that point of view. Pythagoras could only have made his discovery by making an experimental observation. Yet this important aspect does not seem to have impressed him. If it had, physics might have had a much earlier start. (It is always easy to look back at what someone else has done and to decide what he should have done!) We might remark on a third aspect of this very interesting discovery: that the discovery had to do with two notes that sound pleasant to the ear. We may question whether we are any better off than Pythagoras in understanding why only certain sounds are pleasant to our ear. The general theory of aesthetics is probably no further advanced now than in the time of Pythagoras. In this one discovery of the Greeks, there are the three aspects: experiment, mathematical relationships, and aesthetics. Physics has made great progress on only the first two parts.” – Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I (emphases in the original)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:12 am

“Anyone who dedicated himself to literature had not renounced the world; the world had simply evicted him, or never admitted him as a tenant. Nothing serious, then; in the end, a poet was someone for whom the world didn’t even exist, because, for him, there was only the radiance of the eternal outside.” – Enrique Vila-Matas, The Illogic of Kassel (trans. Anne McLean & Anna Milsom)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:39 am

“It might be an enviable thing to experience genius and dance it in the form of a tango.” – Enrique Vila-Matas, The Illogic of Kassel (trans. Anne McLean & Anna Milsom)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:15 am

“My advice: never marry till you can say to yourself that you have done all you are capable of, and until you have ceased to love the woman of your choice and have seen her plainly as she is, or else you will make a cruel and irrevocable mistake. Marry when you are old and good for nothing—or all that is good and noble in you will be lost. It will all be wasted on trifles.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:12 am

“He spoke with such self-confidence that his hearers could not be sure whether what he said was very witty or very stupid.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:19 am

“There was a people that had a chief temple, wherein dwelt a bloodthirsty deity, behind a curtain, guarded by priests. Once fearless hands tore the curtain away. Then all the people saw, instead of a god, a huge, shaggy, voracious spider, like a loathsome cuttlefish. They beat it and shoot at it: it is dismembered already; but still in the frenzy of its final agony it stretches over all the ancient temple its disgusting, clawing tentacles. And the priests, themselves under sentence of death, push into the monster’s grasp all whom they can seize in their terrified, trembling fingers.” – Aleksandr I. Kuprin, “The Outrage—A True Story,” (from Best Russian Short Stories, ed. Thomas Seltzer)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:42 am

“Every time that some dastardly event or some ignominious failure has occurred, after executing a martyr in a dark corner of a fortress, or after deceiving public confidence, some one who is hidden and unapproachable gets frightened of the people’s anger and diverts its vicious element upon the heads of innocent Jews. Whose diabolical mind invents these pogroms—these titanic blood-lettings, these cannibal amusements for the dark, bestial souls?” – Aleksandr I. Kuprin, “The Outrage—A True Story,” (from Best Russian Short Stories, ed. Thomas Seltzer)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:45 am

“The bourgeois paterfamilias was specially devised by Heaven to utter commonplaces and trivialities.” – Aleksandr I. Kuprin, “The Outrage—A True Story,” (from Best Russian Short Stories, ed. Thomas Seltzer)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:15 am

“I’m not a candidate for the Old Person’s Hall of Fame. In fact, I plan to be a tattered coat upon a stick, nervously awaiting the second oblivion, which I’m reasonably certain will not have the same outcome as the first. Nonetheless, I like to think that I have some objectivity about what it’s like to grow old. My father lived to be almost a hundred and three, and most of my friends are now in their seventies. It may be risky to impugn the worthiness of old age, but I’ll take my cane to anyone who tries to stop me. At the moment, we seem to be compensating for past transgressions: far from devaluing old age, we assign it value it may not possess. Yes, we should live as long as possible, barring illness and infirmity, but, when it comes to the depredations of age, let’s not lose candor along with muscle tone. The goal, you could say, is to live long enough to think: I’ve lived long enough. One would, of course, like to approach old age with grace and fortitude, but old age makes it difficult. Those who feel that it’s a welcome respite from the passions, anxieties, and troubles of youth or middle age are either very lucky or toweringly reasonable. Why rail against the inevitable—what good will it do? None at all. Complaining is both pointless and unseemly. Existence itself may be pointless and unseemly. No wonder we wonder at the meaning of it all.” – Arthur Krystal, “Why We Can’t Tel the Truth About Aging”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:03 am

“Not to marry a young Woman.
Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious.
Not to tell the same story over and over to the same People.
Not to be covetous.
Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for their youthfull follyes and weaknesses.
Not to be too free of advise, nor trouble any but those that desire it.
Not to talk much, nor of my self.
Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favor with Ladyes, etc.
Not to hearken to Flatteryes, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman.
Not to be positive or opiniative.
Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should observe none.
Desire some good Friends to inform me which of these Resolutions I break, or neglect, & wherein; and reform accordingly.” – Jonathan Swift, “Resolutions When I Come to Be Old”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:35 am

“What can’t happen is a willingness to take up arms when the process didn’t work out the way you had hoped it would . . . if you believe in democracy, you take the good with the bad. You take the results you don’t like. . . . Go out into the streets and protest peacefully, sure. Hope for a better outcome, of course. But you can’t conspire to undo a result because you and a group of your cohorts believed that process failed you.” – Judge Amit P. Mehta, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to Edward Vallejo, June 1, 2023, upon Vallejo’s sentencing for participating in the assault on the U.S. Capitol, January 6, 2021

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:14 am

“There are silent conspiracies between people who seem to understand one another without talking, quiet rebellions that take place in the world every minute without being noticed; groups form by chance, unplanned reunions in the middle of the park or on a dark corner, occasionally allowing us to be optimistic about the future of humanity. They join together for a few minutes and then go their separate ways, all enlisting in the hidden fight against moral misery. One day, they will rise up with unheard-of fury and blow everything to bits.” – Enrique Vila-Matas, The Illogic of Kassel (trans. Anne McLean & Anna Milsom)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:47 am

“When all is said and done, life is governed by all sorts of misunderstandings.” – Enrique Vila-Matas, The Illogic of Kassel (trans. Anne McLean & Anna Milsom)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:13 am

“Contrary to what so many believe, no one writes to entertain, although literature might be one of the most entertaining things around; no one writes to ‘tell stories,’ although literature is full of brilliant tales. No, one writes to take the reader captive, to possess, seduce, subjugate, to enter into the spirit of another and stay there, to touch, to win the reader’s heart . . .” – Enrique Vila-Matas, The Illogic of Kassel (trans. Anne McLean & Anna Milsom)(emphasis in original)(ellipsis in original)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:43 am

“Every story leads to another story, which in turn leads to another story, and so on to infinity.” – Enrique Vila-Matas, The Illogic of Kassel (trans. Anne McLean & Anna Milsom)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:38 am

“The whole of your life you get only so much of a sky as you can, in the splinter of the moment, smuggle, but then you get a moment, and the whole of heaven is the tip of a twister and it’s you, you’re the twister, you got the power.” – Alan Sincic, “One Shot Beetle”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:22 am

“You think the body belongs to you, that it will always bend to your will, that with a simple word, size of a mustard seed, you can deploy the finger to find the itch, or—way off yonder there at the far end of the territory—set the toes to tapping or legs to running or, someday all of a sudden, cast that whole mountain of flesh into the sea. But then you find it don’t belong to you, the body, not really, not when the fear settles and the bone in the socket locks. The heart booms. The body wobbles. The—out the lungs it goes, that last little bit of sky.” – Alan Sincic, “One Shot Beetle”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:31 am

“To live in a world of stones and bones and flesh and blood, you gotta touch and taste and smell, you gotta gather up the flavor of the day.” – Alan Sincic, “One Shot Beetle”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:27 am

“Where the sea and the land collide they call it the line of the coast, the coastline, as if a line is what it is and not a wreck in the making, a blur where the water breaks and the earth buckles and the spray of the salt obliterates the hand that holds the map. Nobody knows nothing.” – Alan Sincic, “One Shot Beetle”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:46 am

“Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother: and oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.” – Zechariah, ch.7, vv. 9-10

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:13 am

“Their father had been a learned man, an author; he died, of course, in poverty, but he had managed before he died to give his children an excellent education; he left a lot of books too.” – Ivan S. Turgenev, “The Country Doctor”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:57 am

“I believed then, as most conceited young people do, that a strong rational argument will carry the day if sufficiently well supported by substantiated facts. This, of course, is nonsense. Once a group of powerful people have made up their minds on something, it develops a life and momentum of its own that is almost impervious to reason or argument. This is particularly true when personal ambition and bravado are involved. In this case even an appeal to fear of ridicule and historical condemnation would not have worked. The decision had been taken at the highest level, and a vast military machine had been set in motion. The opinions of a young intelligence officer were not going to stop it.” – Brian Urquhart, “The Last Disaster of the War” [regarding the fiasco of Operation Market-Garden in the Second World War]

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:22 am

“I don’t think I want to get notified about Armageddon through an email. That would not be my preferred notification.” – Robert J. Contee, III, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Chief, Select Committee Testimony Transcript, January 11, 2022

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:23 am

“If you have been in a fight for 5 minutes, it is a long time.” – Robert J. Contee, III, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Chief, Select Committee Testimony Transcript, January 11, 2022

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:38 am

“In all human beings, if only understanding be brought to the business, dignity will be found, and that dignity cannot fail to reveal itself, soon or late, in the words and phrases with which they make known their high hopes and aspirations and cry out against the intolerable meaninglessness of life.” – H.L. Mencken, The American Language