Saturday, September 22, 2018

Golf Pictures

A rather interesting tale: Valentino Dixon was in prison, serving a long sentence, and took up drawing pictures about golf. He had never played golf, but he had considerable talent drawing, and someone had asked him to draw a picture of a hole on Augusta golf course, and he discovered that drawing it was relaxing. He began sending his pictures in to Golf Digest, to which another inmate had a subscription and whose photographs he had started using as an inspiration. After a while, the drawings caught the attention of someone and a reporter for the magazine, Max Adler, looked into it as a possible story. When he did, he started finding a large number of puzzles about Dixon's case -- policework that didn't seem to follow procedure, unreliable witnesses, a confession by someone else, and the like. So he published a story not just about the pictures but raising questions about the case, and, although it wasn't a straightforward or easy path, Valentino Dixon's sentence was vacated and Dixon walked free, recognized as an innocent man, a few days ago.

Golf Digest's original profile on Dixon: Drawings from Prison

And their report on the whole story: For Valentino Dixon, a Wrong Righted

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dashed Off XXII

constancy and coherence as features of laws of nature (invariance and change-patterns)

Humean fictions as a doubling of ideas (slightly varied) treated as if the same -- e.g., the idea of vacuum (empty space) from (a) the idea-set of two bodies and nothing else (empty) and (b) the idea-set of two bodies with interposing body (space); or unchanging duration from (a) unchanging idea-set and (b) changing idea-set.

The coherence theory of truth detaches immediate apprehension from truth.

fiction vs abstraction accounts of constancy

All of relativity theory and all of quantum mechanics requires abstraction well beyond what empiricism can handle.

To say that lying can be permissible is to say that truth is not itself a good for fortitude.

Protestantism naturally tends to make Christianity more like Islam.

Dedekind cuts and the ability to say 'these numbers are relevant and those are not'

not-incipit-not, not-incipit, incipit, incipit-not
not-desinit, not-desinit-not, desinit-not, desinit

A widespread tradition of an event that would have had to have been widely witnessed is prima facie reason to believe the event occurred (cp 'Kuzari principle').

Sinai tradition
Either based on (1) purportedly real experiences or (2) legends arising later.
If (1), then either (1.1) real experiences or (1.2) conspiracy and lies.
If (1.1), then either (1.1.1) real experience of real or (1.1.2) hallucinatory experience.
If (1.1.1), either ( supernatural event or ( confusion over natural event.
-- Of the non-supernatural alternatives, only the legends branch is worth taking seriously without direct proof -- e.g., the conspiracy would have to be massive, the hallucination would have to be massive, and the natural event would have to be indistinguishable from a preternatural miracle.

People regularly speak as if legends just magically grew up, spontaneously appearing for no definite reason. But neither in organ nor in development nor in preservation do they work this way. the actual causes must be considered.

Even children will not believe just any crazy thing.

In matters of testimony, one must not confuse proof of defeasibility with proof of defeat.

the existence of the Jewish people as a preternatural miracle
the Life of Christ as a preternatural miracle with supernatural elements

Judicial review must be a means of upholding the law or it is a usurpation of power.

A self-victimizing culture arises when the broader culture confuses being a victim with an act of moral rebellion against evil.

Democratic politics is a process of discovering how horribly evil you have been when your opponents start doing what you already do.

If you ask whether an argument is plausible, you are asking about its poetics. If you ask whether an argument is convincing or compelling, you are asking about its rhetorical usefulness. Do not confuses these with other logical questions.

tarka as an assistant to pramana
--tarka, unlike pramana does not establish the nature of the thing or give anything definitive, but it gives weight to an alternative in apparent conflict

"all wrong cognitions have the resemblance of right cognitions; whenever a wrong cognition appears in the world, it always bears the semblance of a right cognition" Uddyotokara

Philo's Embassy to Gaius and Philippians 2:6

ecclesial infrastructure as standing reserve

Science is self-correcting in the way accounting is. But the books must actually be balanced and audited.

legal justice // political prudence

the Kuzari argument // the traditionary argument

concrete nature -- tutelar
abstract principle -- preternatural
death -- beyondgrave
ultimacy -- deity
Perhaps we can think of these as causal efficacy from over-limits -- the limit of human life (death) the limit of human rule, the limit of the concrete, all limit. But there is something about consciousness here, since we have invisible intelligent power in deity, tutelar, and some beyondgrave; preternatural is not intelligent but intelligible above/beyond (our) intelligence.

beyond the limits of humans as understanding agents
(1) intelligible power under which we stand
(2) intelligent power beyond us
---- (a) by being forces beyond death, which we cannot escape
---- (b) by being forces at root of nature, which we must presuppose
---- (c) by being ultimate

sublimity & natural religious experience

We think of languages as having a defined structure, and this is not wrong, but the actual structure is fuzzy, ranging from the barely coherent nongrammatical up through the perfectly serviceable nongrammatical through normal grammatical registers up to the most polished polished grammatical registers and then to the overly defined and stilted registers.

The feeling of doing one's duty often supports one in difficult and miserable times.

analogy of natural providence + analogy of moral providence + analgoy of Israel -> (by convergence) the truth of the Catholic Church

"Hierarchy within can alone preserve egalitarianism without." C. S. Lewis
"The Dictator and the Secret Police breed in countries where schoolboys lack the No Sneaking Rule."

Sirach as a meditation on Scripture as applied to life (quotes or arguably alludes to almost every OT work, follows a scriptural structure in 44-49, note the grandson's prologue)

legend development
(1) embellishment of prior story
(2) literalization of metaphor
(3) confusion of stories
(4) fabrication entering testimonial stream

elements of system
uddesa: list of topics
laksana: definition/account for each topic
pariksa: critical examination of account's application to topics
systems as related topics with examined accounts

As faith is both personal and ecclesial, so also is prayer both personal and ecclesial.

Nomen substantiae potest aliquid repraesentere in opinione. (Peter of Cornwall)

Noumena as well as phenomena must be able to be signified.

the gifts of the holy Spirit as new formal modes of knowing and willing

the link between romance and pleasant embarrassment

Overlap as 'possibly a point is in both a and b'
Parthood as 'necessarily a point in a is in both a and b'

All limitations on free speech are the expression of some special interest.

Democracies primarily work on group loyalties.

Museum curation often fails by omission, not of topics, but of key context.
Museums are often legendaria, mythological presentations, telling a story that is more about an identity than any history.

boundary/border as symmetric binary operator B(a,b) [similar to overlap]

a is part
Therefore there is something b such that a is part of b

Reception of tradition has two axes, which might be called preservation and generation.

memory as giving testimony to oneself

the plasticity of tradition

Habermas errs by substituting consensus for peace.

The democratic institutions of the Western world are not, and never have been, very concerned with consensus.

the client-forming character of bureaucracy (bureaucracy as patronage system)

ethical integrity, intellectual merit, societal impact in research decisions

If the rational being is to think of his maxims as practical at all, he must think of them as having the regulating principle of will in both matter and form.

the sophistical political maxims [Kant]
(1) fac et excusa
(2) si fecisti, nega
(3) divide et impera

acceptation of the faith vs tradition of the faith

Note that Kant claims that a hereditary nobility is a rank that precedes merit. But the real character of hereditary nobility is that it is a rank rewarded for another's merit, which could not be adequately rewarded otherwise. It is not that hte merit is passed down, either; it is that the inherited rank is the reward for the progenitor. It may then be confirmed in further service, because it then functions as a familial practice of honorable service.

Nature does not make talent and will hereditary; but we do in fact inherit the consequences of the talent and will of others.

Meritorious service to the state is made possible not merely by talent and will but by the means to leverage them.

three forms of teaching
(1) dogmatic
(2) catechetical
(3) dialogical

Pyrrhonians treat the authority of reason as an external authority.

Human beings are always stupid -- but not equally stupid at all times.

'a is at least part of b' is equivalent to 'b is at least the whole of a'

force as mereological (Hegel)

Shepherd's theory of causation involves a generalization of Newton's first law.

templates as patterns that are transcribed to produce a consistent product with a particular character

Parity arguments require (1) similarity of structure and (2) unavailability of relevant principled differences.

Too much of the discussion of empty names conflates or fails to appreciate the difference between 'existing' and 'posited for consdieration'.

Philosophy within, citizenship without.

Journalism forms a check on politics only if it is not itself corrupt, and only if it is not a bottleneck for information that citizens need in order to govern well.

Poem a Day XV

No One Has Ever Known Another

No one has ever known another,
no isthmus joins two minds.

The oceans between are fog-laden,
walls dividing island from island.
Even the islands that trade
speak by messages in bottles.

No one has ever known another;
the oceans are deep between us.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Evening Note for Thursday, September 20

Thought for the Evening: Kinds of Failing in Teaching

Suppose you intend to teach something (it doesn't particularly matter for our purposes what). Then it seems you could intend to teach but fail to teach because you did not do anything that was even the right sort of thing. For instance, perhaps you don't really understand what teaching is, and so even though you genuinely intend to teach, all you manage to achieve is a cargo-cult imitation of it, like a child might -- you put people in rows and stand in front of the group like you've seen in pictures and babble in gibberish or about nothing in particular as if you were lecturing. This is a failure of teaching that is so fundamental that we could say that you didn't even get started on teaching. We can call it the zero level of teaching failure:

0. Not the kind of thing that even could be teaching

But you could fail even if you were not that clueless. For instance, you could try to teach, and do the kind of thing that teaching actually involves, even though you are not the right kind of person to teach -- for instance, if you don't actually know what you are talking about. This gives us the next level of teaching failure:

1. The right general kind of thing to be teaching, but not the right person

Even if you are the right kind of person, you could fail in other words. For instance, you could pick a self-defeating time to teach, or try to teach people who aren't even hypothetically interested in hearing what you have to say, or through a medium that just doesn't work. Thus we have:

2. The right kind of person doing the right general kind of thing, but not in the right circumstances

However, as every teacher knows, you could be the right kind of person doing the right kind of thing in the right circumstances and still fail. For instance, you could garble your explanation so that instead of teaching the student, you just hopelessly confuse them. WE have all been there. Thus the next level of teaching failure:

3. The right kind of person incorrectly doing the right general kind of thing in the right circumstances.

Suppose you do it all correctly, though; you could still be interrupted by something, or impeded by something, so that your correct and adequately done work goes to waste. It happens; your teaching could be perfectly fine in itself but foiled by something external to it. And thus:

4. The right kind of person correctly doing the right general kind of thing in the right circumstances, but blocked by something external

If you manage to avoid all these failures, to that you are the right person doing the right general kind of thing in the right circumstances and aren't prevented or impeded by something else, congratulations; you have in some sense succeeded in fully teaching. I say 'in some sense' because while you have the esse of teaching, you can (I'm sorry to say) still fail to achieve the bene esse. Everything could come together so that you are fully teaching, and you could still be flubbing it. Maybe you need more sleep, or maybe you need to care more, or maybe you are trying out something that is just falling flat, and instead of its taking flight, you can hear it drop like a stone and plink on the distant floor of the abyss that has apparently opened at your feet. Thus:

5. Full teaching that is poorly done

But there is another kind of failure -- the fifth level is where full teaching is lame or sickly for reasons belonging to it, but sometimes teaching is all done right and just smothered by a lack of a support. Perhaps you yourself don't follow through properly; or perhaps you need support from others and they don't come through for you. Perhaps the student drops the ball on their end. Perhaps you do well and get drowned out by error in the end through no fault of your own. And thus the last:

6. Full teaching done well itself but not well supported

There are plenty of ways to fail at teaching, then, and failure is available in plenty even when other things come together just right. An interesting modification of all this is when we are talking not just about teaching but about teaching on behalf of, when the teaching itself is an act of representation. Level 1 failures for teaching in general tend to be about whether you can actually do anything to teach at all; but you can be a perfectly fine teacher and still not be the right kind of person for representative teaching. This is quite common. Perhaps we are talking about teaching in order to certify, as with college professors or teachers in beauty schools, or maybe you are teaching, by a sort of dispensation, what is in itself a higher authority's prerogative to teach, as with rabbis or catechists or the Pope. Such cases impose more conditions that have to be met to avoid each level of failure as a teacher.

As a college professor, for instance, I not only have to teach, I have to teach in such a way that at least a fair amount of what is taught can be used for degrees, transfers, other classes. This is actually a very large set of constraints; a prerogative of being an academic is being able to teach as one sees fit, but in fact, even setting aside laws and policies, there are many things that restrict what one can do. I could teach a perfectly excellent Intro Philosophy class starting with the Pre-Socratics, then looking at Cicero, then Iamblichus, then John Scotus Eriugena, then Gersonides, then John Norris, and ending with Collingwood. It would be perfectly excellent in the sense that it would be an entirely viable way to introduce people to philosophy; they would learn an immense amount about philosophy. But in practice it's not a viable class at all. It wouldn't directly prepare students for a typical upper-level philosophy class; it would be an uphill battle explaining to one's colleagues in the department why this course covering people some of them may never have heard of, or that they know only in name, is an Intro course; another department looking at the syllabus might doubt that it should really transfer as an Intro course, so you wouldn't be doing your students a favor if they try to transfer the credit. It would usually not be good teaching on behalf of the college, even if it were great as teaching. (This ties in, incidentally, to something I've mentioned before, namely, the defective concept of the Intro Phil course.)

Various Links of Interest

* John Brungardt has begun translating John of St. Thomas on natural philosophy. It's only just started, but it looks like it will be a nice project.

* Holly Brewer, Slavery-entangled philosophy. I am, I should say, not wholly convinced by all parts of this argument.

* Elisa Freschi, Bhavanātha and the move towards theistic Mīmāṃsā

* Lani Watson, What is a question -- very nice little essay on the subject.

* Elizabeth Bruenig, He wanted to be a priest. He says Archbishop McCarrick used that to abuse him.

* Ed Condon notes that the recent Catholic crisis is not due to a lack of mechanisms in canon law for dealing with it, but a lack of will in using canon law to protect those who need protection.

* Lloyd Strickland, The “Fourth Hypothesis” on the Early Modern Mind-Body Problem

* Jeremiah Carey, Dispassion as an Ethical Ideal

* Ruth Goodman, Getting Clean, the Tudor Way. A good way to get a sense of the root cause of Tudor fashion, all the ruffs and sleeves: it all comes down to linen being relatively easy to clean and replace.

* When Frederick Douglass came to Ireland -- in his own words

* William R. Black, Let's bring the Sabbath back as a radical act against 'total work'

* Kwame Anthony Appiah, On the Kidnapped Boy Who Became a German Philosopher

* Paul Gerard Horrigan, Transcendental Beauty
Paul Gerard Horrigan, Transcendental Aliquid

* Eduard Habsburg, Ancient Walls and New Bridges

* Steven T. Kuhn and Brian Weatherson, Notes on Some Ideas in Lloyd Humberstone's Philosophical Applications of Modal Logic

Currently Reading

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
Lloyd Humberstone, Philosophical Applications of Modal Logic

Poem a Day XIV

Early Morning

Bright is the day that forms,
shaped by hands unseen;
the world is glowing with joy,
the air is pure and fresh.

There is wind in the flag; it bounds,
it leaps with light step,
it soars, swoops, dips,
bobs in the light like a bird.

How can hearts be weighed down?
Let your soul soar with the breeze,
your mind rejoice in creation,
for gladness is the hue of dawn.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Voyages Extraordinaires #35: César Cascabel

“Has nobody got any more coppers to give me? Come, children, search your pockets!”

“Here you are, father!” replied the little girl.

And she drew out of her pocket a square-cut piece of greenish paper, all crumpled and greasy.

This paper bore the almost illegible inscription “United States Fractional Currency,” encircling the respectable-looking head of a gentleman in a frock-coat, and likewise the figure 10 repeated six times,—which represented ten cents, say about ten French sous.

“How did you come by that?” inquired the mother.

“It's the remnant of the takings at the last performance,” answered Napoleona.

The Cascabels are an optimistic, ingenious, and resourceful French circus family who have been touring the fairs of the United States in their great covered wagon, the Belle-Roulotte (Fair Rambler, in the English translations -- a nice example of a translator introducing a clever translation pun), which serves as a mobile home. They make it all the way across the United States to Sacramento, but as they are returning, ready to go back to France, they are robbed, and they realize that they are not going to be able to earn enough money, just from the return trip across the United States, to pay for getting themselves and the Belle-Roulotte home to France. Undaunted, they decide to go West rather than East. It's a longer voyage, but one that can in principle be done entirely across land, up through Alaska, across the frozen Bering Straits, and all the way across Siberia. If they can just get across the Urals to Perm, they will easily be able to get back to France. Together with a native girl named Kayette and a Russian named Sergius, who join them, they will witness the transition of Alaska from Russia to the United States, brave the Siberian weather, outmaneuver dangerous Russian bandits, and solve a tricky political problem before they are finally home free. And in the end their fortunes will depend on a pantomime-play directed with a circus master's timing.

Caesar Cascabel is very different from stereotypical Verne, but it was a fun, light read; the main characters are charming and undauntable, the story reasonably interesting, and the resolution nicely done.

Poem a Day XIII


The blue is painted on the roof,
the lamp is burning high;
they are, and need no further proof,
nor further reason why,

and yet they pour out proof indeed,
their source they signify,
and pour down gifts for those in need,
which is enough of why;

and so with virtue of the mind
as with the blazing sky;
by being as it is, it finds
the endless source of why.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Baggini on Mill

Julian Baggini on John Stuart Mill:

Mill argued for a distinction between ‘higher’ and lower pleasures. His distinction is difficult to pin down, but it more or less tracks the distinction between capacities thought to be unique to humans and those we share with other animals. Higher pleasures depend on distinctively human capacities, which have a more complex cognitive element, requiring abilities such as rational thought, self-awareness or language use. Lower pleasures, in contrast, require mere sentience. Humans and other animals alike enjoy basking in the sun, eating something tasty or having sex. Only humans engage in art, philosophy and so on.

This is not, however, correct; 'higher' and 'lower' are comparative, not categories of pleasures, as if there were a particular category of pleasure that was 'higher pleasure' and another that was lower. Pleasures are higher and lower, and some pleasures will be higher than a lot of other pleasures, but that's it. Mill is quite clear about this:

If I am asked, what I mean by difference of quality in pleasures, or what makes one pleasure more valuable than another, merely as a pleasure, except its being greater in amount, there is but one possible answer. Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure.

Note that higher and lower are determined entirely by comparing two pleasures according to their preferability, not by classifying them into one of two groups.

Where Baggini is not far off is that human beings, in particular, prefer in this way pleasures that fulfill them more as human beings. But, being animals, we are also familiar with animal pleasures, so when we prefer more wholly human pleasures -- like those of education, art, or philosophy -- we are not making the preference out of ignorance, but out of familiarity with what we are judging. Baggini is also right that it makes more sense to treat pleasures as on a continuum -- but this is Mill's own view, and is the reason for the higher/lower terminology in the first place.

Baggini seems to think that Mill is committed to saying that animal pleasures are simply low-quality pleasures. But in fact, Mill's test is experience-based -- it doesn't prejudge what counts as lower or higher, although Mill does think it is very obvious from human experience that philosophy, poetry, and the like will often provide pleasures more consistently preferable than pleasures of food and sex.

Poem a Day XII

In Finnish, the aurora is called revontulet, which means "fox's fires", because of the mythical creature, the tulikettu or firefox.


The silver-tailed fox
with cool desire
casts sparks to sky
of heatless fire,
struck from the snow
that will not melt
by radiant fur
and glorious pelt.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sibyl of the Rhine

Today is also the feast of St. Hildegard von Bingen, Doctor of the Church. From her exposition of the Athanasian Creed, as translated by Nathaniel Campbell:

O masters and teachers of the people, why are you blind and mute in regards to the inner knowledge of the Scriptures that God has committed to you, just as he established the sun, the moon, and the stars so that rational humankind might recognize and discern the times and seasons? Knowledge of the Scriptures has been set before you so that in them, as if in a sunbeam, you might recognize each and every danger, and so that through your teaching, you might shine upon the unbelief of wandering humans like the moon shining in the shadows of the night. These and many others, like Saducees and heretics, err in the faith—and they are enclosed even among you, and many of you know exactly who they are—and they are like cattle and beasts (cf. Eccles. 3:18), with their faces turned downward. For they neither see nor wish to know that because of the breath of life (Gen. 2:7), they are rational....

This is why the highest Father said to his Son, as written through the Holy Spirit: “You shall rule them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Ps. 2:9). Which is to say: “Those who resist you, ‘you shall rule’ and chastise ‘with a rod of iron,’ which is hard, ‘and dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel,’ which is made from mud, because they also are of the earth.” For they shall not enter by faith the gate of uprightness (cf. John 10:1-9), nor shall they leave it by the reputation of good works, for they are thieves who slaughter according to the peculiar whims of their own will and lay waste on the pretense of what they wish—they are hypocrites who pervert the law for their own destruction.

Roberto Bellarmino

Today is the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine. The following is re-posted from 2017.


Today is the memorial of St. Roberto Bellarmino, S.J., Doctor of the Church, the great polemicist of the Counter-Reformation.

He has an interesting passage in the Controversies in which he summarizes the travails of the Church using the Apostles' Creed. I'm not sure how hard it should be pressed as an intended historical thesis of how things have to unfold (since he clearly thinks there is overlap, and does regard all points as being under continual attack to varying degrees), rather than as an account of the thoroughness with which the Church is attacked on points of doctrine, which has its own natural order; but it does a good job of giving a sense of his sense of the spiritual war. It helps to know first the ordering of the articles, in their traditional enumeration.

1. I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and the life everlasting.

The enemy of the human race, although otherwise he is wont to be totally perverse and a disturber of good order, still he wishes to attack the truth of the Catholic Church not without a certain orderly procedure. Therefore, in the first two centuries from the foundation of the Christian Church, he was totally occupied in trying to destroy the first article in the Apostles' Creed. For what else did they want--the Simonians, the Menandrians, the Basilidians, the Valentinists, the Marcionists, the Manichaeans, and the whole school of the Gnostics--except that there is not one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? But when he did not succeed in that, again at a later time about 200 years after the Lord, the devil established a new front, and he began to attack the second article of the Creed in which the divinity of Christ our Lord is explained....

...But since even then the gates of hell could not prevail against the Church, the devil, now taking a new third approach, began to oppose with even greater strength the third and at the same time the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh articles, because they have a certain connection and relationship with each other.

Therefore he stirred up Nestorius and Theodore of Mopsuestia after the year 400....

All of these, even though different among themselves and using contrary tactics and tricks, strove to destroy and overturn the last five articles of the Apostolic Creed concerning the one and the same mystery of the divine Incarnation, and also of the passion, of the resurrection and of his coming to judge the living and the dead.

He then assigns the schism between East and West to the attack on the eighth article, on the Holy Spirit, and then continues:

But certainly, when our cunning enemy realized that he was accomplishing very little by attacking those articles of faith, which pertain to the divine persons, he then dedicated himself completely to upset and destroy the truths concerning the Church and the sacraments. These two articles -- I believe in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins, with all of his tricks and efforts, with the power of hell he has tried to pervert, and he is still trying even to this day; this has been his strategy since the year one thousand down to the present day; his forces have often been changed, increased and renewed -- by the Berengarians, Petrohrussians, Waldensians, Albigensians, Wycliffites, Hussites, Lutherans, Zwinglians, Confessionists and Anabaptists.

And here we are, I suppose, still fighting the Battle over the Forgiveness of Sins in the longest and most subtle war.

[St. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, S. J., Controversies of the Christian Faith, Baker, tr. Keep the Faith Inc., pp. 17-19.]

Poem a Day XI

Having Difficulty Reading Shakespeare's Sonnet 91
Because I Am Thinking of Her

Thy love is better than high birth to me,
a love that overshines all human skill;
I love you more than misers love their wealth,
and more than barons love their finery.

        some I have known
        in one general best I have been
        all men's pride blown
        not my measure, not my own

But these particulars are not my measure;
my love is not so frail as lesser things,
my song is not as lesser men have sung,
my vault is built to house a finer treasure.

        some make hawk and horse their wealth
        others it in skill will find,
        but I, with stealthier design
        joy above the rest
        that to me and to my mind
        is richer than the best

And having thee, of all men's pride I boast,
for I have humbled pride that you might shine
and pride was never match for truest love
in which alone can pride find best and most.

        take all this away
        wherein I mine
        wealth for but a day
        I'll still have you as mine
        indeed thou mayst boast
        in glory prouder than most
        and wretched are those without
        that glory that is mine

As pride before my love its crown must hide,
in love alone I will then find my pride.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Fortnightly Book, September 16

Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born in 1811 to one of the most prominent families in New England; Lyman Beecher, her father, was one of the major Calvinists of the day, and a number of her siblings did very well for themselves in various intellectual and religious professions. She herself became active in the Semi-Colon Club, a literary club in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she met her future husband, the Biblical scholar, Calvin Stowe. The Stowes were active in the Underground Railroad until the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. Not very long afterward, Harriet Stowe lost her eighteen-month-old child and during communion service had a vision of a dying slave. Armed with a profound sense of what it might be like to be torn from your family, she began writing Uncle Tom's Cabin, or, Life Among the Lowly, which was serialized in The National Era. It was published in book format in 1852 and became an instant bestseller.

I had thought that I had already done it for the fortnightly book, but apparently not. I will be reading it in a Heritage Press (New York) edition, with lithographs by the well-known caricaturist and painter, Miguel Covarrubias, who, if the Sandglass is to be believed, had wanted to illustrate an edition of the book from the time he was a boy in Mexico City, despite never having read the book. The book inspired a broad number of very different theater adaptations, and until The Heritage Club asked him to do the illustration, he had never read the book, and thought, from the plays he had seen, that it was something like a bittersweet comedy, and was startled to find that the book was a serious and profound work. Such is the danger of adaptations, I suppose. The type for the text is De Vinne, printed on white vellum.