Saturday, April 11, 2020

Dashed Off VI

This starts the notebook that was begun December 2018.

Philo's pancratist as a model for the true politics

criminal confessions as gap-filling evidence sources (their primary value is filling gaps from other evidential sources)

case-building vs truth-discovering evidence

the gradival aspect of confirmational character

baptism : Greek (mystery religion) :: confirmation : Latin (Roman soldier) :: ordination : Hebrew (priesthood)

Mathematical excellence requires more than technical ability; it also requires contextualizing ability.

deciphering as a causal inference from effect to final cause (pattern of effect to why that pattern is the pattern)

Through law and through grace we may possess by anticipation what we do not have in actual possession.

Forensic accounts of justification assume that title by grace works very much like title by law.

Baptism on the human side always involves water, blood, intention, Spirit, but sometimes one is more obvious.
(1) water, proper intention: adult sacramental baptism
(2) water, vicarious intention: infant sacramental baptism
(3) blood, proper intention: martyrs
(4) blood, vicarious intention: Holy Innocents
(5) desire, proper intention: St. Dismas
(6) desire, vicarious intention: infants intended to be baptized
-- Note that this explains why the Holy Innocents are poss. unique -- only God could be the source of vicarious intention in cases of baptism of blood.
-- On the divine side is Spirit. Perhaps one could distinguish two cases, baptism-relevant, in a way exemplar and preconditional, for baptism:
(7) Spirit, proper intention: Christ's Baptism
(8) Spirit, vicarious intention: Immaculate Conception

"The essence of sportive hunting is not raising the animal to the level of man, but something much more spiritual than that: a conscious and almost religious humbling of man which limits his superiority and lowers him toward the animal." Ortega y Gassett

Every freedom has a kallipolitical, a timocratic, an oligarchic, and a democratic interpretation.

forms of superpower in superheroes
(1) natural talent: Superman, Wonder Woman
(2) artificial/acquired talent: Spider-Man, Daredevil, Flash, Fantastic Four, Black Panther
(3) honed skill: Green Arrow, The Shadow
(4) suit/vestment: Iron Man, Ant Man, Ralph Hinkley
(5) tool: Green Lantern, Michael Knight
--perhaps patronage should be on this list as well

MacIntyre & virtue aesthetics: While looser than things like sports, arts and crafts are coherent and complex forms of human activity, etc.

If probability is tied to frequency, it makes sense to measure it between 0 and 1 (by fractions); if it is tied to subjective assessment of some kind, however, there is good reason to think that there can be surplus in either direction.

-- an interpretation of Sartre's Being and Nothingness as about the phenomena of reading, writing, being read

two means of storytelling: re-enacting performance, narration

Esther obtains by title of grace salvation for her people that goes beyond title by law.

Boole takes = for secondary propositions to be synchrony.

(1) It is impossible that there be a class of members who have a quality and do not have it at the same time.
(2) It is impossible for a proposition to be at the same time true and false.
(3) It is impossible for an argument to be both sound and unsound at the same time.

co-soundness of arguments
A is co-sound with B, B is co-sound with C, therefore A is co-sound with C.
(A=B), (B=C), therefore (A=C)

"Piety and love of man are related virtues." Philo
"The lives of those who have earnestly followed virtue may be called unwritten laws."

modalities as characterizing ways of being the same

titles of right to govern (Rosmini)
(1) Arising from prior right of ownership and dominion
---- (a) title of absolute being
---- (b) title of fatherhood
---- (c) title of seigniory (lordship)
---- (d) title of ownership
(2) Not arising so
---- (a) arising from unilateral action
-------- (i) peaceful occupancy
-------- (ii) forced occupancy
------------ (a) out of just self-defense
------------ (b) out of just defense of others
---- (b) arising from combined act

Russell gives an other minds account of external world in ABC of Relativity ch. 2.

baptism : Word as Son :: confirmation : Word as Christ :: ordination : Word as Savior

rights following directly from the adoptive aspect of baptism in itself: right to express thanks to God, right to give first honor and submission to God in all things without exception, right to acts of piety

A difference in measurement is due to a difference in either the measured, or the means of measuring, or the act of measuring.

difference-difference principles

Poisson takes 'probability' to mean the reason we have for thinking an event has taken place; this is measured by the standard ratio.

"As the realms of day and night are not strictly conterminous, but are separated by a crepuscular zone, through which the light of the one fades gradually off into the darkness of the other, so it may be said that every region of positive knowledge lies surrounded by a debateable and speculative territory, over which it in some degree extends its influence and its light." Boole

materiality as travel-resistance

While there is a conventional aspect to coordinates, the theory of tensors as used in physics establishes that they involve using a convention to describe real facts, even if only in a limited or relative way.

"When the most important subjects are investigated by insignificant men, they typically make these men important." Augustine

"Pro veris probare falsa turpissima est." Cicero

Every human person is a sublime catastrophe.

due process as a moral notion and detraction, calumny

knowledge as that cognition such that error is ruled out and it does not vacillate under rational opposition

Augustine's recommendations among Platonists (De Civ 8.12): Plotinus, Iamblichus, Porphyry, Apuleius

"various saints in various ways excel one another in applications of the various virtues." Aquinas (Sent 3d36q1a2ad1)

To search for the truth is already to have a first glimmering participation in the truth, even if that truth is far distant.

Promises and gifts overlap; one may give by promising.

Vows are simultaneously moral and ceremonial.

academic prose and anodyne tone -- much academic prose is concerned with dampening the ability to dispute points (nonprovocation in presenting the disputable, to minimize dispute except along certain channels)

principle, beginning, origin, source, font, spring, cause, author

elements of a political stance in democratic politics
(1) badge of superiority (marks Us off from Them)
(2) disaster to avoid (associated with Them)
(3) enemy (Them)
(4) consumption practices (how We buy and support as Good People)
(5) propaganda practices (how We communicate the Truth)
(6) slogan content (the Truth We communicate, which only They fail to see as obvious)

We only respect teachable doubt; unteachable doubt, doubt involving a refusal to learn, is an object of annoyance, contempt, and dismissal.

ekas demos, remote from the people
Augustine plays on this for the Akademeia; cp. Diogenes Laertius, who holds that the original name was Ekademia in Lives 3.7-8.

followable claims [ plausible claims [ probable claims

A shadow is a form of causation (hence the need for an obtruder).
shadow-casting & light-blocking

puzzlement stance and empty question
-- one sees this with self-standing ? in comics etc.

the difference in comics between ?, !, and ...

'authors to whom the laws of words are attributed by the consent of all'

Grammatical rules arise not directly out of the language but out of how language is used to talk about itself.

We speak for the sake of teaching or bringing to mind.
"The use of words should itself already be preferred to words: words exist so that we may use them. Furthermore, we use them in order to teach." Augustine

The use/mention distinction is a distinction between two kinds of use.

words as signs, as instruments, as expressions

While relevant evidence can make the plausible probable, relevant evidence can make the implausible probable, as well. Does this still involve a significant distinction (of kind of relevant evidence, of kind of probability)?

the value of a jury as being a nonmonolithic perspective

No form of inquiry considers all evidence promiscuously; part of the structure of inquiry is its admissibility conditions for evidence, for the kind of inquiry it is.

evidence // diagram in geometry
admissibility of evidence // postulates (admissibility of diagrams)

propositional force as a form of usability in reasoning

One of the difficulties that faced logical positivism in general is the sheer volume of things that had to be assumed even to get it off the ground, because it is in fact not based on a few select shared principles but on a general impression (of how science works) for which principles were sought.

All terms in any actual scientific theory seem to be both theoretical and observational (as Whewell had suggested to begin with). 'Empirical laws' like PV=rT require a lot of prior theory; 'theoretical laws' require a lot of empirical grounding.

Formalizing should always be for a specific purpose.

the Rocky movies and 'chin' as a moral quality

the allegorizability of sports as an important part of their character

"To give them as much credit as possible, words have force only to the extent that they remind us to look for things; they don't display them for us to know." Augustine

sense : reference :: intellect : will

Ambiguity is not something that wanders into expressions; it is something squeezed out of them.

William of Sherwood's rule for supposition of subject: The subjects are such as the predicates have allowed.

The meaning of a statement lies in its interrelation of signs as terms, not in its 'expression of a state of affairs'.

There is no single 'simplest sentence form' in which a word can occur. If we take Carnap's 'stone' example, we get not only 'x is a stone' but 'a stone is F', 'Use a stone', 'Stone!', 'That is a stone' (which is different from 'x is a stone'), 'A stone exists', 'What is a stone?' and endless others.

Suppose that someone invents in an artificial language the new word 'x', a word of the class 'variable', and proposes a sentence, 'Everything is x or not x'. How would you trace the meaning of 'x' to observations. Its meaning is based on what you want to do with it, not on observation. And no, do not be so stupid as to tell me that variables in artificial languages are not words.

Artificial languages primarily express attitudes, and only secondarily describe anything, a feature that they derive from the combination of natural language within which they are constructed and the specific task to which they are put.

Let us grant to metaphysicians the freedom to use any form of expression that seems useful to them; the work in the field will sooner or later lead to the elimination of those forms for which people have no real use. Let us be cautious in making metaphysical assertions and critical in examining them, but tolerant in permitting linguistic forms.

'There is an n such that n is a number' does not follow from 'Five is a number' unless there is understood 'There is a five and five is a number'.

Truth in fiction is a sign of truth in understanding of things.

There is no particular reason to think that the set of 'observation sentences' (in Hempel's sense) that pass a given empirical test would be consistent.

Carnapian explication and the synthetic a priori

The empiricist criterion of meaning does not provide a reasonably close analysis of the commonly accepted meaning of 'intelligible assertion' or 'sentence that makes an intelligible assertion', nor does it provide a consistent and precise restatement and systemization fo the contexts in which 'intelligible assertion' is actually used.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday

The Battle

God came to me, rebuked me for my life of sin
and showed to me a way in which we both could win;
I heard His offer out, but in the summit of my pride
I chose to win alone. God I crucified.

I hanged Him on the tree, and on the tree He died.

But God does not just die; He must rise to live again,
and soon returns, rebuking me for my life of sin.
Frustrated with His returning, that He does not simply die,
I choose myself again, and Him I crucify.

I hang Him on the tree again; on the tree He dies.

He returns and comes again, each time so vital, bold,
that I can only crucify by growing yet more cold.
Where our ending finds us is where we did begin;
we either taste of glory's grace or we crucify with sin,
crucify forever or someday just give in.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

We Rush with a Speed that Is Lightning Indeed

To the Shadowy Land
by Thomas Sarsfield Carter

To the shadowy land--to the shadowy land,
We nearer, nearer go;
Like a gallant barque thro' the midnight dark,
O'er the ocean's billowy flow.

O'er the surging tide of stormy life,
'Fore the hurricane breath of Fate,
We rush with a speed that is lightning indeed,
To Eternity's ebony gate.

By the breath of Prosperity wafted serene,
From billow to billow we wing;
Till shooting afar like the meteor-star,
To the realms of ether we spring.

Or lashed by Adversity's arrowy wind,
We draggle athro' the fierce surge;
Till weary and worn, grief-laden, forlorn,
We sink on Eternity's verge.

To the shadowy land--to the shadowy land,
Be the day brightly flashing or dark,
We are hurrying on, with no harbour but one
To shelter the storm-shattered barque!

I know practically nothing about Carter, but in preface of the Hours of Illness (1870), in which this poem is found, he notes that the poems in the book were all written around the age of seventeen or so when he was confined to "the rather unpoetic and dreary atmosphere of a sick-chamber"; he was trying the relieve the monotony of an incurable illness.


Since then Christ's Ascension is our uplifting, and the hope of the Body is raised, whither the glory of the Head has gone before, let us exult, dearly-beloved, with worthy joy and delight in the loyal paying of thanks. For today not only are we confirmed as possessors of paradise, but have also in Christ penetrated the heights of heaven, and have gained still greater things through Christ's unspeakable grace than we had lost through the devil's malice. For us, whom our virulent enemy had driven out from the bliss of our first abode, the Son of God has made members of Himself and placed at the right hand of the Father, with Whom He lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Leo, Sermon 73.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Examples of Analogical Predication

This is mostly for my own use: some common examples used in discussing analogical predication, with locations. Some of the examples are from Domenic D'Ettore's Analogy after Aquinas; he notes that the examples used sometimes matter for conclusions drawn -- there was an active dispute post-Thomas, for instance, between those who held that analogical predication primarily worked like the health example and those who held that it primarily worked like the principle example.

Predicatesaid offound in (e.g.)
wiseGod and manST 1.13.5
healthymedicine, urine, body, foodST 1.13.5; SCG 1.34
beingsubstance and accidentST 1.13.10, SCG 1.34
GodGod and idolST 1.13.10
animalanimal and painted animalST 1.13.10ad4
seeing/visionact of eye and act of intellectDV 2.11;
Defensiones 1.35 (Capreolus)
militarysword and soldierIn Eth 1.7
bodyterrestrial and celestial bodyI Sent. 19.5.2ad1
HerculesHercules and statue of HerculesDefensiones (Capreolus)
principle/sourceunit, point, heart, axiomQuaestiones de div. praed. 18 (James of Viterbo)
principle/sourceheart, riverQuaestiones Ordinariae 33 ad 5 (Thomas Sutton)
moverGod and creaturesQuaestiones Ordinariae 33 ad 24 (Thomas Sutton)


It was necessary for Christ to rise again, for five reasons.

First of all, for the commendation of divine justice, to which belongs exaltation of those who humble themselves for God's sake, according to Luke 1: "He deposes potentates from their seats and exalts the humble." Therefore because Christ, according to charity and obedience to God, humbled himself even to death on the cross, it was needful that he be exalted by God even to glorious resurrection, as it is said in His Person in the Psalm (138:2) as the Gloss expounds it, "You have known," that is, approved, "my sitting down," that is, humility and passion, "and my rising up," that is, glorification in resurrection.

Second, for our instruction in faith. Because through his resurrection our faith about Christ's divinity is confirmed, because, as is said at the end of II Corinthians, "Although he was crucified from our infirmity, he lives from God's power." And likewise, it is said in I Corinthians 15, "If Christ did not rise, our preaching is empty, and our faith is empty." And in the Psalm (29:10), "What profit is in my blood," that is, in the shedding of my blood, "while I descend," as it were through various grades of evil, "into corruption?" As though He were to answer, "None, If therefore I do not rise again at once, an my body be decayed, I shall bring news to no one, I shall profit no one," as the Gloss expounds.

Third, for the uplifting of our hope. Because, while we see Christ, who is our Head, rise again, we also hope in our own resurrection. Wherefore it is said in I Corinthians 15, "If Christ is preached that He rises from the dead, how is it said among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" And in Job 19 it is said, "I know," that is, through the certainty of faith, "that my redeemer," that is, Christ, "lives," having risen from the dead, and therefore "in the last day, I shall rise out of the earth; this my hope is stored in my bosom."

Fourth, for the structuring (informationem) of the lives of the faithful, according to which [it is said in] Romans 6, "As Christ is risen from the dead through the glory of the Father, even so may we walk in newness of life." And further down, "Christ, rising from the dead, therefore no longer dies; so also recognize that you are dead to sin, but living to God.

Fifth, for the completion of our salvation. Because just as for this reason he endured evil things in dying so that he might liberate us from evil, so he is glorified in rising again so that he might promote us to good, according to Romans 4, "He was delivered for our sins, and he rose for our justification."

Thomas Aquinas, ST 3.53.1, my translation.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Satispassion Guaranteed

I've long been interested in the notion of satispassio (satispassion; we could also translate it, and I think it would sometimes be more intuitive to translate it, as satispatience). It is an idea that is remarkably difficult to find a good explanation for, although there is also good reason to take it seriously.

Satispassion is contrasted with satisfaction. Satisfaction in this sense is, as Aquinas says, "medicine curing past sins and preserving from future sins". It compensates for lapses and uproots the causes of wrongdoing. The debt is paid, the balance restored. And it is very much a doing; that's in the name itself, doing-enough. By it we deliberately take on a penalty for common good. The most eminent example of this is martyrdom.

Purgatory is also a medicine curing past sins and preserving from future sins; it also compensates for lapses and uproots the causes of wrongdoing; the debt is paid, the balance restored. So it seems natural to talk about it in terms of satisfaction. But in the strict sense, it has always been the doctrine of the Church that the patient souls of Purgatory engage in no satisfaction. And the issue is that what is done in purgatory is not really something done by the soul that undergoes it. It is not a doing; it is an undergoing. Hence the name: enduring-enough. They endure the penalty of waiting until the waiting is enough.

I think this is a little difficult for us to grasp, particularly when it is combined with a crucial additional point, which is that souls in Purgatory are in a higher spiritual state than souls on earth generally are. Church Patient is a higher manifestation of the Church than Church Militant. And this is linked to another difficulty with which people often have difficulty, namely, that we can merit divine reward but the souls in purgatory cannot because they are better than we are. I don't think most people actually manage to reconcile with this; when Catholics talk about souls in Purgatory, they constantly talk as if souls in purgatory were poor cousins in dire need of our intercession and largesse. But by the nature of the case, this is backwards. Unlike us, they have absolute guarantee of Heaven. They are not worse off than we are; they are infinitely better off. They have a wealth in store for which we can only hope. They don't need our help. Praying for them is the sort of thing that could very well be seen as a bit of presumption on our part, except that we are allowed it. We are allowed to help them by prayer as a privilege graciously granted to us.

I think a possible way forward in understanding this is by recognizing that the contrast with satisfaction, although right, is also potentially misleading. It makes it sound as if there were satisfaction and then satispassion, and the two were simply separate things never coming together. But this is not, I think right. We too have satispassion; it's just that for us, we can only have it by its being a subordinate part of satisfaction. In a sense this is what is going on when we 'give it up to God'; one of the general grants of (partial) indulgence is for those who, carrying out their duties and enduring the hardships of life, raise their minds in trusting prayer to God with a pious invocation. This is effectively taking the enduring of difficulty and, as part of satisfaction, making it an act of prayer to God. That is satispassion, and is the sort of thing attributed to the souls in purgatory. But there is a key difference here. The souls in Purgatory are already united to Christ's passion in an intimate way; the attitude of humble trust in the enduring of penalty as part of this union with Christ's Passion is what they do by being souls in Purgatory. Their enduring is already itself trusting prayer to God, a penitential exercise for the purpose of becoming more closely united to Him. We, on the other hand, wavering and faulty, have to make our enduring an act of union with Christ's Passion. Our patience becomes satispatience only in the context of our satisfaction. Theirs is guaranteed. We must deliberately act in order to endure in a way that makes us one with Christ; but the patient souls in Purgatory simply endure and are one with Him.

Ultimately, satispassion, like satisfaction, is rooted in Christ's Passion; for the purposes of Heaven, a satispassion not so rooted, like a satisfaction not so rooted, is not relevant. The Cross is the only bridge to Heaven. But satispassion is the higher part, not the lower; it is like the prayer of quiet compared to verbal prayer, like the mature soul enduring aridity to the beginner in an ebullience of consolations. It is something toward which we must reach. But the patient souls of Purgatory are satispatient; they need not reach, but simply wait, being one with Christ who suffered for our sins. And as no one receives Heaven without learning how to receive, so no one reaches Heaven save by being one with Christ on the Cross, enduring until the enduring is enough.

This is all approximation and extrapolation. It is something about which we know little enough that it is almost impudent to babble on about it as I have. But I am put in mind of it by current events. As Lent draws to its close and Good Friday draws near, a great many Catholics are in a desert of sacraments, perhaps locked inside their houses due to conditions whose end is as yet unknown. That is patience of a sort. On its own it is not a medicine curing past sins nor preserving from future sins. But we may make it so by prayer and penitence. When we do, we are in our crude way approximating a higher state. And in that crude approximation we may know a little better the life of Purgatory.


The fact, therefore, that at the time appointed, according to the purpose of His will, Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, and buried was not the doom necessary to His own condition, but the method of redeeming us from captivity. For "the Word became flesh" in order that from the Virgin's womb He might take our suffering nature, and that what could not be inflicted on the Son of God might be inflicted on the Son of Man. For although at His very birth the signs of Godhead shone forth in Him, and the whole course of His bodily growth was full of wonders, yet had He truly assumed our weaknesses, and without share in sin had spared Himself no human frailty, that He might impart what was His to us and heal what was ours in Himself. For He, the Almighty Physician, had prepared a two-fold remedy for us in our misery, of which the one part consists of mystery and the other of example, that by the one Divine powers may be bestowed, by the other human weaknesses driven out. Because as God is the Author of our justification, so man is a debtor to pay Him devotion.

Leo, Sermon 67, on the Passion.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Declaration of Arbroath

Today is the 700th anniversary of the Declaratio Arbroathis, also known as the Tiomnadh Bhruis, the Declaration o Aiberbrothock, and, of course, the Declaration of Arbroath. Pope John XXII had recognized the claim of Edward I of England over Scotland. Robert the Bruce had been excommunicated due to killing a rival in a church (the circumstances under which this happened are extremely unclear and we do not know exactly what led to that happening), and, when the excommunication was lifted, he was warned that he must make peace with England or be excommunicated again. War, however, was pretty much unavoidable at that point, and due to the fact that it continued, Robert the Bruce was excommunicated again in 1320. In response, Robert and the Scottish barons wrote a letter to the pope defending their independence from England, their right to self-defense, and the legitimacy of Robert's rule. This is the Declaration.

From these countless evils, with His help who afterwards soothes and heals wounds, we are freed by our tireless leader, king, and master, Lord Robert, who like another Maccabaeus or Joshua, underwent toil and tiredness, hunger and danger with a light spirit in order to free the people and his inheritance from the hands of his enemies. And now, the divine Will, our just laws and customs, which we will defend to the death, the right of succession and the due consent and assent of all of us have made him our leader and our king. To this man, inasmuch as he saved our people, and for upholding our freedom, we are bound by right as much as by his merits, and choose to follow him in all that he does.

But if he should cease from these beginnings, wishing to give us or our kingdom to the English or the king of the English, we would immediately take steps to drive him out as the enemy and the subverter of his own rights and ours, and install another King who would make good our defence. Because, while a hundred of us remain alive, we will not submit in the slightest measure, to the domination of the English. We do not fight for honour, riches, or glory, but solely for freedom which no true man gives up but with his life.

(It has been noted by historians that the conception of government found in the document is heavily influenced by Sallust's Conspiracy of Cataline.) The Declaration was sent to the Pope, who wrote Edward asking him to do more to make peace with the Scots, but otherwise did not much in his position. Scottish independence was only recognized by England in the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328, after which the excommunication was lifted. The Declaration itself fell largely out of sight until republication in the seventeenth century, but has since been regarded as one of the central documents of Scottish heritage.


And now, my soul, consider how the One who is, over all things, God blessed forever, is submerged in a flood of suffering from the sole of the foot unto the top of the head. He permits the waters of affliction to flow even unto His soul, in order to save you from all such afflictions. He is crowned with thorns; He is forced to stoop under the load of the cross, bearing the instrument of His own disgrace; He is led to the place of execution and stripped of His clothes, so that the scourge-inflicted bruises and wounds exposed on the back and the sides of His body, make Him appear like a leper. Then, He is transfixed with the nails. All to show that He is your Beloved, martyred wound by wound for the sake of your healing.

Bonaventure, The Tree of Life II.26.

[Bonaventure, The Works of Bonaventure I: Mystical Opuscula, José de Vinck, tr., Martino Publishing (Mansfield Centre, CT: 2016), p. 123-124.]

I just realized that I dropped an X a while ago; I went from XVIII to IX and then kept counting from IX instead of XIX as I should have. In fairness, there has been a lot going on.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

A Little Bit of Cribbin' from the Works of Edward Gibbon

Jack Butler has a very odd review of Asimov's Foundation series:

Though Asimov wrote more Foundation novels, the first three books won a Hugo Award (an Academy Award equivalent for sci-fi and fantasy) in 1966 for best all-time series. But more than 50 years later, it’s hard to see why (especially when it was up against The Lord of the Rings). The novels do not rise above their serialized origins, with the individual parts of each book so distinct from one another as to seem like separate works crudely collated. They burn through a succession of stock characters, only a few of whom register in any meaningful way, and who are easily forgotten once they serve their purpose in advancing the narrative. Ultimately helpless in the face of psychohistory’s plan, most of them are rendered passive and interchangeable actors, mostly mere witnesses to the Foundation’s triumphs. As Seldon states in one of his pre-recorded messages, he has engineered their fates such that they “will be forced along one, and only one, path.”

This is odd because the things being criticized are standard science fiction patterns. Many important science fiction works have a serialistic structure -- e.g., A Canticle for Leibowitz, arguably the greatest science fiction novel of all time, is serialistic in structure. Asimov's characters are lightly sketched, but none of them are "stock" -- a stock character is a character structured as a literary stereotype who doesn't rise above a stereotype, but most of the characters in the first three Foundation novels are fairly distinctive if you compare them with characters in other texts. And science fiction is not typically character-focused. I think it may have been C. S. Lewis who noted that science fiction stories often suffer from excessive character-work. This is not to say, of course, that there aren't great characterizations in science fiction -- Miller's Canticle or Stapledon's Sirius come to mind as novels that do well in this regard -- but in the Aristotelian elements of story, science fiction is primarily distinguished by Thought, not Character, and there are major science fiction works, like Stapledon's Starmaker, that can only be said to have characters at all in the very broadest sense. And, of course, the early Foundation novels by their very topic necessarily share more with sweeping-history science fiction like Starmaker than with character tales. It was conceived as a science-fictional Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, after all.

Likewise, it's odd to criticize the characters as passive when this is the point -- it is in fact explicitly the point of the first part of Foundation and Empire, in which the characters are quite active trying to subvert the Empire, all of which is entirely irrelevant, because they fail to understand until it's too late that the Empire's weakness is the combination of economic deterioration and unavoidable civil-military instability. Asimov's stories are very often puzzle-stories of one kind or another, and that was precisely the solution to the puzzle presented by Bel Riose: How do you stop the Empire's most talented and incorruptible generals from invading you? You don't have to do anything, because the Empire will stop him the moment he begins to look too successful; from the perspective of an Empire in decline, a successful general is always a more obvious danger to the Empire than barbarians beyond the borders. It all reminds me a bit of when some feminists attacked Ursula K. LeGuin's works for having female characters who were too passive -- LeGuin was, in broad terms, a Taoist, so the whole point of the stories that were being attacked was that being too eager to act and achieve was a poisonous temptation that often leads to self-destruction. The characters -- even characters like Bel Riose who are fairly well rounded for the brief time they are on the stage -- are not the point of the story.

Butler likes The Mule best of the characters in the original trilogy; that's a defensible taste, although my preference would be for Preem Palver. But he claims that he gets the fullest backstory of any character in the trilogy, which is again odd, since we get only a very sketchy backstory about him. Ducem Barr probably has the "fullest motivation and backstory of any character in the Foundation series", at least if we are talking about the original trilogy. (Of course, if you had the prequels, Seldon gets the fullest motivation and backstory.)

Fortnightly Book, April 5

Robert Seymour was perhaps the greatest illustrator of his day. He was skillful in almost every form of book illustration and his sporting caricatures were immensely popular. This led him to make the fateful decision to suggest to his publisher a series of comic sporting illustrations with some sort of descriptive text to unify them as a series -- little anecdotes to add a little extra fun to the humorous depictions. Since the illustrations would be of things going wrong, he suggested that it could be packaged as the misfortunes of a 'Nimrod Club'. Seymour had recently done very well publishing a work, Sketches by Seymour, that had these kinds of illustrations, so the publisher was definitely interested. The kind of writing work that this required was what was known as 'hack' work. ('Hack' was a shortened form of 'hackney', i.e., a riding horse.) It was a routine kind of gig but required a certain kind of short-writing skill, like writing ad copy in our day. The publisher, apparently busy with other projects, decided to hire an outside hack, and eventually hired (according, later, to Seymour's wife, due to her own recommendation) a young writer who had made a modest name for himself in short-writing through a series called Sketches by Boz. Boz (long o), of course, was his pen-name. Boz, while in need of the money, noted that as he was not a sporting person, he was probably not the best person to do anecdotes for sporting illustrations. He proposed instead that he should write humorous literary sketches that Seymour could then illustrate; they would be about a club, but one Boz could write about. The publisher liked the idea, and Seymour found himself second fiddle on his own creative project, and not on very good terms, either, because he was never paid for the idea and was only commissioned for a limited number of illustrations per magazine edition. And when it was being published, it came out under the title, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club – containing a faithful record of the perambulations, perils, travels, adventures and Sporting Transactions of the corresponding members. Edited by 'Boz'. With Illustrations. 'With Illustrations'! That's it. Seymour was not even given a byline.

The first edition came out and was immensely popular. In April of 1836, as part of work on the second edition, Seymour met up with Boz for drinks to discuss artwork for one of the stories. They argued vehemently over something (we do not know what), then Seymour went home and at some point afterward took his sporting rifle out into his garden and shot himself.

An emergency illustrator was commissioned to finish the second installment, Robert William Buss, a highly talented artist; but Buss was not familiar with the particular process, and didn't yet have a knack for knowing what would look good or bad with etched steel printing. His illustrations were lackluster and rushed by his own admission, and he was fired -- Buss took it in good humor and held no grudges. The unlucky commission passed to Hablot Knight Browne who did his illustrations first under the name 'Nemo' and then, to go better with 'Boz', under the name 'Phiz'. Boz and Phiz happened to get along quite well with each other, and Phiz became the go-to illustrator for Boz's works. Although, of course, by then Boz was no longer writing under the pen name 'Boz' but under his real name, Charles Dickens.

The Pickwick Papers was published in book form in 1837, becoming one of the bestselling books of the nineteenth century and making Dickens's name as one of the greatest authors of the day. And, of course, it is the next fortnightly book.

Looking around, it looks like an adaptation was made by Orson Welles for Mercury Theater on the Air, so I will try to find time to listen to that, as well. In addition, a while back I picked up at the Dollar Store a book called Death and Mr. Pickwick: A Novel by Stephen Jarvis. It's a highly fictionalized account of the issues between Dickens and Seymour in the publication of the work. It's a big book to put on top of a big book, so I don't know if I'll be able to fit it in, but I will be reading it as well.

Dickens dream
Robert William Buss, Dickens' Dream. A painting that Buss started working on after Dickens's death; he died before he could finish it, but somehow the unfinished character works well for it.