Saturday, October 31, 2020

October Night

 October Night

I stood at dusk and looked around the garden small and dim;
the fountain dry was cracked, with dust and vines around the rim.
The roses dead were long and spare, the weeds were rising high;
then ghosts from ancient worlds arose and said that I would die.
In long and spectral robes they swept along the garden ways
and sang the songs no longer sung, the songs of distant days.
A Templar march I thought I heard, a troubadour's sad plea,
a hymn of love to loves long gone, a shanty rasped at sea.
Like breezes drifting, softly sped those tunes, like secret sigh.
And 'midst it all a whisper sang; it sang that I would die.
The darkness fell, it drifted down, a-float like falling shawl;
it settled over roses dead and draped across the wall.
I strained my ears to hear again that gently whispered word,
but silence through the darkness fell, so nothing then was heard,
and nothing felt by rising hairs, and nothing met my eye,
until at midnight down the way I heard that I would die.
A maiden walked like water's wave along the crumbling wall
and here and there an elegy from out her lips would fall.
A hint, a clue, a fragile thread, the song would drift my way
with meaning barely out of reach and sense just out of play,
but here and there it rose to reach the keen of sobbing cry,
and then no doubt remained at all: it said that I would die.

The moon was silver on the road, but stars were hid by clouds
that, dark and thunder-mutter-thick, were gathered up in crowds
like ghosts in endless number in some graveyard in the sky,
and somehow in the thunder's tones I heard that I would die.
On far and distant hills the wolves began to raise a howl
and down the moonlit road I saw a figure in a cowl
as black as night in color so that scarce could seeing see
where ended figure and the night; it clearly came for me,
and in its hand a scythe was held, that swept through air with ease,
and at its heels a hound did walk, as pale as death's disease.
The crows in murder raised their wings, all croaking out a cry,
and clear I heard it in their noise: they said that I would die.
The wind was blowing in the leaves and rustled roses dead
and mingled with the panic that was buzzing in my head,
till time itself with nausea was turned upon its ear
and death itself was manifest to brain enmeshed in fear.
I sought to turn, like trembling bird in pit I sought to fly,
but dizzy chills sped up my spine that said that I would die.
A hand was clamped upon my mouth; I could not scream or cry;
a voice was snarling in my ear and told me I would die.



The ghosts of the dead across land and sea
now wildly dash as they seek to be free.

Lenore in her bed is deeply disturbed
by nightmare-madness that shakes and unnerves,
by the terror of dream that ennervates souls,
the last horror, wanhope, that Pandora stole.
"Ah, Wilhelm," she says, in a sigh like a moan,
"have you no faith, or no strength, to come home?
Have you no means, or no will, to return,
when Ilium falls and Jerusalem burns?"

And the armies come home, the men and the boys;
the throngs of the soldiers return to their joys.
But never is Wilhelm found laughing with bliss,
arriving at home to catch Lenore's kiss.
Swiftly and often the maiden's bright eye
searches among the men who go by,
gladsome and glorious, uncaring at all
for Lenore's worried search or the name that she calls.

Her mother would ease her, as mothers will do:
"God is in heaven, His grace ever new;
seek mercy from him, and comfort you'll see."

"Mother, this God has no mercy for me."

"Her words are the words of a child distraught;
she knows not the sense of this wickedest thought!
Heaven, forgive her, and daughter, know this:
God's wisdom is endless, and mercy is his."

"Mother, my mother, your God does not care.
He who has mercy relieves all despair;
but pitiless God, he brings only night,
takes away Wilhelm, and shuts away light!"

"Heaven forgive you! The wine and the bread
show us a God who saves us from death.
The cup and the paten are mercy indeed:
reflect on their power; my daughter, take heed!"

"Mother, the lies of the wine and the bread
have no power to save or to raise from the dead;
no pity I find there, only the loss
of a man all forsaken and dead on the cross."

"And what if it's Wilhelm, not God, who's untrue?
What if your man another pursues
on some rugged mountain, on some distant plain?
Watch who you blame in your anguish and pain!"

"Mother, my mother, it all matters not
if his heart be made still or by someone else caught:
nothing at all can raise this sad head,
my life is for nothing, my place with the dead."

"Cease, my dear girl, all this moan and complaint!
Set your sweet heart on the goal of the saint:
seek you the vision of He who makes whole,
He who alone is fit groom to the soul."

"What is bliss, my sweet mother? Indeed, what is hell?
With Wilhelm is bliss, and without him I fell
down into darkness, down to the tomb.
He is my light, all else is but gloom.
Everything else God may coldly remove;
neither heaven nor hell should such providence prove.
But Wilhelm alone is my heaven and light:
she requires no other who is by his side."

The clack and the clatter of the hoof of the steed,
the clank of the steel and the voice Lenore needs,
waft through the door to meet Lenore's ear,
to bring her rejoicing and turn her to cheer.

"Are you waking or sleeping, Lenore, O my bride?
Come with me, come with me, off let us ride!
Off must we go, ere the dawn slays the night,
fast journey and far, to our wedded delights!"

"Wilhelm, my Wilhelm, eleven's the bell
that tolls in the churchyard and says all is well;
now rest you within till night turns retreat;
come inside, dearest, and whisper me sweet."

"No, my Lenore, before break of day
I have many a mile to mark on my way.
Swift, at dead gallop, through storm and through night,
through rain and through gusting, before morning's light."

Without pause and unwary she raced through the door
with kiss and caress no man could ignore;
but Wilhelm straightway did lift her beside,
and settled her down, and away they did ride.
The world like poured water in rush flurried by
as bridge blurred to bridge for the slow human eye
and trees of the forest became like a wall
that flickered and rose and behind them did fall.
And shimmers and shadows alone in the dark
rose to the eye like the fire and spark,
the shapes of grim warriors who died far away;
they rush to find solace before break of day.

"What ails you, my darling, my dearest, my bride?
Why do you shudder, your head turn aside?
Are they not lovely, the shades of the dead?"
Lenore answered not as she covered her head.

Soon to a gate born of iron and fire
they came, and there Wilhelm, as if in ire
threw back his hand, and the iron bolts bent,
and gently inside the two lovers went.
But see how the moonlight plays tricks on the eye!
See Wilhelm, how thin, like bones long laid by!
See now his head, like a skull reft of skin,
and how like he looks to the bones of dead men!

Now lie before them the tombs of the dead,
but Wilhelm still sings of the sweet nuptial bed,
and Lenore, who now struggles, is drawn ere she wist
into a dark grave, cold hand on her wrist. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Dashed Off XXIX

 "Thus mathematics can I think be viewed as the science of analogy and the widespread applicability of mathematics in the natural sciences, which has intrigued all mathematicians of a philosophical bent, arises from the fundamental role which comparisons play in the mental process we refer to as 'understanding'." Atiyah

Hume takes solitude to have a special connection to uncertainty.

category theory as semi-deontic (cp. Eugenia Cheng)

"If I must necessarily will, why need I speak of will at all?" Augustine

Compatibilism is the attempt to reconcile a freedom they do not understand with a necessity they do not know to exist.

baptism as transfiguring our natality

The picturesque is that which, being conceived in terms of framing and composition, pleases in general on being observed and remembered.

"Calculi without calculations seem to be gratuitous algebra." Ryle

Goodness lifts up beauty and holiness lifts up goodness.

All our good works are bits and pieces.

"Christianity, then, is at once a philosophy, a political power, and a religious rite: as a religion, it is Holy; as a philosophy, it is Apostolic; as a political power, it is imperial, that is, One and Catholic." Newman
-- it's somewhat odd to associate the philosophy aspect with apostolicity rather than catholicity

In a consequentialist world, all philosophy becomes sophistry, using reasoning only for a desired effect.

John the Baptist died before Christ so as to continue his work as Forerunner of Christ, even in Hades. (cp. certain Eastern kontakia)

Hope teaches desire to desire better. (cp. EP Thompson)

Public engagement should grow out of doing good to people you know.

There is an astounding gap between what people say they value and what they reward.

Strato of Lampsacus: the good is 'what completes the dynamis through which we achieve energeia'

We are born to act; acting is an end we receive through our natality.

Aristotle's ethics is not naturalistic; it explains a practice of becoming civilized unto godlikeness. This, with variations, is common to all ancient Greek ethics, even the Epicurean.

"Where there is potentiality, the worse comes about through some mischance." Alexander of Aphrodisias

A plausible explanation of at least some time disparity between dream and waking: While in the dream, it feels like ordinary experiencing to some extent, in fact much of what 'happens' in a dream is in reality just supposed by the dreamer to have happened; the dreamer does not actually go through the whole experience, but only parts, the rest being merely suppositional.

dreaming as coherence without constancy

elimination argument against negative utilitarianism, replacement argument against traditional utilitarianism

Virgil's Fourth Eclogue as an exposition of natality

If the causal closure of the physical is known a priori, it must be synthetic a priori; if it is not known a priori, we have no evidence that establishes it, or that is of a kind that could, so it is not known a posteriori.

Some mental events are also physical events, such as the deliberate pointing of a finger.

"Everyone has within an unerring compass." Wang Yangming

The public sphere is made possible by the private sphere.

Liberty as a human right is founded on human common good.

respecting ideas enough to cultivate their roots

the danger of academic philosophy degenerating into smart people studying their own fantasies

"The philosophers of France, in their eagerness to escape from what they deemed a superstition of the priests, flung themselves headlong into a superstition of lawyers." Henry Maine

sacrament as unifying, as teaching doctrine, as strengthening for moral life

Andrew and Philip, who interact with the Hellenistic Jews in John 12:20-22, both have Greek names. And Andrew's brother, Simon, has a name that works in both Aramaic and Greek. Thus all the disciples from Bethsaida have names suggesting Greek-speaking families. 

Prudence is the steward of wisdom.

beauty, sublimity, and design as key concepts in a robust ecology

authority -- authorization -- authorized action

People who are taught nothing will tend to produce nothing.

re-presentations (new editions) of art
(1) corrective (e.g., to fix or expand)
(2) consumerist (e.g., to sell anew)
(3) revivalist (e.g., to make available again or to a new audience)
--these are, of course, not mutually exclusive
-- re-presentations vs remakes (remakes are attempts to do over from the beginning)

Whenever debunking does not itself involve inconsistency, the same argument for debunking could be used to argue that the explanation used in the argument is incomplete. This becomes quite obvious in, e.g., evolutionary debunking arguments, which never introduce any strict inconsistency; all such cases are incomplete, because the kind of explanation involved in the debunking is incomplete.

All debunking arguments at least implicitly rely on assumptions about counterfactual cases.

Honesty in inquiry is more likely to get you the approximately true and less likely to get you the definitely false across virtually the entire range of true and false.

That a form of cognition or perception has evolved at all is an at least defeasible reason to think it is linked to something true; one defeats it by showing that, here and now, it is not.

All processes of coming to believe are defective with respect to some possible standard that could be used with respect to such processes; the question that matters is whether they are defective with respect to standards relevant to themselves in their contexts.

Wishful thinking and hasty generalization are most often approximately accurate and near-reasonable, because they are most often simply skewing or oversimplifying real evidence; the result is distorted, but this distortion may range from slight to gross. People discussing these things err by only focusing on the gross distortions with absurd results, and not the cases, more common, on which the conclusion would be reasonable if the evidence were just slightly different.

Whether a process consists of wishful thinking or hasty generalization cannot be determined solely by looking at the process.

Scientific inquiry is distinguished from its counterfeits entirely by relevant virtues, applicable norms and standards, and general benefits.

In any practically useful sense of 'best explanation', our best explanation may be incomplete or wrong.

The very possibility of moral cognition is a fact guaranteeing that there are at least some moral truths, even if only relative and minimal.

the beautifying effect of quietness

We are often foolish, but we may sort our follies wisely.

signs as implements to let useful things become salient

Ens dividitur per contingens et necessarium: et est per se divisio entis. (Aquinas)

The logic of science is a practical logic of means-end relations.

Belnap's Refref Conjecture: Doing is equivalent to refraining from refraining.

-- NB that Mill takes the principle of utility to be stated in the Protagoras (although he takes this to be evidence that the dialogue is considering non-Platonic ideas).

the analogy between prudence and providence on evils and chance

Prudence must consider chance and contingency; therefore prudence is not reducible to rules.

The common good is a hierarchy of goods, not an aggregate.

To identify something as a fundamental goal of society is to identify it as an end of the human person.

None can understand moral law without understanding wisdom. 

bathing in the springs of one's existence

"Reason is immediate poet -- directly productive imagination." Novalis

Novalis's magical idealism
"Magic is the art of using the world of sense arbitrarily."
--one turns thought into external objects and external objects into thought
-- the ideal and the real are only parts of a livingwhole, the absolute, and only art can properly perceive it
--the magical power of fiction (making present what is not present), enigmatic language, the inexhaustibility of symbol

the Crucifixion, the nonsense-breaker

dance & gestural rhyme

"Every intellectual act stretching toward God as its object is simply more perfect than an intellectual act concerning something created." Scotus

Aquinas's account of Lucifer's fall portrays Lucifer as a sort of philosopher.

A spirit of wanton destruction against even the inanimate natural world is a failure to rise to rational life.

All who are baptized may have a ministry; to be ordained a priest is to become a ministry. A priest is the sacramental economy in its seed form.

Kant confines the ethical, as opposed to the juridical, to that which *cannot* be external in itself (in the lawgiving or obligation itself).

The Holy See has the negative right to prevent its public teachers form exercising an influence on the visible liturgical commonwealth that might be prejudicial to the unity of the Church.

All temporal power is instrumental to the royal power of Christ the King.

hospital, church, order, manor

Contrastive explanation arises from the nature of alternatives, not the nature of explanation.

Matrimony, as the domestic church, is a greenhouse of devotions.

The single most important social skill is managing one's own mortification, and the second most important is easing another's.

Will being an intentionality toward an object, the a priori practical principle can only be an a priori form of the object. Imperatives, on the other hand, are formulated by the intellect in light of objects of will, and how they are understood. Thus Kant's reversal of this is the wrong move entirely.

NB Kant's argument that empiricism of practical reason is more dangerous as error than mysticism of practical reason (although he denies both in favor of rationalism of practical reason) because "mysticism is still compatible with the purity and sublimity of the moral law" (CPrR 5:71).

The commandment to love God requires us to love God, not merely to strive to love God.

the commandment to love God and the postulate of immortality

All human rights are refractions derived from the primal authority of reason, which itself derives from the primal authority of the Logos.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Landy on Shepherd on Hume

 David Landy has a very nice article on Lady Mary Shepherd's argument against Hume:

Shepherd’s argument against Hume’s thesis that an object can begin its existence uncaused has received short shrift in the secondary literature. I argue that the key to understanding that argument’s success is understanding its dialectical context. Shepherd sees the dialectical situation as follows. Hume presents an argument against Locke and Clarke the conclusion of which is that an object can come into existence uncaused. An essential premise of that argument is Hume’s theory of mental representation. Hume’s theory of mental representation, however, is itself implausible and unsupported. Therefore, one need not accept this premise or this conclusion. Thus, Shepherd proceeds to her discussion of the relation of cause and effect free to help herself to the thesis that every beginning of existence must have a cause. Additionally, she elsewhere pays down the debt she incurs in that argument by presenting her own alternative theory of mental representation, which is both plausible in its own right, and can account for the error that she takes Hume to make.

Landy's article touches on one aspect of a more general common problem when it comes to assessing arguments against Hume's account of causation, namely, that contemporary philosophers are used to it, and thus overly inclined to accept what Hume says uncritically as the default without asking, as they should, what his argument is supposed to be doing in the first place. Hume's own argument is not standalone; it is an objection to other arguments and positions, and thus has to succeed as an objection to those arguments and positions before his conclusions can be accepted.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

EC and Extremely Narrow Elections

Tyler Cowen points to a recent working paper arguing that the Electoral College system is more likely than a national popular vote system to lead to a disputed election. As they put it,

Extremely narrow election outcomes—such as could be reversed by rejecting a few thousand ballots—are likely to trigger dispute over the results. Narrow vote tallies may generate recounts and litigation; they may be resolved by courts or elections administrators (e.g., Secretaries of State disqualifying ballots) rather than by voters; and they may reduce the peacefulness, perceived legitimacy, or predictability of the transfer of political power.

This in itself shows some of the problem with the argument, since this is an immensely naive statement. In a large election system, any election outcome is likely to trigger dispute over the results under a wide variety of conditions, not just extremely narrow ones. We have recounts and litigation in every presidential election before the Electoral College meets; most gubernatorial races have recounts and litigations. None of this need have anything to do with the outcome being 'narrow'. It happens when there's suspicion of voter fraud. It happens when there's suspicion of voter suppression. (And in the United States, we have suspicion of fraud and suppression in every single election year, even independently of cases in which either is well-founded, because Republicans use voter fraud suspicions and Democrats use voter suppression suspicions in every single election they lose in the attempt to blunt the force of having lost and in order to raise funds for future elections.) Election administrators are making decisions about what ballots to disqualify in every single election, because disqualification is not a matter decided by voters but by the policies established by the legislatures, the executives, and the courts. In California, it's hard to disqualify ballots; in some other states, all sorts of things can disqualify a ballot; this is not because of the voters, but entirely because no state has exactly the same mix of aims in structuring how votes are counted, and that mix is determined entirely by a complicated negotiation among the relevant authorities. You can't have an election without counting ballots; counting ballots depends on the methods for counting and discounting; in no election system is this established directly by the voters, because that would give us an infinite regress. Election disputes very rarely arise from the method of election; they arise as a regular occurrence from the politics of elections. The "peacefulness, perceived legitimacy, or predictability of the transfer of political power" is not a byproduct of counting practices.

That aside, it's not very clear why one should care about whether elections are extremely narrow or not. While our usual way of describing this -- that the election was "decided" by 20000 votes or fewer -- makes it sound like that it's a few people deciding the matter, in reality, this is a figure of speech. What wins the election is all the votes, not just the surplus of the win. And while I don't myself believe in popular mandates, lots of people do, so that extremely narrow wins in controversial elections serve the function of limiting the plausibility of a claim of having a clear mandate from the voters.

Some Poem Drafts and a Poem Re-Draft

Stuck Inside a Little Room

Stuck inside a little room,
outside only rainy gloom,
we sit and wait;
leaving half to worry, half to fate,
we sit and wonder
of things too early, things too late,
as the rain begins to thunder.
And who can know what futures loom?
The world is vast,
thick with future, thick with past;
only within is hope against gloom
when stuck inside a little room.


I met a maiden in the skog;
so sweet she was, and fair as snow,
and friendly were her blue eyes pale.
But I saw, as she turned down a trail,
hollow back above a tail.

She seemed an angel, kind as sky,
with eyes of mirth in heaven's shade;
almost from love my senses failed,
but I saw, as she turned down a trail,
hollow back above a tail.

Like holy Mary 'midst the pines
her liquid laughter froze the time;
she seemed a maid, I felt a male,
but I saw, as she turned down a trail,
hollow back above a tail.

Unchristian things in darkest wood
are lurking, waiting, for the good,
to tempt the soul to death or hell--
so pray you see upon the trail
that hollow back above that tail.

Like a Bomb

Like a bomb, an expanding ring of flame,
like an echo on the hill
that is calling out my name,
like a horseshoe ringing round
and finally touching down,
you and I are not quite right,
but still, I think, are worth the fight,
because we're close -- so very close.

Like a guess that has no peer,
like reflection of the moon
still light enough to steer,
like a look of near-surprise
that lightens lovely eyes,
you and I are not quite right
but still we are a splendid sight,
because we're close -- so very close.

In the Darkness

I knew you in the darkness;
I did not walk away;
our hearts were joined together
where the shadows play.
I suppose I should have known --
it seemed too good to be.
But what can't hope uncover
in things we cannot see?
I will still remember.
I will remember everything,
the silence in the darkness,
the shadows, the whispers, in the darkness.

The days are falling
like the leaves from autumn trees;
the hours are flowing
like the tides on restless seas.
I will still remember.
I will remember everything,
the silence in the darkness,
the shadows, the whispers, in the darkness.

I suppose it's pointless,
but it's somehow deep inside
and will remain within me
until the darkness dies.

Lady of Sorrows

Sword-pierced Mary, ponder well,
beneath the wide and wailing wall
of all this world, the prophet-word.

Death stalks the home and human life
is shattered short; no living laugh
leaps up, no joyful word.

God destroys, no pity gives;
the dead all mutter in their graves,
gnawed by winding worm.

No respite raised and no repose,
amid the pain no balmy peace
leaves vestige in this world.

Molten heart like wax moves down;
Shame and guilt, what have we done
against the good to war!

Shall human hearts, though vulgar, crass,
die blood-and-water on this cross
and, buried, feed the worms?

Pietà with pity's grief
processes to the silent grave,
itself without a word.

The stone is rolled and in this shade
it covers all; the tomb it shuts
and leaves us here without the Word.

But this was known. This evil way
will stay as evil as it was
but never have the final word.

For good may overcome and good
of newer kind is formed by God
to overtop and crown the world.

Comfort here? None shall you find
but comfort is not always friend
when darker things still wage their war.

Who sleeps in calm no vigil keeps
against the shadow-shade that creeps
across a heedless world.

For comfort there will come a time;
for now make passions gentle-tame
while waiting for new word.

Sword-pierced Mary, ponder well,
beneath the wide and wailing wall
of all this world, the prophet-word.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Wooed Onward by the Vision of the True

Du Maurier
by Francis Earle Coates

Two rocked his infant cradle as he slept,
⁠And crooned for him their native lullabies.
⁠One gave her sense of beauty to his eyes,
One taught his heart her smiles, the tears she wept.
Each made him love her as the child his home,
⁠And, mother-wise, reclaimed his wandering glance:
⁠Belovèd England and belovèd France,—
Each drew him, though, afar, he could not come.

In his imagination, fleur-de-lis
⁠And English daisy blossomed side by side,
And dreams were his, lost transports to renew.
Half exiled wheresoe'er he chanced to be,
⁠Like migrant birds his thoughts went soaring wide,
Wooed onward by the vision of the True!

A Forceful, Original, Simple Reason

 I missed it when the news came out a few weeks ago, but Jean-Luc Marion has been rewarded the 2020 Ratzinger Prize for lifetime achievements in theology. I've talked briefly about his phenomenological account of what he calls 'saturated phenomena' before.

From his essay, "Faith and Reason", in the collection, The Visible and the Revealed:

The love revealed by the Word, hence by the Logos, is deployed as a logos, hence as a rationality. And a rationality in full right, because it allows us to reach the closest and the most internal phenomena, those experienced by the flesh which intuition saturates. If the Revelation of Christ had shown only that, namely, that love has its reason, a forceful, original, simple reason, which sees and says what common reason is missing and does not see, it would already have saved, if not humans, at least their reason. But Christ has not only shown the logic of love, he has demonstrated and proven it in facts and acts by his passion and his resurrection.

[Jean-Luc Marion, "Faith and Reason", The Visible and the Revealed, Gschwandtner et al., trs., Fordham University Press (New York; 2008) p. 152.]

Monday, October 26, 2020

So Secret that the Very Sky Seems Small

 A Ballade of Suicide
by G. K. Chesterton

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours--on the wall--
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay--
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall--
I see a little cloud all pink and grey--
Perhaps the rector's mother will not call--
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way--
I never read the works of Juvenal--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

The world will have another washing-day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall,
Rationalists are growing rational--
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray
So secret that the very sky seems small--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.


Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even to-day your royal head may fall,
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Fortnightly Book, October 25

 George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier was born in Paris in 1834, but he made his career in England, where he had settled with his wife, Emma Wightwick (with whom he would end up raising a famously literary and artistic family). He started as an illustrator for Punch magazine and became one of the foremost illustrators of his day. Bad eyesight, however, forced him to retire from professional illustrating in 1891; he used his remaining few years to write a few novels. The most famous of these would be Trilby in 1894, but arguably that novel only became possible because du Maurier's first novel, Peter Ibbetson, our next fortnightly book, was moderately successful. 'Moderately successful' is as well as it did at the time, but the novel has proven unusually adaptable: a play was made in 1917, an opera in 1931, and a film in 1935, all of them quite successful. And the book itself has endured, never so flashy as Trilby, but always charming new readers.

Usually I have at least a rough idea of the content of the classics I pick up for the first time, not always right but usually in the neighborhood of right. But I have only the vaguest notion of what I'm in for with this story, so that will be interesting. I do know that the story is narrated by the titular character as memoirs written while in the lunatic asylum for having killed a relative.

I'll be reading a Heritage Press edition, which has a preface by Daphne du Maurier (George's granddaughter, who tells us that the family called him, "Kicky") and pen-and-ink illustrations by the author himself. It uses a 12-point Scotch Roman type, chosen to pair well with the line drawings.

CT7D: Pazar

 The final day of Conversational Turkish in 7 Days covers general conversational topics. For instance, occupations (meslekler). I went over fairly quickly how agreement of pronouns and case endings works, but this is a good point at which to look in a little more detail. The Turkish word for 'to be' is imek. Imek's conjugation for present tense is like so:

Ben im : I am
Sen sin : You  (familiar, singular) are
o dur : He/she/it is
biz iz : We are
siz siniz : You (formal or plural) are
onlar dırlar : They are

This is directly relevant to case endings, because you use the conjugations for 'to be' as case endings (allowing for vowel harmony). This takes some getting used to, but is wonderfully logical. So, for instance, to say 'I am an Englishman', you say, Ben bir İngilizim. The -im links the object with the appropriate pronoun (ben); it does the same thing (with some additional complications) with verbs. This carries over to discussion of occupations. Some examples:

Ben bir mühendisim : I am an engineer

Ben bir doktorum : I am a doctor

Ben bir müdürüm : I am a manager

O bir diş doktorudur : He/She is a dentist

Eşim bir bankada çalışıyorudur : My spouse works at a bank

Siz bir hastahanede çalışıyoruz : You work at a hospital

If you want to ask what someone else's occupation is, you say, Sizin mesleğiniz nedir?

Weather is also a universal chatting topic. To ask what the weather is like, you say, Hava nasıl? Various possible answers:

Hava sıcaktır : It is hot

Hava güneşli : It is sunny

Hava rüzgarlı : It is windy

Hava bulutlu : It is cloudy

Hava yağmurlu : It is rainy

Hava karlı : It is snowy

Yağmur yağıyor : It is raining

Kar yağıyor : It is snowing

Yağmur yağacak : It will rain

Kar yağacak : It will snow

Another way to chat is comment on hobbies. Since hobbies are ongoing activities, they tend to use the aorist -rim in first person, e.g.:

Golf ayarım : I play golf

Ben piyano çalarım : I play piano

Piyano dersleri alırım : I take piano lessons

Resim çizerim : I draw

Well, I haven't given everything, just little samples of the lessons, and anyway I'm sure you wouldn't be fluent in seven days, although, if you are a more adept conversationalist than I, you might be able to stumble your way through basic conversation. But it does make a handy way to see how the language works.


Tayfun and Gillian Çağa, Conversational Turkish in 7 Days, Passport Books (Chicago: 1992).