Random neuron firing, lame philosophy, literary pontificating, movies, sex, clothes & other femme stuff

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Some passages from Carlyle

I mentioned earlier, by which of course I mean further down the page,
that I've kept also a commonplace-book file for many years, mostly a
list of things I wish I'd said or written (You will, Mika, you will
[Twitch, Raymond Smullyan's penis!])
along with some things I'm glad I didn't
say but don't want to forget someone else did. I just happened to be
scrolling through the file today looking for something I can't for the
life of me find (the name of this woman whose work I want to get a look
at, who apparently won a Radcliffe Fellowship in political science this
coming year for a project on Madison & multicultural education, but
who seems no longer listed at their site [if ya know her, please lemme
know]). I scrolled past a favorite quotation that I'm so totally dying
to use (the first sentence anyway) in a really mean book review
someday. It's from Carlyle's French Revolution (1.2.VIII):

Wretched cloaca of a Book; without depth even as a cloaca! What 'picture of
French society' is here?  Picture properly of nothing, if not of
the mind that gave it out as some sort of picture.  Yet symptom of
much; above all, of the world that could nourish itself thereon.

He's talking about Louvet de Couvray's Chevalier de Faublas,
in his view one of the two "Noteworthy Books" (the
other being Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's Paul et Virginie)
"which may be considered as the last speech of old Feudal France," having been
"produced on the eve of the ever-memorable Explosion itself, and read eagerly
by all the world."

He's like an endless lingerie warehouse of fabulous quotations. Here
are two more I like:

France was long a 'Despotism tempered by Epigrams;' and now, it would
seem, the Epigrams have got the upper hand. (1.2.IV)

It is thus everywhere that
foolish Rumour babbles not of what was done, but of what was misdone or
undone; and foolish History (ever, more or less, the written epitomised
synopsis of Rumour) knows so little that were not as well
unknown.  Attila Invasions, Walter-the-Penniless Crusades,
Sicilian Vespers, Thirty-Years Wars:  mere sin and misery; not
work, but hindrance of work!  For the Earth, all this while, was
yearly green and yellow with her kind harvests; the hand of the
craftsman, the mind of the thinker rested not:  and so, after all,
and in spite of all, we have this so glorious high-domed blossoming
World; concerning which, poor History may well ask, with wonder, Whence
it came?  She knows so little of it, knows so much of what
obstructed it, what would have rendered it impossible.  Such,
nevertheless, by necessity or foolish choice, is her rule and practice;
whereby that paradox, 'Happy the people whose annals are vacant,' is
not without its true side. (1.2.I.)

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Listed on BlogShares