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Posts in “Remarks”

What Keats Had in Mind

Feb 12, 2007
An answer to these queries came to me last summer as I stood looking at the Roman aqueduct at Tarragona, which, after so many centuries, still lifts its simple tawny arches against the pale-blue sky. The men who laid these stones, I thought, and the many generations who followed them, were in the main absorbed with gaining money, position, and pleasure; they gave their time to politics, to ambition, to love, and to the petty affairs of the neighborhood.


May 20, 2006
“Introduces children into his stories that he may kill them to slow music” (J. M. Barrie). Just as an adjutant to this rumination. Imagine working on Wyndham Lewis, as I do, or other dubious figures under such a regime.

Thorndike's Modesty

Dec 27, 2005
Prevented him from translating this: “Stercus asini comedunt mulieres Salernitanae in crispellis et dant viris suis ut melius retineant sperma et sic concipitant” (History of Magic and Experimental Science Vol. 1, 741). Such innocent, agathokakological times.

Did You Put in the Bit about Being a Scientist?

Nov 3, 2005
I haven’t, by any means, read all of the secondary literature on Banville’s Book of Evidence, but the reviews and occasional critical pieces I have looked at have not, I think, completely addressed the significance of Haslet’s penultimate remarks. Canon-Roger’s article in European Journal of English Studies was especially good on the painting, I thought. For instance, before the glass screens were put up, wives and girlfriends used to hide in their mouths little plastic bags of heroin, which were passed across during lingering kisses, swallowed, and sicked-up later, in the latrines.

Imagine An America

Sep 18, 2005
Where the equivalent of Critique of Cynical Reason sells 40,000 copies in its first few months. I don’t think Empire compares well, but what were its American sales figures? There were about 60 million people in West Germany when it was published, so that’d roughly 200,000 copies here now. I’ve heard that the publishing industry hoards its exact sales figures like the sea. Does anyone know of a quick reference for checking this data?

Noted Items

Aug 23, 2005
From Videodrome and the library, here are some noted items: Videodrome Rented both Sin City and Primer. Am interested in renting The Machinist and Sea Lab 2021 Season Three. May write review of Miller’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again for the Valve. Library Koestler, Arthur. The Act of Creation. Full of ideas, this one. Ritner, The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. Think about use of hieroglyph in contemporary design.


Jun 19, 2005
“It may be worth noting here that there does not at the present time exist a word in the English language which may serve as a term for all primates. It is unlikely that the classificatory term ‘primate’ will ever come into common usage, in any case, the latter term is already reserved by the Church to describe the chief ecclesiastic, and we must be careful here, accerima proximorum odia!” (M.

Three Books of Shame

Mar 25, 2005
Here’s the game we’re playing. Lem’s Summa Technologiae. Ok, it’s never been published in English; but I could work my way through the German or finally learn Polish. What better place to start? Waugh’s biography Edmund Campion. To quote Carl, “classic. Total classic.” Le Carre’s The Naive and Sentimental Lover. I once claimed to have read this, falsely. It, along with the most recent book, is the only Le Carre I haven’t read, though I do own it.

Thirty Flasks of Shame

Mar 20, 2005
“He was ill-informed about foreign affairs—he did not read newspapers— but that suited the State Department well enough.“ Coetzee on Faulkner.

On the Subject of Nurses

Mar 6, 2005
At my college graduation, where Charlie Daniels was the commencement speaker, the nurses were the loudest and drunkest contingent by far. I’m glad they’re continuing to do good works outside of work.

From the Realms of Counterfactuality

Feb 25, 2005
“One Highlander on the beaches of Dunkirk was overheard telling a comrade: ‘If the English surrender too, it’s going to be a long war’” (318 qtd in. “Hitler’s England: What if Germany Had Invaded Britain in May 1940?” by Andrew Roberts and Niall Ferguson. In Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals. Ed. Niall Ferguson. New York: Basic, 1999. 281-320). I am currently going through Ferguson’s volume on the Rothschilds. “At the Twilight of the Gods the serpent will devour the earth and the wolf the sun.

Tom Wolfe's Been Annoying the Hell out of Me Lately

Feb 22, 2005
I read A Man in Full in about thirty minutes, it felt like, after arriving in Atlanta; and I foolishly thought beforehand that Wolfe would be over the phrenosomatical obsession with muscles and personality I remembered being irritated by when I read Bonfire. From the reviews I’ve read of Charlotte Simmons, it’s only gotten worse. His obituary on Hunter S. Thompson, however, only has one stray comment about “rawboned” and “rangy” men being prone to manic outbursts.

The Odds?

Feb 17, 2005
What would you guess the odds of the Cleveland Public Library being one of six libraries listed in Worldcat as owning Lopez’s Libro de la invencion y arte del juego del axedrez to be?

Methods of Persuasion

Feb 8, 2005
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not here supporting Wilde’s thesis that “nature imitates art” although that too has its justifications–I am told that no “co-ed” can be kissed standing without raising one foot behind her since the movies have popularized that technique. Brown, Harold Chapman. “Advertising and Propaganda: A Study in the Ethics of Social Control.” International Journal of Ethics. 40.1 (Oct. 1929): 42.

Psychomimetic Analgesics and Torture Religious Implications, Fictional Anticipations, etc.

Feb 8, 2005
This New Yorker article brought to mind something I’ve been thinking about of late. With the worldwide prospects of torture on the considerable rise, it occurs to me that the development of analgesics, perhaps subcutaneous or dental, that cause pain to be perceived as hallucinatory or what C.D. Broad calls “extraspective” images might be either being developed or at least conceptualized. The intensity of the visualizations would correspond with the intensity of the pain, so you might see something of lasting influence while having your hand boiled in Uzbekistan, for instance.

A Meme of Uncertain Prospects

Feb 5, 2005
Compose a flash fiction involving Freud, Schopenhauer, freezing porcupines, and the 1st ed. treatment of the spell abjure (may be substituted for others like beyond the twentieth known iteration). I don’t know if it’s customary to start these by example, but I will not. Not yet.

Freud on the Troilistic Enterprise

Feb 5, 2005
As we may observe with children and soldiers, common activity is not excluded even in the excretory functions. The one great exception is provided by the sexual act, in which a third person is at best superfluous and in the extreme case is condemned to a state of painful expectancy. Freud, Sigmund. Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. Trans. and ed. James Strachey. New York: Norton, 1957.

Two Things I Heard about the Solomon Islands

Jan 31, 2005
“The Solomon Islander ornaments everything he can, spares no pains about it, and has an excellent eye for proportion.” (J. Barnard Davis, “A Few Notes Upon the Hair, and Some Other Peculiarities of Oceanic Races.” The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 2 [1873]: 98) “I heard the prime minister of the Solomon Islands express surprise that his was one of the nations enlisted in the ‘coalition of the willing’: ‘I was completely unaware of it.


Jan 28, 2005
I’m sympathetically disposed towards the author of this article because of the endless hours of amusement Borat has given me over the last few months. But who could have thought up an experiment that involved having infant children look at a mechanical mobile? How can you reasonably draw conclusions about a male preference for systematicity at such an early developmental age? How about if it’s just shiny? I’m tempted to write a “just-so” about aliens to really explain this effect.

S/W Hypo Avant, Evidence for

Jan 23, 2005
“It is easier to explain what is meant by economic nationalism in German than English.” Gregory, T.E. “Economic Nationalism.” International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1931-1939) 10. 3 (May 1931): 289. Also, on a different but still fascinating topic, note “the argument that you have to keep agriculture going as a type of economic production which requires a vigorous manhood, since you also require a vigorous type of manhood in war” (294).


Jan 21, 2005
The climate here is rather humid, but it must, at the same time, be very healthy, because the people who inhabit the mountains are very healthy and well built. In my opinion, they may be considered the purest type of the race called the Papuan, which, I may say here en passant, has no claims to be considered, ethnologically, a distinct race. These mountaineers appear until recent years to have kept entirely aloof from the world, living quietly in the mountains and having no intercourse with strangers.

Significance Regarded As Not-So Protean

Jan 19, 2005
From Barb, A.A. “Three Elusive Amulets.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 27 (1964): 3: There are few Graeco-Roman deities of such protean significance as Hermes-Mercurius. He is the divine messenger and the psychopompos as well as the god of business success—both honest and dishonest. When I write my Dan Brown parody, it will definitely involve CEOs wearing Gnostic cameos. Adam Gopnik’s recent review of books on Leonardo Da Vinci in the New Yorker contains a line about how the perpetual appeal of the occult in American life should not be mistaken for religiosity.

The Wit and Wisdom of Melchior Inchofer

Jan 15, 2005
Behold! Philosophical works among [the Solipsists] are more or less of this sort: “Does the scarab roll dung into a ball paradigmatically?” “If a mouse urinates in the sea, is there a risk of shipwreck?” “Are mathematical points receptacles for spirits?” “Is a belch an exhalation of the soul?” “Does the barking of a dog make the moon spotted?” and many other arguments of this kind, which are stated and discussed with equal contentiousness.

My Favorite Stephens

Jan 11, 2005
Roger Kimball makes the following claim in this review of the new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Today, alas, Leslie Stephen is known to many (to the extent that he is known at all) solely as the father of Virginia Woolf. But Stephen’s claim on our attention goes well beyond his paternity of that poster-girl for twentieth-century feminism, department of snobbish literary neurasthenia. Besides, if we’re going to bring up relatives, why not start with a genuinely distinguished one.

Fish on the Spheres of Religion

Jan 7, 2005
Stanley Fish’s article in the Chronicle today might get (or has already gotten–don’t know yet) a lot of attention among academic web log enthusiasts. He argues that religion is the barycenter of both the private and public spheres, and that academics better take notice (and have been taking notice) of this vital energy. “Announce a course with ‘religion’ in the title, and you will have an overflow population. Announce a lecture or panel on ‘religion in our time’ and you will have to hire a larger hall” writes Fish, and my inner cynic wondered if the increases might be even larger if you substituted “sex” there.

Harry Stephen Keeler

Jan 7, 2005
Via Grand Text Auto I discovered this wonderful site devoted to Harry Stephen Keeler, who I’m sad to say, I had never heard of until just a few minutes ago. Now I must track down and read all of his works. Could Keeler have known Propp or vice versa? I hope to have more to write about this anon.

Lasers, Warfare, and Commerical Aviation

Jan 5, 2005
This story made me wonder about which of the world’s militaries are currently deploying or have the ability to deploy high-intensity lasers on the battlefield to blind the enemy. You can read a report on the matter here. But what I’m really curious about at the moment is whether Dennis Gabor envisioned any military applications for the hologram.

Scenes from Downtown Augusta

Dec 28, 2004
As I drove through this area looking for a bank earlier today, I noted the following two items: there’s a commemorative plaque of a visit by Thackeray to the city in the 1850s. It states that he thought the twenty guineas he earned as a speaking fee was the easiest money he ever made and that the slaves looked happy. Shortly thereafter, I saw a grim woman holding a sign outside the Planned Parenthood office that read “‘we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population’ – Margaret Sanger 1939.

I Did Not Know and Should Have Known

Dec 14, 2004
That Gödel’s favorite movie was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This was from one hell’uva interesting article [Chronicle] by Palle Yourgrau excerpted from his forthcoming A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Gödel and Einstein. I should also recommend this SEP casual introduction to time machines.

Quote re Modes of War, Origin of Attitudes towards

Dec 14, 2004
“Perhaps instead the techniques of chemistry and biology have seemed unclean and unmanly, the products of ‘odd-ball’ scientists ensconced in laboratories, reflecting perverted scientific ingenuity rather than the bravery of cold steel” (George H. Quester, “Chemical and Biological Warfare.” American Political Science Review 68.3 [Sep. 1974]: 1285).

South Korea and the Clancy Perplex

Dec 14, 2004
Via Watercooler Games, I see this notice that the South Korean government, or at least that portion of the government responsible for regulating video games, which might be rather large, considering, has decided that most certainly something obstat in the way of Ghost Recon 2. The game is apparently set in a war-torn North Korea of 2007, which is what was found objectionable. I’m strongly opposed to most any form of censorship you can imagine, but I’m having trouble uniformly condemning their decision.

Consider the Implications

Dec 8, 2004
An edition of the Earl of Rochester’s Sodom is expected to fetch nearly \$65K or so at auction. In the fifth act, the dictator Bolloxinion threatens “to invade heaven and bugger the gods” (Richard Elias: “Political Satire in Sodom,” Studies in English Literature. 18.3 [Summer 1978]: 434).