January 19, 2010


Coetzee, J .M., Summertime (New York: Viking, 2009) (“So David Truscott, who did not understand x and y, is a flourishing marketer or marketeer, while he, who had no trouble understanding x and y and much else besides, is an unemployed intellectual. What does that suggest about the workings of the world? What it seems most obviously to suggest is that the path that leads through Latin and algebra is not the path to material success. But it may suggest much more: that understanding things is a waste of time; that if you want to succeed in the world and have a happy family and a nice home and a BMW you should not try to understand things but just add up numbers or press the buttons or do whatever else it is that marketers are so richly rewarded for doing.” Id. at 14-15. “And I always beat him, or nearly always.” “The reason was simple. It wasn’t that he couldn’t argue; but he ran his life according to principles, whereas I was a pragmatist. Pragmatism always beats principles; that is just the way things are. The universe moves, the ground changes under our feet; principles are always a step behind. Principles are the stuff of comedy. Comedy is what you get when principles bump into reality.” Id. at 62-63.).

Kierkegaard, Soren, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychological Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin (Kierkegaard Writings, Vol. VIII) edited and translated by Reidar Thomte and Albert B. Anderson (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1980) ("It is indeed unethical to say that innocence must be annulled, for even if it were annulled at the moment this is uttered, ethics forbids us to forget that that it is annulled only by guilt. Therefore, if one speaks of innocence as immediacy and is logically offensive and rude enough to have let this fleeting thing vanish, or if one is esthetically sensitive about what it was and the fact that it has vanished, he is merely geistreich [clever] and forgets the point." "Just as Adam lost innocence by guilt, so every man loses it in the same way. If it was not by guilt that he lost it, then it was not innocence that he lost; and if he was not innocent before becoming guilty, he never became guilty." Id. at 35.).

Kierkegaard, Soren, Fear and Trembling; Repetition (Kierkegaard Writings, Vol. VI) edited and translated by Howard V. Hong & Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1983) ("What, then, is education? I believe it is the course the individual goes through in order to catch up with himself, and the person who will not go through this course is not much helped by being born in the most enlightened age." Fear and Trembling at 46. “[Job] affirms that he is on good terms with God; he knows he is innocent and pure in the very core of his being, where he also knows it before the Lord, yet all the world refutes him. Job’s greatness is that freedom’s passion in him is not smothered or quieted down by a wrong expression. In similar circumstances, this passion is often smothered in a person when faintheartedness and petty anxiety have allowed him to think he is suffering because of his sins, when that was not at all the case. His soul lacked the perseverance to carry through an idea when the world incessantly disagreed with him. . . .” Repetition at 207.).

Kierkegaard, Soren, The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awaking (Kierkegaard Writings, Vol. XIX) edited and translated by Howard V. Hong & Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1980) (The philistine-bourgeois mentality is spiritlessness; determinism and fatalism are despair of spirit, but spiritlessness is also despair. The philistine-bourgeois mentality lacks every qualification of spirit and is completely wrapped up in probability, within which possibility finds its small corner. . . . Bereft of imagination, as the philistine-bourgeois always is, whether alehouse keeper or prime minister, he lives within a certain trivial compendium of experiences as to how things go, what is possible, what usually happens. In this way, the philistine-bourgeois has lost his self. . . . In order for a person to become aware of his self . . . , imagination must raise him to higher than the miasma of probability, it must tear him out of this and teach him to hope and fear--or to fear and to hope--by rendering possible that which surpasses the {{quantum satis}} [sufficient amount] of any experience. But the philistine-bourgeois mentality does not have imagination, does not want to have it, abhors it. So there is no help to be had here. And if at times existence provides frightful experiences that go beyond the parrot-wisdom of routine experience, then the philistine-bourgeois mentality despairs, then it becomes apparent that it was despair; it lacks faith’s possibility of being able . . . to save a self from certain downfall.” Id. at 41.).

Powys, John Cowper, Autobiography [1934], a new edition with an introduction by J.B. Priestley (London: Macdonald, 1967) ("My enemies, and those worse than enemies, my patronizing admirers , . . . will doubtless affix many semi-scientific labels to my aberrations, have indeed probably already rushed to their psychopathic text-books to find out what I can possibly be up to, when I refer to my power of experiencing the emotions of women and girls. But the more I soak myself in the work of Shakespeare and Dostoievsky the more I recognize that both these men have the magic power of becoming women. That is the point. That is where the intelligencies of our modern critics are so dull. They do not understand what the meaning of the word 'Imagination' is." Id. at 528. "Science has not changed the human soul. Science has not changed the basic relations between the human soul and the mystery surrounding it. We are still potential magicians as long as we have faith in the power within us to create and to destroy. Social Justice is one thing. The free life of the individual soul under any system is another thing. What we do is important; but it is less important than what we feel; for it is our feeling that alone is under the control of our will. In action we may be weak and clumsy blunders, or on the other hand sometimes incompetent and sometimes competent, All this is largely beyond our control. What is not beyond our control is our feeling about it." Id. at 626. "When I contemplate the remorseless organization of our modern nations in their deliberate preparation for more frightful wars than this last one, and when I think of the blood-and-iron industrialism, which seems, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, to resemble a kind of daily war, there does seem something infinitely desirable about the passionate mystical, scholarly retirement from the world of these laborious thinks. I feel as if I could understand much better the sort of intellectual, mystical, and imaginative life that Pelagius lived, or Marcion, or even the metaphysical Duns Scotus, than I can grasp the temperamental mentality of modern 'Behaviourist.' But of course I know perfectly well that behind every human 'formula' of life--even behind these apparently purely 'scientific' attitudes--there is a will t believe." Id. at 631.).

Powys, John Cowper, A Glastonbury Romance [1932] (Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1987) (A great opening paragraph: "At the striking of noon on a certain fifth of March, there occurred within a causal radius of Brandon railway station and yet beyond the deepest pools of emptiness between the uttermost stellar systems one of those infinitesimal ripples in the creative silence of the First Cause which always occurs when an exceptional stir of heightened consciousness agitates any living organism in this astronomical universe. Something passed at that moment, a wave, a motion, a vibration, too tenuous to be called magnetic, too subliminal to be called spiritual, between the soul of a particular human being who was emerging from a third-class carriage of the twelve-nineteen train from London and the divine-diabolic soul of the First Cause of all life." Id. at 21.).

Powys, John Cowper, Maiden Castle [1936] (Woodstock & New York: The Overlook Press, 2001) ("The girl on the bed made no answer; and it was unlucky that at that second, as he lifted his head, he encountered the humiliated and offended look of Thuella's portrait of Teucer Wye. 'If you can't be a man', Mr. Wye's expression said, 'the best thing for you to do is to read Plato'." Id. at 276. "Good and evil must change,' he shouted, 'like everything else. Our art must change. A year ago I was a pacifist and a reformer. Now I'm a Communist and a person born again! All that old notion of yours, No-man, about the superior man living for contemplation--I tell we've enough of it! The poor, the working-people, have always been as I am now. What is this precious personal life you make such a fuss about compared with the great living spontaneous forces that move and stir in the crowded masses? I tell you the life of the working classes today anticipates the noblest life in the future. With what sardonic humour must a miner or a quarryman or a factory-hand today watch your poetical gentleman going for a walk with his stick and his dog and his love of nature! It's the human beings who sleep ten in a room, fighting, laughing, weeping, loving, hating, who know what Nature is! The rabbit in a trap knows what Nature is; and a man and a woman making love in the presence of their grown children, or beside themselves with hatred in the presence of three other families, know what Nature is. Oh, you poetical people with your simple life, I could curse you as Jesus cursed the Pharisees! I tell you, No-man, it costs money to live a simple life. A simple life's the luxury of the comfortable. Your benevolent poetical gentleman feeds on the poverty of others. He sucks blood like a flea, he cracks bones like a hyaena. He hates the radio, the cinema, the circus, because he can afford to hate them! I've found out this, my dears, from the little real work I've done already: that if you can't sink into the midst of a crowd, into the midst of ordinary people, loving, hating, chattering, suffering, enjoying themselves, being bad, being good, being swayed by all the natural human passions, and with no pride in themselves as superior to average humanity, and with no time to be fastidious, it's no good pretending that you've got the secret of life!'" Id. at 401-402. "Women are not less but far more polygamous than men, only it is a diffused and psychic polygamy, a polygamy that doesn't require for its satisfaction any contact of flesh with flesh; and they are, for this very reason, so protected from being exposed in these spiritual infidelities that they are often able to hide them even from themselves." Id. at 454.).

Powys, John Cowper, Owen Glendower: A Novel [1941] (Woodstock & New York: The Overlook Press, 2002).

Powys, John Cowper, Porius: A Novel [1951] edited by Judith Bond and Morine Krissdottir (Woodstock & New York: Overlook Duckworth, 1951, 2007).

Powys, John Cowper, Weymouth Sands: A Novel [1934] (Woodstock & New York: The Overlook Press, 1999).

Powys, John Cowper, Wolf Solent: A Novel [1929] (New York: Vintage International, 1998) ("'You needn't go on! interrupted Jason. 'Of course, I can't expect anyone to like my poetry who lives by copying out liquorish thoughts of a doting old fool. We all want to be glorified. My poetry is all I've got and I ought never to have read it to you. I ought to have known I'd only get abuse. It's this wanting to be glorified that's the mistake. A person ought to be satisfied if he can get his meals three times a day, without having to dance attendance on some silly old man or some ugly old woman!'" Id. at 363. "'Every movement we make must be bad or good,' she said: 'and we've got to make movements! We make bad movements anyhow . . . all of us . . . outrageous ones . . . like creation of the world! Isn't it better, then, to make them with our eyes open . . . to make them honestly, without any fuss . . . than just to be pushed, while we turn our heads round and pretend to be looking the other way? That's what you do, Wolf. You look the other way! . . . Why do you always try to make out that your motives are good, Wolf? They're often abominable! Just as mine are. There's only one thing required of us in this world, and that's not to be a burden . . . not to hang round people's necks! My Manley-man, whom you hate so, at any rate stands on his own feet. He give nothing for nothing. He keeps his thoughts to himself.'" Id at 460-461.).