You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


... [T]he greatest provocations for lust are from our apparel; God makes, they say, man shapes, and there is no motive like unto it ... A filthy knave, a deformed quean, a crooked carcass, a maukin, a witch, a rotten post, an hedge-stake may be set out and tricked up that is shall make as fair a show, as much enamour, as the rest; many a silly fellow is so taken...Not that comeliness of clothes is therefore to be condemned, and those usual ornaments: there is a decency and decorum in this as there are in other things...Why do they crown themselves with gold and silver, use coronets and tires of several fashions, deck themselves with pendants, bracelets, earrings, chains, girdles, rings, pins, spangles, embroideries, shadows, rabatoes, versicolour ribands? Why do they make such glorious shows with their scarves, feathers, fans, masks, furs, laces, tiffanies, ruffs, falls, cauls, cuffs, damasks, velvets, tinsels, cloths of gold, silver, tissue? stones, odours, flowers, birds, beasts, fishes, and whatsoever Africa, Asia, America, sea, land, art and industry of man can afford" Why do they use and covet such novelties of invention, such new-fangled tires, and spend such inestimable sums on them?...Why are they like so many Sybarites, or Nero's Poppea, Ahasuerus' concubines, so costly, so long a-dressing as Caesar was marshaling his army, or a hawk in pruning...they had more need some of them to be tied in Bedlam with iron chains, have a whip for a fan, and hair-cloths next to their skins, and instead of wrought smocks, have their cheeks stigmatized with a hot iron, I say, some of our Jezebels, instead of painting if they were well served. But why all this labour, all this cost, preparation, riding, running, far-fetched and dear-bought stuff? "Because, forsooth, they would be fair and fine, and where nature is defective, supply it by art."

Robert  Burton , The Anatomy of Melancholy

No comments:

Post a Comment