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

Thursday, April 7, 2011


...our eyes and other senses will commonly deceive us; it may be, to thee thyself upon a more serious examination, or after a little absence, she is not so fair as she seems...It may not be that she is so fair, but her coats, or put another in her clothes, and she will seem all out as fair; as the poet then prescribes, separate her from her clothes: suppose thou saw her in a base beggar's weed, or else dressed in some hirsute attires out of fashion, foul linen, coarse raiments, besmeared with soot, colly, perfumed with opoponax, sagapenum, asafoetida, or some such filthy gums, dirty, or about some undecent action or other...Suppose thou beheld her in a frosty morning, in cold weather, in some passion or perturbation of mind, weeping, chafing, etc., rivelled and ill-favored to behold. She many times that in a composed look seems so amiable and delicious, of so elegant an appearance, if she do but laugh or smiles, makes an ugly sparrow-mouthed face, and shows a pair of uneven, loathsome, rotten. foul teeth; she hath a black skin, gouty legs, a deformed crooked carcass under a fine coat. It may be for all her costly tires she is bald, and though she seem so fair by dark, by candle-light, or afar off, as Callicratides observed in Lucian, "if though should see her near or in the morning, she would appear more ugly than a beast."...if you reflect on what issues from her mouth and nostrils and other orifices of her body you will say that you have never seen such filth. Follow my counsel, see her undressed, if it be possible, out of her attires, stripped of her stolen colours, it may be that she...will be loathsome and ridiculous, thou wilt not endure her sight; or suppose thou saw'st her sick, pale, in a consumption, on her death-bed, skin and bones or now dead, she whose embrace was  so agreeable, her aspect will be horrible. As a posy she smells sweet, is most fresh and fair one day, but dried up, withered, and stinks another...thy lovely mistress who erst was dearer to thee than thy eyes, once sick or departed, is worse than any dirt or dunghill. Her embraces are not so acceptable now as her looks are terrible; thou hadst better observe a Gorgon's head than Helena's carcass.

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

1 comment:

  1. Who is this popular woman? What the #$(#*&%#$ does she do?
    Very well put Robert Burton. You must have had a tough time with the ladies.