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, November 15, 2011
JONATHAN SWIFT ADDRESSES THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT, THE TEA PARTY, THE CURRENT FIELD OF GOP PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS, AND OTHER TOPICS RELEVANT TO TODAY
... their next principle was that man brings with him into the world a peculiar portion or grain of wind... This quintessence is of a catholic use upon all emergencies of life, is improveable into all arts and sciences, and may be wonderfully refined as well as enlarged by certain methods in education. This, when blown up to to its perfection, ought not to be covetously hoarded up, stifled, or hid under a bushel, but freely communicated to mankind. Upon these reasons and others of equal weight, [they] affirm the gift of BELCHING to be the noblest act of a rational creature. To cultivate which art and render it more serviceable to mankind, they made use of several methods. At certain seasons of the year, your might behold them, ... in several hundreds linked together in a circular chain, with every man a pair of bellows applied to another man's breech, by which they blew each other up to the shape and size of a tun;.... When by these and the like performances they were grown sufficiently replete, they would immediately depart and disembogue for the public good a plentiful share of their acquirements into their disciples' chaps. For we must here observe that all learning was esteemed among them to be composed of the same principle. Because first, it is generally affirmed, or confessed, that learning puffeth men up; and, secondly, they proved it by the following syllogism. Words are but wind, and learning is nothing but words; ergo, learning is nothing but wind...wherein they had acquired a wonderful eloquence, and of incredible variety. But the great characteristic by which their chief sages were distinguished, was a certain position of countenance, which gave undoubted intelligence to what degree or proportion the spirit agitated the inward mass. For after certain gripings, the wind and vapours issuing forth, having first by their turbulence and convulsions within caused an earthquake in man's little world, bloated the cheeks, and gave the eyes a terrible kind of relievo. At which juncture, all their belches were received for sacred, the sourer the better, and swallowed with infinite consolation by their meagre devotees.