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

Monday, June 4, 2012


2. Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858 - 1937) was a Bengali polymath, whose discoveries in plant physiology were but a fraction of his contributions to science.

6.  Macula lutea: small yellowish area of the retina near the optic disk that provides central vision.

13.  Dinothere: any elephantlike mammal of the extinct genus Dinotherium, from the later Tertiary period of Europe and Asia, having large, outwardly curving tusks.

14.  No doubt related to "pagne," "loincloth."

17. "Yes, yes, yes, very well, not only, but also."

26. The reader is encouraged to sing these words to the tune of "Il est ne le divin enfant."

28. Daumal is perhaps humorously refering to Saint Gudula (in French, Sainte Gudule), an eleventh-century Belgian saint.

32. Carl Oluf Jensen (1864 - 1934), a Danish veterinary scientist best remembered for his discovery that mouse mammary tumors are malignant and transplantable; he would die a few months after Daumal was writing this.

40. In 1934, a woman in Pirano, Italy, is reported to have been witnessed emitting a glow of light from her chest as she slept. She was examined by Dr. Protti.

62. Daumal is most likely referring to Peter Bender, a German World War I pilot who introduced the theory of the hollow globe of Cyrus Reed Teed into Germany; Benders Hohlweltlehre (hollow earth theory) indeed grew popular in the 1930's, and in 1933, Rudolf Nebel, a member of the Nazi party, received funding to carry out the Magdeburg Project: to send a powerful rocket straight up from Magdeburg in order to hit south New Zealand. Funds ran out after eight attempts. Bender himself would meet his demise after the failure of another Nazi initiative, in which a German naval expedition was sent to Rugen Island in order to detect British ships by means of powerful telescopes pointed skyward. The disastrous outcome resulted in Bender and his wife being sent to a death camp.

74. "The Metamorphosis of King Louis-Philippe into a Pear," a famous satirical series of drawings showing the gradual change of the head of the King into a pear (a "fathead"), was executed by Charles Philipon and later by Honore Daumier, both in the nineteenth century.

81. Presumably the Goose Lake Meteorite, which fell in Modoc County in 1938 and was removed from the site in 1939.

Selected from the endnotes to
Pataphysical Essays by Rene Daumal
Translated by Thomas Vosteen
Wakefield Press, 2012

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