quotes

Quietness

“Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge.”

I saw this quote – more of a soundbite, I suppose, as it has been extracted from its fuller context – attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Does it suggest anything about da Vinci: was he quietly spoken, or perhaps he was too often shouted down?

It rang a bell: I don’t like to hear shouty men. They seem over sure of themselves. Cocksure. Like a strutting cockerel. Cock-a-doodle-do!

I made a mental list of shouty men in the public domain and media. You might like to add to it or start one of your own. There’s no end of choice.

I found this other soundbite from Bertrand Russell,

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

It may have been in a movie or TV show but I seem to remember a Buddhist master instructing his novice and telling him, “A wise man walks with head bowed.”

Quotes (sayings)

Fandango has a prompt about Quotations.

It seems you can throw a dart at any social media page and stand a fair chance of pinning a quote. I think there must be an app which generates them, set upon a nice picture of a snow-capped mountain, or two kittens in a tin kettle. I tend not to use them too much for this reason.

But my Mum is my favourite for her peculiar way of suggesting something which would be easier said straight.

She (or he) wanted to know the ins and outs of a cat’s arse.”

(when there were young ears about, she was careful to substitute “bottom” or “bum”, depending on their age).

It’s probably obvious but it’s said in reference to someone who was asking too many questions; inquisitive officially or just plain nosy.

Another one of hers I like is,

“You look like one o’clock half struck.”

meaning, what’s with the vacant look/dumb expression? A bit like Mr. Spock here,

“ -!”

I guess they were passed down in the family, I can’t imagine she thought them up herself. Certainly, I’ve borrowed them myself more than once.

#FDDA

Fibbing Friday: Who, what?

Five quotes and Five questions provided by Pensitivity’s101, and explained in depth by the moon is rising’s Oracle of Knowledge, Mr. Fryland P. Stiles esq..

“hmmm, well…”

Who said………?

1. ‘All the world’s a stage, and men and women merely players…………..’

Wow, wouldn’t that be a big theatre! and I still get given the only seat with the restricted view.

I’m not sure it wasn’t the same guy who said, “if there’s a gun on the set in scene 1, you know by the final curtain someone’s gonna get it”. Hence, the idiom, “it’s curtains for you!” which is what mobster Fancy Al Panetonne said about Al Capone’s office soft furnishings before swimming with concrete galoshes.

2. ‘Stay away from negative people, they have a problem for every solution’.

Jordan B. Peterson’s former life coach, Mary Contrary. She’s still on medication and now living under a secret identity.

3. ‘I’m not overweight, I’m just nine inches too short.’

The shortest ever recorded person was Beatrice “Betty” Mantlepiece, measuring a little under two feet, three and a half inches in stockings. The top of the stockings came over her head. She wasn’t at all fat but she was jealous of her cousin, Martha Moreover III, who towered over her at a whopping three feet and one inch.

4. ‘A lie told often enough becomes the truth’.

I said that, a million. billion, squillion times. It’s now an undeniable fact. There’s even a Wikipedia page on it. I know, I wrote it.


5. ‘The only reason people are nice to me is because I have more money than God’

Someone who thinks people are nice to God, and it’s because He has money. Sure, God has money but has He small change enough to buy a Big Issue, or is He caught out like the rest of us? Now, that’s assuming God reads English. Where did He go after the Babel Tower came down?

and five random questions:

6. What is a gramophone?

A smart phone for a close and elderly lady relative who will never get to grips with it.


7. Where will you find a giblet?

In a plastic bag up a turkey’s bumhole. How the bag got up there is an interesting question, rarely asked.


8. What makes corn pop?

Ah, a question with an omitted comma. It happens all the time. What makes corn, pop? I dunno, ask your mother.


9. What is a meme?

An annoyingly demanding person. Possibly a viral celebrity. Other symptoms to look out for are, “look at me!”, “I demand to speak to your manager”, and taking endless selfies.


10. What is meant by lollygag?

What’s is a fun colour, very cold and found on a stick?

Donald Trump on a stick in the Arctic.

Ivory Towers

“I have always tried to live in an ivory tower, but a tide of shit is beating at its walls, threatening to undermine it.”

wrote the French writer, Gustave Flaubert, in a letter to the Russian author, Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev. Thanks to Lit.hub.com, a blog I follow, for this quote.

It’s a timely quote as it does reflect a sense of the world I see today.

I was interested in the term Ivory Tower. It isn’t literally a tower made from ivory but refers to the colour. A symbolic colour of noble purity, Wikipedia tells us. It is mentioned in The Song of Solomon, part of the Old Testament; “Your neck is like an ivory tower”. Quite a long neck, then, and in no literal sense being an abode.

But it probably didn’t originate in the O.T. and its use is found littered throughout time.

Modern usage has modified its sense to convey the idea of a person isolated from common experiences rather than, as Flaubert probably had it, simply striving to live a more virtuous or meaningful life. Of course, in his case, no doubt he sees the average person’s preferences as being part of the “shit”.

Social media has provided the platform for free speech and democratic expression from all quarters of the free world. People say what they want. Is it fair to regard any of it as “shit”? The trouble is, I suppose, this idea of “the will of the people”; is this today’s “shit” that’s beating at the walls, the utter certainty and determination of the plebiscite?


The picture is an altered image of Broadway Tower which is near here. It is actually built in Cotswold limestone which has turned a beautiful, deep and mellow honey colour with time, something which is peculiar to the Cotswold stone around about the county of Worcestershire, in the north west of the area.

Picaresque

“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

(Jonathan Swift from “Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting”)

Do you ever go on a Google Safari?

This may look like a conjoining of two popular search engine names but really my meaning is the popular and ubiquitous meaning of the first word and the literal meaning of the second.

So, it may start by recalling a phrase or quotation or, in this instance, a title of a book, and I’m curious as to its origin or context or literal meaning. The book is the only work published by the author, John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces.

This was a book I’d judged by the title back in – whoa! the 1990s, I reckon, when Penguin issued a series of modern classic novels at an introductory bargain price. I wasn’t disappointed.

The phrase used for the title came to mind this morning after reading the news, but in particular the readers’ comments which are invited below many of the news items. I will admit that I have commented on items myself though I hope I haven’t been typical of these commenters. It’s a healthy sign of freedom and democracy that we are allowed to express ourselves publicly even if we wrongly equate our opinion with that of the author’s. A moment’s thought would tell any reasonable person how wrong this is likely to be so they might discard their certainty before going in search of the truth. Yet vanity and pride overwhelm, so generally people will choose ignorance over correcting themselves.

So, discovering the title comes from Jonathan Swift rather than The Holy Bible or Shakespeare, and being happy with that, I find a term I wasn’t familiar with but ought to be: Picaresque.

Essentially, Picaresque is a literary genre which deals with the lovable rogue, in particular someone from the lower orders in society, though in a broader sense anyone swimming against the popular tide. I love this genre and find such persons, whether fictitious or real, interesting.

In human nature, I feel there must be a “gene” which compels us to move with the herd. You can see its possible “evolutionary advantage”, can’t you? The downside is, amongst other things, people are informed by a narrow section of news outlets – somewhat bias driven for cynically commercial reasons, we get hemmed in by “party politics” – mostly self-serving and unrepresentative of ordinary citizen’s needs or views, and a largely out-of-date and devalued education.


The author, John Kennedy Toole’s life story is a sad one. Having written A Confederacy of Dunces – a brilliant and funny debut novel, I thought – he failed to get a publisher interested in it. He suffered depression and took his own life at the age of 31.

It was his mother, an influential figure throughout his life though not always a welcome one, who championed the novel in her son’s memory and eventually had it published. Later, Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It reads like a good story in its own right and although there is a play, I don’t know if anyone’s made or thought of making a film of it.

Though the Safari could’ve gone on, I chose to end it there.

The Abstract Truth

I had watched a clip featuring the late British art critic, Brian Sewell, in a discussion about abstract paintings. I got the impression he wasn’t overly impressed by abstract art but, after a pause in the conversation, he said something like,

“Well, any painting is an abstract, really.”

I can’t explain what he meant not having had, as he had, an education in the fine arts. While I can have a good guess at identifying an abstract work for what it is, I can’t tell you what makes any other work not an abstract, especially if the clues aren’t obvious.

But I was thinking, after writing a piece of flash fiction, whether, in a similar observation to abstract painting, all writing is fiction.

Or at least a version of it.


image: “Composition VIII” by Wassily Kandinsky

My playlist is a Memento Mori

Peter Tork, the unusual one from The Monkees, has died. Unusual in that he seemed the least like an actor and the most like a proper musician. He was actually an accomplished folk artist before auditioning for the part, and played bass guitar and keyboards. I just about remember The Monkees; it was youthful, subversive and wacky.

“Hope I die before I get old”, sang The Who‘s Roger Daltrey, around the same time. The words are Pete Townsend’s. Both are still with us. Yet they, and those like them, weren’t meant to die or grow old. It’s all about youth and youthfulness, permanently fresh and stretching out into infinite.

I don’t have The Monkees on my 750 song playlist in the car. I’d happily include The Who but I haven’t got around to it. It has become increasingly obvious that a lot of the artists on my playlist are no longer here. This is partly my fault because my tastes go far back to a time before I was born. Yet so many have fallen off the perch in recent years, not by misadventure but through boring old age.

“He’s dead, oh, she’s dead, is she gone now?, I imagine he’s no longer with us, I wonder if she’s still around…”

Does it matter, listening to dead musicians? The music still sounds good. And I think any reminder of mortality is an awareness of life. Rock on! While you’ve still got breath – live!


image: The Monkees (Peter Tork, far left)

Catching the Light Again

“…it wastes my time like an old friend.”

A beautiful turn of phrase, I think.

Thanks to Edmark at Learn Fun Facts, a blog I follow, for posting a letter from William Dean Howells to his friend, Mark Twain, in 1875, concerning difficulties he had trying out a new type-writer.

Click on the link above for the full transcript and more goodies.


image from Pexels.com

And here’s my earlier post mentioning Catching the Light.

Think on: Does any cheese complement a tomato?

The UK’s popular, and probably populist, newspaper, The Sun, states, following a poll of its readers, that a fraction above 62% of them would vote Leave if there was a second referendum on Brexit. Quelle surprise, as they may say in Brussels.

Polls are silly and I don’t like them, so much so that I might respond to any in a mischievous and inconsistent way just to subvert them. Am I alone in this? Let’s take a poll….

Seriously, I wondered if any of our other esteemed papers had instigated their own agenda driven readers’ polls. I didn’t find any but stumbled across a YouGov analysis of different paperstypical reader. It was all pretty banal until I read,

“A Daily Mail reader enjoys eating cheese and tomato sandwiches…”

Now I’m not saying reverse logic can apply and that knowing your character traits can point you towards the appropriate newspaper but, really, is there any way I can pick up the Daily Mail knowing this?

In my world, sliced tomatoes have no business between two slices of bread anymore than say a sliced lemon does (by all means try one and let me know). But then with cheese?!

I know, I know, the pairing of Cheese and tomato, have history – but how on Earth did that happen?

As usual, answers on a postcard, please, as we used to say….


YouGov Poll on UK newspaper readerships (via The Guardian) – old news

Views on Writing: Catching the Light

Clive James wrote of writing that it was turning a phrase until it catches the light.

When I read – and when I write, though this is a late experience and I’m still on the nursery slopes – too often I’m not noticing the glint of light. This is made more obvious when I consider those times when the light appears brilliantly, and it’s as if something magical is happening. It’s quite often an opening paragraph or an introduction to something, and it’s usually quite simple, precise, colourful and concise.

Following a path towards an understanding of Reena’s Exploration Challenge this week, I googled the name Kosho Uchiyama Rōshi. He was a Zen Buddhist monk in 20th century Japan, a master of origami, and an exponent of zazen, literally “sitting”, a method of meditation devised by the Zen master, Eihei Dōgen.

I follow his name in turn and find this passage on zazen attributed to him,

“I have not visited many Zen monasteries. I simply, with my master Tendo, quietly verified that the eyes are horizontal and the nose is vertical. I cannot be misled by anyone anymore. I have returned home empty-handed.

I quietly verified that the eyes are horizontal and the nose is vertical. This is a phrase that catches the light.