Almost made me cry in the library :)
Πᾶν τὸ καὶ ὁπωσοῦν καλὸν ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ καλόν ἐστι καὶ ἐφ̓ ἑαυτὸ καταλήγει, οὐκ ἔχον μέρος ἑαυτοῦ τὸν ἔπαινον: οὔτε γοῦν χεῖρον ἣ κρεῖττον γίνεται τὸ ἐπαινούμενον. τοῦτό φημι καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν κοινότερον καλῶν λεγομένων, οἷον ἐπὶ τῶν ὑλικῶν καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν τεχνικῶν κατασκευασμάτων ῾τὸ γὰρ δὴ ὄντως καλὸν τίνος χρείαν ἔχει; οὐ μᾶλλον ἣ νόμος, οὐ μᾶλλον ἣ ἀλήθεια, οὐ μᾶλλον ἢ εὔνοια ἢ αἰδώς᾿: τί τούτων διὰ τὸ ἐπαινεῖσθαι καλόν ἐστιν ἢ ψεγόμενον φθείρεται; σμαράγδιον γὰρ ἑαυτοῦ χεῖρον γίνεται, ἐὰν μὴ ἐπαινῆται; τί δὲ χρυσός, ἐλέφας, πορφύρα, λύρα, μαχαίριον, ἀνθύλλιον, δενδρύφιον;
(1) Besides, everything that is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself and complete in itself, and praise forms no part of it; at any rate, nothing becomes worse or better by being praised. (2) This applies even to what is popularly called beautiful, such as material objects or works of art; and as for what is really beautiful, does this need anything beyond itself? Surely not, any more than la or truth or kindness or self-respect. (3) Which of these is beautiful because it is praised or damaged by being criticized? Does an emerald become any worse if it is not praised; and what about gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a sword, a blossom, or a bush?
(trans. Christopher Gill; Greek from Perseus)
Suddenly you’re ripped into being alive. And life is pain, and life is suffering, and life is horror, but my god you’re alive and its spectacular.
Joseph Campbell (via atmosthetic)
Good response to my earlier quote. Campbell
I wished to believe that things were not as bad as they seemed. This was the part of me that wanted to be entertained, that preferred not to confront the horror. But that satisfaction did not come: things ended badly, as they usually do. I wondered, as Coetzee did in “Elizabeth Castello,” what the use was of going into the recesses of the human heart. Why show torture? Was it not enough to be told, in imprecise detail, that bad things happened? We wish to be spared, whether the story was about Idi Amin or Cornelis Van Tienhoven. It is a common wish, and a foolish one: no one is spared. Idi Amin’s young sons were named MacKenzie and Campbell—MacKenzie was epileptic—and these two Scots-Ugandans were caught in Idi Amin’s nightmare, and Obatala’s** carelessness.
Open City, by Teju Cole
**According to mythical stories, Obatala created people with disabilities while drunk on palm wine, making him the patron deity of such people. People born with congenital defects are called eni orisa: literally, “people of Obatala”. (From Wiki)
Game of Cats
Cute :) I wish my puppies got along with my cat.
I know I live in a country that takes a lot of pride in itself, and I don’t think pride is always a bad thing. It can drive people to be better and more successful nearly as often as it can drive them to be assholes.
As Ben Franklin put it, “In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”
However, every so often I am reminded of the ways our national pride frustrates me. Pride has promoted an environment where we are discouraged (or at least not encouraged) to travel, learn new languages or explore lives other than our own. It’s not that it doesn’t happen every day in the US. Everyday people are striving to do better and know more beyond the confines of their little bubble. But generally when I go abroad or meet people from different cultures, they agree that the US is a very self-centered culture, on macro and micro levels.
But 2 things in the last couple days have made me think again about the self-centered pride that comes from such fervent optimism and belief that America is destined for something greater than the present: Game of Thrones and a pastry from Starbucks. Game of Thrones ads have popped up all around NYC and I’ve noticed that they have a quotes from the show and books, “All men must die.” However, after visiting Toronto this week, the same ads there read “Valar Morghulis,” (“All Men Must Die” in High Valyrian). Then at Starbucks, my favorite pastry, the “morning bun” is actually called a “cinnamon brioche” in Toronto.
Cinnamon brioche is a more accurate description of the type of pastry that Starbucks sells. ”Valar Morghulis” is repeated multiple times in the Game of Thrones universe, from books to television, and fans of the series should recognize what the words signify. So why do marketers, branders, and publicists insist on dumbing things down for an American demographic? Are we really so dense that we can’t handle the mere implication of a foreign language, even a made up one? Have we been shown to be more adverse to the use of foreign languages in advertisements, or do we just not care to be bothered with them?
The world is a big place and we occupy a small part of it. I know our history is one of pride and innovation, so that we have grown up thinking that we can solve (and perhaps need to solve) every little thing, but how did we get so proud that we can’t even handle two words in a fictional language from a fantasy book series? That we can’t even handle the word “brioche?” How many other times can you stand to have things dumbed down, rather than opening your eyes to the other 7 billion people on the planet?
Our school has this “Stone Tablet Policy” which basically says that there is no excuse for not turning in your assignments and that you must turn them in even if you have to carve it into a stone tablet.
So this kid carved his 8 page essay about California drug laws into $70 worth of limestone.
That’s amazing. Someone should bury it, just to mess with archeologists in 100 years.