A live toad every morning

Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Commonplace book - Coleridge yet again

Coleridge referred to antimnemonics, which were things that made your memory worse:

the habit of perusing periodical works may be properly added to Averroes'* catalogue of Anti-mnemonics, or weakeners of the memory…..

*Ex. gr. Pedicalos e capillis excerptos in arenam jarere incontusos; eating of unripe fruit; gazing on the clouds, and (in genere) on moveable things suspended in the air; man's delirium, riding among a multitude of camels; frequent laughter; listening to a series of Jests and humorous anecdotes, as when (so to modernize the learned Saracen's meaning) therefore transfer this species of amusement, one man's droll story of an Irishman inevitably occasions another's droll story of a Scotchman, which again by the same sort of conjunction disjunctive leads to some etourderie  of a Welshman, and that again to some sly hit of a Yorkshireman ; the habit of reading tomb-stones in church-yards, &c..

Reading tombstones?  That’s worrying:  walking in graveyards is one of Rose’s favourite hobbies.  That’s one of the reasons why we liked Syracuse so much; wonderful, wonderful graveyards, one of the best we’ve seen anywhere.

Though, checking online, I see that
Coleridge actually misremembers the source. Not Averroes, a Muslim Aristotelian, but Burhan al-Din, as translated by Jean Baptiste de Boyer, Kabbalistische Briefe (8 vols)--James Engell & W. Jackson Bate

Wouldn’t want to mislead you.

Commonplace book - Coleridge

For as to the devotees of the circulating libraries, I dare not compliment their pass−time, or rather killtime, with the name of reading. Call it rather a sort of beggarly daydreaming, during which the mind of the dreamer furnishes for itself nothing but laziness and a little mawkish sensibility; while the whole materiel and imagery of the doze is supplied ab extra by a sort of mental camera obscura manufactured at the printing office, which pro tempore fixes, reflects and transmits the moving phantasms of one man’s delirium, so as to people the barrenness of an hundred other brains afflicted with the same trance or suspension of all common sense and all definite purpose.We should therefore transfer this species of amusement, (if indeed those can be said to retire a musis, who were never in their company, or relaxation be attributable to those, whose bows are never bent) from the genus, reading, to that comprehensive class characterized by the power of reconciling the two contrary yet co−existing propensities of human nature, namely; indulgence of sloth, and hatred of vacancy. In addition to novels and tales of chivalry in prose or rhyme, (by which last I mean neither rhythm nor metre) this genus comprizes as its species, gaming, swinging, or swaying on a chair or gate; spitting over a bridge; smoking; snuff−taking; tete-a-tete quarrels after dinner between husband and wife; conning word by word all the advertisements of the daily advertizer in a public house on a rainy day, &c. &c. &c.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Commonplace book - Dooley

From Finlay Peter Dunne; 

Well, th' Boer dillygates met Mack an' they had a pleasant chat. 'Will ye,' says they, 'inthervene an' whistle off th' dogs iv war?' they says.
'Whisper,' says Mack, th' tears flowin' down his cheeks. 'lver since this war started me eyes have been fixed on th' gallant or otherwise, nation or depindancy, fightin' its brave battle f'r freedom or rebellin' again' th' sov'reign power, as the case may be,' he says. 'Unofficially, my sympathy has gone out to ye, an' burnin' wurruds iv unofficial cheer has been communicated unofficially be me to me official fam'ly, not, mind ye, as an official iv this magnificent an' liberty-lovin' raypublic, but as a private citizen,' he says. 'I feel, as a private citizen, that so long,' he says, 'as the br-right star iv liberty shines resplindent over our common counthries, with th' example iv Washin'ton in ye'er eyes, an' th' iliction comin' on, that ye must go forward an' conker or die,' he says. 'An',' he says, 'Willum McKinley is not th' man to put annything in ye'er way,' he says. 'Go back to me gr-reat an' good frind an' tell him that th' hear-rt iv th' raypublican party throbs f'r him,' he says. 'An' Sicrety Hay's,' he says, 'an' mine,' he says, 'unofficially,' he says. 'Me official hear-rt,' he says, 'is not permitted be th' constitootion to throb durin' wurrukin' hours,' he says.
"An' so it goes. Ivrywhere th' dillygates tur-rns they see th' sign: 'This is me busy day.' An' whin they get back home they can tell th' people they found th' United States exudin' sympathy at ivry pore -- marked private. '"
"Don't ye think th' United States is enthusyastic f'r th' Boers?" asked the innocent Hennessy.

"It was," said Mr. Dooley. "But in th' las' few weeks it's had so manny things to think iv. Th' enthusyasm iv this counthry, Hinnissy, always makes me think iv a bonfire on an ice-floe. It burns bright so long as ye feed it, an' it looks good, but it don't take hold, somehow, on th' ice."


Wednesday, March 09, 2016


Cardinal Pell appears to have placed the interests of the Church and his own advancement over the interests of the people in his care.  He’s behaved, that is, just like any executive of an enormous multinational corporation, which is, let’s face it, what he is. If I believed that the Catholic Church had any sort of a special relationship with god I might feel betrayed: but I don’t, so I can’t. The small minority of Australians who still believe can presumably rely on their god to put the boot into Pell in the next life.  The rest of us should do what we should be doing in every case of corporate abuse – stop blaming the front man and start changing the laws so that they can’t get away scot free next time.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

We once won

a fancy dress competition as Mickey and Minnie in Birregurra, a small town outside Colac where Rose had a cottage, though that was primarily because one of our friends was one of the judges and knew that the prize was a bottle of Barossa Pearl.  

We gave the bottle to Bluey next door and thought that that was that, till he asked us round to have some, in tiny little sherry glasses…. he himself had beer, not being into this fancy stuff.  And again the next night, and the next, till we threw our hearts and stomachs into the job and finished the bottle. 

And next time we were down he invited us round, and said “I know what you like….. got a bottle in special.” 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Winter's Tattletale

At the Branagh Theatre movie of the Winter's tale it became very clear that Act V scene 2 is what happens when someone comes round after rehearsal and says to Will S. "It went fairly well, but we ran half an hour over.  You'll need to go through and trim off some of the fat."
Sorry, says Will, I'm busy doing the Tempest next week and I have to do a couple of scenes for Beaumont and Fletcher the week after that, can't do it for a month, you'll just have to run with it as is.
"Can't do that, the overtime rates will kill us. Hey, just for a quick fix, how about if you just skip Act Five scenes two to five and just have an infodump with the comedian? Better than nothing."
OK, says Will, and that's what we got.
It's the only thing that explains why Autolycus has essentially no plot function at all; he was in the scenes that got cut.


Tuesday, February 09, 2016


One further glitch has been added in to my appreciation of historical movies.  Apart from thinking "How unrealistic - they all have good teeth" I have now found myself thinking, every time someone is in a coach, "How unrealistic - the road is so smooth."  In the American colonies, for example, the contract for roadclearing required the contractor to cut all trees on the roadway down to a height of eighteen inches; that was considered fit for purpose. Generally, as one would expect, filmmakers sprinkle snow or dirt over the top of blacktop.

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