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.

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