Saturday, May 11, 2019

profundities via Gilleland

Michael Gilleland's blog Laudator Temporis Acti ("praiser of time past," as his site says) offers quotes from generally long-ago literary works and classics, although the occasional modern quote gets thrown in. Mr. Gilleland recently made a quiet announcement about his blog's fifteenth blogiversary. He's considering quitting the blogging game, but a friend has convinced him to stay on, which Mr. Gilleland will do... for now.

I say little about Laudator, but I do appreciate the pearls of wisdom that Mr. Gilleland makes the effort to dig up and send out to the world. He's like a Buddhist temple bell, whose purpose is to broadcast the dharma to those who can and will take heed. In that spirit, here are two recent gems that I'd like to pass along:

A few other trends actually seem to be moving backward in the new millennium. For instance, audiobooks are a return to the oral tradition, and podcasts—talks, interviews, radio series—dispense with the written record completely. The codex—the book with turnable pages sewn between covers—was a great improvement over the scroll, but now, with publication online, we are back to scrolling again, which makes it hard to refer back to things.
Mary Norris, Greek to Me (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2019), page number unknown (from the first chapter)

Our souls belong to our bodies, not our bodies to our souls. For which has the care of the other? which keeps house? which looks after the replenishing of the aorta and auricles, and stores away the secretions? Which toils and ticks while the other sleeps? Which is ever giving timely hints, and elderly warnings? Which is the most authoritative? — Our bodies, surely. At a hint, you must move; at a notice to quit, you depart. Simpletons show us, that a body can get along almost without a soul; but of a soul getting along without a body, we have no tangible and indisputable proof. My lord, the wisest of us breathe involuntarily. And how many millions there are who live from day to day by the incessant operation of subtle processes in them, of which they know nothing, and care less? Little ween they, of vessels lacteal and lymphatic, of arteries femoral and temporal; of pericranium or pericardium; lymph, chyle, fibrin, albumen, iron in the blood, and pudding in the head; they live by the charity of their bodies, to which they are but butlers. I say, my lord, our bodies are our betters. A soul so simple, that it prefers evil to good, is lodged in a frame, whose minutest action is full of unsearchable wisdom.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), Mardi, chapter 155 (Babbalanja to Media)

I forget, sometimes, how eloquent Melville could be.

1 comment:

John Mac said...

That was a whale of a good quote from Melville...