Thursday, April 22, 2010

Status Update - and a nod to Nietzche

After so much time out of circulation, I am finding it hard to get back into the swing of blogging.

I share some of the HP's embarrassment at beginning, crafting and finishing a piece - and I also find that the frenetic pace of commentary (leave aside the impossibly intense 24/7 "news" cycle) makes it extremely difficult to offer serious analysis that is also timely.

By the time I have thought through an issue - at least far enough through it to be able to say something moderately intelligent - the world around me has largely moved on.

I firmly believe that the sickness is with the world, not with my thinking of it (and here, I am reminded of Emerson's claim to the effect that he knows the world he converses with in the city and the farms is not the world he thinks - though I am not certain whether I am reminded after Plato or after Heraclitus. I mean to say that Aristotle's remonstration with his master is different in result (at least) from that, with which Cratylus engaged his own master, Heraclitus, over the matter of a river and our chances in it).

I stand for slow and perfect reading - for endless listening and endless response:
[W]e are friends of the lento, I and my book. I have not been a philologist in vain — perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading. I even come to write slowly. At present it is not only my habit, but even my taste — a perverted taste, maybe — to write nothing but what will drive to despair every one who is ‘in a hurry.’ For philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all — to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow — the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. Thus philology is now more desirable than ever before; thus it is the highest attraction and incitement in an age of ‘work’: that is, of haste, of unseemly and immoderate hurry-skurry, which is so eager to ‘get things done’ at once, even every book, whether old or new. Philology itself, perhaps, will not so hurriedly ‘get things done.’ It teaches how to read well, that is, slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar, with delicate fingers and eyes. My patient friends, this book appeals only to perfect readers and philologists: learn to read me well!
Let me only say, "philosophy".


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