Friday, August 31, 2012

Who said it XI?

I know that I did a Who said it? not so long ago, but I feel like another one, and it’s my blog. So, ravaging my beloved library. . . .

1)  If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp: But it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash himself with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp again. Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, with thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

a) Hammurabi: The Code of Hammurabi b) Moses: The Old Testament c) Izaak Walton: The Compleat Angler D) Woody Allen: Without Feathers

Sticking with religion but going to the other end of the spectrum:

2) So far I have seen nothing which could possibly give me the notion that cosmic force is the manifestation of a mind and will like my own infinitely magnified; a potent and purposeful consciousness which deals individually and directly with the miserable denizens of a wretched little flyspeck on the back door of a microscopic universe, and which singles this putrid excrescence out as the one spot whereto to send an onlie-begotten Son, whose mission is to redeem those accursed fly-speck-inhabiting lice which we call human beings-bah!! Pardon the “bah!” I feel several “bahs,” but out of courtesy I only say one. But it is all so very childish. I cannot help taking exception to a philosophy that would force this rubbish down my throat. “What have I against religion?” That is what I have against it!

a) J.R.R. Tolkien b) H.P. Lovecraft c) Robert Howard d) J.M. Barrie

Switch of topic. Here’s a story about Abraham Lincoln:

3) Tis said that in his younger days, he made a vow that if ever he should find a man uglier than himself, he would shoot him. One day while rambling over the hills with his rifle in his hand, in search of game, he met a man who was exceedingly ugly, immediately he cocked his gun and took aim, but upon being asked by the stranger what he was going to do, if he was going to murder him, Lincoln lowered his gun, told the stranger his vow and that he must prepare himself to meet his fate.

The stranger, after eyeing him for a while and scanning him from head to foot, exclaimed: “Well, if I am uglier than you, I don’t want to live—so just shoot.”

a) Abraham Lincoln b) Stephen Douglas c) Andrew Johnson d) Mark Twain
Let’s turn to sex, which always leads to enjoyable historical discoveries:
4) The vital thing is to ensure the right mixture of seeds for procreation, coarse harmonizing with fine and fine with coarse. Another important factor is diet: semen foods thicken the seeds in the body, others in turn thin and diminish them. A third factor of great importance is the mode in which the pleasures of intercourse are enjoyed. It is thought that women conceive more readily in the manner of four-footed beasts in a prone posture with the loins uplifted so as to give access to the seed. Certainly, wives have no need of lascivious movements. A woman makes conception more difficult by offering a mock resistance and accepting Venus with a wriggling body. She diverts the furrow from the straight course of the ploughshare and makes the seed fall wide of the plot. These tricks are employed by prostitutes for their own ends, so that they many not conceive too frequently and be laid up by pregnancy and at the same time may make intercourse more attractive to men. But obviously our wives can have no use for them.
a) Dr. Ruth Westheimer b) Sigmund Freud c) St. Augustine d) Lucretius
Now, from sex to the pastoral life:
5)  Since my last misfortunes I have led a quiet country life. I rise with the sun, and go into one of the woods for a few hours to inspect yesterday’s work; I pass some time with the woodcutters, who have always some troubles to tell me, either of their own or their neighbors’. On leaving the wood I go to a spring, and thence up to my bird-snaring enclosure, with a book under my arm-Dante, Petrarch, or one of the minor poets, such as Tibullus or Ovid. I read their amorous transports and the history of their loves, recalling my own to my mind, and time passes pleasantly in these meditations. Then I betake myself to the inn by the roadside, chat with passers-by, ask news of the places whence they come, hear various things, and note the varied tastes and diverse fancies of mankind. This carries me to the dinner hour, when, in the company of my brood, I swallow whatever fare this poor little place of mine, and my slender patrimony, can afford me. In the afternoon I go back to the inn. There I generally find the host, a butcher, a miller, and a couple of brick-makers. I mix with these boors the whole day, playing at cricca and tric trac, which games give rise to a thousand quarrels and much exchange of bad language; and we generally wrangle over farthings . . . .”
a) Job b) Thoreau c) Machiavelli d) Peter the Great
I found this one in my Portable Enlightenment Reader:
6) NEGRO, Homo pello nigra, a name given to a variety of the human species, who are entirely black, and are found in the torrid zone, especially in that part of Africa which lies within the tropics. In the complexion of negroes we meet with various shades; but they likewise differ far from other men in all the features of their face. Round cheeks, high cheek-bones, a forehead somewhat elevated, a short, broad, flat nose, thick lips, small ears, ugliness, and irregularity of shape, characterize their external appearance. The negro women have he loins greatly depressed, and very large buttocks, which give the back the shape of a saddle. Vices the most notorious seem to be the portion of this unhappy race: idleness, treachery, revenge, cruelty, impudence, stealing, lying, profanity, debauchery, nastiness and intemperance, are said to have extinguished the principles of natural law, and to have silenced the reproofs of conscience. They are strangers to every sentiment of compassion, and are an awful example of the corruption of man when left to himself.
a) Encyclopedia Britannica b) Gray’s Anatomy c) Thomas Jefferson d) St. Ambrose
And now for love:
7) Though still in bed my thoughts go out to you, Meine unsterbliche Geliebte, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us. I can live only wholly with you, or not at all-yes I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly you into the land of spirits. . . . Oh God, why is it necessary to part from one whom one so loves and yet my life in W is now a wretched life-your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men-at my age I need a steady, quiet life. . . . Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together-be calm-love me-today-yesterday-what tearful longings for you-My life-my all-farewell-Oh, continue to love me-never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved L.
Ever thine, ever mine, ever for each other.
a) Lon Chaney b) Martin Luther c) Larry Fine d) Ludwig von Beethoven
Is the next guy just fulfilled, or seriously depressed:
8) There is one reason why we cannot complain of life, it keeps no one against his will. . . . You have had veins cut for the purpose of reducing your weight. If you would pierce your heart, a gaping wound is not necessary; a lancet will open the way to freedom, and tranquility can be purchased at the cost of a pinprick. . . . Wherever you look, there is an end to troubles. Do you see that precipice?-it is a descent to liberty. Do you see that river, that cistern, that sea?-freedom is in their depths. . . . But I am running on too long. How can a man end his life it he cannot end a letter? . . . As for me, my dear . . . I have lived long enough. I have had my fill. I await death. Farewell.
a) Dr. Kervorkian b) Vincent van Gogh c) Seneca d) Adolph Hitler
Make a mistake and someone is always right there to pin the blame on you:
9) Right here, on this very spot, I took leave of him. I wished him success and honor. “You have your instructions,” I said, “from the Secretary of War. I had a strict eye to them and will add but one word-beware of a surprise!”—I repeated—“BEWARE OF A SURPRISE! You know how the Indians fight us!” He went off with that, as my last solemn warning thrown into my ears. And yet!-to suffer that army to be cut to pieces, hacked, butchered, tomahawked, by a surprise—the very thing I guarded him against! Oh, God! Oh, God, he is worse than a murderer! How can he answer it to his country? The blood of the slain is upon him—the curse of widows and orphans—the curse of heaven!
a) George Washington b) Abraham Lincoln c) Ulysses Grant d) Tecumseh
And now for something I barely know how to describe . . . or even follow: 
10) I know this—that all the famous beauties love being put into comparisons; it pays them, you see, for comparisons of the beautiful are beautiful, I think; but I will not do it with you in return. Well, if this stingray is numb itself as well as making others numb, I am like it; if not, I am not. For I am not clear-headed myself when I make others puzzled, but I am as puzzled as puzzled can be, and thus I make others puzzled too. So now, what virtue is I do not know; but you knew, perhaps, before you touched me, although now you resemble one who does not know. All the same, I wish to investigate, with your help, that we may both try to find out what it is.
a) Socrates b) Dan Quayle c) Sen. Joseph McCarthy 4) Jean-Paul Sartre

1) )  “If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness . . .” You’d think it be Woody Allen’s hysterical Without Feathers, which had a field day with the Bible or any of the others except the one it is. But, I swear to you that this is from The Old Testament: Deut: Ch. 23, 10-14. And, yes, it is exactly what you think it is. thou shalt clean up after yourself. Apparently, not only could a sparrow not fall without God noticing it, but he was quite the sanitarian. 

2) “As far I have seen nothing which could possibly give me the notion that cosmic force is the manifestation of a mind . . .”  Certainly not Tolkien, who was a religious Catholic, but neither was it the creators of Peter Pan or Conan the Barbarian, Robert Howard, but, Mr. Lovecraft, the creator of a literary world where his pathetic protagonists were the victims of a panoply of pagan gods – “the Old Ones,” who I believe were really space aliens. But, I have read too little of him to be sure, and unlike Stephen King, can’t say I really liked him so much. Obviously, he didn’t believe in many or one God himself. I hate to tell you he was also quite the racist and sympathetic to fascism, which does not make him very sympathetic to us. I know J.M. Barrie was at least technically a Calvinist, and I have no idea what Howard believed, though I know Lovecraft wrote to him of his atheism. Perhaps Howard’s views are contained within their correspondence, which I hope to one day peruse, rather than read.

3) “Tis said that in his younger days, he made a vow that if ever he should find a man uglier than himself. . .” Sounds like Twain, but it is actually Lincoln himself, as reported by a local man in a newspaper article. There are too many things I admire about Lincoln to list here, but I identify with him for his love of reading, his belief-even if futile-in the power of reason by persuasion, his lack of fashion sense and his recognition that we all can’t be Brad Pitt, can we? I guess he would have said we can't all be Stephen Douglas, can we?

4) “The vital thing is to ensure the right mixture of seeds for procreation . . .  I don’t think that Dr. Ruth, entertaining as she could be, would go quite as far as this author, but the others all seem like possibilities. Augustine, I do not know of discussing sexuality so carnally, though he confessed to his own long struggle with chastity and took the view that while sexuality was evil, in was good in marriage when related to procreation, fidelity or as a sacrament. Freud, who had many typical 19th century ideas about sex, could easily have written the above, but it was actually written by Lucretius, the Epicurian peer of Cicero and Caesar, whose On Nature delight me no less in my fifties than it did in my twenties. Was any of this correct? Well, actually, his biological reading of genetics seems fairly consistent with modern times, even if he did not have the scientific tools or vocabulary we are used to, but that a child was a product of mother and father was always pretty obvious from its traits. I just did a Yahoo search and there are serious articles about food and semen, so maybe he was on to something there. But, one search is my limit on this and I did not find anything that sounded like scientific knowledge. Although I enjoy human sexuality with respect to the psychology of attraction, life is too short for me to divert myself by researching whether a woman's position or movement affects the probability of pregnancy. You do it. I am just entertained by Lucretius, right or wrong. 

5) “Since my last misfortunes I have led a quiet country life.” I threw Job in their just because of the mention of misfortunes, but among his travails was not quarreling with his friends while playing tric trac. Thoreau makes the most sense, but what the author describes would be a successful life to Thoreau, not time wasted. Peter the Great did spend some time kicking back in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, Germany and England, but he also was a man of great energy and rather spent his time learning to make ships, playing war games or acting the vandal with his drinking buddies. The answer is Machiavelli, who, suffering from the loss of his world, Florence, when it was conquered by Pope Julius II, lived at a Villa in the country for much of the rest of his life where he wrote Il principe, among other things. It was not printed until he was dead a number of years. But, still it is read today by college students and the occasional glint-eyed employer or politician who hopes to find some hint to make his own play for power. Machiavelli actually did not have a long run. When Florence was defeated he was tortured and, though he survived, lost what influence he had and much later died impoverished, quite unlike the impression so many have of him as a successful power behind the throne.

6) “NEGRO, Homo pello nigra, a name given to a variety of the human species, who are entirely black. . . .” I know you think I’m picking on Jefferson again, but, no, he did not write it. He might have read it though. It was in the first American edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1798. Gray’s Anatomy was a possibility (although not published for decades after the EB made its debut in America), but I can’t tell you why I rounded the list out with St. Ambrose, of whom I cannot tell you a thing about his feelings about Africans.

7) “Though still in bed my thoughts go out to you, Meine unsterbliche Geliebte. . . .  And the answer is . . . Martin Luther. No, kidding. Lon Chaney. No, not really. It’s actually Larry Fine of Three Stooges fame. All right, Beethoven. This is his famous My immortal beloved (translation of the German) letter. Who was she? We don’t know. But he really liked her. I guess Larry Fine could have written it. I once wrote in one of my posts, to my own astonishment and humiliation, that Beethoven went blind. Of course, it was deafness that was his problem. But, even Homer sometimes nods.

8) “There is one reason why we cannot complain of life, it keeps no one against his will. . .  I often sneak in a Hitler quote, but this is not it. It was Seneca, who, soon after at Nero’s command did do away with himself. Kervorkian helped people kill themselves. He didn’t kill himself. Don’t beat yourself up if you picked van Gogh. 

9) “Right here, on this very spot, I took leave of him. I wished him success and honor. . . .  Could have been any of them, even Tecumseh. But, Tecumseh's braves were the assailants II believe he was off scouting that day) and General Arthur St. Clair’s army his victims. In any event, the words were George Washington’s, as reported by his private secretary, Tobias Lear. GW did have a temper and perhaps this time was very justified.

10) “I know this—that all the famous beauties love being put into comparisons . . . .”  I was also going to suggest Soupy Sales. Boy is that guy puzzled. I may have cheated a little. Socrates was a real person, but, who knows if he really said it, or if what he is supposed to have said in Plato's Meno all made up. But, as the people he was writing for knew Socrates, I suspect it at least sounds much like something he said in an inimical fashion.

That’s all folks.


  1. I woke up this morning with my blogger OCD kicking in. Though it is true that we don't know who Beethoven's Immortal Beloved was, scholars have made some good arguments that it was one of two possible women - Josephine Brunsvik or Antonie Brentano, although, there are some other arguments still out there. You can google or wiki the rest if you really care. I find it mildly interesting. Now, my OCD ducks are in order and I can go get a bagel.

  2. Nice work, Frodo. Lots to ponder. Got em all except the negro quote, thought for sure you were screwing with my hero, Tommy-boy again. Hey, I'm really happy you cleared up that Beethoven thing, lots of people were gonna' lose sleep over that one.

  3. I'm going to pretend you meant that last sentence sincerely.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .