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ARCHIVED ENTRIES FOR JUNE 2013

June  29,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Felix Grayeff's education was thoroughly German or Prussian, modernized so that French was the first foreign language instead of Latin.  Emphasis was on rigorous classroom work, with what Grayeff saw later as nationalist indoctrination, similar to the idea of imperial mission that filled the heads of his young British contemporaries.  Civilization (brilliant repartee, paradox, elegance, constant questioning, disrespect for authority) was what Germany's rivals, Britain and France (particularly France), prized, the teachers said; the German way, however, was Kultur, an experience of - and a reverence for - what was profound in thought, feeling and knowledge.  A way of reaching this was through the great past - and through the geniuses who had formed it: Kant in philosophy, Goethe in poetry.  The German language was, the teachers declared, the most expressive and the most serious, the most flexible, of all modern languages, second only to ancient Greek.  A thorough gathering of facts must, it was though, bring impartiality and good judgement to any decision.

--Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia by Max Egremont

June  28,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The Holocaust had ended seven hundred and fifty years of one of the world's largest Jewish communities.  The few post-war Jewish survivors mostly left [Poland] because of continuing persecution by the communist regime.  Of the hundred and twenty MPs in the first Israeli Knesset, sixty-two spoke Polish; among these were great personalities like Peres, Begin, Dayan and Golda Meir.

--Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia by Max Egremont

June  27,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

On the estates of East Prussia, the Emperor and his friends returned to a pre-industrial age.  The walls of the grand houses were covered in thousands of deer heads, the bleached skulls sprouting the horns that were the trophies of the sport, bringing a wild land into interiors decorated with bosomy nymphs, painted ceilings and classical statuary.  The woods near the ruins of Prökelwitz and Schlobitten are still spotted with tablets commemorating notable kills, some visible beneath undergrowth or in forest clearings, signs of an earlier possession, like the soldiers' graves.  At Schlobitten, on September or October nights, you still hear the roaring of the stags.

--Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia by Max Egremont

June  26,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

As I read about the ghosts that I'd found on my East Prussian journeys, their experiences often seemed oddly symbolic.  The young Martin Bergau, marching before the war with the Hitler Youth near the Baltic, glimpsed an elk loping away as if in mockery of their intrusion into its wilderness.  In July 1944, Heinrich von Lehndorff, whose ancestors had come east some four centuries before, fled the German police through his own woods.

--Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia by Max Egremont

June  26,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Several post-1945 survivors of the East Prussian landowning families - or Junkers (from Jung Herr or Young Lord) - wrote their memoirs; from these we know about the Dönhoffs of Friedrichstein, the Lehndorffs of Steinort and the Dohnas of Schlobitten.  The books tell of a still partly feudal society, a world (apparently) of obligation and trust.  Marion Dönhoff depicts a frugal innocence in the huge pre-war Friedrichstein that is almost bleakly dutiful.  One of the estate workers at Schlobitten, the Dohna property, told Alexander Dohna's startled young wife that everyone int he place looked upon her as their mother.

--Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia by Max Egremont

June  25,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Mere mobs!" repeated his new friend with a snort of scorn.  "So you talk about mobs and the working classes as if they were the question.  You've got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor.  Why should it?  The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government.  The poor man really has a stake in the country.  The rich man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht.  The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.  Aristocrats were always anarchists, as you can see from the barons' wars.

--The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

June  24,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Through all this ordeal his root horror had been isolation, and there are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally.  It may be conceded to the mathematicians that four is twice two.  But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.  That is why, in spite of a hundred disadvantages, the world will always return to monogamy.

--The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

June  23,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Fight the thing that you fear.  You remember the old tale of the English clergyman who gave the last rites to the brigand of Sicily, and how on his death-bed the great robber said, 'I can give you no money, but I can give you advice for a lifetime: your thumb on the blade, and strike upwards.'  So I say to you, strike upwards, if you strike at the stars."

--The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

June  22,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Logos is a cold god.  It could not explain all that he promised to explain.  Reason might tell us why and how black and yellow bile differ, or how to measure the distance to the moon.  But logos cannot say why one farmer suffered so from the bad air and fevers and another didn't.  Or why one man was run over by a wild cart and another didn't.  Or why one man was run over by a wild cart and another veteran of five battles lived to eighty.

--The End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

June  21,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

How strange, Mêlon went on to lecture his Chiôn, that the odious among us can teach us the most--if we only can endure their cuts and jibes and then learn from their very mouths how not to view the world about us, and yet how with just a slight shove we might become as they are.

--The End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

June  20,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

For most who improve their grandfather's house or ancestral vineyard, this temptation is never distant--to destroy and start over from the beginning, rather than to correct the wrongs and burdens of the long dead.

--The End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

June  19,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Like all who renounce wealth and the tawdry pursuit of it, the philosophers who trudged up to the farm often came to enjoy its fruits all the more.  Affluence adds a veneer of authority to knowledge--if it can be displayed without eh ugly scars of its acquisition.

--The End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

June  18,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

[H]is father had warned him of those who demand equal slots in both the end and the beginning: Beware of the phalanx, the agrarian grid, and the assembly hall, where all are declared to be equal who in fact are not.  So beware of those in the phalanx who look equal but do not protect their position as do others.  They can kill you.

--The End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

June  17,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Farming, Malgis the founder said, was a lot like war.  It needed the same order and discipline if you were to survive it.

--The End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

June  16,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Well, they signed the releases," says Chief Wayne.

"Releases or not, Wayne, come on," says Brad.  "They killed people.  They tricked people into eating their own mothers."

"I don't know that I'm all that interested in the moral ins and outs of it," says Chief Wayne.  "I guess I'm just saying I enjoyed it."

"It's interesting, that's the thing," says Doris.  "The expectations, the reversals, the timeless human emotions."

"Who wouldn't want to watch that?" says Chief Wayne.

"Interesting is good, Brad," says Doris.  "Surprising is good."

--brad carrigan, american collected in In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

June  15,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

On FinalTwist, five college friends take a sixth to an expensive Italian restaurant, supposedly to introduce him to a hot girl, actually to break the news that his mother is dead.  This is the InitialTwist.  During dessert they are told that, in fact, all of their mothers are dead.  This is the SecondTwist.  The ThirdTwist is, not only are all their mothers dead, the show paid to have them killed, and the fourth and FinalTwist is, the kids have just eaten their own grilled mothers.

--brad carrigan, american collected in In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

June  14,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

There comes that phase in life when, tired of losing, you decide to stop losing, then continue losing.  Then you decide to really stop losing, and continue losing.  The losing goes on and on so long you begin to watch with curiosity, wondering how low you can go. 

--christmas collected in In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

June  13,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

From the roofs, the city looked medieval, beautiful.  I wrote poems in my head, poems that fizzled out under the weight of their own bloat: O Chicago, giver and taker of life, city of bald men in pool halls, also men of hair, men who have hair, hairy men, etc., etc.  On the roofs we found weird things: a dead rat, a bike tire, somebody's dragon-headed pool floatie, all frozen stiff. 

--christmas collected in In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

June  12,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

And Slippen looked to be softening, and I remembered when he would sneak all of us kids in doughnuts, doughnuts we did not even need to Assess but could simply eat with joy with jelly on our face before returning to our Focused Purposeful Play with toys we would Assess by coloring in on a sheet of paper either a smiling duck if the toy was fun or a scowling duck if the toy bit. 

--jon collected in In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

June  11,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

We left the Eisner and started up Broadway, the Everly Readers in the sidewalk reading the Everly Strips in our shoes, the building-mounted miniscreens at eye level showing images reflective of the Personal Preferences we'd stated on our monthly Everly Preference Worksheets, the numerous Cybec Sudden Emergent Screens out-thrusting or down-thrusting inches from our faces, and in addition I could very clearly hear the sound-only messages being beamed to me and me alone via various Casio Aural Focusers, such as one that shouted out to me between Forty-second and Forty-third, "Mr. Petrillo, you chose Burger King eight times last fiscal year but only two times thus far this fiscal year, please do not forsake us now, there is a store one block north!" in the voice of Broadway star Elaine Weston, while at Forty-third a light-pole-mounted Focuser shouted, "Golly, Leonard, remember your childhood on the farm in Oneonta?  Why not reclaim those roots with a Starbucks Country Roast?" in a celebrity-rural voice I could not identify, possibly Buck Owens. 

--My Flamboyant Grandson collected in In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

[N.B.:  Luckily something like that couldn't happen here since it's the government using its PRISM program that knows all of our preferences and it just wants to protect us and keep us safe.]

June  10,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

'I found out when I was a homicide detective,' said boxer, smiling ironically, 'that the most successful murderers were the ones who didn't go around looking like killers.'

--Capital Punishment by Robert Wilson

June  9,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

--if the simple look benevolently on money, how much more do your old worldlings regard it!  Their affections rush out to meet and welcome money.  Their kind sentiments awaken spontaneously towards the interesting possessors of it.  I know some respectable people who don't consider themselves at liberty to indulge in friendship for any individual who has not a certain competency, or place in society. 

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

June  8,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I don't know anything more dismal than that business and bustle and mystery of a ruined man : those letters from the wealthy which he shows you . those worn greasy documents promising support and offering condolence which he places wistfully before you, and on which he builds his hopes of restoration and future fortune.  My beloved reader has no doubt in the course of his experience been waylaid by many such a luckless companion.  He takes you into the corner ; he has his bundle of papers out of his gaping coat pocket ; and the tape off, and the string in his mouth, and the favorite letters selected and laid before you ; and who does not know the sad eager half-crazy look which he fixes on you with his hopeless eyes?

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

[N.B.:  Note the idiosyncratic punctuation--particularly the period in the middle of the first sentence!  I wonder why Thackeray didn't use a dash there; he certainly knew how to use one elsewhere in the book.]

June  7,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

She had been a gracious friend to Miss Briggs, the companion, also ; and had secured the latter's good-will by a number of those attentions and promises, which cost so little in the making, and are yet so valuable and agreeable to the recipient.  Indeed every good economist and manager of a household must know how cheap and yet how amiable these professions are, and what a flavor they give to the most homely dish in life.  Who was the blundering idiot who said that "fine words butter no parsnips?"  Half the parsnips of society are served and rendered palatable with no other sauce.  As the immortal Alexis Soyer can make more delicious soup for a halfpenny than an ignorant cook can concoct with pounds of vegetables and meat, so a skilful artist will make a few simple and pleasing phrases go father than ever so much substantial benefit-stock in the hands of a mere bungler.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

[N.B.:  Ahhh, if only cooks were as immortal as cox-combs.]

June  6,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

One of the great conditions of anger and hatred is, that you must tell and believe lies against the hated object, in order, as we said, to be consistent.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

June  5,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

When one man has been under very remarkable obligations to another, with whom he subsequently quarrels, a common sense of decency, as it were, makes of the former a much severer enemy than a mere stranger would be.  To account for your own hard-heartedness and ingratitude in such a case, you are bound to prove the other party's crime.  It is not that you are selfish, brutal, and angry at the failure of a speculation--no, no--it is that your partner has led you into it by the basest treachery and with the most sinister motives.  From a mere sense of consistency, a persecutor is bound to show that the fallen man is a villain--otherwise he, the persecutor, is a wretch himself.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

June  4,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The best of women (I have heard my grandmother say) are hypocrites.  We don't know how much they hide from us : how watchful they are when they seem most artless and confidential : how often those frank smiles which they wear so easily, are traps to cajole or elude or disarm--I don't mean in your mere coquettes, but your domestic models, and paragons of female virtue.  Who has not seen a woman hide the dulness of a stupid husband, or coax the fury of a savage one?  We accept this amiable slavishness, and praise a woman for it : we call this pretty treachery truth.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

June  3,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Whenever he met a great mean he grovelled before him, and my-lorded him as only a free-born Briton can do.  He came home and looked out his history in the Peerage : he introduced his name into his daily conversation ; he bragged about his Lordship to his daughters.  He fell down prostrate and basked in him as a Neapolitan beggar does in the sun. 

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

June  2,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Some cynical Frenchman has said that there are two parties to a love transaction : the one who loves and the other who condescends to be so treated.  Perhaps the love is occasionally on the man's side ; perhaps on the lady's.  Perhaps some infatuated swain has ere this mistaken insensibility for modesty, dulness for maiden reserve, mere vacuity for sweet bashfulness, and a goose, in a word, for a swain.  Perhaps some beloved female subscriber has arrayed an ass in the splendor and glory of her imagination ; admired his dulness as manly simplicity ; worshipped his selfishness as manly superiority ; treated his stupidity as majestic gravity, and used him as th brilliant fairy Titania did a certain weaver at Athens.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

June  1,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I see all the men in a cluster round Mrs. white's chair : all the young fellows battling to dance with Miss Brown ; and so I am tempted to think that to be despised by her sex is a very great compliment to a woman.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray