583: Singing Still.

A beautiful comparison to be drawn from those stars which are perhaps dead, gone out thousands of years ago, yet whose light endures, and will endure through centuries. Symbol of the dead genius and the immortality of his work. Homer seems to be singing still.

(Alphonse Daudet, “Notes on Life.” In: The Novels, Romances, and Memoirs of Alphonse Daudet, Vol. 14. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1904, pp. 200–201).

583: Singing Still.

581: A Refusal to Look the Truth Squarely in the Face.

Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis.

It comes in many guises, some of them so effective that the PC can be difficult to detect. The silly euphemisms, apparently harmless, but forever dripping to wear away common sense.

(George MacDonald Fraser, “The Last Testament of Flashman’s Creator: How Britain has Destroyed Itself,Daily Mail, January 5, 2008).

581: A Refusal to Look the Truth Squarely in the Face.

580: Battle of the Eyes.

Political correctness is more than a ridiculous set of opinions; it’s also — and primarily — a tool of government coercion. Not only does it tilt any political discussion in favor of one set of arguments; it also gives the ruling class a doubt-expelling myth that provides a constant boost to morale and esprit de corps, much as class systems did in the days before democracy. People tend to snicker when the question of political correctness is raised: its practitioners because no one wants to be thought politically correct; and its targets because no one wants to admit to being coerced.

(Christopher Caldwell, “The French, Coming Apart,City Journal, Spring 2017).

580: Battle of the Eyes.

579: Like One of the Great Painters of Old.

In his technical method […] Count Tolstoy is like one of the great painters of old. After forming the plan of his work, and gathering a great number of studies, he begins with a charcoal sketch, so to speak, and writes rapidly, not thinking of details. What he writes in this way he gives to Countess Sophia Andreevna to copy out, or to one of his daughters, or to one of his intimate friends, to whom this task may give pleasure. Lyof Nicolaievitch, Count Tolstoy, generally writes on quarto paper, of rather poor quality, in a big, rope-like handwriting, writing about twenty pages a day, amounting to some four or five thousand words. He has no special habits with regard to pens and paper. And when a firm in Moscow conceived the idea of giving to the world a “Tolstoyan pen,” it was discovered that on the subject of pens “Count Tolstoy had no opinion.” He works mostly in the morning, and considers this the best time of the day for work.

When the clean copy of his manuscript makes its appearance on the writing table, Count Tolstoy begins at once to work it all over again. But it still remains very much of a charcoal sketch. The manuscript is quickly dotted over with corrections, alterations, interlinear additions; at both sides, above and below, appear new thoughts and phrases, with inversions and transferences of sentences from one page to another. The whole is copied out again, and once more subjected to exactly the same process. A third time exactly the same thing happens. Some chapters Count Tolstoy has written more than ten times. At the same time, he pays almost no attention to details of wording, and even feels something like repugnance to everything closely clipped in art.

“All that often dries up the thought, and blunts the impression,” he says.

When he has once armed himself for writing, with reminiscences or observations, or with new views on the subject he is treating, Count Tolstoy works steadily and persistently at every chapter, only making short breaks for rest; and when he is in difficulties, taking refuge in a game of solitaire, until he sees his way clear. The intent search after the inner being of every hero he represents, forms at this stage Count Tolstoy’s chief task, and his favorite expression on this subject is: “Gold is found by persistent sifting and washing.”

(Charles Johnston, “How Count Tolstoy Writes,” The Arena, Vol. XXI, No. 3, 1899, pp. 269–270).

579: Like One of the Great Painters of Old.

578: A Thematic Catalogue of Imbecilities.

Of all actors, the most offensive to the higher cerebral centers is the one who pretends to intellectuality. His alleged intelligence, of course, is purely imaginary: no man of genuinely superior intelligence has ever been an actor. Even supposing a young man of appreciable mental powers to be lured to the stage, as philosophers are occasionally lured to bordellos, his mind would be inevitably and almost immediately destroyed by the gaudy nonsense issuing from his mouth every night. That nonsense enters into the very fiber of the actor. He becomes a grotesque boiling down of all the preposterous characters that he has impersonated. Their characteristics are seen in his manner, in his reactions to stimuli, in his point of view. He becomes a walking artificiality, a strutting dummy, a thematic catalogue of imbecilities.

(H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: Second Series. London: Jonathan Cape, 1921, pp. 208–209).

578: A Thematic Catalogue of Imbecilities.

577: Everywhere Means, Nowhere an End.

Your triumphs in the mechanical arts are the obverse of your failure in all that calls for spiritual insight. Machinery of every kind you can make and use to perfection; but you cannot build a house, or write a poem, or paint a picture; still less can you worship or aspire. Look at your streets! Row upon row of little boxes, one like another, lacking in all that is essential, loaded with all that is superfluous — this is what passes among you for architecture. Your literature is the daily press, with its stream of solemn fatuity, of anecdotes, puzzles, puns, and police-court scandal. Your pictures are stories in paint, transcripts of all that is banal, clumsily botched by amateurs as devoid of tradition as of genius. Your outer sense as well as your inner is dead; you are blind and deaf. Ratiocination has taken the place of perception; and your whole life is an infinite syllogism from premises you have not examined to conclusions you have not anticipated or willed. Everywhere means, nowhere an end! Society a huge engine, and that engine itself out of gear!

(Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, Letters from John Chinaman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1913, p. 25).

577: Everywhere Means, Nowhere an End.