Wednesday, May 18, 2011

At a distance from the city

                  I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus,
                  that writing is unfortunately like
                  painting, for the creations of the
                  painter have the appearance of life,
                  and yet if you ask them a question
                  they preserve a solemn silence.

Benjamin Jowett, translation
Dialogue of Socrates
ca 360 BC

David Hilliard
Beth Nelson, citation


  1. It is very hard to verbalise sometimes what one has written, as the author knows.

  2. It is harder to know than to act.

    A shatteringly astute reduction of what Socrates was driving at, Toms. Did you write that? :)

  3. and for some writing is the best way to express what ones voice is lacking-& how one-without the other?

  4. David, you are too modest; here, I'd given you lustrous chance for a disclaimer, and you declined it! :)

  5. The response of dialogue, PGT, is what our buddy was asking for, and I think he'd take a pretty compromised voice before any calibre of writing. The present image from David Hilliard brings this to mind, as a report which is riddled with with limits and unresponsiveness at the same time. As the reader of Ms Nelson's page that we are, do we not take it as fitting that it's that environment, so interested in the character of communication in the first place, that would yield this evidence for the principle cited here?

  6. The author will be forgiven for writing long before the time of Cy Twombly. Phidias may have maintained a certain solemnity in his work, and every artist thereafter for that matter, but Twombly's paintings are never silent. Indeed, they rarely shut up.

  7. As you'd know, I owe my discovery of her taste to you, which has in common with yours the shock of generosity.

  8. JA, I'll not be shamed into furnishing a proper index for this blog, by your reference to two prior thievings of Twombly here. Anyone who wishes to thrash about in search of them will have you to thank for his pains.

    It's an interesting suggestion about Twombly; but do you think that 'rarely shutting up' is consistent with the dialogue Socrates is demanding? Possibly you do; I'm only asking. :)