Monday, July 25, 2011

Call me by my name

A man and his hobby-horse, tho' I cannot say that they act and re-act exactly after the same manner in which the soul and body do upon each other: Yet doubtless there is a communication between them of some kind; and my opinion rather is, that there is something in it more of the manner of electrified bodies - and that, by means of the heated parts of the rider, which come immediately into contact with the back of the Hobby-Horse - 

by long journeys and much friction, it so happens that the body of the rider is fill'd as full of Hobby-Horsical matter as it can hold; so that if you are able to give but a clear description of the nature of the one, you may form a pretty exact notion of the genius and character of the other.

In truth, my uncle Toby mounted him with so much pleasure, and he carried my uncle Toby so well - that he troubled his head very little with what the world either said or thought about it.

In the last few days of this year of Laurent's 'life and opinions', I interrupt him for remarks I'll not allow him to hear. I have been taken by his manifestation of an unexpectedly autonomous spirit, and quite possibly only my obligations to him have sustained my study of its emergence. I am glad that they have, because he has been teach-ing me something which seldom presents itself in one's limestone canyons of assumption. He has taught me respect, a word so much befouled by protestations of tolerance that I'm glad I learned its meaning from him, instead. I refer to that openness which can allow one to receive what another has to give. I had nothing to do with that. His name is Laurent, not mine.

Laurence Sterne
The Life and Opinions of
  Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
op. cit.

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