Friday, April 28, 2017

Off to do the reading

  Five years ago I suspended activity
  here briefly, for a series of sur-
  geries of no particular consequence,
  apart from affecting the subsequent
  years. Now I would rather claim the
  same prerogative for doing the read-
  ing, as we all used to say, under no
  compulsion of being examined for it.

  I always liked that stuff, anyway,
  but the settings which imposed that
  obligation also remained high in my
  regard, until I collegially drew no
  distinction, as I do not do now,
  between McCosh Hall and Shelley, or
  Dickinson Hall and Trevor-Roper, to
  cite just two people of respect for
  a language which interests me for a
  way of touching one's imagination,
  and schoolhouses where the inmates
  thrived in parsing their challenges.

  The innovation most affecting the
  maintenance of a public journal in
  the present is the ascent of a dis-
  missal of discovery. I don't see a
  private celebration of the travels
  of that disposition as a defection,
  only a timely resort to restoration.
  This, the headlines report again,
  of those who've not met Tacitus -

  Plunder, slaughter, dispossession:
  these they misname government; 
  they create a wilderness and call 
  it peace.

  Still the pull of collegiality - a
  term to exploit for its overtones
  of obligation as well as of comity -
  means that public reflections have
  Mr Shelley's double parentage. We 
  know what is that direction we re-
  sume, to afford a backward glance
  upon such hordes in our own time,
  and extinguish their distraction:

  See the mountains kiss high heaven
  And the waves clasp one another . .

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Love's Philosophy

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