Thursday, March 14, 2013

Our lives are Swiss ––
So still –– so Cool ––
Till some odd afternoon
The Alps neglect their Curtains
And we look farther on!

Italy stands the other side!
While like a guard between ––
The solemn Alps ––
The siren Alps
Forever intervene! 
~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Does no one see the possible connections –– or allusions –– to the preceding post, to the remarks it elicited, to many other blog exchanges from the past, and the many implications Emily Dickinson makes regarding human nature 
and some possible inferences that might be drawn? 


  1. The specialty of rule hath been neglected:
    And, look, how many Grecian tents do stand
    Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow factions.

    …O, when degree is shaked,
    Which is the ladder to all high designs,
    Then enterprise is sick! How could communities,
    Degrees in schools and brotherhoods in cities,
    Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
    The primogenitive and due of birth,
    Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels,
    But by degree, stand in authentic place?
    Take but degree away, untune that string,
    And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
    In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
    Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores
    And make a sop of all this solid globe:
    Strength should be lord of imbecility,
    And the rude son should strike his father dead:
    Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong,
    Between whose endless jar justice resides
    Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
    Then every thing includes itself in power…

    -Shakespeare, "Troilus and Cressida"

  2. Then, in order that we may see clearly what we are doing, let us imagine democracy to be divided, as indeed it is, into three classes; for in the first place freedom creates rather more drones in the democratic than there were in the oligarchical State.

    That is true.

    And in the democracy they are certainly more intensified.

    How so?

    Because in the oligarchical State they are disqualified and driven from office, and therefore they cannot train or gather strength; whereas in a democracy they are almost the entire ruling power, and while the keener sort speak and act, the rest keep buzzing about the bema and do not suffer a word to be said on the other side; hence in democracies almost everything is managed by the drones.

    Very true, he said.

    Then there is another class which is always being severed from the mass.

    What is that?

    They are the orderly class, which in a nation of traders is sure to be the richest.

    Naturally so.

    They are the most squeezable persons and yield the largest amount of honey to the drones.

    Why, he said, there is little to be squeezed out of people who have little.

    And this is called the wealthy class, and the drones feed upon them.

    That is pretty much the case, he said.

    The people are a third class, consisting of those who work with their own hands; they are not politicians, and have not much to live upon. This, when assembled, is the largest and most powerful class in a democracy.

    True, he said; but then the multitude is seldom willing to congregate unless they get a little honey.

    And do they not share? I said. Do not their leaders deprive the rich of their estates and distribute them among the people; at the same time taking care to reserve the larger part for themselves?

    Why, yes, he said, to that extent the people do share.

    And the persons whose property is taken from them are compelled to defend themselves before the people as they best can?

    What else can they do?

    And then, although they may have no desire of change, the others charge them with plotting against the people and being friends of oligarchy?


    And the end is that when they see the people, not of their own accord, but through ignorance, and because they are deceived by informers, seeking to do them wrong, then at last they are forced to become oligarchs in reality; they do not wish to be, but the sting of the drones torments them and breeds revolution in them.

    That is exactly the truth.

    Plato, "Republic"

  3. For someone who barely left Amherst Massachusetts she sure thinks she knows a lot about Switzerland and Italy?

    Does remind me of the fringe right trying to tell the left what the left is about.

  4. @ Ducky: "Does remind me of the fringe right trying to tell the left what the left is about."

    This from the man reaches into his infinite ignorance to lecture libertarians and conservatives about what they don't believe and what none of them has ever espoused.

    The psychological projection is stunning.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. FT, you sir, are a fucking coward.

    No balls at all.

  7. Incredible how presumably intelligent people consistently avoid -- or studiously ignore-- the subject at hand, and refuse to address the questions asked in favor of posting querulous quips and bilious balderdash (not you, FJ, I hasten to add!).

    Apparently, most in the blogosphere have abandoned personal pride, all sense of decorum, and seek only to express free-floating hostility, which most have in super-abundance, in very crude terms.

    These are in my never humble opinion signs of a very sick -- possibly moribund -- society

  8. By "Oligarchical State," doesn't Plato mean what-we-would-call a meritocracy?

    I, myself, do not believe in "democracy" per se any more than I subscribe to dictatorship or advocate a return to The Divine Right of Kings.

    People quite naturally seem to divide themselves into three classes upper, middle and lower. Those divisions have little to do with money per se, but rather with Quality of Thought, Degrees of Egocentrism, Altruism and unfettered Selfishness, Style, Taste and Deportment.

    In other words BEHAVIOR trumps all other considerations in estimating the worth of others.

  9. Shakespeare certainly appears to support your interpretation of Nietzchean views in Troilus and Cressida, doesn't he, Speedy? I am unfamiliar with the play. One of too many I have never seen, or Alas! even read.

  10. Ducky, at least you did address the topic, if only perfunctorily. However, you missed the point as you usually do. Emily is critically recognized as a great master of painting "landscapes of the soul," as one scholar put it.

    The she was extremely well educated for a woman of her time, the most wonderful, most astonishing thing, most significant thing about her is the way she was able to grasp the cosmic significance of every day events entirely through intuition -- her unique perception of reality.

    Leftists, of course, tend to be materialists, and are apt, therefore, to reject the possibility that such a thing as a "soul" or "spirit" could exist. That's why most of them are either outright atheists, OR agitate ceaselessly to redefine God and His Word and twist it around to support the Leftist Agenda.

    The Agenda, of course, is the only "god," the left adores.

    At any rate, laying all that aside, Emily's work has absolutely NOTHING to do with "geography" "money," or material possessions as such.

    Instead it has everything to do with incorporeal, immeasurable things such as Spirit, Soul, Truth, Love, Agony, Ecstasy, Gratitude, Doubt, Faith, Irony, and at times subtle Humor.

    The Alps in the poem are no mountains; they are SYMBOLS.

    It could -- and should -- be interesting and possibly helpful to try to understand how her symbolic language relates to human behavior.

  11. By "Oligarchical State," doesn't Plato mean what-we-would-call a meritocracy?

    Not exactly. In Plato's terms an "oligarchy" is the degraded form of a "timocracy" where "merits" are, as you have identified them, "honours" (non-monetary). In an "oligarchy", however, lucre has likely replaced "honour" as the source of merit.

  12. ...the "last" step in the degradation of a timocracy -> oligarchy -> democracy would be democracy, necessitating the imposition of the monarchy/ tyranny "form" of government to "regain" cohesion and "impose" a new, non-monetary "value set".

  13. Shakespeare certainly appears to support your interpretation of Nietzchean views in Troilus and Cressida, doesn't he, Speedy?

    And as evidenced by the fact that GB has never completely "abandoned" the monarchy.

  14. Just to clarify... Plato had basically "three" forms of government ("Republic")... based upon Rule of the One, Rule of the Few, and Rule of the Many:

    "Good versions"...
    Monarchy -> Aristocracy ->Timocracy

    and three mirror image degradations ("bad versions") of them...

    Tyranny -> Oligarchy -> Democracy

  15. In Plato's day, the "merits" upon which "honours" rested were primarily associated with the virtu of "courage" (fight/defend)

    In the Enlightenment "Founder's"
    day, the "merits" upon which honours rested were associated "intelligence" (ie - APS, British Royal Society) and invention.

    Today, they rest upon "skin tone" and victimhood oppressed social grouping.

  16. Not a serious suggestion. Possibly the modern virtue is a kind of humanist compoassion.

  17. When the curtain is pulled back, we get a glimpse of what's on the other side. But I'm not sure that we can EVER visit the other side -- can really understand another person.

    Anyway, that's my take -- on too little caffeine this morning.

  18. FT,
    This comment does not stem from any particular incident....

    I've just about come to the end of my rope with the blogophere's free-floating hostility. And that hostility is not confined to the blogosphere.

    Just yesterday, Wildstar and I were talking about people are exploding all over the place -- over the least little thing.

    America used to be a happier place! Now America has devolved into something I no longer recognize or want to have much to do with. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE SO ANGRY ALL THE TIME! Ugh.

    Catharsis is good -- but only to a point.

    IMO, Emily Dickinson was wise to shut herself away from the world.

  19. @ Ducky: "FT, you sir, are a fucking coward.

    No balls at all."

    What class and grace! Imagine the level of intelligence it takes to come up with such brilliant bon mots!

  20. @ AOW: "America used to be a happier place! Now America has devolved into something I no longer recognize or want to have much to do with. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE SO ANGRY ALL THE TIME!"

    I agree. I blame 9/11 and our response. That's when I started noticing all this in-your-face stuff. Add to that jackasses running around in camo, and tiny police departments decked out like Spec Ops wannabes.

    Throw in self-esteem unmoored form any reality and an unshakable sense of entitlement, and you have most of the components for a societal crackup, which is what we're seeing.

    Top it off with a Nero-like government completely mad with power, cheered on by Obama worshippers who are one step away from demanding conservatives be marched off to reeducation camps, and decline and fall is all but assured.

  21. Possibly the modern virtue is a kind of humanist compoassion.

    Virtue? Since when is it a "virtue" to impose your values upon others? It directly contravenes every pre-Twentieth Century classical-liberal Western conception of justice.

    So please, spare me all the "Rawlsian" b.s. "Classical" liberalism requires the practice of NEGATIVE liberty, not positive "compassion". The Amazonian tribes don't WANT your Dish TV.

    "Humanist compassion" is simply Leftist bed-wetters excuse for de-fanging their neighbors and creating One-World equality.

  22. ...every man a "proletarian labour" wage-slave, all petit bourgeosie to the gulag!. All prole independence from the elite vanguard MUST be eliminated!

    The 21st century will be recorded in the annals of history as the "DeKulakization" of the World's bourgeosie and capitalist classes.

  23. Obamacare... getting rid of private doctor owned practices so that the government can impose "factory" medical efficiencies.

    The "Division of Labour" necessary to achieve ever-larger "surplus values" MUST be achieved! Factory economies of scale uber alles!

  24. Thersites,
    One-World equality, the utopian dream of so many, will never exist. Period.

  25. Silverfiddle,
    I think that the problem predated 9/11. In fact, I saw the problem rearing its hydra head back in the Sickties (to use FT's excellent term).

    However, it is apparent to me that the problem has escalated since then -- particularly since 2004 and even more since 2008.

  26. One-World equality, the utopian dream of so many, will never exist. Period.

    That fact certainly won't prevent Leftist utopians from destroying independent small businesses in the pursuit of industrial scale medical efficiencies.



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