26 December 2014

Guest Blogger: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Don't normally have guest bloggers on here but what the hell, it's practically 2015 already, all the old rules are out the window.  Today we look at a few passages from the blog of Mr. Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  Passage #1 is from his diaries, April, 1821.

A state of overgrown Wealth = a Sow too fat to move, with Rats that have eat [sic] into and nested in her Lard.—It is asserted, that these die of Swallowed Salamanders, or Land Newts—nay, that the mere Carrying of a Basket or Tray of Crabs thro' a Herd of Swine will throw them into mortal Convulsions.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of the cannons of English litt-tra-cha.  He composed The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which I came to know from a Mad parody and probably deserves at least some credit for Python's 'Albatross!' bit; incidentally, according to most dictionaries, it's rhyme.  Nonetheless, he is an influential writer and thinker.  The excerpt above is less than 200 years old. 

And my goodness, What on earth is this guy even talking about?  Land Newts?  Pigs are terrified of crabs?  Must be some symbolism here I'm missing.  I can barely imagine the point let alone provide a concise summary or formulate a coherent counterargument.  And I'm not the dullest spade in the shovel-closet, not in most shovel-closets anyway.

So I spent the afternoon in the library Live-blogging the Diaries of Mr. Coleridge trying to see if I could make sense of some of it through secondary research and exhaustive contemplation.  But the truth is I didn't come up with much of anything.  This Coleridge guy is by all accounts a genius, and in many areas outside of poesy, videlicet mathematics and the physical sciences, &so &c. – yet less than two hundred years later he's largely incomprehensible.  This has unsettling implications, for myself and for all modern bloggers of our generation.

Passage #2 is from June 1819:

One source of Calumny (I say source because Allophoby from heautepithymy is the only proper cause) may be found in this:—every man's life exhibits two sorts of Selfishness—those which are, and those which are not, objects of his own Consciousness. … … … A monkey's anthropomorph attitudes we take for anthropic: &so &c.

Here I'd like to issue a challenge to my readers:  See if you can drop that into the chatter at your next big cocktail party.  Have it ready*, and any time you hear the word 'calumny', quickly raise a finger, say 'Ah ah ah', then just go for it, the whole spiel.  Drop us a line and let us know how it turns out.

*When I say 'ready', I mean written on an index card so you can review it every time you go to the bathroom, and practice it at least once in front of the mirror, that is so important

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