Monday, June 13, 2005

Monday June 13, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:00 PM

Cliffs of Moher

My father’s father,
    his father’s father, his —
Shadows like winds

Go back to a parent before thought,
    before speech,
At the head of the past.

They go to the cliffs of Moher
    rising out of the mist….

— Wallace Stevens,
   “The Irish Cliffs of Moher”

A Portrait of the Artist
 as a Young Man
James Joyce, Chapter 5:

As he came back to the hearth, limping slightly but with a brisk step, Stephen saw the silent soul of a jesuit look out at him from the pale loveless eyes. Like Ignatius he was lame but in his eyes burned no spark of Ignatius’s enthusiasm. Even the legendary craft of the company, a craft subtler and more secret than its fabled books of secret subtle wisdom, had not fired his soul with the energy of apostleship. It seemed as if he used the shifts and lore and cunning of the world, as bidden to do, for the greater glory of God, without joy in their handling or hatred of that in them which was evil but turning them, with a firm gesture of obedience back upon themselves and for all this silent service it seemed as if he loved not at all the master and little, if at all, the ends he served. SIMILITER ATQUE SENIS BACULUS, he was, as the founder would have had him, like a staff in an old man’s hand, to be leaned on in the road at nightfall or in stress of weather, to lie with a lady’s nosegay on a garden seat, to be raised in menace.

The dean returned to the hearth and began to stroke his chin.

–When may we expect to have something from you on the esthetic question? he asked.

–From me! said Stephen in astonishment. I stumble on an idea once a fortnight if I am lucky.

–These questions are very profound, Mr Dedalus, said the dean. It is like looking down from the cliffs of Moher into the depths. Many go down into the depths and never come up. Only the trained diver can go down into those depths and explore them and come to the surface again.

See also Kahn’s The Art and Thought of Heraclitus and the references to a “Delian diver” in Chitwood’s Death by Philosophy.

Death by Philosophy:

“Although fragments examined earlier may enable Heraclitus’ reader to believe that the stylistic devices arose directly from his dislike of humanity, I think rather that Heraclitus deliberately perfected the mysterious, gnomic style he praises in the following  fragment.

31. The lord whose oracle is at Delphi neither speaks nor hides, but  indicates. (fr. 93)

Heraclitus not only admires the oracular style of delivery, but recommends it; this studied ambiguity is, I think, celebrated and alluded to in the Delian diver comment. For just as the prophecies of the Delian or Delphic god are at once obscure and darkly clear, so too are the workings of the Logos and Heraclitus’ remarks on it.”

Related material:
A Mass for Lucero.

That web page concludes with a reference to esthetics and a Delian palm, and was written three years ago on this date.

Today is also the date of death for Martin Buber, philosophical Jew.

Here is a Delphic saying in memory of Buber:

“It is the female date that is considered holy, and that bears fruit.”

—  Steven Erlanger,
    New York Times story,
    dateline Jerusalem, June 11

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