Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday June 19, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:00 PM

A Reply to John Updike

See Updike on digitized snippets.

The following four snippets were pirated from the end of MathPages Quotations, compiled by Kevin Brown.

They are of synchronistic interest in view of the previous two Log24 entries, which referred (implicitly) to a Poe story and (explicitly) to Pascal.

"That is another of your odd notions,"
said the Prefect, who had the fashion
of calling everything 'odd' that was
beyond his comprehension, and thus
lived amid an absolute legion of 'oddities.'
Edgar Allan Poe

I knew when seven justices could not
take up a quarrel, but when the parties
were met themselves, one of them
thought but of an If, as, 'If you said so,
then I said so'; and they shook hands
and swore brothers. Your If is the only
peacemaker; much virtue in If.

I have made this letter longer than usual
because I lack the time to make it shorter.
Blaise Pascal

S'io credessi che mia risposta fosse
a persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma per cio che giammai di questo fondo
non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.
Dante, 1302

For translations of the Dante (including one by Dorothy Sayers), see everything2.com.

An anonymous author there notes that Dante describes a flame in which is encased a damned soul. The flame vibrates as the soul speaks:

If I thought that I were making
Answer to one that might return to view
The world, this flame should evermore
cease shaking.

But since from this abyss, if I hear true,
None ever came alive, I have no fear
Of infamy, but give thee answer due.

-- Dante, Inferno, Canto 27, lines 61-66,
translated by Dorothy Sayers

Updike says,

“Yes, there is a ton of information on the web but much of it is grievously inaccurate, unedited, unattributed and juvenile. The electronic marvels that abound around us serve, I have the impression, to inflame what is most informally and non-critically human about us. Our computer screens stare back at us with a kind of giant, instant aw-shucks, disarming in its modesty.”

Note Updike’s use of “inflame.”

For an aw-shucks version of “what is most informally and non-critically human about us,” as well as a theological flame, see both the previous entry and the above report from Hell.

Note that the web serves also to correct material that is inaccurate, unedited, unattributed, and juvenile. For examples, see Mathematics and Narrative. The combination of today’s entry for Pascal’s birthday with that web page serves both to light one candle and to curse the darkness.

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