Saturday, November 5, 2011


What is it with you? 
You want everything under the heavens

Even when nothing’s in view. 


  1. A heavenly view of nothing.

    "Nothing can come of nothing," said King Lear.

    "Yet nothing can to nothing fall,
    Nor any place be empty quite..."

    --J. Donne

    Of the many Renaissance paradoxes upon Nothing, one of the more interesting is a long poem (in Latin) by Jean Passerat, professor of rhetoric at Henry III's Palace Academy in Paris. It was published in 1599, republished, imitated and annotated over some fifty years.

    Nothing, Passerat informs us, is richer than precious stones and gold; nothing is finer than adamant, nothing nobler than the blood of kings; nothing is sacred in wars; nothing is greater than Socrates' wisdom -- indeed, by his own affirmation, nothing IS Socrates' wisdom.

    The poem is titled "Nihil".

    It's really something.

  2. Interesting. All of which reminds me of something—

    One thing only I know, And that is that
    I know nothing.

    Say you do not know,
    You know.

    Say you know,
    You do not know—

    You know?

  3. The greatest of know-nothings would always be surrounded by fellow know-nothings.

    καὶ νῦν περὶ ἀρετῆς ὃ ἔστιν ἐγὼ μὲν οὐκ οἶδα, σὺ μέντοι ἴσως πρότερον μὲν ᾔδησθα πρὶν ἐμοῦ ἅψασθαι, νῦν μέντοι ὅμοιος εἶ οὐκ εἰδότι.

  4. Tom,

    Talented archaeologist that you are, I'm not surprised you dug up a line from an obscure word-toiler that further illustrates the wisdom of your comment above, to wit:

    "We are all in this together."

    Even those who consider themselves exiles.

  5. Yep, that's us, the know-nothings, trying to find our way home... somehow... to a vision of something... somewhere...

    (Well, no, something -- that inner oracle! -- tells me that maybe you're already almost there, Vassilis. Perhaps it was that breakfast nook, or the pomegranates, that bespoke a palpable destination. Here our concentration lately has narrowed down to the cold numbers on what they call "the blood work" -- i.e. that of the beloved longtime partner, who's unwell, and without whom... nothing.)


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