Category Archives: notes

Thoreau

Podcast Thoreau and the American Idyll

In Our Time Podcast BBC

Melvyn Bragg; Kathleen Burk, Professor of American History at University College London; Tim Morris, Lecturer in American Literature at the University of Dundee; Stephen Fender, Honorary Professor in English Literature at University College London.

Unitarianism

Jesus inspired by God but not divine.

Transcendentalism

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson-intuitive nature of the divine.

Romanticism:

-Walt Whitman
-Emily Dickinson

Dark Romanticism:

Herman Melville
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Edgar Allan Poe 

“The Dark romantic authors represented a response to the optimism of the ideology of Transcendentalism.” from “Dark Romanticism.” Dark Romanticism – New World Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.

Quaker’s Inward light, follow your own conscience.

Mexican-American War (1846-1848)

Socrates: The examined life is not worth living.

William Paley‘s Of the Duty of Civil Obedience

Roger Williams founder of Rhode Island and advocate of religious freedom (separation of church and state).

Machiavelli’s The Prince

Podcast: Machiavelli: Nigel Warburton and Prof. Quentin Skinner

Machiavelli’s The Prince

The Prince as a centaur:

“He says that the ancients understood state craft better, when they figured The Prince as a centaur. The centaur is half man and half beast, and that’s what it is to understand state craft. Manly virtue will never be enough, you’ve got to be ready for beastliness, and the centaur is half beast. Now, that is presented directly as a satire of Cicero.”- Prof. Skinner

Cicero: the fox and the lion

“Cicero had said, ‘Force is beastly and is to be avoided, that is simply the lion. Fraud is beastly and that is to be avoided, that is simply the fox’. And Machiavelli says, ‘Since you need to know how to be beastly, you had better know which particular beasts to imitate, and then in the most famous phrase in the book he says, ‘Those who have done best as princes in our time have known how to imitate the lion and the fox’.” – Prof. Skinner

‘You’re going to have to cheat, you must do your best to appear not to be cheating’, and that again is satirical in respect of Cicero’s De Officiis, because one of the things which Cicero keeps telling us is, ‘Fraud will always be found out. So you cannot gain true glory by pretence’, I’m now quoting Cicero, ‘because your pretences will always find you out’ And that becomes a biblical thought too. ‘Be sure your sins will find you out’. Now, one of the most important things that Machiavelli wants to tell The Prince is not to worry about that, because it’s not true. And he’s very keen on the fact that The Prince is not performing his politics in republican conditions. In republican conditions, you’re out in the piazza, everyone has a vote, it’s all public. People are watching you. You’ve only been elected, their turn will come, it’s a communal activity, everything is in the bright light of day. It’s not so for The Prince.” – Prof. Skinner

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From Chapters 15-24 “‘Be courageously evil where it’s necessary to be evil, but otherwise follow what people regard as the virtues as much as possible. Because if you don’t, they’ll hate you, and if they hate you, you’re in trouble’. -Prof. Skinner

Illustration of Othello and Iago. Charles and Mary Lamb, Tales from Shakespeare (Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, 1901). Via Wikimedia.

See Shakespeare’s Iago

The Prince as a critique of Seneca‘s ‘De Clementia’, ‘De Beneficiis’ ‘concerning benefits’, and Cicero’s De Officiis, Concerning One’s Offices.

La muerte de Séneca. 1871. Manuel Domínguez Sánchez. Museo de Prado, Madrid. El título completo dado por el pintor fue: Séneca, después de abrirse las venas, se mete en un baño y sus amigos, poseídos de dolor, juran odio a Nerón que decretó la muerte de su maestro. Via Wikimedia.

La fortuna

Essarai non buono

“Machiavelli does himself say at one point in Chapter 15 – this pivotal and notorious chapter where he introduces the virtuoso prince who is not always virtuous. He says ‘I’m teaching you that sometimes you must learn, how not to be good’, and it’s interesting he doesn’t say there, virtuoso, he says buono, a good person. ‘Essarai non buono’ – how not to be a good person.”” – Prof. Skinner

Salus populi suprema lex esto (The health of the people should be the supreme law) from Cicero’s De Legibus.

Machiavellian morality vs. Christian morality and classical morality.

“If you’re a prince, you need to go against conventional Christian or classical morality, if you’re an ordinary person, perhaps, you may want to carry on according to Christian or classical morality.” -Prof. Skinner

Read:

Isaiah Berlin’s essay The Originality of Machiavelli

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A Drowning Incident

McCarthy, C. J. “A Drowning Incident.” The Phoenix: Orange and White Literary Supplement. Mar. 1960. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee. p. 3-4.

“The black widow came threading her way toward it, and when she reached it she began a weaving motion over it with her legs as if performing some last rite.” p. 3

“He could hear the faint liquid purling even then, even before he emerged from the willows where the bridge crosses, glimpsed through the green lacework the fan of water beyond where the sun broke and danced on the stippled surface like silver bees.” p. 3

“Then with the gentle current drifted from beneath the bridge a small puppy, rolling and bumping along the bottom of the creek, turning weightlessly in the slow water. He watched uncomprehendingly. It spun slowly to stare at him with sightless eyes, turning its white belly to the softly diffused sunlight, its legs stiff and straight in an attitude of perpetual resistance. It drifted on, hid momentarily in a band of shadow, emerged, then slid beneath the hammered silver of the water surface and was gone.” p. 3-4

“It ebbed softly for a moment, then, tugged by a corner of the current, a small black and white figure, curled fetally, emerged. It was like witnessing the underwater birth of some fantastic subaqueous organism. It swayed hesitantly for a moment before turning to slide from sight in the faster water.”

“He lifted the stinking bag and looked at it. It was soggy and through a feathered split in the bottom little black hairs protruded like spiderfeet.” p. 4