Apothegms. Of Concision.

  • A concise sentence and a vapid sentence often have in common their size and form.
    • Many love short sentences but find concise ones distasteful.
      • For ease of reading, most prefer the short over the concise.
      • For the same reason, most dislike reading from someone who takes too many words to get at a thought. “Better not to say it if it takes too long to say.”
        • Most prefer sentences to repeat their own thoughts and not to say anything at all.
  • A short sentence might not be concise.
    • A long sentence might be concise.
    • A concise sentence pregnant with meaning has no certain size.
  • The advent of the meme is the downfall of concision.
    • Concision is not for the sake of the reader’s thinking quickly. Rather, it is for the sake of the reader’s thinking much and clearly.
    • If a meme demanded too much time, as a concise sentence might, it would not become too popular.
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An Aside. Of the Single.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy [ἁπλοῦς], your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad [πονηρός], your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

—Jesus, Matthew 6:22-23, English Standard Version

The adjective ἁπλοῦς (single, simple, without folds, uncomplicated) is opposed not merely to διπλοῦς (double) but also, here, to πονηρός (evil, wicked, toilsome).

Four Related Thoughts. Of the Self-Evident. Of Hermeneutics. Of the American Political Religions.

We hold these truths to be self-evident. . . .

  1. No statement is eo ipso self-evident. A statement may be admitted as an axiom, but only inasmuch as one acknowledges that it has indeed been admitted—or rather, permitted. An axiom is a chosen means to an end.
  2. Jefferson’s language in the Declaration of Independence exhibits this qualification: the self-evidence of his statements is not “found,” not “discovered,” not “revealed,” not even “known,” but “held.” If they were eo ipso self-evident, he would not need to “hold” them. Rather, they are submitted to the reader as premises: if the reader permits the statements in the abstract, then the reader should permit the conclusions in the concrete. Jefferson’s argument relies on an interpretation of the British king’s actions as tyrannical, so he begins with a series of axioms to facilitate such an interpretation.
  3. The Declaration of Independence furnishes a hermeneutic for defining tyranny. This hermeneutic is still in regular use today, applied to different particulars.
  4. American political discourse—no matter how secularized—often has a religious quality because of the application of various hermeneutics whose axioms are ideals separate from published laws.

A Proverb. Two Loosely Connected Thoughts. Of Virtues and Their Pretenders.

  1. “Reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”* He is wise not because he is beyond reproof but because he knows what to do in response to it.
  2. A free society is characterized by the ability of its members to speak with one another despite difference, difficulty, and even offense. A free society is not necessarily free from these things.

* Proverbs 9.8, English Standard Version

A Quote. Of the Work of Many Words.

. . . plerumque in sermone copiosa est egestas humanæ intellegentiæ, quia plus loquitur inquisitio quam inventio et longior est petitio quam inpetratio et operosior est manus pulsans quam sumens.

For the most part, in a wealth of discourse is a poverty of human understanding, for more talking is done with inquiry than with discovery, and more time is taken in asking than in obtaining, and more work is done by the hand that knocks than by the one that receives.

—Augustine, Confessions XII.i

A Quote. Some Questions. Of Bias.

To be biased, of course, means, among other things, to be socially typed, to have a social perspective from which it is necessary to view experience.

—John Dollard, Caste and Class in a Southern Town (1937)

Questions that linger:

  1. Is bias essentially social?
  2. Is bias a perspective?
  3. Is the perspective by which experience is interpreted (or “viewed”) essentially social?
  4. Can anything be said, in a human language, without bias?

Five Maxims. Of Laughter.

  • Laughter is a conquest, a seizure of the will. The grip of laughter is strongest when one wills most not to laugh.
  • A rare genius—no, not necessarily a madman—is the one who laughs in solitude.
  • One does not often laugh when alone unless it is believed that another would laugh in the same circumstances. When one does laugh alone, the lordship of the imagination is total, and in that case, it is not fitting to say that one is alone.
  • Laughter is as likely the voice of joy as the mask of wretchedness.
  • Derision and acceptance, disapproval and fellow-feeling—what do these have in common besides laughter?