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.

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

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?

Two Thoughts. Of “Discipleship.”

  • μαθητής is a learner. The fanciness of the word disciple, the favored translation, obscures the simplicity of μαθητής, makes a humble way of life into an elite title. But splitting hairs over words—learner versus disciple—is not upbuilding in this case. Of importance, rather, is calling attention to the concept’s progressiveness: Christ sent out the Eleven to make his people into learners, who are continually and progressively learning through his word, but not to make them into the learned, who have comprehended the great mysteries and forgotten why they first endeavored. Christ’s learner is not someone accomplished; his only accomplishment is his beginning, and even that was done by the Teacher’s power.
  • If you choose to call yourself a “disciple of Christ,” be aware that you are currently and actively under discipline, being disciplined. Not a champion, you have the humble position of an athlete-in-training. Not an expert, you have the humble position of sitting at the feet of wisdom. Not a master of the house, you have the humble position of a sojourner on the way to a home in the great palace of the King.

Two Counterarguments. Of “Christian Nations.”

  1. One argument against the claim that the United State of America was initially a “Christian nation” is the conspicuous absence of republicanism, or even of democracy in general, from the Bible. But let no one by this statement be deceived into thinking that the Bible recommends any form of civil government. The concept of nation makes a “Christian nation” mutually incompatible with the Church’s mission to gather and make disciples from all peoples.
  2. God himself has only one government—and it is a kingdom. There is only one holy city—and it will come out of heaven from God. For God’s chosen, every nation on this earth is in effect Babylon.

Two Suppositions. Of Oppression in State Schools.

Maybe state schools (I don’t say “public,” except mockingly) have so many difficulties here because they force an alien structure upon a population that flourishes within a completely different structure. Maybe the “discipline” of the school is oppressive not because the students cannot be disciplined, but because genuine discipline, in fact, arises primarily from culture rather than method.

A Passage. Of Skepticism. Of Sleep and Wakefulness.

This summary of a major position of the skeptics, from the seventeenth century, was also pre-production brainstorming for The Matrix and Inception:

. . . [Q]ui sait si cette autre moitié de la vie où nous pensons veiller n’est pas un autre sommeil un peu différent du premier dont nous nous éveillons quand nous pensons dormir?

Et qui doute que, si on rêvait en compagnie, et que par hasard les songes s’accordassent, ce qui est assez ordinaire, et qu’on veillât en solitude, on ne crût les choses renversées? Enfin, comme on rêve souvent qu’on rêve, entassant un songe sur l’autre, la vie n’est elle-même qu’un songe, sur lequel les autres sont entés, dont nous nous éveillons à la mort, pendant laquelle nous avons aussi peu les principes du vrai et du bien que pendant le sommeil naturel; ces différentes pensées qui nous y agitent n’étant peut-être que des illusions, pareilles à l’écoulement du temps et aux vains fantaisies [Var. ed.: fantômes] de nos songes.

Who knows if this other half of life, in which we think to be awake, is not another sleep a little different from the first and from which we wake when we think we sleep?

And who doubts that, if one dreamed in company and by chance the dreams agreed (which is ordinary enough) and if one then woke in solitude, then one would not believe things to be reversed? Moreover, as one dreams often that one dreams, pouring dream upon dream, life itself is only a dream on which others are grafted and from which we wake at death and during which we have fewer principles of the true and the good than during natural sleep—these different thoughts that bother us here being, perhaps, merely illusions, rather like the flow of time and the vain fantasies of our dreams.

—Pascal, Pensées §434