Dialogue on the Threshold

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Friday, 29 January 2016

Metaphor of a bad mind

I am inclined to suspect, that all these several finders of truth are the very identical men, who are by others called the finders of gold. The method used in both these searches after truth and after gold, being, indeed, one and the same, viz. the searching, rummaging, and examining into a nasty place; indeed, in the former instances, into the nastiest of all places, A BAD MIND.
But though in this particular, and, perhaps, in their success, the truth-finder and the gold-finder may very properly be compared together; yet, in modesty, surely, there can be no comparison between the two: for who ever heard of a gold-finder that had the impudence or folloy to assert, from the ill-success of his search, that there was no such thing as gold in the world? Whereas the truth-finder, having raked out that jakes, his own mind, and being there capable of tracing no ray of divinity, nor any thing virtuous or good, or lovely or loving, very fairly, honestly, and logically, concludes, that no such things exist in the whole creation.

Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling (1749), Book VI, Chapter One, Of Love.

A gold-finder was one who emptied privies.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Ruin is the throne where he sits

wrd.bt ḫpṯt
nḥlth. (...)

(...) and go down to the charnel house of the / nether world. Be counted among them / that went down into the nether world. / Then, indeed, set face [towards El's son / Mot], midst his city / "Slushy". Ruin is the throne / where he sits, infernal filth / his inheritance. (...)

Fragment of an Ugaritic text from the Baal-cycle, describing the mission of Baal's two messengers to the abode of Mot, the god of death and drought, quoted and translated in:

Nicholas J. Tromp, Primitive Conceptions of Death and the Nether World in the Old Testament, Biblica et Orientala (Sacra Scriptura Antiquitatibus Orientalibus Illustrata) 21, 
Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, 1969, pp. 7-8.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Die Sprache des Traumes

Im Traume, und schon in jenem Zuſtande des Deliriums, der meiſt vor dem Einſchlafen vorhergeht, ſcheint die Seele eine ganz andre Sprache zu ſprechen als gewöhnlich. Gewiße Naturgegenſtände oder Eigenſchaften der Dinge, bedeuten jetzt auf einmal Perſonen und umgekehrt ſtellen ſich uns gewiſſe Eigenſchaften oder Handlungen, unter dem Bilde von Perſonen dar.

 Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert, Die Symbolik des Traumes, Bamberg, 1814
In dream, and even in that state of delirium which generally precedes falling asleep, the soul seems to speak a very different language than usual. Certain natural objects or properties of things all of a sudden signify persons and conversely certain qualities or actions present themselves to us in the form of persons.

Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert, The Symbolism of Dreams, quoted in Albert Béguin, L'Ame romantique et le rêve. Essai sur le romantisme allemand et la poesie française, Librairie José Corti, Paris, 1939

Friday, 1 January 2016

Crepitus ventris essetne spiritualis?

 Crepitus ventris essetne spiritualis?

R. Ita, probatur sic: 1. Quæ invisibilia sunt, spiritualia sunt. Atqui crepitus sunt invisibiles. Ergo spirituales sunt: minorem probo, dum vos oro ut insignem crepitum emittatis, mihique indicatis cujus coloris sit, vel metimini mihi ulnam unam, sicuti metiri solent pannus, & vobis, ut in concursu lampada tradam. [2.] Quæ habent agilitatem, ut nullus hominum possit eorum ictus evitare sunt spiritualia. Sed tale sunt crepitus. Ergo, &c. His adde, etiamsi crepitus proveniunt ex spelunca & nascantur sine visu, sicuti talpæ, attamen non sunt palpabiles, sicuti tenebræ Ægyptiorum. Ergo, &c. 3. Fides ex auditu est. Crepitus sunt ex auditu & odoratu. Ergo crepitus spirituales sunt.

Nugae Venales, sive Thesaurus Ridendi & Jocandi.  
Anno 1689. Prostant apud Neminem; sed tamen Ubique.  

Are farts spiritual?

Answer. Yes, proven thus: 1. That which is invisible is spiritual. Farts are invisible. Therefore they are spiritual: I prove the minor so long as I ask you to let fly with a blatant fart and you show me what colour it is or measure out an ell for me, as one might measure out a length of cloth, in which case I shall yield the point to you. [2.] That which is so swift that no man can avoid its impact is spiritual. Such are farts. Therefore, etc. Moreover, even if farts originate from a cavern and are born sightless, like moles, they are nonetheless impalpable, like the ghosts of Egypt. Therefore, etc. 3. Hearing is believing. With farts, hearing and smelling are believing. Therefore farts are spiritual.

Jokes for Sale, or Treasury of Laughing and Jesting.  
Anywhere: Nobody, 1689. Page 9.


minorem probo / I prove the minor: joco-serious parody of the language of logical disputation. The respondens (respondent) puts forward a thesis which is then contradicted by the objiciens (objector) through a syllogism. The respondent may either concede the major and/or minor premise of the syllogism, qualify them by finding both truth and falsehood therein, or deny them. If the respondent denies the major or minor premise, then the objector will proceed to prove his proposition, saying: probo majorem/minorem negatam (I prove the major/minor denied). 

Quid est crepitus?

Quid est crepitus?

R. Crepitus est flatus ventris, quem natura provida sanitatis tuendæ causa per podicem ejicit: materia ejus existens paulum crassa. Hæc est definitio essentialis & quidditativa, constat enim ex genere, quod est flatus, & differentia, quæ est ventris, nisi velis nos æque per os ac per podicem pedere.

Nugae Venales, sive Thesaurus Ridendi & Jocandi.  
Anno 1689. Prostant apud Neminem; sed tamen Ubique.  

What is a fart?

Answer: A fart is the breath of the belly, which provident nature expels through the arse for the sake of preserving the health, its matter being slightly dense. This is the definition according to essence and quiddity, since it corresponds to the genus, which is of the breath, and the species, which is of the belly, unless you would wish us to fart both through the mouth and through the arse.

Jokes for Sale, or Treasury of Laughing and Jesting.  
Anywhere: Nobody, 1689. Page 11.