Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

May 2008 bring you and those around you:
Health, love, peace, inspiration, success, leisure, contentment,
and - in case something does not immediately work - lots of serene calmness and calm serenety.

And ... who knows ... why not? ...

... perhaps you may even find the pot at the end of the rainbow ... :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas! :)

Yes, I am agnostic.
But as you see my family and I do love to celebrate Christmas our way - joyful and without any hectic.

Indeed, when thinking of you having such wonderful days as we are allowed to live I do feel happy for you. :)


Merry Christmas to you and the yours!

And what would Christmas be without wonderful music.

As most of you would not understand the original German version by Josef Mohr (1816) I thought you might like to listen "Silent Night" in Gaelic. :)

And as it was not on his list, the following song I dedicate to a very special Yorkshireman living in Russia:

May you decide, which version you like best. Here's to you, James! :)

The "Ave Maria" by Mario Lanza, (in the film "The Great Caruso), by Luciano Pavarotti, (Christmas 1975 in Notre Dame) and by Sarah Brightman.

Publish Post

Monday, December 17, 2007

Swearboarding for Saudi Machos

Yesterday, by scroogling Lord Ahmed and Fethullah Gülen in order to find articles in which both gentlemen would be mentioned I did again stumble over something completely different: this one month old article.

And again I felt the almost untamable wish to at least let the judges and everybody (!) responsible for enabling such "legal practice" know the myriads of curses, maledictions and swear-words my closest friend and I have been collecting, so far.

Yes, deeply I did regret that once I promised myself to keep contenance when blogging.

End of the beforegoing.

Today, what a surprise, one could read this.

Relief for the woman, yes.
But did the news calm my furor? Not at all.

And so, in a few minutes, after having fallen into the feathers and having put the head on my pillow I shall hopefully get presented the same dream I enjoyed the night before.

The King of Saudi Arabia, his complete entourage including judges and clergy being sent from the desert into the devils' kitchen where they are getting preferential treatment: Heaviest swearboarding which would not end before these ... hm ... these gentlemen would promise with immediate effect to veil their faces up til infinity and walk four steps behind their wives when lugging the shopping bags.

The Peace of the Night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kafka, the Kremlin and Kasparov

"Am in Erzurum. The
worshippers to dead
sardines' heads are
forming a
supranational elite.
Until soon,
kind regards,

You remember this message I received November 16th?

Well, since, I had been living lovely quiet days, snapping at the chance to rereading parts of the correspondence between Voltaire and Frederic II., Saramago's The Seeing, and, after all, listening to Harry Rowohlt reading the complete volume of Sterne's Tristram Shandy, altogether 23 hours and 24 minutes on 22 CDs which had been last year's Christmas present.

There had been but five more messages, each containing of three words: Am in Istanbul, Am in Stockholm,
Am in Moscow, Am in Bern. The last arrived Wednesday evening: Am in Lisbon.

Now, tonight watching the beginning of Kafka's "Castle", who drops in?
Right. My closest friend.

Here I am.

Welcome back, Tetrapilotomos. How ...

Ah, Kafka's Kremlin. Ulrich Mühe is brilliant in the Kasparov role.

You did not have a date with Mary Jo?


Tetrapilotomos! Kafka took his last dwelling six feet under almost 40 years before Kasparov made his first move by leaving his first dame.

Are you sure?

A strong tea, Tetrapilotomos?

. As
K. awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed into an asteroid; in 1983 this asteroid would be discovered by Randolph Kirk and Donald Rudy who would name it 3412 Kafka, and in the same year "Amerika" would be published. Sean, don't you understand? It's a gig.....

Coming to think of it I do hastily agree. Otherwise, in a minute you'll tell Flann O'Brien is Kafka's reincarnation.


Is. Anyway, it's lovely to have you back, my friend. It was so quiet and I missed you so much.

Alright, seriously: But you will agree
if Kafka were Russian, he would be a Costumbrista writer, won't you?

Would he be a Costumbrista writer, he were Mexican.

Why? Take it as an ingredient of globalisation ... or, this may please you more, of Omnium.


Well, actually I had intended to watch the film and afterwards to hear Tetrapilotomos telling a few (!) tales of his trip.
Instead, I did see nothing of the film, and ... the rest you know.

Now I am tired. Suppose tomorrow I'll need nerves of steel.

The peace of the night.

- - -

For those interested to read a little more about the (unfinished) novel, the film and its director: Voilà.

More about Kafka - and surprisingly not bad for the beginning - you find here.

And for those who could not get enough, highly commended: The Kafka Project.

On your genius, gentlemen!

Born 20 years after five ships under the command of Sir Francis Drake left Plymouth to sail around the world, and 140 years earlier than Robert Gernhardt, today Heinrich Heine would celebrate the 210th anniversary of his birth.

Well, he (possibly) can't; but by his work he made himself (hopefully) immortal.

nd Heinrich Heine Price laureate Robert Gernhardt, who died in June 2006? Too early to say he will be remembered in 200 years. For sure, in his lifetime he was one of if not the best German word magician.

So, gentlemen, thanks for giving me reason to raise my glass twice tonight: On your genius, Slàinte!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

... and it is still rising :)

All morning I hesitated, because I’d not like being thought a trumpeter.

On the other side, it is nice to get kind compliments from time to time, isn’t it?
Thus, be it!

This morning, visiting my dear “seldom boring”s I’d find this at Ardent Observation.

Immediately filled with joy, my heart rose like a falcon up to the sky, and ...

... it is still rising. :)

Thanks, Ardent! The caricature is a marvellous match to the quote!

In case it ever does, as soon as my heart has safely returned to its home base there might be another post tonight.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A chimpanzee for president!

Reading this will let you understand why (most) politicians as soon as the polls close would have forgotten all they promised on the hustings.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ardently asked for seven facts

Being "ardently" asked to "divulge seven facts" about myself, fulfilling this wish although when starting my expedition into the blogosphere I was (and still am) determined to politely reject in case of getting tagged, implicates ...

fact 1: I am inconsequent ... now and then. :)
Putting this insufficiency of character posivitely: I like it to make people happy. :)

fact 2: I do like (subtle) irony: Once telling a bookseller about my difficulties with learning Irish, he would nod and say: "Well, it needs a bit intelligence."

fact 3: 1. Once coquetting with Buñuel ("I'm atheist ... thank God"), by default of the perfect term I do call myself an agnostic; still I made Lough Derg and climbed Croagh Patrick on my bare feet; and while some people would burn flags because of a book they did not read, I read the books and would not burn flags, if anybody would call a stray dog Sean. :)

fact 4: books. There are about 3,000 in the shelves around me, and - I did even read them. :)
Being asked which one I'd take "to the island", I could not decide and would therefore prefer lots of papers and pens, so that I could write the stories I want to read, myself. :)

fact 5: In my very first school report the lady teacher remarked: "Sean is neat and industrious although very idiosyncretic".

fact 6: I am (mostly) trying to do unto others as I would have others do unto me.

fact 7: Therefore - will you please forgive me , Ardent? -, I shall not tag anybody else. :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

News from Russia ha ha ha

There have been elections in Russia?

I see.

The media are selling the results as news.

A "news" which a ready wit might have written twelve weeks or twelve months beforehand with sufficient accuracy.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Pen and ink make me think

Hm. Yes. Extraordinarily busy not writing, for a while, I've been.

Not writing? Well, rather I should write posting.

It's been nice, for a change, using the long neglected pen.

Dipping the pen into the ink pot makes me think much more concentrated.

It's not such easy to delete typos or "wrongly" chosen words.

And, although a beloved person once told/taught me that "the perfectionism is the enemy of the good", I am still trying to be (as) perfect (as possible).

:))) No. Not in English.
When using the pen(cil) I do still prefer the language I sucked from my mother's breasts.

And therefore you will not read here what I put to paper during the past fortnight.

Perhaps - who knows - one day someone who sucked the English language from his mother's breasts will translate it in a hopefully congenial way. :)

Before, though, you may read some most imperfect posts.

The peace of the night. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

109,263 tiny mistakes

Knowledge is power.

The President of the United States is (said to be) the most powerful human being on this planet.

George Walker Bush gained his knowledge in Texas.

This explains a lot.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another self-styled elite

Nothing is as old as yesterday's news, unless you would not find it in "your" media.

Alright, a conference titled "Muslim World in Transition: Contributions of the Gülen Movement" being hold, let's say in Erzurum would probably not attract many media to send a reporter team to Anatolia.

But when above mentioned conference takes place in London and is being inaugurated at The House of Lords one might think this would attract some interest
in times when the Labour Party's "favourite think-tank" favours the idea of downgrading Christmas in favour of festivals from other religions to improve race relations.


Well, it's good for Fethullah Gülen to have a
Journalists and Writers Foundation spreading his words and running his own newspaper.

In Today's Zaman - by the way, a nice little gem: Reading Zaman (Times) backwards you get Namaz (Prayer) -, October 27th one could find following headline: "Gülen Movement forms supranational new elite".

Two days later, Fethullah Gülen's most eloquent mouthpiece, Mustafa Akyol, in the Turkish Daily News let follow this column.

The final sentences:
"Alas, if the Islamic world will be able to breed a “dynamic” interpretation of its faith, then Turkey, it seems, will be one of its main architects. So, keep watching."

So be it!

For a beginning, apropos watching: what one would neither find in the articles above nor in this opulent file, you will find in this enlightening article by ... ? ... by ... ? right: by Mustafa Akyol.

Lots of links, dear readers?

Ah, it's just but a shortlist. :)

There are many more. Too many for one post.

More about this issue as soon as my closest friend is back. Today he sent a message.
"Am in Erzurum. The
worshippers of dead
sardines' heads are
forming a
supranational elite.
Until soon,
kind regards,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

When will we learn from history?

geeft acht!
plaats rust!
hoofd rechts!
richt u!
rechts om - links om keert!
over - geweer!
zet aw - geweer!
laadt - geweer!
legt an! zet af!

Today, November 11th, at 11 a.m. [plus 11 seconds], those Germans being fond of carnival, celebrated the start into their so-called fifth season.

Today, November 11th, at 11. a.m., 89 years ago the armistice being considered as the end of the first World War came into effect.

Isn't life strange? On the same day, some people are celebrating carnival, others are remembering the victims of war.

No, I do not mind the carnival revelers along the Rhine and elsewhere getting beside themselves with joy.

But I do recommend visiting James Higham's blog (nourishing obsurity) and read following two posts:

[armistice day] the story behind it


[monday, november 11th, 1918] pray for humanity

I do have nothing essential to add to what James wrote.

Only this: The orders above which I think need no translation I took from a "Flemish phrase book", printed (around 1915?) "primarily for the German soldiers and officers in Belgium".

I do hope there will no phrase books being printed again - in whatever language(s) - containing such phrases.
Unfortunately, I am no magician, and therefore my spell to learn from history will (probably) not come into effect.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A Fortune for Talking Blairney

What might, f.e. an engine-driver grossing about 2.100 Euro think when reading this?

500.000 pound plus an offer to give Tony Blair a 2,4 million-villa for "talking Blairney"?!

As one who would not envy a Ronaldinho or any other "star", because being offered such sums I should not deny, I do just ask:

Why would people pay such astronomic sums for ... almost nothing?

Why would - to give just another example - the German power company ENBW while announcing the necessity of rising energy prices, offer Al Gore 180.000 Dollars to appear in front of a handpicked audience?

Why would Al Gore demand: No photos during the event, no quotes, no articles?

Did he tell something different to his handpicked audience?

If not: why did ENBW-chairman Utz Claassen not charter a cinema for his "friends" / clientele? Would have been a tiny bit cheaper, wouldn't it?

Thus: Cui bono?

Who does get what advantage / profit when paying a fortune for ... almost nothing?

Apropos Al Gore: A well deserved laudation on (of? - ah these prepositions!) the "Peace"-Nobel Prize Winner and on the Nobel Prize Committee you will find here.

As for the rest:
Well, it's said the devil would always relieve himself on the biggest heap.

The Peace of the Night!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time for a refreshing kiss

The comments on my latest post remind me of that it's time for again kissing the Blarney Stone*, in order to refresh my magic power of convincing eloquence. :)

* not to muddle up with a certain Blairney Stone

Saturday, November 03, 2007

There is still hope

Ladies, gentlemen,
readers and leaders beyond authority,

what a marvellous week we had, Tetrapilotomos and I,
he brightened the earth, I polished the "Why" [sic: not the "sky"]

In other words: I did some research.

And the few hours Tetrapilotomos and I shared we spent watching an old spider
weaving its net and then waiting for its prey.

End of the beforegoing.

Such tiny questions, and what reactions. :)

to cut it short: Quite a few leaders beyond authority vistited my blog since October 29th.

As I know, my frequent readers and my friends will let dispense lenity;
therefore, some lines exclusively for leaders beyond authority:

It's not easy to make a living. You may have a family. Therefore I am happy you have found a job that fits your abilities. Last not least, undoubtedly you are just fulfilling your order
[which, by the way, most war-criminals would say when being accused of atrocities].

Indeed, my heart rose like a falcon up to the sky when noticing that one member of your team of leaders beyond authority would even check the label "Omnium". A real
connoisseur. Chapeau!

I hope you enjoyed widening your horizon at the expense of British tax-payers, although I am sure with a little more organising ability at least one of you could have checked the books and within minutes sent me the answers, at least the one for question b.

Ah well, nobody is perfect.

Now you read my advice which is, of course, free of charge - as I wish to disburden your tax-payers - I am waiting with burning patience, though.

Yours sincerely . . .

And now - not to leave you lost - some facts for you, dear regular readers:

a) The leader beyond authority visiting via Common-purpose-net just stayed 1 min 56 secs.

b) afterwards I got visitors via the mentioned GSIs and some other enthusiasts; one (?) would even stay for more than nine hours [although I hope there was a shift changeover; it's not good for one's eyes to be online such long].


Now wouldn't I hide my light under a bushel, but this was amazing.
Such innocent tiny questions - which by the way occured while researching into something completely different - and such a traffic on my site?!

I mean, I did just ask [, didn't I?].

There is no reason to mistrust a charity - I repeat: a charity - with such a charming name, isn't there?

I have no doubt at all that a charity calling itself "Common Purpose" would intend nothing else but the best for humankind. In other words: I felt sure by doing a little research I should easily find reliable independent sources giving evidence of that all these leaders beyond authority are kind humans.

Unfortunately, up til now I could not find any reliable independant source telling something positive about Common Purpose.

Still, there is some hope.

The altruistic leaders beyond any authority are weaving their net in quite a few countries. And as when a boy I was lazy in learning vocabularies I do not speak as many languages as I should like being able to speak [today].
Therefore I asked some colleagues in various countries to find as much evidence as possible that Common Purpose is as charitable, humanitarian and philantropic as they are telling on their websites.
As soon as there is a positive feedback I shall let you know.

Meanwhile I can unfortunately recommend just websites where you would find nasty bloggers writing nasty things about Common Purpose.
To me it sounds like a conspiracy theory. But who am I to judge what is right, and what is wrong?

The best will be you take your time, read carefully and form your own opinion.

The following five should be read one by one :

Well, and even the Devil in his kitchen has obviously "been aware of Common Purpose for some time and may well write about it at some stage". In the meantime, he offers to watch a video about "this rather sinister organisation".

Apropos "sinister": He did not use one of his favourite words which sounds like the name of a great German philosopher, and therefore I hope there is still hope.

Dum spiro spero.


Additional you may find shallow information about GSI (Government security net) here.

The Peace of the Night! :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Three questions just for common purpose

Isn't it strange what questions occur, when one is interested in everything, which is Omnium?

And do I need (to?) say that I should not ask following questions, if I were not convinced they are being asked for common purpose?

a) What has the Council of European Jaamat
in common with
the Criminal Records Bureau?

b) What common purpose let the the Criminal Records Bureau decide to award 32.000 pounds of its "challenge fund" to an organisation calling itself Common Purpose, and what was the quid pro pro?

c) What is the criminal record of Common Purpose?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Let's brain dance

It's nice to let one's brain dance.

Enjoy yourselves. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Le petit verbicide

A certain Professor Le Grand seems to have very special ideas how to change so-called health habits of Her Majesty's subjects, of course on behalf of common purpose.

By the way, Mr Grand would call his (?) proposals "libertarian paternalism".

That is why le petit verbicide landed well-deserved in the devil's kitchen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dark matter happens

Seems I decided in favour of the title heading my latest post, because my (sub-) conscience felt/knew that I should not waste a title as to be found above now, in order to just satisfy my sometimes strange sense of humour.

Indeed, and seriously, dear readers:

Dark matter happens

As to be seen above: Turkish readers visiting my blog are obviously not supposed to see my "visible" support for freedom of speech in their country.

Would you call this democracy, Mr. Gül?

Or would you call censorship an act of "libertarian paternalism", ordered by for common pupose?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shit happens

Wanderer, if you come to Harran, beware of your peristalsis.

Short Postskriptum:

Dear readers,
to find the four letter word in the title above, undoubtedly will have irritated your eyes, as you would not expect such a word when visiting this blog.

Let me, therefore, try to explain what let me feel the urgent need to confront you with an aprosdoketon of this kind.

Originally, of course, I pondered about headlines such as

Modern twin town of Gotham and Schilda found(ed) in Turkey


Yippie yippie yooh: Turkey ripe for the EU


A (septic) tank is not a tank is not a tank . . .

[if you don't believe me, ask General Büyükanit]

Considering - for various reasons, which to elucidate would take too long - all these headlines too long, I went on rummaging all shelves and drawers in the delivering room of my thoughts, when suddenly the poison cupboard fell open.
Probably my fault, as I suppose I did not lock it properly when lodging the latest word I had found when visiting . . . ah, I should rather not tell.

Anyway, what a mess. Fortunately, not all words had dropped out; still, more than you would find in the Devil's Kitchen, and therefore it took me quite a while to put them all back.

Ah well, as you have come to know and appreciate I am not a man of many words and thus far from being blithering, chatty, gabby, garrulous, gossipy, loquacious and so on, to meet your expectations I shall cut this long story roundly short, and - the more as I am convinced that brevity is the soul of the wit - immediately come to the essential inheritent interior essence which is hidden in the root of the kernel of everything:

Yes, for about half an hour, or so, I contemplated following alternative.

Dark matter happens

But this would have been the more irritating, wouldn't it?

And, after all: Shit is part of Omnium, isn't it? :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

My conviction

And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,

The instruments of darkness tell us truths,

Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s

In deepest consequence

Oft, uns in Elend zu verlocken,

Erzählen Wahrheit uns des Dunkels Schergen,

Gewinnen uns durch ehrlich Spiel im Kleinen,

Um uns in größten Dingen zu verraten.

[Banquo in McBeth, 1., 3.]

My comfort

So, I shall let Shakespeare's Henry V. speak for me:

My comfort is that old age, that ill layer-up of beauty, can do no more spoil upon my face.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Just so

In the last hour of the day that 515 years ago - according to Lichtenberg - "the first American who discovered Columbus made a horrible discovery", and in the last hour I am as old as the year within I was born, I do . . .

. . . not say that this one is going to become my last post.

Probably it would be a wise decision, though.

The Peace of the Night.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Targets for common purpose

In certain situations it is wise not to react spontaneously but rather go to bed and listen to one’s pillow.

I am glad I did so yesterday night. I should have regretted my words.

And this is what my pillow told me.

[A new young dynamic female member of one of those wonderful think tanks abandoned to vice, sitting vis-à-vis Mr Cheney.]

Do you love bloodsport? [sneer]

I love it, sir.
The chase, the sport of kings,
Images of war without guilt. [Clintonian laughter]

[sneer] Any suggestions?

We need a solution for the growing army of homeless people, right?

Rather today than tomorrow.

Well what about following project? Let’s collect all the organic waste and transport it …

. . . invite our homeless fellow countrymen; on behalf of the political correctness (little sneer]

Yes, of course, Vice-president.

- and women … [sneer] ….

- and women … [Clintonian laughter] … er … where did we stop? Ah, best will be I do repeat: Let’s invite our homeless fellow countrymen and –women to settle in a reservation.

Okay. Where?



A reservation along the Mexican border?

Excellent. And then? Ah, didn’t we recently speak about that our boys and the Blackwater folks et al. do need exercise conditions in step with actual practise in order to get optimal prepared when going abroad to make this world a better place?


Moving targets, and so. [sneer].

Gorgeous. [Clintonian laughter] I fear, though, … er … some do-gooders …

No problem, I let George Doublejooh deliver one of his touching speeches, spiced up with the usual stuff. Only this morning Laura and I had a chat with God about compassion, democracy, patriotism and love, and so on and so on. [sneer]

[Clintonian laughter] And God said: Sometimes you should not ask what the people could do for the state, but what the state could do for the people. In this moment Laura and I decided to initiate a patriot act for our wonderful homeless fellow countrymen. We ordered our National Guard to help those humble people to find a new homeland in …

Okay, okay. How many quick targets do we have?

One million lost their home only last year. And thanks to the housing crisis there might be another two millions this year.

Sounds good. And, anyway, there will always be fresh supply crossing the border to our National Security Homeland. [sneer] Any logistic problems?

No, Sir. It will, of course, be a no-go area. Those who survive a day will get some waste from hotels and super-markets. And fresh targets will be delivered on demand.

Okeydokey, and make sure that at minimum twelve weekends get reserved for special guests and members of the club. Especially the latter will be delighted about such new kind of safari. [sneer[. Err, better you do not mention the safaris. Just write 'for common purpose'.

All right, sir.

Good job. See you tomorrow.

Good bye then, sir.

Ah, where to start?

9.000 will do?


Then I do suggest Orlando.

And up I woke. Glad that it had been just a dream. But what a horrible dream. And why? Orlando? Then I remembered what I had read a couple of minutes before I had gone to bed, and decided neither to listen to nor to watch any news nor to read any newspapers ... at least for one day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lateral thinkers' thoughts

Do I need to assure that I do like Mr Cheney less than Mr Bush, and Mr Ahmadinejad about as much as Mr Bush and Mr bin Laden?

Having written this I do recommend reading following articles:

What did he say? by Ian Appleby,

and this one by Mark LeVine.

And afterwards, please take your time and ponder these thoughts.

No time? :) Ah, perhaps you just do not want to?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A diamond of altruism

Third time not always is a charm.

I hardly can believe following headline, especially as I found it by exploring crime news: Arsenal tycoon Alisher Usmanov in diamond 'fraud' row.

Very puzzled by reading all these confusing news I asked my clostest friend for his opinion.

And thus spake Tetrapilotomos: Soon you will learn that the altruistic Mr Usmanov whose parents allegedly could not bring up a gangster and racketeer did all he did . . . just for common purpose.

Above Mr Usmanov's dignity

People who happen to be of my generation may remember this song: This world today is a mess.

What would Donna Hightower sing today?

Mr Usmanov who has only recently been quoted saying "It is beneath my dignity to respond to all the allegations. People like my parents could not bring up a gangster and racketeer", reportedly has ordered unstated lawyers "to issue Indymedia UK with a takedown notice [10th of September & 21st of September]. The notice served to Indymedia charged Indymedia with publishing allegedly libellous accusations about Usmanov, one of the richest men in Russia, recently linked to a possible hostile takeover of Arsenal FC."

Read here.

Not about Mister Usmanov

Didn’t I say Alisher Usmanov seems to be a jolly good fellow?

This post is not primarily about Mr Usmanov, though, but about a happy few who would enjoy his generosity.

It’s a post about journalism.

To get prepared for the following I do - with compliments to Bloggerheads, Chicken Yoghurt, Matt Wardman and all those who are doing a great job on this very issue - ask you to read this first.

. . .

Back? And? Water on the mills of your opinion/prejudices?

Well, so let’s go on.

I think it was Robert Edwards, the “father” of Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby, who somewhen in the 90th of the past milennium basically said, though in another context: Ethic has to adapt to the progress of science.

Following this kind of logic, journalist’s have to adapt to the progress of corruption.

Too harsh?

Let me try to explain.

In these times journalists who would courteously insist on paying for even their cup of tea when being (jovially) invited by their interview partner, are being regarded as antediluvian fossils.

Are these fossils pedantic?

Is pedantic who declares a journalist should not be member of any party; in these times when very frequently the membership book in many countries would “decide” who climbs the ladder, and who not?

Once I have been "taught": Journalist’s are whores.

Are they? No. Not “they”. But: Yes, many are.

Others are disillusioned; partly, because they “accepted” what - beginning about 20 years ago - they are being told: Your articles are nothing but “garnishing the ads”; partly because they were "taught" how to use the scissors in their head.

So, why not choose the easy way? Taking the released statement by firm X or ministry Y, and that's it. Or, in case some tiny little scruples managed to survive, changing a subject here, and a predicate there.

And the loveliest are those whose autobiography could start with following sentence: Three months ago I shouldn't know how to write "shornalist", and today I do already happen to be one.

[Those feeling insulted, are those who are meant]

So, what is to say about the journalists who followed the invitation of Mr Usmanov; and what about their newspapers, their TV-station?

PS: And as for Financial Times: You paid all bills? Congratulations. Reading the article, even the last reader could learn: You know how to burn money.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Sláinte, Flannie Boy

Yesterday, October 4th, was the 67th anniversary of his first 'An crúiscín lán' column in The Irish Times.

Today Mr Nolan will celebrate his 96th birthday. I should not tell which pseudonym he does currently prefer, but I may say those few people still taking it for granted he died April 1st 1966, can look back on a remarkable long career as April fools.

In five words: Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag, alter Knabe!

The Plain People of Ireland: Isn't the German very like the Irish? Very guttural and so on?
Myself: Yes.
The Plain People of Ireland: People say that the German language and the Irish language is very guttural tongues.
Myself: Yes.
The Plain People of Ireland: The sounds is all guttural do you understand.
Myself. Yes.
The Plain People of Ireland: Very guttural languages the pair of them the Gaelic and the German.

* * *

And now - although it is most unlikely they exist - to all those who happen to not being in possession of the birthday boy's complete work: Saddle your ponies, folks, and hurry up. The friendly, most well-educated and -sorted bookseller just round the corner will be happy to fill the gaps of your education and in your bookshelf.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fortune favours fools

September is ending.

1. All potatoes are digged up.

2. Fortune favours fools, or as a German saying goes, "The most stupid farmer would get the biggest potatoes.

3. Sometimes a saying can be a great comfort.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Impossible Fact

Tonight my closest friend out of the blue declaimed following poem.

To me it sounds like a variation of a poem by Christian Morgenstern,

But Tetrapilotomos claims it is by "a certain" McSeanagall.

The Impossible Fact

Usmanoff, rich, an aimful rover,
walking in the wrong direction
at a busy intersection
is run over.

"How," he says, his mood restoring
but without his wrath ignoring,
"can an accident like this
ever happen? What's amiss?

"Did the world's administration
fail in free speech's deprivation?
Did police ignore the need
for reducing bloggers' speed?

"Isn't there a prohibition,
barring internet transmission
of a mighty to a wight?
Were the nasty bloggers right?"

Tightly swathed in dampened tissues
he explores the legal issues,
and his shillings soon make clear:
Free speech not permitted here!

And he comes to the conclusion:
His mishap was an illusion,
for, he reasons pointedly,
that which must not, can not be.

The (English version of) the Original (?)

The Impossible Fact

Palmstroem, old, an aimless rover,
walking in the wrong direction
at a busy intersection
is run over.

"How," he says, his life restoring
and with pluck his death ignoring,
"can an accident like this
ever happen? What's amiss?

"Did the state administration
fail in motor transportation?
Did police ignore the need
for reducing driving speed?

"Isn't there a prohibition,
barring motorized transmission
of the living to the dead?
Was the driver right who sped ... ?"

Tightly swathed in dampened tissues
he explores the legal issues,
and it soon is clear as air:
Cars were not permitted there!

And he comes to the conclusion:
His mishap was an illusion,
for, he reasons pointedly,
that which must not, can not be.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Audiatur et altera pars

Yesterday night I had an interesting conversation with my closest friend which I want to share with you.
Confess, I am still a little puzzled. Here we go.



Busy with pre Aztecan philately?

No. Translating Post Eastern Bloc fairy tales into Latin.

Interesting. Your latest five words, so far?

. . . Cloaca Maxima. Pecunia non olet .


Try these paltry shillings.

Hm, indeed. Can’t smell anything.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

What is your current fairy tale’s title, and what is the tale about?

The poor prisoner who became a billionaire and . . . or well, to cut it short: It’s about organized crime, its increasing threat and influence on people's daily life, and about that the majority of common people - rather than caring about their freedom - are interested in panem et circenses.

Interesting coincidence. Did you read this?

Yes, and most links; and the links to the links.

And? Alarming, isn’t it?

Yes, according to my informant, her source assures the story is stinking to heaven.

Any details? What would your informant's source tell?

For the beginning, some rhetoric questions. Would Mr Putin closely associate with Mr. Usmanov, if he were not a true democrat?


Doesn't speak for his virtues when a humble, innocent ex-prisoner being released, before you could spell bandit becomes a billionaire?


Can an art lover be wicked?


Would the owner of newspapers promote censorship?


Didn't Mr Usmanov become President of the European Fencing Confederation, last not least because in his programm he proposed 'improvement and democratization'?

Hm. To be honest, I did not ask myself any of these questions before.

I thought so. According to my informant, his source moreover assures Mr Usmanov is a lover of the poor.

Of course, otherwise he would not be a billionaire.

No irony, please. And he loves Arse . . .

Bandits would not be his friends?

Not as far as according to my informant her source would tell.

Her source, his source, her source! Is your informant a he or a she?

No comment. Informant protection. Forgotten the good old codex?

Hm. Sorry for interrupting.

You are welcome.

May I humbly add one question?

This is still a free country.

Why would Mr Usmanov wash, eh ... spend his pocket money in England. Why would'nt he try to win the Champion's League with a Club like Gazprom Tashkent?

Interesting question. I shall forward it to my informant who will forward it to her source who ...

. . . will personally ask Mr Usmanov? After all, he seems to be a jolly good fellow who would do no harm to anybody.


Tetrapilotomos! What's the matter? Where have your thoughts been?

I was thinking about Mr Usmanov's wife and rhythmic gymnastics, and suddenly . . . or well: And the creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig again, but already . . . and then: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

There would not be many people being able to follow the wondrous paths of your thoughts, Tetrapilotomos. Apropos "diet": Has your informant's source ever met Mr. Usmanov?

According to my informant's information, yes.

Her or his source is absolutely trustworthy, and would never tell a lie?

According to my informant's information: Yes.

What did he or she say about Mr. Usmanov's outside appearance?

A true asketic. Compared to him Twiggy was Miss Piggy.

And I came to the conclusion:
All I read was an illusion,
for to reason pointedly:
what must not, that can not be.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Merci, Monsieur Marceau

In autumn 1986 he gave me about an hour of his life. We talked about Auschwitz and love, about language and absolution, about Chaplin and apartheid, about poetry, Picasso and power, about resistance and reconciliation, about . . .

At one point he said: Shshsh, and now let's five minutes talk without words.

Magic? Eyes talking. No ears needed. Silence. Thoughts flowing, waving. Question and answer dancing. Dreams. Understanding? Yes. It is possible. Magic!

May the one and the other think I am (too) sentimental: Afterwards I felt these had been very special moments in my life. I had personally met a wonderful wise human being.

So, what could I say about this poet who did not need words?

With the implicit understanding that James will take it as what it is thought to be - a compliment for his wonderful idea - I do ask you to visit him at nourishing obscurity:

There you will find all the words which right now don't come easy to me.

. . .

. . .

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The importance of being E(a)rnest II

New chapter in the most thrilling case Ernest Chambers vs. God.

In a letter signed "God" the accused invokes immunity from "some earthly laws".

Read more here.

My closest friend says he feels reminded of certain human mass murders who would not accept the International Criminal Court by choosing almost the same reasons.
But he says also that he is sure Mr Chambers will insist on the defendant's appearance in person. "And he will focus on the tiny word some, argue that immunity from some earthly laws implicates that for some earthly laws the defendant does not invoke immunity."

Obviously to be continued.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Another Lip Service Day (for Peace)

As said, today is another Lip Service Day: The so-called International Day of Peace.

What's about Famine-Day?

Or will all the actions fill but one little stomach? Today? Right now? The stomach of any child soundless whining at its mother's breast which has no milk?

What is yoga as peace in action but naively acting for the sake of acting?

Peace Day? Or just another day for wheeling and dealing?

Pay Day?

Did you already order the Better World Shopping Guide?
Its FREE ... ehem . . . With your tax deductible donation of $20

Or the better world HANDBOOK?
It's even a bit freer . . . With your tax deductible donation of $50

- - -

Ah, perhaps today I am a little unfair with some nonprofit organisations.

Therefore: only those feeling blamed and insulted by what I wrote above ... only those are meant.

And now for something not completely different.

Today's Peace Day reminds me of the first poem in many many years that I spontaneously wrote in February 2003, when heinous warmongers pulled the strings and let their illiterate puppet threaten the "alliance of the unwilling" by saying "You're either with us, or against us."

New World Order


pleading for peace
without diplomacy
are being taught:
You are an enemy.

- - -

According to Tetrapilotomos the puppet, which barefaced claimed to be a "peaceloving person" could have also declared: "Peace is not of vital interest to my masters. God bless me ... eh, them."

"To tell the truth", Tetrapilotomos went on, "I'd rather prefer that one day will be said about these and other masters, their puppets and other useful idiots, what in 1588 was a dictum in England: 'God blew his breath, and they were scattered.' Of course, absolute peacefully, and it needn't be a celestial being; a tiny little butterfly in the Amazonian rainforest would do."

Much ado about doing not much


Yesterday, I quoted my closest friend, Tetrapilotomos:

"Sometimes I think: Past is. Is presence. Impossible to let bygones be bygones or even forget about. It’s there. Is presence. And maybe herein lies the reason that we remain unable to learn from the past."

What I had not been aware: Yesterday was so-called Children's Day. In Germany.

At night I read one of these BBC-Listeners from 1959, which - to my great delight - I had only recently rediscovered in a "forgotten" box.

And I found this advert.

Yes. Past is. Is presence. Nothing changed.


It is not due to any existing or not existing God's will. It is a - perhaps ... probably the infamy of mankind.

And today is another Lip Service Day . . .

And tomorrow . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nazim Hikmet had a dream

Nazim Hikmet had a dream:

Yaşamak bir ağaç gibi tek ve hür
ve bir orman gibi kardeşçesine,
bu hasret bizim.

To live like a tree and at liberty
and brotherly like the trees of a forest,
this yearning is ours.

- - -

Thus spake my closest friend, Tetrapilotomos:
"Sometimes I think: Past is. Is presence. Impossible to let bygones be bygones or even forget about. It’s there. Is presence. And maybe herein lies the reason that we remain unable to learn from the past."

- - -
The following poem by Hikmet is dedicated, especially to those being in power in Turkey, pretending to love the(ir?) country, pretending to be the most democratic democrats ever on Turkish soil and under Turkish sun, pretending to be guarantors of free speech and guardians of freedom of opinion, and who - like most of their predecessors - have banned Nazim Hikmet’s books from public libraries.

I love my country :
I have swung on its plane trees, I have stayed in its prisons.
Nothing can overcome my spleen
as the songs and tobacco of my country.

My country :
Bedreddin, Sinan, Yunus Emre and Sakarya,
lead domes and factory chimneys
are all the work of my people
who even hiding from themselves
smile under their drooping mustaches.

My country.
My country is so large :
it seems that it is endless to go around.
Edirné, Izmir, Ulukıshla, Marash, Trabzon, Erzurum.
I know the Erzurum plateau only in its songs
and I am ashamed
not to have crossed Tauruses even once
to go to the cotton pickers
in the south.

My country :
camels, train, Fords and sick donkeys,
and red earth.

My country.
The trout which likes
pine forests, best freshwaters and the lakes
at the top of mountains,
and at least half a kilo,
with red reflections on its scaleless, silver skin
swims in the Abant lake of Bolu.

My country :
goats on the Ankara plain :
the sheen of blond, silky, long furs.
The fat plump hazelnuts of Giresun.
The fragrant red-cheeked apples of Amasya,
and of all colours
bunches and bunches of grapes
and then the plough
and then the black ox
and then : ready to accept
advanced, beautiful and good
with the joyous admiration of a child
my hard-working, honest, brave people
half hungry, half full
half slave...

tr. by Fuat Engin

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Importance of being E(a)rnest

Mr Ernest W. Chambers once again proves the importance of his being: The 70-year-old Senator of Nebraska (U.S.A.) sues God.

My closest friend Tetrapilotomos first reaction: "I am relieved Mr Chambers did not sue God's wife, too. The more I am looking forward to the trial. It would be interesting to see how Mrs. God manages the earthly affairs, while her husband is living behind bars in his own country."

A Listener for Readers

A Listener for Readers

Tonight I shall have a nice drop of wine on the 299th

anniversary of Samuel Johnson's birth.

And I do feel glad having a "treasure" to share with connoisseurs of the English language. The following article
was published in the BBC's Weekly,

The Listener, September 24, 1959, Vol. LXII. No. 1591

Enjoy reading.

Dr. Samuel Johnson after 250 Years

Ian Watt on the literature of experience

We can hardly talk about literature without using the standard oppositions between art and life, form and meaning, imagination and experience. But these antitheses are obviously misleading in many ways; one way is to make us think so highly of ‘art’, ‘form’ and ‘imagination’ that we undervalue the many kinds of writing whose main qualities are not peculiar to literature, writing whose matter is so close to common experience that we do not think of it as imaginative, and whose manner is so much that of ordinary human discourse that it hardly occurs to us to discuss its literary form. The distinction between the world of art and of life becomes irrelevant in extreme cases of this kind of writing, because both their subject-matter and their mode of communication are common to both: such, for example, are the diary, the letter, the memoir, the prayer; and sometimes these modes of expression attain a measure of performance, and thus enter the vast category of writing to which one can give the name of experience. The greatest English writer whose work belongs mainly to this category is Samuel Johnson.

When, fifty years ago, Walter Raleigh celebrated the two hundredth anniversary of Johnson’s birth, the terms of his eulogy illustrated one way in which the antithesis between life and arttends to be unfair to the literature of experience:
‘Johnson’, he asserted ‘was an author almost by accident; it is the man who is dear to us’.
The question is whether the man is not dear to us mainly
through the greatness of the author; and it cannot be said
that the question, though much debated, has yet been
resolved. Raleigh certainly did much to end the relative decline in Johnson's reputation which set in soon after his death, and to suggest the main directions which subsequent interest in Johnson was to take; but whereas the general tendency of thought in the last fifty years has confirmed and amplified Raleigh's admiration of the man, it seems to have made it even more difficult to come to terms with the greatness of the author.

Modern trends in the Interpretation of Johnson the man are
not easy to summarize. Johnson's contemporary, George III, allegedly never discovered how the apple got inside the
apple-dumpling; perhaps one can say that new knowledge and new insights have enabled us to uncover in Johnson, beneath the portentous crust of the intimidating portraits, the polysyllabic prose, and the oracular clubman presented by Boswell, a human being who belongs to the world of our own ordinary pleasures and interests and perplexities more
completely than any other writer.

Both the difficulties of Johnson's life and the magnitude of his triumph over them were of exceptional proportions. From childhood on he suffered from the King’s Evil, a tuberculous infection that scarred his face and left him with one eye almost blind; he grew up in an unhappy home which offered little prospect for the future beyond his father’s declining bookshop; he was afflicted with an uncontrollable constitutional nervousness which made him mutter to himself and twitch convulsively; and by the age of nineteen he knew that at any moment what he called, his ‘vile melancholy’ was likely to develop into complete and per­manent madness.

Then came the brief days at Oxford of the angry young man
from the provinces: his contemporaries remembered him as
gay, but he knew well enough that ‘it was bitterness which
they mistook for frolic’.

All this side of the biography, hardly touched on by Boswell, has now been painstakingly filled out by many scholars, and its psychological implications interpreted. Their work makes clear the considerable role which the modern climate of thought, and especially Freud, has played in increasing our understanding of the courage and re-source with which
Johnson warded off the menace of insanity. In Johnson
Agonistes, as Bertrand Bronson has called him in a now classic study, we recognize and salute one of the great heroes of the wars of the mind.

Other changes in outlook have increased our sympathetic
under­standing of Johnson’s attitude to life. The Whig view of history, for example, has been sufficiently challenged for us to recognize that there was considerable basis for Johnson’s Tory anathemas on the social and political tendencies of his time; while the main events of the twentieth Century have vindicated Johnson's pronouncement that ‘the history of mankind is little else than a narration of designs that have failed and hopes that have been disappointed’.

Johnson’s political pessimism was based on his acute under­
standing of the darker elements in human nature. He could
hardly assent to the doctrine of progress when he was
convinced that ‘there may be community of material
possessions, but there can never be community of love and
esteem’; and the whole liberal conception of the democratic
pursuit of happiness inevitably seemed unreal to someone
who, when asked if he really believed that ‘a man was not
sometimes happy in the moment that was present’, answered:
‘ Never, but when he is drunk’.

Johnson's psychological pessimism - or realism, if you like -
enabled him to achieve a posthumous topicality in many other ways. He was, for example, the supreme exponent of One-Upman-ship; and Boswell's Life is, among other things, a record of the vigour and variety of his tactics: witness, for
example, Johnson's rejection of Boswell's offer to tell him all about Allan Ramsay’s pastoral drama The Gentle Shepherd.

‘No, Sir, I won't learn it. You shall retain your superiority by my not knowing it’.
Johnson, then, had as keen an awareness of the corruptions of pride and envy as La Rochefoucauld. But he was also,
fortunately, aware of much else. His great capacity for
cheerfulness kept breaking in on his conviction of human
inadequacy; and this, combined with his naturally impetuous and insubordinate nature, did much to qualify the toryism which is the usual result of a pressing sense of man's weakness, greed, and irrationality. Johnson strongly opposed the ‘prevailing spirit’ of his time, which he defined as ‘a dislike of all established forms, merely because they are established’; but if his view that ' the cure for the greatest part of human miseries is not radical but palliative' made him oppose anything in the nature of radical reform, it did not turn him into a complacent sup­porter of the status quo. He never forgot the need for ‘palliatives’ and his belief that ‘a decent pro-vision for the poor is the true test of a civilization’ might well have led him to welcome the Welfare State.

Johnson’s philosophical, psy­chological, and political views,
then, have become much more congenial to us than they were to the nineteenth Century; our general mistrust of theory makes us welcome Johnson’s famous attacks on “the cant of those who judge by principles rather than perception’, while our residual liberalism is satisfied by Johnson’s eloquent departure from his own precept when he enunciated one sovereign principle of judgment: ‘I am always afraid of determining on the side of envy or cruelty’.

But it may be felt that all this is beside the point; that we
can, no doubt - following our personal tastes - applaud
Johnson the High Churchman or Johnson the gormandizer,
John­son the patriot or Johnson the punster; but that the only important question is not whether the Great Cham was a great chap, or even the brightest Ornament in the casebooks of self-psychotherapy, but, simply, whether he was a great writer.
The answer, simply, is yes. But the case is difficult to argue,
especially in the present critical climate.
For one thing, Raleigh was in a sense right when he said
Johnson ‘was an author almost by accident’. In the days of his fame, when someone complimented Johnson on his legal knowledge and remarked that he might have become Lord Chancellor if he had chosen the law as a career, Johnson was much distressed, and answered: ‘Why will you vex me by suggesting this when it is too late?’ Most of his published works were commissioned - from the first of them, a translation for a provincial bookseller, to his greatest literary achievements, the Dictionary and the Lives of the Poets.

Johnson is perhaps the supreme example of a great writer with very little sense of a specifically literary vocation. This,
however, may not be as disabling as it sounds. For two
reasons: first, the notion of the literary vocation as something special and set apart is not necessarily the best one, and is certainly relatively new historically; and, secondly, Johnson had his own conception of his role which, though contrary to some more recent ones, was perfectly adapted to his own particular literary powers. Soon after Johnson's death the Romantics established their image of the writer as a lonely genius exploring strange seas of thought and feeling; and today this conception retains much of its power. With this stereotype goes a conception of literature as an equally special and separate kind of expression; and this idea, which is strongly supported by symbolist and formalist doctrines, has only recently been widely challenged in favour of a more literal an rational outlook.

Johnson’s idea of literature, and of the role of the writer, was certainly not in the role of tradition begun by the Romantics. If he thought of himself as an 'artist', it was in its eighteenth-century sense of a skilled craftsman; and his conception of how he should use his craft laid primary emphasis on his kinship with his fellow human beings: ‘The only end of writing’ was 'to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it’. So Johnson’s best early works in verse - London and The Vanity of Human Wishes, and in prose the Rambler papers - were moral essays, discursive modes of writing which were, as he put it, eminently adapted to ‘the propagation of truth’ and ‘the dignity of virtue’. Their manner was primarily rational and expository; Johnson insisted on the virtues of what he called ‘dogged veracity’. His psychological need to control ‘the hunger of the imagination which preys upon itself’ made him rather uneasy in the presence of fanciful and the fictional; and it is typical of him that the best parts of his quasi-novel Rasselas could easily be essay from the Rambler.

Potential and Achievement

This literal and didactic tendency, so out of keeping with
recent literary fashion, was undoubtedly an important cause of what has been widely felt as a discrepancy between Johnson’s potential and his actual literary achievement. The Vanity of Human Wishes is one of the supreme poems of the Century, but Johnson obviously fell short of the bulk which is necessary to major poetic status; partly because his sense of moral and religious responsibility was so intense that it did not lend itself easily to poetry - he considered religion ‘the great, the necessary, the inevitable business of human life’, but he also held that ‘contemplative piety, or the intercourse between God and the human soul cannot be poetical’. On the other hand, unlike Boswell, he had little interest in the commonest outlet for the literal and realist habit of mind - self-expression; so it is not surprising that the bulk of Johnson’s writings are of a miscellaneous and occasional kind.

Few of us would deny Sir James Murrav’s estimate that in
Johnson’s hands the dictionary ‘became a department of
literature’; nor would we dissent from Logan Pearsall Smith’s expert appraisal of Johnson as our supreme aphorist: but we hardly know how to rank these two genres in th e literary hierarchy. We like wit and brevity and analytic power, but the definition and the aphorism seem much too short-winded and discontinuous to rank as major literary creations; and both are essentially occa­sional - supremely so in the Dictionary, where every word was a new and unavoidable challenge.

To no one else, surely, can we better apply Johnson’s own
definition: ‘True genius is a mind of large general powers,
accidentally determined in some particular direction’; his union of formidable analytic power with immediate command of memorable verbal expression needed only aa appropriate eliciting occasion, whether in a literary task or in the occasions of daily life. This poses further critical problems. First, we must learn how to deal with writing which was not intended as literature at all. The famous private Letter to Lord Chesterfield is not surpassed by any of his public writings, and the great gifts found in The Vanity of Human Wishes are as fully manifested in some of Johnson’s private prayers and in his letters.

Seriousness in Conversation
Secondly, it is even more difficult to come to critical terms
with Johnson’s conversation. When Boswell remarked ‘But I
wonder, Sir, you have not more pleasure in writing than in not writing’, Johnson refused to be drawn: ‘Sir. you may wonder’. It seems clear that conversation was Johnson’s most natural means of expression - perhaps because there the stimulus was varied and immediate. In any case, just as Johnson's moral sense made the distinction between public and private writing unimportant, so it meant that he put as much seriousness and energy into his conversation as into his writing. He ' laid it down as a fixed rule to do his best on every occasion and in every Company '; and to impart whatever he knew in the most forcible language he could put in'. Consequently, Fanny Burney' could not help remarking how . . . much the same thing it was to hear h i m or to read him'; while Johnson's conversation offers as impressive evidence as bis writings of the variety of his powers, from what Boswell described as 'the majestic teacher of moral and religious wisdom ', to the greatest of the English humorists».

Humour it another literary quality which has not yet received justice. In general it can be regarded as a supremely inclusive response to the complexities of experience; and a response whose success requires great gifts of sensitiveness and imagination. Mrs. Thrale tells of a Lincolnshire lady who was ill-advised enough to show Johnson the underground grotto in her garden, and then enquire complacently ‘if he did not think it would be a pretty convenient habitation?’ ‘I think it would, Madam’, he replied — ‘for a toad’. The retort was rude; but not
gratuitously so, because at soon as Johnson was summoned
to endorse a grotto as a convenient human habitation he felt himself bound to remind the Lincolnshire lady that civilization has progressed from living in caves to living in houses only through long and patient efforts, and that it can continue only on such terms.
To do justice to Johnson's literary achievement, then, we must include the totality of his recorded utterances: the
conversations and the various marginal kinds of writing, as
well as the poems, the essays and the Lives of the Poets. This means that we must usually judge Johnson’s content on the basis of literal as opposed to imaginative truth.

This is what the literature of experience usually demands, but it is contrary to most modern critical theory, with its insistence on the literary artefact as an autonomous verbal structure best considered as separate both from its author and from any relation to real life. Obviously the correspondence of an author’s statements to reality or truth is even more difficult to establish than intrinsic literary excellence where we can at least find all - or most - of the evidence on the page before us. We must also remember that there is a real danger in confusing art and life; for one thing, it tends to authorize the common 'let's have no nonsense' sort of Philistinism, and Johnson had many admirers in this camp: Raleigh himself as Virginia Woolf noted, in his later years 'ceased to profess literature, and became instead a Professor of Life'.

Truthful Vision of Human Experience

But the other extreme position is even more impossible; we
may not want to go as far as Johnson did in disregarding the distinctions between literature and life, but we obviously cannot disregard the whole tradition of wisdom literature, from the Book of Ecclesiastes to Montaigne and Pascal, or all the other writings in which man has faced and recorded his actual thoughts and feelings. Johnson’s own works and reported utterances no doubt constitute a dispersed, untidy, and awkward body of material for the critic to see as a whole, but that whole constitutes an impressively eloquent, consistent, and truthful vision of human experience.

I have said little about Johnson’s writings as such, but I will
close by letting him speak for himself, all too briefly, in one of the supreme examples of the literature of experience. Perhaps the most famous example of Johnson’s literalism is his attack Milton’s Lycidas: 'Where there is leisure for fiction’, he said, ‘there is little grief'. Johnson’s elegy ‘On the Death of Dr. Level’ is an absolutelv direct treatment of the death of a member of his household, described by Boswell as ‘an obscure practiser in phvsic, of a strange, grotesque appearance’. The poem was written hardly a year before Johnson’s own death, and in it all his friendship and humanity was framed by a steady of mankind's limitations:

Condemn’d to hope’s delusive mine,
As on we toil from day to day,
By suddenblasts, or slow decline,
Our social comforts drop away.

Well tried through many a varying year
See Levet to the grave descent;
Officious, innocent, sincere,
Of ev'ry friendless name the friend.

Yet still he fills affection’s eye,
Obscurely wise, and coarsely kind,
Nor letter’d arrogance deny
The praise to merit unrefin’d.

When fainting nature called for aid,
And hov’ring death prepar’d the blow,
His vig’rous remedy display’d
The poewer of art without the show.

In misery’s darkest caverns known,
His useful care was ever nigh,
When hopeless anguish pour’d his groan,
And lonely want retir’d to die.

No summon mock’d by chill delay,
No petty gain disdain’d by pride,
The modest wants of ev’ry day,
The toil of ev’ry day supplied.

His virtues walk’d their narrow round,
Nor made a pause, nor left a void;
And sure th’ Eternal Master found
The single talent well employ’d.

The busy day, the peaceful night,
Unfelt, uncounted, glided by:
His frame was firm, his powers were bright,
Tho’ now his eightieth year was nigh.

Then with no throbbing fiery pain,
No cold graduations of decay
Death broke at once the vital chain,
And forc’d his soul the nearest way.