09 July 2014

Commonplace Wednesday 7

From The Passionate Observer by Jean-Henri Fabre

The real, which is perfectly simple, and supremely beautiful, too often escapes us, giving way before the imaginary, which is less troublesome to acquire. Instead of going back to the facts and seeing for ourselves, we blindly follow tradition.
He lives twice who watches the life of others.
From The Life of the Spider by Jean-Henri Fabre
Formerly, to describe this group, people said 'articulate animals,' an expression which possessed the drawback of not jarring on the ear and of being understood by all. This is out of date. Nowadays, they use the euphonious term 'Arthropoda.' And to think that there are men who question the existence of progress! Infidels! Say,'articulate,' first; then roll out, 'Arthropoda,' and you shall see whether zoological science is no progressing.
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien
...the eager applause with which Beowulf's desire to go away on an adventure [was greeted] is very likely derived from a fairy-tale situation in which men were glad to be rid of the strong loutish youth.
...when Anglo-Saxons made Sceaf the son of Noah born in the ark, it was not mere genealogical fantasy...It was rather a process, due to a line of thought closely related to the ideas of the Beowulf-poet. It gave the northern kings a place in an unwritten chapter (as it were) of the Old Testament.
The English language has changed--but not necessarily improved!--in a thousand years.

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