Sunday, April 19, 2015

And what does he say of himself?

"Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A Being darkly wise, and rudely great."
"The glory, jest and riddle of the world."
-Alexander Pope, from An Essay on Man: Epistle II

"Wit that can creep, and Pride that licks the dust."
-Alexander Pope, from An Epistle to Arbuthnot

"Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;"
-Alexander Pope, from An Essay on Man: Epistle I

"Man, Homo Sapiens, the most widespread, numerous, and reputedly the most intelligent of the primates."

"Question 48: What is Man!"
"Man is a creature composed of body and soul,
And made in the image and likeness of God."
                                      Baltimore Catechism

"There shone one woman, and none but she."
-Algernon Charles Swinburne, from The Triumph of Time

"The heart of man is evil from his youth."
-Genesis 8:21

"Woman clothed in the sun."
-Revelation 12:1

"We are fearfully and wonderfully made."
-Psalms 139:14

"The torrent of a woman's will."
-Anonymous, from a pillar in Canterbury

"The Mind of Man, my haunt, and the main region of my song."
-William Wordsworth, from The Recluse

"Hail, fellow, well met,
All dirty and wet."
-Jonathan Swift, from My Lady's Lamentation And Complaint Against The Dean

"Man is nature's sole mistake."
-W.S. Gilbert, from Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant

"Man in his hasty days."
-Robert Bridges, from I Love all Beauteous Things

"Man is an embodied paradox, a bundle of contradictions."
-Charles Caleb Colton, from Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words; Addressed to Those Who Think

"Says he, 'I am a handsome man,
But I'm a gay deceiver."
-George Colman the Younger, from Love Laughs at Locksmiths
(hear it sung by The Kingston Trio)

"The Legend of Good Women."
-Geoffrey Chaucer

"An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be."
-Ambrose Bierce, from The Devil's Dictionary

"Art thou a man of purple cheer?
A rosy man right plump to see?"
-William Wordsworth, from A Poet's Epitaph

"And thus, from the bad use of free will, there originated the whole train of evil, which, with its concatenation of miseries, conveys the human race from its depraved origin, from its corrupt root, on to the destruction of the second death."
"Of the fall of the first man, in whom nature was created good--"
-Augustine, from The City of God

"Of Man's first disobedience and the Fall--"
-John Milton, from Paradise Lost

"If he is an angel, then he is a fallen angel. If he is an animal, then he is a risen animal. Doctor Faustus attained power over the Devil by learning his secret name: 'Mephistopheles'. Come, and I will whisper to you the secret name of Man and you can attain power over him. The secret name of man is 'Ambiguity'."

"Well, the things that human people have said about human people are not at all conclusive. It seems that man, being inside man, cannot get a good look at man."


  1. "What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god!"
    - Shakespeare: Hamlet: Act 2, Scene 2

  2. "...Without being totally stupid, we do display a tremendous aptitude for it."

    from the full quote:
    "People who feel the need to foul up their perceptions with hop or Yaginol or Skulbustium simply aren't turned on to the essential truth that the real world can always be identified by its unique characteristic: it, and it only, can take you completely by surprise.

    "Take two lumps of greyish metal and bring them together. Result: one wrecked city.

    "Could anyone have predicted or envisaged that until they knew enough about the real world to calculate the properties of a substance called Uranium-235?

    "People are going around marvelling at the fact that there's a solid scientific basis for palmistry. Anybody with a grain of intelligence could have said, directly the notion of the genetic code was formulated, that there was no a-priori reason why the pattern of the folds in the palm should not be related to a person's temperament by way of an association of genes sharing the same chromosome. Indeed, there were all kind of reasons for assuming this actually was so, because we aren’t totally stupid—as I've pointed out before—and unless there was in palmistry some element of relevance to real experience we’d have given it up and gone chasing some other will-o’-the-wisp. There's no shortage of them.

    "But it took forty years for someone to conduct a properly rigorous study of the subject and demonstrate that the suspicion was well-founded. This I do find remarkable—or disheartening might be a better word.

    "All right: what should you be surprised at, these days?

    "The fact that, having learned so much about ourselves—the design on our palms being just one example of the way we've analysed ourselves down to the constituent molecules, so that we can claim to be in sight of the day when we won't merely be able to ensure the sex of our offspring (if we can afford the fee), but also to choose whether we'll have a math genius in the family, or a musician, or a moron (some people might like to breed a moron for a pet, I guess…)—having got to this state, then, we know less about our reactions in the mass than we do about the behaviour of non-human thing like a lump of u-235.

    "Or maybe it's not so amazing. Without being totally stupid, we do display a tremendous aptitude for it.

    " —You: Beast by Chad C. Mulligan"
    Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner