Notes (March #1)

I lapse into dualism when my body fails me. Racked by fevers and laid low by joint pain, I pray for deliverance from corruptible flesh. How natural at such times to believe in selves separable from bodies, in immortal souls chained to dying animals.

 Juan Eusebio Nieremberg: “In death, all sorts of dying are equal. What imports it whether one single stone kill thee or a whole mountain oppress thee?”

Was the Reverend Jeremy Taylor a translator or plagiarist? I’m too tired to find out.

Nieremberg: “Wonderful are the ways which death finds out, and most poor and contemptible those things upon which life depends ; it hangs not only upon a thread, but sometimes upon so small a thing as a hair. So Fabius, a Roman senator, was choked with a hair, which he swallowed in a draught of milk. No door is shut to death; it enters where air cannot enter, and encounters us in the very actions of life. Small things are able to deprive us of so great a good. A little grain of a grape took away the life of Anacreon; and a pear, which Drusus Pompeius was playing with, fell into his mouth and choked him. The affections also of the soul, and the pleasures of the body, become the highway to death. Homer died of grief, and Sophocles of an excess of joy. Dionysius was killed with the good news of a victory which he obtained. Aurelianus died dancing, when he married the daughter of Domitian the emperor. Thales Mileaius, when he was beholding the sports in the theatre, died of thirst. Upon small matters, and unexpected accidents, depends the success of that moment, upon which depends eternity.”

Nieremberg: “Let us now consider Antiochus in all his pomp and glory, glittering in gold, and dazzling the eyes of the beholders with the splendour of his diamonds and precious jewels, mounted upon a stately courser, commanding over numerous armies, and making the very earth tremble under him. Let us then behold him in his bed, pale and wan, his strength and spirits spent, his loathsome body flowing with worms and corruption, forsaken by his own people, by reason of his pestilential and poisonous stink, which infected his whole camp, and finally dying mad, and in a rage. Who, seeing such a death, would wish the felicity of his life? Who, with the condition of his misery, would desire his fortune? See, then, wherein the goods of this life conclude.”

Nieremberg: “Who would marry a woman, though of a comely and well-proportioned body, who had the head of an ugly dragon? Certainly, although she had a great dowry, none would covet such a companion. Wherefore then do we wed ourselves to this life, which, although it seems to carry along with it much content and happiness, yet is in effect no less a monster; since, although the body appears to us beautiful and pleasant, yet the end of it is horrible, and full of misery?”

Several movies today: The Pyramid (2014), Hannibal (2001) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Yesterday: The Birds (1963), Kong: Skull Island (2017) and the last 15 minutes of Transformers: The Last Knight (2017). Only The Birds and Kong received my full attention. The rest spooled out in the background while I was otherwise engaged.

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