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Whose mind hath the finer blade?

Monday, October 12th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — robert frost, the poet, or yogi berra, the player? ]

SPEC Frost Yogi


Also of interest, Frost‘s comment, quoted on the Classic Poetry Pages:

One stanza of ‘The Road Not Taken’ was written while I was sitting on a sofa in the middle of England: Was found three or four years later, and I couldn’t bear not to finish it. I wasn’t thinking about myself there, but about a friend who had gone off to war, a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn’t go the other. He was hard on himself that way.

As that page shows, I’m certainly not the first to note the overlap between Robert Frost and Yogi Berra — but it caught my attention today as I was reading a comment on Scott Aikin and Robert Talisse‘s On Some Yogisms:

And “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” was his joking way of giving directions to his NJ home. You could get there by going either way once you reached the fork he was referring to; both roads led to his house eventually.

That gives a literal context to Berra’s flight of fancy — and yeah, some roads are looped, it’s true — but without the wit, there’s be no wisdom.


Witty Wittgenstein, as apparently quoted by Ray Monk and in the Aikin and Talisse piece:

A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.

Prophets and poets

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — poets on the geolocation and fulminology of prophets ]

SPEC Berry Plath prophets


  • Sylvia Plath, The Hanging Man
  • Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America
  • The peace koan

    Friday, October 2nd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — turning the wheel ]

    When Erik Schelzig tweeted:

    Kevin Kruse responded

    — and that’s about as neat and sweet a statement of the peace paradox as any I’ve seen.


    War and Peace: yang and yin?


    John 14.27:

    Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

    I don’t believe there’s any promise of the cessation of war here — the peace offered here is a peace that’s operative in times of both war and peace.

    It must be peace from the warness of war, peace even in fighting, no?

    To my mind this is the koan all peace-lovers, peace-keepers, and peace-makers must grapple with: stillness within?

    I’ll be returning to this — “the dance at the still point of the turning wheel..”

    Official policy targeting weddings?

    Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — as if in brutal proof that “the bed waiting inside belongs to death” — that bridal and burial veils are one ]

    Does the Coalition have an official policy targeting weddings?

    Sorry to be so blunt about this, but I get déjà vu these days when I read about Coalition attacks on wedding parties.


    Today, for instance, WaPo has this headline:


    I believe that headline is only in white on a black background because that’s the “style” for WaPo’s “video channel” pages — but it’s suitable, really, eh? Funereal?

    Lest we forget, let’s see, now, Wikipedia has entries for:

  • Deh Bala wedding party airstrike of July 6, 2008
  • Wech Baghtu wedding party airstrike of November 3, 2008
  • **

    Then there’s December 12, 2013, reported by the admirable Greg Johnsen:

    Greg Johnsen

    If I’m not mistaken, that was also the occasion of these two headlines from Conor Friedsdorf:

    Friedsdorf 02

    Friedsdorf 01

    Stunning, those headlines. Of course there may have been other funereal weddings that I’ve missed.


    Oh, and there’s always the money to consider:

    more than $1 million


    Headline sources:

  • Air strike on Yemen wedding kills
  • Sorry our drones hit your wedding party
  • If a drone strike hit an American wedding
  • The Wedding That a U.S. Drone Strike Turned Into a Funeral
  • Yemeni victims of U.S. military drone strike
  • Gregory Johnsen’s piece is beautifully written as always. Conor Friedsdorf’s title alone — The Wedding That a U.S. Drone Strike Turned Into a Funeral — deserves high praise.


    Déjà vu? If these things keep on happening, I’ll have to call them flashbacks.

    King Abdullah II of Jordan at the UN

    Monday, September 28th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — and the thought of Rabia of Basra ]

    SPEC abdullah ii and rabia

    In a variant on these words, which I’ve quoted here from Asra Nomani‘s Milestones for a Spiritual Jihad, Rabia also wrote this poem, translated here by Charles Upton:

    O my Lord,

    if I worship you
    from fear of hell, burn me in hell.

    If I worship you
    from hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

    But if I worship you
    for yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face.

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