Skip to content

Category Archives: Felicitous Phrasing

Pride and The Idea of God.


“The neighborhood of the Game Reserve and the presence, outside our boundary, of the big game, gave a particular character to the farm, as if we had been the neighbors of a great king. Very proud things were about, and made their nearness felt. The barbarian loves his own pride, and hates, or disbelieves in, […]

Life Without An Editor.


I was reading Thoreau’s essay “Walking” – which is still one of the great things – and I was amazed by the paragraph below.  How in the world did he arrive at the last sentence in the paragraph?  It appears to be apropos of nothing at all.  Any editor would have reduced him to some […]



Kerouac, in this the original scroll version of On the Road, tells of the time he was a security guard in a construction company’s barracks.  The description of police brutality and interference in people’s lives is interesting to say the least.  And timely.  I think this culture still exists. These barracks were for the temporary […]

T.E. Lawrence on Sherif Ali ibn El Hussein.


“The greatest asset of Feisal’s cause in this work up North was Sherif Ali ibn el Hussein.  The lunatic competitor of all the wilder tribesmen in their wildest feats was now turning all his force to greater ends.  The mixed natures in him made of his face and body powerful pleadings, carnal, perhaps, except in […]

Genius Strokes of Literature, From A Computer’s Boggled Mind.


Looking over John McPhee’s masterful essay Atchafalaya – which if you’ve never read you should just go and do – I am struck by the improvements made by our computers’ optical-recognition software.  Presumably the New Yorker will fix this at some point, so we must enjoy these nuggets while we can: Very early in the […]

Shakespeare on the Night Before a Battle.


Now entertain conjecture of a time When creeping murmur and the poring dark Fills the wide vessel of the universe. From camp to camp, through the foul womb of night, The hum of either army stilly sounds, That the fixed sentinels almost receive The secret whispers of each other’s watch. Fire answers fire, and through […]

Francis Parkman.


I’ve been reading Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi – which is superb – and I have been amazed by the sparkling little gems of prose which Twain culled from Parkman.  I provide a sample, La Salle’s entering the Gulf of Mexico: And now they neared their journey’s end.  On the 6th of April, the […]

T.E. Lawrence and His Editors.


There was something truly strange and self-defeating and remarkable about T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia fame). Like many artists his relation to fame seems to have resembled his relationship to himself: he hated it, despised it, and was also fascinated by it and could not quite give up his quest to possess it on some kind […]

The Problem of Love.


“Love seeketh not itself to please, Nor for itself hath any care, But for another gives its ease, And builds a heaven in hell’s despair.” So sung a little Clod of Clay, Trodden with the cattle’s feet, But a Pebble of the brook Warbled out these metres meet: “Love seeketh only Self to please, To […]

The God of Happiness.


There is an essay about this topic, and Dostoevsky its prophet: “For we are made for happiness, and any one who is completely happy has a right to say to himself, ‘I am doing God’s will on earth.’ All the righteous, all the saints, all the holy martyrs were happy.”