Monday, August 29, 2011

Write Essays and Fiction: Francis Bacon's Essay on Revenge

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Watching on TV the end of Colonel Gadhafi’s regime in Libya, I heard someone mentioned the proverb:  "revenge is a dish best served cold." This maxim, by the way, is often wrongly attributed to the novel Les liaisons dangereuses (1782), since it does not appear anywhere there. As swift as retribution may be, the longer it will take for the rebels to build a nation.  
The point of this article is that Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) has left us some good thoughts about revenge.

Of Revenge

REVENGE is a kind of wild justice; which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.
For as for the first wrong, it does but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong puts the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince's part to pardon. And Solomon, I am sure, says, 'It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence.' That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves that labor in past matters.
There is no man who does a wrong for wrong's sake, nor to pur­chase himself profit, or pleasure, or honor, or the like. There­fore why should I be angry with a man for loving himself better than me?
And if any man should do wrong merely out of ill­ nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy; but then let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law to punish. Otherwise, a man's enemy is still beforehand; and it is two for one.
Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should know whence it comes. This is the more generous. For the delight seems to be not so much in doing the hurt as in mak­ing the party repent. But base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flies in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable; 'You shall read (says he) that we are commanded to forgive our enemies; but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends.'
But yet the spirit of Job was in better tune: 'Shall we (says he) take good at God's hands, and not be content to take evil also?' And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studies revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.
Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in pri­vate revenges it is not so. Nay rather, vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate. .
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Read "Selected Essays of Francis Bacon" in contemporary American English: available in KINDLE $1.99 If you don't own a KINDLE at this time you may download "Selected Essays of Francis Bacon" into your computer for only $0.99. Use the Paypal button below:

Lazarillo of Tormes: Most Beloved Short Story of Spanish Literature

Yayo el idolo picaresco de la argentina.Image via Wikipedia

(Excerpt ) from Chapter 5 - How Lazaro Found his Fifth Master: a Pardoner

 As luck would have it, my fifth master was a seller of papal indulgences. Not only was he arrogant and unprincipled, but also the biggest hawker of pardons that I've ever seen in my life or anybody ever hopes to see. He had all sorts of ruses and smooth tricks, and he was always thinking up new ones.

When he'd come to a place where he was going to sell these pardons, first he'd give the priests and the other clergy some presents—just little gifts that really weren't worth much: some lettuce from Murcia; a couple limes or oranges if they were in season; maybe a peach; a pair of apricots, or pears—the kind that stay green even after they're ripe.

That way he tried to win them over so they'd look kindly on his business and call out their parishioners to buy up the indulgences. When they thanked him, he'd find out how well educated they were. If they said they knew Latin, he kept mum so they couldn't trip him up; instead he'd speak in refined, well-polished, and flowery romance language. And if he saw that these clerics were political appointees, meaning that they bought their way into the priesthood instead of by going through school—he turned into a Saint Thomas Aquinas, speaking Latin for two hours, or, at least, something that sounded like Latin even if it wasn't.
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lazarillo of Tormes: Most Beloved Short Story of Spanish Literature

Yayo el idolo picaresco de la argentina.Image via Wikipedia

Chapter 4 - How Lazaro Went to Work for a Friar of the Order of Mercy and What Happened to Him

 I had to get a fourth master, who turned out to be a friar of the Order of Mercy. The women I've mentioned recommended me to him, telling me he was a relative. 

Choir duties and eating in the monastery he hated; it was worse than pulling teeth. But he was always running around on the outside, and quite devoted to secular business and visiting people.  In fact, so dedicated was he to these activities that I think he wore out more shoes than the whole monastery put together.  Talking about shoes, I should say that this man gave me the first pair of shoes I ever wore, which lasted me but a week.  And I wouldn't have lasted myself much longer trying to keep up with him. 
So because of this and some other little things that I don't want to mention, I left him.
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

East of Tiffany's - Book Review

LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 07:  An Amazon Kindle is s...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, July 17, 2011

 I am not surprised to see so many positive reviews for this collection - I could hardly put it down. The stories ranged from laugh out loud funny to touching. Great collection, highly recommend.

By E. Hirsch:
Not every reader that purchases the book leaves a review, but there are more than 70 reviews in alone. Hundreds of reviews in other sites. This brief book is deceptively simple; in two stories I found rhetorical figures of thought that one hardly sees in contemporary fiction; for example: in chapter 11 -
"For a moment my whole world came crashing down on me; out of the debris came pain, of the pain came hurt, of the hurt came paralysis, of the paralysis came numbness, of the numbness came total eclipse of the soul."
E. Hirsch. Read it and be on the lookout for fine writing!
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jose Ortega y Gasset: The Dehumanization of Art (New Translation by Marciano Guerrero) Part 1 of 3

ESPAÑA MADRID ORTEGA Y GASSET BARRIO LISTA 1¤I...Image by juan5731 Mopar 340 via Flickr


[Part 1 of 3]

A great man is dying. His wife is by his bedside. A doctor takes the dying man's pulse. In the background two more persons are present: a reporter who watches the passing scene for professional reasons, and a painter whom mere chance has brought here. Wife, doctor, reporter, and painter witness one and the same event. However, this identical event —a man's agony— appears to each of them in a different aspect. So different indeed are these aspects that they barely have a common nucleus. The difference of what this scene means to the grieving wife and what it means to the painter who looks on impassively is so vast that we should say: both wife and painter are witnessing two entirely distinct events.

As a result, one and the same reality may split up into many diverse realities when it is be­held from different points of view. And we cannot help asking ourselves: which of all these multiple realities is the real and authentic one? Any decision we make cannot but be arbitrary. Our preference for one or the other can be based on whim only. All these realities are equivalent, each being authentic for its congruent point of view. All we can do is to classify the points of view and choose among them the one that seems, in a practical way, most normal or most spon­taneous. Thus we arrive at a notion of reality that is by no means absolute, but at least practical and nor­mative.

The clearest method to assess the points of view of the four persons present at the deathbed consists in measuring one of their dimensions: the emotional distance between each person and the common event, the agony, they all witness. For the wife of the dying man the distance is so minimal that it is almost non-existent.
That lamentable event so tortures her heart and overfills her soul that it fuses with her person, or to put it inversely: the woman intervenes in the scene, she is part of it. In order to see something, for a fact to become an object that we observe we need to separate it from ourselves; it must cease to form a living part of our being. Thus the wife is not present at the scene, she is in it. She does not behold it, she "lives" it.
The doctor is a little more removed. To him this is a professional case. He doesn’t intervene in the event with the frantic and blinding anguish that floods the soul of the poor woman. However, his professional duty compels him to take a serious interest in what is happening: he carries responsibility, perhaps even his prestige is in danger. Hence he too, albeit in a less integral and less intimate way, takes part in the event, the scene overpowers him, dragging him into its dramatic interior, seizing him not his heart but the professional portion of his self. He too "lives" the sad happening, although with emotions emanating not from within, but from his professional periphery.

When we now put ourselves in the vantage point of the re­porter we realize that we have moved a long distance away from that painful reality.
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