Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oracle in Oxyrhynchus

She had the child with her, though when I say it was the child I mean it was as always only the notion of a child, hardly even an image, a wavering transparency. Seeming to see me at the window she turned and started toward the house. In her green tunic and thonged sandals she might have been striding out of Arcady to meet me. (John Banville, Eclipse, Vintage, 2000, p.211) || There is no such thing as a sense of the real. Furthermore, there is no reason -quite the contrary- for representing what is past or foreign as analogous to what is current or near. The content of myth was situated in a noble and platonic temporality, as foreign to individual experience and individual interests as are government proclamations or esoteric theories learned at school and accepted at face value. In other respects, myth was information obtained from someone else. This was the primary attitude of the Greeks toward myth; in this modality of belief they were depending on someone else's word.(P. Veyne, Did the Greeks believe in their myths? p.27) ||  "A series of questions posed to an oracle in Oxyrhynchus has been made famous by Rostovtzeff as evidence for the deepening insecurity of the time: Shall I be sold up? Am I to become a beggar? Shall I take to flight?" (Peter Brown, "A debate on the holy", The Making of Late Antiquity, Harvard University Press, 1978, p.6) || In Alexandria, a certain Thompson, from Sunderland, has written his name in letters six feet tall on the Pompey column [...] There is no way of seeing the column without seeing the name of Thompson and consequently without thinking of Thompson. The cretin has incorporated himself into the monument and perpetuates himself with it. (G. Flaubert in J. Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Chicago, 2009, p.160) ||  Separating the useful and necessary from the beautiful and from enjoyment initiated a development that abandons the field to the materialism of bourgeois practice on the one hand and to the appeasement of happiness and the mind within the preserve of “culture” on the other. (H. Marcuse, Art and Liberation, (ed. D. Kellner), "The affirmative character of culture", (London: Routledge, 2007) p.83) || At times of bereavment, I have discovered, people revert to a primitive kindliness, which is manifest most obviously in the form of offerings of food. (Banville, Eclipse, p.194) || Ich hatte vor, diesen Sommer wieder einige Zeit in Marienbad zuzubringen, doch werde ich nicht eher gehen als bis Sie zurück sind. | My intention was once again to spend some time in Marienbad this summer, but I will not leave before you have returned. (JP Eckermann, Gespräche mit Goethe, Reclam, p.571, trans. mine) || On such days, autumn is already sounding its first horn-calls, yet the summer still blithely believes it will never end. In that dreamy stillness, like the stillness in the azure distances of a stage set, all the summers back to childhood seem present; to childhood, and beyond childhood, to those Arcadian fields where memory and imagination merge. (Banville, Eclipse, p.135)