Beleaguered by faceless minions….

Morning brings such sweet sorrow……oh, wait. Sorry, just a little pre-coffee dsylexia….let us begin the dance….

ASS, n.  A public singer with a good voice but no ear.  In Virginia City, Nevada, he is called the Washoe Canary, in Dakota, the Senator, and everywhere the Donkey.  The animal is widely and variously celebrated in the literature, art and religion of every age and country; no other so engages and fires the human imagination as this noble vertebrate.  Indeed, it is doubted by some (Ramasilus, _lib. II., De Clem._, and C. Stantatus, _De Temperamente_) if it is not a god; and as such we know it was worshiped by the Etruscans, and, if we may believe Macrobious, by the Cupasians also.  Of the only two animals admitted into the Mahometan Paradise along with the souls of men, the ass that carried Balaam is one, the dog of the Seven Sleepers the other.  This is no small distinction.  From what has been written about this beast might be compiled a library of great splendor and magnitude, rivaling that of the Shakespearean cult, and that which clusters about the Bible.  It may be said, generally, that all literature is more or less Asinine.

“Hail, holy Ass!” the squiring angels sing;
“Priest of Unreason, and of Discords King!”
Great co-Creator, let Thy glory shine:
God made all else, the Mule, the Mule is thine!”
— Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”

A few days ago, I came across an article reviewing this book, The Devil’s Dictionary, which is being reprinted and released for consumption. When I started creating these Pearls, over ten years ago, I would occasionally come across one of the definitions from the book, in some pretty odd places. But the quotes were always witty, fun, and beautifully satiric in the way they poked fun at society and mankind. I had no idea at first that it was first published in the mid-1800’s, because most of what I had seen was excruciatingly accurate in its critical observations on government and politics, as well as less prominent subjects as the Ass. Combining wit, poetry, and wonderfully tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, it remains as valid today as the day it was first released. I don’t use too many of the definitions I find, as they usually are of the sort that would outshine whatever I could write about them, so I usually save them for occasions such as this, when the quotes can stand alone, or provide a clear subject for my dissection. I’m going to go buy me a copy of the book myself once it hits the bookstores; it will be a valuable, and well-thumbed, addition to my library…..

What Congress means by ethics is best explained by the tailor’s story: “Suppose I sell a suit to a young man for $200.  He tells me that his family is footing the bill and that if I give him a receipt for $400 to give to his parents, he will pay me $100 on the side. The question of ethics is: Do I keep the extra $100 myself, or do I tell my partner and split it with him?”

Even though there was no attribution with this, I had to include it, just because there is very little to add. As a parable it is priceless, producing just the right amount of derisive snicker. As a metaphor, it is even more perfect, as all that is needed to make it congruent with reality is to add about 5 or 6 zeros after the digits, and it would easily be taken as a factual statement as it applies to our current crop of Congressati. 

It continues to amaze, and depress me how willingly the public buys into the nonsensical garbage these politicians throw out there into the public arena. There are new stories every day that give proof of how much our beloved ruling class is stealing from us, but the public continues to ignore every instance of a new lie, and keeps falling for the same old lies. It isn’t necessary for me to list here just how many of our public officials are engaged in this constant pilfering; you can open up any newspaper for that. And it is doubtful that my cries for help will be acknowledged, just as if I were a tree falling in an unoccupied forest…….but just because nobody hears, doesn’t make it any less true…..

EXCESS, n.  In morals, an indulgence that enforces by appropriate penalties the law of moderation.

Hail, high Excess — especially in wine,
To thee in worship do I bend the knee
Who preach abstemiousness unto me —
My skull thy pulpit, as my paunch thy shrine.
Precept on precept, aye, and line on line,
Could ne’er persuade so sweetly to agree
With reason as thy touch, exact and free,
Upon my forehead and along my spine.
At thy command eschewing pleasure’s cup,
With the hot grape I warm no more my wit;
When on thy stool of penitence I sit
I’m quite converted, for I can’t get up.
Ungrateful he who afterward would falter
To make new sacrifices at thine altar!

— Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”

It has been said that an important key to living well is to practice moderation in all things. There is a lot of evidence to support this notion, and the infamous SAGOPM (Self-appointed guardians of public morality) would have us believe that it is sinful to behave otherwise. But what these notorious busybodies forget in their zealous efforts to make everyone believe as they do, is that the concept also implies that even moderation should be practiced moderately.

There is a lot to be said in favor of every once in a while letting it all go, and spending some time at the outer limits of human experience, rather than always pulling back from the edge. There is a lot to be learned from pushing the envelope, and none of it can be learned by habitually avoiding the possibility of danger, or even just the possibility of embarrassment. It’s kind of like learning how to hit a curve ball from a major league pitcher; it can’t be done if you never step up to the plate. Sometimes, to learn the important stuff, you gotta let it all hang out……

Art is long, and time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
— Henry W. Longfellow (1807-1882)
— A Psalm of Life

Somewhat broody, with a heavy air, beautifully spare. This is my favorite type of poem, even though I believe it is merely one scansion from a larger piece. The structure of the lines and the consistency of the rhymes lends itself well to the progression of ideas being presented. Though I can’t completely agree with some of the intended point it espouses, I can also find no fault in the manner of expression. I am reminded by this of the reason I don’t spend a lot of time reading Woodie, i.e., too sober for my taste. Great, brilliant poetry, but often rather saddening, or otherwise depressive. I admire the technique a lot, even though the ideas are not what I would prefer…….just goes to show, one can learn from anything; even a negative is an answer of sorts…….

That is probably enough for one day. I wouldn’t want to go overboard this early, water’s too cold…..Y’all take care out there…..

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.




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