Monday, February 24, 2014

alternate definitions (II)

While reading, one of the things I like to collect are definitions―alternate, non-literal, or poetic.

Sometimes an author's words are a few steps removed from what I've fashioned out of their provisions, sometimes not. (For more on this, see my previous alternate definitions.)

Credits can be found at the end.

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"Why do we call all our generous ideas illusions, and the mean ones truths? Isn't it a sufficient condemnation of society to find one's self accepting such phraseology? ...I know how names can alter the colour of beliefs." ―Lawrence Selden in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth (1905)

City: where humans re-enact the rituals of hunter-gatherers

Democracy: the offspring of literacy and ballistics

Happiness: a wraith that never bears too much questioning

Honor: excess dignity, often defended with the knife or sword

Literary theory: a glass-bead game whose reward for the ludic player is the knowledge that once he masters it, he will be admired by his peers as ludicrous

Mathematics: the madness of reason

Photograph: that which says what it has to say by being seen

a sense of duty that does not question what it receives as commands

Poetry: the language of language

River: a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to the insatiable sea

Grocery store: a library for the stomach

Textbook: where knowledge is presented as a commodity to be acquired rather than as a human struggle to understand; where facts are delivered anonymously and presented as immutable

Tragedy: the collision of right with right

University: where youth goes to retire

In order:

John Gray (Straw Dogs); Garret Keizer, "Loaded"; Leonora Carrington (The Hearing Trumpet); David Graeber (Debt: The First 5000 Years); Gore Vidal (Screening History); Clarice Lispecter (Água Viva); Gregory Gibson (Hubert's Freaks); Roger Scruton, "A Carnivore's Credo"; Pierre Michon (Rimbaud the Son); Kenneth Grahame (The Wind in the Willows); John Steinbeck (The Winter of Our Discontent); Neil Postman (The End of Education); John Gray paraphrasing Hegel in Straw Dogs; Mark Edmundson (Why Teach?)

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