new vocabulary words

 

vocabulary (9-18-2021)

 

Please see attached document.

I keep looking words up — always do so as I read.

And I copy the definitions as I go.

My English teacher, Mr. Tighe, would approve.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

  September 18, 2021

 

 

a lynching

 

Southern Worker 12-12-1931

1 LYNCHERS_IN_SALISBURY_HAD_RIGH

2 EYE_WITNESS_TO_LYNCHING_TELLS_

3 Fellow_Worker_of_Lynched_Man_S 4 Gov._Ritchie,_Possible_Preside

4 Gov._Ritchie,_Possible_Preside

 

If you can bear it, read the news item, “Negro Worker Lynched for Demanding Pay,” in the Southern Worker, December 12, 1931, pp. 1-2.

There is an editorial on page 4.

Plus, I am posting a few other news stories from the time. The mainstream media gave the lynching only glancing notice. The Baltimore Afro-American was the only newspaper to give it serious coverage.

This is how blacks were treated then.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   December 2021

“Don’t you ever forget that name.”

 

‘Don’t you ever forget that name’ – Washington Post 8-30-2021

 

President Biden made his way on Sunday around a quiet room at Dover Air Force Base, … with dignitaries and grieving families huddling together as the president came to speak to them privately, one family at a time.

Mark Schmitz had told a military officer the night before that he wasn’t much interested in speaking to a president he did not vote for, one whose execution of the Afghan pullout he disdains — and one he now blames for the death of his 20-year-old son Jared.

But overnight, … Schmitz changed his mind. So on that dreary morning he and his ex-wife were approached by Biden after he’d talked to all the other families. … Schmitz glared hard at the president. …. Eventually, the parents took out a photo to show to Biden. I said, “Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12,” Schmitz said. “And take some time to learn their stories.”

Biden did not seem to like that, Schmitz recalled, and he bristled, offering a blunt response: “I do know their stories.”

 

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Re:

‘Don’t you ever forget that name’: Biden’s tough meeting with grieving relatives

By Matt Viser

The Washington Post

August 30, 2021

 

President Biden did not deserve this. It is the grieving father who, in my opinion, is wrong here.

Wrong to say what he did in the way he said it.

Biden did not, obviously, desire this tragic occurrence, and he is not responsible for it.

Admittedly, policies he recently implemented were an indirect cause for an airport attack in Kabul, Afghanistan last week that resulted in the deaths of thirteen U.S. Marines and service members. But Biden is not personally responsible. The suicide bomber and gunmen were.

Putting this aside, let’s focus on what’s appropriate, what is called for here.

You experience a death in your family. The mourners at the funeral or a wake make an effort to convey their grief and empathy, as do those officiating (a minister or priest, speakers at the service).

One should appreciate that they are there. That perhaps it wasn’t easy for them, that it evokes painful memories in them (such as President Biden’s own) of deaths they have experienced, that they are doing their best to be empathic and to express condolences.

That is all one can expect of others in such circumstances, whether the “others” are officials, family members, or friends. No one can ever share fully — experience fully — the grief of a grieving spouse or parent. To expect them to is self-serving and self-centered.

Everyone experiences in their lifetime moments of bereavement and personal grief. Others can recognize and empathize with yours, but they will never quite experience it (your grief) fully — which is to say, not the way you do.

Was it right to berate President Biden for not being sufficiently sorry (which was assumed with there being no basis for thinking so)?

No.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 31, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

“The Reformation as actually experienced by ordinary people was not an uncomplicated imaginative liberation, the restoration of true Christianity after a period of degeneration and corruption, but … a great cultural hiatus.”

 

“I was raised a Protestant. I have attained a deep appreciation of Roman Catholicism as well through experiences with Catholics from childhood; my wife and sons are Catholic.

“Having a knowledge of various Protestant denominations and having had relatives and ancestors belonging to different ones (and having studied history), I have often thought to myself, once the cat was let out of the bag and Protestantism emerged, there was no end to the splintering among different denominations — often over matters of church policy or governance and both large and small doctrinal issues.”

— from my post “re ‘Dangerous Mystic: Meister Eckhart’s Path to the God Within’ ”

re “Dangerous Mystic: Meister Eckhart’s Path to the God Within”

 

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“… an account of the Reformation which was widely accepted in England, by scholars as well as the man in the pew, till fairly recently. Even entirely secular people took it as axiomatic that Protestantism was, if not necessarily true, then at least not obviously and ludicrously false, like Roman Catholicism. Believers and unbelievers were agreed that whatever the true claims of Christianity, the Reformation was a vital stage along the road to modernity, the cleansing of the English psyche from priestcraft, ignorance and superstition. …

The Stripping of the Altars, first published in 1992, was, among other things, an attempt to contribute a shovelful of history to the burial of [a] venerable historiographical consensus. .. The book was informed by a conviction that the Reformation as actually experienced by ordinary people was not an uncomplicated imaginative liberation, the restoration of true Christianity after a period of degeneration and corruption, but, for good or ill, a great cultural hiatus, which had dug a ditch, deep and dividing, between the English people and their past. Over the course of three generations a millennium of splendour—the worlds of Gregory and Bede and Anselm and Francis and Dominic and Bernard and Dante, all that had constituted and nourished the mind and heart of Christendom for a thousand years – became alien territory, the dark ages of “papery”. Sixteenth-century Protestantism was built on a series of noble affirma­tions – the sovereignty of the grace of God in salvation, the free availability of that grace to all who sought it, the self-revelation of God in his holy word. But it quickly clenched itself round a series of negations and rejections. As its proponents smashed the statues, whitewashed the churches and denounced the Pope and the Mass, Protestantism came to be constituted in large part by its NO to medieval religion.

The Stripping of the Altars, then, was at one level an elegy for a world we had lost, a world of great beauty and power which it seemed to me the reformers —and many historians ever since—had misunderstood, traduced and destroyed. It was only after the book had been published, and began to be debated, that I came to realize that the energy and engagement which had helped to produce it, and which gave it some of its rhetorical force, did not belong entirely in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Till my early teens I had been brought up in the Ireland of the 1950s, and the religion of my childhood had a good deal in common with the symbolic world of the late Middle Ages. My later teens had exactly coincided with the Second Vatican Council, of which I was an eager observer. That Council had triggered the dismantling of much of what had seemed immemorial and permanent in my own inner imagi­native landscape, as the externals of the ritual life of the Catholic Church were drastically altered and simplified. My account of the English Reformation presented it less as an institutional and doctrinal transformation than a ritual one, “the stripping of the altars”: in retrospect, I see that the intensity of focus I brought to my task as an historian was nourished by my own experience of another such ritual transformation.”

— Eamon Duffy, Preface to the Second Edition, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England c. 1400-c. 1589 (Yale University Press, 2005), pp. xiii-xiv

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 2021

 

 

 

 

a society in which “the individual … must be degraded,” “organized according to a reasoned scheme in the interests of the group”

 

  Avrahm Yarmolinsky, foreword – Dostovesky, ‘The Possessed’

 

The PDF file posted here contains the text of the foreword by Avrahm Yarmolinsky to the Modern Library edition of Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed.

[The Possessed] is book begotten of fear and wrath. Dostoyevsky had drawn indiscriminately on his memories of the Fourierist dreamers with whom he had associated in his youth, and on more recent phases of social and political insurgency, and he freely intermingled these elements. The result was an exaggerated, distorted, anachronistic picture of .gullible fools and fiends with a mania for destruction. And yet The Possessed testifies to the fact that Dostoyevsky was not without some insight into the nature of the upheaval from which he was separated by nearly half a century. It was to be such “an upset as the world has never seen before,” a transformation ruled by a violent intransigent spirit, and going beyond mere political and economic change. In the midst of the stormy events of 1905-06, [Dmitry] Merezhkovsky, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Dostoyevsky’s death, spoke of him as “the prophet of the Russian revolution.” More recently, opponents of the Bolshevik regime have seen in The Possessed a prophetic anticipation of the events of 1917. But if he was a prophet, he was one whose vision was clouded by horror. At bottom what he feared was that the individual, whose needs, he felt, are of a spiritual and irrational order, must be degraded in a Socialist society organized according to a reasoned scheme in the interests of the group. [italics added]

— Avrahm Yarmolinsky, Foreword (excerpt), The Possessed, By Fyodor Dostoevsky; translated by Constance Garnett (The Modern Library, 1930)

 

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Reading works such as Edmund Burke’s  Reflections on the Revolution in France and Pitirim A. Sorokin’s The Sociology of Revolution has gotten me thinking about observations such as those made in the passage above; and so have recent developments in the US, where supposedly correct thinking people are being driven mad by abstractions to impose their “ideologically correct” edicts and sanctions.

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 2021

 

 

morning thoughts

 

 

An email to my brothers and sister, yesterday morning:

 

Pete, Ralph, and Carol,

Listening to Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music — on my iPhone, on the bus – this morning evoked sentimental, grave thoughts and feelings.

about Bill Dalzell

Grammy Handy

Mom and Dad

What they meant to me, how I appreciate some things about them in retrospect keenly.

What death means. My own. That of loved ones. Its inevitability. How death is a poignant part of life, as Walt Whitman said.

Roger

 

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addendum:

 

Another email to my siblings (August 15):

Probably platitudes

But

Is it because of Mozart that I am thinking thusly?

When I am enjoying life keenly, partaking of it, appreciate the most, it seems, being alive.

People … the day as felt (sun, breeze, grass, water, the elements) … books, thoughts, and music … the active life of the mind.

I think of those departed.

Real people who loved and appreciated those same things (and people) purely for them own sake; and enjoyed and partook of them the same … who lived in the moment…. those moments as they experienced them are sharp and indelible in my memory.

We got this from Mom and Dad; and I did from people like Bill who cared not a whit for externals.

Then I think to myself, at such times, that Mom and Dad aren’t here to enjoy these things; and friends like Bill, or Dr. Colp: and I can’t share my enjoyment and appreciation with them.

Then I feel their absence keenly, and feel the poignancy of it all.

Roger

 

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I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

— Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry “

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 15, 2021

“I should have stuck to fiction!”

 

My older brother was the starting third baseman for our high school baseball team.

According to a story he told me, our English teacher, Robert W. Tighe, was in the stands watching a game one day in which my brother was playing, with an acquaintance of his (the teacher’s, that is), a New York Yankees scout. Mr. Tighe was, despite growing up in Massachusetts and attending college there, a diehard Yankees fan.

Mr. Tighe, according to my brother’s story — as Mr. Tighe told him afterwards — asked the scout, so what do you think of the third baseman? He is one of my best students. (I am paraphrasing.)

“Tell him to stick to his books,” the scout replied.

 

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The following is a passage from one of many politically oriented articles by Theodore Dreiser in the 1930s and 40s:

“Life is and ever must be an equation between all sorts of contending forces—in a fair and maintainable balance. Neither chemically nor physically nor socially nor financially can it be workably run off into unbalance. In chemistry and physics explosions follow—disastrous and frightful to behold. And of humanity, collectively and socially assembled under forms of government the same thing is true. Where financial or social unbalance sets in and a few, because of their extorted wealth, set themselves apart and above the many and fail to see how necessarily interrelated they are either for good or for ill, you have either (1) revolution and so a restoration of balance or (2) where equity is defeated and inequity prevails you have death of that land or nation. If you do not believe this, consider Rome that declined and fell with the arrival of the Caesars; Italy that plundered up to the days of Mussolini; France, the monarchical France that ended with the French Revolution; Autocratic Russia that ended with the Russian Revolution; completely Autocratic England that ended (for a time) with King John and Magna Charta [sic]; the Roman religious autocracy that ended with Martin Luther; Autocratic China that ended with the Boxer Rebellion. No equity or social balance—no peace and finally no government.’

from “Theodore Dreiser Condemns War,” by Theodore Dreiser, People’s World, April 6, 1940

 

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Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle: “You are no Jack Kennedy.”

Roger W. Smith (posthumously) to Theodore Dreiser: “You were no Aristotle, no Cicero, no Edward Gibbon. You should have stuck to fiction.”

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 2021

a memory

 

 

I sent the following email to my brothers and my sister this afternoon:

to my siblings

I am in a favorite bar near Carnegie Hall. The waitresses are so nice to me.

A guy just walked in with a little kid under five. They are sitting in a booth right next to me.

It triggered a memory which made me feel very sentimental. I have not thought about it for years.

I wound up at a bar with Dad, probably in Cambridge, when I was around six or seven.

I sat on a barstool. Everyone — the bartender and everyone else — was so nice to me. They treated me like an honored guest.

The bartender gave me a bowl of potato chips …. how I enjoyed them!

I was bathed in warmth and kindness.

miss Dad terribly

ROGER

 

— Roger W. Smith

    July 31, 2021

 

Walden Pond, Concord, Mass., early 50’s. My father, me, and my two brothers. I am the furthest to the left.