Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891

Lettres

Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

The Principles of Uncertainty

Penned upon the 14th of March, 2008

Today, Lady Tanah discovered Maira Kalman’s The Principles of Uncertainty. It is beautiful.

It occurred to me: so often, we remember 19th century people emotionally – Rimbaud’s tenderness, Wilde’s tragic kindness, Yeats’s passion. Shelley, the lily-white child of poetry.

20th century people are rational. We talk of the brilliance of Sartre or Hitler – I’ve often heard him dispassionately, conversationally, described as a genius. Why is this? Are we disassociated? Cynical? If someone’s got the time and energy to feel, we think they must have done a dirty deal? Do we still believe in comedy, in tragedy?

I wonder. What do you think?


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Commentary upon “The Principles of Uncertainty”

  1. FLB was heard to remark,

    Upon the 15th of March, 2008 at 12:21 am,

    There are the 19th C. scientists, I suppose. Darwin, Hooker and the like?


  2. Sir Frederick Chook was heard to remark,

    Upon the 15th of March, 2008 at 9:40 pm,

    And engineers and generals and all sorts of stuffy types. But, you know, I’ve often heard them described in terms of their pride, or such – as a metaphor for the ascendancy of the middle classes. So we’re remembering them differently to how they’d think of themselves… or perhaps just to how our grandparents remembered them. Perhaps we sentimentalise the Victorians because we’re distant enough not to have to react against them.

    I’m just speculating here, natch, brainprodded by Kalman and Zadie Smith.


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