Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chain Gang

Red Leaves

A gaunt morning, unprepared for.

Emily Dickinson to Colonel Higginson: “The ear is the last face. We hear after we see, which to tell you first is still my dismay.” And later, after admitting to re-reading Higginson’s Oldport Days, she writes, rather enigmatically: “Largest last, like nature.”

Out of Oldport Days: “‘Children,’ thought Heine, ‘are younger than we, and can still remember the time when they were trees or birds, and can therefore understand and speak their language; but we are grown old, and have too many cares, and too much jurisprudence and bad poetry in our heads.’” And Higginson, witnessing a flock of bird-like boys skating: “Now they are in a confused cluster, now they sweep round and round in a circle, now it is broken into fragments and as quickly formed again; games are improvised and abandoned; there seems to be no plan or leader, but all do as they please, and yet somehow act in concert, and all chatter all the time.”

Heinrich Heine, in Pictures of Travel: “More accurate information of the town of Göttingen may be very conveniently obtained from its “Topography,” by K. F. H. Marx. Though entertaining the most sacred regard for its author, who was my physician, and manifested for me much esteem, still I cannot pass by his work with altogether unconditional praise, inasmuch as he has not with sufficient zeal combatted the erroneous opinions that the ladies of Göttingen have not enormous feet. On this point I speak authoritatively, having for many years been earnestly occupied with a refutation of this opinion. To confirm my views I have not only studied comparative anatomy and made copious extracts from the rarest works in the library, but have also watched for hours, in the Weender street, the feet of the ladies as they walked by. In the fundamentally erudite treatise, which forms the result of these studies, I speak FIRSTLY, Of feet in general; SECONDLY, of the feet of antiquity; THIRDLY, of elephants’ feet; FOURTHLY, of the feet of the Göttingen ladies; FIFTHLY, I collect all that was ever said in Ulrich’s garden of the subject of female feet; SIXTHLY, I regard feet in their connection with each other, availing myself of the opportunity to extend my observation to ankles, calves, knees, &c. and finally and SEVENTHLY, if I can manage to hunt up sheets of paper of sufficient size I will present my readers with some copperplate fac-similes of the feet of the fair dames of Göttingen.”

K. F. H. Marx, in “Memoir of the Life and Writings of the late Professor Blumenbach of Göttingen” (“The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, Vol. XXX. No. LX, April 1841): “He was peculiarly zealous in drawing from ancient monuments and poets explanations of doubtful questions, and the elucidation of different problems in natural history. The migration of animals, and their partial occurrence in prodigious quantity, and over a great extent appeared to him a subject by no means cleared up. . . . His papers on the sexual inclinations of animals, and on the natural history of serpents, display not only talent but critical observation. There is much interesting matter in his account of a kangaroo which he kept alive in his house for some time, and in his observations of the pipa and on tapeworms. . . . He expressed his belief that the syenite of Pliny is our granite.”

Pliny, in The Natural History: “In another tract of that countrey, there be certaine men with long shagged tailes most swift and light of foot: & some again that with their eares cover their whole bodie.”

A random piece of chain, unprepared for, infinitely extensible.

Surinam Toad (Pipa pipa)