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Magic and Domestication: Further Reflections - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Magic and Domestication: Further Reflections
Before we begin, please do read the prior post and its comments, particularly those by avus and by commodorified. This is very much a response, really, to those comments, particularly Avus’s, and where I am addressing someone in particular, it is generally he whom I am addressing. All of this was, after all, sparked by his original post on JKR’s various magics.

Right. Moving on.

JL Austin once stated that, although in some languages a ‘double negative’ expressed a positive, it was never possible, in any language, for a ‘double positive’ to express negation.

To which Sidney Morgenbesser, who happened to be at Oxford that night, replied wearily and dismissively, in that wonderful Lower East Side voice of his, ‘Yeah, yeah.’

(I thought we might begin with a philosophy anecdote, to cleanse the palate.)


It is evident that I was imperfectly clear. For that I apologise. (I also hasten to note that I don’t recall your misquoting Thoreau. I did do, because I was quoting from memory.) Let me see if I can attain clarity.

I don’t, actually, believe that you and I are all that far apart in our actual views. What I do believe is that your sources, if you will, and the extreme interpretations of those shared sources that are most common in fandom (although not held by you), become misleading or pernicious as generally held.

Put more simply, where we began was with these points:

AVUS: We both treat, very seriously, the ethics & origins of magic….

*** Do you see? Your magic comes from people & their craft. Mine from the land and its living wildness.


AVUS: …magic exists in the substance itself, though it may & probably is called by the magic that exists in the caller of the magic. *** We may have what I call "The Magic of Things". Some "things" appear magical. This is different from something charmed by a wand&word spell. But there may be a magic in certain things, though I've noticed that most "Magic of Things" actually come from something living or formerly living….


WEMYSS: That said, on a more mundane level, I wanted to avoid suggesting any Peter-Pantheist bollocks about magical theory and the earth and ley-lines and all that shower, not because I personally think it a load of old, well, never mind, but because the all-too-common fanon motif of a ‘pagan’-ised Potterverse annoys me immeasurably as being wilfully uncanonical.
You are, I think, right about the Baedeker elements. I find, as I believe JKR finds, place-names (and surnames taken from them) intoxicating, and it seems to have been too readily apparent that I do. The purpose of including them is not denotation, but connotation, the long impress of the Potters on the land whilst the Malfoys have sequestered themselves; but it wants to be better done, as you rightly note - for which I thank you.

*** As for the pantheism, I don’t attribute that to you or to GHB (my delay in replying to yr posts today is in fact the result of my having been absorbed in and by Chapter 13). To be rather clearer than I was in my earlier post, I think that many of us write Potterfic not for ‘teh hawt!11!1!!’, as I see it is mockingly described, but because JKR has created a fascinating universe with huge gaps in it (and some cardboard characters begging to be rendered in three dimensions). She is unlikely to fill these gaps in, she not working to the same rule, as far as having a prepared back-story and a private, coherent universe, as did JRRT (and just as well. Imagine the delays between volumes if she did do). So like many of us, that urge to create plausible explanations for the gaps and flints was an impetus for me to write; the other impetus being my disagreement with many of the conflicting explanations created by other writers, of which importing neo-‘paganism’ into a canon of godparents and hospitals named by their benefactors for those benefactors’s name-saints was one. (I can but hope that my obscurity will prevent these remarks from touching off an LJ-wide firestorm.)

Right, then. Now we can move forward.

I’ll begin with the Aristotelian issue. Unquestionably, the Greeks were blinkered by prejudice. ‘I thank the Immortal Gods that I was born Greek, not a barbarian; free, not a slave; and a man, not a woman.’ But what I believe Aristotle was getting at in saying that outside the polis, men are beasts or gods, not men, is this, That man is a political animal. And what that actually means is not the meaning that has been assigned to it by cliché. As one member of the Anglican communion to another, I suggest to you the analogy of corporate worship. (Brief digression: of course the English are insular. Britain is an island. Similarly, there is a reason why it is that parishes are so often parochial.) Certainly, one can live a faithful life alone, but it’s very easy to go off-track without renewed and regular contact with others of like faith. Certainly, not a few hermits have gone off the rails. Just so, one who cuts himself off from all society, the city and the people, risks forgetting what you yourself call, ‘[n]ot just who we are, but how we are. We are our interacting, including our living in our environment’. That is Aristotle’s point also. After all, too long away from human contact is not good for anyone’s psyche: at the least, it can result in a sort of induced, mock-Asperger’s: we cease to interact properly as humans. And the behaviour that displaces the proper interactions can be dangerous indeed. Again, I advert you to Tom Riddle.

That being out of the way, I trust, we can go on.

There is one last matter to address before we get to the meat of the issue.

There are, in my view, two great risks to the Romantic worship of nature. The first is mere irrationalism, resulting from its becoming a substitute religion. The second is how easily it can play into blood-and-soil nationalism. Smetana, Sibelius, certainly Wagner, even poor old Bruckner and Grieg, Mahler and Mendelssohn and Mussorgsky, sometimes walked a damned fine line in that respect, and Wagner positively crossed the line – although, funnily enough, it was probably Verdi, of all unlikely people, who became half-accidentally most involved in and co-opted to nationalist politics and the Risorgimento, simply because his name made a handy political acronym (Vittorio Emanuele Re DItalia: Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy). And that, as we are agreed, is a damned dangerous thing.

But, truthfully, all of this is in the end digressive; or, rather, it was not – although valuable to discussion – my initial main point.

That can be simply stated – which, truthfully, is what I had much better to have done to begin with.

First, there is no such thing as wilderness, except in areas that have never been traversed by man. Think of it as a Heisenberg Principle of Wilderness: if you’re there, even as an observer, it’s no longer pristine wilderness. Indeed, your mere presence affects the behaviour of the local fauna, who react in ways that are not natural to them in the absence of man. Even the prairies you speak of are artificial, are they not, the result of set fires at regular intervals by the tribes that preceded you? (Funnily enough, I have read Muir, and Leopold, and McPhee, and Annie Dillard, and John Graves, and Paul Horgan, beginning three decades ago. People the world over are fascinated with America, you know, and not least with its land, from the Great River and the Brazos to Tinker Creek, the Sand Counties, and the glaciers and Mountains of California; and unlike too many damned fools, I have a very great regard for America and most Americans.)

Secondly, and most fundamentally, the reduction of ‘wild’ resources to use is what is really at issue here, and the very act of doing that is to impress the stamp of man, cultivation and domestication, upon the natural order. The wild rose is neither inferior nor, in its proper place, useless, but it does get loose and become a nuisance in hedges and elsewhere (am I correct that the American example would be kudzu?). But just as copper in the earth, in situ, may be powerfully magical but no use to the cauldron-smith until it is extracted, reduced to possession, so I would submit that the domestication and cultivation, and the selective breeding, of magical plants is what makes them useably and usefully magical.

AVUS: We both treat, very seriously, the ethics & origins of magic….

*** Do you see? Your magic comes from people & their craft. Mine from the land and its living wildness.

I would maintain that in order to have a working system of magic, it is necessary to take the same steps as were required to create a working system of agriculture: domestication and cultivation, and selective breeding (which, after all, is at bottom that bugbear of Guardian-readers everywhere, ‘genetic modification’). Muggles went into the wild and took from it the wheat and the barley, the wild sheep and the wolf and the jungle cock, and today enjoy the fields of corn (in the British sense: cereal grains, not maize), the flock of sheep, the chicken run, and the faithful farm dog. Surely – indeed, it is the justification for Sprout’s and Nev’s craft – Wizards have cultivated and enhanced, in potency and in breeding true, the nettle and the daisy, and have bred the honking daffodil from the common daff. Plant Lore (to give a nod to your Chapter 14) clearly involves domestic cultivation and selective breeding.

When I first chose in my own fiction to make the Potter the first and eldest of Wizards, master of earth, water, air, and fire, it was for dramatic reasons, but I do think there is something to it beyond mere effect: magic is, if not technology (a word to which you are, I recall, allergic), at least techne. And I cannot honestly believe that Wizarding history in the development of magic as techne does not parallel Muggle domestication efforts (and mining and smithing and All That).

That is why I still maintain that, lovely and indeed uplifting as wilderness may be, ‘magic comes from people and their craft’, including the land as tamed by man.

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45 comments or Leave a comment
From: balfrog Date: July 4th, 2005 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)
(goofing around before I get to the point)- as I mostly skimmed the first essay (and my post-colonial reader flags went ping! ping! on the first part on "American relation to land" - haven't we gotten past the Leslie Fiedler ala Machine in the garden crit in American studies, with the incorporation of Native American historicism. But am currently also dealing with crack!headache, so will be back after I wash my hair.)
-but re: your first anecdote -(*snickers*- because about double negatives- I heard it as Noam Chomsky and M.H. Abrams, but that's typical American-centrism for you, hahha)

back to the beginning.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2005 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, It Was Assuredly Morgenbesser.

It was mentioned in The Times.

(That's rather final and irrefutable, isn't it: 'it was in The Times'. Like appealing to Holy Writ. Only in Britain, love, only in Britain: it's one of those 'there will always be an England' moments.)
From: balfrog Date: July 4th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I'd have to say, insomuch as I've only skimmed both essays and comments - not taking notes and critiquing with my own polished position, that your point of historicizing "nature" as concurrent with human history, as much as "magic" in our fiction is human use, is rooted in the critique of a certain idea of nature and wild as untouched, and uninhabited. And that in your fiction, you bring out, in a denser (in my view, more interesting) way, how magic in JKRowling-verse is very much tied in to practical Muggle life and Muggle cultural history, and not presented as a nostalgic paganism.

The nation/land issue - that would be a good hundred years after English Romanticism proper, and a revival of it in 19th nationalism, no?

(headache has still not gone away *ready to bury head in ground like ostrich*)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2005 11:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Well, Yes.

I've said pretty incessantly, in fact, that both the Gaffer, Avus, and I do a much more creditable and suasive job of getting our points across in story than in essay form. (I hope you meant 'dense' as approving. If you meant only that I'm a bit thick, well, je suis de votre avis.)

And (as is so often the case) the overlap or gap between 'Romanticism proper' and the high noon of blood-and-soil nationalism / racialism / xenophobia, depends on where you set the cut-off points. I don't even try, myself. Not clever enough, I leave that to you lot, all the dons and boffins on the list of the amici.)

I'd ask what makes a post-colonial reader (it sounds as if it would be an Kipling anthology edited to appeal to retired Indian Army majors with fond memories of Poona days; or perhaps it's the opposite of the New England Primer?), but, like Tinker, I prefer not to contemplate the 'post' part.
From: balfrog Date: July 4th, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, Yes.

Re: dense, yes, the first part! :D - I keep forgetting that there's a second use of that word. silly me.

I suppose
overlap or gap between 'Romanticism proper' and the high noon of blood-and-soil nationalism / racialism / xenophobia,
would be stories of essays specific to regions and periods (my, what a disgustingly general and non-claim I'm making), where I'd be worried about sweeping all nationalisms as xenophobia (not that these won't go hand in hand) if they aren't English. Of course, I'm only a student of history - and not very bright while I'm at it - so figuring out English foreign policies in the "high noon of blood-and-soil nationalism" is still on-going. (though contrast the revival of Burkean disgust in the late 1870s at continental nationalism, at the height of British colonialsm, and the irony is only practical, I suppose. What better time to say nay to nations, when the purpose is to steamroll them into empire?)

and I suppose that neatly rolls into the next conversation about poco and land. Yes, I agree, the "post" would be pretty much a questionable term especially in regards to the earlier post of reading "America" as a wilderness and "untouched" magic.

What a timely topic for 7/4.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2005 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Funny Damned Thing, Really.

Constable was born in the same year as the United States were: 1776; Wordsworth was six years older. Coleridge was born in Ottery St Mary in '72. The better part of their spans played out against the backdrop of the, er, Frog Revolution, Froggie, darling.

So here we have the birth of nationalism as such, in France (at the time these three Englishmen were born, the word did not exist in English, wh is why Dr Johnson called 'patriotism' - by wh he meant what we now call 'nationalism' - 'the last refuge of a scoundrel'). And whatever the two poets may have got up to in youth's thoughtless hour, they soon reacted to Continental nationalism by rejecting it: the increasingly staid William, and STC spying for the British Crown in Malta. They turned also to a celebration of the intensely local (WW particularly). And in this, ironically, they became part of the anti-Gallican iconography that opposed British patriotism to French nationalisme: John Bull and Farmer George and the Sturdy Yeomanry and All That. It was xenophobic without necessarily being nationalist in the Continental sense; and of course, it found its iconic visual depictions in Constable's sweet English countrysides, painted as instinct with light, and in Turner (people think of Turner as a wildman and a proto-Impressionist, but there's rarely been a patriotic set-piece to rank with his 'England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent's Birthday').

It's all a typically human muddle, isn't it.

From: balfrog Date: July 4th, 2005 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Funny Damned Thing, Really.

mmm, I'm going to be hearing "birth of the nation" far too many times today - so the radio will be off (happy I don't have television, for once), and I will be holed up in my teeny tiny apartment.


And yes, the iconography of mother England would be "xenophobic" in a more "PC" term in its very self-definition, and while rejecting a continental "nationalism" in the late 1790s, would be pressing the point of particular "Englishness" - and the whole creation of Scottish clan kilts is just funny.
But it's also interesting where you point out the nuances of English patriotism as set apart from Continental nationalism (more appropriate 100 years later), in the late 18C, as the self-definition of England was strangely insular and singular (national instead of imperial, "sweet countrysides" yes), and keeping with it in the more cosmopolitan attitude to the next century's continental revolutions, where the response is layered with the earlier disgust at bloody excess, but also work in this picture of particulars (not a "nation" but a sweet picture) to present a national ideal (and by very act an English "nationalism") - to these upstart nations around 1850 and onwards?

Wait, weren't we talking about magic?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

... To Say Nothing of the Dog.

These three blokes, sans boat, were all particularists, yes: exceptionalists. Even when they believed themselves to be being universalists (not, I think, that Constable ever gave the issue a moment's thought. It's only recently that artists have become as pretentious and neurasthenic as poets. Can anyone imagine Vermeer meditating upon, say, the Deep Significance of Commercial Empire in Holland?). But of course, even Byron was, in the end, more conventional than he'd ever admit. This idea of going off to Greece and saving the Lesser Breeds Without the Law from their own cock-ups ... there's your true, White Man's Burden, stiff-upper-lip English exceptionalist-imperialist, all right. 'Damn me, this wants an Englishman to head the scheme, bloody wogs can't organise a piss-up in a brewery by themselves.' Meanwhile, at home, everyone is reacting to the Bloody Foreigners by constructing a self-consciously 'British' identity to get the Scots on board....

Funnier yet, in the High Noon of Empire, so often caricatured as exceptionalist and blinkered, you have Neville Chamberlain's father Joe, with Salisbury's blessing, willing to make all sorts of deals with the Hun, er, the Germans of the Wilhelmine Reich, and everything except the Heligoland business falls through because, with Old Bismarck gone, Willi-and-cabinet keep slapping away Granny Victoria's outstretched hand in a fit of petulance. At which point Lord Salisbury finally says, Sod this for a lark, and his nephew Balfour and the Liberal Opposition get together with Young Winston and Jackie Fisher to lay down another four bipartisan dreadnoughts, just to remind these jumped-up Germans of Who, Precisely, Rules the Waves.

Wait, weren't we talking about magic?

Indeed we were and are.... If there's a more particularist, insular set of believers in their own exceptionalism than the British Wizarding World, I'm damned if I know who it'd be.
From: balfrog Date: July 4th, 2005 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Funny Damned Thing, Really.

btw, thanks so much for indulging me in this so long - I have to say, I keep responding to see what you'll say next. Bad bad me.
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wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 5th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

The British Grenadier.

However tangentially you may be involved in Potterdom, if you're at all like most of us, you are still romanticising redcoats. In the past weekend's essay-a-thon at hp_essays, siriaeve wrote on House Colours, and it struck me as so obvious as to be generally overlooked that, in addition to all the very clever symbolism that all the vy clever people found in the Hogwarts House Colours, surely it was no accident that the canonically heroic House wore scarlet uniforms faced and trimmed in gold. (Slytherin gets Tsarist uniforms ca. 1815, in green and silver, Ravenclaw's rationalist revolutionaries wear blue; Hufflepuff's uniform colours are the [flag] colours of the Habsburgs, though I am sure that All That never occurred to JKR. What must have occurred at least to her subconscious was putting the heroic Gryffindors in royal livery and the uniforms of a ceremonial unit of the Brigade of Guards.)

Your other points will require and do merit a more considered response still. (Had I but world enough and time....) I shall get back to them, truly, I simply cannot say precisely when.
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wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 6th, 2005 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

We Shan't Even Mention the Gay Gordons. (Pt I.)

We shall pretend it is the old days, and that our discourse depends upon the ability of letter paper to make their way across the North Atlantic.
No, thank you: you wd have the unfair advantage of the Gulf Stream.

(And, no, I think not the Rifles, the KRRC, the successor Green Jackets, or the Green Howards.)

Back to our muttons.
I think only in Western Culture do we really have different words-- rather, different concepts -- for Magic and Religion, this notion of an ability to negotiate a contract with the Blood or the Sex or the Land or some combination thereof that need not reference God -- it's like we have two Supernatural realms, the High and the -- Middle? *** I'm inclined to regard it as a product of the Enlightenment -- Judeo-Christian religion has always pretty firmly closed off the notion of magic as associated with God [...] and the Enlightenment began the process of closing off the notion that magic comes from the Devil, so that leaves -- this sort of neutral space in which magic may take place with God at sort of arm's-length, neither involved nor forbidding.
I'm not so certain. Not that I read religion. Still ... well, an early exposure to the Classical curriculum ought to be useful once in a while, and perhaps for once it is. If you leave aside the Consentes Dii, the Hellenised big noises of the Pantheon, and really look at the Roman gods, the little gods of Latium, the homely Sabine gods, you soon realise that this distinction cannot stand. These, the Indigites Dii, guardians of meadows and mothers, cattle and childbirth, farm and field, home and hearth, seem by comparison to the Hellenised Consentes Dii, promoted and rendered Olympian by a slavish adherence to Greek fashion … by comparison, the Indigites Dii seem little more than lares and penates, even if they are more Lares Patrii and Praestitis and Penates Publici than they are household gods. I mean, the Romans had a god who made the knots in the stalks of corn (Nodutus), and one whose province was worms in cattle (good old Verminus), and gods for each of the three ploughings (Vervactor, Redarator, and Imporcitor). They had a goddess, Furrina, whose role and attributes they’d ceased to remember, but they still gave her cult, holding the Furrinalia on 25th July and keeping a priest appointed for her, the flamen Furrinalis. The names of these lesser gods are innumerable and incantatory: Mater Matuta; Nona; Silvanus; Tellus and Ceres (not as the later Demeter-avatar, but in her aspect as the original corn-goddess Dea Dia, whom the Arval Brethren served); Abundantia; Adeona; Angita and Angitia; Bellona; the Camenae; Carmenta / Lucina; Liber and Libera; Cinxia; Conditor; Consus and Ops; Larenta, Dea Tacita; Dius Fidus; Evander; Faustitas; Feronia; Flora; Honos; Juturna; Lupercus; Meditrina; Mellona; Pomona and Vertumnus; Nemestrinus; Obarator; Occator; Pales; Picumnus Stercutus and Pilumnus; Quirinus; Robigus…. And their very names tell us that they were the Blood or the Sex or the Land or some combination thereof, yet also gods as much as Jupiter Optimus Maximus (the Robigalia festival, the Quirinal hill). And at the same time, the Romans also had their witch-hunts, and divided religion and magic, and held some magics proper and others indefensible, distinguishing between the witches, from good to bad to worst, as sagae, strigae, or veneficae (the strix, pl. strigae, bear the same name as the owl). It is monotheism that cancels out this middle ground, and it seems to me that what the Enlightenment did was not so much cancel out the Devil and all his works as acknowledge what had already occurred as early as the XIIIth Century, the seizure of that middle ground by technology. All that the Enlightenment did was finalise the separation of the technologies as between magical (meaning, Damn, that did not work after all) and mundane (Eureka!).
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 6th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Slow March, Part II

... To finish:

Possibly related to the differing views between the US and Britain.... I wound up positing that the American hero saves and serves the land and at the same time triumphs over it wheras the British hero is eaten by it -- s/he is an active and willing sacrifice.
That rather depends on the hero, doesn't it. Not all British heroes are Fisher-Kings, say. Robin may be a sylvan godling, but I don't see the sacrificial aspects. 'Jack' tales on both sides the Pond involve the mastery of nature. Alfred doesn't strike me as a dying god or corn god or any of that shower, and Arthur is so, if at all, only in of several disparate strands of myth / folk-history. (Treason, after all, is a very human, secular, and mundane cause of death: 'I hear the steps of Modred in the west*, / And with him many of thy people, and knights / Once thine, whom thou hast loved, but grosser grown / Than heathen, spitting at their vows and thee'.) Who their mythic American counterparts wd be, I know not.
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tiferet From: tiferet Date: July 4th, 2005 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd like to point out that not all people who write with the ley-lines, 'wilderness' approach are neo-Pagan or are attempting to introduce modern neo-Paganism into the Potterverse.

When Rowling tells us that Nicolas Flamel, Cornelius Agrippa and other historical occult figures were wizards in her universe, she lays the groundwork for fanfiction writers to make similar assumptions of their own about other historical occult figures (Aleister Crowley and Julius Evola have been known to turn up in my stuff) and because of this ideas, while not explicitly canonical, can be introduced without the wilful uncanonicity of making Potterverse characters Wiccan. (Though, one does wonder where Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders, Stewart Farrar, Janet Ferrar, Dorothy Clutterbuck, Doreen Valiente et al might have been doing in Rowling's universe).

In general most Potterverse characters are nominally Christian. But then so are most ceremonial magicians prior to 1950. And many of us are Jewish.

Also, I'm amused you put the Zabinis in Venice. I checked; the name's actually most common in Tuscany, but Venice is such a cool place I can't blame you. (Before I made them streghe, I wanted to be sure it wasn't Sicilian or something.)

wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2005 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

51, rue de Montmorency, 3me Arrondissement.

My dear new friend (hullo!), I'm probably one of a minority of fanficcers who - as our mutual friend the Slayer of Frogs will attest - goes to some trouble to give Tony Goldstein a voice and role (after all, who else save Tony is going to draw for Our Heroes the parallels between Harry and Riddle, and Rabbi Akiva and the apostate, Aher?); I'm acutely aware that the Potterverse has weak post-Christians and quite probably observant Jews in the Wizarding World.

Also, the quoted excerpt on Blaise may be slightly misleading: 'my' Blaise, which conception Book Six will probably bugger up completely, is the heir to the merchant banking house in Wizarding London, in Purse Lane, off of Diagon Alley: as Tony says,

'The House of Goldstein and Zabini has offered merchant banking services in Purse Lane since the XIIth Century, and who better? Goblins aside, who else should do the banking but Jews and Lombards, the traditional bankers of Europe? So, yes, Blaise and I, in our different ways, are as British as any other family that has been in Britain for eight centuries. Certainly, Blaise would think as you do.

'But, my dear Harry. When you think of yourself in relation to Muggles, you think of yourself as a wizard. When you think of yourself -' and here Tony's voice became extremely dry - 'in relation to those who, through no fault of their own, do not have the inestimable advantage of being British, whether they be Muggle or magical, you think of yourself as British. But always, always, in those contexts and in many others you cannot grasp or imagine, it is my privilege and my fate to reflect that I am, first and foremost, a Jew, a member of that people who are at once the prey of every despot - and the princes of the earth, chosen of God.'

So. Zabini. 'Since about the time of the Battle of Crécy, the Zabinis and the Goldsteins had carried on, in the face of Muggle persecution of Jews, Catholics, and all foreigners generally, as merchant bankers in Purse Lane, in Wizarding London, and as the contact and conduit between the goblins of Gringotts and the Muggle City and its money. Although the Zabinis traditionally recruited wives, every few generations, from the ancient lands of their line - Wizards not having endured the complications of distance that bedevilled Muggle communications before the invention of modern methods of transport - they had certainly been a part of the English fabric for centuries, and Harry and Draco rather insistently thought of him as being as English as themselves, for all that his mother was from Venice. (Francis Lawrence Peter Michael Zabini had married Violetta Maria, daughter of Lorenzo Eugenio Manfredo Zen-d'Este-Conti, of Venice, and Lorenzo's wife Maddelena Luigia Serafina, née Contarini-Magris.)'

'My' Blaise has connexions and collaterals in Venice, but - well, I too, researched the name, and the buggers are spread from Switzerland to the Tyrol / Alto Adige, with a centre in Tuscany. So, yes, we are agreed.

All this is by way of saying that I ought not to have used examples from my own story here, as in LJ-shire, which is different to FA and All That, there are thousands of people who've not heard of it, let alone read it. Speaking as I mostly was to Avus and Froggie, I let myself forget that. I apologise that it made things confusing for you.

(Continued below.)
tiferet From: tiferet Date: July 4th, 2005 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: 51, rue de Montmorency, 3me Arrondissement.

Goldstein and Zabini!!! How utterly charming!

My Zabinis came over much more recently, but I'm afraid my Potterverse is quite fey. As I began writing before OOTP, I've never been quite able to make the Malfoys stop being unseelie in my mind, despite the fact that I now know they're supposed to be as purely human as they are wizarding.

Still, I try to keep Wicca out of things, except among the Muggleborn.

And I wasn't offended at all, just wishing to point out that there're things in Rowling's canon that indicate only a very little separation between the occult world and the world of British wizardry. You're quite right that science and magick were one even for quite a while after the Enlightenment...I just get very irritated with people (not you, actually) who say that all "Muggle magick" in the world of the Potterverse must be faked and bear no relation to true wizarding magickal technology (I'm quite with Clarke on that one). Because there are, actually, points of contact between Rowling's canon and the western occult traditions.

I think she is moving further and further away from them, though we'll see in a few weeks whether or not the trend continues; but they are there.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2005 11:14 pm (UTC) (Link)


... You may well yet end by becoming annoyed with me, if you were to read the fic. You see, as I have admitted from the off, I was partly moved to write precisely because I found myself disagreeing with certain tropes in fanon's way of filling in the gaps and the back-story, and one of those areas of disagreement was with those - not you - who seemed determined not merely to emphasise 'points of contact between Rowling's canon and the western occult traditions' (a subject I cannot pretend to be sufficiently informed upon to judge), but to hijack the former in the service, sometimes it seemed the proselytising service, of the latter.

The result may not be to your taste were you to read the fic, though it crops up but incidentally and rarely; I set out to show a different view and way of harmonising the world we know with the Potterverse, but I imagine that there are passages that might offend some folk as much as some of the fics I quarreled with (and which thus inspired me to write mine) annoyed me. If so, I apologise in advance.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2005 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

The Auberge Nicholas Flamel, Part Two.

... Continuing:

I also apologise if I was inadvertently a cause of offence. It is my view, though, that retrospective distinctions between 'occult' figures and other folk are misleading if we are speaking of Flamel or Agrippa or Tycho Brahe or John Dee or Nicholas Culpeper or, really, anyone who lived prior to, say, the reign of Victoria. There was no distinction between magic and technology (except that the latter observably worked, and had objectively reproducible results); a physician-herbalist such as Culpeper drew and knew no such line, any more than did Dr Dee, say, or Newton, or Browne, and Albertus Magnus and his great pupil Aquinas, along with everyone from Friar Bacon to Vergil to Pliny the Elder, were popularly thought to be 'wizards'. In a world incapable of distinguishing metallurgy from alchemy, it's hardly surprising that this was so. One is forcibly reminded of the maxim - I cannot recall whether it was Clarke or Heinlein who voiced it - that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishbale, &c, &c.

As for the historical M Flamel, his only material legacy that I know of is his house, at the address in the header, built in 1407, touted as the eldest remaining house in Paris, and now home to a restaurant, the Auberge Nicholas Flamel, which is justly well-regarded for its foie gras dishes and its gigot de sept heures. (I may be a rationalist, but I trust we can at least find common ground in gastronomy.)

Thank you for forcing me to clarify: that is always meet and right to do.
tiferet From: tiferet Date: July 4th, 2005 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: The Auberge Nicholas Flamel, Part Two.

My, you are charming, just as commodorified said (she is my friend in the offline world as well as online)! Indeed I have not read your fic :D

I am sure we can find common ground in gastronomy :D -- I'm a great fan of good food.

FYI, from John Read, From Alchemy to Chemistry, Dover Publications, 1995 (reprinted from the 1961 edition), pages 47-54, summary mine:

Nic(h)olas Flamel (1330-1418 CE) published a book, which first appeared in English in 1624 (though he says he wrote it in 1413), in which he detailed how he acquired an alchemical text ascribed to 'Abraham the Jew', went to Spain to study with the Kabbalistic Master Canches, whom he brought back to France, where he unfortunately died. Then he and his wife Perrenelle proceeded to create the Philosopher's Stone, which he claimed to be the source of his sudden rise to wealth. One record of his largesse still exists in the Musée de Cluny in Paris, a marble tablet which was once part of the former church of St Jacques-la-Boucherie.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2005 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

One Lives and Learns.

(Thank God.) And thank you: I'll look the book out.

I must admit, as between the advertising literature and the actual Philosphers' Stone, I'd prefer the latter as a material legacy from M Flamel, but it's rather like that chap who finally figured out, in Dresden, how to make Chinese-style porcelain: a proclaimed alchemist can make gold most readily by transmuting it from the client's purse to his own.

And thank you also for the compliment: I'm anything but charming in reality, but I'm always glad to know I'm successfully hiding that fact from truly charming people - such as yourself. Even at the chime of midnight, at that. I envy you commodorified's lively, offline acquaintance: evidently, the charming and clever do gravitate to one another.
(Deleted comment)
avus From: avus Date: July 7th, 2005 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Dear me, you've garnered so many comments, I don't have time to take them all in. Forgive me if I comment on things already discussed.

I agree with you that we are not that far apart, and that we probably do a much better job in story than essay. I would also say, though, that I hope we can preserve our differences, as I believe they aren't conflicting but complementary -- both sides and more needed to make a truly humane whole.

It's very easy to go off-track without renewed and regular contact with others of like faith.

True, very true. I would add, though, insistently, that the greatest danger, at least in our times, isn't getting off track by being too much in the woods, but by being too much with those of like faith. It is the communion, so to speak, with those of unlike faith that is our challenge and, at least in our times, I believe, our calling. I abstain from commenting on England's insularity, in favor of Yank insularity, much better known to me.

My dear stepson and his family, who couldn't be more dear to my heart, have very little truck with any except upper class (economically), except with us. I work with those who can't afford the medicines prescribed for them. I work with military families, whose fathers (and mothers) are in Iraq, and who must depend on what you call "the dole" to feed their families b/c of how poorly we pay them. I work with disabled veterans who are getting second rate care for their children's needs, who cannot afford to go to school to better their condition, b/c we have chosen, as a society, to keep them at poverty level. I work with children who have been warehoused b/c we, as a society, have decided that they aren't economically a priority, and so dump them into group homes with little support and less hope of love and a life after they become an adult.

These are the ones we, in the US, need to spend time with before we go a-voting for those who, patently, do not give a damn, for whom only the rich are the fully human and deserving. Ah, but I go off track. That's easy, when you see the results of these problems day in and day out in the faces of children and parents. Looking at a trashed child is really hard. And I will not look away, and I will not keep silent about it, either in story or essay. "If you have done this to the least of these...." and "For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever."

Harumph. You've touched a very sore spot, as I'm sure you can understand, given what I do for a living.

"...it can result in a sort of induced, mock-Asperger's: we cease to interact properly as humans."

Forgive me, but c. 15% or so of my caseload happen to be people with Asperger's. They are human, just a different type of human. (Several of them, by the way, are in the military.) See my point above, needing to stay in close communion with those of unlike faith. Which adds to the point above. I believe that, when we cut ourselves off, physically & empathically, with the poor, in our own country & internationally, we do cut ourselves off from an important part of our human duty. For duties are not found only or even mostly in militaries, though they are found there, too.

All right, next post of a cheerier nature, I promise. My lady, as you delightfully called her (She enjoyed you term -- we haven't heard it since we were in Oxford.), has been in a foul temper -- she doesn't do sick well. But then, neither do I. How does the poet say it? Go not gentle into that good night?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 13th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

To Resume: We Were Saying, Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted...

The Aristotle that you asked for:

Aristotle, Politics, I.1:

The partnership finally composed of several villages is the city-state; it has at last attained the limit of virtually complete self-sufficiency, and thus, while it comes into existence for the sake of life, it exists for the good life. Hence every city-state exists by nature, inasmuch as the first partnerships so exist; for the city-state is the end of the other partnerships, and nature is an end, since that which each thing is when its growth is completed we speak of as being the nature of each thing, for instance of a man, a horse, a household. Again, the object for which a thing exists, its end, is its chief good; and self-sufficiency is an end, and a chief good. From these things therefore it is clear that the city-state is a natural growth, and that man is by nature a political animal, and a man that is by nature and not merely by fortune citiless is either low in the scale of humanity or above it (like the

‘clanless, lawless, hearthless’

man reviled by Homer [Iliad, 9.63], for one by nature unsocial is also ‘a lover of war’) inasmuch as he is solitary, like an isolated piece at draughts.

That's what I was getting at, and what animates part of my distrust of wilderness. It was also what I was getting at with the Asperger's analogy: not that we cease to be human by ceasing to interact, but that we cease to remember how to interact in ways appropriate to common, social humanity. The reading, that is to say, is not, 'we cease-as-humans properly to interact', but, rather, 'we cease to interact properly-as-humans'. (In that context, I might add that I was scheduled to go up to town - well, to Richmond, finally - late on the 7th July to begin some tests to see if in fact I myself have Asperger's. Obviously, we're rescheduling.)

I believe you're now away, and putt first. (Nature Note of the Day: Sighting of the North American Golden Bear, Ursus golfius nicklausii, on the Swilcan Bridge at the R&A.)
avus From: avus Date: July 13th, 2005 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: To Resume: We Were Saying, Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted...

Thank you for the referral to Aristotle's Politics. I suspected that it might be there. I have the Jowett translation of the first book. Give me a few days to read it and think on it before responding. (I find I seize all such opportunities -- forgive me if that delays.)

And your emphasis clarification was good.

Regarding Asperger's: if you're interested, the best stuff I've seen comes from an Australian, Tony Attwood. His book, Asperger's Syndrome, is quite approachable for someone with your education, and you might find it instructive. This concentrates, as does so much of the literature, on children. But he is beginning to do some work on adult diagnoses. He was supposed to have a book or a tape out in the past 6 mos or so. If you're interested, let me know, and I'll go checking. It should be on his website. Not sure what its address is, but googling "Tony Attwood" and "Asperger's" should locate it.

Yes, I heard about your wildlife sighting. It's the last major professional sighting for that grand old man, though not all that much older than I am. Hmmmmm.
avus From: avus Date: July 18th, 2005 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Back now....

Finished HBP, and then the rest of Book I, Aristotle's Politics. Thank you for the impetus to read this. It certainly sets out, very logically & clearly, your ideal. The natural superiority of the cultivar & the tame animal over the wild, and the natural superiority of the countryside & farming over business and, most especially, finance (aka usury). A classic statement. (Perhaps, we can pass over, in Ciceronian fashion, his naturalness for slavery & the natural superiority of women over men, this, if for no other reason, for the better digestion of [Bad username: sergeantmarjorette].)

Aristotle is clear, that what he sees in front of him, that which is valued is valued b/c there is a naturalness about it, a naturally leaning perfectable wholeness to it, in and of itself, a series of many wholes, and not necessarily referring to a capital "N", Nature. And one of his strongest observations is the naturalness of man to seek the company of other men, and to live in a society ordered for the common & greater good.

Many of Aristotle's particular observations have changed in time -- what was considered natural, then, would lose some of its naturalness in our current society. A present-day Aristotle, in the US or Britian, would not argue so compellingly for slavery or monarchy (non-constitutional, that is). S/he might even reason for the superiority of the city over the countryside (as, in general, did Socrates via Plato; for the exception, see Phaedrus), and create a similarly compelling logic for his/her reasoning. But that is not the main direction I wish to give to my response.

I cheerfully abandon any notion that man should dissociate him or herself from fellow man. The company of others, especially, I believe, diverse others is healthy, necessary, even now man's "natural" state. More strongly, I view the companionship, not merely the association, of only too-alike others with grave suspition, and, in some ways, a dangerous situation for what we face in our world. Much of the progress I've seen in my lifetime, w/in my country & w/out, has been the gradual decrease of walling off segments of people as, to use Aristotle's common term, "barbarians", and the naturalness of the Helenes to rule over them. (But then, on this point, I've posted on my lj recently -- as part of a McKeon quote & commentary.) Surely you agree with this point? You wouldn't, for example, try to revoke the increase of suffrage which, in both our countries, expanded from the 19th well into the 20th, most particularly with the right to vote for women. You wouldn't agree w/ Aristotle, "Again, the male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled." Nor would you, as Aristotle states, consider it a just war to extend the control of civilization to "lesser breeds w/o the law", and here I'm not referring to Somalia. (Yes, I know, Kipling, not Aristotle. Do you still sing that in Church? I shudder to think of some of the hymns of my youth.)

The naturalness, it would seem, in the 20th c. is not to try to return to the bucolic ideal, which is, frankly, impossible for our state of the world, but to find an equal naturalness in the city, which is where much, if not most of the world is now living. And there, too, I can see, I must yeild at least part of my technological point. Though I would still hold, though not right now prepared to defend, that technology can both help & oppress, and it is our duty to carefully examine the effects of technology to determine in which ways helping & oppressing occur, and to mitigate the oppressing. Polution is only one, and not necessarily the most obvious.)

Now, this might seem to be leading up to my revoking my point about "in wildness is the preservation of the world." But no. I will have the temerity to change Thoreau to "in wildness is an important preservation of the world." But I'd like to take some time w/ both "wildness" & "preservation", in the following post.
avus From: avus Date: July 18th, 2005 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Back now....

First "wildness". You & others are quite right -- it cannot mean, anywhere, a place where no people have gone, or even have lived. That's offensive to the people who came before. To preserve the wild, in my native midwest, as you pointed out, we institute controlled burns that were earlier set by Native Americans to improve the grasses/forbes ratio, and thereby to get better gamelands. By wildness, I also do not mean a kind of neo-Druidism, which, frankly, I've always found rather silly, and missing the point.

"Wildness" can be taken to mean another naturalness to balance and become part of the whole, in good Aristotlian fashion, the naturalness of a hyper-urban world. I can't capture all of what this means, but let me give you several examples. (Farmlands, by the way, are part of this. The Nature Conservancy, for example, is finding ways to economically preserve ranching & farming, and even to make it better by becoming more sustainable, less susceptible to development, and more likely to be passed onto the children of those who are ranchers & farmers.)

Not Druidism but Ecology. We must be sensitive to what will overload the "wild", and to make space for more of the wild as a balance, not only for the health of our atmosphere or for the controlling of pollution of our waters, but also as a sense, even as we live mostly in cities, of staying in balance or harmony w/ the world. For the balance of the farmer is not the only possible balance (or harmony), not only the psychological, but also the spiritual (assuming these two can be well-separated). One cannot accuse the Psalmist of Druidism:

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do buisness in great waters;
"These men see the works of the LORD and his wonders in the deep."

Ps 107: 23-24.

Yes, they needed the technology, but here, the Psalmist does not point to the shipwrights as best showing the Lord, but to the sea & the winds, that which is beyond man's control.

When we live in cities, perhaps not only the parks w/in or on the drive into those cities appear to be naturally healthful in many ways (mental health & car accidents being only two), but also areas outside the cities, hopefully accessible to the city-dweller, some significant areas beyond our traditionally understood notions of resource management, leaving them where man is generally, now, a guest, and the living land, itself, is valued for itself, perhaps for what that offers.

This was, in the US, first instituted w/ wildlife preserves, mostly to support hunters. Since the 1970's, though, we have recognized a wider value, the value of species in & of themselves, to merit survival, including our protection of its habitat, if that's what's needed. Yes, I know, there are many kinds of balances & trade-offs, here. This is, as I well know, a political, and so a human activity, not merely an ecological activity. My father has been a working environmentalist, using politics, for over 40 years.) But at least in the US, there's a growing number who value this and are willing to vote for tax dollars to support it.

I have been, of course, also talking of "preservation". This does not mean the eradication of humans & their prior activities. (When this has been done in National Parks, it has been a horrible error, and often has been done to the detriment of the plants & animals which have, for centuries, lived there. If you want, let me know, and I'll tell you some stories about the cultural and natural improverishment of Organ Pipe National Park.) Preservation means allowing the woods, the grasslands, the desert & the mountains to have some rights of continuation.

To next post.
avus From: avus Date: July 18th, 2005 11:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Back now....


The US Supreme Court, when they prohibited the Death Penalty in the 1970's, talked of "evolving standards of decency". I wonder as we evolve into a largely urban & more diverse world -- a change perhaps even greater than our evolving from hunter-gathers into an agraian people, whether we shall need, to stay in harmony w/ our world, w/ all that God has given us, if you will, that we shall need, even more, to leave some of it more-or-less alone, even to work a bit to keep it in its "alone" state, w/ all the paradoxes that implies. And maybe we need to leave patches of that big enough so that we can not only see it, as trees & bushes & flowers in the median strip of superhighways, but also the Grand Canyon & Rocky Mountain National Park, so that we can feel a part and only a small part of this very different, and also very important magic, a magic different from, but not necessarily lesser to the magic of technology. Could both reflect the Source of Magic, from which all magic springs, each in its own important & different ways?

(See, I did get to magic in the end. *grins*)
avus From: avus Date: July 7th, 2005 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
You talk about the two great risks of the Romantic worship of nature, and make excellent points. (But then, you always make excellent points.)

(By the way, before I forget, do you know the source of your Aristotle quote? I'd like to read a bit around that, just for context.)

"The first is mere irrationalism, resuting from it's becoming a substitute religion."

I quite agree, though I would say, following my great teacher, Eugene Gendlin, that we must carefully distinguish between logic (or rationalism), what is more than logic, and what is less than logic. That, in itself is another post, which I shall do, if you're interested. But by this point, I only mean to say that everything which is not logic is not, then, irrationalism. Distinguishing what is more than logic from what is less than logic is, indeed, a key struggle in our times. And letting only logic reign means imprisoning creativity, novelty and a host of what has always been best in humanity, and what is a crucial part of our lives, now. (Read, for example, what Augustine says about Faith & Reason. He denigrates neither -- they are both necessary & complimentary, and never pure.)

Your comment on nationalism, w/ musical examples, was very much appreciated. (Though I confess to love the Verdi Requiem, whereas Ride of the Valkyries has always left me uneasy. There's a musicologist on my f-list, and I've tried to entice her into discussing that. So far, she's been overwhelmed with her grad duties, and my musicology is pretty rusty, so perhaps it's no great loss, though it would have been great fun.

Now to your main points.

"First, there is no such thing as wilderness, except in areas that have never been traversed by man."

Of course, you're right in the purist sense. But then I have so little experience with purity -- and none at all, personally -- that I'm regularly blind-sided by it. And the points above about Native Americans are quite right, as was your point earlier, in your previous post. I believe, however, that I did respond to this point earlier, didn't I? (I could have forgotten; I often do.)

But let's move on to your "main" main point:

"the reduction of ‘wild’ resources to use is what is really at issue here, and the very act of doing that is to impress the stamp of man, cultivation and domestication, upon the natural order. The wild rose is neither inferior nor, in its proper place, useless, but it does get loose and become a nuisance in hedges and elsewhere (am I correct that the American example would be kudzu?). But just as copper in the earth, in situ, may be powerfully magical but no use to the cauldron-smith until it is extracted, reduced to possession, so I would submit that the domestication and cultivation, and the selective breeding, of magical plants is what makes them useably and usefully magical."

Well said, as always! I cannot comment on English hedges & wild roses. May I, however, comment on multi-flora roses & kudzu vines? Anywhere I've lived -- the midwest & the Rockies -- the wild rose has been a delight. (Just two weeks ago, my granddaughter, whose favorite color is, not surprisingly, pink, took several wild rose pedals from our woods to her mother.) The wild rose does not take over. It stays within balanced where it is naturally found. The multiflora rose, however, is a much different story. This rose was designed, I believe about 75 years ago, by some well-meaning folks in wildlife management. They bred & bred until they got something that they figured would promote wildlife. Actually, like the kudzu (which I don't think is a problem in Japan, where it's native, but only in the south, where it's not), it mostly promotes itself. There is less brouse, b/c it takes over, perniciously. Eradicating it is almost as tough as eradicating the equally non-native tamarisk, which is choking out native plants and drying out the southwest. Terrible problem. (It's native to Arabia.)

On to my final post, I hope.
avus From: avus Date: July 7th, 2005 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I do go on & on.

My point is simple. The issue isn't simply its breeding or not breeding, but a wise mixture, a balance, , an every changing balance, if you will, between the bred and the wild. Since well before my lifetime, there was a drastic simplification of "well-bred" strains of many precious plants, including apples, rice, potatoes and corn (in the American sense; maize as you Brits would say). This has led to many problems, problems which turn out to be best solved by going back to more diverse and, sometimes, even wilder cousins, and breeding their strains back into the cultivars.

Isn't the point clear? We are both right -- wildness is the salvation of the world, just as cultivation is. Both are needed for sustainability, even limiting it to your notion of "use".

You're quite right in what you say about technology and agriculture. My people, and my wife's people are, after all, country people, all of them benefiting, as we all benefit from this project. I can't imagine that magic would be otherwise.


I do not believe that "magic", any more than "creativity", comes only out o technology. Beethoven's piano sonatas would never have been written w/o the technology of the piano. But isn't there something "wild" in them, too, which that technology expresses? And don't we treasure that "wildness" as much as we treasure, say, his masterful use of sonata allergro form, or theme and variations? Perhaps one of the greatest Beethoven critics, Theodor Weisgrund Adorno, writes most eloquently about the wonderful balance between what he calls "the individual" and "society", the "rational" and the "creative". Can you see how the "wild" fits in here? Harry's magic, in the end, isn't only the cultivars of centuries, though it's that, too, and that is always there.

Here, of course, I'm shifting the argument. But then, I realize that this is, in part, the argument I had intended to make, and like you, had I the initial clarity, I would have made.

Let me have you respond, if you wish, and I'll go on from there if I haven't been clear. Besides, my good wife is calling me for dinner. As they say where I was raised, "Call me anything you like, but never call me late for supper."

As always with respect & good will,

dolorous_ett From: dolorous_ett Date: July 7th, 2005 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

I leave my calling card

Hello, Wemyss, can that really be you? I was always under the impression you thought of LJ as an idiots' playground, so was most surprised to see you in my "Friended By" list. Am about to go and return the compliment.

Having had a glance through your list of links, I've a notion that some of my opinions may offend you at some time in the future - and I apologise in advance for any distress caused.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 7th, 2005 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Welcome, In This Grim Hour

At this point, any such differences are, we have been forcibly reminded, minor in the extreme.

(Little bastards. Do they think they can succeed where the Blitz failed? To quote Bolt's play, 'This isn't Spain'.)
dolorous_ett From: dolorous_ett Date: July 7th, 2005 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Welcome, In This Grim Hour

I'm bang alongside you there.

I hope you haven't been personally affected by any of this.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 7th, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

KBO, Eh?

Personally affected? No, save in Donne's sense. And I trust and gather that that is so of you as well.

One is tempted, or wd be, wd it not bollix rescue, relief, and recovery efforts, to leave the fastness in the wild Southwest (yeehaw, cowboy) and tramp up to town and, oh, dine at Wiltons, say, or do something similarly stiff-uppered, by way of giving these murderous gentry a two-fingered salute.

Who the devil do they think we ARE, that we shd be affrighted by the likes of THEM?
dolorous_ett From: dolorous_ett Date: July 7th, 2005 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: KBO, Eh?

No, I'm not personally affected either - I live in Scotland. But thanks for asking.

I can appreciate that an actual descent on London to Carry On as Normal isn't going to work right now - but I'm sending you a mental picture of the most delightful, carefree dinner imaginable (a delightful side-effect of this is that I can now afford the very, very best of everything) - and raise a brimming glass in salute.

Confusion to the lot of them!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 7th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Confound Their Politics

Frustrate their knavish tricks....

Yes. Precisely. We'll make that imaginary dinner a table for two at Wiltons, shall we, if you'll do me the honour of joining me for it. I trust you can eat imaginary oysters, imaginary veal Orloff, and imaginary Dover sole? If so, we can fill in the rest quite readily. Wh leaves us one question: Montrachet, or Corton Charlemagne?
dolorous_ett From: dolorous_ett Date: July 8th, 2005 10:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Confound Their Politics

Thank you for a delightful evening! The oysters were superb, the veal out of this world and the sole cooked to perfection - and your choice of wine quite outstanding. Thank you also for correcting me in my misuse of the silverware - I hope it didn't embarrass you in front of anyone you know.

In particular, thank you for the robust, intelligent and far-reaching conversation throughout the meal - a ray of light in a nasty world.

In return for this delightful occasion, when things are a little less fraught, perhaps I can tempt you to a Chinese version of the same? I know a little restaurant which is superficially unpreposessing, but whose outwardly surly staff can, with a little persuasion, produce food that would make Confucius himself throw his hat in the air and cry "squee"!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 8th, 2005 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

My Dear!

I'd be honoured and delighted.

(I trust the 'persuasion' involved doesn't involve caning? Too house-masterly for me.)
dolorous_ett From: dolorous_ett Date: July 8th, 2005 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: My Dear!

That's part of the fun about imaginary meals - they can be whatever you want! So I guarantee no caning of any sort. Nor house-masters - unless a Sage drops by for a chat.

I like your icon - and toast you with tea.
avus From: avus Date: July 7th, 2005 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, Wemyss, we're so horrified for you & your people....

I've just heard about all the bombs in London. My wife & I send our deepest condolences to you and your Country. We are horrified, outraged and sad beyond words.

The week after 9/11, my wife & I were in London & England, and the outpouring of goodwill we received, as Americans, touched us deeply. The concern and love we received was more healing and humane than anything else during that horrible, horrible time.

I can only hope that those responsible will be quickly found, and stopped. Given the generosity of your people, all those grieving will be taken into the national arms and heart.

Yours truly is a noble people, courageous and sturdy and caring and so much more.

Know that my wife's prayers and mine join yours in all services you attend. Know, too, that we are, as much as distance allows, very much with you in wherever this leads.

In deepest sadness,

wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 7th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Some Chicken. Some Neck.

I fully expect that everyone will KBO: Keep Buggering On. As for the rest, well, the new modifications, in terms of quotations, on my user info page pretty much sum it up.

And I may say that, as indicated by yr post, nobility, courage, and generosity are American qualities as well.
avus From: avus Date: July 7th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Some Chicken. Some Neck.

Brits have a quality well-expressed in KBO, that Americans would do well to learn.

I believe the Churchill quote was said before the Canadian Parliament, wasn't it?

Were there ever a people who demonstrated how useless it
avus From: avus Date: July 7th, 2005 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Some Chicken. Some Neck.

Sorry, my hand slipped while typing.

Were there ever a people, or a city, who better demonstrated the futility of attacking them by bombs? Not only barbaric, but witless, genuinely witless. Not that there's comfort in their witlessness. The question being only how best to stop their barbarity. But there will be a time for that, and now, I suspect, is more the time for mourning.

Thanks, by the way, for checking in so promptly.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 7th, 2005 06:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Some Chicken. Some Neck.

Yes, the 'sugar candy' quote was from WSC's Canada jaunt.

Further reflections in due course.
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