Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Birches poem



When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy's been swinging them.

But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in

With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm

I should prefer to have some boy bend them

As he went out and in to fetch the cows—

Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

Whose only play was what he found himself,

Summer or winter, and could play alone.

One by one he subdued his father's trees

By riding them down over and over again

Until he took the stiffness out of them,

And not one but hung limp, not one was left

For him to conquer. He learned all there was

To learn about not launching out too soon

And so not carrying the tree away

Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise

To the top branches, climbing carefully

With the same pains you use to fill a cup

Up to the brim, and even above the brim.

Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,

Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.

And so I dream of going back to be.

It's when I'm weary of considerations,

And life is too much like a pathless wood

Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs

Broken across it, and one eye is weeping

From a twig's having lashed across it open.

I'd like to get away from earth awhile

And then come back to it and begin over.

May no fate willfully misunderstand me

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away

Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:

I don't know where it's likely to go better.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top and set me down again.

That would be good both going and coming back.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Emotional Blackmail

Emotional blackmail is a term coined by psychotherapist Susan Forward, about controlling people in relationships and the theory that fearobligation, and guilt (FOG) are the transactional dynamics at play between the controller and the person being controlled. Understanding these dynamics are useful to anyone trying to extricate from the controlling behavior of another person, and deal with their own compulsions to do things that are uncomfortable, undesirable, burdensome, or self-sacrificing for others.

Forward and Frazier identify four blackmail types each with their own mental manipulation style:

Punisher's threat
Eat the food I cooked for you or I'll hurt you.
Self-punisher's threat
Eat the food I cooked for you or I'll hurt myself.
Sufferer's threat
Eat the food I cooked for you. I was saving it for myself. I wonder what will happen now.
Tantalizer's threat
Eat the food I cooked for you and you just may get a really yummy dessert.

There are different levels of demands—demands that are of little consequence, demands that involve important issues or personal integrity, demands that affect major life decisions, and/or demands that are dangerous or illegal.

In popular culture

When Will Hunting from the movie Good Will Hunting is being choked by Sean Maguire, you can see the spine of the book I'm OK, You're OK in the bookcase that Will is being pinned against 

Thomas Harris's successful popular work from the late 1960s, I'm OK, You're OK, is largely based on transactional analysis. A fundamental divergence, however, between Harris and Berne is that Berne postulates that everyone starts life in the "I'm OK" position, whereas Harris believes that life starts out "I'm not OK, you're OK".

New Age author James Redfield has acknowledgedHarris and Berne as important influences in his best-seller The Celestine Prophecy (1993). The protagonists in the novel survive by striving (and succeeding) in escaping from "control dramas" that resemble the games of TA.

The twelfth episode of the third season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is called "Games Ponies Play" as a homage to this work.

Singer/songwriter Warren Zevon mentions transactional analysis in his 1980 song "Gorilla, You're a Desperado" from the album Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School.

Singer-songwriter Joe South's 1968 song, "Games People Play", was based directly on transactional-analytic concepts and Berne's book of the same name.

TA makes an appearance in Antonio Campos'2016 biographical drama Christine, a film covering the events that led TV journalist Christine Chubbuck to commit suicide on TV. She is brought to a transactional analysis therapy session by a colleague, where they introduce her to the "Yes, But..." technique.

Singer John Denver references transactional analysis in his autobiography. His wife at the time, Annie Denver, was getting into the movement. John says he tried it but found it wanting.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Passage to India poem

Passage to India

Walt Whitman - 1819-1892


Singing my days,  
Singing the great achievements of the present,  
Singing the strong light works of engineers,  
Our modern wonders, (the antique ponderous Seven outvied,)  
In the Old World the east the Suez canal,
The New by its mighty railroad spann’d,  
The seas inlaid with eloquent gentle wires;  
Yet first to sound, and ever sound, the cry with thee O soul,   
The Past! the Past! the Past!  
The Past— the dark unfathom’d retrospect!
The teeming gulf—the sleepers and the shadows!  
The past—the infinite greatness of the past!  
For what is the present after all but a growth out of the past?  
(As a projectile, form’d, impell’d, passing a certain line, still keeps on,   
So the present, utterly form’d, impell’d by the past.)


Passage O soul to India!  
Eclaircise the myths Asiatic, the primitive fables.  
Not you alone proud truths of the world!  
Nor you alone ye facts of modern science,  
But myths and fables of eld, Asia’s, Africa’s fables,
The far-darting beams of the spirit, the unloos’d dreams!  
The deep diving bibles and legends,  
The daring plots of the poets, the elder religions;  
O you temples fairer than lilies pour’d over by the rising sun!  
O you fables spurning the known, eluding the hold of the known, mounting to heaven!
You lofty and dazzling towers, pinnacled, red as roses, burnish’d with gold!   
Towers of fables immortal fashion’d from mortal dreams!  
You too I welcome and fully the same as the rest!  
You too with joy I sing.  

Passage to India!
Lo, soul, seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?  
The earth to be spann’d, connected by network,    
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,  
The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near, 
The lands to be welded together.  
A worship new I sing, 
You captains, voyagers, explorers, yours,  
You engineers, you architects, machinists, yours,   
You, not for trade or transportation only, 
But in God’s name, and for thy sake O soul.  


Passage to India!  
Lo soul for thee of tableaus twain,  
I see in one the Suez canal initiated, open’d,  
I see the procession of steamships, the Empress Eugenie’s leading the van,  
I mark, from on deck the strange landscape, the pure sky, the level sand in the distance,   
I pass swiftly the picturesque groups, the workmen gather’d,  
The gigantic dredging machines.  
In one again, different, (yet thine, all thine, O soul, the same,)  
I see over my own continent the Pacific Railroad, surmounting every barrier,
I see continual trains of cars winding along the Platte, carrying freight and passengers,    
I hear the locomotives rushing and roaring, and the shrill steam-whistle,   
I hear the echoes reverberate through the grandest scenery in the world,  
I cross the Laramie plains, I note the rocks in grotesque shapes, the buttes,   
I see the plentiful larkspur and wild onions, the barren, colorless, sage-deserts,
I see in glimpses afar or towering immediately above me the great mountains, I see the Wind River and the Wahsatch mountains,   
I see the Monument mountain and the Eagle’s Nest, I pass the Promontory, I ascend the Nevadas,  
I scan the noble Elk mountain and wind around its base,    
I see the Humboldt range, I thread the valley and cross the river,  
I see the clear waters of Lake Tahoe, I see forests of majestic pines,
Or crossing the great desert, the alkaline plains, I behold enchanting mirages of waters and meadows,    
Marking through these and after all, in duplicate slender lines,  
Bridging the three or four thousand miles of land travel,  
Tying the Eastern to the Western sea,  
The road between Europe and Asia.
(Ah Genoese thy dream! thy dream!  
Centuries after thou art laid in thy grave,  
The shore thou foundest verifies thy dream.)  


Passage to India!  
Struggles of many a captain, tales of many a sailor dead,
Over my mood stealing and spreading they come,  
Like clouds and cloudlets in the unreach’d sky.  
Along all history, down the slopes,  
As a rivulet running, sinking now, and now again to the surface rising,  
A ceaseless thought, a varied train—lo, soul, to thee, thy sight, they rise,
The plans, the voyages again, the expeditions;  
Again Vasco de Gama sails forth,  
Again the knowledge gain’d, the mariner’s compass,  
Lands found and nations born, thou born America,  
For purpose vast, man’s long probation fill’d,
Thou, rondure of the world at last accomplish’d.  


O vast Rondure, swimming in space,   
Cover’d all over with visible power and beauty,  
Alternate light and day, and the teeming spiritual darkness,  
Unspeakable high processions of sun and moon and countless stars above,
Below, the manifold grass and waters, animals, mountains, trees,  
With inscrutable purpose, some hidden prophetic intention,  
Now first it seems my thought begins to span thee.  
Down from the gardens of Asia descending radiating,  
Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after them,
Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations,  
With questionings, baffled, formless, feverish, with never-happy hearts,   
With that sad, incessant refrain, Wherefore, unsatisfied soul? and Whither O mocking life?  
Ah who shall soothe these feverish children?  
Who justify these restless explorations?
Who speak the secret of impassive earth?  
Who bind it to us? What is this separate Nature, so unnatural?  
What is this earth, to our affections? (unloving earth, without a throb to answer ours,    
Cold earth, the place of graves.)  
Yet soul be sure the first intent remains, and shall be carried out,
Perhaps even now the time has arrived.  
After the seas are all cross’d, (as they seem already cross’d,)  
After the great captains and engineers have accomplish’d their work,  
After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist,  
Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,
The true Son of God shall come singing his songs.  
Then not your deeds only O voyagers, O scientists and inventors, shall be justified,   
All these hearts as of fretted children shall be sooth’d,  
All affection shall be fully responded to, the secret shall be told,   
All these separations and gaps shall be taken up and hook’d and link’d together, 
The whole earth, this cold, impassive, voiceless earth, shall be completely justified,   
Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplish’d and compacted by the true son of God, the poet,  
(He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the mountains,  
He shall double the Cape of Good Hope to some purpose,)  
Nature and Man shall be disjoin’d and diffused no more,
The true son of God shall absolutely fuse them.  


Year at whose wide-flung door I sing!  
Year of the purpose accomplish’d!  
Year of the marriage of continents, climates and oceans!  
(No mere doge of Venice now wedding the Adriatic,)
I see, O year in you the vast terraqueous globe given and giving all,  
Europe to Asia, Africa join’d, and they to the New World,   
The lands, geographies, dancing before you, holding a festival garland,  
As brides and bridegrooms hand in hand.  
Passage to India!
Cooling airs from Caucasus far, soothing cradle of man,  
The river Euphrates flowing, the past lit up again.  
Lo soul, the retrospect brought forward,   
The old, most populous, wealthiest of earth’s lands,  
The streams of the Indus and the Ganges, and their many affluents,
(I my shores of America walking to-day behold, resuming all,)   
The tale of Alexander, on his warlike marches suddenly dying,  
On one side China and on the other side Persia and Arabia,  
To the south the great seas and the Bay of Bengal,  
The flowing literatures, tremendous epics, religions, castes,
Old occult Brahma interminably far back, the tender and junior Buddha,  
Central and southern empires and all their belongings, possessors,  
The wars of Tamerlane, the reign of Aurungzebe,  
The traders, rulers, explorers, Moslems, Venetians, Byzantium, the Arabs, Portuguese,   
The first travelers famous yet, Marco Polo, Batouta the Moor,
Doubts to be solv’d, the map incognita, blanks to be fill’d,  
The foot of man unstay’d, the hands never at rest,  
Thyself O soul that will not brook a challenge.  

The medieval navigators rise before me,  
The world of 1492, with its awaken’d enterprise,
Something swelling in humanity now like the sap of the earth in spring,  
The sunset splendor of chivalry declining.  
And who art thou, sad shade?  
Gigantic, visionary, thyself a visionary,  
With majestic limbs, and pious beaming eyes,
Spreading around, with every look of thine, a golden world,  
Enhuing it with gorgeous hues.  
As the chief histrion,  
Down to the footlights walks in some great scena,  
Dominating the rest I see the Admiral himself,
(History’s type of courage, action, faith,)  
Behold him sail from Palos leading his little fleet,  
His voyage behold, his return, his great fame,  
His misfortunes, calumniators, behold him a prisoner, chain’d,   
Behold his dejection, poverty, death.
(Curious in time, I stand, noting the efforts of heroes,   
Is the deferment long? bitter the slander, poverty, death?  
Lies the seed unreck’d for centuries in the ground? lo, to God’s due occasion,   
Uprising in the night, it sprouts, blooms,  
And fills the earth with use and beauty.) 


Passage indeed O soul to primal thought,  
Not lands and seas alone, thy own clear freshness,  
The young maturity of brood and bloom,   
To realms of budding bibles.  
O soul, repressless, I with thee and thou with me,
Thy circumnavigation of the world begin,   
Of man, the voyage of his mind’s return,  
To reason’s early paradise,  
Back, back to wisdom’s birth, to innocent intuitions,  
Again with fair creation. 


O we can wait no longer,   
We too take ship O soul,  
Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,  
Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail,  
Amid the wafting winds, (thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O soul,)
Caroling free, singing our song of God,  
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.  
With laugh, and many a kiss,  
(Let others deprecate, let others weep for sin, remorse, humiliation,)   
O soul, thou pleasest me, I thee.
Ah more than any priest O soul we too believe in God,  
But with the mystery of God we dare not dally.  
O soul thou pleasest me, I thee,   
Sailing these seas or on the hills, or waking in the night,  
Thoughts, silent thoughts, of Time and Space and Death, like waters flowing,
Bear me indeed as through the regions infinite,  
Whose air I breathe, whose ripples hear, lave me all over,   
Bathe me O God in thee, mounting to thee,  
I and my soul to range in range of thee.  
O Thou transcendant,
Nameless, the fibre and the breath,   
Light of the light, shedding forth universes, thou centre of them,   
Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving,   
Thou moral, spiritual fountain— affection’s source— thou reservoir,   
(O pensive soul of me— O thirst unsatisfied— waitest not there?
Waitest not haply for us somewhere there the Comrade perfect?)  
Thou pulse— thou motive of the stars, suns, systems,  
That, circling, move in order, safe, harmonious,  
Athwart the shapeless vastnesses of space,  
How should I think, how breathe a single breath, how speak, if, out of myself,
I could not launch, to those, superior universes?  
Swiftly I shrivel at the thought of God,  
At Nature and its wonders, Time and Space and Death,  
But that I, turning, call to thee O soul, thou actual Me,  
And lo, thou gently masterest the orbs,
Thou matest Time, smilest content at Death,  
And fillest, swellest full the vastnesses of Space.  
Greater than stars or suns,  
Bounding O soul thou journeyest forth;  
What love than thine and ours could wider amplify?
What aspirations, wishes, outvie thine and ours, O soul?  
What dreams of the ideal? what plans of purity, perfection, strength?   
What cheerful willingness for others’ sake, to give up all?  
For others’ sake to suffer all?  
Reckoning ahead O soul, when thou, the time achiev’d,
The seas all cross’d, weather’d the capes, the voyage done,  
Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim attain’d,  
As fill’d with friendship, love complete, the Elder Brother found,   
The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.  


Passage to more than India!
Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights?  
O Soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like these?  
Disportest thou on waters such as those?  
Soundest below the Sanscrit and the Vedas?  
Then have thy bent unleash’d.
Passage to you, your shores, ye aged fierce enigmas!  
Passage to you, to mastership of you, ye strangling problems!  
You, strew’d with the wrecks of skeletons, that, living, never reach’d you.  

Passage to more than India!  
O secret of the earth and sky!
Of you O waters of the sea! O winding creeks and rivers!  
Of you O woods and fields! Of you strong mountains of my land!   
Of you O prairies! of you, gray rocks!  
O morning red! O clouds! O rain and snows!  
O day and night, passage to you!
O sun and moon, and all you stars! Sirius and Jupiter!  
Passage to you!  
Passage, immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins!  
Away O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!  
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?  
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?   
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?   
Sail forth— steer for the deep waters only,   
Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,  
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.  
O my brave soul!  
O farther farther sail!  
O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!

This poem is in the public domain.

Born on May 31, 1819, Walt Whitman is the author of Leaves of Grass and, along with Emily Dickinson, is considered one of the architects of a uniquely American poetic voice. 

More Walt Whitman >

sign up for poem-a-day

Receive a new poem in your inbox daily

Email Address

Sign Up

More by Walt Whitman

To Think of Time

1 To think of time—of all that retrospection! To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward! Have you guess'd you yourself would not continue? Have you dreaded these earth-beetles? Have you fear'd the future would be nothing to you? Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing? If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing. To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and women    were flexible, real, alive! that everything was alive! To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our    part! To think that we are now here, and bear our part! 2 Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without an    accouchement! Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without a corpse! The dull nights go over, and the dull days also, The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over, The physician, after long putting off, gives the silent and terrible    look for an answer, The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters    are sent for, Medicines stand unused on the shelf—(the camphor-smell has    long pervaded the rooms,) The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the dying, The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying, The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases, The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look upon it, It is palpable as the living are palpable. The living look upon the corpse with their eye-sight, But without eye-sight lingers a different living, and looks curiously    on the corpse. 3 To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought of materials! To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and fruits ripen,    and act upon others as upon us now—yet not act upon us! To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking    great interest in them—and we taking no interest in them! To think how eager we are in building our houses! To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent! (I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy    or eighty years at most, I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.) Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth—they never    cease—they are the burial lines, He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall    surely be buried. 4 A reminiscence of the vulgar fate, A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen, Each after his kind: Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf—posh and ice in the river,    half-frozen mud in the streets, a gray, discouraged sky overhead,    the short, last daylight of Twelfth-month, A hearse and stages—other vehicles give place—the funeral    of an old Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers. Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the gate    is pass'd, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight, the    hearse uncloses, The coffin is pass'd out, lower'd and settled, the whip is laid on the    coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel'd in, The mound above is flatted with the spades—silence, A minute—no one moves or speaks—it is done, He is decently put away—is there anything more? He was a good fellow, free-mouth'd, quick-temper'd, not bad-looking,    able to take his own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with    life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate hearty,    drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited    toward the last, sicken'd, was help'd by a contribution, died, aged    forty-one years—and that was his funeral. Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-weather    clothes, whip carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler,    somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody, headway, man before    and man behind, good day's work, bad day's work, pet stock, mean    stock, first out, last out, turning-in at night; To think that these are so much and so nigh to other drivers—and    he there takes no interest in them! 5 The markets, the government, the working-man's wages—to think what    account they are through our nights and days! To think that other working-men will make just as great account of    them—yet we make little or no account! The vulgar and the refined—what you call sin, and what you call    goodness—to think how wide a difference! To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie beyond    the difference. To think how much pleasure there is! Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from poems? Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a    nomination and election? or with your wife and family? Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful    maternal cares? —These also flow onward to others—you and I flow onward, But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them. Your farm, profits, crops,—to think how engross'd you are! To think there will still be farms, profits, crops—yet for you, of    what avail? 6 What will be, will be well—for what is, is well, To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well. The sky continues beautiful, The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure of    women with men, nor the pleasure from poems, The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of    houses—these are not phantasms—they have weight, form,    location; Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them    phantasms, The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion, The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and all the things of    his life, are well-consider'd. You are not thrown to the winds—you gather certainly and safely    around yourself; Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever! 7 It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and    father—it is to identify you; It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided; Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form'd in you, You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes. The threads that were spun are gather'd, the weft crosses the warp,    the pattern is systematic. The preparations have every one been justified, The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments—the    baton has given the signal. The guest that was coming—he waited long, for reasons—he    is now housed, He is one of those who are beautiful and happy—he is one of    those that to look upon and be with is enough. The law of the past cannot be eluded, The law of the present and future cannot be eluded, The law of the living cannot be eluded—it is eternal, The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded, The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded, The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons—not one iota thereof    can be eluded. 8 Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth, Northerner goes carried, and Southerner goes carried, and they on the    Atlantic side, and they on the Pacific, and they between, and all    through the Mississippi country, and all over the earth. The great masters and kosmos are well as they go—the heroes and    good-doers are well, The known leaders and inventors, and the rich owners and pious and    distinguish'd, may be well, But there is more account than that—there is strict account    of all. The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing, The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing, The common people of Europe are not nothing—the American    aborigines are not nothing, The infected in the immigrant hospital are not nothing—the    murderer or mean person is not nothing, The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as    they go, The lowest prostitute is not nothing—the mocker of religion    is not nothing as he goes. 9 Of and in all these things, I have dream'd that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law    of us changed, I have dream'd that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present    and past law, And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present    and past law, For I have dream'd that the law they are under now is enough. If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung, If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray'd! Then indeed suspicion of death. Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die    now, Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward    annihilation? 10 Pleasantly and well-suited I walk, Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good, The whole universe indicates that it is good, The past and the present indicate that it is good. How beautiful and perfect are the animals! How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it! What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just    as perfect, The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable    fluids are perfect; Slowly and surely they have pass'd on to this, and slowly and surely    they yet pass on. 11 I swear I think now that everything without exception has an    eternal Soul! The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have!    the animals! I swear I think there is nothing but immortality! That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is    for it, and the cohering is for it; And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life    and materials are altogether for it!

Walt Whitman


This Compost


Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you?
Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv'd,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.


Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form'd part of a sick person—yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatch'd eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in the dooryards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will
   none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas'd corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

Walt Whitman



OF the visages of things—And of piercing through
         to the accepted hells beneath;
Of ugliness—To me there is just as much in it as
         there is in beauty—And now the ugliness of
         human beings is acceptable to me;
Of detected persons—To me, detected persons are
         not, in any respect, worse than undetected per-
         sons—and are not in any respect worse than I
         am myself;
Of criminals—To me, any judge, or any juror, is
         equally criminal—and any reputable person is
         also—and the President is also.

OF waters, forests, hills;
Of the earth at large, whispering through medium of
Of vista—Suppose some sight in arriere, through the
         formative chaos, presuming the growth, fulness,
         life, now attain'd on the journey;
(But I see the road continued, and the journey ever
Of what was once lacking on earth, and in due time
         has become supplied—And of what will yet be
Because all I see and know, I believe to have purport
         in what will yet be supplied.

OF persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies,
         wealth, scholarships, and the like;
To me, all that those persons have arrived at, sinks
         away from them, except as it results to their
         Bodies and Souls,
So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked;
And often, to me, each one mocks the others, and
         mocks himself or herself,
And of each one, the core of life, namely happiness,
         is full of the rotten excrement of maggots,
And often, to me, those men and women pass unwit-
         tingly the true realities of life, and go toward
         false realities,
And often, to me, they are alive after what custom has
         served them, but nothing more,
And often, to me, they are sad, hasty, unwaked son-
         nambules, walking the dusk.

OF ownership—As if one fit to own things could not
         at pleasure enter upon all, and incorporate
         them into himself or herself;
Of Equality—As if it harm'd me, giving others the
         same chances and rights as myself—As if it
         were not indispensable to my own rights that
         others possess the same;
Of Justice—As if Justice could be anything but the
         same ample law, expounded by natural judges
         and saviors,
As if it might be this thing or that thing, according
         to decisions.

As I sit with others, at a great feast, suddenly, while
         the music is playing,
To my mind, (whence it comes I know not,) spectral,
         in mist, of a wreck at sea,
Of the flower of the marine science of fifty generations,
         founder'd off the Northeast coast, and going
         down—Of the steamship Arctic going down,
Of the veil'd tableau—Women gather'd together on
         deck, pale, heroic, waiting the moment that
         draws so close—O the moment!
O the huge sob—A few bubbles—the white foam
         spirting up—And then the women gone,
Sinking there, while the passionless wet flows on—
         And I now pondering, Are those women indeed
Are Souls drown'd and destroy'd so?
Is only matter triumphant?

OF what I write from myself—As if that were not the
Of Histories—As if such, however complete, were not
         less complete than my poems;
As if the shreds, the records of nations, could possibly
         be as lasting as my poems;
As if here were not the amount of all nations, and of
         all the lives of heroes.

OF obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something
         profoundly affecting in large masses of men,
         following the lead of those who do not believe
         in men.

Walt Whitman


Gender Discrimination in India

Gender Discrimination in the Indian Society

Gender disparity still exists in India. Being born as women in the Indian society one has to face gender discrimination at all levels. At the household level - females are confined to the bounds of their household chores, raising children and looking after families, irrespective of her education degrees or her job profile. At her workplace: women have limited access to job opportunities and are paid less for the same work.

Education and learning opportunities: gender-wise literacy rates in India showcase the wide gap that exists between men and women. As per 2011 census data, effective literacy rates (age 7 and above) were 82.14% for men and 65.46% for women. The main reason behind parents unwilling to spend on girl’s education is the mindset that educating women is of no value as in the future they will only serve their husbands and the in- laws.

The Indian constitution provides equal rights and privileges for both men and women but still majority of women across India doesn’t enjoy these rights and opportunities guaranteed to them. This is because of a number of reasons.

Some of them are:
Poverty – This is the root cause of gender discrimination in the patriarchal Indian society as the economic dependence on the male counterpart is itself a cause of gender disparity. A total of 30 percent people live below the poverty line and out of this 70 percent are women.
Illiteracy - Gender discrimination In India had led to educational backwardness for girls. It’s a sad reality that despite educational reforms in the country girls in India are still denied a chance at learning. The mindset needs to be changed and people need to understand the benefits of educating girls. An educated, well-read woman ensures that other members especially the children of the house get quality education.
Patriarchal setup in our Indian society –Men dominate societal and family life in India, this has been the case in the past ages and still continues to be practiced in majority of the households. Though this mindset is changing with urbanization and education, still there is long way to go for a permanent change in the scenario.

Gender based discrimination across India can only be checked when girls are not denied their chance to learn and grow in life. Girls like boys should get a great start in life in terms of education opportunities. This will help them attain economic independence and will also help them to be rightly equipped to make a contribution towards their upliftment as well as that of the society they are part of.

NGOs like Save the Children are doing what it takes to uplift the status of the girl child in the society through a number of programmes across India. If you care to bring hope in the lives of thousands of girls in India by ensuring the right environment and opportunities for them, then support an NGO like Save the Children.

Monday, October 7, 2019



Georg Lukács uses the concept of reification (from the Latin ‘res facere’, literally ‘to make a thing’) to describe that people’s ‘own activity, [their] own labour becomes something objective and independent of [them]’ (from his ‘Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat’, sec. I.1). For him, this phenomenon has two sides: (1) people fail to see that certain social structures, ‘relation[s] between people’ (ibid.), are established and sustained only by their own actions (classical social constructionism focuses on this side); (2) thereby the bond between the product and the producer is broken, the social relations that are embodied into the product by virtue of the process of production now appear as if they were natural properties, in other words, something abstract, the implicit assumptions on which these relations are based, now appears as concrete (the older Frankfurt School focuses on this side). Lukács holds reification to be caused by commodity fetishism, a social pathology described by Marx in the Capital (vol. 1, sec. 1.4): Because commodities are not produced in order to serve a purpose, but to be exchanged on the market, there is no foreseeable connection between needs to be satisfied and the work done by an individual; put another way, the social division of labour is not subject to intentional deliberation, but rather seems to always already precede any individual act of work. Consequently, people regard the way in which this division is organised, by exchange, as a ‘self-evident necessity imposed by Nature’ (ibid.) and therefore treat exchange value as if it was a natural property, much like colour; that is, as if it (1) existed independently of their actions and (2) was something concrete, while, in truth, it’s neither.

Marx’ concept of commodity fetishism is commonly conjectured to further his earlier reflections on alienation (a Hegelian concept the young Marx adopts from the Left Hegelians), which also describes how people fail to recognise the products of their own labour as such. Presuming that this is a common theme in the thought of Hegel, the young as well as the late Marx, and Lukács (which is disputed by some, most notably Althusser; see below), the concept of alienation is important to reification as well, so that a short discussion seems in order. Hegel (at least on Marx’ account, cf. his ‘Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General’) regards alienation as essential to cognition, since objects are established as such only because of alienation: (1) the consciousness forms an abstraction of what is to be cognised and thereby a norm according to which what appears in perception can be evaluated to be of this or that kind, (2) but is unaware that this abstraction originates in its own thought, to the effect that the resulting norm appears to be inherent to the object cognised and the consciousness hence alienated from the object. But that object did not exist prior to being cognised, the two steps of alienation correspond to the two criteria for being an object: (1) to be one, in terms of being countable (different sensuous impressions are grouped into units by comparing them to the aforementioned norm); (2) to appear as external to the consciousness (the norm appears to be itself objective). Put simply, Hegel regards alienation as part of the cognitive process and as such as more fundamental than objectivity. (Cf. his System of Ethical Lifechap. 1Phenomenology of Mindchap. 2.) Marx, by contrast, holds that there are norms that are more fundamental than the cognitive process and hence also more fundamental than alienation: where Hegel tries to explain contradictions as immanent to cognition, Marx holds them to flow – at least in part – from differences between the norms developed by virtue of the cognitive process and the objective norms that are that process’ condition of possibility; where Hegel analyses this process – thought, Marx analyses the process of bridging the gap between those two kinds of norms – work (cf. ‘Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General’; Capital, vol. 1, chap. 1). Marx and Lukács are therefore able to criticise certain objects to have been reified (i.e., to have been ‘made into a thing’ illegitimately, so to speak), for being at odds with norms that are more fundamental than those established by cognition itself. Because the contradiction inherent to reification, between norms contingent on and relatively independent of cognition, cannot – as in Hegel – be understood as immanent to the cognitive process itself, but is – by Marx and Lukács – understood to be related to work, reification must be explained as effect by the way in which work, that is, the process of production, is organised; in other words, by the fetishism of commodities.

With these similarities in mind, Louis Althusser – in ‘Marxism and Humanism’ (note 7) – accuses the theory of reification to be a mere ‘projection of the theory of alienation found in [Marx’] early texts, particularly the 1844 Manuscripts, on to the theory of “fetishism” in Capital.’ Althusser considers this problematic, since something can only be described as alienated by being compared to some kind of more essential, unalienated state of affairs – and where should such a state be found? Speaking of alienation, or reification, hence presupposes some kind of human essence, which, however, seems to be an ahistorical and idealisticpresumption. Correspondingly, Jürgen Habermas argues that criticising the reification of people presupposes an idealistic notion of subjectivity, because, put simply, only a subject that exists prior and independently of the objective world could be wronged by being made into a thing, that is, by being reified (cf. his Theory of Communicative Action, vol. 1, chap. 4). Whether these criticisms hold has been the subject of much debate. Above all, they challenge not only the neo-Marxist proposition that bourgeois society is unable to live up to its own political ambitions – freedom and equality for all – because of subjecting workers to reification (cf. Lukács, ‘Class Consciousness’; ‘Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat’), but also the concept of class struggle, which is, among others, based on the epistemological claim that the proletariat is more able than the bourgeoisie to see through the illusions caused by reification (cf. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, chap. 1; vol. 3, chap. 124849; ‘Results of the Direct Production Process’, 466; Lukács, op. cit.). Notable replies to these critiques include Christoph Demmerling’s ‘Language and Reification’ (1996) and Axel Honneth’s Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea(2008).

Further Reading: Demmerling’s ‘Language and Reification’ is hosted by the Sammelpunkt repository and Honneth’s lecture ‘Reification: A Recognition-Theoretical View’ (2005), on which his later book is based, by the Tanner Lectures of the University of Utah. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry on ‘Naturalistic Approaches to Social Construction’ includes a brief discussion of social constructionism. For those fluent in German, Martin Birkner’s ‘Der schmale Grat’ (2001), published in the Grundrisse, explores the differences between classical (Hegelian) and structural (Althusserian) readings of Marx. See also this encyclopaedia’s entry on Althusser’s view on alienation.

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Subculture: The Meaning of Style is a 1979 book by Dick Hebdige, focusing on Britain's postwar youth subculture styles as symbolic forms of resistance.Drawing from Marxist theorists, literary critics, French structuralists, and American sociologists, Hebdige presents a model for analyzing youth subcultures.While Hebdige argues that each subculture undergoes the same trajectory, he outlines the individual style differences of specific subcultures, such as Teddy boysmodsrockersskinheads, and punks.Hebdige emphasizes the historical, class, race, and socioeconomic conditions that surrounded the formation of each subculture. While Subculture: The Meaning of Style is one of the most influential books on the theory of subcultures, it faces a range of critiques.


Hebdige studied under Stuart Hall at the Birmingham University's Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Hebdige's model somewhat builds from Hall's understanding of subcultures, and his theory of Encoding/Decoding. Hall sees different subcultures as representative of the variety of ways one can handle the "raw material of social ... existence." Hebdige also incorporates and responds to the literary criticism of Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams; the Marxist theories of ideology of Louis AlthusserBertolt BrechtAntonio Gramsci, and Henri Lefebvre; and the American subcultural sociology of William F. Whyte and Albert Cohen, and the French structuralism of Roland BarthesJulia KristevaClaude Lévi-Strauss, and Jacques Lacan.


In Subculture: The Meaning of Style, Hebdige argues that the styles of Britain's postwar working-class youth subcultures challenge dominant ideologyhegemony, and social normalization through symbolic forms of resistance.Hebdige focuses, in particular, on the evolution of styles in subcultures such as Teddy boysmodsrockersskinheads and punks.According to Hebdige, style is constructed through a combination of clothing, music, dance, make-up and drugs. Hebdige emphasizes the historical, socioeconomic, class, race, and mass media contexts of each subculture.For instance, Hebdige argues that there is a common theme underlying the white punk and black reggae subcultures; both reject British national symbolism.Although seemingly unrelated, Hebdige proves this point by outlining the similarities in their styles.

Hebdige argues that all subcultures experience the same trajectory. In this model, subcultures initially form through a common resistance. The dominant society often sees these groups as radical, leading to fear, skepticism, and anxiety in their response. In some ways, this gives the subculture's resistance more power but only momentarily, because eventually entrepreneurs find a way to commodify the style and music of the subculture. Before long, elements of the subculture are available to the mainstream, i.e. Edwardian jackets of the Teddy boys. In this way, what was once subversive, rebellious, and radical, is now contained. For this reason, it is often the case that the moment when dominant society begins to recognize a subculture is the moment that the resistant power of the subculture begins to die.

Response and criticism

While Hebdige's Subculture: The Meaning of Style is viewed in cultural studies as one of the most influential theories and analyses of youth subcultures, there are many who found the book lacking. Hebdige's theory has, nonetheless, been upheld within the field. Many scholars have applied Hebdige's model of subculture to other subcultures not identified in his book. For instance, Agnes Jasper uses Hebdige to explore the Dutch Gothic subculture. Sunaina Maira applies Hebdige's model to Indian-American youth subculture.

Critiques include:

The theory does not translate well to American subcultures because the class consciousness does not work the same way.Hebdige places too much emphasis on the symbolic meaning of style, thereby overlooking other aspects of youth rebellion.The theory overlooks the variety of efforts outside of style in which subcultures engage.The book relies on a thorough knowledge of Britain's youth cultures that some readers may not have.Some passages are vague, lacking focus, which hurts Hebdige's argument.Hebdige's methodology and basis for his interpretations lacks sufficient scholarly research.Hebdige does not attempt to explain why style is the form in which resistance and subversion manifests.Hebdige idealizes the punks subculture.The book lacks sufficient discussion on the definition and significance of sexuality in relation to punks.The book only begins to resolve the relationships between sociology and semiotics, and style and subculture.

Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

The Preface

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.

The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.

When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

Oscar Wilde.

Saturday, October 5, 2019


. Some Key Terms

1. Deconstruction

Deconstruction is a strategy of critical questioning directed towards exposing unquestionable metaphysical assumptions and internal contradictions in philosophical and literary language. Deconstruction often involves a way of reading that concerns itself with decentering—with unmasking the problematic nature of all centers. Further deconstruction is a form of textual practice derived from Derrida, which aims to demonstrate the inherent insatiability of both language and meaning. It rejects the word “analysis” or “interpretation” as well as it rejects any assumption of texts.

2. Binary Oppositions

The binary opposition is the structuralist idea that acknowledges the human tendency to think in terms of opposition. For Saussure the binary opposition was the “means by which the units of language have value or meaning; each unit is defined against what it is not.” With this categorization, terms and concepts tend to be associated with a positive or negative. For example, Reason/Passion, Man/Woman, Inside/Outside, Presence/Absence, Speech/Writing, etc. Derrida argued that these oppositions were arbitrary and inherently unstable. The structures themselves begin to overlap and clash and ultimately these structures of the text dismantle themselves from within the text. In this sense deconstruction is regarded as a forum of anti-structuralism. Deconstruction rejects most of the assumptions of structuralism and more vehementaly “binary opposition” on the grounds that such oppositions always previlege one term over the other, that is, signified over the signifier.

3. Differance

Against the metaphysics of presence, deconstruction brings a (non)concept called differance. Derrida uses the term “difference” to describe the origin of presence and absence. Differance is indefinable, and cannot be explained by the “metaphysics of presence.” In French, the verb “deferrer” means both “to defer” and “to differ.” Thus, difference may refer not only to the state or quality of being deferred, but to the state or quality of being different. Differance may be the condition for that which is deferred, and may be the condition for that which is different. Differance may be the condition for difference.

Derrida explains that difference is the condition for the opposition of presence and absence.[1] Differance is also the “hinge” between speech and writing, and between inner meaning and outer representation. As soon as there is meaning, there is difference.[2]

4. Metaphysics of presence/ Logocentricism

According to Derrida, “logocentrism” is the attitude that logos (the Greek term for speech, thought, law, or reason) is the central principle of language and philosophy.[3] Logocentrism is the view that speech, and not writing, is central to language. Thus, “Of Grammatology” (a term which Derrida uses to refer to the science of writing) can liberate our ideas of writing from being subordinated to our ideas of speech. Of Grammatology is a method of investigating the origin of language which enables our concepts of writing to become as comprehensive as our concepts of speech.

According to logocentrist theory, says Derrida, speech is the original signifier of meaning, and the written word is derived from the spoken word. The written word is thus a representation of the spoken word. Logocentrism maintains that language originates as a process of thought which produces speech, and that speech then produces writing. Logocentrism is that characteristic of texts, theories, modes of representation and signifying systems that generates a desire for a direct, unmediated, given hold on meaning, being and knowledge.[4]

Derrida argues that logocentrism may be seen in the theory that a linguistic sign consists of a signifier which derives its meaning from a signified idea or concept. Logocentrism asserts the exteriority of the signifier to the signified. Writing is conceptualized as exterior to speech, and speech is conceptualized as exterior to thought. However, if writing is only a representation of speech, then writing is only a ‘signifier of a signifier.’ Thus, according to logocentrist theory, writing is merely a derivative form of language which draws its meaning from speech. The importance of speech as central to the development of language is emphasized by logocentrist theory, but the importance of writing is marginalized.[5]

Derrida explains that, according to logocentrist theory, speech may be a kind of presence, because the speaker is simultaneously present for the listener, but writing may be a kind of absence, because the writer is not simultaneously present for the reader. Writing may be regarded by logocentrist theory as a substitute for the simultaneous presence of writer and reader. If the reader and the writer were simultaneously present, then the writer would communicate with the reader by speaking instead of by writing. Logocentrism thus asserts that writing is a substitute for speech and that writing is an attempt to restore the presence of speech.

Logocentrism is described by Derrida as a “metaphysics of presence,” which is motivated by a desire for a “transcendental signified.”[6] A “transcendental signified” is a signified which transcends all signifiers, and is a meaning which transcends all signs. A “transcendental signified” is also a signified concept or thought which transcends any single signifier, but which is implied by all determinations of meaning.

Derrida argues that the “transcendental signified” may be deconstructed by an examination of the assumptions which underlie the “metaphysics of presence.” For example, if presence is assumed to be the essence of the signified, then the proximity of a signifier to the signified may imply that the signifier is able to reflect the presence of the signified. If presence is assumed to the essence of the signified, then the remoteness of a signifier from the signified may imply that the signifier is unable, or may only be barely able, to reflect the presence of the signified. This interplay between proximity and remoteness is also an interplay between presence and absence, and between interiority and exteriority.

5. Trace

The idea of difference also brings with it the idea of trace. A trace is what a sign differs/defers from. It is the absent part of the sign’s presence. In other words, We may now define trace as the sign left by the absent thing, after it has passed on the scene of its former presence. Every present, in order to know itself as present, bears the trace of an absent which defines it. It follows then that an originary present must bear an originary trace, the present trace of a past which never took place, an absolute past. In this way, Derrida believes, he achieves a position beyond absolute knowledge. According to Derrida, the trace itself does not exist because it is self-effacing. That is, in presenting itself, it becomes effaced. Because all signifiers viewed as present in Western thought will necessarily contain traces of other (absent) signifiers, the signifier can be neither wholly present nor wholly absent.

6. Arche-writing

The term ‘arche-writing’ is uded by Derrida to describe a form of language which cannot be conceptualized within the ‘metaphysics of presence.’ Arche-writing is an original form of language which is not derived from speech. Arche-writing is a form of language which is unhindered by the difference between speech and writing. ‘Arche-writing’ is also a condition for the play of difference between written and non-written forms of language.

Derrida contrasts the concept of “arche-writing” with the “vulgar” concept of writing. The “vulgar” concept of writing, which is proposed by the “metaphysics of presence,” is deconstructed by the concept of “arche-writing.”[7]

7. Supplement

Derrida takes this term from Rousseau, who saw a supplement as “an inessential extra added to something complete in itself.” Derrida argues that what is complete in itself cannot be added to, and so a supplement can only occur where there is an originary lack. In any binary set of terms, the second can be argued to exist in order to fill in an originary lack in the first.

Friday, October 4, 2019


Cooperative Principle


The cooperative principle is a principle of conversation that was proposed by Grice 1975, stating that participants expect that each will make a “conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange.”


The cooperative principle, along with the conversational maxims, partly accounts for conversational implicatures. Participants assume that a speaker is being cooperative, and thus they make conversational implicatures about what is said.



When a speaker makes an apparently uninformative remark such as “War is war,” the addressee assumes that the speaker is being cooperative and looks for the implicature the speaker is making.

Borrowings in the English Language

There are very few Celtic loan-words in the OE vocabulary, for there must have been little intermixture between the Germanic settlers and the Celtic inBritain. Though in some parts of the island the Celts population was not exterminated during the WG invasion, linguistic evidence of Celtic influence is meager. Obviously there was little that the newcomers could learn from the subjugated Celts. Abun­dant borrowing from Celtic is to be found only in place-names. The OE kingdoms Kent, Deira and Bernicia derive their names from the names of Celtic tribes. The name of York, the Downs and perhaps London have been traced to Celtic sources (Celtic dūn meant 'hill'). Various Celtic designations of 'river' and 'water' were understood by the Germanic invaders as proper names: Ouse, Exe, Esk, Usk, Avon, Evan go back to Celtic amhuin 'river', uisge 'water'; Thames, Stour, Dover also come from Celtic. Some elements frequently occurring in Celtic place-names can help to identify them: -comb 'deep valley' in Batcombe, Duncombe, Winchcombe; -torr 'high rock' in Torr, Torcross; -llan 'church' in Llandaff, Llanelly; -pill 'creek' in Pylle, Huntspill. Many place-names with Celtic elements are hybrids; the Celtic component, combined with a Latin or a Germanic component, make a compound place-name; e.g.

Celtic plus LatinCeltic plus GermanicMan-chesterYork-shireWin-chesterCorn-wall[24]Glou-cesterSalis-buryWor-cesterLich-fieldDevon-portDevon-shireLan-casterCanter-bury

Outside of place-names Celtic borrowings in OE were very few: no more than a dozen. Examples of common nouns are: OE binn (NE bin 'crib'), cradol (NE cradle), bratt 'cloak', dun (NE dun Mark coloured'), dūn 'hill', crass (NE cross), probably through Celtic from the L crux. A few words must have entered OE from Celtic due to the activities of Irish missionaries in spreading Christianity, e.g. OE ancor 'hermit', drӯ'magician', cursian (NE curse)In later ages some of the Celtic borrowings have died out or have survived only in dialects, e.g. loch dial, 'lake', coomb dial. 'vallev'.

Latin Influence on the Old English Vocabulary

The role of the Latin language in Medieval Britain is clearly manifest; it was determined by such historical events as the Roman occupation of Britain, the influence of the Roman civilisation and the introduction of Christianity. It is no wonder that the Latin language exerted considerable influence on different aspects of English: the OE alphabet, the growth of writing and literature. The impact of Latin on the OE vocabulary enables us to see the spheres of Roman influence on the life in Britain.

Latin words entered the English language at different stages of OE history. Chronologically they can be divided into several layers.

The earliest layer comprises words which the WG tribes brought from the continent when they came to settle in Britain. Contact with the Roman civilisation began a long time before the Anglo-Saxon inva­sion (see § 91).

The adoption of Latin words continued in Britain after the invasion, since Britain had been under Roman occupation for almost 400 years. Though the Romans left Britain before the settlement of the West Teut­ons, Latin words could be transmitted to them by the Romanised Celts.

Early OE borrowings from Latin indicate the new things and con­cepts which the Teutons had learnt from the Romans; as seen from the examples below they pertain to war, trade, agriculture, building and home life.

Words connected with trade indicate general concepts, units of measurements and articles of trade unknown to the Teutons before they came into contact with Rome: OE cēapian, cēap, cēapman and manʒion, manʒunʒ, manʒere ('to trade', 'deal', 'trader', 'to trade', 'trading', 'trader') came from the Latin names for 'merchant' — caupo and mango.

Evidently, the words were soon assimilated by the language as they yielded many derivatives.

Units of measurement and containers were adopted with their Lat­in names: OE pund (NE pound),OE ynce (NE inch)from L pondo and uncia, OE mynet, mynetian ('coin', 'to coin'), OE flasce, ciest (NE flask, chest).

The following words denote articles of trade and agricultural prod­ucts, introduced by the Romans: OE win (from L vinum)OE butere (from L būtӯrum)OE plume (from L prunus),OE ciese (from L cāseus)OE pipor (from L. piper)(NE wine, butter, plum, cheese, pepper).

Roman contribution to building can be perceived in words like OE cealc, tiʒele, coper (NE chalk, tile, copper)A group of words relating to domestic life is exemplified by OE cytel, disc, cuppe, pyle (NE kettle, dish, cup, pillow),etc.

Borrowings pertaining to military affairs are OE mil (NE mile)from L millia passuum, which meant a thousand steps made to measure the distance; OE weall (NE wall)from L vallum, a wall of fortifications erected in the Roman provinces; OE strǣt from Latin strata via, — a "paved road" (these "paved roads" were laid to connect Roman military camps and colonies in Britain; the meaning of the word changed when houses began to be built along these roads, hence NE street)to this group of words belong also OE pit 'javelin', OE pytt (NE pile, pit).

There is every reason to suppose that words of the latter group could be borrowed in Britain, for they look as direct traces of the Roman occu­pation (even though some of these words also occur in the continental Germanic tongues, cf. G Straβle).

Among the Latin loan-words adopted in Britain were some place-names or components of place-names used by the Celts. L castra in the shape cosier, ceaster 'camp' formed OE place-names which survive' today as Chester, Dorchester, Lancaster and the like (some of them with the first element coming from Celtic); L colonia 'settlement for re­tired soldiers' is found in Colchester and in the Latin-Celtic hybrid Lin­coln; vicus 'village' appears in Norwich, Woolwich, portus — in Bridport and Devonport (see also the examples in § 234). Place-names made of Latin and Germanic components are: Portsmouth, Greenport, Greenwich and many others.

 It should be noted that the distinction of two layers of early Latin bor­rowings is problematic, lor it is next to impossible to assign precise dates to events so far back in history. Nevertheless, it seems more reasonable to assume that the earlier, continental layer of loan words was more numerous than the layer made in Britain. In the first place, most OE words quoted above have parallels in other OG languages, which is easily accounted for if the borrowings were made by the Teutons before their migrations. At that time transference of loan-words from tribe to tribe was easy, even if they were first adopted by one tribe. Second­ly, we ought to recall that the relations between the Germanic conquerors and the subjugated Britons in Britain could hardly be favourable for extensive borrowing.

 The third period of Latin influence on the OE vocabulary began with the introduction of Christianity in the late 6th c. and lasted to the end of OE.

Numerous Latin words which found their way into the English lan­guage during these five hundred years clearly fall into two main groups: (1) words pertaining to religion, (2) words connected with learning. The rest are miscellaneous words denoting various objects and concepts which the English learned from Latin books and from closer acquaint­ance with Roman culture. The total number of Latin loan-words in OE exceeds five hundred, this third layer accounting for over four hundred words.

The new religion introduced a large number of new concep­tions which required new names; most of them were adopted from Lat­in, some of the words go back to Greek prototypes:

OEapostolNEapostlefrom Lapostolusfrom Grapóstolos antefn anthem antiphōna antiphona biscop bishop eptscopus episcopes candel candle candēla   clerec clerk clēricus klerikós 'clergyman'       dēofol devil diabolus diábolos mæsse mass missa   mynster minster monastērium   munuc monk monachus monachcs         

To this list we may add many more modern English words from the same source: abbot, alms, altar, angel, ark, creed, disciple, hymn, idol, martyr, noon, nun, organ, palm, pine ('torment'), pope, prophet, psalm, psalter, shrine, relic, rule, temple and others.

After the introduction of Christianity many monastic schools were set up in Britain. The spread of education led to the wider use of Latin: teaching was conducted in Latin, or consisted of learning Latin. The written forms of OE developed in translations of Latin texts. These conditions are reflected in a large number of borrowings connected with education, and also words of a more academic, "bookish" character. Unlike the earlier borrowings scholarly words were largely adopted through books; they were first used in OE translations from Latin, e.g.;

OEscōlNEschoolLschola (Gr skhole) scōlere scholar scholāris māʒister master, 'teacher' magister fers verse versus dihtan 'compose' dictare

Other modern descendants of this group are: accent, grammar, meter, gloss, notary, decline.

A great variety of miscellaneous borrowings came from Latin probably because they indicated new objects and new ideas, introduced into English life together with their Latin names by those who had a fair command of Latin: monks, priests, school-masters. Some of these scholarly words became part of everyday vocabulary. They belong to different semantic spheres: names of trees and plants — elm, lily, plant, pine; names of illnesses and words pertaining to medical treatment — cancer, fever, paralysis, plaster; names of animals — camel, elephant, tiger; names of clothes and household articles — cap, mat, sack, sock; names of foods — beet, caul, oyster, radish; miscellaneous words — crisp, fan, place, spend, turn.

The Latin impact on the OE vocabulary was not restricted to borrowing of words. There were also other aspects of influence. The most important of them is the appearance of the so-called "translation-loans" — words and phrases created on the pattern of Latin words as their literal translations. The earliest instances of translation-loans are names of the days of the week found not only in OE but also in other Old (and modern) Germanic languages:

OE Mōnan-dæʒ (Monday)'day of the moon', L Lunae dies;

Tiwes-dæʒ (Tuesday)May of Tiw' L Martis dies (Tiw — a Teutonic God corresponding to Roman Mars).

The procedure was to substitute the name of the corresponding Ger­manic god for the god of the Romans. Other translation-loans of the type were OE ʒōdspell (NE gospel)'good tidings', L euangelium; OE priness (lit. 'three-ness'), NE Trinity.

In late OE, many new terms were coined from native elements ac­cording to Latin models as translation-loans: OE eorpbiʒenʒa 'inhabitant of the earth' (L terricola)OE ʒoldsmip (NE goldsmith)'worker in gold' (L aurifex)OE tunʒolcræft 'astronomy', lit. 'the knowledge of stars' (L astronomos).

Some grammatical terms in Ælfric's GRAMMAR are of the same origin: OE dǣlnimend 'participle', lit. 'taker of parts' (L participiutn)OE nemniʒendlic (L Nominatious)OE wreʒendlic 'Accusative', lit. 'accusing, denouncing' (L Accusativus)This way of replenishing the vocabulary may be regarded as a sort of resistance to foreign influence: instead of adopting a foreign word, an equivalent was produced from native resources in accordance with the structure of the term.

Another question which arises in considering borrowings from a foreign language is the extent of their assimilation. Most Latin loan­words were treated in OE texts like native words, which means that they were already completely assimilated.

Judging by their spellings and by later phonetic changes they were naturalised as regards their sound form. Like native English words, early Latin loan-words participated in the sound changes, e.g. in disc and ciese the consonants [sk] and [k'] were palatalised and eventually changed into [ʃ] and [ʧ] (NE dish, cheese)Note that some later bor­rowings, e.g. scōl, scōlere did not participate in the change and [sk] was retained

Loan-words acquired English grammatical forms and were inflected like respective parts of speech, e.g. cirice, cuppe (NE church, cup)Fem. nouns were declined as n-stems: munc, dēofol (NE monk, devil)Masc. — like a-stems, the verbs pinian, temprian were conjugated like weak verbs of the second class ('torture', NE temper).

Important proofs of their assimilation are to be found in word-for­mation. Stems of some Latin borrowings were used in derivation and word compounding, e.g. the verbs fersian 'versify', plantian (NE plant)were derived from borrowed nouns fers, plant; many derivatives were formed from the early Latin loan-words caupo, mengo (see § 238); ab­stract nouns — martyrdōm, martyrhād were built by attaching native suffixes to the loan-word martyr (NE martyrdom)compound words like ciriceʒeard (NE churchyard), mynster-hām (lit. 'monastery home'), mynster-man 'monk' were Latin-English hybrids.

The grammatical form of several loan words was misunderstood: pisum on losing -m was treated as a plural form and -s- was dropped to produce the sg: OE pese, NE pl peas, hence sg pea; in the same way Lcerasum eventually became cherries pl, cherry — sg.

Birches poem

Birches BY  ROBERT FROST When I see birches bend to left and right Across the lines of straighter darker trees, I like to think some bo...