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Little Lessons from the Masters, III

Here are two from Coleridge.  From a letter:

My dear fellow!  never be ashamed of scheming! -- you can't think of living less than 4,000 years, and that would nearly suffice for your present schemes.  To be sure, if they go on in the same ratio to the performance, then a small difficulty arises; but never mind! look on the bright side always and die in a dream!

And from a journal:

The common end of all narrative, nay, of all, poems is to convert a series into a whole:  to make those events, which in real or imagined History, move in a strait Line, assume to our Understandings a circular motion -- the snake with it's tail in it's mouth.


( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2009 12:42 am (UTC)

Apr. 16th, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)
It's easy to tsk Coleridge -- a cat can look at a king. (Or are you imagining that crowleycrow is quoting inaccurately? I would check twice before giving way to that fancy.)
(no subject) - undyingking - Apr. 16th, 2009 09:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Apr. 16th, 2009 10:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2009 06:56 am (UTC)
"die in a dream...."
....that's a beautiful concept. I work with the dying, and have often had occasion to wonder what might be in a person's mind in those final hours and moments of life.
Apr. 16th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
Re: "die in a dream...."
Well, I was forced to bail out of a disabled aircraft several days ago, and I gotta tell you what was going through my mind as I pulled the D-ring (ripcord), was the weird hope that whoever packed the parachute had had a most satisfying carnal experience the night before.
Re: "die in a dream...." - crowleycrow - Apr. 16th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: "die in a dream...." - (Anonymous) - Apr. 16th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: "die in a dream...." - tinacastanares - Apr. 17th, 2009 03:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
As far as the journal entry goes, that is a very similar sentiment to something Ursula LeGuin said about the function of stories, that they represent the faculty by which we make sense of events. She went on to opine that historians are not really doing anything different. If I can track down the interview or essay where she says this, I'll post it here.
Apr. 16th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
Your Coleridge excerpts confirm my reaction to his cottage in Devon: he was a fan. Maybe a Time Traveller?
Apr. 17th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
Both bits strike me as unduly cryptic, but still I rather enjoy the thought I've willfully divined, whether rightly or wrongly, from the journal extract: that narrative strives to make sense of (merely) chronological facts by making the end appear organically related to the beginning, or perhaps it is the other way around. This seems right. We often say that everything works out in the end, when what we really mean, I think, is that we can work things out only in the end. Kind of like Minerva's owl.

- David Bornstein
Apr. 17th, 2009 08:00 am (UTC)
Fabulous - I'm a huge fan of Coleridge's prose, but not come across these before. Here's another you might like: "A lady once asked me if I believed in ghosts and apparitions. I answered with truth and simplicity, No, madam, I have seen far too many myself."
Apr. 17th, 2009 08:10 am (UTC)
Incidentally, the "dear fellow" he is talking to in the first quote above is himself - it's actually from a notebook in 1804 (sorry, had to look it up!).
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Apr. 17th, 2009 11:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - chris_conradi - Apr. 18th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Apr. 18th, 2009 11:38 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 17th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC)
Dreaming is Bad
One of the current theories about why we dream is that a dream is the brain's mechanism for shedding information that cannot be placed into a narrative. The brain wrestles with non-narrative data. Narrative allows for digestion. Therefore, dreaming and scheming are anti-poetic. Nietzsche believed that dreaming killed his creativity. Coleridge didn't understand the harm he was doing to himself.
Apr. 17th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Dreaming is Bad
So... "A damsel with a dulcimer, in a vision once I saw..."

Must have been what done him in.
Re: Dreaming is Bad - negothick - Apr. 17th, 2009 11:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Dreaming is Bad - bloodspeck - Apr. 18th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Dreaming is Bad - crowleycrow - Apr. 18th, 2009 11:48 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 18th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
Dream researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health believe it is more evidence for their theory of "synaptic homeostasis." This is the idea that synapses grow stronger when we're awake as we learn and adapt to an ever-changing environment, that sleep refreshes the brain by bringing synapses back to a lower level of strength. This is important because larger synapses consume a lot of energy, occupy more space and require more supplies, including the proteins examined in this study.

Sleep — by allowing synaptic downscaling — saves energy, space and material, and clears away unnecessary "noise" from the previous day, the researchers believe. The fresh brain is then ready to learn again in the morning.
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
Well that makes sense, but it seems to me to have nothing to do with human dream adventures, which remain unexplained. If I were dumping yesterday's unneeded data and powering down to a lower level, I'd suppose I would experience all the random junk of yesterday's experiences, growing disorganized and dim (the way information on a computer screen used to as the battery ran out.) Instead I see outlandish landscapes, have delightful and harrowing adventures with people I've never met awake, talk to animals, visit my dead parents, wander in titanic cities I've never been in. That;s the part that needs explaining,
Apr. 18th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
In normal waking consciousness, the forebrain sorts through various kinds of internal and external sensory input to create a meaningful experience of the world. Faced with a barrage of disconnected inputs during REM sleep, the higher mental centers attempt to impose order on the incoming messages, creating whatever narrative structure dreams have. This is the "synthesis" stage of the theory. The many dreams are just masses of incoherent images representing incoming groups of signals that the brain was simply not able to synthesize.

Apr. 18th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
Incoming from where? Inputs disconnected from what? I don't mean to be a naysayer, and I'd dearly live an explanation, but I don't believe the theoretical framework is able to account for what happens when I close my eyes and hug my pillow at night.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Apr. 19th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC) - Expand
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