Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Delights of the British National Anthem

Second verse of the British National Anthem, otherwise known, perhaps, as "God Save the King/Queen":

O Lord our God arise
Scatter his enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On thee our hopes we fix;
God save us all.
Confound their politics? Frustrate their knavish tricks? Wonderful!

(Found this in Anthony Powell's The Military Philosphers, p. 226.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Anthony Powell on Senior Officers

The incident provoked reflections later on the whole question of senior officers, their relations with each other and with those of subordinate rank. There could be no doubt, so I was finally forced to decide, that the longer one dealt with them, the more one developed the habit of treating generals like members of the opposite sex; specifically, like ladies no longer young, who therefore deserve extra courtesy and attention; indeed, whose every whim must be given thought. This was particularly applicable if one were out in the open with a general.

'Come on, sir, you have the last sandwich,' one would say, or 'Sit on my mackintosh, sir, the grass is quite wet.'

Perhaps the cumulative effect of such treatment helped to account for the highly strung temperament so many generals developed. They needed constant looking after. I remembered despising Cocksidge, a horrible little captain at the Divisional Headquarters on which I had served, for behaving so obsequiously to his superiors in rank. In the end, it had to be admitted one was almost equally deferential, though one hoped less slavish.
--Anthony Powell, The Military Philosophers, p. 143. (Image is a painting of the bookjacket.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Anthony Powell on Friendship

Friendship, popularly represented as something simple and straightforward -- in contrast to love -- is perhaps no less complicated, requiring equally mysterious nourishment; like love, too, bearing also within its embryo inherent seeds of dissolution, something more fundamentally destructive, perhaps, than the mere passing of time, the all-obliterating march of events which had, for example, come between Stringham and myself.
--Anthony Powell, The Soldier's Art, pp. 93-94. (Image of bookjacket painting.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Anthony Powell on Time and Space

'Seduction is to do and say/The banal thing in the banal way,' said Moreland. 'No one denies that. My own complaint is that people always talk about love affairs as if you spent the whole of your time in bed. I find most of my own emotional energy -- not to say physical energy -- is exhausted in making efforts to get there. Problems of Time and Space as usual.'The relation of Time and Space, then rather fashionable, was, I found, a favourite subject of Moreland's.

'Surely we have long agreed the two elements are identical?' said Maclintick. 'This is going over old ground -- perhaps I should say old hours.'

'You must differentiate for everyday purposes, don't you?' urged Barnby. 'I don't wonder seduction seems a problem, if you get Time and Space confused.'

--Anthony Powell, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant, p. 34. (Image from painting for bookjacket.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Anthony Powell on Books

"He spoke without a vestige of interest. I was impressed for the ten thousandth time by the fact that literature illuminates life only for those to whom books are a necessity. Books are unconvertible assets, to be passed on only to those who possess them already."
--Anthony Powell, The Valley of Bones, pp. 233-234.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Ambrose Bierce's Iconoclast

One of my favorite definitions from Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary is this one:

Iconoclast, n. A breaker of idols, the worshipers whereof are imperfectly gratified by the performance, and most strenuously protest that he unbuildeth but doth not reëdify, that he pulleth down but pileth not up. For the poor things would have other idols in place of those he thwacketh upon the mazzard and dispelleth. But the iconoclast saith: "Ye shall have none at all, for ye need them not; and if the rebuilder fooleth round hereabout, behold I will depress the head of him and sit thereon till he squawk it."

Stumble Upon Toolbar