24 November 2007

Quotes from James, Meredith, Campbell, and Jung

His lack of all thought by which to weigh the danger against the attractiveness of the bait, and of all volition to remain hungry a little while longer, is the direct measure of his lowness in the mental scale.

William James
--The Principles of Psychology

But whether small or great, and no matter what the stage or grade of life, the call (to adventure) rings up the curtain, always, on a mystery of transfiguration - a rite, or moment, of spiritual passage, which, when complete, amounts to a dying and a birth. The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand.
Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or "culture," the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved. His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless.... Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death: a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide from him his Minotaur. ...The myths and folk tales of the whole world make clear that the refusal is essentially a refusal to give up what one takes to be one's own interest. The future is regarded not in terms of an unremitting series of deaths and births, but as though one's present system of ideals, virtues, goals, and advantages were to be fixed and made secure.

Joseph Campbell
--The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Romeo wants Juliet as the filings want the magnet; and if no obstacles intervene he moves toward her by as straight a line as they. But Romeo and Juliet, if a wall be built between them, do not remain idiotically pressing their faces against its opposite sides like the magnet and the filings with the card. Romeo soon finds a circuitous way, by scaling the wall or otherwise, of touching Juliet's lips directly.

William James
--The Principles of Psychology

(The introvert's) ideal is a lonely island where nothing moves except what he permits to move.

Carl Jung
--Psychological Types

In all ages the man whose determinations are swayed by reference to the most distant ends has been held to possess the highest intelligence. The tramp who lives from hour to hour; the bohemian whose engagements are from day to day; the bachelor who builds but for a single life; the father who acts for another generation; the patriot who thinks of a whole community and many generations; and finally, the philosopher and saint whose cares are for humanity and for eternity, - these range themselves in an unbroken hierarchy....

William James
--The Principles of Psychology

I read, I love
I eat, I drink
I watch the world tilt
I watch the children think:
there's so much to it
and most of it good
that while I've tendons
to lift my head,
like a rooster drinking
I'll nod to God
and save despair
for when I'm dead.

William Meredith
--From "The Preponderance"

20 November 2007

Excerpts: Jung, Rilke, and Campbell

The fact that an intellectual formula never has been and never will be devised which could embrace and express the manifest possibilities of life must lead to the inhibition or exclusion of other activities and ways of living that are just as important. ...Doubtless there are exceptional people who are able to sacrifice their entire life to a particular formula, but for most of us such exclusiveness is impossible in the long run. Sooner or later...the potentialities repressed by the intellectual attitude will make themselves indirectly felt by disturbing the conscious conduct of life. ... The first function to be affected by the conscious inhibition is feeling, since it is the most opposed to the rigid intellectual formula and is therefore repressed the most intensely. No function can be entirely eliminated - it can only be greatly distorted.

--Jung, "General Descriptions of the Types" in Psychological Types

From The Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke, tr. Leishman & Spender:

...And before
A single pain has got within range of your ever-
galloping heart, comes the tingling
in the soles of your feet, ahead of the spring that it wells from,
chasing into your eyes a few physical tears.
And, in spite of all, blindly,
your smile....

--From "The Fifth Elegy"

Angel: suppose there's a place we know nothing about, and there,
on some indescribable carpet, lovers showed all that here
they're for ever unable to manage - their daring
lofty figures of heart-flight,
their towers of pleasure, their ladders,
long since, where ground never was, just quiveringly
propped by each other....

--From "The Fifth Elegy"

Pillars, pylons, the Sphinx, all the striving thrust,
grey, from fading or foreign town, of the spire!
Wasn't all this a miracle? Angel, gaze, for it's we -
O mightiness, tell them that we were capable of it - my breath's
too short for this celebration. So, after all, we have not
failed to make use of the spaces, these generous spaces, these,
our spaces. (How terribly big they must be,
when, with thousands of years of our feeling, they're not over-crowded.)

--From "The Seventh Elegy"

The multitude of men and women choose the less adventurous way of the comparatively unconscious civic and tribal routines. But these seekers, too, are saved - by virtue of the inherited symbolic aids of society, the rites of passage, the grace-yielding sacraments, given to manking of old by the redeemers and handed down through milleniums. It is only those who know neither an inner call nor an outer doctrine whose plight truly is desperate: that is to say, most of us today, in this labyrinth without and within the heart.

Joseph Campbell
--The Hero With a Thousand Faces

19 November 2007

UCXC: NCAA DIII Cross Country National Championships

I traveled to Northfield, MN this weekend to race in the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championships - the final cross-country race of my life. The experience was intense: the race was taped and relayed to an enormous screen for spectators; the "boxes" that show runners where to stand on the starting line were separated by physical barriers instead of the usual paint on the ground; huge circular blue NCAA logos were painted at the start and the finish; and the race was narrated by an announcer. Every runner received a duffel-bag, fleece blanket, mittens, and headwrap with the race logo. The numbers we pinned to the front and back of our singlets had our names printed on them.

It was fun but nerve-racking. I was assigned to the spot on the line next to Peter Kosgei of Hamilton, who took 2nd overall and got off the starting line faster than anyone I have ever seen in an 8k race. The entire field got out fast, as everyone was concerned about the sharp right turn about 200 meters from the start. After that turn, I couldn't change my position for the entire first mile; I was out uncomfortably fast, and I was being shoved around from both sides and from the back.

At the mile, I was finally able to move to the outside and find some space to go around people; I took the gamble and moved into the top 50 by 1.5 miles, but at that point I realized that I was already largely exhausted and would not be able to sustain the pace for another 3.5 miles. And so the goal changed from racing to be an All-American to hanging on and finishing the race with a respectable time. Racing to pass people is much more fun than racing to survive, and it felt pretty miserable to be passed by about 100 people between the 2-mile and the finish. I finished 141st with a decent time of 26:03 on a tough course. The official results are here.

Not a fun race, but the season itself was the best I could ever ask for. All-Region, First-Team All-Conference, the U of C school record, and a lot of great experiences, travels, and new friendships. Now it's time to relax, finish the academic quarter, find a job for next year, and eat as many cheeseburgers as I can get my hands on.

Quotes from Jung and Rilke

Man is not a machine that can be remodelled for quite other purposes as occasion demands, in the hope that it will go on functioning as regularly as before but in a quite different way. He carries his whole history with him; in his very structure is written the history of mankind.


This is the extravert's danger: he gets sucked into objects and completely loses himself in them.

C.G. Jung
--Psychological Types

From The Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke:

Who's not sat tense before his own heart's curtain?
Up it would go: the scenery was parting.

--From "The Fourth Elegy"

Do you really suppose your gentle approach could have so
convulsed him, you, that wander like morning-breezes?
You terrified his heart, indeed; but more ancient terrors
rushed into him in that instant of shattering contact.

-- From "The Third Elegy"

I know why you so blissfully touch: because the caress persists,
because it does not vanish, the place that you
so tenderly cover; because you perceive thereupon
pure duration. Until your embraces almost
promise eternity. Yet, when you've once withstood
the startled first encounter, the window-longing,
and that first walk, just once, through the garden together:
Lovers, are you the same? When you lift yourselves
up to each other's lips - drink unto drink:
oh, how strangely the drinker eludes his part!

...Were not love and farewell
so lightly laid upon shoulders, they seemed to be made
of other stuff than with us? Remember the hands,
how they rest without pressure, though power is there in the torsos.
The wisdom of those self-masters was this: we have got so far;
ours is to touch one another like this; the gods
may press more strongly upon us. But that is the gods' affair.

--From "The Second Elegy"

14 November 2007

Quotes from Meredith, Apollinaire, and Delors

From Fables about Error

What is as wrong as the uninstructed heart?
Left to its ends, it clutches things and creatures
That can't be held, or held, will slip their natures;
It lives to hoard or to protect a hoard.
To school, to school! Teach the poor organ skill
That all its ignorant, nervous will
Does not unpage us like old calendars.
A life should be all gathering and art.

Let there be academies of everything,
That the trap in the warm kitchen yield to guile,
That grackles leave a fire single file
And swallows find their true halves the first spring.
The mind should be, like art, a gathering
Where the red heart that fumes in the chest
Saying kill, kill, kill or love, love, love,
Gentled of the need to be possessed,
Can study a little the things that it dreams of.

--William Meredith

There is a need for urgency, for history does not wait.

--Jacques Delors, "A Necessary Union" (in Nelsen & Stubb, eds., The European Union: Readings on the Theory and Practice of European Integration)

From Rhenish Night

My glass is filled with a wine that trembles like flame.

--Guillaume Apollinaire (tr. William Meredith)

11 November 2007

UCXC: Midwest Regional Championships 2007

This was one of the best weekends of my life. It was my last team trip as a member of a collegiate cross-country squad, and memories were made. We traveled to beautiful, spacious Oshkosh, WI for the Midwest Regional meet. Shortly before the starting gun, huddling with the team, doing stride-outs, and giving high-fives, I realized that I was doing all of these things for the last time, and in a moment of clarity I understood how much cross-country has meant to me for the past 8 years.

Conditions were flawless - 45 degrees, hard ground, a flat course, winds under 10 mph - and everyone on the team had a performance they could be proud to end the season with. The men finished 12th and the women finished 14th out of 35 teams. There were several personal bests, and Liz Lawton made All-Region on the women's side.

I ran 24:33 - 57 seconds faster than my P.R. of two weeks ago - finishing 7th overall, qualifying for the national championships, and setting a new University of Chicago cross-country school record. It was far and away the best race of my life, and I'm still feeling high from it. In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy describes the emotion like this:

Yet that grief and this joy were alike outside all the ordinary conditions of life; they were loopholes, as it were, in that ordinary life through which there came glimpses of something sublime. And in the contemplation of this sublime something the soul was exalted to inconceivable heights of which it had before had no conception, while reason lagged behind, unable to keep up.

12. University of Chicago

7. Ryan McCarl (Sr.) - 24:33
57. Arthur Baptist (Fr.) - 25:36
80. Chris Peverada (Jr.) - 25:59
96. Alex Garbier (So.) - 26:25
98. Nick Nunez (Fr.) - 26:26
102. Andrew Wells-Qu (Fr.) - 26:30
114. Adam Kaye (So.) - 26:47

09 November 2007

More poems & lines by William Meredith

Original Aversions

In all respects unready for a fall
They fell, our first progenitors, and these
Two traumas still disturb us most of all:
High places and our own unreadiness.
Towers or wells unfoot us in our dreams
Repeatedly. Old-fashioned people still
Believe that nothing saves them but their screams
And that an unawakened fall would kill.
Anticipation cannot really ease
The other trouble; waiting for the day
When such and such will happen or will pass,
It is not hard to wish your life away.
Apart from angels, winged and prevised,
Nobody likes to fall or be surprised.

From Starlight

Going abruptly into a starry night
It is ignorance we blink from, dark, unhoused;
There is a gaze of animal delight
Before the human vision. Then, aroused
To nebulous danger, we may look for east stars,
Orion and the Dipper; but they are not ours,

These learned fields. Dark and ignorant,
Unable to see what our forebears saw,
We keep some fear of random firmament
Vestigal in us. And we think, Ah,
If I had lived then, when these stories were made up, I
Could have found more likely pictures in haphazard sky.

From Sonnet on Rare Animals

I have alarmed on your behalf and others'
Sauntering things galore.
It is this way with verse and animals
And love, that when you point you lose them all.
Startled or on a signal, what is rare
Is off before you have it anywhere.

From Orpheus

The mind turns from causes in such cases -
All a man can say is, it happened.

08 November 2007

Great quotes from recent reading

We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

Robert Frost
--From "Mending Wall"

World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.

Robert Schumann
--"The Schumann Declaration"

I asked her, urgently, if she could see my face, and she said: "See it?" And, smiling: "It's reflected in my eyes, isn't it?"


Natsume Soseki
--From "The First Night"

And home, where passion lived and died,
Becomes a place where she can hide,
While all the town and harbor side
Vibrate with her seclusion.

Edwin Arlington Robinson
--From "Eros Turannos"

Despite all of these examples of colloquialism and apparent simplicity in Frost's poetry, we should not be deceived into thinking of Frost as a rustic or a primitive. On the contrary, Frost was a sophisticated writer who was well versed in Latin poetry and who knew as well as any poet of his time how to make effective use of formal and rhetorical strategies. From his early career on, Frost prided himself on being "one of the most notable craftsmen of my time," as he wrote in his 1913 letter to John Bartlett.

Christopher Beach
--The Cambridge Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Poetry

In Those Days

In those days - they were long ago -
The snow was cold, the night was black.
I licked from my cracked lips
A snowflake, as I looked back

Through branches, the last uneasy snow.
Your shadow, there in the light, was still.
In a little the light went out.
I went on, stumbling - till at last the hill

Hid the house. And, yawning,
In bed in my room, alone,
I would look out: over the quilted
Rooftops, the clear stars shone.

How poor and miserable we were,
How seldom together!
And yet after so long one thinks:
In those days everything was better.

Randall Jarrell

02 November 2007

The case for a School of Education at the University of Chicago

Today's unsigned editorial in the Chicago Maroon:

The University of Chicago is often referred to as the “Teacher of Teachers.” U of C graduates tend to go into academia at much higher rates than do those at peer schools, and many of the ideas associated with the University—the “Life of the Mind,” “Chicago Math,” and “progressive education,” for example—are directly relevant to the challenges faced by America’s K–12 schools.

Having benefited from a great education, many Chicago students would appreciate the opportunity to introduce the next generation of students to the world of ideas. Unfortunately, their desire to do so runs headlong into a system that discourages them from teaching in public schools.

This was not always the case. John Dewey, arguably the greatest educational theorist of the 20th century, started the U of C’s School of Education in 1895. The program was allowed to deteriorate until it was finally shut down in 2001. Students in the College now have no way to earn teaching certification or study the discipline of education during their undergraduate years.

Each year, many U of C graduates enter Teach for America or other alternative certification programs. Such programs tend to send recent graduates to the toughest, most disadvantaged schools in the country, with minimal training. Although many graduates are able to rise to this challenge, the high turnover rate shows that these programs are not appropriate for everyone.

U of C students who want to teach generally must choose between alternative certification programs and graduate school in education. But the burden of student loans combined with relatively low teacher salaries often precludes the latter option. The current system encourages U of C students with a desire to teach to become investment bankers or consultants instead.

There is a growing consensus in American society that education at the K–12 level needs to be a top priority if American workers are to remain internationally competitive. America’s schools will continue to underperform if the best minds of our generation are turned away from the profession because of financial and practical constraints. As long as the University does not provide a way for students at the College to pursue certification as undergraduates, the University is part of the problem.

The administration should commission a study to determine the best way to reinvent the School of Education and make it one of the top programs in the country. This would fit comfortably with the University’s traditional focus on research and theory as well as with the administration’s goal of giving back to the community. It’s the least a place that preaches the merits of the “Life of the Mind” can do.

The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional Editorial Board member.

01 November 2007

Poems & fragments by William Meredith

From Ten-Day Leave

Oh, identity is a traveling-piece with some,
But here is what calls me, here what I call home.

A Major Work

Poems are hard to read
Pictures are hard to see
Music is hard to hear
And people are hard to love.

But whether from brute need
Or divine energy
At last mind eye and ear
And the great sloth heart will move.

From June: Dutch Harbor

It is hard to keep your mind on war, with all that green.

The Open Sea

We say the sea is lonely; better say
Ourselves are lonesome creatures whom the sea
Gives neither yes or no for company.

Oh, there are people, all right, settled in the sea-
It is as populous as Maine today-
But no one who will give you the time of day.

A man who asks there of his family
Or a friend or teacher gets a cold reply
Or finds him dead against that vast majority.

They are speechless. And the famous noise of the sea,
Which a poet has beautifully told us in our day,
Is hardly a sound to speak comfort to the lonely.

Although not yet a man given to prayer, I pray
For each creature lost since the start of the sea,
And give thanks that it was not I, nor yet one close to me.

-From William Meredith, Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems