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Calmer and mellower

6 March, 2010

Just thought I’d say that, given the inordinate number of hits the last post seemed to get. (Not many, admittedly, but many more than usual.)

This may be something to do with getting back to work this week, as opposed to worrying about work. Also, while I’m pretending to be cultured (cf. Philip Brooker’s comment), might as well shoehorn in this old chestnut, which has felt apt this week:

for we can suffer no more than what actually has happened, but we fear all that possibly could happen

(and yes, I did have to Google it).

Pooterish remark: That line was one I was supposed to have learned at school, but while Googling for it I had remembered it as being more like “for you grieve only as much as *has* happened, but you fear as much as *could* happen”. Since I couldn’t remember much else about the letter, it took a bit of searching by trial-and-error to come up with the translation above, which is slightly different.

It’s nice to know, after doing some digging for a version in (an approximation of?) the original Latin, that the corresponding line is apparently

Doleas enim quantum scias accidisse, timeas quantum possit accidere

which isn’t so far off what I’d remembered. Guess senility is not encroaching *too* fast just yet…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Philip Brooker permalink
    11 March, 2010 3:43 am

    Well, it’s high-time to make my own confession about “pretending to be cultured”… I actually did not know any Milton at all until I Googled the quote used in the ‘Angry and frustrated’ post; in fact, initially I failed to recognise the text as some sort of ‘old English’ and had actually started to write a message informing you that the sentence containing the Milton quote did not make sense! Ha, so there you have it – I am a fraud when it comes to being cultured🙂 . Just as I was about to submit my comment about your post apparently not making sense, it occurred to me that there was a strong chance that the lack of sense made to me by the Milton line was in fact due to my own ignorance, and indeed my suspicions of my own ignorance were confirmed!

    Anyway, my point about it being a nice use of Milton stands. Although Milton used it in reference to blind people, I think it is apt for describing (in part) the practice of doing pure mathematics.

    • 11 March, 2010 5:29 am

      There’s probably some deep religious/political allusion going on in that sonnet which I’m not aware of. I once remember seeing a clip of Tom Paulin — a man who seems to owe his career to having an “exotic” accent for an Oxbridge poet — talking absolute bilge about that sonnet; something to do with lots of “D for dark” sounds towards the beginning, and an increasing proportion of “L for light” sounds towards the end.

      Runs C**t*rian spacetime a close second, I think…

      While we’re on the topic of owning up to ignorance, it took me a while to work out who Amy Bishop was. (Joey Bishop? Check. The Bishop? Check. Harold Bishop? Check…)

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