Commonplace Book: The Music of O'Carolan, What Art Students Really Need, Bullies, the Perils of "Self Esteem" and Reckless Women

"This next one's called 'Fanny Power'. Fanny was the daughter of O'Carolan's patron and he wrote this piece for her wedding. I wanted you to hear it because I didn't want you to think there was only one perfect melody in the world."
.... Sarah was surprised to see that his eyes were moist. "She must have been very beautiful."
He looked at her. "Who?" And his voice was suddenly wary.
"Why, Fanny." Sarah sighed. "Three is magic in the old man's music, if it can move us to tears for the beauty of a woman two centuries dead."
"Ah, yes, Fanny." There was a distant look in Red's eyes and she sensed the sadness in his voice. "I suppose she was. Beautiful, that is. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you know; and O'Carolan was blind."
(In the Country of the Blind by Michael Flynn)

“We live in a country where a black who wants to help poor people buy insurance is regularly referred to as a Nazi, so I guess anything is possible.”
(Comment on Wonkette)

“For a student, creativity should be the last lesson. If it’s there, let it be, but for the moment learn—look—absorb—study.... A discipline achieved early on should be as automatic as breathing or talking. And the discipline of drawing is the finest. A savage two or three years is imperative. No creativity. Drawing forces you to look and an artist needs to do that more than anything short of thinking... Then give yourself a break and waste a year in total anarchy. ... Is it not possible for art schools to re-establish themselves as protectors of values? ... Purity of intention should be a guiding maxim. The moment we decide to enter an art school, we should feel that we have taken our Hippocratic oath to see it through. We are doctors of the spirit—and if an operation is necessary, then it must be performed. “ (Ralph Steadman, Comics Journal interview)

“The Chicago pol in the Oval has had to learn one of the great American truths: You’ve got to slap the bully in the face.”
(Maureen Dowd)

“Sex diarist Belle de Jour has claimed that nothing in her background had any bearing on her decision to become a prostitute. On her website her father's recent public admission that he'd slept with dozens of prostitutes during her adolescence was denied any importance. The facts were not disputed. She just doesn't want anyone thinking they impaired her ability to freely choose sexual slavery, à la Susan Street, while still calling the shots. This belief has made women reckless. Belle's assertion in one of her memoirs that she became a prostitute because she "couldn't remember the reasons not to" suggest that she has forgotten, or more likely repressed, the physical and psychological risks. Paradoxically, this generation of women is more vulnerable than any of its forbears. Women's refusal to acknowledge any weakness has made them easy prey.”
(Charlotte Raven, “How the New Feminism Went Wrong”)

“... Although it is ironic that for a guy [David Frum] who was wrong on pretty much everything and still kept his job, the one time the guy gets fired, it is because he is right.”
(Comment by “Manchu Candidate” on David Frum’s resignation from the American Enterprise Institute, at Wonkette)

“One has only to go into a prison, or at least a prison of the kind in which I used to work, to see the most revoltingly high self-esteem among a group of people (the young thugs) who had brought nothing but misery to those around them, largely because they conceived of themselves as so important that they could do no wrong. “
(Theodore Dalrymple)

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