Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."





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Thursday, May 23, 2019

THIS IS NOT A BLOG POST [TO STEAL A LINE FROM MAGRITTE]


I really am taking what they call in kindergarten a “time out” but something happened yesterday that was too delicious to ignore.  I learned what “hectocotyliferously” means.  A word of explanation is called for.

Seventy years ago, when Susie and I were high school girlfriend and boyfriend, we used to read together the poems of e. e. cummings [lower case intentional.]  cummings was the son of a Harvard professor and a graduate of Harvard.  One of our favorite poems [#201 in Susie’s copy of Collected Poems] is a hilariously cruel portrait of a Radcliffe student.  It is one of cummmings’ longest poems, filling two pages.  The opening lines are:

" Gay " is the captivating cognomen of a Young Woman of cambridge, mass.
to whom nobody seems to have mentioned ye olde freudian wish;
when i contemplate her uneyes safely ensconced in thick glass
you try if we are a gentleman not to think of(sh).

the world renowned investigator of paper sailors — argonauta argo
harmoniously being with his probably most brilliant pupil mated,
let us not deem it miraculous if their(so to speak) offspring has that largo appearance of somebody who was hectocotyliferously propagated. 

Those lines have stuck in my memory for almost three-quarters of a century, but in all that time it never occurred to me until yesterday to find out what “hectocotyliferously” actually means.  Well, Google supplied the answer and it was worth the wait.

hec·to·cot·y·lus  noun  a modified arm used by male octopuses and some other cephalopods to transfer sperm to the female.

I shall return to my self-enforced silence.

9 comments:

Unknown said...

That just made me actually laugh out loud (lol) in my work place!

Thanks for that professor! Lol

Nat

Dean said...

Leaving this here not because it's pertinent, but because it's the easiest way to contact Professor RPW, a devoted fan of early music. Despite being a fan of the work of Marc-Antoine Charpentier, I've only just learned that he composed a divertissement for a comedy by Corneille and de Visee, La Pierre Philosophale (i.e., The Philosopher's Stone)! See, e.g., http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=190278.

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David Palmeter said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I miss the action on this blog. I'd gotten into the habit of checking it every morning, since the Prof often posts then, after his walk.

jgkess@cfl.rr.com said...

Yeah, me too. I miss his posts. We faithful readers of this blog need to start a new "Me-too" movement. I've gotten so desperate that I've started re-reading the Prof.s', "Kant's Theory of Mental Activity".

Danny said...

Magritte was witty. We can agree to disagree, about what makes us think, "Oh, that's a bit Magrittean". What comes to my mind is that in the 60s, people took drugs to achieve that state. Another thing that comes to my mind is Photoshop. As for E.E. Cummings, yea, if I call this unbearably mawkish and vacuous, then it doesn't help to know that he was, from early in his career, among the most admired by writers and critics. Were all of them hornswoggled? Yes.

s. wallerstein said...

I miss the action in this blog myself. I've strayed into a few other blogs just because of my addiction to useless conversation, but I've discovered that this blog is my digital alma mater.

So let see if we can get a conversation going without the thoughtful stimulation of Professor Wolff. Probably not, but it's worth a try.

Today I read this article in the Guardian about how all Democrats are beating Trump in the polls for the 2020 election.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/12/trump-2020-presidential-election-polling-results

Without any deep reflection or further data on the subject, I bet that Trump will lose in 2020. Trump, who is smarter than most people in this blog give him credit for, believes that Biden will be the Democratic candidate. At this point, while my candidate is Elizabeth Warren, I'd support any Democrat against Trump, even Biden. What do you people think?

David Palmeter said...

I agree with you. Any Democrat against Trump. Warren is my first choice; Biden, totally apart from his problem votes and actions earlier in a long political career, is too old. Ditto for Bernie,who was my 1st choice last time. James Carville (sp?) said it best: the presidency is no job for an 80 year old. I can vouch for that.

If Warren were the nominee, I wonder who she would pick for VP. My guess would be a somewhat conventional white male like Beto. If this analysis is correct, she wouldn't pick Cory Booker as too much of a departure from all white male at this time. Mayor Pete on a ticket with a woman also may be too much of a departure this time, but I have been impressed with him. He certainly has a promising future.

s. wallerstein said...

I agree about the age factor. At age 80 no one has the stamina and the endurance to be president. No problem with being Senator at age 80; in fact, in etymological terms a Senate is an assembly of the old, the idea being that age confers (in some cases) wisdom.

As I said, I prefer Warren, but I suspect that she is not going to be the nominee. If she were, Corey Booker actually might be a good choice for VP, since Warren is very white (in spite of her claims to Native-American ancestry) and Booker might get out the African-American vote. By "very white", I mean that she looks and talks and walks like a WASP, unlike Bernie, who looks and talks and walks like someone raised in multicultural Brooklyn.

I know some people here are going to scream at us for saying that we'll support any Democrat, including Biden, but the main goal is to get Trump out of the White House.
After that, we'll worry about the color of the curtains.