Retrospective diagnosis

Attempting to impose a modern medical interpretation upon symptoms that have long since carried away their sufferers is always a chancy affair, and the older the facts the more dubious the conclusion. Consider the case of Elizabeth Kelly, eight years old.   I. Sunday 23 March 1662 Elizabeth attends meeting 9 a.m. to noon. She […]

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A case for leisurely literature

Immediately after finishing the Tale of Genji, I read Egil’s Saga. Both take place at roughly the same time (circa 1000 C.E.), and were composed not much later (about a century) and in similar forms (verses embedded in prose narrative); both feature large casts roaming about unfamiliar and long-vanished cultures and landscapes; both stories span […]

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Rhetorical questions and rhetorical answers

History is only a catalog of the forgotten. (Henry Adams) I’m still a slow learner. But let’s talk about witches. James Wakelee’s first appearance in the documentary record is 18 February 1640/41 O.S., when he is noted as owning four acres of land at Hartford, Connecticut (1) [Love, p. 127]. The last record, a court […]

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Soundtrack I

Earphones are wonderful things, muffling the here-and-now of the acoustical world, and replacing it with some new distraction of one’s free choice. I don’t always work with earphones clamped to my head, but when I do, I need the new noise to be wordless, or in some language I can’t understand. Chamber music is best. […]

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