Thursday, January 04, 2007

So few posts!

The sad death of our laptop has severely curtailed my ability to post this week. I hope to have a new one by next week, so the blogging should return more or less to normal soon.

Until then, I'll leave you with a passage from the wonderful new William James biography by Robert D. Richardson, about which more later:
Benjamin Paul Blood was a writer of letters to newspapers. Ten years older than James, he was a nonacademic, a philosopher, a mystic, and, it would turn out, a pluralist to boot. . . . Blood was, delightfully, much more than am etaphysiciain. Interested in machinery, he had patented a "swathing reaper." He had been a gambler, making and losing, he told James, "bar'ls" of money. He had been a "fancy gymnast" and had fought "some heavy fights--notably one of forty minutes with Ed. Mullett, whom I left senseless." "I have worn out many styles, " he wrote James years later, and am cosmopolitan, liberal to others, and contenteed with myself. If Blood sounded like Whitman, he lookd like a cross between Ppoe and Nietzsche. He sent James a photo of himself at age twenty-eight, taken when he had just "lifted by a chain on my right shoulder and around my right arm 1160 lbs." "I never could value things at others' rates," Blood wrote James, "never was respectable or conforming. . . . The chaff blows off, the rain remains and I could borrow the city treasury if I wanted the money."

Richardson calls Blood "this Paul Bunyan of Amsterdam, New York," in one of the many fine turns of phrase that litter this fascinating, idea-filled biography.

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