Upon the foure and twentieth day of the eleventh moneth, which is the moneth Sebat, in the second yere of Darius, came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the sonne of Barachiah, the sonne of Iddo the Prophet, saying:
I saw by night, and behold a man riding vpon a red horse, and he stood among the mirtle trees that were in the bottome, and behinde him were there red horses, speckled and white.
Then said I, O my Lord, what are these? And the Angel that talked with me, said vnto me, I wil shew thee what these be.
And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered, and said, These are they, whom the Lord hath sent to walke to and fro through the earth.
And they answered the Angel of the Lord that stood among the mirtle trees, and said, Wee haue walked to and fro through the earth: and behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
You asked me what is the good of reading the Gospels in Greek.
I answer that it is proper that we move our finger
Along letters more enduring than those carved in stone,
And that, slowly pronouncing each syllable,
We discover the true dignity of speech.
Compelled to be attentive we shall think of that epoch
No more distant than yesterday. Yet still it is the same eon.
Fear and desire are the same, oil and wine
And bread mean the same. So does the fickleness of the throng
Avid for miracles as in the past. Even mores,
Wedding festivities, drugs, laments for the dead
Only seem to differ. Then, too, for example,
There were plenty of persons whom the text calls Daimonizomenoi, that is, the demonized
Or, if you prefer, the bedeviled (as for “the possessed”
It’s no more than the whim of a dictionary).
Convulsions, foam at the mouth, the gnashing of teeth
Were not considered signs of talent.
The demonized had no access to print and screens,
Rarely engaging in arts and literature.
But the Gospel parable remains in force:
That the spirit mastering them may enter swine,
Which, exasperated by such a sudden clash
Between two natures, theirs and the Luciferic,
Jump into water and drown (which occurs repeatedly).
And thus on every page a persistent reader
Sees twenty centuries as twenty days
In a world which one day will come to its end.
It’s strange that all birds don’t fly in the same way. After all, the air’s just the same at the same place and the same time. I’ve heard that the wings of aeroplanes all conform to the same formula, whereas birds each conform to a formula of their own. It has undeniably required more than a little ingenuity to equip so many birds each with their own formula, and no expense spared, either. Nevertheless, there has perhaps never been a bird that flies as correctly as an aeroplane; yet all birds fly better than aeroplanes if they can fly at all. All birds are perhaps a little wrong, because an absolute once-for-all formula for a bird has never been found, just as all novels are bad because the correct formula for a novel has never been found.
[Halldór Laxness, Under the Glacier]
An idiosyncrasy peculiar to the herring is that, when dead, it begins to glow; this property, which resembles phosphorescence and is yet altogether different, peaks a few days after death and then ebbs away as the fish decays. For a long time no one could account for this glowing of the lifeless herring, and indeed I believe that it still remains unexplained. Around 1870, when projects for the total illumination of our cities were everywhere afoot, two English scientists with the apt names of Herrington and Lightbown investigated the unusual phenomenon in the hope that the luminous substance exuded by dead herrings would lead to a formula for an organic source of light that had the capacity to regenerate itself. The failure of this eccentric undertaking, as I read some time ago in a history of artificial light, constituted no more than a negligible setback in the relentless conquest of darkness.
[W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn]
So wide the wells of darkness sink,
These having their own light, that are lost with the light,
Appear immersed in mournfulness over the night,
Like things that in sleep will come to the mind’s brink:
The bright Aldebaran, and seven that hover,
Seven wild and pale, clouding their brightness over,
And the flame that fell with summer, and the rose of stars returning,
Like tears piercing the sky;
Glittering without cause, for the piece of a legend,
Wept, I know not why.
O lovely and forgotten,
Gathered only of sleep,
All night upon the lids set burning,
Shaken from the lids at morning.
The infamous Timothy Hall, who had distinguished himself among the clergy of London by reading the declaration [issued by James II to supplant the Protestant faith], was rewarded with the bishopric of Oxford. . . . Hall came to his see; but the canons of his cathedral refused to attend his installation; the university refused to create him a doctor; not a single one of the academic youth applied to him for holy orders; no cap was touched to him; and in his palace he found himself alone.
[Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James the Second]
In 1885, when Lemoine et fils, music publishers since 1772, published F.-A. Gevaert’s Nouveau Traité d’Instrumentation (in which I found this inkstamp), they had been in business for over a century. How remarkable to find that, as Editions Henry Lemoine, the business remains alive and well and in the hands of the Lemoine family in the seventh generation.
I wonder how many family firms have enjoyed this kind of longevity? Perhaps a few dozen worldwide? Editions Henry Lemoine belongs to an exclusive association of long-lived family companies, members of which must fulfil four criteria: all are at least 200 years old, all are directed by descendants of the founder, the majority of their capital is in family hands, and their finances must be sound. The 47 members of this association call themselves Les Henokiens, a name inspired by the Old Testament patriarch Enoch (or Hénok), who was not merely long-lived but never died. Some are decidedly modern firms, in banking and finance, real estate development, and industry. Others are in more of a craft tradition, oriented to the carriage trade — jewelers, gunsmiths, confectioners, vintners (one makes swords for induction ceremonies to the Académie Francaise).
I spent a fascinating evening looking at each of les Henokiens. This kind of longevity, so unusual for a family business in the modern corporate environment, ought to be the object of some study. What kind of family traditions, business culture and practices are common to these superannuated firms? My interest here is not so much in business per se as in the transmission of values and traditions and practices perhaps not wholly in sync with the modern world.