What is an adjective? Nouns name the world. Verbs activate the names. Adjectives come from somewhere else. The word adjective (epitheton in Greek) is itself an adjective meaning ‘placed on top’, ‘added’, ‘appended’, ‘foreign’. Adjectives seem fairly innocent additions, but look again. These small imported mechanisms are in charge of attaching everything in the world to its place in particularity. They are the latches of being.
Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included.
Karl Marx got a bum rap. All he was trying to do was figure out how to take care of a whole lot of people. Of course, socialism is just “evil” now. It’s completely discredited, supposedly, by the collapse of the Soviet Union. I can’t help noticing that my grandchildren are heavily in hock to communist China now, which is evidently a whole lot better at business than we are. You talk about the collapse of communism or the Soviet Union. My goodness, this country collapsed in 1929. I mean it crashed, big time, and capitalism looked like a very poor idea.
It is comforting, when winds are whipping up the waters of the vast sea, to watch from land the severe trials of another person: not that anyone’s distress is a cause of agreeable pleasure; but it is comforting to see from what troubles you yourself are exempt. It is comforting also to witness mighty clashes of warriors embattled on the plains, when you have no share in the danger. But nothing is more blissful than to occupy the heights effectively fortified by the teaching of the wise, tranquil sanctuaries from which you can look down upon others and see them wandering everywhere in their random search for the way of life, competing for intellectual eminence, disputing about rank, and striving night and day with prodigious effort to scale the summit of wealth and to secure power.
Prowling the meanings of a word, prowling the history of a person, no use expecting a flood of light. Human words have no main switch. But all those little kidnaps in the dark. And then the luminous, big, shivering, discandied, unrepentant, barking web of them that hangs in your mind when you turn back to the page you were trying to translate.