‘the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world’

“Anyone moderately familiar with the rigors of composition will not need to be told the story in detail; how he wrote and it seemed good; read and it seemed vile; corrected and tore up; cut out; put in; was in ecstasy; in despair; had his good nights and bad mornings; snatched at ideas and lost them; saw his book plain before him and it vanished; acted his people’s parts as he ate; mouthed them as he walked; now cried; now laughed; vacillated between this style and that; now preferred the heroic and pompous; next the plain and simple; now the vales of Tempe; then the fields of Kent or Cornwall; and could not decide whether he was the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world.”

  • Orlando by Virginia Woolf

“Slaves, Don Teodore, are our money”

“. . . the financial genius of Africa, instead of devising bank notes or the precious metals as a circulating medium, has declared that a human creature, the true embodiment of labor, is the most valuable article on earth. A man, therefore, becomes the standard of prices. A slave is a note of hand that may be discounted or pawned; he is a bill of exchange that carries himself to his destination and pays a debt, bodily; he is a tax that walks corporeally into the chieftain’s treasury. Thus, slavery is not likely to be surrendered by the (Africans) themselves as a national institution. Their social interests will continue to maintain hereditary bondage! they will send the felon and the captive to foreign barracoons; and they will sentence to domestic servitude the orphans of culprits, disorderly children, gamblers, witches, vagrants, cripples, insolvents, the deaf, the mute, the barren, and the faithless. Five-sixths of the population is in chains.”

  • Adventures of an African Slaver: Being a True Account of the Life of CAPTAIN THEODORE CANOT, Trader in Gold, Ivory & Slaves on the Coast of Guinea: His Own Story as told in the Year 1854 to Brantz Mayer.”

How the slaves were brought across the Atlantic

“I returned on board to aid in stowing one hundred and eight boys and girls, the eldest of whom did not exceed fifteen years. As I crawled between decks, I could not imagine how this little army was to be packed or draw breath in a hold but twenty-two inches high! Yet the experiment was promptly made, inasmuch as it was necessary to secure them below in descending the river, in order to prevent them leaping overboard and swimming ashore. I found it impossible to adjust the whole in a sitting posture; but we made them lie down in each other’s laps, like sardines in a can, and in this way obtained space for the entire cargo. Strange to tell, when the (boat) reached Havana, but three of these ‘passengers’ had paid the debt of nature.”

  • Adventures of an African Slaver: Being a True Account of the Life of CAPTAIN THEODORE CANOT, Trader in Gold, Ivory & Slaves on the Coast of Guinea: His Own Story as told in the Year 1854 to Brantz Mayer.”

One reason slavery lasted four hundred years

“Slaves were scarce, and by 1819, prime field hands were selling for $1100 in the markets of New Orleans. Even in Cuba, the paradise of smugglers, they brought $350. On the Guinea coast they could be purchased for a few yards of cloth, a keg of gunpowder, and a cask of rum – for goods, that is, worth $25 to $50. It was an old axiom of the British excise men that no trade could be prohibited when its profits were more than thirty per cent. The profits of a successful slaving voyage were a hundred and fifty, two hundred, two hundred and fifty per cent.”

  • Malcom Cowley’s introduction to “Adventures of an African Slaver: Being a True Account of the Life of CAPTAIN THEODORE CANOT, Trader in Gold, Ivory & Slaves on the Coast of Guinea: His Own Story as told in the Year 1854 to Brantz Mayer.”

A time for whatever popped violently into my head

When reading, I often come across sayings, adages, well-turned phrases that I might write down in a notebook or forget within 20 minutes. The forgetting I can’t help, but the stuff written down should get better play – as in sharing them.   

So I have decided to put them on this blog, maybe on a daily basis. Why not dump them here all at once? Because I like the idea of a “mailbox surprise.” Maybe that comes from living on Rural Route #1 with a mailbox just across the road. Who knew what might show up there after the mail man had driven by, sitting in the middle of his front seat, left hand on the steering wheel and right hand reaching to the mailbox (before mail-delivery trucks with right hand steering)?

Same with daily comics in the newspapers that eked out one piece of the plot daily. Whatever happened to Dick Tracy, Steve Roper, Dondi, Terry and the Pirates and finally, Prince Valiant? Once the prince and Aleta were dropped from my daily newspaper, I stopped reading comics (except for “Shoe.”)

So this will be like Orlando in Virginia Woolf’s book where “whenever anything popped violently into her head, she went straight to the nearest telegraph office and wired” it to her husband. But I won’t drop into a cypher language or sign it “Rattigan Glumphoboo” as she did to keep the telegraph clerk from being any wiser. (That’s a better alias than the ones I have been using.)

The first “anything that popped into my head” came from a Zoom class Kathy and I are taking. Seemed to fit the moment:

“If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason’s and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.” Ulysses S. Grant

Here’s how you lose: Concede, congratulate and go home

Here’s the way to do it, should anyone need some advice on how to lose. First, you concede: Claudia, you beat me, trounced me. Even if I pick the Secretaries of Commerce and Labor correctly, I can’t catch up to the three correct answers you gave.

Second, congratulate. Claudia, you were well prepared, conducted yourself in a sportswomanly fashion and you deserve the win, Congratulations!

Third, go home: I’m afraid I will not be able to attend your inauguration as the person who answered three of Biden’s Cabinet correctly. However, I will drop my donation of $100 to your charity of choice (Enduring Hearts (https://enduringhearts.org/) as I head for my plane. And just to pardon me against any high crimes and misdemeanors that I have committed while in office, I will also send another $100 to the charity of my choice: Seattle Compassion Service https://seattlecompassion.com/.

Next contest: What will our ex-president do on Jan. 20, 2021?

1 more Biden Cabinet pick wrong, and I’ll be in Congress Jan. 6

I need to sweep the table in the remaining Biden Cabinet picks to come away with a tie to Claudia, and that is looking very unlikely. Why is Andrew Yang saying he wants to be mayor of New York City? He’d be much happier as Commerce secretary and I would not get skunked. As it stands now, it looks like it will be worse than losing an election by more than seven million votes.

I’m writing to Pence in Vail to avail himself to my cause, hoping he doesn’t ski into a tree or get buried in an avalanche so that he can declare me the winner on Jan. 6 before Congress. If he’s willing to throw away his political future by siding with a one-term president, he might as well throw in some extra pork such as my lowly cause. Show he cares about the people.

Or, I could seek a presidential pardon. I haven’t killed any one. Wait, that seems to be a prerequisite for a pardon.

My cause is lost (and that’s not a concession).

Down 3-0, I’ll be presidential, say I won in a landslide

If you were ever in a rugby game when your team was down 30 to nil, in a no-skunk softball game down 15 to zero or in a basketball game down 100 to a score too small to count, you will have sympathy here for me in this Biden Cabinet guessing game I took on against Claudia. She, obviously, was not guessing. She may have kept up on the news, done research and studied who had a chance at each Cabinet position. I should have outlawed all that when I laid out the rules.

So now she holds a 3-0 lead with only four more Cabinet picks to be made. I need to win three of the four left to tie, four to win and one to get on the score board or go off the pitch, the diamond or the court in disgrace. This is the point in the game where you tell the ref to just blow the whistle and end it all before it gets even worse.

No wonder she put up her charity in advance. Enduring Hearts (https://enduringhearts.org/) get ready for a donation from Seattle soon.

Or, I could say over and over that I won in a landslide until 70 million people believe me, call for martial law and hold the contest all over again. Sort of in the 2020 way of being presidential.