MetaFilter in six lines.
October 9, 2001 9:17 AM   Subscribe

MetaFilter in six lines. In order to know things well, we must know them in detail, and detail, being infinite, makes all our knowledge superficial and incomplete. François, Duc De La Rochefoucauld
posted by y2karl (8 comments total)
Metafilter is shitty poetry?

It is this deep blankness is the real thing strange.
The more things happen to you the more you can't
Tell or remember even what they were.

The contradictions cover such a range.
The talk would talk and go so far aslant.
You don't want madhouse and the whole thing there.

and that De La Rochefoucauld quotation - epistemic nihilism?

Help is available.
posted by yesster at 9:31 AM on October 9, 2001

The world is full of pots jeering at kettles.

Reflections or aphorisms and moral maxims# 507

François duc de La Rochefoucauld

posted by y2karl at 9:54 AM on October 9, 2001

"Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue."

(no. 218)
posted by holgate at 11:43 AM on October 9, 2001

Shitty poetry?

That's been one of my favourite poems - yikes - half my life now. First read it in the Faber Book of Modern Verse just before going to uni. Still feel it. Still can't explain it.

Now, does it have the old slouching towads Bethlehem doohickey?
posted by andrew cooke at 1:24 PM on October 9, 2001

I am pretty bewildered as to what we're talking about here. But, for the record, the La Rochefoucauld maxim quoted by y2karl is #106.

Let me take this opportunity to say that certain moralistes deserve a higher reputation in this world. The aphoristic writing of a La Rochefoucauld or a Chamfort is the most distant thing imaginable from shitty poetry. It's not nihilistic either. Its paradox has nothing of the postmodern. Nietzsche, contrary to what philosophers usually write about him, was much more strongly marked by his intellectual encounter with the French moralists than with whole stretches of his other modern predecessors, more frequently discussed in connection with him.

Did you know that W.S. Merwin translated Chamfort's Products of the Perfected Civilization? Sadly out of print, but you can get it used for as little as six bucks.

I didn't see as many good links out there as one might hope, but anyone interested in this thread would surely want to read Carl Sandburg's fifteen lines on Chamfort? Please let me know if this is shitty poetry. I thought I saw something vigorous and real in "The People, Yes," once, but I never seem to be able to find it when I go back looking.
posted by Zurishaddai at 1:21 AM on October 10, 2001

I thought it was the Empson poem (which y2karl linked) that was being accused of shittiness. Not that I agree--it seems a good poem, and makes me want to read more of his stuff.

Friends of mine in college found La Rochefoucauld extremely offputting, I think because, in their minds, they turned the maxims into an expression of some sort of philosophical system. They are more particular than that. Also wittier. I think I can see how it would make sense to connect Nietzsche to him (and presumably to Chamfort, but then, I haven't read Chamfort)--say more?
posted by moss at 10:45 AM on October 10, 2001

One of my favorites by Chamfort is--Anyone over 40 who isn't a misanthrope never loved mankind.

And I just found this one by Diogenes--When you dine at a rich man's house, the only place to spit is in his face.

Man, that's right up there with his If only it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing the belly as it is to masturbate.
posted by y2karl at 2:29 AM on October 12, 2001

And epistimic nihilism?

"Mumbo Jumbo no know those words. Him head hurt."

Wait a that the same as pretentious obfuscation?
posted by y2karl at 2:35 AM on October 12, 2001

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