LAUDISI [wanders round the study for a little while, grinning to himself and shaking his head. Then he stops in front of the large mirror which rests on the mantelpiece, looks at his own reflection and starts talking to it.]: Ah, there you are! [He gives his reflection a mock salute with a couple of fingers, winks one eye cunningly, and grins at it.]: Well, my dear fellow! Now which of us two is mad? [He raises his hand, pointing the forefinger at its reflection, which, in turn, points its forefinger at him. He grins again, then] Ah yes, I know! I say you and you point at me! Dear me! Dear me! Between you and me and the gatepost we know one another pretty well, you and I! But what an awful fix you’re in, old chap! Other people don’t see you the way I see you! So what do you become? I can say that, as far as I’m concerned, standing in front of you as I am now, I’m able to see myself and touch myself. But as for you, when it’s a question of how other people see you, what happens to you? You become a phantom, my dear fellow, a creature of fantasy! And yet, do you see what these lunatics are up to? Without taking the slightest notice of their own phantom, the phantom that is implicit within them, they go haring about, frantic with curiosity, chasing after other people’s phantoms! And they believe they’re doing something quite quite different.
[The BUTLER enters and is rather taken aback as he hears LAUDISI’S last words to the mirror. Then he says]:
“Right You Are! (If you Think So)” – “Cosí è (se vi pare)” – Act I, Luigi Pirandello. Penguin Books. 1962.
(B11) Both Homer and Hesiod have ascribed to the gods all deeds
which among men are matters of reproach and blame:
thieving, adultery, and deceiving one another.
(Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians 9.193)
(B12) … as they sang of many illicit acts of the gods thieving, adultery, and deceiving one another.
(Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians 1.289; tpc)
(B14) But mortals suppose that the gods are born,
have human clothing, and voice, and bodily form.
(Clement, Miscellanies 5.109)
(B15) If horses had hands, or oxen or lions,
or if they could draw with their hands and produce works as men do,
then horses would draw figures of gods like horses, and oxen like oxen,
and each would render the bodies
to be of the same frame that each of them have.
(Clement, Miscellanies 5.110; tpc)
(B16) Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and dark, Thracians, that theirs are grey-eyed and red-haired.
(Clement, Miscellanies 7.22; tpc)
Xenophanes of Colophon (fragments), “A Presocratics reader : selected fragments and testimonia / edited, with introduction, by Patricia Curd ; translations by Richard D. McKirahan. — 2nd ed.”. 2001.
XXI. This tyrant, however, showed himself how happy he really was; for once, when Damocles, one of his flatterers, was dilating in conversation on his forces, his wealth, the greatness of his power, the plenty he enjoyed, the grandeur of his royal palaces, and maintaining that no one was ever happier, “Have you an inclination,” said he, “Damocles, as this kind of life pleases you, to have a taste of it yourself, and to make a trial of the good fortune that attends me?” And when he said that he should like it extremely, Dionysius ordered him to be laid on a bed of gold with the most beautiful covering, embroidered and wrought with the most exquisite work, and he dressed out a great many sideboards with silver and embossed gold. He then ordered some youths, distinguished for their handsome persons, to wait at his table, and to observe his nod, in order to serve him with what he wanted. There were ointments and garlands; perfumes were burned; tables provided with the most exquisite meats. Damocles thought himself very happy. In the midst of this apparatus, Dionysius ordered a bright sword to be let down from the ceiling, suspended by a single horse-hair, so as to hang over the head of that happy man. After which he neither cast his eye on those handsome waiters, nor on the well-wrought plate; nor touched any of the provisions: presently the garlands fell to pieces. At last he entreated the tyrant to give him leave to go, for that now he had no desire to be happy. Does not Dionysius, then, seem to have declared there can be no happiness for one who is under constant apprehensions? But it was not now in his power to return to justice, and restore his citizens their rights and privileges; for, by the indiscretion of youth, he had engaged in so many wrong steps and committed such extravagances, that, had he attempted to have returned to a right way of thinking, he must have endangered his life.
Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, Book V. Whether Virtue Alone Be Sufficient For a Happy Life, V.21. Translated by C. D. Yonge, 1877.
Is this a holy thing to see,
In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reduced to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?
Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!
And their sun does never shine,
And their fields are bleak & bare,
And their ways are fill’d with thorns
It is eternal winter there.
For where-‘er the sun does shine,
And where-‘er the rain does fall:
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall.
William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Oxford University Press, 1977.
O sun, you who heal all troubled sight,
you so content me by resolving doubts
it pleases me no less to question than to know.
Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto XI 91-93. Translated by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander. Random House, 2003.
O sol che sani ogne vista turbata,
tu mi contenti sì quando ti solvi,
che, non men che saver, dubbiar m’aggrata.
Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto XI 91-93.
Sanguk started to get nervous. “Perhaps this man has a statue hidden in his mind after all. What is he going to promise them and what is he going to demand from them?”
As he made his way to the patients’ area along with the rest of the staff at the appointed time for the patients’ gathering, Sanguk entertained endless doubts about the director’s sudden change in attitude. It was natural for a person to think at one time or another of having a statue.
Perhaps it is natural to have a statue hidden deep inside one’s head. Then it becomes a matter of how well one hides it. It’s a matter of how one resists the fantasy of a statue. More difficult is how one would go about tearing down this desire for a statue. The director couldn’t wait to deliver his inaugural speech but one couldn’t blame him for that. It didn’t matter what kind of promises he offered them. What was important was how closely his statue was related to what he intended to promise them and how wisely he would suppress his own impulses to reveal his wish to stand victoriously in front of the patients. What he wanted to promise should come after he was aware of his own ambitions. But Sanguk couldn’t trust him.
Yi Chong-jun, Your Paradise. Green Integer, 2004.