I’m not done reading Rights of Man yet but here’s what I have so far.

I’m appreciating all the one-liners (page references are according to the Adelaide ebook).

“What Athens was in miniature America will be in magnitude.” (140)

“Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.” (99)

“…as there is but one species of man, there can be but one element of human power; and that element is man himself.” (101)

Okay, so the last one isn’t exactly one line, but still. I know that give the subject matter, one-liners are basically inevitable, but seeing how concisely Thomas Paine can state his ideas is refreshing.

There are, of course, callbacks to earlier books.

Rousseau (and maybe some Hobbes?): “We have now, in a few words, traced man from a natural individual to a member of society, and shown, or endeavoured to show, the quality of the natural rights retained, and of those which are exchanged for civil rights.” (38)

Plato: “If there existed a man so transcendently wise above all others, that his wisdom was necessary to instruct a nation, some reason might be offered for monarchy…” (86)

Césaire/Walcott: “Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title. The thing is perfectly harmless in itself, but it marks a sort of foppery in the human character…” (47)

I’m in Part the Second right now, and a lot of it is Paine comparing/contrasting European governments with the American. So much of what he says in lauding is completely different from how the US government is so often criticized. It’s interesting.

One more thing: at the very, very beginning, Paine seems pretty polite towards Mr. Burke, but everything else Paine’s said about him after that is just complaint after complaint. I don’t get it. Am I missing something?

Short blog post, I guess. Thanks for reading, everyone.

Get out of Cape Cod

Some thoughts for the end of the term.

One aspect of reading the Walcott that I really enjoyed was being able to read into details and word choices again after spending most of the term studying form and argument. (In continuation of my post on Rousseau – it’s not philosophy!!) What made the property of it being able to stand up to close reading even better was that it’s from 2002, so there’s no need for questions like “Did Walcott write these stage directions himself or are they editorial?” Here’s something that stuck out to me, from page 37:

(They are all shocked to an electric silence.)

I’m still not sure if that was meant to be a pun.

There’s also this, from page 102:

“[Henri Christophe:] Petion is powerful. They are coming,/They are coming, Vastey./If I could move…

[Vastey:] You cannot tell how near they are,/And it is thickening,/And the chateaux are tall and dark”

Macbeth realizing that his reign is over, anyone?


Moving on to the Césaire – there’s more on the role of women. Where Rousseau defines family by fatherhood in the Discourse (pp. 62, 113), Césaire seems to define it by motherhood:

“Orphans torn from your mothers’ breasts” (p. 74)

I don’t know how accurate that interpretation is but it’s something I noticed.

Also, from page 25:

“In the past they stole our names/Our pride/Our nobility”

That reminded me of Spirited Away. I watched it once when I was younger and I remember some of it but not a lot. Maybe for our next movie night?

Page 22 also mentions a swagger stick. I didn’t know what that was at first and I found its name mildly funny. Another example of how meanings change as time goes by (like Rousseau/Cranston and their use of “self-love” – I know I’ve talked about it before, but it’s relevant).

To end this post, two things:

  1. Today seems to be this guy‘s birthday.
  2. Where the title of this post comes from. Also, since they’ve been on tour lately, their own goodbye song.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and thanks for a great term. I know it’s impractical but I’m still sort of wishing for snow.


[Edit: Prof. Beasley-Murray corrected me during the lecture - "Henri Christophe" is not from 2002 but rather 1949. (Embarrassing.) But the point stands; it's still fairly recent. Sorry, everyone.]