Spam Quotes

As I’ve mentioned before, my site has been spammed to an insane degree in the past. I think I’ve remedied the problem now, but I still have a huge backlog of it to go through and delete. (I will delete it all!) Anyway, I’ve also mentioned that some of the spam I’ve gotten has had quotes in it, which at the very least makes it semi-interesting to glance at as you delete it. After a while, I decided I was seeing too many cool sayings to just pass over and forget about, so I’ve been collecting them and then figuring out who said them. I think I’ll just continue adding quotes as I go through all my spam.

Most of these quotes are really good to chew on. If you don’t mind masticating in front of everyone, please feel free to post some thoughts.

Not all spam quotes are gold. I’ve only picked the ones I thought were intelligent and thought-provoking in some way. Obviously, my degree of concurrence with any given quote will vary. Well, without further ado…

For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this I believe – that unless I believe, I should not understand. —St. Anselm

He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god. —Aristotle

‘A cucumber is bitter.’ Throw it away. ‘There are briars in the road.’ Turn aside from them. This is enough. Do not add, ‘And why were such things made in the world?’ —Marcus Aurelius

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. —Francis Bacon

A healthy appetite for righteousness, kept in due control by good manners, is an excellent thing; but to ‘hunger and thirst’ after it is often merely a symptom of spiritual diabetes. —Charlie D. Broad

I sometimes think of what future historians will say of us. A single sentence will suffice for modern man: he fornicated and read the papers. —Albert Camus

Suppose some mathematical creature from the moon were to reckon up the human body; he would at once see that the essential thing about it was that it was duplicate.  A man is two men, he on the right exactly resembling him on the left.  Having noted that there was an arm on the right and one on the left, a leg on the right and one on the left, he might go further and still find on each side the same number of fingers, the same number of toes, twin eyes, twin ears, twin nostrils, and even twin lobes of the brain.  At last he would take it as a law; and then, where he found a heart on one side, would deduce that there was another heart on the other.  And just then, where he most felt he was right, he would be wrong.  —Gilbert Chesterton

Love, friendship, respect do not unite people as much as common hatred for something. —Anton Chekhov

In practice all men are atheists; they deny their faith by their actions. —Ludwig Feuerbach

I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own. —Margaret Fuller

It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other. —Aldous Huxley

I am too much of a sceptic to deny the possibility of anything. —Thomas Huxley

If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is a man who has so much as to be out of danger? —Thomas Huxley

Even if a civil society were to dissolve itself by the vote of all its members… nevertheless, before they go, the last murderer in prison must be executed. —Immanuel Kant

If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. —Florynce Kennedy

In the information age, you don’t teach philosophy as they did after feudalism. You perform it. If Aristotle were alive today he’d have a talk show. —Timothy Leary

Clearly, then, the city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo. —Desmond Morris

Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful! —Friedrich Nietzsche

As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents. —George Orwell

I lay it down as a fact that if all men knew what others say of them, there would not be four friends in the world. —Blaise Pascal

In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality. —Karl Popper

Communism is exploitation of the strong by the weak. —Pierre Joseph Proudhon

Destroying species is like tearing pages out of an unread book, written in a language humans hardly know how to read, about the place where they live. —Holmes Rolston III

If one man offers you democracy and another offers you a bag of grain, at what stage of starvation will you prefer the grain to the vote? —Bertrand Russel

I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organised in its Churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. —Bertrand Russell

Having the fewest wants, I am nearest to the gods. —Socrates

All those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand… —Kurt Vonnegut

Architecture in general is frozen music. —Friedrich von Schelling

If triangles made a god, they would give him three sides. —Yiddish proverb

Email Notifications

Just an FYI: After I switched to WordPress, my email notification system had to change drastically. Now, instead of me adding you to the list of people to be notified with each new post, any user may enter their email address under “email notification” to the right. That means that those of you whom I had on my notifications list are no longer on it and need to enter your email address. So, what are you waiting for? Get on my list!!

The Fish in the River Drink Expectantly

The Gipsy Kings

My favorite song by the Gipsy Kings is “Los Peces en el Rio.” It’s an adaptation (if even that) of a beautiful Spanish Christmas carol about how the fish in the river keep returning to where Mary is in order to see God born. It’s really beautiful.

As a Spanish poem, “Los Peces” seems very beautiful to me. So beautiful, in fact, that I will post it for you below, so that you can enjoy it too! (I got the lyrics off a post here. I’ve modified them a little, to make corrections I felt were needed. (An example would be that instead of angelitos, the person put pajaritos. If you listen to the song, it’s definitely not pajaritos and probably angelitos.)

La Virgen se está peinando
entre cortina y cortina
sus cabellos son de oro
el peine de plata fina

Pero mira como beben los peces en el río
Pero mira como beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer

La Virgen se está lavando
y en el romero tendiendo
los angelitos cantando
y el romero floreciendo

Pero mira como beben los peces en el río
Pero mira como beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer.

La Virgen se está peinando
entre cortina y cortina
sus cabellos son de oro
el peine de plata fina

Pero mira como beben los peces en el río
Pero mira como beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer.

Pero mira como beben los peces en el río
Pero mira como beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer.

Pero mira como beben los peces en el río
Pero mira como beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer.

Here is a translation of the song (I’ve run it through Babelfish and then corrected it as best I could). I’ve had to change some of the phrasing to get it to make sense in English, but I’ve tried to retain the poetic sense of the song:

The Virgin is combing her hair
between the curtains;
her hair is of gold
the comb of fine silver.

But look how the fish in the river drink!
But look how they drink to see the God who is born!
They drink and they drink and they return to drink,
the fish in the river to see God be born.

The Virgin is washing herself
and tending in the rosemary;
the little angels singing
and the rosemary blooming.

But look as the fish in the river drink!
But look as they drink to see the God who is born!
They drink and they drink and they return to drink,
the fish in the river to see God be born.

The Virgin is combing her hair
between the curtains;
the hair is of gold
the comb of fine silver.

But look as the fish in the river drink!
But look as they drink to see the God who is born!
They drink and they drink and they return to drink,
the fish in the river to see God be born.

But look how the fish in the river drink!
But look how they drink to see the God who is born!
They drink and they drink and they return to drink,
the fish in the river to see God be born.

But look how the fish in the river drink!
But look how they drink to see the God who is born!
They drink and they drink and they return to drink,
the fish in the river to see God be born.

Spanish Virgin and Child 16th c.I think this song was my Advent gift from God. I’ve never stopped and tried to figure out what it meant until today. I knew it was about fish in a river, and that was it. I had no idea this song was such an appropriate meditation on the advent of Christ. For some reason, I heard this song today and stopped and tried to figure it out. I have a really hard time figuring out this guy’s Spanish (I think because he often drops off final s’s), so I looked up the lyrics and tried to figure out what they were saying. As I studied the song and tried to come up with a translation, I liked it more and more. This song is truly beautiful on several levels. Hopefully I can pass this Advent gift on to you.

The fishes in the river expectantly gather before the Virgin, awaiting the arrival of God in the flesh. They are a stark contrast to the Virgin herself, who goes about her mundane house chores in a beautifully radiant manner, but also sublimely at peace. (Hence the pero before the descriptions of the fish. I also added exclamation marks to intensify the contrast, as if it needed any.)

This song can be broken down in so many ways, so I’ve chosen to just go through it by stanza.

La Virgen se está peinando
entre cortina y cortina
sus cabellos son de oro
el peine de plata fina

If you listen to the song, this is actually sung as a prelude or intro to the song (anyone know a technical term for this?), and some lyrics sites don’t even have this at the beginning. I think the Gipsy Kings did this to start off right away with the contrast. (I’ll talk more about that in the next stanza.) From the very beginning, we are invited by the singer to join into an almost voyeuristic adoration of the Virgin, along with los peces. From our “fish’s eye” view, we behold the Virgin through the curtains, combing her hair. Her beauty is radiant; the mental image conveyed is one of a brilliant halo of golden hair surrounding her head. Of course, Mary was, in all probability, not a blonde, but I think the portrayal here is less one of racial appropriation, and more one attempting to portray Mary’s holy radiance. The “comb of fine silver” just adds to this vision.

Pero mira como beben los peces en el río
Pero mira como beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer

Just reading the text, you can tell that a strong contrast is being made at this point. Here, though, the Gipsy Kings also mark the contrast musically. The song began with a brief bit of organ music and then some simple guitar work accompanying the slow singing voice of a man who sounded like he had too much to drink (which is why I initially liked the song so much, haha!). At this point, however, everything, including the singer’s voice, snaps into an upbeat portrayal of the fish in the river. We are now no longer looking at the Virgin along with the fishes, but watching the fishes themselves and noticing how different they are from her. The Virgin is calmly radiant, almost soft, almost floating or apparating (to borrow a term from Harry Potter) amongst las cortinas. The fish excitedly “drink and drink and return to drink” at the spot in the river that is nearest to where the Virgin does her daily routine. I wonder if we could render beben as “they gulp,” in order to get an even more dramatic picture. Fishes always appear to be gulping water, but this time they are excited about something. Why do they “drink” so? Por ver al Dios nacido. In order to see God. I rendered [el] Dios nacido as “the God who is born.” What do you Spanish speakers think of that? Is that appropriate? (I also changed nacido to lower case; it was capitalized in the post I found. Are modifiers of Dios usually capitalized in Spanish?) The title, Dios nacido, is, of course, theologically packed, reminding us of the Creed’s σαρκωθέντα εκ πνεύματος αγίου και Μαρίας της παρθένου, but even more of Paul’s very creedal statement about the Incarnation in Galatians 4.4,5:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.

That phrase Beben y beben y vuelven a beber is one of my favorites. It really conveys the feeling that they keep coming back to “drink” in order to see “the God who is born.”

La Virgen se está lavando
y en el romero tendiendo
los angelitos cantando
y el romero floreciendo

This stanza seems to have been problematic for a lot of lyric-posters. I am almost 100% sure that there is a se in front of lavando, which would make the verb reflexive. The reason I am not 100% sure is that I haven’t found one site that has that se in there! I can hear it in the song though!! I also think I can hear something that ends with -on in between romero and tendiendo, but I can’t tell what it is and I don’t have any guesses. Another weird one is that the original post that I cited above has pajaritos instead of angelitos. Pajaritos makes sense of course, but that’s definitely not what the singer says. The problem is that what he does say is a little questionable. It could be angelitos, but it could be something else, too. What do you think? At any rate, the scene shifts back to Mary, and this time she is doing something routine but, if the verb is reflexive, not as mundane (to us males at least) as combing her hair. One could argue that it might not be reflexive, because wouldn’t one normally use a form of bañar to describe someone bathing, rather than lavar (which just means “to wash”)? I would say a couple things to this: 1) that doesn’t explain why it sounds like there is a se there in front of lavando, and 2) perhaps se lavando is used poetically because it evokes a slightly different feeling and sounds better, more watery maybe, than bañando. Although the song, at first blush, seems to sound even more voyeuristic than it did before (again, if the verb lavando is indeed reflexive), we voyeurs are surprised to find a holy vision, rather than a picture of human female sexuality. The Virgin is surrounded by flora and by angelic beings who sing to her. This stanza obviously corresponds to the first one in which the Virgin is amongst the curtains. This time however, instead of her own glory radiating out, she is receiving glory from creation.

Back to the chorus singing about the fish drinking and drinking and returning to drink. (Hey, it just occurred to me that maybe the singer sounded drunk on purpose, because of this line… interesting.)

The stanza about the Virgin combing hair is then repeated, and then another stanza about the fish.

During the season of Advent, we Christians relive that era of expectation and anxious waiting. We are like the fishes who “drink and drink and return to drink,” just gulping with excitement. Just reading and reflecting on this song has gotten me more excited about the day of Christ’s birth.

I’ll close this really long post with a thought from Paul. In it, he reflects on the significance of Christ’s appearing and the subsequent emergence of his chosen ones, we who bring the Good News to “all creation” (Mark 16.15). I love this idea of universal anticipation of the Son of God (and in this case, the Son of God working his redemption through us). Take it with you this Advent:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. —Romans 8.18-25

Saw Les Mis Today…

Les Mis logo
I saw a showing of Les Misérables at the Pantages Theatre in LA today with Kelly, Greg, Isaac, Nancy, and some other friends. It was excellent, as always (I’ve seen it three times now).

Will the future ever arrive? . . . Should we continue to look upwards? Is the light we can see in the sky one of those which will presently be extinguished? The ideal is terrifying to behold, lost as it is in the depths, small, isolated, a pin-point, brilliant but threatened on all sides by the dark forces that surround it; nevertheless, no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds. —Victor Hugo