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Man to Man: God and Wolfe


Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Man to Man: God and Wolfe

So, today … today I wrote six pages, which, putting it in words here, does not sound like all that much, but it took most of the day, and then I couldn’t write anymore. I mean, obviously I can, but I was … phhht. ‘The air was out,’ to use a literal translation of a German phrase that indicates that your dynamism is gone. Still, I got to rant for a sentence or three that Hobbes’ quote that “Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe” (the [in]famous homo homine lupus) is a) not from the Leviathan, but in fact from De Cive, and b) always taken out of context, for the complete quote reads:

To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe. The first is true, if we compare Citizens amongst themselves; and the second, if we compare Cities.  In the one, there’s some analogie of similitude with the Deity, to wit, Justice and Charity, the twin-sisters of peace: But in the other, Good men must defend themselves by taking to them for a Sanctuary the two daughters of War, Deceipt and Violence: that is in plaine termes a meer brutall Rapacity: which although men object to one another as a reproach, by an inbred custome which they have of beholding their own actions in the persons of other men, wherein, as in a Mirroir, all things on the left side appeare to be on the right, & all things on the right side to be as plainly on the left; yet the naturall right of preservation which we all receive from the uncontroulable Dictates of Necessity, will not admit it to be a Vice, though it confesse it to be an Unhappinesse.

So really, man is both, depending on any number of things. It’s all in the preface of De Cive (a handy link to which I provide right here), if you want to read the complete context. Still, writing about Hobbes mean reading up on the context of the quote, and that was an unexpected investment of two hours or so, and getting to Hobbes via Annette Kolodny’s The Lay of the Land also was not fast, and neither were really what I set out to write today, but showed themselves as being necessary ingredients at some point anyhow.

Then I watched Illuminati: Angels & Demons, because it was on TV at about the time I stopped writing (I’d say “was done writing,” but the truth is, an academic is *never* done writing, you only stop due to exhaustion or because you run out of time). It was … not as bad as the Da Vinci Code was, and – maybe because I did some puttering around etc while it was on – I did not see the plot-twist with the  one dude coming, at least not until they wanted to turn him into the head dude of all dudes. Then I was like … no, there’s still 20 minutes of the movie left, that can’t be right. Also, aren’t you a bit young, and isn’t fountain guy destined for that job? (I know, vague writing is vague, but I am trying to avoid spoiling the movie in case you haven’t seen it yet). I think it ought to make sense if you actually have seen it. Also: where is Jesus’ great-great-great-great-…-grand-daughter? Weren’t they, like, romancing it up? (I know, he wrote Angels & Demons before the DVC, but in the movie they refer to the DVC, so they could have easliy included a thow-away mention amongst all the other throw-away mentions …). Though really: I’m not that invested. And it only took me about an hour to recognize Ewan McGregor. (In my defense: Star Wars I – III, I have not seen them! Nor do I want to.) So, that was my day. How was yours?

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