|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
II.2 pp. pages 382-385
382.6] Zeno wouldn't have [...] add anything to infinity: Zeno and the Stoics believed "time is incorporeal, being the measure of the world's motion. And time past and time future are infinite, but time present is finite" (LEP 7; trans. R. D. Hicks, Loeb Classical Library , 2:245).
382.11] homo- or homoi-: see 9.30 ff.
382.11] who wins? Christ or the tortoise?: from Zeno's famous parable about the infinite subdivisibility of time, featuring Achilles and a tortoise (see EB 23:945). The paradox is that Achilles can never overtake the tortoise in a race.
382.12] O my sweet gold!: from Marlowe's Doctor Faustus: see 425.13.
382.17] "gettato a mare" [...] and martyred: the legendary martyrdom of Saint Clement (see 44.3-6).
382.19] maybe we're fished for: see 87.8.
382.29] Averroes: the Latin name of ibn-Rushd (1126-98), Spanish Arab philosopher and physician. His Neoplatonic view of Aristotle gave rise to several doctrines that were formally anathematized in 1270. The second chapter of Gilson's Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages -- one of Gaddis's source books -- discuss him at length.
382.30] believe in order to understand? [...] Saint Anselm, Credo ut intelligam: for Saint Anselm, see 103.34; Gilson glosses his "famous formula: credo ut intelligam : 'I do not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate thy sublimity for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree thy truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I belive in order to understand'" (Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages , 24). Saint Anselm's formulation appears in his famous Proslogion, which is again quoted at 535.6 ff. Gilson mentions Anselm's Proslogium [sic], Monologium, and Cur Deus homo on p. 26; in a letter to his mother dated 29 April 1947, Gaddis requested the Open Court edition containing these three works.
382.35] flesh, how thou art fishified: from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet; see 392.22.
382.37] On this rock, remember? and I shall make thee a fisher of men: Jesus is reported to have punned: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18); earlier he had told Peter and his brother Andrew: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (4:9). Conybeare questions the authenticity of this invitation (MMM 29).
382.40] with Paul, to Philippi: Acts 16:9-40 relates how Paul, inspired by a vision, travels to Philippi (in Macedonia), where he and his comrades are imprisoned. Their prayers and singing at night cause an earthquake to destroy the prison, after which the Roman authorities ask them to leave. The episode has been called "patently unhistorical."
382.43] Ish Kerioth bought a cemetery with his . . . thirty pieces: in Matthew 27, Judas Iscariot (Hebrew Ish Kerioth: "the man of Kerioth") hangs himself; the chief priests thereupon take his silver and buy a field "to bury strangers in." But in Acts 1:18, Judas himself buys "a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." In their Nazarene Gospel Restored, Robert Graves and Joshua Podro (they who found Paul's adventure "patently unhistorical") find Matthew's account the more "historically acceptable," the Acts version being indebted to the apocryphal Book of Ahikar.
383.8] Nothing can be given, which cannot also be withheld: cf. "Nothing is a gift unless it might also be withheld from us" - the dedication in Corneille's play La Place royale, which de Rougemont quotes (LWW 174).
383.9] if they had but one neck: according to Roman historian Suetonius, the emperor Caligula once prayed: "Would that the Roman people had but one neck!" (ODQ).
383.10] Shabbetai Zebi: see 545.40 ff.
383.12] Dominis ac Redemptor [...] Clement the fourteenth: from EB's article on the Jesuits (13:13):
On July 21, 1773, appeared the Brief of Suppression, Dominus ac Redemptor Noster [Our Lord and Savior] . This Brief (not a Bull) is narrative rather than judicial in tone. Clement XIV. cited certain past difficulties of the Society and enumerated present complaints against it, notably charges of political and mercantile activities and the hostility of the Bourbon Courts and of Portugal. The Pope thus concluded the Brief: "For the sake of peace, and because the Society can no longer attain the aims for which it was founded, and on secret grounds which we enclose in our heart, we suppress the said Society."
The order was revived in 1814.
383.16] the Church must punish, to prove it has the power to punish: a Spanish priest in Borrow's Bible of Spain justifies his church's persecution of sorcery: "The Church has power, Don Jorge, or at least, it had power, to punish for anything, real or unreal; and as it was necessary to punish in order to prove it had the power of punishing, of what consequence, whether it punished for sorcery or any other crime?" (165).
383.29] Lent! Martin's? Martins?: the martin is a kind of swallow that appears (in England) about Lent and disappears about Martinmas (11 November). Cf. 392.29.
383.29] you killed him with much cherishing?: Juliet wishes Romeo were her pet bird but fears: "Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing" (2.2.184). Cf. 392.29.
383.41] Ici Castel Gandolfo: Fr.: "Gandolfo Castle here" (the pope's summer residence).
383.41] Mister Inononu: see 647 ff.
383.42] forty days: Christ's temptation by the devil took place during his forty-day sojourn in the desert (cf. 431.28-30).
384.3] The Triumphal
Car of Antimony [...] anathema to monks: Jung refers to
the book under this title (IP 211), but Gaddis's source for the
anecdote appears to be Haggard (DDD 349):
384.16] Am-ha-aretz: a Hebrew phrase meaning "one from the land" and used pejoratively by the Pharisees of Jesus' time for an ignorant or sinful man, a man living outside the Law.
384.17] as the composer predicted, there's nothing left but knowledge and evidence: source unknown.
384.20] Peter died an old man, and right side up: cf. 362.3.
384.20] Mary [...] Panthera [...] his son: commenting on the lack of historical evidence for the existence of Jesus, Saltus notes (AN 67):
An early legend has, however, been handed down from Celsus, a Jew who lived about the time of Hadrian. The work containing this legend has been lost, and is known only through fragments which Origen has preserved [in his Contra Celsum: see 420.12]. In substance it amounts to this. A beautiful young woman lived with her mother in a neglected caphar. This young woman, whose name was Mirjam - Mary - supported herself by needlework. She became betrothed to a carpenter, broke her vows in favor of a soldier named Panthera, and wandering away gave birth to a male child called Jeschu, - Jeschu being a contraction of the Hebrew Jehoshua, of which Jesus is the Greek form.
384.25] the whole thing hangs on a resurrection that only one lunatic saw [...] visions are contagious: "On the experience of Cephas [Peter], then, the entire history of the resurrection hinges," writes Conybeare (MMM 289), who cites Paul's version as the earliest account: "And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen above five hundred brethren at once" (1 Cor. 15:4-6, quoted in MMM 288). Conybeare explains:
In the earliest form of gospel tradition Peter is the leader and spokesman of Jesus's followers; if he was once convinced that Jesus had been raised from the dead and had appeared to him, he was sure to suggestionise the rest of the twelve companions into seeing visions like his own; they in turn would be capable of suggestionising the much larger number specified by Paul, of whom many were yet alive when the letter to the Corinthians was written. In the history of religious enthusiasm we find nothing so contagious as visions. (MMM 288)
Conybeare describes the psychological state Peter had reached by the time of Christ's crucifixion - a state in which hallucinations might occur - but Wyatt's description of Peter as a "lunatic" is perhaps going too far. See MMM 289-93 for the development of the resurrection legend by way of the Gospels' conflicting accounts.
384.28] the streets were full of messiahs spreading discontent: cf. Conybeare: "It need hardly be observed that, if Pilate was really convinced of Jesus's innocence, he could have released him at once. But Jesus's admission before him that he was King of the Jews or Messiah, in a period when the Roman Government was perpetually menaced by such pretenders, left no alternative but to condemn him" (MMM 280).
384.31] Christ was thrown into a pit for common malefactors: finding the Gospels' account of Christ's burial unacceptable, the French priest and scholar "Abbé Loisy suggests that Jesus was more probably thrown into the common pit reserved for crucified malefactors, and that the episode of his burial by Joseph [of Arimathea in Luke 23:50-53] was invented by his followers at a later day to save him from the reproach of a dishonourable interment" (MMM 297).
384.32] not that power corrupts men, but men corrupt power: George Bernard Shaw somewhere writes: "Power does not corrupt men; but fools, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power."
384.38] write with a brass pencil on a clean tin plate, I A O, I A E: see 139.1.
384.40] Atholl's coronation: the earl of Atholl claimed the Scottish throne at the death of James I in 1437 but was instead tortured to death with a red-hot iron crown (M&R 203).
384.41] Egyptians burned red-haired men: "With regard to the ancient Egyptians we have it on the authority of Manetho that they used to burn red-haired men and scatter their ashes with winnowing fans, and it is highly significant that this barbarous sacrifice was offered by the kings at the grave of Osiris. We may conjecture that the victims represented Osiris himself, who was annually slain, dismembered, and buried in their persons that he might quicken the seed in the earth" (GB 378). Lang disagrees with Frazer's interpretation (M&R 128).
384.42] Justinian's pavement [...] Saint Sophia fell in: "In the church [of Saint Sophia], as finished by Justinian, 'the varied hues of the pavement were like the ocean.' This was destroyed when the roof fell in" (AMM 202, quoting Codinus).
384.44] son of the ruler of Cairo [...] lake of quicksilver: also from Lethaby: "One of the rulers of Cairo, the son of Ibn-Tulun, who succeeded him in 883, seems to have set himself to rival the garden of delights in a 'paradise.' [...] 'But the chief wonder [...] was a lake of quicksilver; on the surface of this lake lay a feather bed inflated with air, fastened by silk bands to four silver supports at the corners; here alone the insomnolent sovereign could take his rest" (AMM 104, quoting Lane-Poole's Art of the Saracens).
385.1] Antiope and the goat, of Pasiphaë and the bull, and the egg that Leda laid: cf. Ortega y Gasset: "The romantics of every period have been excited by those scenes of violation, in which the natural and infrahuman assaults the white form of woman, and they have depicted Leda and the swan, Pasiphae and the bull, Antiope and the goat" (RM 88).
385.26] I became the one who could do more than I could: cf. Michelangelo's poem at the bottom of 322.
385.43] Meg van [...] holnap reggel: Hungarian: "I have the necessary information, the papers are here. Eh . . . ? not now, call tomorrow morning . . ."
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