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Miscellany

Miscellany Music

While manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, Joe Maddon put his batting lineup in order for a July 2014 game using the field position numbers 8-6-7-5-3-0-9 in honor of the Tommy Tutone hit. The designated hitter served as the 0; the catcher (2) and second baseman (4) batted eighth and ninth. The Rays lost the game to the Detroit Tigers by a score of 1–8.

Miscellany Night

Setting grim tales during nighttime was critiqued as a cliché in 1594 by Thomas Nashe. “When any poet would describe a horrible tragical accident,” he wrote, “to add the more probability and credence unto it, he dismally begins to tell how it was dark night when it was done.”

Miscellany States of Mind

To cure madness in “men fond of literature,” medical encyclopedist Aulus Cornelius Celsus suggests reading aloud to them “incorrectly, if that’s what gets them going; for by correcting you they begin to divert their mind.”

Miscellany Food

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s digestive “milk cure” involved drinking a half pint of milk every half hour for twelve hours, supplemented by bran and paraffin four times a day, fruit twice a day, and two enemas a day.

Miscellany Politics

In The Third Man, Orson Welles’ character Harry Lime says, “In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” Graham Greene, who co-wrote the script with director Carol Reed, said that it was “the best line of the film”—and that Welles wrote it.

Miscellany Magic Shows

At the end of The Tempest, Prospero relinquishes his “rough magic” and declares, “I’ll break my staff,/Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,/And deeper than did ever plummet sound/I’ll drown my book.” In W.H. Auden’s “commentary” on the play, The Sea and the Mirror, Prospero says at the beginning, “Now, Ariel, I am that I am, your late and lonely master,/Who knows now what magic is:—the power to enchant/That comes from disillusion. What the books teach one/Is that desires end up in stinking ponds.”

Miscellany Animals

“I am his highness’s dog at Kew; / Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?” reads an epigram that Alexander Pope wrote in the 1730s and had engraved on the collar of one of his puppies, whom he gave to Frederick, Prince of Wales. 

Miscellany Rivalry & Feud

Carl Jung attributed his split with his mentor Sigmund Freud around 1910 in part to a generational divide. “Our descendants are our most dangerous enemies,” Jung argued, “for they will outlive us, and, therefore, without fail, will take the power from our enfeebled hands.”

Miscellany Philanthropy

In 1463 John Weeks bequeathed six-and-eightpence to St. Anne and St. Agnes in Aldersgate ward for the purchase of wood to burn heretics. Weeks may have meant the gift as a helpful threat, hoping for heretics to save their souls before bonfires became necessary.

Miscellany The Future

According to Dignitas, an end-of-life clinic located in Switzerland, 70 percent of people who begin the formal process of assisted suicide do not go through with it.

Miscellany Intoxication

“Woe to you, my princess, when I come. I will kiss you quite red and feed you till you are plump. And if you are forward you shall see who is the stronger, a gentle little girl who doesn’t eat enough or a big wild man who has cocaine in his body,” wrote Sigmund Freud to his future wife, Martha Bernays, on June 2, 1884.

Miscellany Time

During a total solar eclipse in 1919, astronomer and physicist Arthur Eddington observed from Príncipe Island that gravity bent the path of light to the degree predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Eddington went on to help popularize relativity and the idea that the universe was expanding. When asked how many people really understood his theories of universal expansion, he replied, “Perhaps seven.”

Miscellany Politics

A riot erupted in Constantinople in 532 that forced Justinian and his advisers to consider fleeing. Procopius wrote in History of the Wars that the emperor’s wife, Theodora—the only time in the work in which she speaks—told her husband, “If now it is your wish to save yourself, O Emperor, there is no difficulty.” On hand, she noted, were money and boats.

Miscellany Rivalry & Feud

Dynamite magnate Alfred Nobel omitted mathematics from the final list of categories his prizes would specifically recognize, claiming the prize for physics would cover it. Rumors circulated—likely helped along by the miffed Gösta Mittag-Leffler, Sweden’s leading mathematician—that this was due to a romantic rivalry between Nobel and Mittag-Leffler; the woman had chosen the mathematician, and punishing the whole field was Nobel’s revenge.

Miscellany Trade

A hand’s primary function, Elias Canetti writes in Crowds and Power, is as “a claw to grasp whole branches” while climbing; both hands partner in “grasping” and “letting go.” This is like trade, he argues: “one hand tenaciously holds on to the object with which it seeks to tempt the stranger” while the other “is stretched out in demand.” Trading, then, offers “profound and universal pleasure” as “a translation into nonphysical terms of one of the oldest movement patterns.”