Monday, December 17, 2012

"Bülow, working under Wagner's instructions, needed to add more musicians to the orchestra; this, however, meant the removal of some thirty stalls for the public. When informed of his, Bülow cried 'What difference does that make, whether we have thirty schweinehunde [pigs] more or less in the place?' Bülow had spoken in a dark theatre, unaware that anyone might be listening to his devastating words. But a reporter from the Neuste Nachrichten, sitting unnoticed in the hall, quickly ran back to his paper, and Bülow's offhand remark became the following day's front-page headline. Deeply embarrassed, Bülow wrote a letter of apology, stating, not very convincingly, that he had not been referring to the 'cultured Munich public' but rather to the anti-Wagerian critics. The Neueste Nachrichten printed the letter and accepted the apology, but other papers were quick to seize any opportunity to humiliate Wagner and his supporters. The Neuer Bayerischer Kurier, for example, printed the same headline, 'Hans von Bülow is Still Here!' every day for a week, in increasingly large letters, in an attempt to drive the conductor from Munich and thus ruin the premiere of Tristan und Isolde."

from The Mad King by Greg King

Friday, December 14, 2012

"In one particularly successful exercise in Patriarch-baiting, Photius had even gone so far as to propound a new and deeply heretical theory that he had just thought up, according to which man possessed two separate souls, one liable to error, the other infallible. His own dazzling reputation as an intellectual ensured that he was taken seriously by many – including Ignatius – who should have known better; and after his doctrine had its desired effect, by making the Patriarch look thoroughly silly, he cheerfully withdrew it. It was perhaps the only completely satisfactory practical joke in the history of theology, and for that alone Photius deserves our gratitude."

from The Popes by John Julius Norwich

Saturday, December 01, 2012

"[Bernard] Williams suggests that loving a person is, basically, loving a particular body. But this kind of love, or lust, is at most extremely uncommon. What is more common is a purely physical or sexual obsession with a person’s body, an obsession that is not concerned with the psychology of this person. But this is not love of a particular body. As Quinton writes, in the case of such obsessions, ‘no particular human body is required, only one of a more or less precisely demarcated kind’. Suppose that I was physically obsessed with Mary Smith’s body. This obsession would transfer to Mary Smith’s Replica. This would be like a case in which the body with which I am obsessed is that of an identical twin. If this twin died, my obsession could be transferred to the body of the other twin. Ordinary love could not be so transferred. Such love is concerned with the psychology of the person loved, and with this person’s continuously changing mental life. And loving someone is a process, not a fixed state. Mutual love involves a shared history. This is why, if I have loved Mary Smith for many months or years, her place cannot be simply taken by her identical twin. Things are quite different with her Replica. If I have loved Mary Smith for months or years, her Replica will have full quasi-memories of our shared history. I have claimed that, if I do not love Mary Smith’s Replica, it is unlikely that the explanation is that I loved her particular body. It is doubtful that anyone has such love, or lust."

from Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit