A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for October, 2001

Hypatia of Alexandria

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Essay by Brian Charles Clark

Image by Brian Charles ClarkHypatia, daughter of Theon, comes down to us as much a myth as a reality. In the hands of writers of various ideological persuasions, she was a Christian martyr, the last philosopher of Hellenism, or a pagan who deserved what she got. Besides the usual positioning to prove a dogmatic point, the reason for this disparity of opinion is that there simply isn’t much primary source material with which to form a biographical picture of Hypatia. Maria Dzielska, in her book on Hypatia, has combed through the primary and early secondary sources in search of some semblance of truth as regards the life and works of Hypatia. The result is a short work divided into three main sections, each section largely repeating what the other sections portray.

“What Hypatia got,” of course, was murdered by an Alexandrian mob in 415, when she was 60 years old. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

October 12th, 2001 at 12:04 am

Posted in essay, philosophy

Jack Donne, Trickster

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essay by Brian Charles Clark

John DonneA naïve reader, I, reading now what was written in the 16th century, prove by way of demonstration that to study poetry and to make critiques is to live dangerously. When I first passed through John Donne’s “Communitie,” I stumbled into Donne’s trap of logic, his Ramist rhetoric of knots tied over from Medieval philosophy with a knife-twisting joie de vivre that is the Renaissance.

Peter “ram it down yr throat” Ramus, late of Paris and the Sorbonne circa 1490, who stood his in defense of his Master’s thesis for a legendary number of hours, set loose a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf whose taste in clothing set a trend. Like the Medieval schoolmen, and as was still the standard for scholarly work in western Europe as late as the beginning of the 17th century, Ramus wrote and argued in Latin, and he employed the classical terminology of rhetoric, using an argument of parts, the syllogismus, the enthymema, inductio, and exemplum. Of these parts, the enthymema, or enthymeme as it is called in modern English, will tell us a few things about the twist Peter Ramus put on the art—and accessibility—of argument, a twist that transferred to England like a virus spread through intimate contact. By understanding the psychological function of what we call in theory the enthymeme, we may be able to shed some light on a few of Donne’s poems. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

October 3rd, 2001 at 11:05 am

Posted in essay, poetry

Going Somewhere

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Short story by Brian Charles Clark

I. On The Bus

In California, hitch hiking on the freeway is illegal. In downtown Los Angeles, trying to hitch a ride on the freeway is not only illegal, it’s stupid. Cars are chaining onto the I-5 from the I-10 at 60 miles per hour, and there’s nowhere to stop.

“This is no good,” I say to Naomi. “We’ll need a fucken helicopter.

“Or an angel,” she quips right back. She’s standing facing traffic, her weathered gaze calmly searching the alarmed faces of drivers as they whip around the curved on-ramp. Her swirly India-print skirt is pulled to a tempting angle by an invisible hand. Nearly invisible: the back-draft of nomadic Angelinos lets fly an asthma of dust, shredded leaves, and small rocks being quickly pulverized to more dust. Naomi stands immune, or as if she herself is a part of the wind. She has the slim legs of a girl.

Smack dab in the middle of one of the busiest interchanges on the planet. The oil-shortage crisis having been recently declared officially over, it seems to me that the drivers are feeling extravagant, wasteful of their Jurassic inheritance, and heedless of the two waifs standing on the banks of the raging river of speed. Naomi gives up trying to charm a ride with her mesmerizing eyes, and comes and stands beside me. She’s immediately hypnotized by the rhythm of tail lights racing away.

Naomi and I are hitching to San Francisco. We’re going to visit Uncle John, Naomi’s acid connection. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

October 1st, 2001 at 12:00 am

Posted in fiction