touchstone archives


Piquant excerpts lifted from Touchstone editors' own reading & listening.

Topic: Nature

[The Creator] gave to the world the figure which was suitable and also natural. Now to the animal which was to comprehend all animals, that figure would be suitable which comprehended within itself all other figures. Wherefore he made the world in the form of a globe, round as from a lathe, having its extremes in every direction equidistant from the center. . . .

Timaeus, 33d (ca. 350 b.c.)

Nature Commonplaces #13 March/April 2020

But it may be that the truly "modern" thing about the modern age, the nineteenth century and the twentieth, its really diagnostic train, is the interest in beginnings, in origin, in aetiology: when we try to say what something is—witness Darwin, for example, and Freud—our way of doing it is to go back and talk about how it got to be the way it looks now. Or it might be said that with the eroding away of the assumptions of the first chapters of Genesis, other mythology had to be supplied, mythology in the fashionable scientific language, if only in order to fill up what began to appear as the dark backward and abysm of time.

Howard Nemerov
from the Introduction to Poetic Diction by Owen Barfield (1928)

Nature Commonplaces #31 Nov/Dec 2019

For the person who has ever known even one mature and normal erotic fulfillment, it is impossible to imagine turning by choice to a biologically inappropriate partner or placing partial or deviated aims above what has been so obviously well designed for the purpose. What the human organism shows anatomically is scarcely more clear than the emotional evidence, at physiologic as well as at broader interpersonal levels of reactivity. Even from more remote and less tangible sociologic aspects, nature has left no room here for doubt.

Hervey Cleckley, M.D.
The Mask of Sanity (1982), 223

Nature Commonplaces #53 May/June 2019

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