Thursday, August 11, 2022

Reading 15

William Shakespeare, The First Part of Henry the Sixth, in The Norton Shakespeare

Henry the Fifth has just died, factions are growing in England, and France has made war with England. The king's son, still a boy, is declared Henry the Sixth, and he seems no match for the Dauphin of France who has Joan of Arc on his side, and she has God on hers.

David Hume, "Of Pride and Humility," Part I of Book II: Of the Passions, A Treatise of Human Nature

Here, Hume turns his attention to our various emotions, first to what he calls pride and humility. He means pride in the positive sense, like overall self-esteem, self-satisfaction, and humility in the negative sense, as when someone embarrasses us and when we feel humbled. Among Hume's more interesting observations, even if commonsensical today, is that while these emotions are universal—indeed, we can even them among the animals, the sources of pride and humility can be culturally conditioned and relative. No cause for pride of being able to throw a ball into a hoop unless there's some game and system of rules that cares about such things. And those things that could be cause for pride or humility (humiliation might be a better word) are only so by comparison. "Everything in this world is judged of by comparison," Hume writes. "What is an immense fortune for a private gentleman is beggary for a prince. A peasant would think himself happy in what cannot afford the necessities of a gentleman. When a man has been accustomed to a more splendid way of living, or thinks himself entitled to it by his birth and quality, everything below is disagreeable and even shameful; and 'tis with the greatest industry he conceals his pretensions to a better fortune."

Beth Nugent, "Abattoir," City of Boys: Stories

Oof. Rough story. 17-year-old woman lives with her slightly older brother who works at a Safeway. Their father left them and started a new family. Their mother lives with a man who works at a hospital and supplies her with morphine. The 17-year-old and her brother Teddy play house. She cooks and he watches as many ball games as he can. One day, she goes to visit her brother at the Safeway. His boss Donny starts hitting on her. He starts coming around and eventually she and Donny sleep together. Her brother Teddy seems jealous. They take a road trip, get a hotel, and the story ends when he says unfortunately the bed is a single and he turns off the light and lies down beside her on the single. It's not said what follows but the implications are clear.


  1. Seems to me it’s nothing but sex sex sex in all this art you’re reading. Those books are probably banned in Tn.

    Maybe that’s just what you gotta do to get published. Sex and sexual innuendo.