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Bach's Education
Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Bach's theological training

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 20, 2006):
This week's Toronto International Bach Festival with Helmut Rilling has also had some very interesting academic lectures by Michael Marissen of Swarthmore College.

Marissen's first talk was on Bach's audition process and Cantata BWV 23, "Du wahrer Gott" which was the featured work of Riling's workshop. Marissen focussed on the non-musical part of Bach's interviews. Evidently, the composer was examined in two 3-hour session on Lutheran theology and the Bible. Marissen gave some examples of the questions which Bach might have faced:

"How many verses are in the Book of Micah"?

"What are the differences between the respective geneologies of Christ in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke?"

"What is the relationship between the Epistles to the Romans and of James to Luther's theology of justification by faith rather than works?"

Marissen pointed out that the Leipzig authoriies were responsible for the examination of both parsons and musicians in the region and that Bach was the only person in history who passed the terrifying examinations and was not a university graduate.

Marissen then quite logically asked why Bach biographers have not seriously asked how Bach acquired this prodigious learning. His theory is based on the new dating of the cantatas which has demonstrated that many of the so-called early cantatas have been dated earlier to Weimar or later to Leipzig leaving relative compositional inactivity in Köthen.

Marissen postulates that during his tenure in Köthen, when the number of his compositions dropped, Bach engaged in a concerted self-taught academic program in order to educate himself up to the level required by a position like Leipzig. Bach acquired a theological library of hundreds of books; a typical parson of the period might have merely dozens. Marissen asked, without any suggestions, who Bach's mentors might have been.

He was also quite critical of Bach biographers for complaining about the paucity of personal Bach documents and yet all but ignoring the hundreds of notes and underlinings in Bach's handwriting in his copy of Cavlov's bibilical commentary.

A fascinating introduction to what promises to be an important frontier in Bach studies.

Tom Hens wrote (October 20, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<snip>
< Marissen pointed out that the
Leipzig authoriies were responsible for the examination of both parsons and musicians in the region and that Bach was the only person in history who passed the terrifying examinations and was not a university graduate. >
Did he have any numbers? That statement can only be true if he has the exact number of people who ever tried to pass those "terrifying examinations" (which on the basis of what you've quoted seem to boil down to nothing more than having a good memory for written text -- I passed more than a few university examinations like that myself, and promptly forgot the knowledge I was supposedly being examined about the moment I walked out of the room), the exact number of people examined who had or didn't have university degrees, and a failure rate of 100% for non-university graduates except for J.S. Bach. And when did "in history" start and end?

< Marissen then quite logically asked why Bach biographers have not seriously asked how Bach acquired this prodigious learning. >
I'm not a Bach biographer, let alone a serious person, but how about this theory: Bach was a smart man, and he knew that he was going to have pass an examination on these stupendously boring bits of Lutheran theological lore to get the job, so he read up on the things he was supposed to know. Being able to come up with the correct answers to completely pointless questions like how many verses there are in the Book of Micah, or what the differences are between the genealogies of Christ in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, doesn't count as "prodigious learning" in many people's books, including my own. It's just memorizing meaningless stuff. Some people are good at that.

<snip>
< Marissen postulates that during his tenure in
Köthen, when the number of his compositions dropped, Bach engaged in a concerted self-taught academic program in order to educate himself up to the level required by a position like Leipzig. >
Oh, I see someone else has come up with the same theory, which I just "postulated" a paragraph ago before reading any further.

< Marissen asked, without any suggestions, who Bach's mentors might have been. >
Bach could read. I think that's one point everyone can agree on. Why would he need "mentors" to read books, theological or otherwise? Or learn by heart how many verses there are in the book of Micah? Or notice that the two family trees (male line only) of Jesus as presented in the NT are completely different (although both equally truthful and written down under the direct dictation of God, of course).

Eric Bergerud wrote (October 20, 2006):
[To Tom Hens] It is very obvious, as Mr. Hens notes, that he is not a Bach biographer.

Perhaps Mr. Hens considers an encyclopedic knowledge of scripture and a very good grounding in Lutheran theology "pointless." Some of the finest minds of Bach's age, and the centuries before, would have heartily disagreed. If Mr. Hens thinks theology is simple, I really do suggest getting into the nittry gritty of, for instance, the debate between Luther and Erasmus.

I'm all in favor of firing away if one disagrees with the findings of any academic. However, it certainly sounds to me that Doug attended a very interesting and very serious occasion. I rather doubt Rilling would come to Canada to listen to trivial chatter by drunks in a bar. Nor do I think a high powered school like Swarthmore would put one on their faculty. Perhaps this is a leap to those outside university life, but it is considered very bad form to attack someone's work unless you are somewhat acquainted with it. It is certainly admissible to accuse someone of being a dope, but usually it is expected there be some reason for conclusion, especially as it is rather likely that the person presenting the lecture probably knows a bit more about the subject than does someone in the audience, and even more than someone not in the audience.

I am not a Bach biographer either. But it strikes me that Mr Marissen is suggesting an interesting addition to Bach's story. In the accounts I've read, Bach had a jolly time at Köthen making music for his social betters. If instead he had his nose in scripture and heavy-weight works on Lutheran theology Bach comes off as an even more serious artist than we already acknowledge. Perhaps Mr. Marissen is wrong, but that is how scholarship works. Hypothesis causes minds to work and debate ensues: not such a bad system. (Actually the hypothesis fits pretty well with Wolff who emphasized that Bach amplified his undoubted natural genius with systematic study.)

Although I suppose we can thank Mr. Hens for pointing out the inconsistencies found in scripture. Of course the great minds of the early Church pondered these matters at tremendous length nearly 1800 years ago, but I suppose we need reminding. (Now anyone with even a passing knowledge of the history of the early Church would have known this and avoided, in turn, looking like a dope here.)

Tom Hens wrote (October 30, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< Perhaps Mr. Hens considers an encyclopedic knowledge of scripture and a very good grounding in Lutheran theology "pointless." >
I do consider learning by heart the names of all the books in the Bible and how many sentences each contains, as well as the contents of the two contradictory lineagesattempting to link Jesus to David in that Bible, quite pointless, yes. Maybe I'm mistaken. In that case, could you explain the point of such memory exercises, and why they're less pointless than, say, to pick an example completely at random, learning by heart the first 100,000 digits of Pi?

The third question Douglas Cowling quotes as an example of the examination we're talking about is: "What is the relationship between the Epistles to the Romans and of James to Luther's theology of justification by faith rather than works?". Which is clearly just asking for yet another recitation of the apposite piece of orthodox Lutheran theology from memory. They were always big on this "faith rather than works" thing.

Such theological examinations, then and now, aren't meant to test anyone's knowledge about anything. They're meant to test whether someone is able to regurgitate the required orthodox answers to a series of set questions. It's no coincidence that the Church for a long time has been so fond of the Catechism question-and-answer format, where you can't only learn by heart all the correct answers beforehand, but the questions that will be asked to elicit them as well. It basically reduces learning to stimulus-response conditioning. Such examinations can also be conveniently used to fail anyone who is already suspected of harbouring non-orthodox views.

< I rather doubt Rilling would come to Canada to listen to trivial chatter by drunks in a bar. >
I don't just doubt that, I'm certain that he didn't. I wonder who suggested that he did.

< Nor do I think a high powered school like Swarthmore would put one on their faculty. Perhaps this is a leap to those outside university life, but it is considered very bad form to attack someone's work unless you are somewhat acquainted with it. >
I'm quite familiar with university life, thank you, and I was only responding to a message on an entirely non-academic mailing list, just like you.

< It is certainly admissible to accuse someone of being a dope, >
Who accused whom of being a dope?

< In the accounts I've read, Bach had a jolly time at Köthen making music for his social betters. If instead he had his nose in scripture and heavy-weight works on Lutheran theology Bach comes off as an even more serious artist than we already acknowledge. >
I really can't see what you're arguing against, or for. One can't simultaneously have a jolly time, and have one's nose in theological books? Are you suggesting that reading the Bible and books on Lutheran theology is a pretty depressing pastime? (I know for me that would be true, but it's a rather surprising statement coming from you.)

That Bach had an interest in Lutheran theology isn't disputed by anyone, or new information. The contents of his library, or rather that part of his that was sold after his death, shows that quite clearly. To name just one example, he wouldn't have bought an extremely expensive set of Luther's collected works if he hadn't has such an interest.

< (Actually the hypothesis fits pretty well with Wolff who emphasized that Bach amplified his undoubted natural genius with systematic study.) >
Wow! Bach used systematic study? Without Wolff, or rather, your generously offered simplified interpretation of Wolff for us lesser minds, I'd never have guessed that! I'd always just assumed the only thing Bach had going for him was "natural genius", and that he just made up the rest as he went along.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 30, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
<< I rather doubt Rilling would come to Canada to listen to trivial chatter by drunks in a bar. >>
Tom Hens wrote:
< I don't just doubt that, I'm certain that he didn't. I wonder who suggested that he did. >
Silly me, I occasionally worry that I go OT ! And who are we (or you (pl.)) to judge whether Rilling enjoys a bit of trivial chatter, or not, once in Canada for whatever reason? I expect we would all agree that not much real work gets done in a pub, but some of the great ideas of history have originated there. Also some of the not so great ideas.

Eric Bergerud wrote (October 30, 2006):
[To Tom Hens] Mr. Hens wishes to defend his novel approach to academic criticism. (This is not an academic list Mr. Hens points out: so let's say he was criticizing an academic.) Just for a point of reference, I have restored his original post in full, so others can see why I was, how shall we say it, scratching my head.

Here we go. Doug Cowling goes to a Bach festival. A lecturer from a distinguished University gives a lecture on the kind of "grilling" Bach underwent prior to being given the post at Leipzig. The questions Mr. Cowling recalls that Mr. Marissen, the lecturer, posited might have been asked Bach include:

"How many verses are in the Book of Micah"?

"What are the differences between the respective genealogies of Christ in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke?"

"What is the relationship between the Epistles to the Romans and of James to Luther's theology of justification by faith rather than works?"

Mr. Hens, although he was not there, and has not, apparently, read a copy of the lecture, trashes the work. Mr. Hens concludes with extraordinary certainty for someone who admits he doesn't know much about Bach that the Leipzig Council was simply making Bach disgorge rote data - a bit like a kind of performing seal or a horse that can count. OK: let's see if Mr. Hens' intuition can trump the dusty cannons of scholarship that would demand a critic know something about both the subject and the work being attacked.

How many verses in Micah? I make it 105. The number itself probably doesn't mean much. I don't doubt that in Bach's day there was more emphasis put on rote learning than is fashionable today. Had he been studying in Oxford, he might have been memorizing Shakespeare. Consider this the kind of question the kind of pedantic question that might be thrown out there simply to see whether Herr Bach is a serious student of scripture at all, like a university graduate, or is a craftsman putting on a front. A bit like someone taking the bar exam and asking which "article:section" of the California State Constitution would be most applicable in a case concerning a land dispute. Or which article: section describes impeachment in the US Constitution. (Might watch for a trick question there.) Is this silly? Well, if you think of the kind of pace Bach was capable of and the extraordinary complexity of many of the religious passages, an almost microscopic knowledge of the narrative would have been invaluable. Can't imagine him taking a couple of hours hunting around Scripture muttering, "It's one of those prophets, I'm sure of it."

The genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke. I find it unlikely that Mr. Marissen meant that Bach was asked to give a "word for word" rendition of both. Not that "word for word" renditions were considered unimportant (they were). Rather I suspect Mr. Marissen meant that the good gents at Leipzig were asking why Bach thought the two accounts were so different. Matthew gives it blow by blow from Abraham and finds in it a prophetic symmetry: "1:1-17 So all the generations from Abraham unto David are fourteen generations; and from David unto the carrying away to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon unto the Christ fourteen generations." Whereas in Luke Book 3 the genealogy is different. Joseph doesn't even have the same father (Jacob in Matthew; Heli in Luke). As matter of fact, almost nobody has the same father, although David shows up. But there's more: Matthew traces the line from Abraham: Luke traces it from Adam (that means he includes the really Old Testament folks: Noah, Methuselah, Seth and Adam). And no mention of the symmetry mentioned in Matthew. Perhaps the Leipzig inquisitors were asking poor Bach to count to seven again with his hoof. They might, however, have asked why the accounts were di, both in individuals mentioned and time frames covered, and what ramifications this difference might have had in reading the gospels themselves or the prophesies referred to in them. (If anyone on the list has an obvious answer to this question, why not post it, just for kicks.) Perhaps this is a memory exercise. But it's an odd one. After all, if one does memorize a few thousand digits of pi, they'd be the same, right? What if they weren't and someone asked you why they weren't. Would that still be a memory exercise?

Romans, James and Justification by Faith. Hmmm. Well Mr. Hens is correct as he puts it so eloquently "They were always big on this "faith rather than works" thing." (It's not clear who "they" are, but it's a useful and distinguished rhetorical tool, particularly useful among right wing radio talk show hosts.) Mr. Hens elaborates: "Such theological examinations, then and now, aren't meant to test anyone's knowledge about anything.They're meant to test whether someone is able to regurgitate the required orthodox answers to a series of set questions. It's no coincidence that the Church for a long time has been so fond of the Catechism question-and-answer format, where you can't only learn by heart all the correct answers beforehand, but the questions that will be asked to elicit them as well. It basically reduces learning to stimulus-response conditioning. Such examinations can also be conveniently used to fail anyone who is already suspected of harboring non-orthodox views." If Mr. Hens is correct "such theological examinations" (is that all exams or just the one's that Mr. Hens is referring to: either very imprecise or a circular argument - but this is not an academic list so screw logic) were written for the trained monkeys, but done so cleverly that the inquisitors could smoke out a badly trained monkey by, well let's see, regurgitating the required text correctly but perhaps sweating a little. But back to Romans and James. Let's go on the assumption that the Leipzig officials were questioning Bach on his knowledge of Luther's Bible. (Hey, I don't know, but they were into that Luther Bible thing.) If that was the subject, the questioners might have been asking Bach for his ideas concerning one of the most controversial passages in Luther's translation. Here's the New Standard translation for Romans 3:28: "We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law." In Luther's work, it's "allein durch den Glauben." That's a bit unclear for the "faith thing." But look at James 2:24 according to the New Standard: "Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith." Oh Oh. Trouble with the Faith Thing. Luther gives it its due: "So sehet ihr nun, daß der Mensch durch die Werke gerecht wird, nicht durch den Glauben allein." Luther handled the problem like a bull in a china shop and simply trashed the book of James and insisted that he wouldn't let the Papists get in the way of the truth concerning Romans 3:28. Now Luther's translation of the Bible (I referenced the 1545 edition) did make some waves and it did pick up some flack. Not everyone was a Luther admirer. Catholic theologians jumped on the Romans-James contradiction with great glee. So was Bach being asked to spout words from the prepared script? I rather think he was being asked to explain why Luther could be both true to the word of God despite some liberties with literal translation and clear contradiction in another verse of the New Testament. I am sure there were a number of ways for the faithful to square the circle, and I'm sure that the men in Leipzig wanted to hear it done - very well. Now that's the kind of question that gives anyone who has taken a PhD oral exam nightmares. My hats off to the good Burgers of Leipzig.

I repeat that I think it very interesting that Marissen argued that Bach was studying the intricate nature of Luther's theology in Köthen to a degree that would not have been quite unnecessary for that post. Could Bach foretell what came to pass - that he was destined to compose the most intricate religious music in history - or was he simply fond of Biblical trivia. Or perhaps he was a driven religious ideologue. And perhaps, if taken by theology as a young musician, he did seek a serious mentor. Theological seminaries today have faculties. But, but if Bach found someone to study theology at something like a university level at a German mini-state, I think it would say a lot. In any case, I'd very much like to see Marissen's paper, and will be glad to chuck in my nickel on it's findings after I've read it.

But, as Mr. Hens remarks, he is not a serious person. Wow! I think we agree on something.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 30, 2006):
[To Eric Bergerud] Very interesting posting on this subject, Eric. Always stimulating to read a measured and thoroughly informed response on a complex issue of this kind.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 30, 2006):
< Silly me, I occasionally worry that I go OT ! And who are we (or you (pl.)) to judge whether Rilling enjoys a bit of trivial chatter, or not, once in Canada for whatever reason? I expect we would all agree that not much real work gets done in a pub, but some of the great ideas of history have originated there. Also some of the not so great ideas. >
For theological and musicological "practical purposes", this list right here (the BCML) is analogous to a pub, and not often more reliable than that. Stop by ye olde waterin'-hole and lissen at what the denizens are makin' up today, 'cause it's fun! When it's pointed out that the recklessly creative stuff they're saying makes less sense than bar peanut salt, it goes right on anyways. Uncalled-for personal insults sometimes ensue, instead of supporting the faulty material with really sound reasoning (or gracefully withdrawing it); but hey, it's just a pub anyway, not to be mistaken for a forum with any responsibilities for reason or truths.

Myself, I like the encounters with new reliable resources that occasionally get mentioned here. I'm reading the book Bach in Berlin (Celia Applegate, 2005, about the various cultural lead-ups to Mendelssohn's 1829 perf of SMP), as recommended by one of our fine members here. Bravo! And I've already recommended this book forward to a buddy who runs a university history department. This is the type of stuff he and I sit around discussing for fun, and mutual enlightenment in our fields. His specialty is to sort out cultural biases and other traps within historiography, plus he enjoys shocking his students with anomalies to force them to think (often by playing period music in class to make their experience of history immediate/visceral). We skip Sunday School hour and sit around yakking about this stuff instead, while waiting for our kids to finish class. Sometimes, like yesterday, we have two or three other people who chime in on related stuff from their fields. The drink's coffee in our case, though.

One of those guys put me onto another interesting book, The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida (2002). Another angle there on how social structures influence the types of material that pops out.

Point is (if there needs to be a point), it's fun to discuss stuff within the diversity of a bunch of barflies, whether it's an actual pub or not.

As for Bach's theological acumen, or at least the stuff he chose to mark up in his self-guided reading of his Calov Bible commentary: reading all that, I was especially moved by Bach's emphasis on a section about taking insults against one's vocation. As Bach, Calov, and presumably also Luther emphasized therein: ithe insults emanating from self-important dilettantes and bean-counters are merely personal slights, it's right to let them bounce right off as trifles, being merely personal steam. But, if the perpetrators are dishing out total nonsense or disrespect about the material of one's vocation, saying insulting things against one's own professional responsibilities, it's right to step up to the plate and point out that their argument is professionally offensive.

So hey, inspired here by Bach's own priorities, that's what I tend to do too. Somebody offers offensive chowderheaded glop that goes against my serious training and responsibilities, and that looks like deliberate insult (not merely an innocent ignorance), the right thing to do in response (according to Bach's highlighting in that Calov book) is to stick up for responsibility to the material. Stick up for the hard-earned rights of real experts to be experts, in public. Don't let oneself get run over by unsupportable foolishness...even in a pub. Those who don't compose, or perform music at a reasonable level in public, or have any qualifications to teach it, aren't terribly well placed to evaluate the work of those who do. Or explain it, or flatter it with mimicry, or guess at the alleged intent of anybody else's mind!

We don't know what was really in Bach's mind, with regard to theology or anything else; we only know what he chose to write down on paper as musical notes and a few other tidbits. Everything else is extrapolation. Those who actually do Bach's job tend to be better placed to understand this, from a practical sense of handling the materials, than those who rely only on speculation. Not to say that speculative opinions are automatically not valid: but they do need to be open to question, and stand up to reason. If speculation runs wild, and refuses ever to back itself down next to other possibilities, or to be trainable or gracious...it turns into a professional insult against the job: and deserves to be greeted with equally forceful defense. (In Bach's case, an insult against the appointed right to be the music director, and to do his job according to the expert practical judgment befitting that job...not simply caving in to other people's pettinesses.)

Those who would be critics of the material, or any truths thereof: hold these critics to their own standards and expect them to produce reasonable work, themselves, or at least to demonstrate trainability plus a respect for others' learning. Those who would expect experts to change their ways should be equally or even more open to change their own ways, in encounters with the material: else the criticism is just a bunch of blather (and turning into serious insult when it's sustained over years).

NB: this is not about personal fancy, where everyone's opinion over a pint is a valid personal like or dislike; it's about proving the material allegedly right or wrong, where one really needs to know the material and not just make up glop that insults expertise. The pub's not the place to "prove" that experts can be made to look wrong, through a selective and untrained look at evidence. Where there's no real responsibility to the material (in this case, Bach's music), like at a pub, anything can be forced to look right or wrong, and therefore it's meaningless...other than entertainment value, or the occasional spin-off where valid hypotheses might get hit upon at random, among the volume of inconsequential blather.

Anyway, there's a somewhat disorganized ramble by me, coming from too little sleep and too much coffee. Whatever.

Anybody have good new books or recordings to suggest, as resources? I'm putting on the recent Kuijken disc of cantatas BWV 98/BWV 180/BWV 56/BWV 55 again, to enjoy and learn from its terrific playing and singing.

Continue of this discussion, see: Bach Cantatas Mailing List (BCML) - Part 4: Year 2006 [General Topics]

A. Sparschuh wrote (November 8, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote
< ..was also quite critical of Bach biographers for complaining about the paucity of personal Bach documents ..... >
http://listserv.albany.edu:8080/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0603&L=HPSCHD-L&P=R39441&I=-3
But the Bach-Dokumente report about such an concrete case:
There JSB missed the opportunity to improve his theological training, by truancy from the church service, because he was thirsty:

" Vol. 2 #16, p.20, Actum Arnstadt 21.Feb.1706

"Verweißen ihn daß er letztwichenen Sonntags unter der Predigt in Weinkeller gegangen"
translation:
"Admonish/censure him because he went last sunday while the sermon in wine-cellar"

 

Bach at university?

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 6, 2009):
Doug wrote (I believe, I am unable to recover the original post, after snipping the citation yesterday):
< Has anyone studied the atmosphere at the university during Bach's tenure? Being surrounded constantly by young students all the time must have brought him into contact with just about every political and philosophical controversy of the period. >
That contact has had minimal effect on students, or teachers, in a cultural sense, in my experience. It is the extraordinary professor who has the ability (not to say humility) to learn from his (<their> is acceptable grammar?) students. I expect they are around, because the diligent grad students are acknowledged in the preface to publications, but I fear the reality is less collegial in practice than in theory.

As I write, I recall one: the guy who introduced me to Wallace Stevens, in engineering school. He cajoled me into being an engineer rather than a poet, in order to make a living. Thanks, Ted, good advice.

From the worlds most impudent student, Stephen Daedalus:
<Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.> James Joyce, Ulysses

I suspect that Joyce recycled that from an earlier source, I would love to know from whence.

Glen Armstrong wrote (January 6, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] Hi, Ed: How about Francis Quarles (1592 - 1644): "The road to resolution lies by doubt: The next way home's the farthest way about."

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (January 6, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] My estimation of most College Professors is that they are unqualified to teach compared to someone with a Bachelors degree in Education who is a certified High School Teacher.

William Hoffman wrote (January 6, 2009):
Doug Cowling wrote (I believe, I am unable to recover the original post, after snipping the citation yesterday):
>> Has anyone studied the atmosphere at the university during Bach's tenure? Being surrounded constantly by young students all the time must have brought him into contact with just about every political and philosophical controversy of the period. <<
William Hoffman replies: The best source so far is <Bach's Changing World: Voices in the Community> (Leipzig & Saxony), ed. Carol Baron. It describes the many influences on Bach, especially the onus of no university education, particularly re. his selection as cantor. It is a great start. Of course, Wolff's bio, <JSB The Learned Musician> goes a long way to establish Bach's credentials. There also is a new book out about author Christiane von Ziegler. The other onus Bach faced was having no musical education in Italy. Yes, education was a status symbol then.

My university education joke: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, teach graduate students; those who can't teach graduate students, administer academic departments.

My favorite quote: There are politics in EVERYTHING! -- no exceptions

The Spanish word "politica" means both politics and policy. That says it all.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 6, 2009):
I previously wrote
> From the worlds most impudent student, Stephen Daedalus:
<Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home. > James Joyce, Ulysses <
I suspect that Joyce recycled that from aearlier source, I would love to know from whence. <
Glen Armstrong replied
>How about Francis Quarles (1592 - 1644): "The road to resolution lies by doubt: The next way home's the farthest way about." <
Thanks for the suggestion, Glen.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 6, 2009):
< My university education joke: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, teach graduate students; those who can't teach graduate students, administer academic departments. >
And, of course, those who can't teach, lecture or administrate are the first to criticise those who do!

 

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Last update: ýJanuary 7, 2009 ý18:56:45