Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sterne on "attitudes" surely as much emotional as physical

"When my uncle Toby first mentioned the grenadier, my father, I said, fell down with his nose flat to the quilt, and as suddenly as if my uncle Toby had shot him; but it was not added that every other limb and member of my father instantly relapsed with his nose into the same precise attitude in which he lay first described; so that when Corporal Trim left the room, and my father found himself disposed to rise [again] off the bedhe had all the little preparatory movements to run over again, before he could do it. Attitudes are nothing, madam'tis the transition from one attitude to anotherlike the preparation and resolution of the discord into harmony, which is all in all.
     "For which reason my father played the same jig over again with his toe upon the floorpushed the chamber-pot still a little further within the valancegave a hemraised himself up upon his elbowand was just beginning to address himself to my uncle Tobywhen. . . ."

     Laurence Sterne, The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent., IV.6 (GBWW, 1st ed., 1952, vol. 36, p. 342). Applied as much to the rise out of an emotional as out of a physical state (as much to the extrication of oneself from a funk, just for example), I find this to be both true to experience and extraordinarily perceptive.

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