Friday, November 02, 2012

John Keats on Men's Health

MIND, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain its own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with. From the Latin mens, a fact unknown to that honest shoe-seller, who, observing that his learned competitor over the way had displayed the motto "Mens conscia recti," emblazoned his own front with the words "Men's, women's and children's conscia recti." (Ambrose Bierce)

Don't ask how I stumbled on this list, but Men's Health offers ten interpretations of the female body, at least two of which (linked below) made me think of this passage in Keat's "Ode to Melancholy":

Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

I really do worry that these magazine "tips" and advice columns are replacing poetry as the "data for ethics". Notice how the interpretations of female physiology are supported again and again by science. Compare Pound's "conception of the body as perfect instrument of the increasing intelligence" with the practical attitude of "men's sana", if you will: "Treat her to a breakfast in bed consisting of warmed banana-nut bread, which has an aroma that, according to one study, increases bloodflow to the vagina." I suppose this is also a solution to the troubadour's problem: "finding a new way of saying in six closely rhymed strophes that a certain girl, matron or widow was a like a certain set of things, and the troubadour's virtues were like another set, and that all this was very sorrowful or otherwise, and that there was but one obvious remedy." (Pound, LE, p. 102)

Here's to a men's sana in a corporate sano!

No comments: