26 January 2021

NOISY PURSUITS (Did Joe and Jill go up the hill and, if so, how far?)

I offer this as a humble Scholion upon the Romance-moment of this millennium: after her first and, we are told, immensely blind date with the Once and Future President, "Dr Jill" went home and said to her mother: "Gee, Mom, at last I met a gentleman."

I suppose the locus classicus of the Gentlemanly Suitor in Western Literature is Ovid's account of Apollo's pursuit of Daphne. The god begins by suggesting that she run more carefully lest the thistles and thorns spoil the perfection of her legs. He then adds an inducement: if she will flee more slowly, he will moderate the speed of his pursuit.

This is the sort of thing that keeps us all rereading the Metamorphoses. D'you think Joe and Jill read Ovid together?

But why do the pursued so often make so much noise? In Kai Lung's Golden Hours, Kai Lung wakes in a wood to find two girls watching him. "Kai Lung ... having bowed several times to indicate his pacific nature, stood in an attitude of deferential admiration. At this display, the elder and less attractive of the maidens fled, uttering loud and continuous cries of apprehension in order to conceal the direction of her flight ..."

No wonder Hilaire Belloc so enjoyed Ernest Bramah's rococo ironies.

But there may also be a mystery about the noisiness of the pursuit. Confer this snatch of don-talk at a Common-room dinner in the middle of the Long Vacation: "Did it ever strike you ... what a very singular thing it is that dogs should bark when they are in pursuit of their prey? Very much as if Nature intended that [rabbits] should be given warning of their enemy's approach. Doesn't work, you know, from the evolutionary point of view; in a Darwinian world the dog which barks lowest ought to catch the most rabbits, and so the bark ought to disappear, don't you see? There was a man reading a very interesting paper about that at one of these congresses the other day; and he said, you know, he thought the bark of the dog was intended to drown the squealing of the rabbit, so that the other rabbits shouldn't know anything disastrous was happening ..."

Notanda (1) Even in 1928, Knox is parodying the 'Y'know' bores and bullies.

(2) I bet there isn't a college left that does C-r dinners in the middle of the Long Vacation.



Banshee said...

That story is a bunch of BS. It's a known fact that the then-married-to-another-man, already-with-kids Jill Biden was a volunteer for Biden's campaigns, along with her then-husband who knew him first. Her ex-husband finally announced last year that, yes, Biden went after his ex-wife while they were still happily married, and that Biden actually had a car accident while driving the ex-husband's car and with Jill. Biden also had physical encounters with Jill while the ex-husband and Jill's kids were in the house. Apparently they started having their affair when Jill was allegedly babysitting Biden's kids, so using kids as an affair prop went both ways.

The ex-husband claims that he wanted to save the marriage, but finally divorced Jill on grounds of infidelity.

Biden and Jill Biden officially claim that they never even met until after Jill was divorced, and that they met on a blind date, blah blah blah. But this is exactly as true as most of the other things Biden says about his life.

(And it's stupid, because apparently it's a small enough political world in Delaware that everybody knows everybody's life stories.)

Paul in Melbourne, Australia said...

Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
For God hath made them so
Isaac Watts

For those readers who may not be familiar with your quote from Let Dons Delight, Father, they will now realise the deliberate allusion by Monsignor Knox in his title.