Geoffrey Hill, Modern Thamus?

In Odi Barbare (2012), Geoffrey Hill writes:

Google my old blind of Platonics with Mc-
Taggart's mystic corpulence deemed endearing.

Whatever that means. Scratching his head, blogger Bebrowed did the sensible thing (i.e., did what he was told) and more:

I’ve now googled every single possible permutation on Hill, his response to McTaggart et al in ‘The Triumph of Love’ and the ‘e’ word and have come to the reluctant and quite disturbing notion that this endearing is a bebrowed endearing. Given the above I have to say that the last line is beyond me …. As I’m not comfortable with this, I’d be very grateful if readers could point me to other web use of the e word in this context…

I’ll wager it isn’t comfortable for anyone. Interpretive contortions, plus speculation over variant Google algorithms, follow in the comments, plus some attempts at allusive humour. But see Hill, in a conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in 2008 (quoted in Sperling):

Velocity is increasing exponentially, and it is velocity that will destroy memory, and when memory has been destroyed the whole dimension that you need for meaningful criticism is destroyed also. In that respect I am not very hopeful, because the one thing computer technology does is in fact a velocity thing – you now do in two seconds what earlier scholarship would have taken two or three years to do. A plethora of information speedily acquired is the sort of velocity that will destroy criticism, and it is a very frightening prospect … I think there are things built into the information culture which are destructive of the very things it seeks to gain information about.

A warning to the googlers among us.

Now compare the words of Thamus, king of gods and god of language, when presented with the invention of writing by Theuth, related here by Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus (Jowett):

O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

Fun dare to a Derridean: as thou hast done unto Plato, do now unto Hill.

No Comments