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March 2018



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Why don't I ever get the cool diseases?

There was an interview with Alice Weaver Flaherty on Morning Edition today (Thursday, January 29, 2004).

"The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain" by Alice Weaver Flaherty.

What good is the internet if it can't find me the quote where Edgar Allen Poe calls compulsive writing "The Midnight Disease" (or where Plato advocated "Noble Lies")?


Best I could do...


"How, then, might we contrive...one noble lie to persuade if possible the rulers themselves, but failing that the rest of the city?"

[The Republic, bk. III, 414-C]

Re: Best I could do...


That is probably why it isn't quoted much, you have to read the whole passage to get the meaning.

Re: Best I could do...

Ahh...well...I tried looking for the Poe one, but all I could find was that book that you mentioned, as well as various quotes from The Tell Tale Heart. :P

Is it a very long passage? Or is there a link you can post so I could read the whole thing? Just curious now, after going to look for it. ;)

Re: Best I could do...

All I know is that author mentioned that the title was from Poe.

Re: Best I could do...

Doh...I meant from the Plato quote, as you said you need to read the whole passage to understand it properly. Sorry I switched topics like that. :(

Re: Best I could do...

I found the text of Plato's Republic on Project Gutenberg

I wrote a paper on this in college.

Their text doesn't use the translation "noble lie" they say "needful falsehoods"

But earlier in the text.
"You know, I said, that we begin by telling children stories which, though not wholly destitute of truth, are in the main fictitious; and these stories are told them when they are not of an age to learn gymnastics."
"Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, and reject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorised ones only."
"If they would only believe us we would tell them that quarrelling is unholy, and that never up to this time has there been any, quarrel between citizens; this is what old men and old women should begin by telling children; and when they grow up, the poets also should be told to compose for them in a similar spirit."
For a young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what is literal; anything that he receives into his mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts."
"And, as I was just now remarking, this ignorance in the soul of him who is deceived may be called the true lie; for the lie in words is only a kind of imitation and shadowy image of a previous affection of the soul, not pure unadulterated falsehood. Am I not right?
Perfectly right.
The true lie is hated not only by the gods, but also by men?
Whereas the lie in words is in certain cases useful and not hateful; in dealing with enemies--that would be an instance; or again, when those whom we call our friends in a fit of madness or illusion are going to do some harm, then it is useful and is a sort of medicine or preventive; also in the tales of mythology, of which we were just now speaking--because we do not know the truth about ancient times, we make falsehood as much like truth as we can, and so turn it to account."

"SUCH then, I said, are our principles of theology--some tales are to be told, and others are not to be told to our disciples from their youth upwards, if we mean them to honour the gods and their parents, and to value friendship with one another."
"Again, truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying, a lie is useless to the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men, then the use of such medicines should be restricted to physicians; private individuals have no business with them."
"Then if any one at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the State should be the persons; and they, in their dealings either with enemies or with their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public good."
"How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we
lately spoke--just one royal lie which may deceive the rulers,
if that be possible, and at any rate the rest of the city?"
"They are to be told that their youth was a dream, and the education and training which they received from us, an appearance only; in reality during all that time they were being formed and fed in the womb of the earth, where they themselves and their arms and appurtenances were manufactured; when they were completed, the earth, their mother, sent them up; and so, their country being their mother and also their nurse, they are bound to advise for her good, and to defend her against attacks, and her citizens they are to regard as children of the earth and their own brothers."

It's a good book

I picked it up a while ago and have been working through it.