The Past is a Foreign...Something

What the Hell Are You Talking about William James?

Or, No But Seriously What


The book [Santayana’s Life of Reason] is Emerson’s first rival and successor, but how different the reader’s feeling! The same things in Emerson’s mouth would sound entirely different. E. [Emerson] receptive, expansive, as if handling life through a wide funnel with a great indraught; S.[Santayana] as if through a pin-point orifice that emits his cooling spray outward over the universe like a nose-disinfectant from an “atomizer.”

~William James to Dickinson S. Miller, Cambridge, 10 November 1905, Letters of William James, p. 234

via Brandon Watson in his excellent, and much more useful, post on the context of Santayana’s most famous line, one of a projected series.

h/t Cliopatria

Image cite: Chab74, “What are you talking about?,” Flickr, CC License