The world as seen through the clarifying lens of the 9th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1875-1889).

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

41. Dr. Dudley A. Sargent of Harvard University was a plagiarist

Wherever possible, it is the object of this blog to afford its readers a fuller understanding of the great issues of our times, through resort to the learned and precise sages employed by the offices of Adam and Charles Black.

"DANCE. The term dancing in its widest sense includes three things :-(1) the spontaneous activity of the muscles under the influence of some strong emotion, such as social joy or religious exultation ; (2) definite combinations of graceful movements performed for the sake of the pleasure which the exercise affords to the dancer or to the spectator ; (3) carefully trained movements which are meant by the dancer vividly to represent the actions and passions of other people."

Beloved quondam BBC chief political correspondent John Sargeant's Saturday night TV performances might never be agreed to be graceful, that their object was the pleasure of dancer and spectator both is beyond refute.

To digress briefly, in "Amo, Amas, Amat... And All That," author Harry Mount derides the use of 'quondam' in place of the plain English 'former' (by Chris Patten, the erstwhile Governor of Hong Kong) as wankerish, which it may indeed be, but I found this particular example a bit odd coming from a proselytizing classicist. Pompously obscuring otherwise straightforward statements must ever be the most entertaining use that a half-remembered smattering of Latin can be put to : 'quondam,' however, is surely not even that obscure, generally guessable from context, and found in most dictionaries of English.

Returning to DANCE, it may be akin to the hypothetical balletic dissertation concerning architecture, but at least W. C. Smith, LL. B., writes with a grace and measure appropriate to his subject.

"If the steps of dancing and the intervals of time be not precisely equal, there is still a pleasure depending on the gradually increasing intensity of motion, on the undulation which uniformly rises in order to fall. As Florizel says to Perdita, "When you dance, I wish you a wave of the sea" (Winter's Tale, iv. 3). The mind feels the beauty of emphasis and cadence in muscular motion, just as much as in musical notes. Then, the figure of the dance is frequently a circle or some more graceful curve or series of curves, -a fact which satisfies the dancer as well as the eye of the spectator. But all such effects are intensified by the use of music, which not only brings a perfectly distinct set of pleasurable sensations to dancer and spectator, but by the control of dancing produces an inexpressibly sweet harmony of sound and motion."

I intended to use that last phrase of W. C. Smith, "An inexpressibly sweet harmony of sound and motion," as the header for this posting. It is my habit, however, to enter a sentence or two of the quoted articles into the Google machine, to see if I am able to direct Accordingianists to the complete original somewhere out in Interwebshire (most usually the Antipodean precincts of the esteemed Imagine my shock and outrage when a search for "perfectly distinct set of pleasurable sensations" dredged up an exact match from the New York Times of January 3rd, and an article "Modern Dance as Athletic Exercise" by Dr Dudley A. Sargent of Harvard University. In a lengthy piece, initial examination only uncovers two sentences cribbed from Britannica by Dr. Sargent, but I find that incriminating enough. The Google also reveals that Sargent was one of the early pioneers of physical education, an anthropometrist, the inventor of much gym equipment still in use today, and his career at Harvard spanned 40 years.

A steady flow of Google-directed traffic to this site suggests that I may be responsible for propagating the knowledge that (to one commentator anyway) George Washington possessed the largest hands ever seen on a man. For the historical record, I would also like it to be known that Dr. Dudley A. Sargent of Harvard University was a plagiarist. Let this serve as a warning to others, that whether justice comes in your own lifetime or 80 years down the line, you may be sure that your sins will find you out, and your name be forever blackened by your perfidy.

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