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Negative Words

Criminal Law outlining makes a nice break from Con Law panics. Nonetheless, I think I'm burning out.

Forget the fact that I was seriously considering spending lunch marking up Fiona Apple's Criminal with notation from the Model Penal Code. (Don't look at me like that. It came on the radio while I was working.) No, it actually made me think about English.

You see, I knew a long time ago that there was in fact a concept called ruth: "The quality of being compassionate; pitifulness; the feeling of sorrow for another; compassion, pity" according to the OED. Note that if you have no ruth, you are 'ruthless.'

What I didn't know is that there is a concept called reck, as in you can 'reck of' something: "To take care, heed, or thought of some thing (or person), with inclination, desire or favour towards it, interest in it, or the like; to think (much, etc.) of." Which makes sense, of course, because often in criminal law, you do not reck of something. In which case you are reckless.

I promise, more substantive posts when I'm not studying any longer. Well, OK, this vignette, which has sustained me through the day. I was chatting with a friend on Friday about how busy I was, and said, "My girlfriend is coming over to cook me dinner at eight, which means I only have a few hours to study today before I'm off the clock." And there was quite a lot of stress in my voice.

The lady I was talking to quite properly upbraided me. "Someone who cares for you is coming over to cook you a meal. You're making it sound like an invitation to a firing squad. Is that the person you want to become?"

Quite right. Sure, it's the all-important 1L exams. Except there will always be the all-important something coming up. The bar exam. My first review. The big case. The big promotion. Whatever hoop is coming up the next time. Whereas if it's taken for granted, there might not be a next meal.

In the end, the food was delightful. (I must learn to do interesting pasta dishes.) Meanwhile she showed a marvelous patience in letting me describe the various silliness or absurdities of cases under the criminal law, and helped me clear away some other tasks. So all in all, a good evening. And a nice perspective that has little to do with Perspectives in Legal Thought.


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The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out like shining from shook foil; It gathers greatness like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why then do men not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell; the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel being shod. And for all this nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black west went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs-- Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. --Gerard Manley Hopkins

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