Tuesday, August 11, 2009


SOUL, n. A spiritual entity concerning which there hath been brave disputation. Plato held that those souls which in a previous state of existence (antedating Athens) had obtained the clearest glimpses of eternal truth entered into the bodies of persons who became philosophers. Plato himself was a philosopher. The souls that had least contemplated divine truth animated the bodies of usurpers and despots. Dionysius I, who had threatened to decapitate the broad-browed philosopher, was a usurper and a despot. Plato, doubtless, was not the first to construct a system of philosophy that could be quoted against his enemies; certainly he was not the last.

"Concerning the nature of the soul," saith the renowned author of Diversiones Sanctorum, "there hath been hardly more argument than that of its place in the body. Mine own belief is that the soul hath her seat in the abdomen — in which faith we may discern and interpret a truth hitherto unintelligible, namely that the glutton is of all men most devout. He is said in the Scripture to 'make a god of his belly' — why, then, should he not be pious, having ever his Deity with him to freshen his faith? Who so well as he can know the might and majesty that he shrines? Truly and soberly, the soul and the stomach are one Divine Entity; and such was the belief of Promasius, who nevertheless erred in denying it immortality. He had observed that its visible and material substance failed and decayed with the rest of the body after death, but of its immaterial essence he knew nothing. This is what we call the Appetite, and it survives the wreck and reek of mortality, to be rewarded or punished in another world, according to what it hath demanded in the flesh. The Appetite whose coarse clamoring was for the unwholesome viands of the general market and the public refectory shall be cast into eternal famine, whilst that which firmly through civilly insisted on ortolans, caviare, terrapin, anchovies, pates de foie gras and all such Christian comestibles shall flesh its spiritual tooth in the souls of them forever and ever, and wreak its divine thirst upon the immortal parts of the rarest and richest wines ever quaffed here below. Such is my religious faith, though I grieve to confess that neither His Holiness the Pope nor His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury (whom I equally and profoundly revere) will assent to its dissemination."

2009 Update: The collected essence of an intellect against which the senses, instinct, habit and history all conspire. An inborn obstacle to the hordes of hell and the party in power.


Mo'a said...

Ah, but!!! I am just a simple Soul :) and if I am fast I will be here first.

sleeping ambrose said...

If I am slow I will be here last.

Jim said...

Oh my soul, I am slow! Still came in 3rd (don't ya just luv it!).

This is good, I need to ask, do dogs have souls? Or is it a spirit? I have heard thoughts on this and can't decide.
Most agree they have one of these. You are a good dog person, I trust your opinion, 'it is well with my soul.'

the amoeba said...

Hmmm. Somehow, I don't think "ortolans" are high on the list of menu items folk think about when they hear someone speak of "soul food". 'Course, the originators of soul food, being mostly barefoot, didn't have to worry about being cast into eternal famine. They were already there.

Ariel the Thief said...

Soul, the universe buried under your ego.

aminfix - ?

TLP said...

Whew! Ambrose was so long and windy on the soul, that I barely survived. Making me the Soul Surviver.

TLP said...

I mean Soul Survivor...o not e. So embarrassing.

cooper said...

Damn that was a lengthy Bierce's definition.

I see you lean more toward the modern variation. And thank god for that.

Soul, the eternal casserole.

Martha said...

I absolutely adore a good casserole!

Doug The Una said...

A simple soul is a quick one, I suppose, Mo'a.

Take your time, Ambrose.

Jim, they sure have appetites.

True, Amoeba, even of the fat famined.

Ariel, there should be room for more universe today.

TLP, your original soul could have spelled that perfectly.

"Hypercorrection" is a great new word, Actonbell. I mean, a clever neologism. Well, I like it.

Funny, Coop. I think I even get it.

Martha, it's a good thing.

weirsdo said...

Much as I admire your definition, RBUD, I have to say that Bierce has at last articulated a greed, I mean CREED, I can call my own.