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Ian McColgin
11-15-2008, 12:15 AM
“The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness and the Creation of ‘Rogert’s Thesaurus’” by Joshua Kendall (G.P.Putnam’s Sons, NY,2008) is that best sort of biography, both well focused and sufficiently broad that one gets the cultural sweep of the first half of the nineteenth century.

Rogert, physician, scientist and general polymath who’s whole family was prone to depression and scitzophrenia, kept his own demons at bay by his compulsive list making. Before the thesaurus was more than his private list, he’d classified many life forms in his “Bridgewater Treatise” which Darwin studied with care in 1847 and was the topic on an agonizing priority and plagerism fight. At the end of his life, Rogert’s attitude towards Darwin would make him a boon companion to some on this forum.

Rogert led a long and interesting life. For example, in the 1802-03 peace he served as guide on the grand continental tour to two young aristos, managing his escape from Napoleon’s wrath at Perfidious Albion by a hair.

Worth the read for anyone interested in words or intellectual history or living with madness.

11-15-2008, 01:07 AM
I must say, the last qualifier peaked my interest. ;)

11-15-2008, 08:43 AM
Int his name "Roget"?

George Jung
11-15-2008, 08:48 AM
Ah, Ian - I'm going to check it out, based simply on your intro.

Ian McColgin
11-15-2008, 12:38 PM
Roger that, Leftie.

I think my spell checker changed it for me and I didn't put it back. Rather like a standing joke between my kayak buddy (and for Marmalade, Bo's'n) and myself. She's a legal secretary and ever so perfect at spelling. I am notoriously bad at spelling, due to my dyslexia (the sort associated with ambidextrerity and brilliance). We were planning a paddle from our respective offices and in her e-mail she was reminding me that, being a veg, she wanted to be sure I got renentenless cheese. The machine changed it to "relentless", which I could not resist having fun with.

So, like the damage to Izaac's pot, I have two excuses: I can't spell and the machine made it wrong anyway.

There is a long association between madness, as traditionally misunderstood, and brilliance and lots of ways to use creativity as a cure or at least a palative as well as ways to use supressing brilliance as the cure. In Roget's case, he used obsessive behaviors to keeps the darkness at bay.

David G
11-15-2008, 12:48 PM
I didn't know that was what it was called, but I've had some of that Relentless Cheese - on a camping trip in the Olympics. Really kept me going. And, eventually, I recovered, and we got back on the trail. (or maybe it was the lutefisk)

I love words, I'll just have to check that one out from the local biblioteque.

"May the face of every good news and the back of every bad new be toward us" -- traditional Irish toast