He could dig no deeper than a grave, six feet perhaps of fractured soil, before the battering instrument began to turn upon itself. [It] sought to bury its body in the reluctant ground . . . Sam had passed the point of all his purposes . . . There was a kind of frantic joy to his desperation, as if the fury of failure itself offered some violent relief to his great disappointments; as if disaster proved its own reward in the end . . . The machine had begun to break itself apart, inwardly consumed, outwardly dissipated, by its own desires. The wheels caught and slipped in the violence of their endeavours; drill and auger jolted and shook as they struck home, stuck in bedrock, and could not shake free. The body of the whole began to heave and shudder as if it sought relief from its own intentions.
Benjamin Markovits, The Syme Papers
Poor Bunbury died this afternoon.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
If everyone says Tom did it when the man who did it was Will, the result is what one calls an error, and Will is done out of his due. If while everyone says Tom did it you see Will and hail him as Tom, error cancels error and Will has his credit again. Describe all possible values for that credit.
LRB 5 April 2007 | PDF Download