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Creativity Crisis

Chapter 7

EXPECTATION

We wait for our students and our students wait for us. In a literal sense, we are always waiting. After the lecture or tutorial has been prepared, we nervously wait for the time when the students appear. The students themselves have been waiting for the occasion, either on-campus or coming toward the campus, waiting for public transport or traffic. These literal forms of waiting are interesting, even when sometimes resented; but they are not the motif that I have in mind as an essential part of learning. They are analogous to the tension that boxers must experience before their match, which must be almost as hard to bear as the gloves of their opponent once in the ring. Rather, the waiting that counts for our purposes is integral to cognition itself.

By convention, my purpose in writing is to communicate my research. The classical view of research is empirical and is conceptualized along stages of design, testing, proving and writing up. But if the process of the research involves thinking of new ideas—if, say, it is approached creatively in arts and humanities—the act of doing the research is intimately a part of the writing and vice versa. In writing, my exhaustive plans are mostly in vain, because I do not really know what I am going to write until I come to write it. In effect, as I write and I try to match several ideas that might lie in the vicinity (a process which is simultaneously entrancing and stressful) I am waiting. The ideas will not come to me without waiting, in the same way that they will not come to me without a technique of eliciting all the likely options that might relate to the theme. Sometimes we wait seconds or minutes; at other times we wait hours or days; with greater risk of frustration, we sometimes wait months or years for the ideas to gel or at least sufficiently to give us licence to sketch their nascent lineaments in writing. In all that time, we have been learning.

Waiting is subjective. Our tolerance for waiting or even our propensity to recognize a given period as waiting-time varies from individual to individual. A person on a train who is fidgeting may experience the time between departure and destination as a period of waiting, analogous to the time spent on the platform for the train to arrive. But the person nearby in the same rail coach who is reading a book or admiring the scenery in rapture does not experience the same duration as some kind of hiatus that must be waited out.1 Rather, the time spent in travel is a useful break during which the mind allows itself to wander delightfully, unharried by pressure and stressful goals.

The phenomenology of waiting is layered with levels of engagement. First, you can be waiting in the sense of being at a loose end. Second, you can become marvellously distracted with a rhapsodic independence from the thing or event that you are waiting for. And third, you can wait for some event in a way that greatly enhances its impact or development in your mind and which conditions the way that you think. Music is the perfect example. When we are conscious of the music in the moment, the imminent notes have all been awaited. The sequences that anticipate the next development cause us to entertain certain expectations which hugely enrich our appreciation of the music. In music there are regular cycles of expectation and fulfilment: you wait for the high notes to descend or to repeat a pattern and, even as this movement is about to be achieved, you await the reciprocation; the scale will return upward or the beat will divide or lengthen, the basso will shudder, with its magic reverberations from below overtaking the treble voices, only to be overturned, to recede. These are patterns that you know will happen. Even if you were surprised on the first listening, you may have heard the music—or even played it yourself—scores of times, and yet the predictive duration, during which you wait for the known eventuality, thrills you: in short, it is the musical response.

This sense of waiting as expectation is particularly significant for learning, because it is assumed that when we are expecting to learn, we are ready to learn. The expectation not only heralds the learning but propitiates the learning. It is part of the logic of learning outcomes, to create a predictable and reliable schedule of what is to be learned, which is duly fulfilled by the learning activities connecting in alignment. Thanks to the flow of expectation, students can plan their learning, knowing what to await and clinching their expectation with certain realities. But with all this certainty, we have to ask: how poetic, how imaginative can expectation be?

There is a subtle difference between waiting and expectation. What we wait for is always something in general, whereas what we expect is something in particular. As I wait for my ideas to find some formulation through writing, I do not have too many expectations. I am curious to see what unfolds, knowing well that patience is needed and haste is destructive. I wait on the thoughts, meaning that I attend upon them; but if I expected to think of something, I feel sure that my openness and curiosity would be compromised. To be creative is to want something but not necessarily expect it; because discovery is beyond expectations. By what we have already encountered, we might have an inkling of what we will receive and gain in the instant ahead, so that when it arrives, it is recognized and immediately finds a receptive audience in our intelligence. But in older language, the distinction is not clear. We wait or expect, as the early Italian writer Boccaccio said, with desire (con disidero aspettando),2 and the high renaissance writer Baldassare Castiglione describes an intense and beautiful discussion where ‘everyone awaited the proposed argument with keen attention (con attentissima aspettazion)’ or ‘most attentive expectation’.3 Waiting is integral to ratiocination but especially the kind of ratiocination that belongs to listening.

The link between waiting and expectation is natural and is underscored by language. In Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, the word for waiting (aspettare, esperar) is also the word for expectation, with links to hope (speranza, esperanza, esperança) or aspiration, from Latin to look out for, await, wait for (exspecto).4 The same Boccaccio, writing in the fourteenth century, can intend the verb to mean either waiting or expectation. The instances for which we would choose waiting are very numerous: one begins a story without waiting (senza aspettare) for the signal from the queen;5 one goes to one’s room and waits till the monk departs;6 one waits or hangs on (ma pure aspettava) because it would not look good to leave;7 one waits for decorum’s sake but begins to eat on seeing that the Abbot was not coming;8 one waits for peace in England;9 one remains waiting in melancholy circumstances.10 In a sinister vein, one waits for the time and place to fulfil one’s dastardly plans;11 a motif which arises in the contemporaneous poet Petrarch.12

On the other hand, the cases where we would choose ‘expect’ are equally impressive. One expected the diametrically opposite conclusion (aspettava dirittamente contraria conclusione);13 one expects nothing less than the arrival of the marchese;14 one expects nothing other than to lead a miserable life for-ever;15 one expects to be seized;16 one expects to be trounced and to drown.17 This sense is also used in later renaissance writing, as in Castiglione.18

Sometimes, the word can go either way, like expecting to die or perhaps waiting to die.19 You can also go fetch someone who is either expecting you or waiting for you.20 Both seem valid. The poet Petrarch, a contemporary of Boccaccio, seems to relish the ambiguity, as when he describes people to the west expecting or waiting for the daylight that slips from the sky where we are;21 and he himself awaits or hopes for the night.22 He puts up with the present but either expects or waits for better;23 he either expects or waits for mortality.24 There are, however, cases where Petrarch means expect, as in his stalwart stance against love, like a man expecting war.25 Occasionally, he means simply ‘wait’, as when he says that he will never again see his deceased Laura, and waiting for the reunion makes him impatient;26 though in another poem he acknowledges that heaven yearns for (or expects) her.27

Structuring education around expectations is not new. For example, in becoming an adept courtier, one awaited various qualities to be instilled which proceed from the goal, to direct oneself ‘to the path of virtue’, as Castiglione says, ‘to be magnanimous, liberal, just, spirited, prudent or to have any other quality that one awaits’.28 The result of all the discourses is to produce someone like Cesare Gonzaga who, ‘for kindness, wit, spirit and knowledge, nothing is so great that you wouldn’t expect it of him’.29 In inculcating good manners, society creates expectations, that what goes around comes around in rewarding cycles of reciprocation: younger people ‘expect to receive in old age the same favours that they as youths extended to their parents’.30 At the same time, a courtier should neither seek nor wait for any praise.31 The educational basis of courtly discourse embraces the motifs of what to expect and what not to wait for. It begins with expectations and ends with what is worth waiting for.

Renaissance learning is concerned with a set of general expectations which are broadly humanist; and ideologically it would not be hard to find the vision limited. However, the element in the project of enhancing one’s development brings out a peculiarly active kind of waiting, a time spent which is demonstratively aspirational, thoughtful and productive. Throughout the period, a favourite topos was the contrast of the active and contemplative life; but waiting, which was so much more normal than it is today, creatively reconciles the two. It is active because thinking to a purpose—imaginatively foreshadowing the thing one waits for—is an activity. It is contemplative because impatience is put in abeyance and thinking is licenced to be unusually rhapsodic as well as attentive.

Throughout the Anglophone world, there is a movement to abandon lectures. It is perhaps especially manifest among the science disciplines, where humanities have retained a certain degree of faith in the institution of lecture followed by tutorial.32 Bit by bit, however, academics are creating puzzles online, making videos and flipping their classes. The concept is in many ways sympathetic: to offload purely transmissive content into videos and text, supplemented with online interactive lessons. One of the perceived advantages is that we save students from waiting for us. They do not have to attend to the same extent and their waiting for a lecture can be relieved from dependency by the great convenience of media that exist outside real time. It is surely an advantage; and a further laudable point in the great pedagogical adjustment is to make the on-campus experience more about student learning, not about the academic’s teaching, more about the students and their growing capabilities; the encounter for students is more conversational, less passive, more dynamic and charged with participation.

As if surreptitiously, the stigma of passivity has infiltrated educational discourse, discrediting lectures and proposing that all learning, true and authentic learning, only takes place with activity, when students try out for themselves some technique, so that their practice reinforces their learning. In many ways, this change is mighty and praiseworthy; but it is unclear that it suits discursive disciplines. An academic’s style of lecturing might already serve the purpose of letting a student rehearse ideas in her or his head. Say it has an intellectually stimulating dimension, through which students work hard while attending: they are learning at a fine rate and do not experience the lecture as passive at all.

When a student is harking to something that she or he wants to understand, the experience is not passive; and beyond the fact that the student does not physically move, there is no evidence that the level of cognitive activity is lower than when the student tries to frame a similar concept for herself or himself. In listening to a lecture, my mind is active and I feel strongly that I am exercising a life-skill, which is listening, concentrating, training my powers of predictive sympathy. An element of that activity—which I think is also quite dynamic—is separating the speaker’s techniques in oratory from the content that it projects. It is like deconstruction if you will. At the right pitch, a lecture makes for extremely active concentration.

It is not automatically advantageous to eliminate this great ritual, which also has plenty of festivity and occasionally ceremonializes learning in a way that is memorable and charismatic. A performance theorist, Philip Auslander, once said that even ‘within our hypermediatized culture, far more symbolic capital is attached to live events than to mediatized ones’.33 Is it prudent, then, to dismiss the symbolic capital of the lecture? Admittedly, the live event will persist in flipped modes but perhaps not the same kind as one can experience in a lecture, if it is a really good lecture, that is.

Transitioning to video and online puzzles does not mean that the whole value of lectures has been replaced by newer techniques. Lectures do not necessarily belong to ‘heritage media’, maintained by obsolete professors just because the students in the audience do not speak. If we are inclined to have little patience with lectures, it is because, as a culture, we no longer understand the value and dynamics of listening. Listening involves a searching pregnant kind of waiting, a form of predictive engagement, a cognitive anticipation of ideas and reconcilement with what is actually said, where contentment and eagerness rock the attention gently toward a deeper understanding of the theme. There is no learning experience like it, because I get to think sympathetically with the speaker to the point that I am already rehearsing the ideas as they are spoken. Admittedly the dynamic depends upon the speaker having a communicative ethos that invites my powers of sympathy and scrutiny. It helps if the speaker is stimulating in some way, eliciting my interest through beautiful narrative, for example, or rhetorical questions. But given this level of connexion, I have great cognitive agency in listening, because my waiting is rewarded. Few activities are as intellectually intense—with its concatenated period of waiting and reception, predictive sympathy, wonder and critique—which is perhaps the underlying reason for abandoning prolonged listening as a learning technique. It is a considerable irony that the cognitive activity par excellence is stigmatized as passive because it is too vigorous for us any longer to sustain.

One speaks of passive learning;34 but there is no such thing. It is a contradiction in terms. Either one is learning or not. If one is learning, the experience is an activity; one is necessarily active in learning. I do not have to speak or practice something in order to learn. I can sometimes listen and observe and take an interest from my seat; and if I am not constantly called upon to participate or babied into group work, I can enjoy relative freedom to concentrate on the expression of another intellect, always waiting for the points of contact with my own thoughts, with images and memory. For this reason I am suspicious of the dogma of participation. It is true that for some disciplines I will only learn by trying to do a manipulative act: mathematics, for instance, and a lecture will probably go over my head. But in discursive disciplines, the imaginative vigour of listening may be aborted thanks to a need prematurely to take up a view, profess, project, charm and entertain a group.

In contemporary educational settings, we literally cannot wait to participate. We cannot wait because we see no virtue in the condition, only a regrettable delay, possibly filled with the lecturer’s pomposity. Waiting is not understood as part of the organic continuum which is necessary to the formulation of ideas, the refreshment of thought, the chance to come alongside another person’s insights and take on their inductive potential. Actually, it is a fertile stage of learning because waiting affords imaginative projections, during which one might create identifications with a topic. In waiting to hear what one craves but does not yet understand, a certain philosophical equanimity may assist the contemplative kind of reasoning which is so active beneath the quiet of listening (passively, it seems, only from the outside). All courtly cultures have enjoyed this air of waiting. It belonged to the etiquette of the nobility and their retinue to show patience or, as Baldassare Castiglione says in The courtier, ‘to gain favours by meriting them: the courtier has to wait till they are offered rather than presumptuously seeking them’.35 There is virtue in waiting, like the scholar in Boccaccio who waits a long time in a courtyard for his lover, during which the infatuated pair are sustained by their intentions.36 The length of waiting is a measure of his abiding passion and resolve.

In even more ancient cultures, the condition of waiting in general was highly valued, not just because it suited the powerful to commend patience but because there is an aspiration within it, a hope for reciprocation, where good things ensue.37 If I wait for you, you will wait for me. If I listen to you, you will listen to me. For that reason, waiting is honoured in most systems of faith. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, from Job to Christ, the virtue of waiting is repeatedly expressed. For example Joseph of Arimathaea is described as ‘an honourable counsellor, which also waited (προσδεχόμενος) for the kingdom of God’ and praised for his bravery.38 Or Simeon, who was just and devout, ‘waiting (προσδεχόμενος) for the consolation of Israel’, has special grace.39 Good people ‘were all waiting (προσδοκῶντες) for Jesus’,40 just as we might await his return.41 Waiting in this sense is also not passive. It has connotations of watching for, watching out for, remaining on guard42 and performing an office of servitude.43 Waiting itself is full of faithfulness, if not watchfulness.44 While waiting, one may be inspired.45 Waiting is the greatest occasion for cultivating readiness, which is especially so in cognitive activity.

The most common biblical word for somebody waiting (προσδεχόμενος) is constructed from the verb for receiving (δέχομαι) or taking in a welcome or accepting spirit (analogous to Latin to grasp (cepo) which is the origin of both receiving and accepting) but with the added sense of taking in warmly.46 Waiting, by its very lexical architecture in Greek, is an act of generosity which invites reciprocity, expectations of a benign kind; and it follows, given a certain kind of faith, that this beautiful deferral of impatience is rewarded. Sometimes we even make ourselves wait so that we experience the reward of forbearance; so, for example, we might put off our coffee for another hour, even though we could gladly accept it right now. To wait for something of potential profit is a rewarding experience analogous to deferral of imminent pleasure, heightening the eventuality or stretching out the forecast of ecstasy, as if extending an imaginary fulfilment. It is aesthetic waiting, if you like, as with the thought of dinner both heightening and assuaging the hunger with a prospect of delight. It is something that has a climax that you work toward, like sexual jouissance, which is not strictly awaited so much as brought forth by expectation itself.

Although exercising discipline over pleasure is still practiced in daily ritual, our culture is broadly intolerant of waiting. One seeks to minimize it as much as possible, especially in business. If you make people wait, you lose customers and money. One can speculate on the proportion of the global economy that is dedicated to the attenuation of waiting: speedier services in post or retail, medical, telephonic, financial services, anything where there might be a queue. There are great commercial incentives that encourage immediacy, because companies are in competition with one another to offer faster satisfaction. It is not just the service sector but manufacturing as well, which has time-efficiencies at its heart. Nothing must be left waiting. Assembly is organized through just-in-time systems. We live in the age of logistics, where the management of supply chains is primarily about the reduction of waiting, and where waiting equates with a loss of money or opportunity.

The cultural impact of these economic shifts is undeniable. If you were to compare the activity in the great art of our time, film and video, with that of former ages, especially painting and sculpture, the changes are overwhelming. Film loves action, even if it is only speaking; and even if one interlocutor waits for the other to finish, the attention is on the active side of the screen. But from the renaissance to Lucian Freud, the bulk of paintings in our museums shows people waiting. Certainly there are subject pictures with action; but even these often contain people in attendance who are effectively waiting, as with the many guests in Veronese’s Christ in the house of Levi in the Louvre. Western painting identifies well the predicament of deferred activity, where action is in abeyance. One’s portrait cannot easily show action, unless a tronie; but the portrait can nevertheless show the sitter in a condition where action could be imminent, even though the sitter is actually waiting.

Because we live in time, we live in waiting. Despite the great commercial energies to negate waiting, it remains essential to the ontology of experience. We expect a long life but technically we are waiting for death.47 And when we die, no one waits for us.48 Waiting is one of the necessary vectors of experienced time. What we await and what awaits us comprise most of experience.49 It seems to be the antithesis of something happening, but it is the genius of lived time, where everything that happens, short of a surprise, is to some extent awaited. Waiting means that something is yet to happen: you hope that it is in train and it activates expectation. Part of the reason that so much of experience can be described as waiting is the difficulty of identifying anything that satisfies desire for a long duration; bliss is short and the gaps between euphoric moments are always longer than hope would prefigure. We may not construe these gaps as waiting; sometimes we fill them up with work, whether necessary or not, and feel that we are earning the pleasure of many returns to the feast. There are elaborate structures to distract us from the feeling of waiting. We can represent waiting as expectation, which we can then cultivate, as with Stendhal defining beauty as the promise of happiness. Waiting is positioned between hope and frustration, between service and punishment, between attention and paralysis, between active hope and resignation.50

Some forms of waiting are extremely negative, like being in the stocks or in gaol or waiting for the next lash in a flogging51 or waiting for the blade to put you to death;52 but these forms of torture are not a reflexion on waiting per se but extraordinary maltreatment, with the cruel intention of hurting people. Still, in behaviour without violence, waiting may also be experienced as an indignity.53 To make people wait is an insult but also an expression of power relations: to appear, wait till my voice calls you, as Racine says.54 In a power struggle, one may beg one person to wait for another to achieve reconciliation.55 If you make me wait indefinitely, I eventually face a crisis. Do I persist in my patience and risk an outrageous loss of time, or do I give up, defeated by the negation, by the absence, the lack of an advent?56 I feel disempowered by the threat of mounting disappointment but also anxiety about leaving my post, abandoning the attendance that I might have been trusted to see out. Being denied an audience when I am expected to attend leaves me indisposed. In some ways, the absence of waiting defines our independence.57 For those reasons, I do not want to keep anyone waiting. Apart from the personal hurt, it means that my colleague is unproductive, not functioning optimally in my organization. We do not want people to be kept waiting in any circumstance; and contemporary employment arrangements are contrived to disguise the indignity of power relations, so that even junior employees are not made to feel any inferiority by having to wait for their superiors.58

The structure of waiting is more apparent in premodern societies in which there was a class of people—servants and even slaves—whose purpose was to wait, a reality with traces in our own language, like lady-in-waiting or waiting woman, to wait on someone,59 and which persists in contemporary language with terms like ‘waiter’.60 Beyond the biblical uses already observed from Roman times, the Greeks had a vast vocabulary to describe waiting. It is hard to imagine that so many terms could have been hatched by language unless the reality were both common and inflected. For instance, there is a group that takes its root fom the verb to wait for (δοκάζω), which uses many prepositions,61 and an even larger group around the verb to stay or wait (μένω).62 Another group has its origin in the verb to sit (ἑδριάω), which could sometimes signal dutiful attendance (παρεδρία) or a sinister lying in wait (ἐφέδρευσις) in a pattern replicated in Latin, where the root for sitting supplies waiting words of caring attendance (assiduitas, assideo, like our assiduousness) but also waylaying (insidior, insidiator, insidiatrix, like our insidious), which is waiting for an opportunity to strike.63 There are other words in Greek that relate to waiting, the most telling of which concern watching or attendance, as in the verbs to wait for, watch for (ἀποτηρέω).64

Attention shares an origin with waiting, and with good reason, because attention is a special kind of waiting where we expect to learn. Leaving aside the Greek conceptions, the French word for waiting (attendre) is the same as our attend and therefore attention, which in earlier English writing could also be used as waiting, as when Anne says: ‘The dinner attends you, sir’, meaning not that you are waiting for dinner but the dinner is waiting for you, just as ‘good digestion waits on appetite’.65 In French, as in any language, waiting does not necessarily have positive associations, because bad things can await us.66 In the tragedies of Racine, for example, waiting can be about cultivating patience over revenge;67 it can be about a threat,68 impatience over attention,69 the great unlikeliness of a favour,70 a delight long desired71 and, of course, expectation,72 and every shade between.73

The French verb (attendre) can also mean attend, as in English, as when people attend the temple.74 The link between waiting and attendance is so strong that Shakespeare even uses the two words together: ‘wait attendance / Till you hear further from me’; and, ending Pericles, Gower congratulates and blesses the audience: ‘So, on your patience evermore attending, / New joy wait on you!’75 It is typical of English that we have two words, a Germanic one (to wait) and a French one (to attend). They do not mean exactly the same thing, in the same way that attending and attention do not mean exactly the same thing. If we put the three together—wait ➔ attend ➔ attention—a scale of interactivity is apparent. It is possible to wait but not attend, as when we wait to get in the door but find that the room is full. And on a less physical level, it is possible to attend but not to pay attention, a condition that we fear among our students in large classes, where the attendees are definitely in the room but their level of engagement with the content is low; and sometimes attendance is negative.76 Without doubt, the most intellectual of the three terms is attention, though it could involve any level of psychological engagement and not just attention to an argument. For example, one might or might not return flirtation with erotic attention. We might disdain to notice someone, pay him or her no attention, which is a slight. These forms of psychological attention have something in common, namely that they involve different kinds of waiting on the part of the person who seeks attention and the person who pays attention. The person seeking attention—as active as she or he may be—is effectively waiting; but the person who either does or does not reciprocate with attention is not waiting in the same sense (unless he or she cannot wait to get away) but is assess-ing the bid and what would make the best response.

Attention has waiting in it. There is no attention without some kind of waiting; and so the three terms do not describe a hierarchy, with waiting at the bottom and attention at the top. They are necessary to one another, with attendance (real or virtual) as the precondition of attention. But attention is liable to wander, including when we attend; and, as noted, attendance is no guarantee of attention. We get distracted when we ought to be riveted to the theme. In a sense, however, the tendency to slip away into a different headspace, to succumb to other thoughts that race prolifically through the mind, is also a failure to wait. The precondition of attention remains waiting; because instead of generating an oneiric efflorescence of images or narratives that distract from the theme, we resign ourselves to waiting for guidance. The speaker, let us imagine the teacher in the classroom, cannot possibly keep our attention at 100% all the time. So the person who attends with patchy attention experiences a strong temptation to think of other things; and faced with this seduction, the quickest route back into attention is to construe the hiatus as a failure of concentration and to wait for the concentration to return.

The teacher cannot directly condition the degree of attention that a student pays but can nevertheless influence the likelihood beyond supplying the stimulating content that we assume but through judiciously aerating the student’s expectations. It was already observed in the renaissance that strategies like humour are sometimes about deceiving expectations. Castiglione identifies humour as an aspect of conversation when the interlocutor’s responses are contrary to what you expect: you take a natural delight in your own error; and when you find yourself tricked by what you are waiting for, you laugh.77 If so, you have developed a considerable stake in the thinking and your attention is guaranteed. This level of engagement, which is afforded by surprise and where you are conscious of your own thought process, is not just a retake, not just a metacognitive triangulation of ideas but also an event in time that makes you wait, that has you expecting something in an interval that ends differently to how you imagined. We wait on our thought. As instantaneous as the joke may seem at the point of the punchline, the mistaken trajectory of your mind has been building up, during all of which you wait on thought itself, which is why when we make jokes in common speech we sometimes preface the punchline with the phrase ‘wait for it’.

In some languages, the imperative tense of waiting—as in the instruction ‘wait a minute’—takes a reflexive form: wait yourself (aspettati), as if waiting is a practice that contains or limits your impatience.78 To wait yourself, then, has special bearing on wavering attention as a reflective act of discipline that you do to yourself, where you as the listener pay special attention not only to the content of the speaker but also your response to it or your control of the reception.

‘The main thing’, Castiglione says, ‘is to fool opinion and to respond differently to how the listener expects (or what he or she waits for)’.79 We keep people guessing, keep them amused, keep them awaiting the next thought. Though often invoked crudely and extraneously, without a compelling relationship to the argument, jokes are a sign of the necessary process or expectations which are not fulfilled by something predictable. ‘It seems to me’, Castiglione says, ‘that a joke is nothing but a friendly trick with things that do not offend, or at least not much; and just like saying something contrary to expectation in facetious pleasantries, so in jokes the act of going against expectation induces the smile.’80 This charm is deeply engaging. There is no likelihood that we will become bored because we are suddenly and pleasurably induced to go searching for the unlikely: that which we do not expect. Up to a point, the unexpected—what we are not awaiting—is a surprise with an impact that leaves us defenceless.81 With some admixture of humour or lightness in an educational environment, we would rather say ‘disarmed’.

Waiting is a reponse to uncertainty. It is one of the more logical strategies in the face of any indecision: rather than rush in prematurely, you ‘wait and see’.82 With an adroit exploitation of ambiguities, Shakespeare observes the link between waiting and uncertainty. Titus says: ‘We wait for certain money here, sir.’ And Flavius replies: ‘Ay, / If money were as certain as your waiting, / ’Twere sure enough.’83 The first ‘wait’ goes with a positive mission to recover the debt, not to give up till the credit is repaid. The second ‘waiting’, however, reveals that the mission may fail: it is all a matter of probability and the course of events must unfold. It is the reason Castiglione had recommended not to entertain unrealistic expectations for fame, ‘because our spirits often form ideas that are impossible to match, and you thus lose more than you gain’.84

Uncertainty is the reason that the motif of waiting arises most in literature when there is the greatest amount of action. The more happens, the more someone has to wait for the outcome or proffer attendance. With the exception of modern classics like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, waiting—especially the command in the imperative—is proportional to how busy we are. When everything is in a hurry, we privilege various jobs and beg others to wait till we can turn our attention to them. In the eighteenth century, there is an epidemic of waiting, because the pace of theatre, for example, is so heightened that the protagonists are always exhorting one another to wait. Take the comedies of Carlo Goldoni. His amusing dramatic turns and twists often see one person waiting (or failing to wait) for another; and then there are innumberable peripetiae that incite rapid resolutions, as panic and anxiety cause the actors to demand that they wait. Waiting adds greatly to the drama.85 In The discontents, a young damsel says ‘I don’t want them to be kept waiting for me’, to which Leonardo selfishly replies: ‘What should that bother me? Let them wait.’86

It is an instructive paradox: these concentrations of noisy activity, where there is a multiple claim on limited attention, coincide with a need for waiting. It is a dialectical structure which has a bearing on the internal dynamics of learning. The intellectual intensity of learning burns up attention. Thoughts contend for attention and, for every bit of stimulation that we add, more waiting is needed, more prioritizing demanded and more patience is required. You always have to wait for your thoughts to come into alignment with the ambient stimuli. Nothing makes the connexion automatically. It is a process that happens between will and imagination, a need and sympathy, urgency and freedom. In its busy narratives and satirical humour, the comic stage of the eighteenth century is a good analogy to the cognitive process of learning: we always have to wait for the next bit that makes sense of the last; and the greater the complexity, the greater the call upon the mind to wait and appreciate the wit. Like the comic genius of the eighteenth-century stage, the patience goes with vivacity. One is never dragooned into waiting but rather it is part of a happy process in which a succession of moments makes sense.

Waiting without an expectation but only curiosity is intellectual innocence. The more one witnesses the richness of these historical concepts of attention and waiting, the more one can see the impoverished understanding embodied in our educational concepts of expectation. Expectations are primary in educational design, symbolized like a cognitive entitlement in the institution of learning outcomes. Expectations are now supposedly controlled and activated as the learning outcomes in the student: the student has already been given to expect that certain things will be reached, certain capabilities will be realized and goals will be achieved. Setting the expectations and ‘being absolutely clear’ about what you expect from students is one of the great monitory clichés that academics are enjoined to ensure. It is part of the grand transactional anxiety, that expectations can be reasonably defined so that the student can meet them, fulfil them, possess a blueprint and act slavishly toward their realization.

Personally, I have found that the fewer expectations that I have, the more I am delighted by what students come up with. My expectations are not as important as theirs; but I do wait for the ideas to grow and surprise me, which, of course, is worth waiting for. I wait with a waiting that is neither impatience nor expectation; because it is a kind of love on my part that waits for a kind of love on their part. Expectation would kill this curious affection and turn it into a sense of entitlement which is doomed because destined to disappointment; but the process of waiting is itself autonomously energizing and integral to learning rather than an expectation that a contract will be fulfilled.


1 This relativity in anxiety has been often noted, especially for different individuals while awaiting death, e.g. Montaigne: ‘Et comme les uns l’attendent tremblans et effrayez, d’autres la supportent plus aysement que la vie.’ Essais 1.14.

2 Decamerone 6.10; the same motif of desire occurs with waiting for a meal: ‘la sera a cena e con disidero grandissimo l’aspettava’, 4.9.

3 A few sentences earlier the noun (aspettazione) is used as expectation: ‘“Gran peso parmi, messer Federico, che sia quello che posto è sopra le spalle vostre, e grande aspettazione quella a cui corrisponder dovete.” Quivi non aspettando che messer Federico rispondesse: “E che gran peso è però questo?” disse l’Unico Aretino: “Chi è tanto sciocco, che quando sa fare una cosa non la faccia a tempo conveniente?” Così di questo parlandosi, ognuno si pose a sedere nel loco e modo usato, con attentissima aspettazion del proposto ragionamento.’ Cortegiano 2.5.

4 In turn from specto, to look on, look at, behold, watch, inspect, attend.

5 ‘Già si tacea Filomena dalla sua novella espedita, quando Dioneo, che appresso di lei sedeva, senza aspettare dalla reina altro comandamento, conoscendo già per l’ordine cominciato che a lui toccava il dover dire, in cotal guisa cominciò a parlare’, 1.4; cf. ‘Sedeva appresso Filostrato Lauretta, la quale, poscia che udito ebbe lodare la ‘ndustria di Bergamino e sentendo a lei convenir dire alcuna cosa, senza alcuno comandamento aspettare piacevolmente così cominciò a parlare’, 1.8; also ‘A Elissa restava l’ultimo comandamento della reina; la quale, senza aspettarlo, tutta festevole cominciò’, 1.9. The phrase ‘without waiting’ is common in the later Italian renaissance, e.g. ‘e senza aspettar l’uno la risposta dell’altro, facevano instanzia alla signora Emilia che ordinasse chi gli avesse a dar principio’, Castiglione, Il libro del Corteggiano 1.12.

6 ‘tornatosi alla sua camera aspettò che il monaco fuori uscisse.’ 1.4; cf. waiting for a husband to fall asleep in order to make love to his wife: ‘e tanto aspettò, che, tornati costoro e andatisene a letto, sentì il marito di lei adormentato, e là se ne andò dove veduto aveva che la Salvestra coricata s’era; e postale la sua mano sopra il petto pianamente disse: “O anima mia, dormi tu ancora?”’ 4.8; also ‘aspettando che da se medesima si svegliasse’, 5.1.

7 ‘Bergamino dopo alquanti dì, non veggendosi né chiamare né richiedere a cosa che a suo mestier partenesse e oltre a ciò consumarsi nello albergo co’ suoi cavalli e co’ suoi fanti, incominciò a prender malinconia; ma pure aspettava, non parendogli ben far di partirsi.’ 1.7.

8 ‘Primasso, il quale avea talento di mangiare, come colui che camminato avea e uso non era di digiunare, avendo alquanto aspettato e veggendo che l’abate non veniva, si trasse di seno l’uno de’ tre pani li quali portati aveva e cominciò a mangiare.’ 1.7.

9 ‘Alessandro, il quale in Inghilterra la pace più anni aspettata avea’, 2.3; ‘Restava, non volendo il suo privilegio rompere a Dioneo, solamente a dire alla reina, con ciò fosse cosa che già finita fosse la novella di Lauretta; per la qual cosa essa, senza aspettare d’esser sollecitata da’ suoi, così tutta vaga cominciò a parlare’, 3.9.

10 ‘e alcuna volta con molte lagrime della sua lunga dimora si doleva e senza punto rallegrarsi sempre aspettando si stava.’ basilico.

11 ‘E così di varie cose parlando e al lor cammin procedendo e aspettando luogo e tempo al lor malvagio proponimento, avvenne che, essendo già tardi, di là dal Castel Guiglielmo, al valicar d’un fiume questi tre, veggendo l’ora tarda e il luogo solitario e chiuso, assalitolo il rubarono, e, lui a piè e in camiscia lasciato, partendosi dissero:’ 2.2; or one waits for the night: ‘e aspettata la notte e di quella lasciata andar buona nel giardin se n’entrò, e in quello trovata una antennetta, alla finestra dalla giovane insegnatagli l’appoggiò e per quella assai leggiermente se ne saglì.’ 5.6. parte, là se ne tornò e aggrappatosi per parti che non vi si sarebbono appiccati i picchi

12 ‘celatamente Amor l’ arco riprese, / come huom ch’ a nocer luogo et tempo aspetta.’ 2.4.

13 ‘Giannotto, il quale aspettava dirittamente contraria conclusione a questa, come lui così udì dire, fu il più contento uomo che giammai fosse’, 1.2.

14 ‘e niuna altra cosa che la venuta del marchese era da lei aspettata’, 2.2.

15 ‘più non sappiendo che aspettar si dovessono se non misera vita sempre.’ 2.3.

16 ‘Masetto udiva tutto questo ragionamento, e disposto a ubidire niuna cosa aspettava se non l’esser preso dall’una di loro,’ 3.1.

17 ‘Arrestatevi, calate le vele, o voi aspettate d’esser vinti e sommersi in mare,’ 5.1.

18 ‘i modo che di così bon principio non si po se non aspettar ottima fine,’ 4.43; ‘Io non aspettava già che ’l nostro cortegiano avesse tanto d’onore’, 4.48.

19 ‘e senza dire alcuna cosa aspettava la morte. 4.1 Tancredi: cooked heart; cf. trovò che l’aspettava parimente disiderosa d’udire buone novelle del marito e di riconciliarsi pienamente col suo Tedaldo’, 3.7.

20 ‘similmente Giosefo fu senza indugio dalla presenza del re levato, e ritrovò Melisso il quale l’aspettava e dissegli ciò che per risposta aveva avuto,’ 9.9; ‘Federigo, che con lei di cenar s’aspettava’, 7.1.

21 ‘Ne la stagion che ‘l ciel rapido inchina / verso occidente, et che ‘l dí nostro vola / a gente che di là forse l’ aspetta, / veggendosi in lontan paese sola’, 50.3.

22 ‘tal ch’ io aspetto tutto ‘l dí la sera, / che ‘l sol si parta et dia luogo a la luna,’ 237.29–30.

23 ‘Del presente mi godo, et meglio aspetto, / et vo contando gli anni, et taccio et grido,’ 105.78–79; cf. ‘Sol un conforto a le mie pene aspetto’, 348.12.

24 ‘per far voi certo che gli extremi morsi / di quella ch’ io con tutto il mondo aspetto / mai non sentí’, 120.5–7.

25 ‘Persequendomi Amor al luogo usato, / ristretto in guisa d’ uom ch’ aspetta guerra, 110.1–2; cf. ‘Ma io incauto, dolente, / corro sempre al mio male, et so ben quanto / n’ ò sofferto, et n’ aspetto; ma l’ engordo / voler ch’ è cieco et sordo / sí mi trasporta’, 135.39–43.

26 ‘perché mai veder lei / di qua non spero, et l’ aspettar m’ è noia,’ 268.7–8.

27 ‘ivi s’ impara, et qual è dritta via / di gir al ciel, che lei aspetta et brama,’ 261.7–8.

28 ‘e non ha formato l’animo di quel modo ed indrizzato al camino della virtù, difficilmente saprà esser magnanimo, liberale, giusto, animoso, prudente, o avere alcuna altra qualità di quelle che se gli aspettano’, Cortegiano 4.39.

29 ‘tal che, per la bontà, per l’ingegno, per l’animo e per lo saper suo non era cosa tanto grande, che di lui aspettar non si potesse,’ 4.1.

30 ‘dai quali aspettano in vecchiezza ricever quello, che essendo giovani ai padri hanno prestato’, 3.14.

31 ‘Voglio adunque che questo e tutti gli altri, dall’armeggiare in fora, faccia il nostro cortegiano come cosa che sua professione non sia e di che mostri non cercar o aspettar laude alcuna, né si conosca che molto studio o tempo vi metta, avvenga che eccellentemente lo faccia’, 2.10.

32 Miya Tokumitsu, ‘In defense of the lecture’, Jacobin, 26 February 2017.

33 Liveness: performance in a mediatized culture, Routledge, London and New York, 1999, p. 59.

34 For example Google lists 1,140,000 for its self-populating search term ‘passive learning vs active learning’.

35 ‘“Prima che più avanti passate,” disse quivi Vincenzio Calmeta, “s’io ho ben inteso, parmi che dianzi abbiate detto che la miglior via per conseguir favori sia il meritargli; e che più presto dee il cortegiano aspettar che gli siano offerti, che prosuntuosamente ricercargli,”’ 2.21.

36 ‘e messo dalla fante in una corte e dentro serratovi quivi la donna cominciò a aspettare … che egli cominciò a sentir più freddo che voluto non avrebbe; ma aspettando di ristorarsi pur pazientemente il sosteneva.’ Decameron 8.7; cf. ‘era agghiacciato aspettandola.’ 4.8.

37 ‘But if we hope for (ἐλπίζομεν) that we see not (οὐ βλέπομεν), then do we with patience wait for it (δι’ ὑπομονῆς ἀπεκδεχόμεθα),’ Romans 8.25; cf. ‘For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (ἡμεῖς γὰρ πνεύματι ἐκ πίστεως ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης ἀπεκδεχόμεθα).’ Galatians 5.5; ‘And to wait for his Son from heaven (ἀναμένειν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ), whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.’ 1 Thessalonians 1.10; see also 2 Thessalonians 3.5 and James 5.7.

38 He ‘came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus,’ Mark 15.43, Luke 23.51; cf. ‘For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God (ἡ γὰρ ἀποκαραδοκία τῆς κτίσεως τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τῶν υἱῶν τοῦ θεοῦ ἀπεκδέχεται),’ Romans 8.19; see also Romans 8.23.

39 ‘and the Holy Ghost was upon him,’ Luke 2.25.

40 Luke 8.40.

41 ‘So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming (ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν) of our Lord Jesus Christ’, 1 Corinthians 1.7.

42 ‘And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord (προσδεχομένοις τὸν κύριον ἑαυτῶν), when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately (εὐθέως ἀνοίξωσιν αὐτῷ). Blessed are those servants (μακάριοι οἱ δοῦλοι ἐκεῖνοι), whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching (εὑρήσει γρηγοροῦντας): verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them,’ 12.36–37.

43 ‘a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually (τῶν προσκαρτερούντων αὐτῷ); Acts 10.7; and so Cornelius at Acts 10.24.

44 ‘And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father (περιμένειν τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πατρὸς), which, saith he, ye have heard of me.’ Acts 1.4.

45 ‘Now while Paul waited for them (ἐκδεχομένου αὐτοὺς) at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry,’ Acts 17.16.

46 As in receive favourably, accept (προσδέχομαι) or expect besides, wait for (προσαναδέχομαι). In subsequent traditions, waiting may be associated with receiving, e.g. Racine: ‘Prêts à vous recevoir, mes vaisseaux vous attendent’, Mithridate 1.3.

47 ‘Ancor ti può nel mondo render fama, / ch’el vive, e lunga vita ancor aspetta / se ‘nnanzi tempo grazia a sé nol chiama,’ Inferno 31.127–29; cf. Montaigne, ‘Où que vostre vie finisse, elle y est toute. L’utilité du vivre n’est pas en l’espace, elle est en l’usage: tel a vescu long temps, qui a peu vescu: attendez vous y pendant que vous y estes. Il gist en vostre volonté, non au nombre des ans, que vous ayez assez vescu,’ Essais 1.20. See also Racine: ‘J’attendais le moment où j’allais expirer’, Phèdre 4.6; ‘Et de mes tristes jours n’attendais que la fin.’ Ester 1.1.

48 ‘Madonna, ciascun vostro parente e ogni bolognese credono e hanno per certo voi esser morta, per che niuna persona è la quale più a casa v’aspetti’, 10.4.

49 In Montaigne, sometimes we await death but at other times death awaits us: ‘Il est incertain où la mort nous attende, attendons la par tout. La premeditation de la mort est premeditation de la liberté,’ 1.20.

50 ‘Rebuke and dread correction wait on us’, 1 King Henry IV 5.1.

51 As in the demons with huge scourges in Dante, where no one would wait for the second stroke or the third: ‘vidi demon cornuti con gran ferze, / che li battien crudelmente di retro. / Ahi come facean lor levar le berze / a le prime percosse! già nessuno / le seconde aspettava né le terze,’ Inferno 18.34–39; cf. ‘I’ vidi, e anco il cor me n’accapriccia, / uno aspettar così, com’ elli ‘ncontra / ch’una rana rimane e l’altra spiccia’, Inferno 22.29–30.

52 ‘Scanderberch, prince de l’Epire, suyvant un soldat des siens pour le tuer, et ce soldat ayant essayé par toute espece d’humilité et de supplication, de l’appaiser, se resolut à toute extrémité de l’attendre l’espée au poing. Cette sienne resolution arresta sus bout la furie de son maistre, qui, pour luy avoir veu prendre un si honorable party, le receut en grace,’ 1.1. In the theatre of Racine, you do not wait for the fatal stroke: it waits for you: ‘Du coup qui vous attend vous mourrez moins que moi,’ Iphigénie 4.4; ‘As wretches have o’ernight / That wait for execution in the morn’, Two gentlemen of Verona 4.2.

53 ‘they would shame to make me / Wait else at door’, Henry VIII 5.2; ‘Was it discretion, lords, to let this man … wait like a lousy footboy / At chamber-door?’, Henry VIII 5.3.

54 ‘Pour paraître attendez que ma voix vous appelle,’ Athalie 5.4.

55 ‘Mon fils, au nom des dieux, / Attendez-le plutôt,’ La Thébaïde 3.5; cf. ‘Pour saluer son frère attend qu’il le salue’, La Thébaïde 4.3.

56 Waiting encourages paradox: ‘Je meurs si je vous perds, mais je meurs si j’attends,’ Racine, Andromaque 3.7; there is always a question of how long someone will wait: ‘A me chercher lui-même attendrait-il si tard’, Bajazet 3.3; and sometimes the waiting is false: ‘L’ingrat qui ne m’attend que pour m’abandonner, Iphigénie 2.5; ‘Je ne l’attends ici que pour m’en séparer’, Iphigénie 2.4.

57 As Don John says, ‘eat when I have stomach, and wait for no man’s leisure’, Shakespeare, Much ado about nothing 1.3.

58 Unlike in the past, Racine, for example: ‘Assemblé par mon ordre, attend ma volonté,’ Bajazet 3.5; or a whole people: ‘Un peuple obéissant vous attend à genoux’, Mithridate 1.3.

59 e.g. Maria in Twelfth Night; ‘Thy friends are fled, to wait upon thy foes’, Richard II 2.4.

60 Also with prepositions like on or upon, as in Shakespeare: ‘Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly’, All’s well that ends well 1.1; ‘I’ll wait upon your honour’, Measure for measure 1.1; ‘I must wait on myself, must I?’ Merry wives of Windsor 1.1; ‘the wealth I have waits on my consent’, ibid. 3.2; ‘I’ll wait upon you instantly’, Timon of Athens 2.2.

61 Including the sinister lie in wait for (ἀμφιδοκεύω), waiting, watching (δεδοκημένος), wait for a fair wind (πλουδοκέω), wait for the outcome of (καραδοκέω).

62 Inclined to wait, patient (μενετός), one must wait for (μενητέον), wait, stay (μιμνάζω), wait longer (ἐπαναμένω), stay on, tarry (ἐπιμένω), wait for, await (περιμένω), wait for, await (ἀναμένω), wait instead of (ἀνταναμένω), bide, wait (προσμένω), stay behind (ὑπομένω).

63 Wait, attend upon (παρεδρεύω), attendance (παρεδρία), lying in wait (ἐφέδρευσις), sitting in (ἐνέδρα), lie in wait for, lay snares for (ἐνεδρεύω) as in ‘Laying wait for him (ἐνεδρεύοντες αὐτὸν), and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.’ Luke 11.54; see also wait, attend upon (παρεδρεύω), attendance (παρεδρία), sit near, wait (προσεδρεύω), wait in reserve (συνεφεδρεύω), constantly attending (εὐπάρεδρος), lying in wait (ἐφέδρευσις), sitting in (ἐνέδρα), lie in wait for, lay snares for (ἐνεδρεύω); on the sinister side see also lie in wait for, waylay (λοχάω), lying in wait, treacherous (λοχητικός), lie in wait for (λοχίζω), lying in wait by night (νυκτιλόχος), one that waited about the altars, to beg or steal some of the meat offered thereon (βωμόλοχος), a place where one lies in wait, lurking-place (προδόκη, προδοκή), lie in wait for (προδοκάζω).

64 Or to lie in wait for continually (διαπαρατηρέομαι) but see also to serve as an attendant, tend, care for (ἀμφιπολεύω), wait and watch against (ἀντιμέλλω), serve, wait on (ἀοζέω), servant (διάκονος), take care of, provide for (κομίζω), attend to (ἐπιμελεδαίνω), wait (προσανέχω).

65 Merry wives of Windsor 1.1 and Macbeth 3.4 or ‘Le trône vous attend’, La Thébaïde 5.3. Waiting is often attributed to inanimate things: ‘Prêts à vous recevoir, mes vaisseaux vous attendent’, Mithridate 1.3; cf. Shakespeare, ‘For he’s no man on whom perfections wait’, Pericles 1.1; ‘Tell me what fate awaits the Duke of Suffolk?’ 2 Henry VI 1.4; ‘When care, mistrust, and treason wait on him.’ 3 Henry VI 2.5.

66 ‘J’y trouve des malheurs qui m’attendaient encore,’ Racine, Mithridate 2.3; ‘Je l’attends, cette mort, et je l’attends sans plainte’, La Thébaïde ou les frères ennemis 2.2.

67 ‘Attends, Hémon, dit-il, tu vas être vengé.’ La Thébaïde 5.3; ‘J’irais attendre ailleurs une lente vengeance?’, Andromaque 4.3; ‘J’attendais en secret le retour d’un parjure’, Andromaque 4.5.

68 ‘N’en attendez jamais qu’une paix sanguinaire’, Mithridate 3.1; ‘J’attendrai mon arrêt, vous pouvez commander.’ Mithridate 4.4; ‘Le roi désespéré / Lui-même n’attend plus qu’un trépas assuré,’ Mithridate 5.1; ‘Ah! du moins attendez qu’un fidèle rapport / De son malheureux frère ait confirmé la mort,’ Mithridate 5.1; ‘Sors, traître: n’attends pas qu’un père furieux / Te fasse avec opprobre arracher de ces lieux,’ Phèdre 4.2.

69 ‘Elle l’attend, Seigneur, avec impatience.’ Bérénice 3.1; ‘Bérénice t’attend. Où viens-tu, téméraire?’, Bérénice 4.4.

70 ‘Et quand le ciel s’apprête à nous l’abandonner, / J’attendrai qu’un tyran daigne nous pardonner?’, Alexandre 1.2; ‘J’attendrais son salut de la main d’Alexandre? / Mais quel miracle enfin n’en dois-je point attendre?’, Alexandre 5.2.

71 ‘Du bruit de ses exploits mon âme importune / Attend depuis longtemps cette heureuse journée,’ Alexandre 1.2; ‘Te jure une amitié si longtemps attendue;’ Alexandre 4.1; ‘Où sont ces heureux jours que je faisais attendre?’ Bérénice 4.4; ‘Et de ce peu de jours si longtemps attendus’, Bérénice 4.4; cf. ‘Seigneur, l’amour toujours n’attend pas la raison,’ Britannicus 2.2; ‘Vous devez à ce jour dès longtemps vous attendre.’ Mithridate 2.4.

72 ‘Ton indigne courage attend que l’on te prie?’, Alexandre 3.2; ‘Ah! n’espérez de moi que de sincères vœux, / Madame; n’attendez ni menaces ni chaînes.’ Alexandre 3.2; ‘Quel traitement, mon frère, en devons-nous attendre?’, Alexandre 3.3; ‘On attend peu d’amour d’un héros tel que vous’, Alexandre 3.6; ‘Quoi? vous en attendez quelque injure nouvelle?’, Andromaque 2.1; ‘Mon désespoir n’attend que leur indifférence:’ Andromaque 2.2; ‘N’attendît en ces lieux qu’un témoin tel que vous’, Andromaque 2.4.

73 ‘Cher Pylade, crois-moi, ta pitié te séduit. / Laisse-moi des périls dont j’attends tout le fruit,’ Andromaque 3.1; ‘Enfin qu’attendez-vous? Il vous offre sa tête’, Andromaque 4.3; ‘Quels honneurs dans sa cour, quel rang pourrais-je attendre?’, Britannicus 4.2; ‘Voici le temps, Seigneur, où vous devez attendre / Le fruit de tant de sang qu’ils vous ont vu répandre.’ Bérénice 1.3; ‘Je n’attendais que vous pour témoin de ma joie,’ Bérénice 1.4; ‘Quel succès attend-on d’un amour si fidèle?’. Bérénice 2.2.

74 ‘Qu’un peuple obéissant l’attende dans le temple’, Bajazet 3.2; ‘Il attend de mes soins ce fidèle secours.’ Britannicus 2.2; cf. ‘Et je l’attends déjà comme un roi doit attendre’, Alexandre 2.2; ‘Vous attendez le roi: parlez, et lui montrez’, Andromaque 1.1; ‘Dans mon appartement qu’il m’attende avec vous,’ Britannicus 4.3; ‘Dans son appartement m’attend pour m’embrasser,’ Britannicus 5.1; ‘Madame, à d’autres pleurs vous devez vous attendre,’ Bérénice 5.6.

75 Timon of Athens 1.1; Pericles 5.3.

76 Or even treacherous: ‘I fear I am attended by some spies,’ Two gentlemen of Verona 5.1.

77 ‘Di questa sorte di motti adunque assai si ride, perché portan seco risposte contrarie a quello che l’omo aspetta d’udire, e naturalmente dilettaci in tai cose il nostro errore medesimo; dal quale quando ci trovamo ingannati di quello che aspettiamo, ridemo.’ Castiglione, Cortegiano 2.63.

78 ‘aspettati, io voglio vedere se tu vi puoi andare e chiamerotti,’ Boccaccio, Decameron 7.3; ‘Che è questo, Angiulieri? vogliancene noi andare ancora? Deh aspettati un poco: egli dee venir qui testeso uno che ha pegno il mio farsetto per trentotto soldi: son certo che egli cel renderà per trentacinque pagandol testé,’ ibid. 9.4.

79 ‘la principal cosa è lo ingannar la opinione e rispondere altramente che quello che aspetta l’auditore’, Cortegiano 2.83.

80 ‘E’ parmi che la burla non sia altro che un inganno amichevole di cose che non offendano, o almen poco; e sì come nelle facezie il dir contra l’aspettazione, così nelle burle il far contra l’aspettazione induce il riso,’ 2.85.

81 So Montaigne: ‘Je ne me puis deffendre, si le bruit esclattant d’une harquebusade vient à me frapper les oreilles à l’improuveu, en lieu où je ne le deusse pas attendre, que je n’en tressaille’, Essais 1.12.

82 It is a very common expression, with Google returning 27 million pages through “wait and see”. Castiglione counsels: ‘Però se ’l primo giorno, sentendo ragionare un gentilomo, non comprenderete che in lui sia quel valore che avevate prima imaginato, non così presto vi spogliarete della bona opinione come in quelle cose delle quali l’occhio sùbito è giudice, ma aspettarete di dì in dì scoprir qualche altra nascosta virtù tenendo pur ferma sempre quella impressione che v’è nata dalle parole di tanti’, Cortegiano 2.33.

83 Timon of Athens 3.4; the paradoxical coupling of certainty and waiting (or impulsiveness) also occurs in Montaigne, ‘Le demon de Socrates estoit à l’advanture certaine impulsion de volonté, qui se présentoit à luy, sans attendre le conseil de son discours,’ Essais 1.11; cf. Shakespeare: ‘I purpose not to wait on fortune till / These wars determine’, Coriolanus 5.3.

84 ‘Però non so come sia bene dar queste aspettazioni e mandar innanzi quella fama; perché gli animi nostri spesso formano cose alle quali impossibil è poi corrispondere, e così più se ne perde che non si guadagna’, Cortegiano 2.33.

85 In Il servitore di due padroni alone: ‘Ha detto che mi aspetterà sulla strada,’ 1.5; ‘Son stuffo d’aspettar, che no posso più,’ 1.6; ‘Aspettava proprio che io lo maltrattassi,’ 1.8; ‘prendetele e portatele subito, che vi aspetto,’ 1.8; ‘Bravissimo. Così mi aspetti? ... V’aspetto ancora … E perchè vieni a aspettarmi qui, e non nella strada dove ti ho di questo cortile, non facciamo scene. Aspetterò io il signor Pantalone … Vi aspetto dallo speziale,’ 2.1; ‘E sempre bisogna aspettarlo,’ 2.15; ‘m’aspetto qualche altra insolenza,’ 3.5; ‘Vi aspetterò dal signor Pantalone; di là non parto, se non venite,’ 3.9. detto? ... sbrigati, che ti aspetto,’ 1.9; ‘Retirete, camerada, e aspetteme su quel canton’, 1.13; ‘non per questo si ha da precipitare. … Ritirati in qualche loco, e aspettami; esci

86 I malcontenti 1.3; see also the same play 1.9, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.8, 2.13, 3.1, 3.13, 3.14; Il ritorno dalla villeggiatura 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 2.11, 3.2, 3.5, 3.7; Le avventure della villeggiatura 1.3, 2.2, 3.4, 3.11; Le smanie per la villeggiatura 1.9, 2.2, 2.4, 2.12, 3.1, 3.9, 3.19; La bottega del caffè 1.8, 1.10, 2.2, 2.7, 3.18.

Creativity Crisis

   by Robert Nelson