Monday, April 24, 2017

Setting an example for a run-off

  The interplay of influences between
  political perspectives in France and
  the United States has always been a
  tenuous and marginal reality, at best,
  but now we are launched upon a fort-
  night of suspense for France which is
  certain to reflect impressions, there,
  of how clever it is, here, to be led
  as we've been these past three months.

  How amiable accident might be plucked
  from our confusion, to reimburse the
  fountainhead of our doctrine of human
  rights, with evidence of their imper-
  ilment under Disenlightenment, remains
  to be seen. But who would begrudge any
  nation, the example we set for ourself?
  That said, is it not extraordinary, how
  earnestly the West now prays for France.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Full of hope this day for France

Pablo Picasso
Message to Jean Cocteau
Ink and watercolor on card

Ivan Terestchenko

Lately discovered not to be Diderot

The impact of re-appraisals like
this depends in part on when they
are delivered. One can well ima-
gine the inconvenience in lining
up a putt, for example, or some
skewering bon mot in an essay on
Neil Gorsuch's tie-breaking vote
to slaughter an Alabama convict,
when crushing news of such mis-
attribution made its way to us.
Happenstance, in this period of
hysterical paranoia, would then
have to account for its offense.

But now we come to observe lèse-
majesté of greater mercy in the
timing of scholarship's finding,
that an insouciant blue-eyed wit,
so long adorning the dust jacket
of every schoolboy's Jacques the
Fatalist, a Fragonard hero incar-
nate, is actually an only lately
identified sitter named Ange-Gab-
riel Meusnier de Querlon, who led
his own merry if discreet liter-
ary existence as a contemporary
of Denis Diderot. Again, just as
we witness the most consumptive
obsession with personal branding
at the highest echelons of daily
news, to be discovered as no Di-
derot must bring the greatest an-
guish. In the present case, that
candidate expired in 1780, and
must be deemed to possess a per-
spective to cope with being un-
masked as who he is. But can so
much be said of a current poseur,
who positively shreds the very
meaning of Enlightenment, with
every bruited burst of spittle?

Yet, to return to poor old Meus-
nier, of spare but golden, swept-
back locks and oranged counten-
ance, do we not discover anew
their commanding power, even in
our time, to inspire a molten
impersonation of a great philo-
sophe, for whom he sacrificed
his own identity to history's
mistake? Could it be, at long,
deferred last, that in freeing
the brow of Denis Diderot from
cruel misrepresentation, some
huge and heated claimant to his
stature is exposed, as shadowing
the forgotten man?

Colin B. Bailey
Fragonard: The Heights
  of Drawing
  A review of an exhibition
  and catalogue from the
  Metropolitan Museum of Art
The New York Review of Books
February 9, 2017©

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday commute cxl: With da Vinci

A convulsion rocks the world today,
in an uprising of a popular demand
our judgments. What does it mean as
thousands upon thousands will so
publicly confess their intellectual
curiosity, as to offer themselves in
the streets to protect their right
to demand discovery of fact, and its
application to the moral duty of any
government they accept upon the earth? 

That there is a foul concert of power 
against it, on a scale unprecedented
since Galileo. And at the center of
this, of course, we have the carnival
combining his nasty opportunistic de-
light in vengeance upon any illumina-
tion, with his compulsive devotion to

Where are we, then, but with da Vinci,
studying arm strands: art, advancing
medicine; medicine, advancing life;
life, advancing incentives and reward
for science; science, informing art.

Invariably, what they fear about us
is what we know about them. 

Take a look again, at why the strands 
converge with obvious resolution. To 
anchor their capability with fluency.

Take a look again, at why there is a
faith which insists that God became
man. It was surely not to deny fact,
but to exalt it.

There is the revolution, there is its
ingenious constitution. They're ours.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The worst fatigue

I was picking up a little
jambon de bayonne for a
few sandwiches the other 
day - except it came, I
later learned, from New
Jersey - when by chance
I noticed some duck con-
fit, which is all over
the place these days. I
was reminded of a neat
story in The Times on
travel in Gascony, and
I asked the person help-
ing me, if she read any
of our culinary journal-
ism, also all over the
place these days. This
drew from her an angry
boast of having vast
experience as a chef,
of the broadest exper-
tise in Western cuisine,
enabling her finally to
ignore what people were
saying - about herself,
she didn't need to add.

Having no experience with
what we might call, exper-
tise fatigue, I can't be
sure how it varies from a
nicely predominating gloom
of disappointment with life,
of which we read every day.
But it did strike me, and
still does upon some reflec-
tion, as possibly the sad-
dest condition to endure.
A renunciation of curiosity
in any passion - as I take
the mastery of anything to
require - strikes me as a
kind of life imprisonment,
except that as pathetic as
that condition must be,
sound must still percolate
into one's cell.

Obviously, one's interview
with the ham guru did not
end well, and on departing
the little shop I noticed,
I had failed to collect
that package. I wonder if
anyone enjoyed it for me.
As a dilettante in these
great matters, at least I
retain the liberty to be
dazzled enough by news of

iii  Florian Neuville

Once in the boat

The question comes up, recurringly,
among white males of my generation,
the one before most of them living:
once in the boat, how does one dis-
embark, gracefully? The rowing mode
teems with many compacted anticipa-
tions of a timely release, which is
to say, the elevation of one's oar,
on completing the honorable stroke.

In those days, at the same time, it
was not expected that the tastes we
assimilated would expire in travest-
ies, much less in our own time. The
275 GTS, for example, proclaimed no
special urgency to reject elegance,
in favor of provocative aggression.

Yet such was the new world model of-
fered to us, as if any of our lives
had presented that specification to
Pininfarina, or to any other of the
founts where our imagination was re-
freshed, perfectly, in those dreams
from the boat. Even then, we didn't
go crying to false Conservatism for
dire vengeance against the current.

Nowadays, that avenger comes to us;
and proposes to lie with the lambs,
but manages only a transitive case.
Suppose it were Friday, someone ur-
ges; put on a pretty record, wiser
voices call. Just as we thought we
were rowing, the blade still sharp
with its own command, Finish this.

Carrozzeria Pininfarina
Ferrari 275 GTS

Bernard Plossu

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Under a government

Under a government dominated by
hostility to science and led by
a scaremonger who toys fondly 
with the lie, that immunization 
causes autism, it is difficult
in this country to get the word
out, that April is Autism Aware-
ness Month. The newspapers are
awash this week with anecdotes
of cruelty to school children,
but tragically neglectful of
grounds for hope. Oxford Univ-
ersity Press has cited several
journal articles available on-
line, and there is hope that
other nations will step into
the moral position which ours
has vacated, even as everyone
of good will here resists the
constant purge of understand-
ing, collapse of self-control,
and self-inflicted incarcera-
sion in humane incompetence,
cultivated by our government.

Meanwhile, Paint it Blue is 
not just for elections anymore. 
It's for every day.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Who awoke today, and will forget this?

Republicans downplayed the im-
plications, saying Ossoff ben-
efitted from a cocktail of mon-
ey, national attention and en-
thusiasm that's nearly impos-
sible to replicate.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
April 19, 2017

Yes, I think I've seen that
cocktail before, somewhere.
It's a pity, they can't rec-
ognize it, but its ingredi-
ents explain why: they also
have all the money needed,
to express the freedom of
speech their Supreme Court
bestowed upon it; they al-
so have all the enthusiasm
of a sense of cause in re-
sistance. What they got a-
way with, was a national
disbelief whose attention
was deflected by the man-
fest preposterousness of
their hallucinations, and
revulsion with their deal-
er. It had lacked decorum
to see them straight.

Now that they've been be-
trayed, now that they've
betrayed themselves, who
among them will forget?

               So two nights passed: the night's dismay
               Saddened and stunned the coming day.
               Sleep, the wide blessing, seemed to me
               Distemper's worst calamity.
               The third night, when my own loud scream
               Had waked me from the fiendish dream,
               O'ercome with sufferings strange and wild,
               I wept as I had been a child;
               And having thus my tears subdued
               My anguish to a milder mood,
               Such punishments, I said, were due
               To natures deepliest stained with sin, -
               For aye entempesting anew
               The unfathomable hell within
               The horror of their deeds to view,
               To know and loathe, yet wish to do! 
               Such griefs with such men well agree,
               But wherefore, wherefore fall on me?
               To be beloved is all I need,
               And whom I love, I love indeed.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Selected Poetry
ca 1803, published 1815
H.J. Jackson
Oxford University Press, 1997©

ii, iii  Jonathan Ossoff
          Walsh School
            of Foreign Service
          London School
            of Economics
         Candidate for US Congress
           6th District, Georgia