Sunday, July 21, 2019

White hot and humid

The season is giving us wonderful
things to talk about just now, in
weather in the Northern Hemisphere
which is simply punishing to men-
tion, and adventures in progressiv-
ism which seem inspired to emulate
this brooding miasma in all but its
transitory aspects, with articula-
tion of a new and alluring image of
racism. Does anyone recall what it
was like in 1848, when dialectical
materialism steeped us in its kettle?

The present striving, to portray a
frequency of effect as monolithic-
ally determinate, is understandable
in view of its unspeakability, but
if we have learned that reform is
not wasted on the weather, how do
we propose racism without racists?

I'm going to go out on a limb, and
suggest a little skepticism toward
theories of a culture's more repul-
sive characteristics which endow
them with the impersonal innocence
of weather. It's really only for
these analytical risks that I haz-
ard resistance to neo-Natural Law
illusions to dismiss free will, but
now that you mention it, fatalism
has acquired such support of late
in the fluctuations in the ozone
layer, as to endanger blame itself.

These consequences of inertia are
usually deemed ironic, when belat-
edly perceived. But like our dif-
ficult weather just now, let's not
flatter them by denying meteorology.
We can be dazzled by how it could 

Drew Gilpin Faust
Race, History, and
  Memories of a Vir-
  ginia Girlhood
August, 2019

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


I'm in the middle of deliberating
in the matter of interior paints,
and at a minimum it strikes me as
untimely of a President to demand
one's attention to his latest of-
fense against human dignity. What
would have been wrong with insist-
ing on such distractions when tak-
ing out the trash? Yet who should
be surprised, that it is the more
Conservative and politically aut-
onomous observers, who are urging
most eloquently, the character of
complaint which his climactically
revolting utterances now require?

Most of humanity has found itself
on entirely different shores from
his compulsive Rubicon for years.
That he crosses it with impunity,
is less an indictment of our res-
olution, than proof of his rejec-
tion's maturing, as going without
saying. Still not to put too fine
a point on it, one cannot imagine
a figure whose demise will engage
less celebration, than one so od-
ious as to've shed consideration. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Allons, enfants

I listened to David Remnick's nuzzling
The New Yorker Radio Hour on Saturday,
not long before reading Maureen Dowd's
follow-up to a column she devoted last
week to her eminence in being noticed.
Fame for being famous is that branding
device, I thought, we'd seen somewhere
before. Strange bedfellows are created
not born, as outlaws pretend to differ.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Moving again, white

We rediscover that the problem of
the whites is that they shift, or
are subject to shifts in various
adventitious illuminations (inter-
pretive sources, if you like), and
their assimilation anywhere is on-
ly transitory. Oh, here we go again,
although the pluralism of the condi-
tion commands little to no sympathy.
Plop the whites in a garden, thrust
them into the street or the sky, and
their variation is dismissed as vain.

Eventually, however, there may come 
a relocation, a move, which acquaints
the itinerant white with ages of fal-
sification by pigmentation. Could it
be, that reinscriptions of a hue are
created in these mobilizations, less
aggregating themselves than finally
exposing their distortion? What was
the matter with Aeneas, do you sup-
pose, to have recorded no conscious-
ness of his whiteness in his travels,
if not the wit not to believe in it?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Moving again, painting

What to hang, what to show, and
how to do it are questions that
may have been laid by for such
a long time, to confront them a-
gain is surprising enough, that
their surprise is, surprise has

The answers really are not iden-
tical in every place, but is the
new place a repeal of experience
or yet more of it? I've been rum-
maging through former solutions,
either lived or observed, to less
avail in guidance than one would
have thought, given how expedient
they seemed at the time. Then it
can begin to seem possible, that
one endows the frame of one's
domicile with too much purpose,
if not imagined purpose; but in
a condition of having choices, 
it seems somewhat fundamental to
understand what they mean, what
they can do, their limitation as
illusions against happenstance.

Claude Picasso
  x Richard Avedon
Richard Avedon Foundation©


Friday, July 5, 2019

Moving again, editing

Back in 1974 John Hersey published
a kind of diatribe of a nightmare
novel, My Petition for More Space,
which I undertook to review for a
nice little paper in a coastal par-
adise which had managed just fine,
thanks very much, before the Gol-
den Gate Bridge made it a commut-
ers' cockpit. He stated the prob-
lem of infinitesimal tenancies in
the most disturbing way, and al-
though his report from Hiroshima
had given him carte blanche to
say whatever he liked thereafter,
this hadn't much lifted his mood.
Unfortunately, I managed to weed
my library of that volume right a-
way, so as I now contemplate fur-
ther compression, I can't exploit
its argument to my advantage anew.

How do we succumb to the collect-
ing of authors? I realize, I ad-
dress a crisis which the ubiquit-
ous "reading tablet" has eased,
only to replace it with an out-
break of acquisitive promiscuity
without any of the stimulation
of exerting judgment. My guess
is that there must have been a
writer somewhere along the way,
who eventually got better after
Timon of Athens. But for every
Shakespeare there is, notorious-
ly, a fellow who should have
been liberated to go outdoors,
by The Glass Menagerie. Still,
you don't gain much shelf space
by sacrificing Small Craft Warn-
ings, just to lug Ackroyd's one
good book, Dickens, from pillar 
to post. By the same token, who
could not embrace the vacuum of
the desert island, with the Ox-
ford English Dictionary? There,
at least, endless reward absolves
the larder, especially with the
sweet revenge of obsolescence.
Is anything more elegant, than
a usage expunged by progress? 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019