Monday, July 28, 2014
David Carr at The New York Times has
raised the subject of social media's
influence in the dissemination of in-
formation, and I naturally passed his
column along to a member of the demo-
graphic class likeliest to receive da-
ta in that form, which is to say ine-
luctably, of that kind. Carr's piece
put one in mind of remarks David Rem-
nick attributes to Harold Ross, the
most circumspect editor of the pre-
vious century, on dispatching Flanner
to Paris in the '40s. Paraphrasing, he
said to her, I don't want to read what
you think. I want what to be told what
the French think.
Mr Carr sounds almost as aware as Ross
was, that the wholesale violation of
this standard of reporting, which tweet-
ing represents, is not an influence so
much in the dissemination of news as an
influence upon its content, at the most
wanton risk, at best, of its misconstruc-
tion. I wrote to my young friend, I am
Jeffersonian in my appreciation of every-
one's right to the possession and use of
information, but Madisonian in sifting it.
I take to heart Sontag's warning, of the
risk of diminishing the horrible, but I'm
greatly more troubled by the certainty of
suppressing the relevant. Tweeting around
editing is not in the interest of cogni-
tion; it is not even interested in it.
Tweeting embodies that grotesque defor-
mity wrought in the Clinton Presidency,
by victims' statements in the leveling of
criminal justice. When humanity agreed to
exchange the volatility of vengeance for
predictable standards as the foundation of
justice, it ceded the claims of private
agony to the legislature to anticipate,
the jury to apportion, and the judge to
administer. It is why we grade papers, why
we have Mozart to relieve dulness, why we
breed horses to run. There is little about
democracy that learning can't ameliorate.
But the taste for it is vulnerable, and
always the victim of impulsive toys.
We discuss occasionally the horrors of un-
representative, undisciplined government
from the top. But demagoguery depends on a
demos to endure it. I have argued before,
that taste is a human right. But it is a
human achievement, not an animal reflex.
I want to know what the French think; and
I know I need them to do it.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
He lay back comfortably in the flickering light. An odd place. Odd people in Los Angeles. Wonderfully kind. Needing kindness too. The ragtag-and-bobtail, whatever did that really mean, of the human race packed together in an area of two hundred square miles facing the grey Pacific, why did I always think it would be blue? With their backs to a desert.
West of Sunset
Allen Lane, 1984
Of all the delightful discoveries
in internet reading that I've made
since offering this blog - some of
which I mean to admire this week,
marking yet another year of it -
Ivan Terestchenko's referral of
Mailhos has meant as much to me as
Valéry Lorenzo's of Lionel André's.
You will see them there, listed in
this page's "Context," although I
don't think I've ever mentioned it
to them. These two blogs capture a
fellow's imagination with the hap-
piest interplay of complementary
values: the one, agrarian and his-
toricist, and nourishingly domes-
tic; the other, searchingly ad-
venturous, and holistically phil-
osophical. I only wish I didn't
have to leave them for my page.
Or, one could do more shopping?
Bumped into Dirk Bogarde in Fry's splendid vegetable shop in Cale Street. He was finger-ing oddly shaped tomatoes with a knowledgeable air. He re-jected them and cast a dark eye over some frivolous greenery. He finally settled for a big, shiny yellow pepper. I was envious of his concentrated marketing skill.
The media seem to have gathered round the parish pump to dis-cuss the challenge to the Prime Minister, and to speculate .. Not a word about Sarajevo.
Sir Alec Guinness
My Name Escapes Me
The Diary of a Retiring Actor
30 June 1995
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Shadwell is Thomas Jefferson's
father's estate, now notable as
a filling station at a glossy
planned unit development of er-
satz gentry fantasy. It is also
the name of something important.
I am the ghost of Shadwell Stair.
Along the wharves by the water-house,
And through the dripping slaughter-house,
I am the shadow that walks there.
Yet I have flesh both firm and cool,
And eyes tumultuous as the gems
Of moons and lamps in the lapping Thames
When dusk sails wavering down the pool.
Shuddering the purple street-arc burns
Where I watch always; from the banks
Dolorously the shipping clanks,
And after me a strange tide turns.
I walk till the stars of London wane
And dawn creeps up the Shadwell Stair.
But when the crowing sirens blare
I wish another ghost am lain.
The Collected Poems
of Wilfred Owen
C. Day Lewis, editor
Chatto & Windus, 1963©
You occupy the nest; I praise
the brooks of the lovely coun-
tryside, its woodland and rocks
overgrown with moss. In short,
I know life and am a king of the
moment, I leave behind those
things you extol to the heavens
with loud applause, and, like the
slave who refuses the sacrificial
cakes from his master the priest,
it is bread I want and now prefer ..
I am dictating these lines to
you behind Vacuna's crumbling
shrine, happy in everything
else apart from not having
your company to share.
I like it, that one
studies pretty stren-
uously with this son
of a slave. I like it,
that there is always
more. I like it, that
so many of the minds
I admire, walk around
in his consciousness.
The rigor they accept
is infectious, a bond.
Through the years, the
hexameters, flows an
The strain is nothing.
One is being imagined.
Satires and Epistles
Epistles I, 10