Saturday, August 7, 2010

A seat in San Francisco i

Bonhommie du raconteur  ~ 

beyond all else, the wine, the sun, 

refracted best by wit and largeness of spirit.

Male figure in blue linen, frequent guest and host, professor of British history, denizen of Wilton’s (dispensation for travel), the Opera, Bohemia, of fauna high and low, master of the all-day lunch and scourge of all who pose without humour. San Francisco to his DNA, perched on my terrace on Telegraph Hill in 1979, “moving day,” in a chair lent to me by my bookseller, a classmate of my father's and good friend of his. The glass is by Baccarat, their Volnay Nr. 2; the wine is from just up the Bay, in the Carneros region. He doesn't mind. 

In the previous posting, we noticed how miscalculation in travesty can diminish the audience as well as the work, and reflect grievously on their producer. What follows is not to state more of the obvious, but to thank a good friend.

What is true of maladroit travesty is true of an imbalance in raillerie, a gift, the necessity of whose cultivation is strikingly affirmed in Benedetta Craveri's brilliant history of the form, The Age of Conversation (2005). Raillerie evolved as a sardonic dismissal of what weighed on everyone's mind, already - injustice - into a mode of invigorating its resistance. It arose from of a largeness of spirit, a treasuring consciousness that the brighter filaments of the heart are there to light us toward a discerning but also a humane and just rapport.

Photography by Laurent


  1. fully engaged, the face. grateful are we to have someone like this present & there are few who can divert us on moving day and insist on a chair to work from. knowing just one such person a life time is a gift-I've had several. being able to acquire a small piece of whatever we admire or love in that person is that much more holy. Gaye

  2. I was privileged to be diverted by Arthur for more than 20 years, and never knew him to lack the gift for 'scale' in the distraction he might inflict -- or, very roguishly, any doubt that he'd redeem the inconvenience with his wit. Alas the 'small piece' I have of Arthur is the latter. :)