Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday commute vii

In tearing haste, many observe protocols of modern correspondence which indenture them to missives whose signature is the new defeat of intimacy, with chirps of avian redundancy. People text each other between lappings of lunch, and wouldn't think of migrating so far as from the dressing room to the shower without documenting the trek to their Favourites list. Has any generation faster imploded its wits on a frenzy, since the extinction of goldfish? I love my friends. I don't imagine they love me metabolically. The mark of human intimacy is what Thoreau said it is, a limit. Fide-ra-la-la.

Die Vogelhochzeit
San Francisco Chanticleer
Teldec, 1997©

"by the muscles of the feet"

a seawall of monitors -
a barrier reef of ripped images -
begs the question of the foot.

A terpsichorean muse is as vital to the study of architecture as to its creation and its meaning; we have that, already, from Philip Johnson's visit to Taliesin West. We heard as much from the caryatids of Athens' Erechtheion, celebrated here, mercifully spared the grisly delectation of Lord Elgin.

We go to great buildings or we absolutely do not know them. And we go, as Philip insisted more than once, on foot. His own dismally unphotogenic Kline building at Yale is proof of that, while one whiff of its environs will illuminate Louis Kahn's Salk, even in the dark. Here, a spiffy embodiment of architectural verities shows what is no more than prudent, in the preparation of the foot for this critical exercise; there, by the same token, a more Orthodox acolyte holds out for an unmediated absorption. It's heartening, to see the principal sustained, the humane vision validated.

Our liberation from the monitor and the motorcar exposes us, then, to the processional experience of the site as well as to the sensitive scale of the edifice. This advantage is felt acutely in the tradition subscribed to by Le Corbusier at Ronchamp and by Johnson repeatedly in his own works, as we shall observe. But the same holds true when terpsichorean values verge on the tactile, as in the texture of façades which may be smoothed or worn with time, as well as those of freshest glossiness and unveiled luminosity. We have, as their example, the reclaimed Carriage Works in Sydney, and the shiny new Federation Square in Melbourne. Traction, too, plays its epistemological part. Now the foot, so wasted at our desktop, acquits itself invaluably.

vi & vii, courtesy Nic Nieuwoudt

Friday, December 3, 2010

Our streetcar

On the evening of this day, some years ago, a play was opening in New York which would be recalled for many reasons and by many lines, but supremely for its final word, ejaculated expletively. By then the vulnerability of that cry, the candour of its confession, had swept the listening audience to its own insistent feet. The word was, Stella.

By a coincidence I discovered only in maturity, but have childishly cherished, ever since, I was delivered to that audience by Caesarean section at the Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California, in time for lunch that very same day. 

I exactly remember, sitting at half my present age in a Kandinsky chair by Marcel Breuer, my back to the morning sun off my beloved bay, at home on Telegraph Hill, reading that bit of trivia in the 8th or 9th time I happened to pick up a copy of the script. I was sipping coffee, of course, and it was a weekend day I had to myself. 

There is no significance to this recollection, and none to this coincidence. But it did serve, years later, to enrich a conversation with my widower father at his home in La Jolla, on why this odd writer happened to seem to understand ladies so well. It serves me in Virginia now, to help confess a debt.  

This reminiscence is only another blogger's exercise of raw prerogative. It just happens to be true.

Mine, today, is to embrace my father for his gift to me of a love he made estimable, by openly exhibiting it, every day of my growing life - for this language, in any honest use of it.

Carmen Kass
Mathias Lauridsen
Henrik Bülow, photography

Stairs I'd climb any day

running the stadium steps -
bloggers on their birthday
get to choose their field



with JJr




Brian Davenport à l'orange

waiting for the Dinky
the rail shuttle to Mercer Street;
suppose it arrives, empty?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Attiki à l'orange

Chairs at the beach, 
Orange and olive grove
photography Paschalis

under development ii

It is not in order to hoard that the Americans are rapacious.

Duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, 1747-1827
Travels .., London, 1799

As Governor, Ronald Reagan proposed to sell the collections of this repository. They survive.

Henry Adams
The Jeffersonian Transformation
  Passages from The History of the United States
  During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson
New York Review Books, 2007©

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Start spreadin' the news"

The voices of great poets and         their good opinions
have hauled Aeacus, dripping, 
  out of the Styx
and made him immortal in the 
  Blessed Isles.
Poets lift them to heaven. Castor     and Pollux 
burn in the night sky because of us
himself is feasting with Jove
  because we said so
and Bacchus, with vine tendrils       curled at his ears,
because of us, grants you your
  anxious prayers.

I'm extremely pleased to be in December, and I regard this as one of the most important postings the page has yet carried. Horace is making some astonishing assertions here, and so I propose the mantle of 'poetry' for those who do what he says, regardless of what they do. I cite the good and inconspicuous work of the Southern Poverty Law Center for performing exactly the function Horace claimed for poets - without, to be sure, claiming it exclusively. The recital of the slightest discord is unmusical to so many fastidious ears, that I feel compelled to commend to them the dreadfully 'unpoetic' element in that stance. I cite the belated and enormously long-fought conversion of The New York Times to the position of poetry on the issue they address in this reference, for presenting it to our contemporary Agora with passion proportioned to the case.

But I also cite that very mercantile world of haberdashery (you may call it, design, as I do), much disparaged for furnishing the visual analogies of many of my postings, as if to prove a polemic against desire. I think that when the history of the persistence of poetry in the United States in this unending Age of Reagan is written, we are going to name the advertising campaigns of some pretty negligible vendors for sustaining it.

Most of all I am happy to be in December because this is the month in the West when poetical contemplations seem the least incongruous, and 'taste' is on the table to celebrate the sharing, more than the acquiring of finer things. I encourage readers and friends to know we are poets, inescapably. 

Odes, iv, 8
David Wagoner, translation
J.D. McClatchy, editor
Princeton University Press, 2002©

ii, Mathias Lauridsen

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

amis particuliers

The spotter is as carefully selected as one's tailor, as trusted as one's barber, more frequently visited than one's confessor, yet often as anonymous as one's tax collector. The relationship may or may not be reciprocal, but it is categorically not intimate, as if he were a personal trainer. In common with one's tennis coach or golf pro, he has a keen eye for what's off in one's form, but as a connoisseur of that standard, not of ourself. An architect, our house is not for him, and it is of indifference to him how we furnish it or how we use it.

His purview is the gym, his expertise is in what are called, free weights - plates of iron attached to bars for repeated movement through space under one's power. Bright machines were thought to make him obsolete; they are only averagers of elevations. He studies the arc of this transport for unwise deflection, for impetuous pace, for imbalance in parameters; and for completion. This is no rôle for a chum.

Yet, although a critic, he is also a giver of encouragement. This comes as much from his character as an enthusiast as from his own accomplishments. He will monitor whether we meet certain goals, set unilaterally by ourself, and will stand by to deliver us from miscalculation if necessary. Assuming a well-ordered self-awareness and self-discipline, his ultimate relationship with us, then, can be defined and appreciated instantly by anyone who blogs: he is our witness. He watches. This blog has a reader or two like him. I know it.

i, Mathias Lauridsen

"Jour cotonneux"

I have quoted from this blog entry from mid-October, before, with a photograph of a kitchen whisk. This address presents a page of the most sustained textural sense known to me in works of this kind. That focus or disposition naturally extends to colour and contrast as textural variables in imagery, often macro-photographic. These variables are given the imaginative name, "les contours," and are consistently selected for their evocation of "silence." 

I read in French haltingly now, so long estranged from phrases overheard in the kitchen in childhood and sung in Christmas carols, before several years of academic study. To this day I naïvely associate the sounds of this language with agreable textures, almost of reticence, scintillatingly acute as its rhetoric becomes at any moment. These disabilities of mine inevitably attach me to the blog in yet another illegitimate way, of arousing expectations. But they are met.

This extraordinary blog conserves, by inhabiting, a perfectly marvelously distinctive place - a mode beyond style, an almost pristine antipode to vanity. As Advent looms, its many lurid windows to expose, we'll take some shelter here for certain. We'll listen through our language, and own its debt to France.

i-iii, Les contours du silence
iv, Thibault Oberlin

JS Bach
Capriccio, Arioso, BWV 992
Wilhelm Kempff
Deutsche Grammophon, 1993©

Monday, November 29, 2010

Horace on the consolations of blue china

Didn't anyone ever tell you, Oscar?

Then why, Ligurinus, why
do my eyes sometimes fill, even   spill over?
Why, sometimes, when I'm talking
do I suddenly have nothing to   say? Why
do I hold you in my arms
in certain dreams, certain nights, and in others 
  chase you endlessly across 
the Field of Mars, into the swirling Tiber?   

Odes, Book IV, i
Richard Howard, translation
J.D. McClatchy, editor
Princeton University Press, 2002©

Daniel Mendelsohn, NYRB©

Enduring the blow of Monday

Polaroid reflection

weekend recollection


        Starbucks at Charvet

Polaroid trouvaille, Paschalis
Janice Fronimakis, unattributed
Maison Charvet, product placement

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Picture taken by a man who can't see what he's doing

This picture will be new to some readers, so I present it in a scale permitting its study on the page. It is the only image I've ever requested because I simply like looking at the figure in the frame. Once I bought an Ansel Adams from Portfolio V for the same reason, but that was of a rural woman behind a screen door. This is an urban hottie, and I'm not pretending not to notice.

Subordinate to this stalker's consideration - I happen also to like this photograph very much. Now that he has a chance to see it, himself, I wonder what the photographer thinks of it. He never saw it before. His camera wouldn't let him. Every time this man wants to take a picture, his camera makes him go blind before it will expose the film. 

It's very hard, however, to be sorry for Valéry Lorenzo, given what he extracts in trade. As often as the mirror slaps him in the eye, as obstinately as the apparatus defers his decision, art happens when he assimilates something worth seeing. As we all know.

Which brings us to what the stalker knows. It's all very well to watch what he does, but as I explain to Whit, it's also necessary to see where he goes. We pay the most gainful attention, then, to where he takes us, not only in gallery visits but in the most fertile following list we've yet to find in a blogger's profile. 

Here is where he went this week, there is where he's going soon.

Keep an eye on Valéry Lorenzo's movements; he gives delicious excuses for our attention.

i and ii, Valéry Lorenzo
iii, Heinrich Kühn, Orangerie Exhibition
iv, Eduardo Chillida, Flo blog