Saturday, August 6, 2011

You and I may well say, we have a healthy respect for Tasmania

And so we do - acknowledging,
at any moment, it could strike

It's the same poussineque assumption, et in arcadia ego, we all have of the gentlest filly in the Stanford stables, as we take her out to stretch her legs in the rolling reaches of the ranch, until a whiff of her chum from Woodside catches her, and off we go. There we are again, protocol in a cocked hat: who speaks first, the rider of which gen-der, the rider of which interloper? This could go on, too, in a cataract of Locust Valley lockjaw, but for the easement of the live oaks, the burnt earth, and the madrone proliferating to reciprocate the tang for us of eucalyptus, over undertones of salt and sage. Between a bay and an ocean, what name?


What on earth could they have been thinking i

Well, you can just imagine, Martin, how one's soul simply sank, when they proposed a malolactic chardonnay with the blue points. 

But I mean, too, 
in August!

Saturday commute xxxv: In the fitting rooms of Sutter Street

      are there still
      shower heads?

Friday, August 5, 2011

L'Amazone and I

Having sat this Summer, for a portrait for which I was invited to wear my own habit, I can say that I know what it is to be subjected to Manet’s best method, and that I recognise those elements which rescue it from his worst. It is for this experience that I was fascinated to find that this extravagantly striking portrait claims my respect for precisely the methods I have seen exercised for mine. What interests me in this painting is not whether it resembles some subject matter or mode, but how it displays, in layerings of texture and stroke, technique to which I was exposed in weeks of written and oral exchanges, which painter-critic Julian Bell excitingly describes in his review of the Musée d'Orsay exhibition, just ended.

I appreciate the fertile ground for comparison of Julian Bell's remarks on modernism, his use of Manet to substantiate them, and the portrait techniques of P. Gaye Tapp at Little Augury. Let us logically begin then, with Ms Tapp's basic statement of what her interests are. As Bell argues, it is Manet's failures to resolve this question which account for his worst canvases, yet for heralding his name, by the trumpets of the Musée d'Orsay itself, as the man who invented modernity.  

She admits to an eye, always looking back to the past, in the hope of understanding what is authentic and what will endure; so we are amiably disarmed, if one may say, for the precipitation of diversified strokes - which, I would suggest, are false to recall only as novelties - toward which the other eye is constantly alert.

Often, Bell says of Manet, there lurks "a memo that reads: there ought to be a story here, but I’m not yet sure what it is." By saying that his intentions are not merely invigorated, but shaped by the degree of his possession of what he wants to say, Bell has opened a frontal attack on what he calls modernism’s “aestheticised halfheartedness.”

The implication could not be more plain, that a certain strain in modernism has simply drawn upon the more lethargic expressions of Édouard Manet to mount a new aesthetic:

There is a strong argument within modern art that halfheartedness ought to be aestheticised: it runs all the way down through Duchamp and Jasper Johns to Kippenberger and Basquiat .. [and] an enormous corpus of interpretation that insists: do not adjust your heart, there is a fault in reality. The 'modern' is the deracinating historical condition that makes it impossible to tell a proper story -- or to abandon the impulse to do so.

Such are Ms Tapp's methods in portraiture, that her animation by the terms of Manet's memo is quite palpable. There ought to be a story; there will be a story, and it will be found and told by those means which portray a breach of impasse, celebrated. Look at that face. Look at the sky of its multifarious framing; the density and sparsity of stroke, the reblending of hue. These are not vanities, but the narrative of a search literally piled, here in carmine upon the lips. Lay on, Bell writes, bring to the fore, maximise .. render the subject at its fullest, its most self-suffused. Let those cheeks be very, very bright .. [in a] robust, from the shoulder line of activity, like kneading bread or whisking cream .. all the while, driven on by an anticipation of pleasure.

One could tell.

Édouard Manet

Mark Rothko
Violet, Green, and Red

Julian Bell
The New York Review of Books©
July 14, 2011

P. Gaye Tapp
Little Augury©
July 27, 2011

Uh oh

seems we have a
new coxswain ..

They do this, you know,
to build competition for
1st boat.
Coaches are so naughty.

Goya for Friday

Valéry Lorenzo

".. not just because
Toulouse has won at rugby .."

ii Valéry Lorenzo

Who hasn't wondered what it means, for a jury to be out?

We have never understood this idiom. Possibly it's like losing an army or two, under Bonaparte, carelessness as distinguished from audacity. Still, there are more juries than armies, even in our most garrisoned states; and so if one were to mislay a jury, presumably one could get another one? Suppose, however, "Order and Progress," the motto on the Brazilian flag. Surely, these virtues of the perfect orb, stated in gold, green, and blue, promise a happier grip on this agency of justice; such that, one wouldn't expect a jury to be out, so much as constituted with less mystery, and yet with advanced humanity. We have not lost touch with our equatorial friends, I trust?

Christopher Fawcett

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dialogue at South Luangwa

"Ask the same for me,"
for friends should have
all things in common."

No remark stands alongside this dialogue of Phaedrus and Socrates, unless it's the one between Diotima and Socrates in The Symposium, a conversation between the queries of the broad African plain and the éclat of its great falls. Diotima patiently explains: 

"Why don't we say everyone is a lover, if everyone always loves the same things; why do we call some people lovers and not others? It's nothing to wonder about. What we're doing is picking out one kind of love and applying it to the name, love, that belongs to the whole class, while we use different names for other kinds of love .. You know that composition forms a general class. When anything comes into being which did not exist before, the cause of this is always composition. So the products of all the crafts are compositions, and the craftsmen who make them are all composers? .. But you know, they aren't called composers, but have different names ..

Here, they are differentiated by names - Beth Nelson, for the gift of the Phaedrus, typeset by a master printer from San Francisco and framed in her house by the ocean - and Ivan Terestchenko, for the gift of photographs congruent with the most important conversations in the life of this species. Is this, trying too hard, or is it composition; and what does Diotima say this is? That 'the good' is a verb, not an object; hence, when the good of seeing gives something being, which did not exist before, "the cause of this is always composition." To those who adore their objects, this must always seem like trying too hard.

427-347 B.C.

The Symposium
Christopher Gill, translation
Penguin, 1999©

Camp stools, South Luangwa
Friends, Victoria Falls
July, 2011

The tumblrist at ciné has a great ear for a useful expression

I don't see how
the President of the United States
can run again for an office he hasn't

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Astrophysics, accident, affinity, affluence

Who isn't very touched when someone is willing to betray having heard what one is trying to say? It leaves one open to an edgy, precious canard, of trying too hard, but it puts paid to its flip side, that any-thing beyond pride is incomprehensible.

What is more accidental than our respective conditions in life, unless it is our position amongst it when the shutter is snapped? Nothing gave me the right to own such greetings of very, very supportive readers as I saw the other day, except their generous focus on matter passing through their own occupied space. Dear evidence and practitioners, all of them, of Wolfgang Pauli's Exclusion Principle, portray the exception for assimilated thought.

That simple concept, lodged in the sidebar for a year, has never been better illuminated than in the happenstance-defying confluence of three contributions to that festschrift. Here was a reciprocity vastly beyond transmittal originating here. As matter, ourselves, distributed at random, to be so linked is to imply a kind creation.

Yet impossible to interchange as our condition is, this is not to define fortune as fickle, but as fertile. Everything gravitates - period. Everything has its own vector and volume of urging toward an other, and we investigate this to understand not just ourselves. Someone's sternum will be shattered in war, someone equally eligible will inherit his peace; someone dear will be taken by the same risk we all exchanged; some brother will go for some other. We are the leg-atee of accident but the proof of gravity, or desire defies itself in the tangents of pride. No one can be better occupied than by friend-ship; no one can occupy a higher estate.

Gifts of Valéry Lorenzo,
Bruce Barone, and 
Victoria Thorne

Hubble photography
  Saturn and Cassini
The Slab 
Mar, 2007

Tricouleurs en fuite

If I couldn't, yes, go down

the Victoria Falls again, I'd
certainly be sailing barefoot
for France ~

for my deconstructed Great
American Hamburger, with a
friend of mine at Le Moulin
de Mougins, two days ago, 
with an '82 St Emilion,
bottled the year he was

We never did
rule out le déjeuner.
Vergé and Laurent are
a story for another

The shout heard 'round the world

It's mathematical: change
a rhythm, immediately you
have an emotion.


"Hey, wait for me!"

Bruce Weber

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Laurent bouleversé

Last Friday marked the first anniversary of this page, which opened with this portrait and the phrase, under development. How little that description could be faulted today. Over the past week, however, an unease has hovered here, while the occasion telescoped, foreshortened the year in some implicit demand for assessment, which the posting of the year's last day openly protested. Only by passing through that gate has one been able to turn, and dismiss it for being as irrelevant as one would wish it to be. With its false auspiciousness behind, it was easy and natural to feel the internal process return, exactly as before. There was Laurent.

But not until quite late this morning could one have said what this process has been. Ostentatious terms don't catch in one's throat only because we're raised to renounce them; they choke because they are large. This process is a creative act, the very thing one would never allow to be said for such obvious, albeit fundamentally necessary play. It is sometimes almost hammeringly lonely. And it is never more lonely than when one stops to appraise it. The creative act calls forth the thing within the heart to exist and to be seen, as nobody has said any better lately than John Logan, in his play, Red. It has to be done, and when not subjected to artificial frames, is what its consequence is, demanding.

In this project, never conceiving of it in any particular terms, I seem to have been the last to realise how widely known this is. Late this morning I discovered greetings gathered elsewhere, in a page of my regular reading, all addressed to Laurent, to the effect that it is OK to be doing this. 

But the quite moving and certainly unforgettable thing, is that this assent was showered upon the page by some of the most wonderful figures I know for doing the same thing, to my constant awe and respect. All this time: who knew?

Suddenly, clearly, I saw this one wonderful being called forth from the heart to exist and to be seen, and I felt his fellowship. I have looked upon him since I was his age, and today I felt I knew him. For the help of Mmes Victoria Thorne, P. Gaye Tapp, and Beth Nelson, and of Valéry Lorenzo, Bruce Barone, and the man who shoved me out, Ivan Terestchenko, in giving me this understanding, I can still only borrow to give thanks - but as they teach me, I borrow well. Merci.

Jean-Pierre Léaud
  Antoine Doinel
François Truffaut, director,
  writer, producer
Henri Decae, cinematographer
Les quatre cent coups
  The 400 Blows
Les Films du Carrosse, 1959©

John Logan
op. cit.

See how appropriate he looks, without the offending article?

It's certainly not for us to judge, if we are protected sufficiently from the scourge of in-decency on the internet. We can never be too vigilant against the terrifying detail of masculine representation. For all we know, to many, a cocky '50s roll of the T sleeve is such a spark of delinquent nostalgia, as to activate sleeper cells of Tea Party fanatics as we speak. But can anyone win? We do our best to suppress unease in our own page, only to risk insult to redneck eschatology.

Who is safe, then, in the empire of divine madness? Certainly not the censor of sex appeal by M-16, and equally not the opponent of homicide by the untrammeled promotion of addiction. That leaves only the conscientious objector to human life immune from the new hysteria, as who could have supposed? 

A bunch of bankers have been sitting around, thriving on their pack of Know-Nothings, assuming they could be sharecroppered into docility as always. Today, we read, Morgan Stanley actually feels uneasy. Oh, Jamie Dimon, say it ain't so!

i    Dominic Juneau
iii  Nicholas Hoult