Saturday, August 27, 2011

Two not unfrequented shelters from the storm

j'étais dans son âme comme dans un palais qu'on a vidé pour ne pas voir une personne si peu noble que vous ..

I lived in his soul as though in a palace which had been emptied in order to avoid the sight of someone so ignoble as oneself ..

Reality is a sound, you have to tune in to it not just keep yelling.

When we pass a day of fear, we remember every second, ignoring those days which lengthen into years of illness. In the Piedmont, the tropical storm has brought (as one writes) continuing wind and rain, both comparatively dulcet, but for surges one would expect of such lengthy perturbation. There is nothing to recall surviving, here, but of treasuring, more than usual. My English dog was eased in the proximity he chose with me, as I turned to our uncanniest artist after Mozart, and to a gorgeously neo-Classicist poet of, I think, certain permanent importance. 

Rimbaud's sacrificial poetic struggle is pertinent, as is the interval of life in which he conducted it. And from the Greeks, gorgeously renewed in the work of Anne Carson, we find how their attachment to reality lies at the heart of Rimbaud's supposed debauchery. It's not a bad storm, which gives understanding of what we love, and of the things that honest people have said of it.

Jean-Nicolas-Arthur Rimbaud
1854 - 1891
Une saison en enfer
Translation Laurent

Anne Carson
Autobiography of Red
  From the Archaic to the Fast Self
Knopf, 1998©

Saturday commute xxxviii: Waiting for the hurricane

A darkness and quiet, with winds that heave without flickering, speak disarmingly of a coming of the sea, and but for their advice of pending inconvenience are more enthralling than disturbing. Everyone thinks to prepare his reflexes, but cannot. An authentic tropical storm is a seduction.

It's wonderful to take the storm without the hysteria of broadcasters, flogging us with hyperbole they wasted long ago. Nothing is more movingly a deliverance from the inane than a visitation of nature. Despite the widespread chorus, keening, why us - we'll never get away from these embarrassing teleologies - the earth is plainly in this with us, and nothing could be more conducive to calm. The storm's impartiality is so perfect, it's false to see it as its own; it articulates what it is without intention or volition. It has not been sent, it cannot be sent away; it will come and it will go, and it may not be easy. But it will be fair.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A cup we've sometimes tasted

for every man hath
business and desire

The conveyor belt of boys and girls into the snob system creaks on, I read, less than ever capable of denominating itself as, society. The Assemblies at which my ex-wife was presented, portrayed an al-ready shattered fairyland by the time of Bachrach's staged portrait of her, descending the staircase to the second floor at home. It would surface in the papers a second time, with the announcement of her engagement. I'd always rather study her in her jeans and a cranberry cable knit, on the jungle gym in Gracie Square, wearing the Cartier choker I gave her, hammered by a Vietnamese goldsmith. It is a heart, on open links, and she is ravishing.

But hasn't New York always been refreshed by both motives, Hercule, a day-time, night-time dichotomy reflecting its energies? 

So you may hear, mon vieux; but snobbery possesses no fecundity, but entropy; and to mount that on the backs of youth is no ordinary deformity, it is to aspire to a kind of usurpation to rival Gertrude and Claudius.

It's the Prince, you have in mind?

Certainly, Auguste, but what had sickened Ophelia, first? 

Had not the young girls always dreamed of their party, Hercule, and their mothers gainfully lunched in its planning?

You make a point, Auguste, that inertia has its energies. Have you been having D'Alembert's dream, as we napt?

You do put one in mind, Hercule, of Diderot's two ways of seeing the cutting up of bees - that they may fly off in liberated directions, or that they may never be freed, but only their clusters concentrated, as in a polyp.

There you go, Auguste, depicting the pertinence of consent.



Edith Wharton
1862 - 1937
A Cup of Cold Water
Scribners, 1899©
The New York Stories of
  Edith Wharton
New York Review Books, 2007©

William Shakespeare
Hamlet, I, v
Cited in Wharton, ibid.

Denis Diderot
Le rêve de D'Alembert
L.W. Tancock, translation
Penguin Books, 1966©

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"So, what can the Pexident droo?"

Got me, Hercule. I suppose he can come out on the parapet one more night, and wonder aloud about what he might or might not really care about, unless it bothers anybody, of course.

I know, Auguste. Remember how he shafted Single Payer, in the same breath when he admired it?

                       Ah, but a fellow of in-
                       finite jest, Hercule, of
                       most excellent fancy. He 
                       hath bore me on his
                       back a thousand times,
                       and now how abhorr'd in
                       my imagination it is.

         Enough of that, now,
         gentlemen ~ you're
         supposed to be napping!

         [Memo to staff: No more
         unsupervised Shakespeare].

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If this were a painting, we would admire it

Latest word from our lads with the electrodes, anatomised

One would have to cite the lurid intrigue commissioned by the British Crown over the remains of Roger Casement, as honourable precedent for the inextinguishable zeal of our pseudoscientists, for hooking us up to electrodes to monitor the responses of the anatomy to the ordeal of pornog-raphy. In the latest go-round in this endless misprision and misconstruction of sexuality, our sporting clinicians have come up with yet another positive proof of a false premise, that organic contingencies can explain anything. The New York Times, paper of unfail-ingly belated record in such matters, reports that the latest Rube Goldberg experiment has discovered bisexuality. And not a word about playlists?

Only in the most carnally morbid of cultures, lashed to an invasive evangelism relying wholly on a catechism of genital improbabilities, could our dim dialectic of sexuality draw the slightest motive. Ours being the only nuclear bastion of the crudest binary distinctions, our frenzy to divide humanity into no more than 2 cadres of sexual response is of the greatest international interest. Not that science, of even this frivolity, stands much chance against the depth of this policy, the nice people of Guernsey and of Andorra must be quaking in their boots to apprehend what effect this disturbing study might have on the deployment of our forces. 

This latest parody of empiricism is only likely to degrade the dignity of fact even further, where it is anathema in the first place. Who can suppose that our Michelle will be deterred in her crusade for compulsory conjugality, by further reports of its diversification? Voodoo is only invigorated by quackery, of which this meets every test. Nor, in her mortal struggle with Texas' crown prince of penal injection, is the tenuous distinction between love and death in her mind, likely to fare well.

Like you, I cringe at the prospect of the detailed publication of this evidence, for its digest of distractions to be assimilated in our dis-course. We have to be able to trust at least some of our stimuli - the green light, of ancient probity. May its glow never dim. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Subject to change on grounds of haberdashery

the power of haberdashery 
to adjust our expectations
of an occasional meeting
is oft-remarked by vastly
subtler authorities than we
can sometimes understand;

but we all know of the
change it can spontaneously
impart, even in absentia,
to the tone of our relations.

no one would bat an eye to wear a sweater out in August, if it were conducive to his interests; nothing else would do.