Thursday, June 14, 2012

If you see St Annie, please tell her thanks a lot

If this is not your first visit to red mug, blue linen, I appreciate that you have come to a page where it is not necessar-ily possible to negotiate more than one of its worlds at once; and where even the world that you thought you could trust, is not necessarily what it had seemed.

It's a page in favour of quiet money, but which objects to money's quiescence to the debauchery of the institutions it built; it's a page in favour of egalitarian opportun-ities but which objects to setting the denominator as low as our culture has been conditioned to want it; it's a page which does not admire luck as breeding or privilege as justified, without embracing the obligation to share them as broadly as possible. It's a page which offers no ease to the leisure class, except in the conservation and propagation of the finer legacies of the human mind, and which asserts the inspiration of the beautiful at every turn.

But beyond question, what drives high numbers to this page is its essentially continuous layering with an erotic imprint. The first reason this is the case, is to demonstrate how inextricable from every contemplative act, the aspirations of the erotic are; and the second is its corollary, and this is that the erotic charge is infinitely far from being limited strictly to engendered functions. This page simply turns the tables on Truman Capote's quip on low remarks always offered on the homoerotic gentleman who has just left the room; it populates his room with those who know better.

Self-described aesthetes are charged by the plain meaning of the word with knowing this; self-anointed arbiters of taste are tasked by their acquisitiveness to account for their hunger. We did not invent this logic; insecurity and phoniness underly fastidiousness when it comes to its exercise against the patently delectable. Then taste, whatever its ostensible antecedent, is nothing but an expression of constraint, rather than of embrace; love is nothing more than a response to authority, not to desire. We cannot pass along any doctrine of liberty on this basis; we cannot pass along any doctrine of justice, without a visceral sense of its fundamental nourishment.

And we can not teach. We cannot implant into, we cannot elicit from anyone the possession of the true or the beautiful without transmitting their energy. I correspond with a man who is experiencing the shock of no longer teaching; I respect that this must be extremely onerous. He will find a way to renew that experience, I am certain. He has been touched by the hunger to know. Felix qui potuit rerunt cognoscere causas, Virgil says; fortunate is the man who knows the causes of things. But he can never lay that knowledge down because he cannot lay those causes down. And he will not.

But that's all sort of by-the-way, because what I really felt like doing today, was to celebrate quiet money, for which I don't think the 190SL is any worse a token than some good guy's Buick. I hope, that is, because in its antiquity the "ladies' car" has really come to grow on me, for being a fairly intelligible and pleasingly responsive little mechanical device, not an ultimate driving machine of loud money and buzzy electronic controls. I think we have to learn to be nicer about our harmless luxuries; it's a good thing, for pleasure to have a simple cause.

Bob Dylan
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues

  Book II
ca 46 B.C.

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