Saturday, January 19, 2013

Miles without a present to myself

I hadn't bought myself a present in
so long, I was feeling quite gloom-
ily out of practice. What to do,
what to do, what to do, I found my-
self muttering, almost audibly, can
you believe, rotating down the bal-
cony in a final settling of my cuff
upon my instep, its gentle break be-
lying all the labour in its fitting.
Should I venture down to Assouline,
I found myself mourning, now self-
doubtful of my avarice, and mime an-
other purchase of the swells; I won-
dered if they'd recognise this ennui
for what it is, or if I'd have to
book a table mid-town for 4, just
to open up my parcel to the gasp of
every waiter wafting Floris from his

What's become of all my shop-ping sprees' epiphanies of purpose, amidst entire indus-tries devoted to specifying what they must entail. I sense I need another villa to comply with these ukases, if not at least to blog of them, discreetly to the monde. Sat-urday used to be more generous with its hours, when the spec-tacle of my pleasures could go almost unnoticed - except to those who shared them, without the effrontery of enterprising Baedekers, dossiers purporting to exhibit delight in the dross of their own image. It's enough to incline one to disinvest in the imagination, and any thought of the city.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Physics on my mind ii

She was still looking at him
thoughtfully. She seemed to
be listening without really
hearing. Then she said, 'Vik-
tor Pavlovich, your face 
looks quite different today.
Has something good happened?'

What makes you think that?

'Your eyes have changed,' she
said. 'It must be your work..'

What do you see in my eyes

'Your eyes are always full of
suffering - but not today.'

Marya Ivanovna, I don't under-

A minute later, walking down the
dark street, .. a cold draught
blew from each of the dark en-
trances; when he came to a cross-
roads the wind lifted up the tail
of his coat. Viktor shrugged his
shoulders and frowned. Would his
mother never know, would she nev-
er know what her son had just

Vasily Grossman
Life and Fate

Tim Rupp x Bruce Weber

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The new theory

     The new theory was not derived from experience.
     Viktor could see this quite clearly. It had a-
     risen in absolute freedom; it had sprung from
     his own head. The logic of this theory, its chain
     of reasoning, was quite unconnected to the exper-
     iments conducted by Markov in the laboratory. The
     theory had sprung from the free play of thought.

It was this free play of thought - which seemed quite detached from the world of experience - that had made it possible to explain the wealth of experimental data, both old and new. The experiments had merely been a jolt that had forced him to start thinking. They had not determined the content of his thoughts. All this was quite extra-ordinary. His head had been full of mathematical relationships, differ-ential equations, the laws of higher algebra, number and probability theory .. 

It was not mathematics that reflected the world; the world itself was a projection of differential equations, a reflection of mathematics.             

And his head had also been full of readings from different instruments, of dotted lines on photographic paper that showed the trajectories of particles and the fission of nuclei.

                                                                                                                              And there had even been room in his head for the rustling of leaves, the light of the moon, millet porridge with milk, the sound of flames in the stove, snatches of tunes, the barking of dogs, the Roman Senate, Soviet Information Bureau bulletins, a hatred of slavery, and a love of melon seeds.

                All this was what had given 
                birth to his theory; it had 
                arisen from the depths where 
                there are no mathematics, no 
                physics, no laboratory data, 
                no experience of life, no 
                consciousness, only the 
                inflammable peat of the 

Vasily Grossman
1905 - 1964
Life and Fate
Éditions l'Age d'Hommes, 1980©
Translation, Robert Chandler, 1985
New York Review Books, 2006©

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It would be better, coming from you

       Is it possible, that we some-
       times rate the informing bur-
       dens of love with higher ap-
       preciation of our intensity,
       than of the relationship we
       select as its beneficiary?

       We like to think, as I would
       hope here, that our obliga-
       tions are in equilibrium: we
       care as much for our inter-
       locutor as for any subject.
       Here, I think, we are less
       complacent, you and I, than
       many who have cared for us.

       Now, then. November is past
       without event. We are secure
       in our protection from insan-
       ity on the Right; and it is
       time to fix his government.

       Will you tell him, or shall
       I, that his President is a
       war criminal; and that his
       birthright is shriveling as
       we speak, in high crimes and
       misdemeanors against his in-
       heritance of due process and
       mankind's, of the just war?

       Nothing takes care of itself
       on this scale, and nothing
       interests us more, than get-
       ting him clear of our debts.