Friday, April 26, 2013

"The sea is high again today, with a thrilling flush of wind"

On opening Justine one is seized every time. It is, as Durrell says, today. His adopting of the present, in an expansive invention of retrospection, is not artlessly hammered by the announcement of a perpetual, mobile date of conscious-ness. This is a device of urgency, and the voice is of the Classics, not of age. But why is this?

    I see at last that none of us 
    is properly to be judged for 
    what happened in the past. It 
    is the city which should be 
    judged though we, its children, 
    must pay the price.

Lawrence Durrell
  a novel
op. cit.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

France embraces marriage as a human institution

lower house of the parlia-
ment of France has adopted
the measure known as, mar-
riage for all, over the
concerted opposition of 
all establishments of re-
ligion. Let them come to
people when they're ready.

It goes against our scruples
to celebrate a fine wine if
the occasion is good enough
by itself. But in the country
of humanity, exception proves
the rule to our continuing
delight and debt. There's an
American-owned estate that Mr
Jefferson admired, and Pepys
before him, which stands apart
from all the rest of its rank
in the distinctive composition
of its soils and their exposure.
How well this fair exception
proves the rule of nature's gift.

i     Andy Fabbi
ii   The New York Times©
iii  Collection Laurent

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I sent The Times a thank-you note, for watching Lindsey Graham

The ascendancy of Princeton's latest
humiliation, in the tradition of Don-
ald Rumsfeld and the bitter, fetid
Sammy Alito, Texas' avatar, Ted Cruz,
has threatened to obscure the abiding
thuggery of South Carolina's Senator
Lindsey Graham. This would be unfair,
as the pending trials in the Boston
bombings make clear. The other day,
Graham was advancing the notion, with
wacky John McCain, that the suspects
(however numerous or not they may be)
ought to be hauled up before Pentagon
prosecutors as specters of seditious
battle, an especially droll suggestion
from a South Carolinian, need I say,
but even more poignant when his votes
and rants against sound public policy
on guns, human rights, and military
justice are taken into account. At the
neurotic Right-wing character assassin-
ation, but he's yet to be tested in our
South Carolinian's lengthy legislative
gauntlet of slashing civil liberties at
every opportunity.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Taking the whole spine to write the title

I came home from the bookshop
yesterday with Miss Madison's
thrillingly learned Vegetable
Literacy and Anne Applebaum's
decidedly undelectable Gulag,
having somehow eluded the po-
etry section, entirely. There
had been no known object to
this foray but a purchase of
viticulture's finest period-
ical, whose latest issue had
not yet arrived; but the new
Madison hadn't been expected
and I blamed myself for Anne
Applebaum, whom I encounter-
ed in History, Europe, while
hoping to make it as far as
Spain, where I did ultimate-
ly find Mr Beevor's reliable
study of the civil war which
I'd not revisited since col-
lege (Borkenau, Brenan, Fra-
ser, and naturally, Orwell).

But I stray. Probably every-
one remembers John Hersey's
interesting nightmare novel
from 1974, out of Kafka and 
Malthus, My Petition for 
More Space, on appealing to
the bureaucratic gods for a
little more room, which the
publishers of Gulag seem to
have found it timely to a-
ward to Applebaum's title,
leaving no square cm of her
spine unstamped with that
grisly acronym of roughly,
State Camp Administration.
Lucky for her, Denisovich
had already been taken, or
she'd yet be at her lathe.

Now, this is said to be a
worthwhile frame of refer-
ence for the late Soviet
project in the productiv-
ity of enforcement; and no
connoisseur of the crimes
of its era can do without
it. But I can't say enough
for the printers' offense
against the good order of
one's library, by allocat-
ing 1.25" of font height,
and 0.5 of width, to each
and every letter of this
five-figure neologism set
within a spine of refrig-
erator white.

Who could reasonably ob-
ject, do you suppose, to
discerning the thoughtful
face of Alexander Pope at
twelve paces from a shelf
-- laid into Yale's spine
for his collected poetry?
You could say, a library
might do worse in a lode-
star for true north. But
this extremity of noise,
for a monstrosity upon a
monstrosity, only leaves
a library feeling like a
chamber of horrors.

Someone will tell us all,
one day, why Steve Pincus'
enormous white 1688, also
from Yale, doesn't manage
to roil the metabolism of
assimilating information,
with the gasp which must
always greet Anne Apple-
baum's embonpoint of text.
She is a graduate of Yale,
summa cum laude at that;
but, alas, her publisher
is Anchor, who must still
be striving to vindicate
their name. Possibly they
could consult J. Press on
discretion, at least with
projects from New Haven.