Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cannon, loose

                     But it's the having
   not the keeping that is the treasure.
   Ginsberg came to my house one afternoon
   and said he was giving up poetry
   because it told lies, that language distorts.
   I agreed, but asked what we have
   that gets it right even that much.
   We look up at the stars and they are
   not there. We see the memory
   of when they were, once upon a time.
   And that too is more than enough.

Jack Gilbert
Refusing Heaven
  The Lost Hotels
  of Paris
Knopf, 2005©

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gérard barred from Roland Garros

No dogmatic adherent of the 
Fall of Man school of sartor-
ial policing, himself - 
remembered by us all, in fact, 
for teasing the fine line be-
tween treachery and liberty in 
Gérard nevertheless recoils from 
tennis’ fatal overreaction to the 
immaculate whites of Bill Tilden, 
the blithe panache of René Lacoste, 
the marmoreal valour of the Finzi-
Contini’s, for that matter, in their 
banishment's redoubt. You’d almost 
think, we’ve heard him muse, they 
do it for the money.

flaunting the fattest, lurid Rolex 
he can find, practitioners of tennis 
now were bent, he truly feared, on 
forcing clashing catamarans to front 
a sponsor corporation, on what used 
to be a genial game. The iconoclastic 
lust to deny to others what they like 
was flashed before his eyes by Vittorio 
de Sica, in the arrogant brush of the 
fascist leather trenchcoat through the 
Dottore’s library, arresting the whole 
household as much for sensibility as 
hereditary faith. 

Now tennis, now sailing: why do they 
mock their favourite crimes, and per-
petrate such blight, denying us gen-
tility in camouflage of spite? 

Vittorio de Sica, director
Giorgio Bassani, book
Giancarlo Bartolini Salimbeni,
  art direction
Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Last week, on the 29th, 100 years ago in Paris

We might have remarked as we
passed a bold centennial with
some concession to its mean-
ing, but we find that a con-
sensus still eludes us. I re-
fer to the first performance
of Le sacre du printemps, at
the new Théâtre des Champs-
Élysées, Nijinsky hollering
in the wings to give direc-
tion to the dancers, the or-
chestra inaudible above the
commotion in the hall.

No two witnesses agreed with
each other, on what they saw
or heard, or even with what
they'd said the night before.
They put one in mind of how
Wallace Stevens parsed The
Things of August, greatly 
now affronting the minds of 
denizens of Virginia, endur-
ing a cacaphony of cicadas:
something so generative that
breaks upon the stage as if 
by shock, itself, but ancient: 

These locusts by day, these crickets by night
Are the instruments on which to play
Of an old and disused ambit of the soul
Or of a new aspect, bright in discovery -

A disused ambit of the spirit's way,
.. that was a ghost, and is ..

A century later, almost to the day,
that instant in the history of the
dance is what has not expired, as
much as it is said, the world has
changed. The great commotion lives
and its instruments are with us, a
comprehension needing to be played.

      The greatest events and thoughts -
      but the greatest thoughts are the
      greatest events - are comprehended
      last: the generations that are con-
      temporaneous with them do not exper-
      ience such events - they live right
      past them. The light of the remotest
      stars comes last to men ..

Modris Eksteins
Rites of Spring
  The Great War and
  the Modern Age
Houghton Mifflin, 1989©

Wallace Stevens
Collected Poetry and Prose
  Things of August
Frank Kermode and 
  Joan Richardson, editors
The Library of America, 1997©

Friedrich Nietzsche
Basic Writings of Nietzsche
  Beyond Good and Evil:
  What is Noble
Walter Kaufmann, translator
op. cit.