Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Liebling ii

The genius of A.J.
Liebling is gener-
ously multi-facet-
ed, so that as I
hazard to admire
it, and recommend
him firmly to my
friends, there is
very much more in
Liebling than a
quenching of one
reader's thirst.

But as one who be-
lieves himself en-
gaged in a public
act of writing, I
have great respect
for Liebling's ap-
petite. He did not
just endure exper-
ience, cataloguing
his sensations. He
cultivated his ap-
petite with excel-
lence, seldom jus-
tifying it as a pol-
icy or a prophylac-
tic, as it palpably
was, but as delight,
which it innocently

I respect his youth
as a footloose free-
lancer of the long
lunch in Paris as a
footing for recog-
nising his enduring
specialty, the ex-
uberant, the gaudy,
and yes, the treach-
erous fraud. If you
can imagine Samuel
Clemens lamenting a
suspicious entrail
in the American cas-
soulet, this is A.J.
Liebling, eviscerat-
ing a tout of race-
track tripe, but not 
without mirth for his 

But I haven't forged
the obvious connection
yet, between a discern-
ing appetite and its
homage to hunger, per
se. Liebling loved the
phonies of life for re-
inforcing his capacity
for better. They were
almost enviably glad,
and he cannot be read
without participating
partly in that, asking
only that they be orig-
inal and authentic in
their scams. What is so
tiresome, nowadays, is
how our frauds all are
nourished by ostensible
"think tanks," spewing
position papers of stag-
nant puerility, financed
by Reaganism's used car
dealers and social climb-
ing petroslobs. We're en-
titled to something bet-
ter than Cato tarts and
Koch crumbs. Yet more to
the point, for all their
frenzied calumnies, we
deserve to see them glad.

A.J. Liebling

Between Meals
  An Appetite for Paris
North Point Press, 1986©

The Jollity Building
The Library of America
op. cit.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Suppose it were Friday lxxiii: keeping faith with the city

    The first of two sidings of
    the Southern Pacific railway
    in Palo Alto stops at the en-
    try to its founder's ranch.
    The Leland Stanford Junior
    University keeps a spur where
    Friday comes with repatriat-
    ing clockwork and delivering

    Of course the persistence
    of a race of happy people
    is no accident merely of
    nature. It replenishes it-
    self with endlessly pro-
    liferating discovery.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tales from the intuitive leap

   The intuitive leap does
   not fit well into the
   pattern of deductive,
   syllogistic thinking.
   Reformatting and close
   comparison decant a fam-
   iliar practice or tool
   from an established con-
   tainer; the stress in ..
   an intuitive leap is on
   if, not what if, instead
   of then.. The final, con-
   scious reckoning carries
   a burden .. rather than
   the clarifying finality
   of syllogistic conclusion.

Richard Sennett
The Craftsman
  Arousing Tools
Yale University Press, 2008©

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


There's a pretty
cool architect in
the faculty down
the road, who has
a way of asking a
class studying an
elevation by Pal-
ladio, what would
you leave, what
would you take

Every observer
has his list of
impediments of
experience, and
of being observed. 
Here, a cigarette
in one hand, and a 
"mobile device" in 
another, cast the
figure in the de-
rivative as well as
the impaired column.

And what is this
mug of coffee in
the avatar's way?

When evaluating
a work, what does
one tidy up first,
the senses or the
object? What is 
more disabling, 
ordinary prejudice
or a blizzard of
distractions? Will
Pauli's particle
(noted in the head-
ing since 2010) be
found, either way? 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Liebling

And some are not.

Who expected the
great scribe of
pugilism for The
New Yorker, and
its archangel of
the tables of Par-
is, to surface al-
so as the singular
witness with a com-
mand of English to
exotic politics of
the great bayou in-
cluded, at no extra
charge, in Jeffer-
son's purchase of
empire in his exer-
cise of small rule?

Summer is a time for
Liebling, the humid-
er the better, as a
rémoulade of simmer-
ing Right-wing unc-
tuousness immerses
us in festivals of
ballot suppression,
and corporate de-
bauch unleashed by
our judicial branch's
latest wave of praise
for concentrated pow-
er, like some school-
boy alleging his or-
gasm had nothing to
do with tumescence.
Sometimes, it's all
one can do, not to
pat their shameless
little noggin for
their cheek.

Oh, my, yes; the asy-
lum of the great Earl
has sprung itself in 
purgations from Peter
Brook, upon the polis 
from Texas to North 

Anyone who inclines to
argue that sexism and
racism have nothing at
all to do with over-
weening financial con-
centrations, is wel-
come to explain to us
a Civil War, Jim Crow,
and the Koch brothers.

And Summer, too, co-
operates in its condi-
tioned little way, as
if the hot, slick sea-
son lent itself, espec-
ially, to escapades of

A.J. Liebling
The Sweet Science
The Earl of Louisiana
Between Meals
  and other Writings
The Library of America, 2009©

Leon F. Litwack
Trouble in Mind:
  Black Southerners in
  the Age of Jim Crow
Knopf, 1998©

Ira Katznelson
Fear Itself:  The New Deal
  and the Origins of our Time
Norton, 2013©

Monday, July 29, 2013

under development

What presents itself
as a footing, for the 
strides we incline to
make, or are exhorted
to, or even sometimes
celebrate our making?

Franz Josef Haydn
Trio in F
Beaux Arts Trio
Philips, 1967©

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Les enfants du paradis

On this closing day of the 12th quarter of the page's publication, I find myself by coincidence revisiting Marcel Carné's Les enfants du paradis (1945), and the moment strikes me as not premature to draw attention to that phrase's presence in the Matter list in the side-bar, all this time. Probably nothing typifies an allegorical under-current in things around here, with any more pointed signal than the reference to the schoolings we go through, not always institutional, under the heading irresistibly swiped from this film. I accept the misconceptions about this interest in the schooling experience, which any reader might have noticed about this page, off-site; and I have no interest in defending rmbl against the incurable suspicions of others. No page can afford to wear a sign, stipulating to its safety, and at the same time purport to enact the experience of learning. That way lies orthodoxy, against which I have argued, not least, as an illusory security. I could hardly embrace one lie to deflect another.

I do adopt an imagery of vitality to celebrate that experience, therefore, for more than merely nostalgic reasons: it continues and requires renewal. But for today, I acknowledge the almost immeasurably radiant and stimulating, sustaining movie Carné and Prévert fashioned in the final months of extreme creative hazard, in wartime France. Les enfants du paradis writes its own review before our eyes, in international restoration for dvd, and renews its claims to be known, intimately, adapting the theater of the streets and of the stage, as Renoir and Kurosawa would later do, to craft the ark of humanity.

Surprise, surprise: a prodigious Dionysian energy ~ sensual, spontaneous ~ marks this movie as a film, as surely as if revolving sprockets drew its text and textures across a beacon out of Anton Mesmer, rallying clusters of the curious from the dark. It's how it is, for ces enfants du paradis, whether they know their Nietzsche or not; and if there is any premise more arresting in this movie than the primogen-iture of Eros, I do not know what it is. The sprocket bridging the gap, the spark leaping the arc in Les enfants du paradis, between being and knowing, is nothing more complex than a stroll down its richly populated Boulevard de Crime - learning. Have we time for hun-ger that declines its own feast?

For classmates.

Marcel Carné, director
Jacques Prévert, screenplay
Roger Hubert, cinematography
Alexandre Trauner, design
Les enfants du paradis
Pathé, 1945
Criterion Collection 
  restoration and editing, 2012©