Saturday, January 25, 2014

City of texture

     Like? When it's itself,
     it's not like anything.
     This means, good inten-
     tion might not prevail.
     It's built to be unmade
     and made again, and all
     the world plays a part.

There are two struggles being waged these days in one place, the Museum of Modern Art. The design community is split along lines not merely of judgment but of 'team spirit,' a recurring risk in any city. Complaints abound with its leadership, a recurring risk wherever there is an institution. But nothing about New York belongs only to New York; the texture of that city extrudes, you could say, the keenest prayers of all. We implore it to be good as well as great. One building's indignity dooms its neighbor to yield; while across town, a lovely park is uplifted as if by a phoenix.

Cathedral Photo Valéry Lorenzo©

Jasper Johns, 1961, Coll MoMA

Saturday commute ci: GPS got me lost

  I dreamed, I used 
  a landline to get 

In the mode of the show-and-tell
blog, we exploit today's entry to 
report on recent travels. It has
been so imponderably cold in our
part of the world lately that we
have come to suspect a fault in
GPS, itself, with landlines sud-
denly surpassing Hermès device
sleeves in cachet. But who's to
doubt the diligence of the Fau-
bourg St Honoré, to whip up a
dreamy connective cord in calf?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Suppose it were Friday xci: Surely, we have plug-ins


   Busy hands are max-
   imised, but we have
   almost any consumer.

Lately in The NY Times, Mr Charles Blow,
a columnist of high conscience and clear
vision, presented a considerably moving
testament on the virtues of print media,
an axe which it might be hypocritical to
grind here, but fewer than 1 percent of
this page's citations are not drawn from
print. I felt, however, that his argument
in favour of a magic in books is altogeth-
er too applicable to alternative devices,
even though here I probably betray a mal-
adaptation to these toys. I think what is
missing in his exuberant perspective is a
quality inherent in the presence of the
volume in one's world after the first ex-
perience. A relationship is not debris. 
The society of books is irreplaceable.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bad moment to glimpse the stats


  All of Iberia,
  ingenuous pen-
  insula of sub-
  Pyrenean sway,
  rinsed off the
  google map for
  me, overnight.

  no passing Goa.

A set, restored to print

In the back pages of rmbl there is
to be found an outcry on the adop-
tion of imagery of this conduct to
portray anything but self-destruc-
tion. It happens to suit a discus-
sion of David Leavitt's latest ef-
fort, The Two Hotel Francforts, an
impressively popular rumination on

The book comes to us with blurbs
immunising it almost against com-
prehension, much less any further
admiration. This is too bad. It's
worth reading, even if one cannot
qualify as such an innocent as to
share Edmund White's sense of be-
ing manipulated by a "master." It
is a totally serviceable portrait
of a set whose play with sex and
money is intimidated, and thereby
wasted, by indulgent privilege. I 
study the paradox, not quite as a
first impression.

Such is the patrimony of our con-
ception of homosexuality, that a
Hispano-Suiza is, like the Kelly
simply neutered whenever it may
make its entrance. It does no
good to mourn the faux libera-
tionism in a tale of morbid mat- 
uring millionaires*, mouthing mi-
metic medial parts, when, after
all, there is much to mesmerise
in the allusions they can mus-
ter, to literature, painting or
sculpture which remain tragical-
ly alien to the common mind. And
such an enviable part, on these
occasions, too.

The common mind suspends its
natural truancy from works on
pompous parlour games, if sex
might be conjugated en route.
Intellectual tasting of life
will not supersede muscular
activity, Mr Emerson warned,
anatomising our experience. 
Drawing from Chaucer, Leavitt
goes so far as to ask its help. 
This is not the least of what
one can extract from this os-
tensibly superficial text, be-
cause it is not to be put past
this writer to be discomfiting
the settled, even as he might
hoist a living from the pruri-
ent, fashionbound, and dazed.
He has an attack to mount on
treachery to privilege, and, 
aw, shucks. Hear him out. It
isn't every day, our enter-
tainments dare go near the
water. He serves, who also 

  You know, you're wrong to       think I'm smart, [Edward         Freleng] said. The truth is,     I'm just a junk heap. All       these allusions and             references, these little         associations I draw - they're   junk. And all I do all day is   sift through them, line them     up, move them around. 

David Leavitt
The Two Hotel Francforts
  A Novel
Bloomsbury, 2013©

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Essays: Second Series
David Mikics, editor
The Annotated Emerson
op. cit.

* the dollar in 1940

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Boys will be, &c

I haven't any idea if
I'd care to drive the

But I'll toboggan down
its bonnet, right now,
if you'll let me.

Recommended: "Little Augury" on winter light

   It is not unusual for
   writers on the history
   of sensibilities to in-
   voke Marcel Proust, but
   it is not only rare, it
   is merciful, not to say
   elegant, to sample his
   taste by degrees. This,

Monday, January 20, 2014


People follow musicians the way we follow wine estates, for the rapport of their terroir with the varietal - the composer - and sometimes under the influences of the vintage - the epoch, whether in society at large or in critical opinion. I hope I have made it plain - I’ve probably been remiss in this - that it would be a matter of serene indifference to me, what the season had been like, if certain wine estates had declared a vintage, and presented themselves to the candid assessments of our world.

When I was even more undeveloped than at present, a scrawny student of law in New Haven, Connecticut - which is to say, a passionate partisan of rustic walks in the neighborhood of Litchfield - there was a great vogue in Gustav Mahler. Sir Georg Solti had literally lifted the lid from that cauldron, and there were many who had rushed in, but this uproar had only chilled me off, as all vogues do. But I had read very widely in the Mahler literature, I had felt drawn equally to his austerity and his bombast, his humour and his passion. We had his shadows, Shostakovich and Britten, to reinforce this impression.

So I sent out for the 7th, with the Chicago Orchestra but with Abbado conducting. I have to say, that some years later I heard these same Chicagoans in San Francisco, but with Solti, in Sir John Barbirolli’s signature symphony of Mahler’s, the 5th. I believed then as I do now, that music can not be more magnificently played. But it was Claudio Abbado’s recording of the 7th, which had not been the first I had heard, that already had made of me an unreluctant listener to what someone unlike me is saying. How, by the way, do you do that?

Later, in my small experience, there were two corroborative epiphanies. The world had said, we now have Simon Boccanegra, with his recording from La Scala. Oh, please. We had Verdi. 

Still, as I wrote to a couple of youngsters of longstanding regard today, there came a time when the symphonies of the greatest lyric imagination of the 19th Century were recorded in bulk, yet again, but under Claudio Abbado with a difference which no one disputes. The 1st Symphony of Franz Schubert, in his way of seeing it, cast a light upon my world which will not go out. In music, too, the most radiant charisma is modesty. In time, as in the case of the very least flappable of our wine estates, this will be extremely plain.

Monday beach

At four Bela was developing a memory.
The word yesterday entered her vocab-
ulary, though its meaning was elastic,
synonymous with whatever was no long-
er the case. The past collapsed, in
no particular order, contained by a
single word.

.. the ink has dried,
And found its own perpet-  ual circuit here,
Cast its own net
Of little, formless    
 mimicry around itself.
And you must turn away,  smile ..
and forget.

It was the English word she used. It 
was in English that the past was uni-
lateral; in Bengali, the word for yes-
terday, kal, was also the word for to-
morrow. In Bengali one needed an ad-
jective, or relied on the tense of a
verb, to distinguish what had already
happened from what would be. 

i, iii  Jhumpa Lahiri
         The Lowland
         Alfred A. Knopf, 2013©

ii       Lawrence Durrell
          Selected Poems
         op. cit.