Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday commute cii: We still use water

     In the arms race of sport
     great strides have render-
     ed obsolete every element
     in the frame, reaching in-
     to the bloodstream of the
     athlete, himself a novel-
     ty to nature. Yet one can
     not say the race is over,
     or even that it's changed
     materially; and there are
     no counting houses for im-

Friday, February 21, 2014

My favourite clothespin viii

   My favourite clothespin's
   true ally is how daylight
   plays, in buoyancy of air -
   constant and suspenseful.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Imagine a literature of power without force

   The suggestion has
   been reported many
   times. But who can
   ever have prepared
   for freckles to be
   hot in monochrome? 
   The effect recalls
   Homer's imagery in
   the Iliad, and one
   can never think of
   its power, without
   Simone Weil's per-
   ception of its or-
   igin in force. The
   discovery of power
   in other means has
   the same parentage
   but is less common.

       The great and characteristic
       point with him was the per-
       fect separateness of his sen-
       sibility. He never saw him-
       self as part of a whole; only 
       as the clear-cut, sharp-edged,
       isolated individual, rejoicing
       or raging, as the case might 
       be, but needing in any case 
       absolutely to affirm himself.

       All this to Rowland was ancient
       history, but his perception of
       it stirred within him afresh at
       the sight of Roderick's sense
       of having been betrayed.

Roderick Hudson
Harper & Brothers, 1960©

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Feathers don't knock people over

   On the count of three
   I've been counting on
   the NRA Chorus to fly
   to my rescue, and in-
   tone, People do. Who
   could wish to go for
   very long, fearing an
   implement for its de-
   structiveness, while
   sin lies so close to
   hand? But I was won-
   dering, just now, if
   we were to flood Par-
   is with 40,000 more
   untraceable handguns,
   or 40,000 more anon-
   ymous people, which
   would knock people
   over more, even al-
   lowing for spirited
   motoring? And, would
   the feather remain a
   device of choice for
   anyone's security?

   What is it about the
   that a feather under-
   mines, if not that it
   blames the victim as
   a virtual accomplice,
   locked in a sectarian

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Path of the slow discovery

    Even the Greek fishermen
    seem to have left the 
    quai des Belges, to make 
    way for tourists from the
    north and for extremely
    expensive fish restaurants
    and hotels and apartment
    blocks advertised 'avec
    vue sur le port'.

    One can hardly look for-
    ward to the further de-
    velopment of a maritime
    literature concerning gi-
    ant petrol carriers .. and
    a present-day Conrad, Loti,
    Peisson or a Cendrars would
    clearly be overtaken .. by
    something that has killed
    the excitement of slow dis-
    covery  --

that distant, almost fabulous period of French urban history when strange, rather frightening 'tomates' performed, with a wonderfully realistic jerky mechanism .. as they pointed, at carefully measured periodic intervals, to the designated object of wonder and envy, to the mixed delight and terror of small Parisian children, in colored smocks and berets, their cartables strapped on their backs .. The tomates were so appealing because they really did seem to respond to a hidden machinery .. And yet one knew, in one's heart of hearts, that they really were human, just poor men who had chosen this particular way of earning a sort of living --

and who, when the lights went out
and the blinds and shutters came
down, would step nimbly down from
the shop window, stretch themselves,
scratch, resume the normal flow of
movement, before walking off to the
nearest Bouillon Chartier, where,

had it not been for their frayed
and formal elegance, nothing would
have distinguished them from the gen-
eral mass of eaters who, in their
speed to fill themselves with a poor
fare, would themselves assume a mech-
anical movement of jaw and tongue it-
self reminiscent of the public per-
formance just completed in the face
of the street.

Professor of Modern History
Paris and Elsewhere
  Selected Writings
David Gilmour, editor
John Murray, 1998©

Monday, February 17, 2014

Every now and again an insecurity

Why, yes. If one thinks about it, it's miraculous, what insecurity has wrought for the better in more aspects of life than one can count, including, to be sure, the colour of our bath. Sleep out as often as one may, how can one feel confident of that hue of blaze with which one might greet the light of day with some assurance, not to say aplomb? Now travel, too, has graduated beyond that finishing school fount of name-dropping, that syringe of refugee flight and extraction of yore, into those very reaches of narcissism which flawlessly signify the interna-tional style in our age of globalism: everywhere we go, we may define where we are by being mercifully alone, uploaded in our own device. 

No more for us, contamination inherent in uncontrolled propinquity; no more for us those grubby sharings of the lowlife vistas of inelegant perspectives. We did not gather up our luck, only to recall where we have come from.

No, I do not think the statue in the harbour is about to be re-clad as Achilles' soccer mommy, hoisting the tainted tendon of his immunity from life. We carry a torchon still, for crème; and populations cannot be trusted to behave them-selves these days.

In a British periodical
on the insides of houses,
I noticed the other day
an advertisement for pas-
sages on a floating incu-
bator of self-regard,
promising that no other
person on board, much 
less on the seas, could
ever say he'd known one's
private view of the world.
I thought, what love. But 
they called it, luxury, 
and there will endlessly
be more of that to sell.

Francis Ford Coppola
Gordon Willis
The Godfather, Part II
Paramount, 1974©

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Those "I'm going to get to the bottom of this" blues

Has that little Eddy Snowden left Security in such tatters that our darkest interrogation tricks might never put it back together? We noticed, only today, how the NSA had lent out its pretty snoop tool to do a favour for a corporate client, along the lines of monitoring some deal in Indonesia. Well, I'd very much like to know if Jakarta accords that degree of sanctity of contract which our imperial seat of property incarnate has the right to violate on behalf of its dues-paying satraps, here and there. Have we any reason to expect stability in any contract, and therefore, in any market, and indeed in any business cycle, if capital suspects we have its number?

We are, admittedly, in another funk of those needing to get at the bottom of this blues, and it's time to release our sternest interrogators from those fashion statements of human fellowship which waft from time to time from Langley's private runways 'round the world. Enough, I say, of these inefficient renditions to Yemen and Egypt; they have their hands full with their own people. Enough, too, of these petty hy-draulic intimidations, which only Dick Cheney ever dreaded, anyway. Who can doubt, that it's time to revive the chilling insouciance of the open-toed sandal of the Mekong, and the daemonic red T of the Commune? Without prying so much as a thumb-nail, we can ex-pect to know everything, right away.

I.. dream he tells me to get on that table. He says, I could not attend to you before, but there were other things.. one thing at a time, certain things are more important than others. So he operates on my back and in another moment, he's finished, wipes his hands and says ..

Arise, throw off thy crutches and follow me.

But just as I want to get up, I wake up from the blasted dream!

You are just the kind of people who make life impossible for professionals.. If there is one thing I can't stand, it's amateurs.

Wole Soyinka
Nobel Prize, 1986
Madmen and Specialists
  A Play
  Dialogue between Aafaa and a Cripple
  Part II, Scene i
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971©