Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday commute cv: A walk in the meadow

         this wasn't here yesterday

Springtime has a way of re-viving the same impression which gained such currency, at such strenuous insis-tence, when we were told, history is over. On our after-breakfast stroll today, Thorny and I were repeatedly drawn to remark as novelties emerged to our inspection. Whereas my gaze may stray into diffuse approbations of a meadow in morning sun, and my inhalations commingle somewhat broadly, his remain excruciatingly thorough and detailed. Yet even he, an English dog, does not con-strue a new blossom as a new genus, and doesn't claim to have invented it. Is he in-corruptible because he is subhuman, or because he stud-ies facts?

  The longest tyranny that ever 
  Was that wherein our ancestors
  Their freeborn reason to the
  And made his torch their univer-
    sal light.

  So truth, while only one supplied
    the state,
  Grew scarce, and dear, and yet
  Until 'twas bought, like emp'ric
    wares or charms,
  Hard words sealed up with 
    Aristotle's arms.

John Dryden
To my honoured friend,
  Dr Charleton ..
Selected Poems
Steven N. Zwicker and
  David Bywaters, editors
Penguin Books, 2001©

Finn Donnelly

Friday, April 4, 2014

Suppose it were Friday xciii: If ye love me

      This is payday
      in America for
      the bearers of
      our promissory
      note. Like you
      I didn't know.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

McCutcheon v FEC

  So let me get

  The Bush fam-
  ily have yet
  another boy,
  who wants to
  be President?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Poor town is always "simply not the same"

Mark Danner - whom we all like -
York Review, of how Washington
came to be, once again, simply
not the same, thanks to Richard
Cheney, of the bionic pacemaker.
He adopts the hideous catchphrase
for watersheds such as this, the
new normal, and I keep meaning to
upbraid him for it here, but I've
been more interested in his facts.
Trouble is, there is no normal to
be found in Washington, ever; and
since the swamp was severed from
the Fairfax estate, nothing new.

You well remember, I know, what
palms there used to be on embassy
row, until Donald Maclean, Guy
Burgess, and Kim Philby material-
ised to shake our first security
establishment to its roots, such
as they were. There was the ner-
vous, bibulous Maclean, disturbed
by his own shadow; the flagrantly
louche (a redundancy?) Burgess
for distraction; and ever the es-
timably natty Kim of determined
calm, as noted above. Yet unto
every generation, their story is
retold; and it seems to be the
fate of our experience, to bridge 
the gap between the shocked and 
the unshockable, between the wit
of Acheson and the bile of Rich-
ard Cheney. Possibly we will be
the last to know the fault line.

The present embodiment of this re-
telling just arrived from London yes-
terday, where it has been somewhat
"history" which appears to take the
position, that class consciousness
led to class cohesion in Britain's
espionage sieve, and explains most
of this whole sensational tale. How
very inadequate this perspective is,
will be known to every girl and boy
who ever attended a dance open to 
the public. But here it is again.

I welcome this new volume because it does enrich the context of details in a story worth understanding, even though that under-standing has already been persuasively conveyed to our hands. The greater part of our debt is owed to a deceased historian this book undertakes gratuitously to defame. Here a journalist portrays what truly was the destruction of the British security apparatus, to the gigantic cost and uncured confusion of the one we run, here, as a narrative of betrayal. We know it was a great deal more than that, and this is the common reader's excuse for revisiting the spectacle. It was a collusion in the fallacies of true belief. That restaurant is still open, feeding every horseman.

Mark Danner
The Massacre at
  El Mozote
  A Parable of the
  Cold War
Vintage Books, 1993©

Torture and Truth
  America, Abu Ghraib and
  the War on Terror
New York Review Books, 2004©

Ben Macintyre
A Spy among Friends
  Kim Philby and the
  Great Betrayal
Bloomsbury, 2014©

Hugh Trevor-Roper
The Philby Affair
  Espionage, Treason, 
  and Secret Services
Encounter, 1968©

The Ideal Husband
May 9, 1968
The New York Review
  of Books©

Acts of the Apostles
March 31, 1983
The New York Review
  of Books©

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Learning "were" is as good as "have been"

But I had never seen the Solway.
And then, resting on a rocky
ledge above Crag Lough, I sudden-
ly realized, what I had long con-
cealed from myself, that I was ill
.. and so home, and spent a week
in bed, and read Guy Mannering again.

But after I had been up two days
(for I was determined to go), I was
taken to Blindburn in the Cheviots,
north-west of Alwinton, and after
lunch I walked, over the old Roman
Dere Street, down the Cottonhope
Burn to Byrness, over the fells by
the Blackhope Nick to Kielder ..
on again next morning up the Lewis-
burn valley, and over to Becastle
Fells, a killing struggle, over peat-
hags and bogs and clefts, making ev-
ery mile as two; and at last, from
Sighty Crag, I saw it, a sheet of
twinkling water and a long reach of
desolate sand, the Solway Firth;

and at the same time I heard the
bubbling of a spring nearby among
the moss, and slaked my thirst
with its cool dark water; for my
throat was parched with the long
weary climb. After which I felt 
as I daresay the Israelites felt
when, from a hilltop, they viewed
the Promised Land, that it wasn't
very different from anywhere else;
still, it was something to be out 
of the wilderness.

                  .. and dropping lightly down the
                  fells I met a shepherd, the first 
                  human face I had seen for eighteen 
                  miles, and so to Bewcastle, where 
                  I found, against all probability
                  (for it is a lonely steading) an-
                  other man, in the middle of a field,
                  delivering lime from a lorry. So I
                  asked him for a lift, and he took 
                  me to Brampton, whence I gradually
                  found my way home. He drove a lime-
                  lorry now, he said, but he had once
                  lived far away in Northumberland,
                  and had spent his childhood in the
                  village of Powburn, where his uncle
                  was the policeman. So I told him
                  that I had been born in the parish
                  of Powburn, in Glanton, and from
                  that time we were intimate friends.

Lord Dacre of Glanton
The Solway Firth
June, 1945
The Wartime Journals
Richard Davenport-Hines
op. cit.