Saturday, June 28, 2014

Familiar dispersals of the day


    Now as the great paunch of this earth
    Allows its punctuation by seeds, some to be
    Trees, some men walking as trees, so the mind
    Offers its cakes of spore to time in them:
    The sumptuary pleasure-givers living on
    In qualities as sure as taste of hair and mouth,
    White partings of the hair like highways,
    Permutations of a rose, buried beneath us now,
    Under the skin of thinking like a gland
    Discharging its obligations in something trivial:
    Say a kiss, a handclasp: say a stone tear.

Lawrence Durrell
The Anecdotes
  xv: In Rhodes, iii
Selected Poems
Peter Porter, editor
op. cit.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Grappling with our season's luxury

 Content to the mind, says the great
 Halifax, is as moss to a tree; it
 binds up so as to stop its growth.
 And Hobbes complained of Chatsworth
 that though there was a good library
 there, which the Earl of Devonshire
 stocked by his instructions, never-
 theless the want of learned conver-
 sation was a very great inconven-    ience.

 Upon which Aubrey comments sadly,
 'Methinks in the country, in long
 time, for want of good conversation,
 one's understanding (wit, invention)
 grows mouldy'.

Hugh Trevor-Roper
Lord Dacre of Glanton
The Wartime Journals
July, 1945
op. cit.

i le smoking
  Dries van Noten

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eyes on Mississippi

  Like you, I find that
  the ratio of Missis-
  sippians among my cor-
  respondents is extra-
  aordinarily high. They
  are an epistolary lot,
  and their distractions
  are few. My sampling,
  moreover, reinforces a
  belief in constancy as
  an aspect of their na-
  ture, unlike their cav-
  alier cousins of the 
  seaboard, so whimsical-
  ly vulnerable to the
  trivial and the silly,
  in gaudy and impetuous
  manifestations of doubt.

  You remember, it was his
  fanaticism that made Kar-
  la vulnerable in Tinker,
  Tailor. His secret doubt.

  Life in Mississippi, one
  could almost conclude,
  seems to flow continuous-
  ly, as a full time thing.
  Is it possible, they'd do

John le Carré
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Knopf, 1974©

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Interiors Sunday

This portrait, drawn from Spindle
magazine, astounds one with a thou-
sand memories of pursuits in life's
interiors by happenstance.

with his always stirring delicacy,
over at The New York Review just
now, on the seeming ineradicability
of human affections as the default
mine of prospecting artists, especi-
ally in language. He's reviewing a
distinctive Spanish novel I've been
waiting to read in translation, and
another that is news to me. We don't
have a more exemplary companion to-
day of the instinct, one would almost 
call it, to mine for words responding
to interiors. In his enthusiasms and
reticences it's natural to remember
Henry James, as he has all but re-

              A woman in a red dress began to sing 
              a jazz song in Portuguese and all the 
              faces at all the tables close to us 
              looked over at the bandstand, which 
              was bright with lights. She was cool, 
              the woman in the red dress, she closed 
              her eyes and whispered the song into 
              the microphone. Susan looked around, 
              and I could see her wondering what 
              to make of this; she had no idea
              who these people were.                                   

No one from the government was here, and that seemed reasonable. Señor Canetto was opposed to the government. No one from the op- position was here either, and that was reasonable too: the opposition was fragmented and in disarray. No one from the military was here, and that was reasonable too: the military was in everyone's bad book. These men here tonight, I thought, could easily be waiting in the wings to take power. I whispered something like this to Susan, but she shook her head.

              "There's something missing. I don't
              know what it is, but it is missing,"
              she said and drew on her cigarette.

Colm Tóibín
The Story of the Night
Henry Holt, 1996©