The ruin that constantly threat- ens them is all the blacker be- cause they only doubtfully 'be- long'. A duke who has served a prison sentence is still a duke, whereas a mere man about town, if once disgraced, ceases to be 'about town' for evermore.. He can still commit successful bur- glaries, but there is no way back into Paradise.
"Immobility," the petrol-rationed scholar wrote, "has its advantages," and they are not denied to any so- cial isolation. "I have now read The Paston Letters," he was able to report to Berenson, between members of a wealthy Norfolk family in the English Renaissance.
No wonder the civilised Italian envoys from 'bourgeois-capitalist' cities like Venice found the English barbarians! I was reminded of Morocco - the great caïds of the Atlas who built up, by ways very like those of our 15th Century dukes, similar ephem-eral empires of patronage, vio-lence, and corruption .. Really it is to Morocco that our medievalists should go to study feudal life. But alas, they insist on reading only monkish words and build up a ridiculous never-never-land of Christian Unity: kings with folded hands and nuns demurely knitting, in shady cloister pent.
The gift for comparison, we admire as a legacy of learning, is as strained in our fact-denying cultures as the gift of comparison, we value as culture. Somehow the beauty of the one is upheld by the vitality of the other. Then we have Venice.
Hugh Trevor-Roper Fellow of Christ Church Regius Professor of Modern History Letters from Oxford to Bernard Berenson 7 January 1957 Richard Davenport-Hines editor op. cit.
Friends said, No, skip the Carven show. It's all about the street. What use is that to you? I remembered then, seeking Petrarca as a youngster, chasing rumors of torment to be ready for with words, and leaping headlong into his lap, exhausted, OK, slow down. He never does. I find I owe him, certain peaks: Perhaps I could become a stone somehow .. adamant, perhaps, or marble - white with fear - or else rock crystal that men admire At any rate, the weight I can barely stand to carry of my burden of desire would lift: I envy Atlas with his light load of the sky in Morocco's burning sand.
Possibly we've all seen the Russian people endure privation under author- itarians enough, not to join our pa- per of record in applauding another financial attack from the West, on another Russian government. But the exercise lays bare the futilities in retribution's gestures of this kind, in which satisfaction is based on harming the weakest, to destabilize the strongest. This fantasy will not mature in fact, and we know it. With this in mind, it strikes one as especially disreput- able, of the Times to link - can you stand it - "the honor of France" to its breach of our favorite kind of contract, arms sales (and sales of naval hardware, at that). If anything is as predictable in Western diplom- acy as an ostentatious tease with the markets, it is this vulgar sort of reference to France, which has absorb- ed more blood of Western blunders in its soil than any land on earth, save Russia. That landscape can never re- claim its endowments of Nature. Another generation of spineless West- ern politicians, intimidated into fol- ly by the impulsive passions of a pub- lic 'roused by unctuous media, bears such little resemblance to our addic- tion to novelty that, I suppose, all that explains it is our forgetfulness.
David Carr at The New York Timeshas raised the subject of social media's influence in the dissemination of in- formation, and I naturally passed his column along to a member of the demo- graphic class likeliest to receive da- ta in that form, which is to say ine- luctably, of that kind. Carr's piece put one in mind of remarks David Rem- nick attributes to Harold Ross, the most circumspect editor of the pre- vious century, on dispatching Flanner to Paris in the '40s. Paraphrasing, he said to her, I don't want to read what you think. I want what to be told what the French think. Mr Carr sounds almost as aware as Ross was, that the wholesale violation of this standard of reporting, which tweet- ing represents, is not an influence so much in the dissemination of news as an influence upon its content, at the most wanton risk, at best, of its misconstruc- tion. I wrote to my young friend, I am Jeffersonian in my appreciation of every- one's right to the possession and use of information, but Madisonian in sifting it. I take to heart Sontag's warning, of the risk of diminishing the horrible, but I'm greatly more troubled by the certainty of suppressing the relevant. Tweeting around editing is not in the interest of cogni- tion; it is not even interested in it. Tweeting embodies that grotesque defor- mity wrought in the Clinton Presidency, by victims' statements in the leveling of criminal justice. When humanity agreed to exchange the volatility of vengeance for predictable standards as the foundation of justice, it ceded the claims of private agony to the legislature to anticipate, the jury to apportion, and the judge to administer. It is why we grade papers, why we have Mozart to relieve dulness, why we breed horses to run. There is little about democracy that learning can't ameliorate. But the taste for it is vulnerable, and always the victim of impulsive ploys. We discuss occasionally the horrors of un- representative, undisciplined government from the top. But demagoguery depends on a demos to endure it. I have argued before, that taste is a human right. But it is a human achievement, not an animal reflex. I want to know what the French think; and I know, I need them to do it.
He lay back comfortably in the flickering light. An odd place. Odd people in Los Angeles. Wonderfully kind. Needing kindness too. The ragtag-and-bobtail, whatever did that really mean, of the human race packed together in an area of two hundred square miles facing the grey Pacific, why did I always think it would be blue? With their backs to a desert.
Of all the delightful discoveries in internet reading that I've made since offering this blog - some of which I mean to admire this week, marking yet another year of it - Ivan Terestchenko's referral of Mailhoshas meant as much to me as Valéry Lorenzo's of Lionel André's. You will see them there, listed in this page's "Context," although I don't think I've ever mentioned it to them. These two blogs capture a fellow's imagination with the hap- piest interplay of complementary values: the one, agrarian and his- toricist, and nourishingly domes- tic; the other, searchingly ad- venturous, and holistically phil- osophical. I only wish I didn't have to leave them for my page. Or, one could do more shopping?
Bumped into Dirk Bogarde in Fry's splendid vegetable shop in Cale Street. He was fingering oddly shaped tomatoes with a knowledgeable air. He rejected them and cast a dark eye over some frivolous greenery. He finally settled for a big, shiny yellow pepper. I was envious of his concentrated marketing skill.
The media seem to have gathered round the parish pump to discuss the challenge to the Prime Minister, and to speculate .. Not a word about Sarajevo.