Friday, September 12, 2014

Suppose it were Friday xcviii: guest room commotions

Recently, I was struck by your post concerning Han-nah Arendt, which led me to your other posts de-voted to The Kindly Ones. It is those posts which prompted my contacting you, at this time. I am wondering what your opin-ion, would be behind the “why” of Mr Littell mak-ing his main character both a Homosexual and Incestuous?

Regarding your imagery, I am wondering 
why you choose, to white-out, what I 
perceive to be full-frontal nudity? 
Is it because it would alter the ac-
cessibility, of your Blog?

From time to time we all receive queries, but with some it is tempting to publish an answer. Here a reader invites one to claim exemptions, pos-sibly in the most gener-ously charitable way, from implicating infer-ences he draws from his readings here. One can't accept the offer to shape publications, ex post facto, to evade ambiguity or incompleteness, where a creative alternative to eyewitness experience is sometimes intended.

It is ironic (at best) to publish an answer to a private note, but what I would like this reader to know, I would like any to know. This is a publica-tion of artifice, not a diary under a pseudonym, despite inevitable refer-ences to information I possess. His questions were born there.

Some time back, the blogger at Little Augury zeroed in on one's dilemma in balancing a baring with an anatomis-ing of a consistent perspective, even of the subconscious, in an invented voice. The problem of sustainability, is an everyday imponderable of its own.

Whether Littell, then, created Sebastian Aue to be as emotionally menacing as he was emotionally menaced, to hammer home as Melville did with Ahab, this could be you, with all the awe the Whale could muster, I do not know. Equally telling, is that it was for his matricide that he was hunted, for all his culpabilities, which made it all the more horrible.

Tidal nudity, at the same time, is still so unfam-iliar in our discourse as to represent too great a risk of misfire of one's intentions, and too un-stable an ally for rhet-oric. I have adopted a "block" to highlight the paradox, if the image is evocatively articulate.

Long ago, I detached the optional followers block from the template adopted here, so that readers could keep abreast of rmbl without seeming to be its subjects. The exploitation of the comment option plummeted, but a readership persisted, with whom I am aware of being interested in things, if not face to face, so to speak. This corres-pondent raised basic questions, on the representation of questions, and it would have been a loss to have buried them beneath a comment bar. Let us sustain the questions.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


   The President spoke
   of the distribution
   of blessings on his
   nation as requiring
   war, as obligations
   of providence. So I
   don't listen to the
   excuse, but for who
   would be listening. 

Hans Baumgartner
  Mosel River
  Germany, 1937

Bruce Weber
  Ad campaign
  United States, 1982

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A surprising flourish of dignity

     I think it bears remembrance,
     that the Apple board deposed
     Steve Jobs, himself. Bankers
     are that way, as Bugsy found.
     But Steve converted some op-
     tions and, parbleu, regained
     the upper perch in the happy
     junglejim he and Wozniak put
     together as if it were a gar-
     age wine: from raw belief. I
     recall these highly ordinary
     corporate growing pains now,
     because I think we glimpse a
     devolution of the mantle, we
     can recognize.

     I'm a cardiovascular patient
     of the anxious years; I row
     very hard every day, because
     I live with a young dog whom
     I do not wish to fail. Under
     no circumstances, except for
     these, would I consider this
     new iThing, designated Apple
     Watch. An end to the iFetish
     may be too distant to celeb-
     rate; but the departure from
     voyeurism in this appliance,
     is not a bad idea.

     There must be many oddities
     of this vulgar kind to have
     captivated bankers, already.
     But I know that tribe of id-
     iots for having edited Orson
     Welles, and gotten away, in
     the bargain; I don't expect
     vision in that discipline,
     after the death of Andrew
     Mellon, which (difficult to
     believe as it is) must have
     taken place.

     Did you know, the watch has
     a knurled crown of familiar
     and neo-mechanical quality,
     even more sensitive to our
     experience than the origin-
     al iPod's dial, and hugely
     more decent than the dis-
     missive swipe screen of Ap-
     ple's laboratory rat toys?

     So I can rotate this witty
     thingamajig, as if it were
     the crown of an Oyster Per-
     petual, and it will know,
     I want information, not ex-
     hibition. I'll ignore any
     endearing entertainments, 
     it may thrust my way, much
     as I don't take my field
     glasses to an art gallery.
     No one will ever see me,
     wearing it. If it works,
     I'm in. And if the bankers
     want a smoothie to go gush-
     ing from its tap, tap into
     retained earnings. Give the
     shareholders something to
     double-down on.

     Come back to compassion, 
     Apple. Come back to true 
     assistance. Good start.

Wayne Thiebaud
oil on canvas

Monday, September 8, 2014

With heartbreak, fury and resolution

    If I were an architect, art
    historian, interior design-
    er, or such as I am, pedes-
    trian subscriber to affable
    standards of taste, I would
    with these confrères, flood
    the intersection of 52nd at
    Park with cans of paint and
    brushes flying, daubing the
    letter Z as everyone partic-
    icipating in humanity meant
    to do in Athens, at the end
    of Costa-Gavras' 1969 movie
    of the name: il est vivant.

    Le Tricorne est mort enfin,
    chez Mies, mais l'on éxulte
    pour sa vie.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I can't escape camp too soon

  I've been squinting so long
  through a lanyarded bong my 
  brows have woven a ligature

  while under this sway I can
  hear myself say, the plight
  shares another's signature:

  When betwixt Nell Gwyn
  And Anne Boleyn
  I was forced to make my choice,
  I became so confused
  I was even amused
  And abused by Peggy Joyce ..


Cole Porter
Out of this World
They Couldn't
  Compare to You

Selected Lyrics
Robert Kimball
American Poets Project
The Library of America
op. cit.

Is taste a human right iii

  Am I alone in resorting to prose
  from the kitchen, when I wish to
  experience clarity? I wasn't dis-
  paraging Philosophy, the other
  day, in cautioning against claim-
  ing too much for it; pleasure and
  clarity may be acquainted but en-
  joy their independence. So, too,
  the other muses, seldom unself-
  interested enough to afford that
  suspension of argument, which I
  take to be a principal property
  of clarity as I recognize it. I
  listen to my dog, lapping fresh
  water from his porcelain after an
  outing; and to internalise this     harmony, I read of well-tem-
  pered endive in Elizabeth David.

She has a genius very different, I think, from the mis-exalted acts of arousing hunger, of propounding rules, consoling vanities, and inspiring ambitions. Hers is for extruding the impacted impulses of gratitude, in a natural solicitude for the inherent blessings of in-gredients. Hers is the wonder of 
an innocent for clarity.

I think, to celebrate her famously unintimidated opinions, much less to embrace them as some acolyte, is to misrepresent the fundamental composure which lies at their root, as a compost of questions laid not merely to rest, but to illuminate. Is this even about food?

              Thus when Galileo speaks of the alphabet,
              he means a combinatory system capable of
              representing everything in the universe.
              Here too we see him introducing the com-
              parison with painting:  the combination
              of the letters .. is the equivalent of
              mixing colours on the palette. It is
              clear that this is a combinatory system
              of a different order [from others] .. a
              combination of objects which are already 
              endowed with meaning .. cannot represent
              all of of reality; in order to achieve 
              this one needs to turn to a combinatory 
              system of minimal elements such as pri-
              mary colours or the letters ..

   And when we get home,
   there will be bright,
   fair music to imbibe.

Italo Calvino
Why Read the Classics?
  The Book of Nature
  in Galileo
Martin McLaughlin
Jonathan Cape, 1999©