Saturday, January 31, 2015

Oh, now, Martin. Don't be inconceivable.


   they do not nap
   at half-time!

And there they were, our extra men, struggling with their acceptance of 
a gridiron buffet, with no apparent explanation for those satchels of gosling down they clutched as weather beaters. Before them spread such countless metres of gurgling chafing dishes, with sludgy dips and humid chips, for hours on absolute end, 
and no recourse but social remorse for memory lapse to send: apologies.

I'm not one who thinks, the excuses of our lives are furnished us to be upbraided for their use. On the con-trary. On the annual recurrence of an innocent's groggiest endurance of his lowest obsession, we improvise.

Who'd not sooner down a glowing little cupcake from the cuisine of Marie Curie, than these stagnant slurries of bicarbonate worry, all whippingly Pasteured, that National Public Radio in America ran a solicitation for this past week: comestible slops to go with hops, from our own fantasies?

Recognizing, that in the host hemi-sphere there are entire continents where fleeing out of doors in Feb-ruary comes second to a protracted and even consoling nap in that cat-egory of escapism, we don't leave home without spontaneous cushions. If, that is, we go at all.

The thing about gridirony as we have come to know it, is that the very men-tality which it consumes has consumed, in turn, an instrumentality to keep it at arm's length, more truly composing than ex-posing its denial of so-cial potentialities in all their absysmal ab-sence. That is, could anyone conceive of mounting a decent buffet on such slender social pickings, as a roomful of self-contented ironists? 

  Cross one's heart, and 
  dream of lunch, there's 
  paradox to crunch along 
  the way, compulsory fes-
  tivity, and no one free 
  to play.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Racine ii

At an age nicely extricated
from one's undergraduate days,
I wonder if anyone else finds
it as disarming as I do, to
discover in the old habit of
literature a semester in five
seconds, that eluded one then.
Of course, one never knows if
the learning curve isn't accel-
erated by much subsequent, af-
firming experience; I suppose
allowance has to be made, for
learning that way, too.

Stumbling along, then, with
one's book after dinner, to
indulge a few pages as one's
dog gnaws his antler and the
coffee acquires its cooling
bitterness, one act leads to
another, and such things as
this are possibly encountered.

  To Mountolive, more than the
  others, came a disenchanting
  sense of .. his powerlessness
  to act now save as an instru-
  ment (not as a factor), so
  strongly did he feel himself
  gripped by the gravitational
  field of politics. Private
  humours and impulses were a-
  like disinherited, counting
  for nothing ..

  Yet if he himself were power-
  less, how much more so the o-
  thers..? It was difficult to
  feel that he owed them even
  love any longer.

Of course, one can say not a
thing to distillations so ef-
ficiently decanted. One na-
turally wishes, for others, 
avoidance of those antipodes
of an always hypothetically
harsh existence; but, possib-
ly, the moment such benevo-
lence acquires that frame of
thought, one has entered that
very realm. I don't mind the
wonderful, belated book, and
I don't assess blame for what
kept me. I just mention it.

Lawrence Durrell
  Chapter XV
Faber & Faber, 1958©

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I hazarded a finding on a matter of fashion

   big mistake,
   forgot about
   glass houses

            There is one other thing that is lamentable,
            most lamentable. This is when certain great
            ships pass by, festooned with coral and masts
            of ebony, with great white and red flags un-
            furled, ladened with treasures, which never
            even approach the harbour since either all of
            their cargo is banned or the harbour is not
            deep enough to receive them. And they contin-
            ue on their way. A tail wind fills the sails
            of silk and the sun illumines the glory of 
            their golden prows, and they sail off gently
            and majestically, distancing themselves from
            us and our shallow port for ever.

  As in the case, I'd
  suppose, of anyone
  who comes here more
  than once, I some-
  times see so clear-
  ly, it's those who
  dredge the harbour
  who stay on. This
  poet's harbour was
  Alexandria, and he
  made it everyone's.

Constantine P. Cavafy
Selected Prose Works
  The Ships
  prose poem
Peter Jeffreys
  editor and translator
University of Michigan Press, 2010©

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Origins of Wednesday xi: stones of shelter

This is where the seals go
in Picardie to reproduce ~
Cayeux-sur-Mer, or in Eng-
lish, pebbles by the sea.
The custom is not unknown,
elsewhere in that extra-
vagantly fertile fulcrum
of Europe, the geological
wellspring of our whole i-
dea of natural bounty. In
Pauillac, by the river's
edge, the pebbles ripen
the most treasured fruit
of this world. This photo-
graph is part of a com-
pelling exhibit in Lon-
don for the next month,
reported in the Guardian
on-line. But this is my
favourite of the show. 

Picardie lies in the one 
département of France we 
know as more infested by
stones than any other,
at innumerable graves of
the battles of the Somme,
100 years ago. These con-
tain our imprint as the
Cretaceous chalk they are,
and drain the roots of our
Champagne to invigorate
its backbone. It would
be incoherent to appraise
these slopes without ap-
preciating their shelter
by the Bay of the Somme,
of another unpardonably
menaced species in our 

Michael Kenna
The Guardian
January 27, 2015

Patrick Forbes
  The Wine, The Land,
  and The People
Reynal & Co., 1967©

James E. Wilson
  The Rôle of Geology,
  Climate, and Culture
  in the Making of French
University of California Press, 1998©

John Keegan
The First World War
Knopf, 1999©

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I am gigantically fortunate
not to have pursued the re-
solution of my soul, to be-
come a teacher-scholar. I'd
be crediting others highly
for the simple capacity for
amazement. I see it in pos-
tures of virtual squirmings
of extraction, of floppy el-
oquence ascribed to fey but 
fascinated, faintly fetid
puppies, surpassingly hilar-
ious, yet authentically as-
tute. And then I'd remember
the irony of composure among
one's peers, immobilised by
competence. Or does contor-
tion among amateurs prefig-
ure, rather, blogging? The
notion belongs to one of
the naughtiest wits of our
lives, an ornament of the

    To compose
    one reassuring line per day
    to placate our public
    with a positive gesture
    we quite simply
    owe ourselves
    First of all

    we breathe in deeply
    and look into the mirror
    until we like what we see
    we glance around the room
    for a truly insignificant object
    ignored by everyone
    which we gaze at lovingly
    a speck of dust maybe
    that for us represents all galaxies
    As soon as we feel the world to be good
    or even wondrous
    we hurry to our desk
    hold our breath
    and pen our panegyric


Alfred Brendel
One Finger Too Many
Richard Stokes
  assistant in translation
op. cit.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mysteries of Monday

   Hard to believe, sometimes,
   one can leverage weight so
   easily at a distance from
   the fulcrum. Does this mean,
   this impassive, flattened slab 
   doesn't so much shadow Central 
   Park, as tend to hoist it up?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eat this, then talk

This very plain soup of dried beans
was once the daily dish on which ev-
ery poor man subsisted. It is pain-
ful to record that at the time of
writing this book, Greeks are queu-
ing in line in Athens at emergency
food stations, to be served this
subsistence soup, which their ances-
tors would have recognized.


        1 lb dried haricot beans
        2/3 cup olive oil
        14 oz canned tomatoes
        1 tbsp tomato purée
        1 large onion, chopped
        2 carrots, diced
        2 celery stalks with leaves
        sea salt and black pepper
        3 tbsp fresh parsley

Soak the beans in cold water overnight;
drain, place them in a large pan and
cover with fresh water. Bring to boil,
cook for 10 minutes, then drain. Cover
again with cold water, bring to boil a-
gain, lower the heat, cover and simmer
for 1 hour. Add the other ingredients
and simmer for a further 30 minutes or
until the beans are tender.

The dissident Party in the Greek e-
lections is calling for the restora-
tion of electricity to homes strip-
ped of the means of purchasing it.
If they should get that far, against
the combined might of the continental
financial system, the people of Greece
can not anticipate dining any better,
anytime soon. But they might do so at
home. Electrification was the core of
Franklin Roosevelt's Freedom from Want.

Who is interested in obstructing it?

Belinda Harley
Roast Lamb in the 
  Olive Groves
  A Mediterranean
Hardie Grant, 2014©

Heywood Hill
  Books for Christmas, 2014

Decisive moments we've survived

You know, I think I'd al-
ways wanted to affect an
open collar, but it was-
n't until events allowed
one to do so, that he and 
I were persuaded that it
would not make one resem-
ble Bastiaan van Gaalen. 

Mind you, the eye does
race to affirm the like-
ness, but then accustoms
itself fast enough to the
speed of light, as to run
right on past. Even so,
you can't know the rush 
of that first harrowing, 
rational, defenseless ap-
prehension, of collision 
with that reckless, ruth-
less organ; but this only 
makes any escape the more 

Alexandre Benois
Costume design for 
  "Tsarevich Aleksei"

Don Hong-Oai
Tianzi Mountain, gibbons