Saturday, July 25, 2015


 When my spirit
 was overwhelmed
 within me, then
 thou knewest my
 path. In the way
 wherein I walked
 have they privi-
 ly laid a snare
 for me.

 I looked on my
 right hand, and
 beheld .. there
 was no man that
 would know me:
 refuge failed 
 me; no one cared
 for my soul.

 I said, thou art
 my refuge and my
 portion in the
 land of the living.


Psalm 141

Richard Meier
Douglas House
Harbor Springs

Luke Smalley photo

Lake Mendota

Friday, July 24, 2015

Suppose it were Friday cvi: Going anywhere in Balmain

Casual Friday
at the plant.

  People are spilling out of the windows of the buildings,
  Or are jumping out to escape the vaporizing heat
  And exploding when they hit the street ..

   But to have
   Barragán to
   dry off in.

Frederick Seidel
  Nice Weather
  Transport [fragment]
op. cit.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Parental advisory: Texas has a new prank

Who ever met so many Germans who didn't know about the camps, as Texans who disclaim awareness of Texas? That's easily explained,   of course. We weren't yet born when the Germans didn't know about the camps, and where we were educated, Texans were reasonably plentiful. Now they are older, and even more fastidiously unin-formed, we shouldn't doubt. But Texas has come up with a prank of such illustrious pedigree, even the most obtuse must be impressed.

The people of the state of Texas are denying birth certificates to American infants born in Texas, whose parents are unable to account for their own nation of citizenship, under the state's sudden, novel, and exquisitely sadistic new documentary criteria. This is unconstitutional -- unambiguously, starkly, and even by Texan standards, unspeakably. Readers who would like to move along to the latest news of shimmering distractions are welcome to toggle the phrase, an English dog in the sidebar search column now; and the children should be excused. I dislike this chore but it can't be abbreviated, so prolific are the denials to critique. The estab-lished system had three defects: it was efficient, it was rational, and it conserved families.

This one has to do with taking delight in subjecting the newborn to harm, as a crowbar for tearing apart their family. An ingenious inversion, you may say, of the judgment of Solomon. Our German exemplars in these tactics, in their Nuremberg Laws, understood their underlying pleasure by the term, "schadenfreude." Surely, many will squirm in gigglingest glee, at the sight of families suffering for this peremptory administrative decree; and naturally, there will be multitudes to exult in the deniability of the whole untouchable process. But to American demographers these parlour games deserve the hopeful title, "political suicide."

Do we remember, that the state of Texas is now instructing its public school children that Moses wrote the Constitution of the United States? Possibly that lesson plan elides the detail of Pharaoh's hounding of his people to give up their infants, whence Moses was sequestered for known historic purposes. Texas is using the newborn to torment their parents to abandon them to the state, in exchange for documenting that they exist, lest they be denied health care, education, and the slightest, flimsiest protections of the citizenship irrevocably conferred by the United States.

Not that any of us, searching his family tree, can cite an ancestor who needed to document his own condition of citizen-ship, to substantiate the citizenship of his offspring. But Texas pleads that this grotesque intent is unintended; its bureaucracy merely wishes to align claims of relationship with accuracy. Texas weeps, pathetic-ally, about an imagined rash of fraudulent claims of parentage, a temptation somehow very high among non-citizens - when not stuffing ballot boxes, that is.

One does not ask why Texans are doing this, for of course they are not. Texas is. It is hard to be Texan, when in another election cy-cle or two, fertility rates will paint policies such as these into a corner smaller than the Alamo; and so the bravery, the radiant mar-tyrdom so characteristic of every racist self-defense by regulatory means, merits our admiring regard. It was all very legal and reason-able, for the Nuremberg Laws of 1934 and after, to take note of the ethnicity of one's grandparents - one out of four, would do - and an elementary safeguard against fraudulent exemption from vituperation and ostracism, to compel such disclosures by the parent. We must revisit Jackson's Seminole Wars for adequate precedent, for this targeted, wholesale expulsion of our citizens from our nation's protection. 

The comparison startles? Doesn't such zeal to deprive American citizens of the bonds of family, simply to achieve that purpose and no other, manifest the shiningest sincerity of cruelty? This can not be derided as small change, much less exalted by distinguishing its banality from its putrid moral roots. These are Texas' own excuses for this, and they must dazzle the mind of everyone acquainted with the Old Testament, let alone the twentieth century. We are left con-fidently to trust, an infant must escape the eyes of Texas in this decree, to instruct it soon enough in the acts of Moses.

Thobias Malmberg

Xavier Serrano

Luke Edward Hall
Blue + Square
By permission
  of the artist©

Vous acceptez une infusion?

Our amiable paper of 
record has mounted a
brisk, merry trip to
Siem Reap online, in
case anyone might en-
joy a little jolt of
Thursday. For the de-
vout, there are tem-

David Hagerman
  video photography
The New York Times
July 23, 2015©

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fashion week buzz

So, hey, Martin. Check
this out. Here's this
all places, piling onto
the refrain that the ac-
cord with Iran is dif-
ferent from what the
President first said he

OMG, I know, I heard.
Gotta say, it's kind of
adorable, to find an a-
dult male of commerce,
professing shock, shock
over a trading of bluffs.

Isn't it just, mon vieux.
of suing what you don't
like, for a failure of
grammar. Not to compare
arms control with health
care, I guess?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Change a rhythm, look again

   It's mathematical: 
   change a rhythm, im-
   mediately you have 
   an emotion.

  Delon surprised me, last evening,
  as I studied him in Plein soleil,
  René Clément's 1960 adaptation of
  Highsmith's Ripley story. This is
  an entertainment in the moral way
  Graham Greene used the term, on a
  resourcefully adroit projection of
  character to suit a change in cir-
  cumstance. Delon carries it all by
  mastery of his character's default
  persona, an ambitious cad, angling
  even more knowingly than Clift in
  A Place in the Sun, for entitlement
  to the best. I had respected Delon
  in movies for Visconti (Il Gatto-
  pardo) and for Melville (Samouraï),
  directors who "handled" him elo-
  quently. Now, on seeing Clément do
  the same, I gained considerable re-
  gard for Delon's capacity to change
  a rhythm on a dime, as the script
  requires him to do, but without the
  frisson that Rossellini so shrewdly
  foretold. We must ask, why not? We
  had been warned, is all.

  Plein Soleil/Purple Noon is a genre
  tale of high cool, photographed a-
  mazingly well by Henri Decaë, who
  had just shot The 400 Blows with
  François Truffaut, in the previous
  year, and here had, apart from the
  night sky of Naples and the Excelsi-
  or in Rome, the hunger for roast
  chicken to conserve. There are mer-
  rily stylish narrative tropes and
  directorial touches throughout - a
  dancing hand of a dead man in thin
  air, prefiguring that of another,
  later on - including the insight 
  of using the screen to embrace its
  hero's narcissism, becoming both
  witness and player, a mirror shat-
  tered by arhythmic changes in ex-
  pression, shards of mania and fear
  in unbalanced alternation, one ex-
  pressive countenance hauling the
  narrative's descent, down to the
  improvised, post-mortem cigarette.

  Supposing Alain Delon had been an
  actor assessed for his looks, we'd
  have deceived ourselves without Vis-
  conti, Melville, and Clément. Who
  directs whom, in such partnership?
  Among the livelier of this movie's
  lingering sparks of craftsmanship,
  this one is the slowest to go out.

  And Alain became Ripley more and
  more, following everything that
  was said to him to the letter.
  He had an exceptional ability to
  concentrate, a surprisingly fine
  ear .. Faced with the truth I was
  was seeking, I always had Delon, 
  ready to take on every impossibil-
  ity of the action, for it is im-
  possibility that makes the drama
  move forward, of course.

René Clément to
  L'avant-scène, 1981©

René Clément
Plein soleil
  Purple Noon
Patricia Highsmith
René Clément and
  Paul Gégauff 
Henri Decaë
  director of photography
Nino Rota
Paris Film Production, 1960
Criterion Collection, 2012©

i, ii       Alternate Mercedes
iii - v    Alain Delon
               Plein soleil