Thursday, October 1, 2015

Provocation and resolve

  The Scylla and Charybdis of
  Sarajevo's sleepwalkers are 
  on everyone's mind, we as-
  sume, as the proud, great
  powers scramble to exploit
  and conceal their weakness
  at the same time. This is
  how a reef becomes a port 
  in a seemingly destined 
  storm. Not by prevarica-
  tion, but by posturing.

  But, now. Where were we?

Christopher Clark
The Sleepwalkers
  How Europe went to
  war in 1914
Allen Lane, 2012©

Lord Patrick Devlin
Too Proud to Fight
  Woodrow Wilson's
Oxford University Press, 1975©

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Class of 2001

   Many will remember the Class of 2001
   as having been shaped as much by the
   razing of a pair of office buildings
   in Manhattan, as by the demonologies
   of a remote, desert culture. But, in
   this group portrait, taken by photo-
   grapher Sasha Wolf in Afghanistan in
   2001, Taliban detainees don't appear
   to have learned very much from an Am-
   erican lesson in political behaviour.

   but who is in detention for neglect-
   ing everything known of its history?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The yelling

always sounds to us
as if it comes from

   Where molecules of water took
   dictation from the cold
   between the stars, crystals
   in the lower margin looked
   like characters in Arabic,
   cuneiform, and Mandarin, six-point,
   a smattering of chaos somebody
   with better eyes might read.
   However bundled we went out, we felt
   the cold when we had entered it
   begin to enter us. Misunderstanding
   circumstantiates the world.

Brooks Haxton
They Lift their Wings
  to Cry
Bedroom Window 
  Crusted Thick with Ice
op. cit.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Such nature or rusticity as the
heath represents appears as the
exception rather than the rule
of human existence. Nature has
become the object of an excur-
sion, a change of scene.

[And yet] only those fortified
by urban civility, Hazlitt seems
to say, can withstand rural boor-
ishness. and even the positive
aspects of country life - its
calm and its beauties - are best
appreciated from the standpoint
of urban, urbane values.

Having demonstrated this in his
Satires, Horace would have had
little objection to Constable's
figuring it out, some time later;
and if we must listen daily to a
redneck party's rejection of the
urbane, it is certain, its claim
to arise in nature is no more
than unhinged from it. How well
the history of English painting
portrays its contests as alive.

Ann Bermingham
Landscape and Ideology
  The English Rustic
  Tradition, 1740 - 1860
University of California Press
Berkeley and London, 1986©