Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday commute cxvii: Au revoir, désespoir

   The overstayful
   too unplayful
   alley cat
   though a trayful
   grew betrayful
   only sat.

François Truffaut
La nuit américaine
  Day for Night
Les Films 
  du Carrosse, 1973©

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cornelia lost her pearls, and I've got mine

It'll be one's birthday,
with any luck, within a
few hours; and as much
as I don't think I could
assimilate another gift,
I know where my treasures
are. This takes practice,
but as many times as I've
watched the junior Miss
Bullock, taunting her sis-
ter for misplacing an un-
insured treasure, I see
no more than the sport of
sibling rivalry, in which
the tables turn too often
to expect ever to see what
nobody wants - a winner.

Of the many things a pure
delight cannot repay to Car-
ole Lombard, surely her re-
siliency in that sometimes
very dusty struggle defies
every barrier scattered, to
split the classes and gen-
ders, the wages and sages  
as losing squads. Treasure.

Gregory LaCava
Morrie Ryskind
  and Eric Hatch


To revisit the lectures of Auden
on the plays of Shakespeare is e-
nough to make anyone wonder, if
we devote enough time to the lit-
erary opportunities of everyday 
life. A thank-you clavicle, a 
billet-doux groin, and the corpus
of our output seems reduced to a
redundant cycle of hi, it's me
But apart from everything else
there is to recommend it, a gift
for explaining things can be
thrilling, for making us aware
of our reach.

The most percipient analysis
I've read of the present tussle
among the Republicans, for the
nomination for the Presidency,
lies in the lecture Auden gave
at The New School, April, 1947,
on Coriolanus (1604). I've ad-
being among those power plays
that almost make one aggrieved
to be so indebted. Like any par-
tisan, then, I like sharing my
time with someone who's of the
same opinion, and Auden is al-
most as irritatingly good as a
companion as Shakespeare is as 
an irritant.

He helps me understand the dif-
ference between Donald Trump
and his rivals, timid as they
are to be seen as his detract-
ors. And I regard this differ-
ence as not covering them with
glory, which is to say, with
much chance of stopping him.

We read this difference less
in their features than in the
responses of the crowd; and it
is particularly telling of the
rivals of Mr Trump, that they
have shaped themselves in the
image of the crowd to whom he
appeals. They "demand the priv-
ilege of rule before they have 
learned to rule themselves," 
and of course the first and
the most exposed of these
chameleons has been the one
draped in the loudest protes-
tations of being his own man.
ly to be first; he calls for
religious discrimination in
that war and in its disposal
of the displaced, merely to
be first, and as Shakespeare
says, has "licked the sweet
which is their poison."

Eerily, his detractors have
not noticed a blinding dis-
tinction between Mr Trump,
and all their imitations of
his followers. He wants to 
build things. He proffers a
vision one can visualise. He
palpably rewards their reach,
giving focus to its energy.

"They loot," Auden writes,
"act constantly out of fear
and greed .."  Above every-
thing else, "they're associ-
ated by appetite and passion,
not, mind you, by desire."
Yet nothing is more glaring,
than that Trump is disdain-
ful of fear and greed, and
is singularly the voice of
desire. It gives his vulgar-
ity an authentically lustful
ring. They revel in the af-
firmation of his insults. Of
all the pack, he is the one
who will feed their hunger, 
even to humiliate, and makes 
a palace of their need. 

It isn't necessary to ques-
tion his methods - fortress-
es here, forces there, vic-
tories everywhere - to be
quite drenched as it is, 
in the overspray of their
spittle. He has found a way
to tranform the impulse to
destroy by making it grandi-
ose. Everyone else in his
train is a piker. He will
build towers to gladden the
most hideous of fantasies.
And all his rivals do, is 
complain of the climb.

Donald Trump has discerned
the difference between au-
thority and desire, and he
is winning because there is
no such thing as being wrong
in a fantasy, no validation
stronger than denunciation.

He's a cynic, to be sure; 
but he is no con man, nor 
even a negligent ideologue. 
He's a hustler, and he's hot.

W.H. Auden
Lectures on Shakespeare
Princeton University Press, 2000©

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Maxims of de Winter i

    After Manderley
    I learned there
    was no limit to
    where a haircut
    might take one.
    My own counten-
    ance inhabits a
    curious shelter.

    Must I think of
    Donald Trump? O
    now I am sorry,
    because, splash
    Mr Cruz yellow,
    and he returns,
    only lacquered.  

Daphne du Maurier
op. cit.

Richard Hughes
The Fox in the Attic
op. cit.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Where do you run, Phidippides?

When Phidippides arrived
in Sparta, having run to
the city for help at Mar-
athon, he was refused be-
cause the Spartans claim-
ed religious constraints,
in omens of the heavens.

That was 490 BC; but who
needs precedent, when we

He might as well have run
to the Republicans, skip-
shame attaches to a super-
stition recited by power,
at any peril of sacrifice.

lone. It can be done, but
again, not without saving
superstition, its Sparta.

Hearing no objection

   slept in.


Caoimhin O'Brien
  x Pablo Saez