Saturday, February 6, 2016

Saturday commute cxxii: Clockwork flight from New Hampshire

The strain of democracy is
recurringly oppressive in
New Hampshire. No more than
24 years ago, we saw a hap-
pily promiscuous candidate
fleeing home to Arkansas,
as word of some of his dal-
liances crested in the news,
tion of a lobotomised mental
incompetent, on the stirring
grounds, We should no longer
feel guilty about protecting
the innocent.

Now another candidate, re-
lated by politics, morality,
a Rubik's cube of tax shel-
tering trusts, and matri-
mony to that exemplary fig-
ure, takes flight tomorrow
to a poisoned city in Mich-
igan, populated by an elec-
toral demographic she pro-
poses to "own" in this e-
lection cycle. The urgency
coincides as exquisitely
with financial embarrass-
ments, as it does with the
anguish of that city for a
glimpse of her uplifting
face, this very weekend.

New Hampshire voters take
no particular offense at
this expedient departure.
The state is crawling with
alien cynics as we speak.

Klaus Fussman
Self-Portrait in Mirror
  in Snow

Yan Pei-Ming

Friday, February 5, 2016

Race and its profiling, revisited

As our Red State candidates dazzle
us again with stalwart speculation
on the rôle of race in our precip-
itous decline under a nonwhite in-
cumbent, the Committee has reached
a conclusive determination that Mr
Cruz couldn't possibly be Canadian.

Suppose it were Friday cx: Ay, they had been impractical

Don't you remember, Seaneen,
and how it was. The road led
up past the chapel, and how 
it wound and it wound. 

And there was the field where 
Dan Tobin's bull chased you. 

It was a lovely little house,
Seaneen. And the roses! Your
father used to tease me about
them, but he was proud of them,

                     Could you tell me the way
                     to Inisfree?

                     Do you see that road over
                     there? Don't take that one,
                     it'll do you no good.

                     Oh, Inisfree you want. Be
                     savin' your breath, let me
                     direct the gentleman.

                     Happen to know the way to

                     If he knew the way there,
                     would he be asking the way
                     to Inisfree?

                     There's many knows Knoghen-
                     or, that doesn't know Inis-

                     If you'd take the time to
                     study your country's his-
                     tory, Mr Maloney - -

There is a cast of mind, not
confined to the United States
but infamous for permeating
the place, of quiet endurance
of being chased by Dan Tobin's
bull, and heaps of its waste,
following the path home where
even the father is proud of
the roses. This is not a cast
of mind to be deflected from
its confidence, by rules of
navigation which exalt the


John Ford
Frank S. Nugent
  and John Ford

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Penguin on the wall

to Denis Bold

  To put at risk
  a good book is
  writing's hope
  regenerated. I
  would be a Pen-
  guin on a wall
  to be so used.


Romy Schneider
Alain Delon

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Eve of the supply side

We drove back that night with a profound content, and as the moon was late and high, turned off the road to spend an hour in the owl-haunted ruins of Lambousa, an old church standing in magnificent desolation upon the echoing stony beach below Lapithos. Here, walking about in the ruins, eating the sweet brown grapes we had stolen from [our host's] table we talked of our houses, of the books we were going to write, and of the lives we should be able to live here in the sun: within reach of each other on this eloquent range of hills. The owls whistled and the sea banged and rubbed under the moon. We were full of premonitions of a life to be lived which could offer, not merely leisure in sunlight, but a proper field in which to read and reflect, deploy words and study. Marie was to leave for India next morning and felt disinclined to sleep, so we drove back along the silent coast and down to the little mosque, blazing like a diamond on the rocky peninsula opposite her wattle hut. Here we bathed in a sea still full of cold currents, smarting to the flesh, and drank the last of a bottle of red Chianti which we found in the hut. The dawn was breaking before we were ready almost, rushing out of the night sea beyond Cape Andreas, a steeply mounting flush upon the bronze faces of the mountains. A dense dew lay upon everything as we drove back through the silent fields to Kyrenia for breakfast. There were to be many such mornings, many such evenings spent in good fellowship and wine, before the vagaries of fortune and the demons of ill luck dragged Cyprus into the stock market of world affairs and destroyed not only the fortuitous happiness of these friendships but, more tragically and just as surely, the old tried relationships on which the life of the little village was founded.

I don't marvel that our power centers
have their hands full with rejection,
left and right; but I do rather marvel
at the poverty of vocabulary resorted
to, to explain it. Because it was al-
ways about the money to the Right and
to the Left, at least since England
started fencing in estates, and a City
bourgeoisie became inevitable, it has
seemed derisorily artistic to look a-
head (had you thought, back?), to edu-
cation's taming of upstart deformity.

And who are they, who are that natur-
al market; who are they, who are its

Lawrence Durrell
Bitter Lemons
  The Swallows Gather
Faber and Faber, Ltd, 1957© 

Carl Julius von Leypold

Peter Laslett
The World We Have Lost
  "Paul Mellon's interest and en-
  couragement have been more
  important than perhaps he can
  have realised. I only hope that
  he may recognise here some-
  thing of the England which he
  can see for himself in his pictures."
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965©

E.P. Thompson
Customs in Common
  Studies in Traditional
  Popular Culture
The New Press, 1993©
op. cit.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Spotlight the way home

The only person I have telephoned
from Virginia, whom I knew before 
arriving here, I called for the
first time yesterday after seeing
the American movie, Spotlight. An
ancient friend I luckily met, as 
a young man in San Francisco. It
was a brief and happy conversation.

I believe I've just given the film
the only review it needs. For view-
ers who have ever been American or
ever been young, this is a script
capable of reaching beneath habits
and adjustments, to awaken sensings 
gratefully, of another's heart.

Unobserved isolations, internal ex-
iles persist deeply in a landscape 
of superficial toleration, on many 
levels just as intractable, if in 
spheres less spectacular than the 
rape of children by institutions of 
trust. The seduction of boys series
in this blog appropriates its title 
sardonically from a marker of genital 
invasion, for which the phrase is uni-
versal shorthand, for that reason -- 
to portray the enterprising range and 
corrupting consequence of a culture's 
dilettante, yet not whimsical manipu-
lations. The peripatetic hottie, for 
that reason, portrays iconographical-
ly the endgame of customary casuistry, 
high and low, in examples accruing al-
most every week. Now we have a movie, 
lauded by critics sounding exonerated 
in print media, hailing a whadya know 
discovery of literal genital racketeer-
ing in an outpost of the Vatican. 

I agree with them, this is a detective 
tale of zingy suspense, so far as it 
goes. But its path draws it along lines 
of Dr Tulp's discovery of innards in a
human body for Rembrandt. The question 
was not, who knew, not even who wanted 
to know. The prize cannot be genuine if 
it is claimed by the painter, any more 
than by the anatomist. It belongs to the 
life, investigated, feeling its way home.

Thobias Malmberg
Erik in Venice

Michael Fried
Realism, Writing,
  Disfiguration  ~
  On Thomas Eakins and
  Stephen Crane
University of Chicago, 1987

Stephanie Zacharek
The Village Voice
3 November 2015

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
4 November 2015

A.O. Scott
The New York Times
5 November 2015

Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
5 November 2015

Anthony Lane
The New Yorker
9 November 2015

Ann Hornaday
The Washington Post
12 November 2015