Saturday, August 6, 2016

Human textuality, 2016

 I'm most at home with writers
 who are entirely inclined to
 be known as having fashioned
 the text I read of theirs. I
 don't know how prevalent they
 are, but I know them when I
 run into them. Alexander Pope
 strikes one as the epitome,
 doesn't he, of this commit-
 ment? A modest legacy of the
 Renaissance. To be known by
 one's texts is a risk, on the
 other hand, which few men do
 entertain, and until the im-
 mediate present, has been an
 endangerment to women. This
 gives rise to a prejudice, 
 almost, against going so far.
 Fashion is generous that way,
 but at an interesting price.
 It is not in season, just now.

 This is a season of being
 known atextually - and yet,
 however, as literarily as
 any couplet in Pope. We know
 them in our living past, in
 upheavals recurringly knock-
 ing at the door of one's own
 birthright. Again, this is a
 season of confession, beyond
 recent precedent but surely,
 standing on its shoulders. In
 this face, captured at a rally
 in Ashburn, Virginia this week,
 one doesn't see an aspiration
 to be known as the inventor of
 the text, but as its epigone.

 Tiresome as it may be, for the
 third time in seven days to say,
 this is the image of this year's
 upheaval, and it is impossible
 to dismiss it as illegitimate.
 I read it, you read it, and be-
 yond question, it is plain. This
 man needs to be answered, with-
 out the degenerate reflexes of
 a mind undisposed to read him.
 How much more, shall I respect

Maxim Steklyanov

Saturday commute cxxxi: Three alleys, off Montgomery

  Telegraph Hill is a glorious warren
  of alleys; I lived on two, at its
  pinnacle, Alta and Calhoun. But be-
  fore then, I found the Barbary Coast
  that lies below the peak, as it has
  begun its rise just north of the Pyr-
  amid, the block above Ernie's, which
  we all know from Vertigo. I didn't
  pursue an offer at Osgood, its center,
  one block north of Jackson Square, the
  block where Bill Stout placed his in-
  comparable architecture book store, on
  axis from Ferlinghetti's City Lights.

  Did I love it; it was an enclosed en-
  clave of little verdure and no Bay.
  It challenged me at the wrong time.
  It was conceived before the Fire, not
  far from the City's original battery:
  hence, "coast." It deserves the blue. 
  I would like to have settled with it,
  but this is not about regret. It's a
  way of lofting a kiss into the wind,
  a famished thing to do, to haul it 
  back upon the mind as cooling fog.

Farrow & Ball
Pitch Blue No. 220


Friday, August 5, 2016

Reflections of the house

 The fog I call the world is not a cloud of atoms
 only, but a cloud of feelings, and ideas ..
 All I do is what my flesh can do, yet everything
 my flesh can do feels strange. I am the swelling
 of a salt sea onto an armature of chalk, the calm
 of a tidal pool where brain cells live, the wind,
 the lightning storm where thought flares into thought.

Brooks Haxton
  Antiphonies to Psalms
  I Am
  Psalm 40
Alfred A. Knopf, 2004©
op. cit.

Billy Vandendooren



Thursday, August 4, 2016

A literature of power without force ii

      In the place where the 
      touchstone of aptitude 
      is not scholastic, not
      sartorial, not praised
      for much these days ex-
      cept enduring our wit,
      where is politics now?


Jerome Liebling
Weirton, West Virginia

They're sorting it out

If a man were forum shopping
today, to sort out the dis-
contents of 2016 in the West,
which portal would he select,
each one of them more immor-
tal than the next: Morgan,
at 23 Wall, enshrined in art
by Paul Strand in 1915; the 
clubs at Harvard, visited in
extremis at The Times earlier
in the week; or a mariner's
shelter from Attica, erected
at Agrigento, not far from the
streets where Herbert List saw
this debate, in real time.

Tell us who the litigants
are, to direct them to their proper court. If they are, as is common on life's docket, clamoring for resemblance, where could that case be heard, with the perspective to harbor their duality, balancing their dignity? A space to shelter doubt, tending to the broader justice. A sailor's.

Mary Lefkowitz
Andrew W. Mellon
  Professor, Classics
Wellesley College
Greek Gods, Human Lives
Yale University Press, 2003©

v  Herbert List
    Ostsee, 1933

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Origins of Wednesday xxxiv: Sommeliers for greatness

I don't know. Which are the
parts that you like the best?
I just live out in the coun-
try; we aren't exposed to the
broader taste of our times.
You'd think we were, living
in a district led down this
path by the sadistic Cantor,
only to be delivered to the
lunatic, Brat. But, no. We
don't get the nuances here.
Mostly sulfites, actually.

How about the part of rigging
the stab-in-the-back defense,
for losing? How about insist-
ing to his own protectors, he
has a right to defend himself
against a crying baby, parents
surviving a son's heroic death?
Man's threatened, he's entitled
to destroy himself on his own.

How about his boast of strap-
ping on his gun? Concealed
carry, eat your heart out.
But as Dr Strangelove point-
ed out, the whole idea of a
Doomsday Machine is to let
Besides, there's the pleasure
to consider, apart from honor.
Anyone up for waterboarding,
or the whole 9 yards of deep
interrogation of the soul?

If pressed, I'd have to go
with his principled stand on
his right to defend himself,
against any American who com-
plains. This, I really think,
is enough to disincline me to
nourish myself with his wine,
revelatory as it must be.

Surveying the entire palette
of what he offers to the pal-
ate, what could pair with it?
One could always ask his som-
meliers, Ryan and McConnell,
who proclaim how well he goes
with everything they want, the
In case one should want so much.

Stanley Kubrick
Terry Southern
Peter George, screenplay
Dr Strangelove, 
  or How I Learned ...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Glazed slate

    An interesting thought experiment
    is proposed at Slate just now, on
    whether a progressive would back
    a candidate as aberrant as little
    Donny Thump-Thump. Its premise is
    amusing, and possibly harmless to
    investigate: offering alternatives
    like Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz as
    placeholders for how a loony Right
    sees Hillary Clinton, its primary
    effect is to portray dissent with
    her candidacy as improbably crazed. 

    The question, however, is not so
    unsound, even in everyday bounds
    of politics: how unthinkable could
    it be, to prefer a wholesome mind,
    before serial, unhinged arousal?

    One cannot expect the Republicans
    to accept our invitation to enjoy
    this stimulating game, exhaustion
    having overcome their sociability.
    Yet to feel their pain is to know
    it, all the same, almost as guilt. 

Ermenegildo Zegna
  model unknown

Janis Ancens
Rhys Pickering
El País©
June, 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

Remember the Republicans?

Of course we do - and, as well
we should! Admittedly, like Re-
né Lacoste's merry crocodile,
they've changed hands and fac-
tories of origin so plentifully
now, it's a wonder when they
manage to devour a human right,
anymore. But we are, we promise,
we are going to discuss voting
rights, wherein they continue 
to strike such an ingeniously
exclusive profile. But, events
plague their mind, they sulk so
pitiably, it hardly seems sport-
ing to account for them today.

They've hoisted themselves a
candidate whose parody of the
crocodile has all but chomped
their beaten breast of its point.
He's taken their rapture in arch
patriotism and turned it into a
roster of blackballs. He's taken
their embodiment of bluster and
touted every dictator he can re-
member, from the self-effacing
privity of his tax returns.
To their mind, in short, he's
compromising the brand. But, no.

He enacts the crocodile's adap-
tive indifference to mentality.
Statistics of size foil hopes 
for his fidelity at every turn.
Pressures mount, to designate
an agile courier of reprimand.
Any moment, now, he's bound to
blurt out what everyone knows.
And then where shall they be?

Drew Hanley

Assouline Publishing

Maurice Prendergast
South Boston Pier

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A literature of power without force

I was going to discuss voting rights 
in the United States yesterday, but 
the subject called for more time than 
I could give it, with everything else 
Saturday offers - and requires. I cer-
tainly didn’t object to the subject I 
chose. I reasoned, I could pass off 
the note on voting rights to Sunday, 
and hastened into town to shop.

On my way home, I stopped at a smart 
little roadside café for a first bite 
of the day. I was followed a few min-
utes later by a young family — mother, 
father, a boy of about 7, one of about 
4, and an infant in a carrier. They as-
sumed their rôles without a hitch. The 
mother announced their requirements, 
the father fetched a stool for the in-
fant, the latter dozing silently; and 
the older brother strode about, explor-
ing the environment, until the younger 
spoke up to him, almost in a whisper, 
in a tone reserved for them: Why don’t 
you sit, and talk to me?

Immature. Narcissistic. Sexist. Needy.
That whole list of our objections now.
least of disdain. Disempowerment may
impart these elements, left to their

Representation, I understand. Direct 
democracy, I understand. Repression, 
I understand; and corruption, I thor-
oughly understand. Voting responds to 
something else. 

I know it by that question, I’d know 
its tone anywhere. It has driven this 
election, and it will do, all the way. 

Edward Hopper
Solitary Figure in a Theatre
Whitney Museum