Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday commute cxxxii: The life to know about

There was food for suspicion,
perhaps, in the wandering
blankness that sat at moments
in his eyes .. but this dis-
couraging symptom was known,
among those who liked him, by
the indulgent name of dreami-
ness. He is the more welcome
to the benefit of such an in-
terpretation as there is al-
ways held to be something en-
gaging in the combination of
the muscular and the musing,
the mildness of strength.

                   "Do you mean that you have lost
                   the faculty of displeasure?"

                   "I haven't the least idea. I
                   never try it. My dear fellow,
                   we have only one life that we
                   know anything about: fancy tak-
                   ing it up with disagreeable im-
                   pressions! When, then, shall we
                   go in for the agreeable? .. The
                   happy moments of our conscious-
                   ness - the multiplication of
                   those moments. We must save as
                   many as possible from the dark

Henry James
The Tragic Muse
Penguin, 1978©

Dorothea Lange

Friday, August 26, 2016

Suppose it were Friday cxvii: Restoring bearings

In 1958 John Cohen made
this classic portrait of
our great photographic
discoverer, Robert Frank.
Now that picture comes
into its own in everyone.

This campaign for the
Presidency has tended
to exhaust our people
with the rhetoric re-
served for a state of
revulsion we proper-
ly resist. The New York
Times, expecting our
dismay, has despatched
a photographer to pur-
sue the sight of it in
terms which zero in un-
cannily on its cause,
its hideous grandiosity.

He sees the blustering
candidate's animal mag-
netism; he sees the an-
guish of his adherents.
He sees the rhetorical
apogee of a deception.

His project draws fear
and pity. If tragedy
bore its "original in-
tent," he would be its
translator, if we had
reserved the term from
every adverse fluke, 
flogged by the slovenly
to distract by prestige,
denying us its power.

His name is Damon Winter
and I hope he never tires
of saving us our language.

Now this is Friday, and
we haven't renounced our
dreams. Winter won a Pul-
itzer for work on a
different campaign, and
those perceptions, from
a categorically different
environment, resound in
reflecting on this one.
What can it mean, to be
in good hands, if they
are our own?




Las Vegas
New York

The New York Times©

Thursday, August 25, 2016

When this is all over

Should we collude, readers here
and I, in a colloquy on what to
aspire to, when the obligations
we face this November are final-
ly met? Should we pursue beyond
the limits of exculpatory refus-
al, humane drinking water, wher-
ever tapped? When the bestial
candidacy is terminated in re-
jection, what shall we propose,
to mark the occasion with a mor-
al motive? Or is that a nuisance.

Fear is all very well, as a de-
fense against the worst. But is
the scale of the horror to be a-
verted this year, to be accord-
ed nothing more than a stake of
facile contempt?

I will be blunt. The model is a-
kin to England, in their immola-
tion shouldered alone, against a
monster. Now we have our monster,
and his retinue of coy apologists
to reject categorically, and our
eyes are upon not merely a nega-
tion, but an elevation. I'm con-
servative, so I want humility.
I'm progressive, so I want hope.
I'm ordinary, so I want liberty.
I'm flesh, so I can be mistaken.

This finest hour is bigger than
tax relief. It wants generosity.
It cannot be voted in. It has to
be poured from every tap we are.

Kyle Schrader

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Origins of Wednesday xxxvi: Vial of unintended consequences

    I have to believe, someone at NYU
    has already claimed a doctorate,
    translated into several languages,
    with the observation that an un-
    intended consequence of the peril-
    ously pubic-suspended waistband,
    has been an abrupt shortening of 
    our arms. Suddenly, spending mon-
    ey's out of reach, and explains,
    of course, the stovepipe gather-
    ing of superfluous trousering atop
    the Nikes, relying now more stren-
    lously than ever, upon the elevat-
    ing effect of their aerosol con-
    struction. But have restaurants
    adapted? Are the tables shrunk, to
    accommodate the diminished reach;
    has Emily Post been edited, on pas-
    sing the salt? Is this new fashion
    the root cause, if you will, of
    driverless motoring, and has any-
    one accounted better for the pro-
    liferation of keyboard duets? I
    live in the sticks; I could send
    you some, bundled and centrally
    bound, for urbanity's sake.

    But I stray. In a political sys-
    tem as responsive as ours, to
    a dire urgency of ameliorations
    of one kind or other, its branches
    will break a discernible sweat on
    the project of retaliatory arms,
    to close this abysmal gap between
    pubic confidence and real security.
    (Frame any question martially, and
    the whole government is yours).

    Calisthening, ever preening, as if
    not their fault our tower's leaning.
    We find them adopting the same solu-
    ion, myriad times, but its glory is
    what counts, where sanity's simply 
    out of reach. Riding with the Turks,
    today; a novelty, we'd have to say.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Invasion of the miracles i

    We cannot pretend not
    to have been warned,
    But it seems to us,
    a fellow of his age
    ought to know what
    he wants by now. Then
    too, what became of,
    on the beaches? How,
    we can only ask, can
    a Donny Thump-Thump,
    survive resembling a
    day without sunshine?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

No ordinary rustic

   My English dog and I
   went out for an after-
   noon stroll just now,
   after a voluminously
   heavy downpour. We
   were not the only ones.

   This extravagantly daz-
   zling fellow clambered
   several feet immediate-
   ly, and incredibly a-
   droitly, before our very
   eyes, after my fingers
   gently inquired if he
   were an elegant twig,
   blown upon the post to
   be admired. We admired,

Marathon day

  As much as a vacant
  beach, for different
  reasons, like you 
  I feel an undying
  fondness for playing
  fields in bucolic
  settings. I like to
  walk them alone, in
  the early morning -
  real choirs, if
  of softer footing,
  breathing deep of
  lusher aromatics.

  We conversed in low whispers, 
  Conrad says, as if afraid to 
  wake up the land.

  I walk in measured steps
  such fields, as if before
  they are awakened, and
  sense a music that they 
  harbor of a raucous con-
  test, fitfully embedded in 
  a plush and loamy stillness
  that we constantly enrich. 
  Introduce a runner there,
  we change their rhythm.

  Stephen Crane, his contemp-
  ary, knew this possibility. 

Joseph Conrad

Stephen Crane
The Red Badge
  of Courage
op. cit.

Giorgio Armani
ribbed sweater

Luigi Ghirri

untitled field

Carl Hardorp

Ely Cathedral