Saturday, March 25, 2017

Young maps

 I'd been made curious by this
 phonetic spelling of Glouces-
 ter, and indeed of the entire
 Bay, amidst perplexing indeci-
 sion about harbor; but I rea-
 soned, possibly these Konohas-
 sets own theirs, and the Scit-
 ates do not.

 This would correlate reasonab-
 ly with other land grabs from
 the time. One doesn't settle
 a language, without settling
 first the land. Thereafter,
 of course, the thing is sup-
 posed to be reliable. But I
 allow a little room for mig-
 ratory help, and welcome it.

Friday, March 24, 2017

¡ No pasarán !

The former President, whose name
informally identifies the struc-
sure of our health care system,
released a written statement on
Thursday, the 23rd, as a remind-
er of its reforming effects. It
was a curious utterance, marked
by no mania or narcissismm, in
fact, no Presidentiality at all.

Presidentially, obviously, the United States
is at a moment where we don't want the chil-
dren to pass any further. The gathering con-
sensus invokes the reluctance of Everyman to
permit the present spectacle to be witnessed
by their innocence. The expression is lifted
war our grand-parents waged against fascism,
on a plot of ground commemorated by Goya for
us all. But what did loose the dog internal-
ly, compulsively now leaping at our throats,
if not a quicksand which embraced his leash?
This repulsive orgy against our people's hu-
man right of care, claims no canine dignity.

Francisco de Goya
ca 1820

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Clean white shirt, coming back?

I am torn between attempting
a scattering of joy and sim-
ply keeping it all to myself

but every time I contemplate
that calculation, I remember
to keep the ball in play, or
forfeit possession for delay.

Now Jane Mayer, over at The New
Yorker, has discovered the fami-
ly Mercer, as she memorably has
done for our darling Koch boys,
not to ask more than forgetful-
ness could ever bestow upon us.

What this will mean for the new
government seems likelier to de-
pend on how much time it's per-
mitted outside the penalty box,
more than whatever she may turn
up. But we've made that miscal-
culation before, respecting ex-
posure's style in playing fair.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Down to desperate begging

What does it mean, when a Center-Right
opinion leader and namedropping hob-
nobber in powerful circles resorts to
anguished pleading in his elevated col-
umm, to a few noted oligarchs, to save
the Presidency by nannying its usurper?
It means an unconstitutional avoidance
of impeachment, ungentlemanly temptation.

Thomas L. Friedman
Calling on a few good men
The New York Times©
March 22, 2017

Mark A. Patterson
Defining the Presidency down
March 21, 2017

Eton College

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How we live

The evening brought word of the death 
at 87 of Robert Silvers, a founding 
publisher of our most oft-cited maga-
zine, The New York Review of Books. 
Turning with reluctance, to the no-
tice in The Times, it was astonishing 
but apposite to read the most expansive 
and exuberant report of such a transi-
tion I had ever encountered, placing one 
in no mood whatever to go beyond a grate-
ful, “Yup, that’s right."

The Review and I go back, as must be true 
for most readers, to one’s college days, 
that period of such eruption of curiosity 
as to wed the social and institutional as-
pects of the one with the portable and 
printed ones of the other, without a hitch.

One seamless curriculum and recreation, too,
setting certain values and expectations to 
challenge the tide, as searchings concealed 
within undiminished delight from one decade 
to the next, in ways which no other outstand-
ing “liberal arts” periodical has done with-
out sharp vicissitudes and alienating embar-
rassments, or destruction by mismanagement.

But there is that ultimate distinction to
be raised on this occasion, and it is that
in other fine periodicals, one can be made
to feel one had missed out, by lacking the
requisite cultural bias or social identity,
to say nothing of academic advantage. This
magnificent journal opens every humanist
calling to its pursuit by any active mind.

Now, suddenly, we see it is not too soon to 
understand, unlike our cyclical academies, 
the Review never does gain an alumnus, until 
one achieves the rest now granted this guar-
dian of its ebullient play. The boat will go
out, the Review will go with it, and there
will be feasting on the beach as this is so.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Oh, to paint one's way from Winter

Art is the conscious design
of emotions that work on us
unconsciously, an achieve-
ment of naturalness through
the most unnatural of means.

The strange fact is that in-
spiration must be crafted,
that the flight of fancy must
be engineered.

Returning to Watteau again on Sunday, for an unhurried escape into co-herency as well as subtlety of gesture - particularly to research any background one could find at home, on a remembered model he created for a figure of indifference - I found it only too telling that one of Watteau's most ardent advocates on my shelves had chosen to discuss that extraordinary painting under the heading, rather, of unconscious-ness. For, truly, the very motive to examine the sources of indiffer-ence as Watteau proposes them, is to investigate calculations of dis-ciplined inspiration, and sustained craft. Merely to admire the in-congruousness of the result is not enough, I think, where so radiantly the painter is celebrating the method.

To enjoy the endowments of indif-ference is to generate them and protect them. 
Watteau's L'indifférent is not a fashionable idler, a flâneur out of Baudelaire or Edmund White. He is that spiritual accomplishment, a free man. But then how little recognition one might have given to his need to be painted, that is, to be crafted by a conscious, unconflicted vision. Yet the painting goes beyond structural resolution to present freedom, not so much in its expression, but as its expression. And this, we recognize as entirely the case in its every feature, as a mature construction within the concep-tion and conduct of its engineer. The critic left one no escape, only something better.

Antoine Watteau
Palais du Louvre

Jed Perl
Antoine's Alphabet
  Watteau and His World
Alfred A. Knopf, 2008©

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"Haec mea sunt," he says

I think one cannot recommend,
to relieve that sensation so
prevalent these days, of be-
ing too captivated by "cur-
rent events," any flight to
agrarian Classics we grew up
with, culturally, figurative-
ly, academically, literally.

Lycidas, we never thought that what
Has happened to us was ever going
  to happen,
And now we've lived to see it. 
  A stranger came
To take possession of our farm, and   said: 
"I own this place; you have to  leave this place."

"haec mea sunt; 
ueteres migrate coloni"

Now, when the literature of
the rural preserve, such as
we still renew so gainfully
in our time, is revisited as
an escape, we find a shadow
has always been there; and
if it is true, that finally
it is this nation's turn to
endure its weight, it is as
if we were being scavenged,
but for the life of poetry.

                  .. when eagles come
                  tell me what doves can do about it?

The Eclogues
  Eclogue IX
  Lycidas and Moeris
David Ferry
op. cit.

Verlyn Klinkenborg
The Rural Life
Little, Brown & Co, 2003©

Michael McCarthy
The Moth Snowstorm
  Nature and Joy
New York Review Books, 2015©