Friday, September 1, 2017

Suppose it were Friday cxxxviii: For 3 free days

Seven months of their present
government have given Americans
a compensatory appetite for hol-
idays, and Labor need not apol-
ogize for an aggravated anguish
today, to be comprehended, and
respected. At bottom, all labor
is that of the craftsman; and
if the suppression of craft is
a quality we abjure in our con- 
sumptions - just imagine, what 
that must mean to that soul -
then to capitulate to falsity, 
must only fortify its seducer.

Frederik Kaltoft

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tall water iii: Sodden and besotted in playland

    researching the superlatives
    redundantly invoked by the
    of his every public appear-
    once can flood more than one
    senior thesis with an entire
    Baedeker of misattribution,
    as Swift's "A Tale of a Tub"
    rising into its own on the
    swollen tide of narcissistic
    illiteracy; but what can ex-
    plain our time's account of
    his rhetoric as post-modern,


Jonathan Swift
A Tale of a Tub
Kathleen Williams
J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1975©

Leo Damrosch
Jonathan Swift
  His Life and his World
Yale University Press, 2013©

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tall water ii

 A palace fraught by illusion and
 contradiction, the Tuileries has
 extracted itself from any partic-
 ular epoch in its past, to be en-
 joyed for gardens and plazas for
 the Seine to reduce to spectacle.

 This can happen almost any place
 where water nourishes forgetting.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Tall water

  There is a strand of thinking,
  not unknown along the Gulf of
  Mexico, that natural disaster
  is an expression of a divine
  displeasure. There is a strand
  of thinking, not unknown along
  the Gulf of Mexico, that Feder-
  al union is a condition of cap-
  tivity. But tall water is simp-
  ly tall water, and one can on-
  ly hope that local thinking is
  not arrayed against human res-
  cue, as if a nation building.

update : On September 4th,
The New York Times was
full of a Republican torrent
of Texan antipathy toward
Federal assistance they
were demanding.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The life of form

The other day, I was musing on
the theme of the alienated lib-
rary, confessing to occasional
searches in the second-hand or
remaindered stashes for a book
allowed to slip away, to which
I should gratefully add a more
contemporary resort, the house
of republication. FS&G, for ex-
ample, will reprint for one in
need of an out-of-print trans-
nation of Virgil or Horace, by
the masterful David Ferry, not
that this will offer insurance
against all miscalculations. I
give you an entire government,
for example, it would be prop-
er to exempt from preservation.

Over the weekend, exploiting a
peach of a natural disaster, a
distinguished pair of offenses
against the nation and our law
were issued by the White House
as an almost endearing sort of
dare to utter condemnations at
a time of televised suffering,
and damages to Texan property.

Behind rude, howling winds and
cruelly penetrating tides, the
President pronounced the first
unilateral edict of discrimin-
ation against a distinct class
of citizens in the lifetime of
this nation, where even incar-
cerations of Japanese-American
innocents claimed an emergency
of a limited duration. And, as
if this stunning triumph might
not be enough, he also brushed
aside every tissue of due pro-
cess in the peremptory pardon,
of a political ally for crimes
steeped in discrimination, in-
jury, death, and social harms.

The times summon the mind to a
discipline of form on all lev-
els, such is the gravity which
distinguishes our nation's or-
deal under this government. In
aid of portraying to oneself a
restoring vindication of these
disciplines, I was reminded of
Humanism's vital connection of
rhetoric and philosophy in the
Italian renaissance, presented
to me in college in a text I'm
revisiting, cited below. There
can be no doubt, that the gen-
ius of the current government-
al assault on our nation is in
its violation of every discip-
line of form. It boasts of it.

We assert an interest, not on-
ly countervailing but defining,
in the humanity of a coherency
long demeaned as elegance, but
truly the triumph of study and
application. The marauding neg-
ligence we suffer at this gov-
ernment's hands is, at bottom,
sloth incarnate, all its venge-
ances a feast of malnutrition. 

Time to do the reading once a-
gain. Everyone knows the text
that warned him, he'd be back.