Friday, October 6, 2017

Suppose it were Friday cxli: Remember refuge?

The climes, here and there, whenever things
got rough, and one could burrow into a nice-
ly loomed blanket, or build a fortress, back
of the mulch pile behind the garden, where
the dog may come and go, and ask what's up.

Now we understand, the problem with put-
ting away childish things is architectural,
which is to say, budgetary. But who cannot
recall well enough, the 18th Century's re-
sorts of fancy, without asking what became
of them? Tristram Shandy. Tom Jones. Some
lexicographic flight to the Hebrides, or a
rake in his progress. Friday's release of
liberty feels more and more these days like
Graham Greene's dilemma upon the advice of
his solicitor, to evade a libel suit from
Shirley Temple, launching himself upon the
lawless roads of anticlerical Mexico - the
alternative to losing one battle, by gain-
ing unexpected triumph in another. On such
a day, now and then tiresomely framed by
a rogue sociopath, enabled by gruesomely
concerted monks of media, to immerse us
ever deeper into the marginalia of failed
states, who will begrudge a fellow his day
of release to a benign casino, a landfall

Or are we to hear instead, that the author
of all our news, is not the author of all
our news? That would surely be pure evil.

Thomas Rowlandson
A view on the coast
  of Sussex 
Metropolitan Museum
  of New York

Graham Greene

The Lawless Roads

The Power and
  the Glory

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Nicer than being

I watched the other day and she 
was saying such nice things a-
bout a lot of the people who are 
working so hard. Jennifer, do 
you think you could say a little 
bit what you said about us? 

     Nothing happens in his world
     which is not inside a box he
     can turn on and off, for ex-
     citement doled out as candy.
     As previously noticed every-
     where there is a monitor, it
     is always his presence which
     matters: for that matter, is
     matter. He is not Peter Sel-
     lers in his final film rôle.
     He's his image of his image,
     a ghost of anxious pettings.

President of the United States
  to a roomful of journalists,
  Puerto Rico, United States,
  3 October 2017

Region of disdain

  Possibly the phenomenon of a cold shoulder
  is not so indebted to disdain as has been
  thought, at least among exhibitors in our
  midst. Sometimes, a notable projection of
  warmth can be deduced; but if this were a
  property of disdain, we should have no use
  for the word, disgust, which many moralists
  count among the catalogue of sin. A morbid
  curiosity, on the other hand, can manifest
  warmth, almost as commonly as wrath. These
  strenuous etymological exercises may strike
  one as spectacularly incongruous when iden-
  tifying our responses to political figures,
  habitually indifferent to meaning in every
  hazardous dimension and facet of its exis-
  tence - but inevitably are thrust upon us,
  of enduring them. Needless to say, a very
  cold winter is expected for them now, in
  the gruesome shadow of the most elevated
  of them all. Prominence is one thing, they
  seem to reason; scrutiny, entirely another.

  It diminishes their capacity for happiness;
  it hauls them, ineluctably, into the world.
  To credit the American President, however,
  as a disproportionate contributor to this
  likelihood, would be only to capitulate to
  his standard of reference - such as it is.

Ferdinando Scianna
Ivory Coast

Monday, October 2, 2017

Further sharp dealings of Moses

  When last we greeted Goldsmith's
  prophet at the fair, trading the
  of Republican tax reform, we had
  no idea he would pop over to Las
  Vegas in the same weekend, to en-
  joy another neo-Confederate dose
  of creative religion. If, in his
  country, you may assert religious
  freedom to believe anything, you
  may call treason a noble cause,
  you may call human slavery a bi-
  ological obligation, you may call
  highway robbery a reform in tax-
  ation, and you may call a reck-
  Constitutional right. It isn't
  that religion requires bigotry.

  It's that casuistry requires re-
  ligion. So again, we play poli-
  tics with its mantra, that guns
  do not kill, naughty people do -
  agreeing with every word of it.

Francisco Lachowski

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The lure of separation: Catalonia's recurring crossroads

The centuries-old precariousness of
Catalonia's commitment to Spain is
up for the choosing of sides again,
today, by international dilettanti
retarded by commercial expertise in
loud media. To this recombinant and
endlessly unsettled ferment, it is
studiously one's purpose not to add.

There are not such things as clean
hands, simple answers, amusing anal-
ogies to be exploited, to other sep-
aratist movements elsewhere on this
planet, in the question of the con-
tested plebiscite on offer today. If
nothing else, Spain and all of its
constituents are entitled to the em-
pathy of everyone attached to equal-
ly fraught unions, from Britain to
the United States, not that this re-
ality can be counted on, more than
any other, to inhibit the lurching
clod at the head of the latter, es-
pecially if beachfront is at stake.

Since the Spanish-American War, 
stripping Catalonian merchants of
their exploitive possession of the
island of Cuba, in favor of replace-
ment custodians in the American ol-
igopolies of sugar, distilling, min-
ing, tourism, organized crime, and
other ornaments of the Monroe Doc-
trine, a restiveness in Barcelona
has always held an opportunistic as-
pect to which the excuses of liber-
al imperialism have not been insen-
sitive. Yet with Franco's raising
of an insurgent army in Morocco,
to defeat the Catalonian-led Span-
ish Republic of the 1930s, Amer-
ican anticommunists and Christian
theocrats have looked upon the "in-
tegrity" of the Spanish union with
a devotion second only to their de-
light in the exchange rate for rip-
ping off antiquarians and galleries.

This is not an occasion for moral-
izing ideologies to impose an im-
pertinent sympathy on a question
of local torment. Especially, in-
habitants of the Western Hemisphere
owe to that wellspring of their dom-
iciles' disparate difficulties, the
discretion of a quiet contemplation
of their own trials and allegiances,
against the ecstasy of partition. We
have seen that masterpiece of idiocy
in the affairs of states, and even
placed it again at the pinnacle of
our own. What has Spain done lately,
to warrant any judgment from here?

Franz Borkenau
The Spanish Cockpit
Faber & Faber, 1937©

Gerald Brenan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Cambridge University Press, 1943©

George Orwell
Homage to Catalonia
Harcourt Brace, 1952©

V.S. Pritchett
The Spanish Temper
Alfred A. Knopf, 1954©