Saturday, January 20, 2018

When do we eat?

 I bought and reserved a seat in
 our local cinema for this after-
 noon, to see the new movie on
 couture. Will anyone count with
 me the faux pas in this declar-
 ation, ignoring entirely the op-
 portunity costs in avoiding the
 Spielberg flick on The Post, a
 movie on a rural mother's battle
 for justice with the local cops,
 and the re-telling of Aciman's
 novel on young men in Tuscany -
 all being screened in the same
 building? Or shall we just let
 it go with the oxymoron in at-
 tending a film on couture in
 broad daylight? The affront of
 uncouthness is hard to conceal.

It developed, that reconsideration got
the better of this plan. I'd like to 
attribute it to being distracted by a
beautiful day - and the weather would
allow that characterization. But, my
decision to postpone this experience,
at best, and probably until the re-
lease of a dvd, was enabled by learn-
ing that the people with whom one was
to discuss this thing, have not even
seen it. So much for mice such as I,
even if it really should turn out to
be, the last Day-Lewis movie, a rumor
no one can verify for several years.

The seductiveness of fashion - and
I have not always been impervious -
achieves its acutest advantage if
its form is otherwise irresistible.
A Day-Lewis movie comes plausibly
close enough, not to be ruled out,
even at the inflated prices of to-
day's cinema salons, gratuities not
included. The genius of fashion, on
the other hand, lies in its shrewd
substitution of itself for its use.

A table setting by Jean Puiforcat, 
for example, has so little to do
with dining, and so much to do with
remembrances of the Normandie, that
one doesn't know whether to meet in
a deck chair or a life jacket. This,
being what one needs to know of cou-
ture, secures its berth permanently
among the higher opportunity costs,
with rough justice, an embarrassment
of the Pentagon, and fumbled kisses.

It has been lost on no one, need
I say, that the career of Daniel
Day-Lewis has absorbed itself so
thoroughly already with justice,
fumbled kisses, and devastating
American war, that his leap into
the milieu of couture seems not
only fitting as the last of this
nonsense that he'll have to en-
dure, but a fine farewell frock.
Of course, one wants to see him
assault this final peak, and un-
doubtedly only raise it higher.
This is an expectancy to savor.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Suppose it were Friday cxlvii: Respites we have welcomed

   Morning rumors of an interruption
   in nuisances from Washington waft
   the precious aromatic of an inter-
   regnum of peace for all, on a par
   with that of the privileged per-
   forming mice, themselves. A writ-
   er published what I considered
   to be a perceptive appreciation
   of that theatre's unstateliness,
   which I pass along with some con-
   cern that the host publication is
   placing itself uninfluentially at
   the margins of conditioned reflex-
   es these days, save for its fixed
   delight in almost any foreign war.
   Not that they demand a government.

   Yes, for anxiety's grinding sake, 
   one doesn't really need to be able 
   to see reports of being governed,
   if the ongoing prosecution of our
   wars can be assured. Margins hold;
   the government may go wobbly all
   it wants, if ventilation of such
   idleness does not bring peace a-
   broad. What interesting stability
   seems to pervade the horizon, as
   the inertia of our system governs. 

Alexander Calder
untitled tapestry

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Annals of gender oppression: A star is born

What a winter for discontent, one might
have thought, to find at such a break-
neck pace how many bumpy facets we have
missed, in the broadly conceded fall of
man. Only the other day, we learned how
patriarchally oppressive it is, to offer
just one color of wine at a time, in the
pursuit of a style of genital rapproche-
ment. The revelation caused a new social
more marginal monster than one of the
genders could imagine, and yet evidently
ubiquitous in the sight of a famous other.

Some of the genders have yet to report,
yet as night follows day, the temptation
to follow the lead of the dissident must
be counted the more primly advantageous. 
In matters of gender oppression, the cus-
tom is to acknowledge no more than one
bogey-person at a time. Yet who is to ask,
if pride of place may never be exchanged?

Is the White House right: is this to be
the season of a Counter-Reformation? If
it does take two to forge a swastika, a
mirror image of the half is all we need.
Then we may know what we should call it.

Monday, January 15, 2018

What news of the Senate?

Tapping into a Senator's obligation
to render "advise and consent" isn't
so very different from asking one to
take care to see that the laws are
faithfully executed. All it takes, 
is a clarification of where faith-
fulness lies. Over the weekend, a
Senator from Georgia named Perdue,
and one from a deeper part of Dixie,
sentimentally named Cotton, took to
the air to render fealty by impugn-
ing the integrity of another Senator.
This was a nice piece of business.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cast iron Sunday

We reconstituted the porcinis in 
a cup and half of boiled water,
and strained and rinsed them
carefully to clarify as stock,
to concentrate it later. Yester-
day's errands led to discovering
a recent collection by the po-
Charles Simic, of exceptionally
memorable images. They call for
the magic of a braising in cast
iron, a patient afternoon for
Sunday's expectations to be out-
sripped by relief from inter-
ference. In his own new collec-
tion, Alan Bennett asks his di-
ary, If one could write a story
about a masterpiece and include
the masterpiece why bother to 
put it in a frame in the first
place? His objection would be
sorry news for many, but it is
the very maxim of neutrality of
cast iron, and allowing wine to
stand. It is its only decanter.

                  Whatever solace you have for me,
                  Glass of old red wine,
                  Whisper it in my ear
                  With each little sip I take,
                  And only in my ear,
                  In this hour made solemn
                  By the news on the radio,
                  The dying fires of sunset,
                  And the trees in my yard
                  Putting on their black coats.

Alan Bennett
Keeping On Keeping On
  The Diaries
  13 September 2007
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017©

Charles Simic
The Lunatic
  The Wine
Ecco/Harper Collins, 2015©

i  Esther Bubley, photographer
   Seismographers in Texas