Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Origins of Wednesday lxxxv: Réflexions sur la question Bush

I opened a much-too-young vintage from
Graves - a favorite appellation - the
other night, and I told my excellent
wine merchant that I'd spend a little
time revisiting the writings of one
of its earliest vignerons. My impetu-
osity in tampering with a 2012 was
only doubly edified, in samplings of
sound and balanced discernment.
Where possible, I take that style of
commentary on our time as a favorite.

Several days ago, in a country house where 
I was staying, I came upon two scholars who 
enjoy a wide reputation here. Their charac-
ter struck me as admirable. The conversa-
tion of the first, when properly weighed, 
came down to this: "What I said is true be-
cause I said it."  The conversation of the 
second dealt with other matters: "What I 
did not say is not true because I didn't 
say it."

I rather liked the first man: that a man 
should be opinionated doesn't bother me 
at all; but that he should be impertinent, 
that does bother me, and a lot. The first 
man defends his own ideas; they are his own 
wealth. The second attacks the opinion of 
others, and that constitutes the wealth of 

Oh, my dear Uzbek, how badly vanity serves 
men who have a stronger dose of it than 
they need for the preservation of nature. 
Those fellows seek to be admired by dint 
of displeasing. They strive to be super-
ior; they are not even equal.

Charles de Secondat
  Baron de la Brède et
  de Montesquieu
The Persian Letters
  144: Rica to Uzbek
J. Robert Loy
  editor & translator
World, 1961©

1    Château de la Brède

iii  5th Avenue
      from the St Regis

Monday, December 3, 2018

Out, seeing: Ivan Terestchenko in Marrakech

This picture goes back about 8 years,
of a man carrying water on the street
in Marrakech. An incidental testament
to what still photography can show, a
rhythm in architecture, for one thing.

Ivan Terestchenko
Visual Diary
  Silhouette ...

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A practiced mourning glow

We are coping as best we can this weekend with the backlit glare from a political legend crafted over more than six decades, under a reluctance, both instinctive and inculcated, to speak anything but pleasantly of the dead. Coincidental occurrences, irrepressibly happening while he had been rightfully empowered to alleviate or prevent them — the enshrinement of the evildoer Willie Horton as the baseline of Republican dog whistling, the elevation of the mendaciously malignant Clarence Thomas to the highest Federal court, the nasty indulgence of AIDS in America and thence in the world, the denial of reality as the touchstone of governing — we blow aside, for Peggy Noonan’s Sancho Panza of “decency.” 

Much more to the point, would be to take at face value the cardinal myth of the late President, breeding, and indulge not in his current successor's gaudy 30 days of lowered flags, and parades of lachrymose crocodiles, sacrificial virgins, and legions of redhats; but rather, take up a patio with circumspect grief and calm reflection. The incumbent President manifestly has pervasive ignorance on his side, of the Presidency under remembrance now, which in any case cannot be filled in or topped up by information alone. It calls for a recital from Tony Kushner, of what human life was reduced to by decisions in that place in this country, and how indolence and insolence cleared the way for a regime we claim not to have expected.

Edward Hopper