Thursday, December 20, 2018


   I don't think we know anyone who
   did not recognize his immediate
   and complete withdrawal of proof
   of a national self-interest in a
   safer Middle East as the gesture
   of a tormented mentality's decom-
   position under pressures of expo-
   sure. An unforgettably transpar-
   ent imitation of escape, less a
   displacement than a scavenging.

And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.

T.S. Eliot
Four Quartets
  East Coker, iii

Valéry Lorenzo

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Gosh, there were good stories

See a sympathetic figure escape from
danger. I don't know for how long the
formula prevailed in English fiction,
but I'm not going to pretend to dis-
dain for it. It seems that the advan-
tage of this formula has less to do
with characterization and outcomes
than with freeing its composing agent
to perfect narrative scheme and style.

Knowing what the story is, seems to
have lent such stability to its arch-
itecture that, whether one cared for
the edifice or not, one could not
help but admit to its integrity. If
one were writing about an honest Am-
erican President within that genre,
his speech would hold such granitic
congruency that it could hardly be
expected to gain such trust today,
when the more thrilling improvisa-
tions of a fashion for psychological 
conjecture so absorb public taste.

If Hitchcock's Roger Thornhill were
to hang by his fingers, being crushed
by Leonard's shoe on Mount Rushmore,
would anyone recall the outcome if he
were a contemptible liar? I put this 
down to a curious feature in language,
regardless of who wields it over us.
Suspense, itself, is endangered, then.

                   There's no saying anent that - 
                   zeal catches fire at a slight
                   spark as fast as a brunstane
                   match .. I hae kent a minister
                   wad be fair gude day and fair
                   gude e'en wi'ilka man in the
                   parochine, and hing just as
                   quiet as a rocket on a stick,
                   till ye mentioned the word ab-
                   juration oath - and then, whiz,
                   he was off, and up in the air
                   an hundred miles beyond common
                   manners, common sense, and com-
                   mon comprehension.

Sir Walter Scott
The Heart of Mid-Lothian
  Ch xviii
J.M. Dent, Ltd., 1906©