Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet

The handiest answer to the
diminished popularity of a
caffè con panna, is the 
tautological one, fashion.

                     Yet this escape hatch, it-
                     self fashionable, begs the
                     question, is this Prada fa-
                     shion, vegan fashion, car-
                     diac fashion, diversity fa-
                     shion..? Yet, we say, abor-
                     tion is not so much in fa-
                     shion, because we can't a-
                     gree whether it's murder, 
                     or couples clamoring for a
                     constriction of choice. Nei-
                     ther one is much in fashion. 

  Murder is down, possibly as
  a bizarre function of the
  rising trend toward suicide;
  and people who had been up
  in arms for a choice between
  Republican or well-behaved
  Congressional oversight have
  begun to constrict their
  choice to ill-behaved inter-
  rogations run by Democrats.
  But we hear this was not a
  choice, merely the nudge of
  being human. A more fright-
  eningly accurate definition
  of fashion might not exist.
  Fashion keeps chugging on:
  who's paying for it today?
  Maybe some of them, humans.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Suppose it were Friday clxix: A very good light for Volnay

  Here you will find a poor but beau-
  tifully exposed, very stony, reddish
  soil of Bathonian origin on a rocky
  base, on quite a definite slope fac-
  ing to the southeast. It is the light-
  ness of the soil throughout the Volnay
  vineyards that largely contributes to 
  the delicacy and finesse of this com-
  mune's wines.

Although I have argued here, before, that taste is a human right, it isn't from care that I haven't rejected the reality that it can be educated, with all the risks of coercion that process can inflict. It's in weather such as this, in backlighting of earlier days like this, that I look with gratitude upon the qualities of a wine which is less probable to discover today, without a push such as I was given as a student, and the house red wine was from an appellation not then expensive, also not hotly flogged by hired authorities. We don't experience those conditions in these times, but I do not regard them as indispensable to loving an extraordinary treasure for itself. I apologize as much for speaking its name, as for withholding it. 

Clive Coates
The Wines of France
  Revised Edition
Wine Appreciation Guild

i  Alexander McQueen
   Bazaar UK

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Will the beautiful room be empty?

I don't recall the infantile crisis
of bed-wetting as especially conta-
gious, but then I wasn't collecting
statistics at the time, to alibi my
campaign for staying in the family.

As Virginia has come down with an
outbreak of blackface impetigo at
the highest levels of her govern-
ment, and a lawsuit gathers steam
against a bench-warmer, for imper-
sonating consensual sex, people be-
gin to remember how the sure-thing
for higher office was a klutz of a
plagiarist, a leading antagonist of 
the degenerate President is a combat 
veteran imposter, and another candid-
ate carries James Stewart's vertigin-
to the extreme of playing hers out

This has given rise to The Ralph
Northam Rule: Before we allow one
of the children to be excused to
go potty, we need to be sure not
to discriminate against others of
equal claim to mercy. Someone must
stay, so to speak, to hold the fort.

The Democratic Party had better be-
gin to find out if the people care
anymore if a politician is trust-
worthy, or if they should evacuate 
a beautiful room they don't deserve.
The resistance is not a festschrift
for contrition, but for liberation.
If a Democrat isn't available, one
had better not try to be invented.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

We are used to Republican Presidents

If you've been led from the
White House by a man who remem-
bers history from film scripts,
or declares the subject expired
just because an office building
is destroyed, it isn't such a
stretch to translate the dreams
of an undernourished idiot up-
stairs, lashed to electrodes of
flattery and disinformation.

This must be the hard part, for
the rest of the world to under-
stand. Yes, it makes our nation-
al conduct unusually spasmodic,
but we have the reassurance to
offer, that this doesn't flow
from policy, really, to offend.
We wouldn't go so far, we don't
think, as to say we are changed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The illusion of freedom: My brother at 75

The continuity girls - and there
were more than a few in his case
- performing the function of our
search engines, today, remind me
that at this page, this date has
often yielded to my reminiscence
of the moment of my one sibling.

I did not know him, for the full
25 years, coming into his life a
while after him, in the guise of
an intriguing but not altogether
necessary presence; and I wasn't
there, as it ended. In the fifty
more recent years, however, this
person has sustained that categ-
orically exceptional position of
being the single mysterious gift
to my existence, to the extent I
believe must be familiar to many
siblings in a family of four. As
such I do 'return,' if that com-
monoplace term can be used, into
his existence in mine so custom-
arily, that the challenge of his
birthday is not to summarize it,
but to identify the terms of its
effect. This is always advisory,
not a prescription, but a tenta-
tive deduction from his example.

              Live all you can; it's a mistake not to.
              It doesn't so much matter what you do in
              particular so long as you have your life.
              If you haven't had that what have you had?
              I'm too old - too old at any rate for what
              I see. What one loses one loses; make no
              mistake about that. Still, we have the il-
              lusion of freedom; therefore don't, like
              me today, be without the memory of that il-
              lusion. I was either, at the right time,
              too stupid or too intelligent to have it,
              and now I'm a case of reaction against the
              mistake. Do what you like so long as you
              don't make it. For it was a mistake. Live.

From his example, not from these
terms or punctuation, one should
derive the profile of a benefic-
iary of this frame of reference,
in my brother. I never knew well
a more stark examplar of the il-
lusion of freedom, and up to the
point of his turning toward that
loss he incurred, knew him well.

Nothing can exceed the closeness
with which the whole fits again
into its germ, James observed, as
he identified the foregoing exhor-
tation as the subject of his fav-
orite among his novels. It is a
story, as experience of this au-
thor steels one to suppose, which
will not leave its hull until it
is anatomized, exhausted of dichotomies and paradoxes, and simply laid there, for memory

The illusion of freedom in The Am-bassadors is merrily imperiled 
(and not) by a chronic symptom in James, an impressionability in Americans, or in the argot of our time, the seduction of boys. The germ encapsulates, reproduces, both elements, rivals. He knew.

Henry James
The Art of the Novel
  Preface to The Am-
Charles Scribner & Sons
University of Chicago©