Saturday, April 13, 2019

Saturday commute clxvii: Approaching Palm Sunday

Our shameless Californian bias,
which is much less intended to
be prejudicial than evangelical,
rears itself again in the vege-
tation's tonsorial inspiration.
Still, they also serve as palms,
to stand erect and shaggy in the
sun, often planted symmetrically
in parallel, to trail a stately
progress of some length. A chan-
nel, not of monotony but certain-
ly of concentration, is bounded
firmly but shaded sparingly by
their height. We are to imagine
but of openness at the same time.

Timothy Egan
Hot to Break the Repub-
  lican Lock on God . .
The New York Times
April 12, 2019©

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Decay by cynicism: Marseille on plastic

A vulgarian hospital bloc, in-
dispensable dispensary of medic-
ations of impeccable hazard, is
now a bland sea of taupes and
extruded plastic reading chairs,
under the dour Intercontinental
bracing aromatics, unaccountably
dismissed as "grit." The soul of
duced to a "milk shake," sparing
cast iron its raison d'être, and
les fruits de mer their fame, for
drawing thrill-seekers with cred-
it cards. The integuments of the
place and its purpose are no long-
er fluently flexed; even Le Corbu-
sire's wonderfully incongruous
Cité Radieuse is impressed into
service to taxable tourism. And
yet still he saw us coming. An
architecture, a city, a culture
defying mockery, met its muleta.

Eduard Galia

Le Corbusier

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Did Yagoda never tire?

An upheaval of purges at the moment,
at the highest levels of the slippery
slope of the New American Government,
can claim no comparison with the ar-
duous labors of disposing of Stalin's
enemies in the mid-1930s, championed
up to a point by his court liquidator,
Genrikh Gregoryevich Yagoda. The set-
ting was the subterranean punishment
blocks, a catacombs of remodeled sew-
ers, now resembling empty swimming
pools with uncountable pockmarks in
their walls, and a darkening at their
drains. But it was tiring work - not
to be besmirched as tiresome - given
the urgency of preserving loyalty to
that embodiment of the government, it-
self, the very master of its betrayal.

No. No resemblance can be claimed, be-
tween these indelicate orgies, and the
splendidly ventilated cells of Twitter.
Meanwhile, our own servants do not tire,
but retire under ritual humiliation by
show trial, in the same fastidious venue.

Svetlana Alexievich
Secondhand Time
  The Last of the Soviets
  An Oral History
Bela Shayevich
Random House, 2016©

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Further on l'audace

If, as I am doing, you are regretting
anymore, to sort out the chore of dis-
posing of the New American Government,
it's out of respect for the delicacy
as well as the urgency of the task. A
military strategist of his logistical
genius seldom arrives on the field -
General Grant, for example - and sadly
less in literature - Grant, for that,
too. Nowadays, most advisory chins are
being tugged toward confronting the ad-
versary obliquely, desisting from the
shedding of blood in favor of the baring
of souls. We are, after all, siblings
of immaculate non-discrepancy with each
other, bound to project a good example.
Let the laurel fall upon the exemplar
of going high, and the vocalist of the
scariest narrative on our health care.

I mention logistics, however, with the
Napoleonic insight that an army marches
on its innards, more than on its abs.
A svelte conscience is fine for drawing
a crowd, but a feast of firepower is
needed for keeping one. The French did
early and exploited the fog, the fig-
urative if not always the literal con-
text of combat. This meant bringing to
bear a sustainable torrent against im-
provisatory response, and it yielded
the head of the Holy Roman Empire on 
Meissen, paired with wine of Piemonte.

In our happy little springtime
for the solicitations of uncon-
tested candidates, the air is
dizzyingly infused with aller-
gens of piety in political con-
duct, every pretender's person-
al space inviolable. We should
not have to wait for Ypres, but
it seems that protocol demands
this of us. We inoculate our-
selves against stray seeds, to
gas, and has already won con-
sent to break his wind at will.
We shrink from the whirlwind
within our grasp, as if its
vivacity were not strategic,
imagining power does not wither.

John Keegan
Viking, 1987©

Ulysses S. Grant
John F. Marszalek
  David Nolan and
  Louie P. Gallo, editors
Belknap Press, Harvard, 2017©