Friday, May 17, 2019

Suppose it were Friday clxxii: Au hasard, Democrats

Followers of the cinema of Robert Bresson,
whom Google's spellmarm demands that we
write, Breton, will recognize that the
beast on the Left is not a horse, and
hasn't the stature of glamor, or of many
other properties we'd associate with a
chevalier such as this. Balthasar suffers,
as Bresson's protagonist, and there is a
distribution of shame in his story which
abuse which causes it; hence, Au hasard,
Balthasar. An unfortunate memory for a
Friday, but give us a day when bestial
cruelty seems acceptable and we'll have 
a Presidency which has adopted it as its
frame of reference. Now, for Balthasar,
Democrats are summoned to be blamed, and
disturbingly quite freely by themselves.
The question is posed, of what sort of
guardian this chevalier is of the trust
in his hands. This is a defunct question,
where trust is as maldistributed as shame.

Rather, we freely concede, bestial cruelty
has achieved that, working a dual maldis-
tribution. The question for Democrats
is how to protect Balthasar in the midst
of widespread jubilation with his torment.
It is not whether to pretend that shame
can be of help, that remedial powers can
command good effect beyond their reach,
that frustration - stoutly proclaimed -
can turn Rome from the pleasures of the
Coliseum, the seat of all politics now.
Is it passivity that Mike Pence urges
his Christians to renounce, or shame?

The question is not, how futile a Dem-
ocrat can be blackmailed into being. 
What can sustain him like shame, there-
fore what can substitute for sentimental
follies of rectitude? Can his endurance
answer for it, without his martyrdom?
Can trust defend itself the same way?
Mike Pence begs for it to be "easy" to
be Christian again, as if it ever were.
This the Donkey in Bresson never asked.

Robert Bresson

Tony Pipolo
Robert Bresson
  A Passion for Film
Oxford University Press, 2010©

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Origins of Wednesday xcv: The centre holds

    We have an outsize responsibility 
    to regulate the excesses of tech-
    nology precisely because they are 

Aaron Peskin
Board of Supervisors
San Francisco


Monday, May 13, 2019

Monday's American guest

The President of the United States
is hosting Viktor Mihály Orbán at
the White House this Monday, and
the press corps is alerted to be
on time and circumspect in manner,
for the principals to display the
authority of their nature, with

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday nibbled sleeve ix: Whither Corinthians?

Gérard, reflecting on where it had
probably all gone wrong in the na-
tions most populated by monuments
to St Paul, from Brexit to border
walls, found it almost irresistib-
le to credit the New English Bible
as the fulcrum of that great slide
into anomie which had made worship
seem like a delivery van of Trump.

Painfully familiar as he knew it
to be, the reflection had in com-
mon with all pain an acute sense
of originality, not an authorship
he particularly cherished. Rather,
he cared more for discovering its
presence in others, by which he
could confidently recognize them
as tightrope walkers out of Deso-
any line from any Nancy Mitford,
whom her lifelong friend, John
Julius Norwich, found thriving,
centuries before her birth -

                It is - or was, before the appearance
                of the New English Bible - refreshing
                to note that St Paul, though he usual-
                ly spoke with the tongues of men and
                of angels, occasionally approximated
                more to the language of Nancy Mitford:

How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

                                               2 Corinthians 3:8

"In England," she had said, "you
don't need to be well-dressed. It
would be thought quite eccentric."
What has become of the KJV's anti-
cipatorily Mitfordian styling of a 
recurring lynchpin of belief, is 
evangelism's resistance ostensibly
to fashion, though its nemesis is 
taste. What's a Corinthian to do?

Gérard knows better than to regret
the passings of fashions, any more
than Mitford ever esteemed them in
the first place. But in aggravated
assault upon taste, and its natural 
sibling, wit, he does discern an
impeachable motivation, sufficient
to summon the ministration of the
spirit of the language. He could
not be dressed in anything better.

John Julius Norwich
Christmas Crackers
  Being ten common-
  place selections,
  1970 - 1979
Allen Lane/Penguin

Nancy Mitford
A Talent to Annoy
  Essays, Journalism
  and Reviews,
  1929 - 1968
Charlotte Mosley
Hodder & Stoughton