Saturday, April 9, 2011

New and very noteworthy

Such a relief, to burst from the theatre
into our cool, imaginary streets
where we know who’s who and what’s what,
and command with Metrocards our destinations.
Where no one with a story struggling in him
convulses as it eats its way out,
and no one in an antiseptic corridor,
or in deserts or in downtown darkling plains,
staggers through an Act that just will not end,
eyes burning with the burning of the dead.

by James Richardson at Mark Doty

by Beth Nelson at by land by air by sea

The Big Lie will be heard again- 
and if it is heard long enough- like all lies-
it gathers believers.

by Patricia Gaye Tapp at Little Augury

by Ivan Terestchenko at Ivan Terestchenko

by Anonymous at Tassos

I had lately been fascinated by the deconstructed, dehydrated Eggs Benedict at the newest temple of molecular gastronomy. And had even been thinking that I wanted to learn how to copy the sous-vide seventeen-hour egg at the trendiest restaurant downtown where you will never get a reservation. But this story of the seventy-five-year-old man, cracking an egg slowly and accurately with two hands and using his thumbs to get the thirteenth egg as his mother had done during wartime food shortages, put me right back on track.

by the best gastronomic memoiriste
since the discovery of Amanda Hesser;
to be presented soon at this page

random trouvaille

Saturday commute xxii: the bathers

.. I dipped to test the stream
some yards away
from a hot spring ..

And you would want to know (but you know already)

How usual that waft and pressure felt
When the inner palm of water found my palm.

Seamus Heaney
A postcard from Iceland
  The Haw Lantern
The Noonday Press
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1987©

A dulcimer for daylight

Because the mast's peak hit the sand no more than six
Feet from Patroclus' car, the horses shied,
Spoiling his cast. Nothing was lost.

As Akafact fell back, back arched,
God blew the javelin straight, and thus

Mid-air, the cold bronze apex sank
Between his teeth and tongue, parted his brain,
Pressed on, and stapled him against the upturned hull.
His dead jaw gaped. His soul
Crawled off his tongue and vanished into sunlight.

I agree. The habit of the United States is in questionable taste. Sadly, the cultivated life in a republic is different from one in a kingdom. In a kingdom, things happen. In a republic, people cause things. I did this before I woke up this morning, and I will keep doing it as I select my evening houseguest, take him shopping, share his amusing scent, and relax with him, or someone else, over supper tomorrow by the fire. Whatever I wear, wherever I dine, however I speak, my habit is the lancing of throats. I haven't skipped a day. 

An adult in a republic who doesn't know he's doing this is uneducated; one who says he isn't, is even more pitiable. I don't know if I'll staple this man today, but it won't be for lack of trying. Maybe you got him? I should be envious, but surely, there are more.

One is conscious of the breach of form in the exercise of the second person in public writing. We will be accountable for our imagery, we will be accountable for our text. We bear responsibility for what crawls off the tongue of republican form, and vanishes into sunlight. There is no aristocracy to get us off the javelin, and mentor the tongue of men.

Who would pretend to aristocracy, must first contend with this. This saucer's not collectible. Its substance is too perishable. Yet there's no shield known to bar the scruple of this thing. The cultivated life is inalienable, or it is extinguished. 

Johann Christian Bach
Clavier concerto in B flat major
Ingrid Haebler, fortepiano
Eduard Melkus
Vienna Capella Academica
Philips, 1966©

Christopher Logue
  War Music
  An Account of Books 1-4 and
  16-19 of Homer's 'Iliad'
The Noonday Press
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997©

Friday, April 8, 2011

Restoration time Down East

Hoping not to be misunderstood as of the especially cowering sort, one would confide experiencing a reliable sense of shelter in Mr Sherman's scholarship, in which conundrum and controversy are cured by a meticulous concentration. Ah, but is such succour ever certain in cross-currents of these days, censoriousness ascendant 'gainst the way a fact's displayed? No sooner had one turned to a current entry, than terror seized one in its grip - the very last sensation and manner to expect of such a trip. Our Mr Poe comes from down this way; we don't expect to panic in the drawing rooms of the shingle style, at a spectacle of usage.

But there we were, accosted by a grisly glimpse our nature forbids us to recite, of a vulgar term of art for chimney-piece, and in the very sanctuary of our first resort. Scrolling hurriedly to the Comment Box, to advise against exposure of this kind, we dashed off a warning before fleeing the page in fright against the fray which must, anon, befall it. M'lords and Ladies, the offense was too great, but even worse must be the plea of innocence, which is the exact quality to be condemned in the first place: the mark of a barbarian, indeed. For being bred to incurable deformity to begin with, the heart goes out to any scholar.

Oh, our renovations are contested so these days, it seems like a novation to attest how it dismays, to be arrested, much less bested by some wit in how he plays. How little did we know, the hothouse heaviness of claustrophobia which cloisters itself to cure the web of openness, in these cluttered ranks of arbiters. And who could have thought, righteous braggartry could gain traction of consent, in the medium invented for its clutches to relent? 

El niño come naranjas.
Desde mi balcón lo veo.
The little boy is eating oranges.
From my balcony I can see him.

Brad Sherman
The Down East Dilettante
  A rolling .. gathers no moss
April 7, 2011

Federico García Lorca
  Canciones, 1921-1924
W.S. Merwin, translator
Francisco García Lorca and
Donald M. Allen, editors
The Selected Poems of ..
New Directions, 1955©

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Oh my gosh, I really have to go

Any advice?

Have a very good time,
and bring him home for Easter.

i, ii  Ryan Taylor

On navigating Lent in style

Add caption
We know the soothing splurge, its thrilling defeat of anger; and what's a deprivation but resplendent inspiration to us all?  Whole domains of collectibles remain untapped; if we are barred from yet another Pauillac, these cruel nights and days, there's all of Graves across the river, only panting for our plunder, where staggering price affords a darling médocation.

Such purges as we contem-plate in our morning floor exercises, allow a generous range. A new pair of rowing sneaks might serve, to lend a flippant sparkle to our mid-day chores, fielding calls from La Grenouille for advances from another trust: Pinky and his rognons de veau again, scaling the hill of Corton for a quaff of proper symmetry, to do the bold thing well.

Where others indulge neurotic exorbitancy, our genius finds panache, the touchstone of that genus better sapiened by its cash. We see the wit to put us off, as sweet exertion to our scoff, the comely fender every bit the consolation of its lender, for the stiff transmission. It is a fallacy that Lent must deter us at all, from our anointed rounds of sweet expenditure.
Yet, if the thorny path becomes our heart's desire, do we not owe Lent its bargain of spending where we're bored? For this, we take on partners, to amass a common hoard, and switch to their obsession for what no one can afford.

We keep a Childe Harold for contin-gencies like these, his Crayola the viola of our wanton symphonies, he barely owes to Berlioz' Byronic melo-ies, the better then to herald how our purchasing may please. How minor is that finery that draws us to our knees, contrasted with refineries we clip in bonded ease. Too bad for you, to have to read, a simple Nicene creed, less Lucullan, enticing than the one we get to plead.

Today's cassoulet
  is drawn from
  family recipes

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To get home, one almost has to go through Ireland

My old friend, how you sought
Occasions of justified anger!
Who could buff me like you

Who wanted the soul to ring true
And plain as a galvanised bucket
And would kick it to test it?

Or whack it clean like a carpet.
So of course when you turned on yourself
You were ferocious.

Seamus Heaney
Two Quick Notes [i]
  The Haw Lantern
The Noonday Press
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1987©

Paolo Anchisi

You must know I know how it felt

.. to learn you held the ground lease, on your own damned paper route: a little something grandpa set aside for you, before you were even born. You never met him, he didn't live to see you scream. Now, you do, and where is he to plead with, Get me out of this, let everyone's home be his own. We can handle it. Grandpa, I love you, but we can handle it.

We find a web full of paperboys who think they're the news, and taunt the tenants to imitate themselves. Was this great resource, too, given to us for this? And if so, what is proper to see reproduced of us?

I am going to raise that question generically, with deep revulsion that it has even entered my mind .. again. But it is the great question Waugh asked Mitford about that finger of fate, that stray shot at the front which leapfrogged her to Honnerie, a sop she didn't need and flaunted poorly. She had a larger heart and a finer wit than he, but he was right to mourn her misconception of her place. I did not come to this page except to celebrate the virtues that lend strength to growing minds, and keep them steady after; and the sweet things of their sustenance that are proper to preserve.

But I did see the worst in souls betray their better places long before. Not for nothing does the word invidious impart its moral content by its sound. Dabblers in snobbery infest le paradis with such panic in themselves, that the entire plate of their nourishment falls flat upon their palate, and turns friend on friend in shame to know their name.
I will plead here for one of them to stop this nonsense, fast. It is insufferably vulgar, but it's for the merry gifts it wastes that I present this sorry comment. It violates the experience of love, to see its surface incidentals claimed as an excuse, where there is no excuse required.

Evelyn Waugh
An Open Letter ..
Encounter, 1954©

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In the end, had Gérard ever really been cut out for crew?

I sit astride life like a bad rider on a horse. I only owe it to the horse's good nature that I am not thrown off at this very moment.

Gérard did spend a strenuous springtime with us, practicing the pos-tures of rowing. There can be no gainsaying his mastery of the canted foot, the lofted knee, the open-shouldered setting of the gaze at what's behind. No one exhibited a finer zeal for our colours, dicing orange into underlying hues.

I guess we'll never know what sort of stroke he might have made. He fell upon some Wittgenstein at home on Easter break, and suddenly Philosophy was all he'd entertain. Into that valley of wit Gérard did ride, determined to perfect his mentor's seat by error if not by trial, heuristically testing the steed by the pommel, not the flank, flouting every chance to settle in one place.

It was like Wittgenstein, to ride a horse for what it is, not what it could be; while, Gérard had a way of persuading us to believe almost anything. It's hard to be sure his flair for colour didn't play some useful part in his conceptions, not that we really grasped them, he was so very quick.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Culture and Value
Diaries published posthumously
Peter Winch, translator
University of Chicago Press, 1980©

Monday, April 4, 2011

Les temps de la Colinière

            There is a
            wonderful poem, attuned to 
            the commonest thing.

            Oddly sorted schoolmates, finding 
            Renoir, reel by reel.

If each person has just 
one story to tell,

The self a Scheherezade 
postponing The End

It's the friend alone, who, 
night after night, listens,

His back to the camera,
his expression now quizzical,

Now encouraging even though,
because he has

A story himself,
he's heard it all before.

Octave: I feel like .. like disappearing down a hole.

The Marquis: And what would that achieve for you?

Octave: Well, it would help me not to see anything any more, not to search any more, for what's good, and what's bad. Because, you see, on this earth, there is one thing which is terrible, and that is that everyone has his own good reasons. ..

The Marquis: Well, I'm going to get dressed. Are you having some breakfast?

And who looks back,
Airily, is a younger self, 
Of the cost to come, of love's fatal laws
Whose permanent suffering his joy postpones.

Last cup of tea -
though I could sit here forever
Passing the life and times back and forth
Across the table with you, my ideal friend.

i    J.D. McClatchy
     An Essay on Friendship
        [on 'La règle du jeu']
        The Rest of the Way
        In memory of James Merrill
        Knopf, 1992©

     Matthias Lauridsen for van Noten

ii   Jean Renoir, director
      Jean Renoir, script
      La règle du jeu
      ORTF, 1939©
      John McGrath and Maureen Teitelbaum, translation
      Lorrimer Publishing, Ltd., 1970©

iii  An Essay on Friendship, op. cit.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

After Sterne, what have we been writing about?


Not so many hours ago, pondering the matter of "boys and their stuff," we quite absent-mindedly omitted to invoke Tristram Shandy, probably (or so we shall pretend) because we'd done so, before. But the matter had been left hanging, as problems in Sterne so often are, so we shall assuredly return to it, as it is at least as important as the Battle of Namur (Uncle Toby's - uh - métier, you will recall). In this omission, we also unwittingly drew too much of our presentation from the author's perspective, and too little from the politician's, as we now set aright:

In mentioning the word, gay, it puts an author in mind of the word, spleen - especially if he has anything to say upon it: not that by any analysis - or that by any table of interest or genealogy, there appears much more ground of alliance betwixt them, than twixt light and darkness, or any two of the most unfriendly opposites in nature - only 'tis an undercraft of authors to keep up a good understanding amongst words, as politicians do amongst men - not knowing how near they may be under a necessity of placing them to each other ..

Well, there you have it, dear Reader. Our resort to pictorial dramatisation as an author only set too light a demand upon the sensibility for society characterised above. How soon we forget, one can only intone, the ancient particulars of each person's nature. Still, not to hoist too high the cup of remorse and regret, which our better nature strove fallibly to put behind us, the underlying Shandyian problem deserves its own second statement, too.

One does think, the matter of "boys and their stuff" is not necessarily a sentimental or neurotic knock in the back of their mind. Kane had his "Rosebud," and as we learn from Orson Welles, it stayed with him. What of the things that stay, what of the things that don't; what of those we part with freely, what of those we do not. What happens to their weight over time, what comes later to occupy or to close off their place? We pursue these questions not merely because they are profound, but because they are open, worthy of our time. Since Sterne, what have we been left to pursue, but die fröhliche Wissenschaft? Nietzsche for pleasure, Sterne for compass.  

Andrew Cooper and 28

Laurence Sterne
The Life and Opinions of
  Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

  Chapter XIX 
Everyman's Library,
J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1912©

A lady I know, was asking for a naked cowboy

Could have 
fooled me.

At the time, I was only
wondering what to read.

You never know about
these things. Best not
to ask.

let's dance.

Our walk and the phenolic chain

An early Sunday morning, Whit and I were minding our own business in the garden, when by chance a twig was snapped underfoot. We weren't sure this was what Wittgenstein meant when he said, What's ragged should be left ragged, but by the same token, we felt it wasn't our choice. Nature was taking a hand, and we were part of it. Yet this rupture of the phenolic chain is, ideally, allowed to take place on its own, as Mr Noguchi proposed in his lighting. He knew, those tiresome hexagons on the blackboard in Chemistry class, depicting polyphenols in their ornery, immature state, would eventually polymerise, becoming svelte, opening their weave.

Yet where is this refuge for development's salubrious suspension to unfurl from coarser form? You may very well think of it as a school, if your sentiments run in that direction; we couldn't possibly comment. But we can say, beyond peradventure, that it is the well-made bottle of well-grown wine. The 750ml academy, so oft-reviled for its remove from reality as to mark it, also, as a sanctuary from Philistines, asserts its prerogative of lending time for raggedness to achieve some tier of coherency. We call these inmates, tannins, but we know very well what they are. They are harbingers of fruit, to gain suppleness in time.

An affectation of rapport with wine is one of the sadder traits of the acquisitive culture. It's a commonplace in that dull land, to hear the demand for the biggest red ya got. Who would be a bottle for that consciousness; it has no proportion, no complexity, no elegance, no structure, no shelf life. These virtues are natural traits, only their betrayal is unnatural.

Architecture immortalises and glorifies something. Hence there can be no architecture where there is nothing to glorify.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
1889 - 1951
Culture and Value
Diaries, 1914 - 1951
Peter Winch, translator
University of Chicago Press, 1980©