Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday commute cxi: refuge of our ferment

Our friend is waiting outside
his dorm or his corner library,
for his ride to collect him to
join some people in some warm-
er place. He lacks composure.
But this is not indicated in
his ink, his drooping braces,
his urban leather amulets, his
cowering in windy corners, his
slovenly misuse of his pockets.

It is manifested in the marvel
he inhabits and projects, play.
We have no doubt, he'll be met.

What can be done, once it's up?

I've been thrown off track
this morning, with all the
usual fanfare - unexpected-
ly, violently, disturbing-
ly for openers - by a sud-
den surge in a riddle I've
long believed I could hold
in check.

  Is there a place, would you know,
  where architects can go, to atone
  for what they do?

  What can be done when it's built? 

You remember, I think, how our interesting 
nation was once led by an entertainer Pres-
ident who believed an intercontinental bal-
listic missile could be recalled in flight.
Great enchantment suffused us all, to fan-
cy any lunacy he encouraged us to indulge,
such as, radical Israeli "settling" is no
more than a reversible bargaining chip. It
suggests, some clod had erected black bar-
rier walls in a beachfront villa, seques-
tering and ceremonialising sex, as if any
finite confine would do; and thereafter,
kept on building the damn thing, for rea-
sons too familiar for remark. Mr Polk de-
sired the better part of Mexico, and here
we are. Trying to digest Mexico. Poor Is-
rael, has a whole lot of children to eat.

Jonathan Swift
A Modest Proposal

Friday, July 11, 2014

No, I do not wish to abolish Friday

      There may be times 
      when I might think 
      of accelerating it,

      and there may
      be times when
      I might think
      I could do it.


ii  the architect at home

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A cousinly contest crowns the Cup

  Little could require less
  thematic development than
  the impression we must all
  be under, to a degree, of
  déja vu in a sentence link-
  ing Germany and Argentina
  in a species of organized
  masculine struggle. There
  are positive suggestions
  to extract, we're likely
  to find, in this interest-
  ingly incestuous match;
  and the central one seems
  to be, that it may be time
  to disassociate the illu-
  sion of sport from any res-
  idues of the nation state.
  To tie teams to a political
  entity has never been sport-
  ing; and to burden States with
  the fickleness of teams, can     be incontinently cruel.

In Milan, of late, our coutur-iers have reminded us that we can still color-code our sportsmen along nationally nostalgic lines, without having to hoist any society's 
self-regard on the bounce of a single ball. We, for our part, have unconditional confidence 
in the justice of such a bounce, but would be just as glad to see its genius for caprice not sug-gesting a political consequence. True, this would reverse millen-nia of corruption of chance, but why not?
Everyone can get behind a color
scheme of his taste, moreover,
without having to justify it 
as, That is Rhenish, That is
Patagonian. Let the sentiments
of place mingle freely without

ii   Linus Wördemann
iii  Sam Alexander

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hard going

   Likewise the human champions until
   Patroclus' spear nosed past Sarpedon's busy heart
   And the ground sense in his body leached away.

   Even multi-millionaire entertainers in a
   racket strangling on corruption know the
   game they're bred to mime may come true.

   You are the same age as my son.
   He worships you. Ask him,
   That boy will follow you through arrowfire like rain.
   My sticks are cut.
   It is my place to tell you right from wrong.
     Far better men than you have seen the sky
   And I have fought beside, and saved, their like;
   And I have fought against, and killed, their like;
   And when the fight is done I let
   Those standing know how victors act ..

Christopher Logue
An Account of Books I-IV and
  XVI-XIX of Homer's 'Iliad'
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991©

Marcos Brindicci, Reuters
The New York Times
July 8, 2014©

Lines for breakfast

Victoria is back, Paul 
is not, which has been 
an obdurate suspension. 
Here I interlineate, in
the company of almost
too many extraordinary
counselors and confi-
dants in printed form.

A poet I've cited sever-
al times and an essayist
of similar frequency con-
verged for me without war-
ning, other than by traits
they observe in common.

   Penser c'est l'homme. They aren't
   heedless flowers that blow and
   perish; they have thought their
   lives into shape, a shape worthy
   of survival. Dust and heat, blood
   and tears, thought and vigil cre-
   ated the art of Keats, as his let-
   ters show; and Achilles was an in-
   tellectual, the only intellectual
   among the heroes of Homer.. And 
   the rest of life, the interstices
   of this grand design - well, it is
   enough, by the pleasures of society,
   and the taste of divine solitude, to
   keep melancholy at bay.

   You can't tell anything much about who you are
   By exercising on the Romantic bars.
   What are the wild waves saying? I don't know.

   And Shelley didn't know, and knew he didn't.
   In his great poem, "Ode to the West Wind," he
   Said that the leaves of his pages were blowing away.

In May of 1944 the British Army major's 
journal entry confides a resolution to 
write a great work of history, some day; 
and I think, to all of those who knew him 
(I've been close with several who did), 
his framing of stirring ambition in terms 
of Homer's unexemplary hero must suggest 
certain regrets of his subsequent life, 
which to me is radiantly companionable.

The excerpt from David Ferry comes from
a work collected in his superlative Be-
wilderment, "Ancestral Lines." Studying
Schumann, Shelley, a friend and a dog, 
the expansion of ancestry enriches exact-
ly as it did for Trevor-Roper, the ques-
tion he's addressing - And who it is I am
because of them.

Here nothing so grand is at stake. I also
go less far in attribution to others, than
Ferry's figurative "I" speculates here, on
going. What immortal warmth there is to be
distributed in this language, comes dialec-
tically, I suppose, but somehow in a timely
way, in the candour of good company. Doubt
will see one through, and an English dog.

Hugh Trevor-Roper
Lord Dacre of Glanton
The Wartime Journals
op. cit.

David Ferry
op. cit.

Dominik Sadoch
  Louis Cattelat photography

Monday, July 7, 2014

Clear thinking from Newport

I have this information
from the back pages of
the magazine published
given that name, for Ap-
ril of this year. Also,
I give credit to that
likeliest resort for en-
countering it, the Emer-
gency waiting room of
the University hospital
down the road. (Nothing
important, just a nui-
sance falling between
the cracks of my inter-
nist's expertise. I'm
never ungrateful to my
insurer, either, for
subsidizing my studies).

It seems there is to be
a launch this Summer of
a steel-hulled replica
of a Royal Navy warship,
ca 1812. Some Canadians
had this idea, and were
succeeded in interest by
a local consortium, who
are just cheeky enough to
christen her for the Amer-
ican who captured the or-
iginal. The magazine calls
this an irony, but it isn't
that serious; it's just a
jab in the ribs. But the
great news is an iron rule
evidently already laid down
by her Captain: there are 
to be no cellular telephones.

A ship is very immediate, he
is reported to have said. You
need to be in the moment, and
there aren't a lot of opportu-
nities like this in the way
our culture has evolved.

We don't know the country of
domicile of this Captain, but
one should hate to think he's
Canadian. There needs to be a
place for normal life, nearby.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

There's a middle phase in any renovation

Against expectations I gave myself
an i-Pad the other day, for reasons
tutor in our new technologies who's
so infamously talented in them that
our local university is paying him
to give him a couple of doctorates.
I'm slow, he's quick; he may be off
before I'm on to what they're about.
But I like people who know what I
want to learn. If I were a younger
fellow, he'd be my montagnard. I'll
never feel I belong here, but I was
propelled by facts outside my hands.

In every renovation there's a mo-
ment where one can't tell the de-
molition from the rebuilding. Not
much seduced by the momentum of
these devices, much less their pi-
ous marketing, I'm amiably bemused
by their task-skipping efficiency.
Here, I'll allow the shambles to 
hang on for the page's 4th monsoon 
to haul them away. In the interim, 
I downloaded a text of history,
a book in the mode of the new ex-
pectations - no index, footnotes
remotely sequestered, sources ill-
attributed. But it's the latest
serious attempt to tell us where
we come from, in the wars after the
one we all admire. I take it to bed,
as they say one may, but it has no 
residual scent, no tactility or depth,
no margin for returning remark, only
the drayer's dream of weightlessness,
a clinicality still unusual there, as
if the Mekong were a swimming pool for
All-Americans in freestyle.

With ample forgetful fighting of pri-
or war in our pursuit of the present
one, its promoters are quick to re-
mind us of that unco-operative per-
spective they've medicalised as the
insanity of PTSD. I wish Michel Fou-
cault were here to wave a hankie at
that jest, malgré a brilliant late
teacher of mine; but I look at the 
joyrides of the American Right as 
replete with insults to cover any 
contingency of their exposure. Our 
own élites cannot allow the fact 
of worldwide exultation for Franklin 
Roosevelt's anti-imperialist plans 
for one post-war world, to mar the 
one we made. So well we turn to Pal-
merston's, dear darlings, and to 

But I stray. This is not merely a
ruminative weekend. Unaccountably,
it is also a lovely one in Piedmont 
Virginia, with skies clear of det-
ritus of regional fossils, and tem-
peratures in the 70ºs. It could be
the New World; and one day, in an-
other time, perhaps it will be. It

Even now, that daydream inclines
me to think seriously of opening 
stylish second page, provisionally
titled, That was nicely done. I'd
enjoy the relief of show-and-tell,
of decorative delectation and of
debs of a more exclusive century.
Why, only the other day I read an
estimable celebration of a bespoke
newborn mansion, by a fellow who's
exceedingly good with such things.
It was his claque who put one off,
condescending to the aristocracy's
uninitiated - can you stand it?

I like being liked, and I like be-
ing able to like my reader. I note,
in mirth, the market has caught up
la plus belle dame sans merci, Edith
Sitwell. But I was thinking, the
credit was Dean Swift's. A bridge, 
you could say, too far. No matter.
The guy was a marvel, and yet we
are all bit-players in our tongue.

was initiated in a mansion whose 
privileges are not what built it,
and I never thought to think, they
are what make us presentable. 

Fredrik Logevall
  The Fall of an Empire
  and the Making of
  America's Vietnam
Random House, 2012©