Saturday, August 20, 2016

Post no bills

Back before the great breakout
in tuition pricing which so
distinguishes this generation
of first-time voters; back in
the simplified glory days of
impeachment for fellatio and
hypocrisies about perjury, of
euphemising strangulation as
triangulation of support, it
was common for a President to
lecture the lacklustrously wit-
ted on the cleverness of lead-
ing with a carrot and a stick.
This President now wants to
return to the White House, to
the everlasting amazement of
the 22nd Amendment, by smudg-
ing any grudging distinction
between the two poles. O, my.

Thus did it haplessly unfold, 
on a news day of unprecedented 
coincidence of capitulations of 
one kind and another, that we 
were treated to contortions of 
contrition in three shining 
exemplifications at once. The
strain upon the colanders of
our soothsayers was almost com-
ical, as icon after icon per-
formed the exculpatory equiv-
alent of confessional denial,
to bribe one's way back into
gaming the public's credulity.

From Rio de Janeiro, we learned from an array of mouthpieces for American swimmers, that they had found themselves immersed in a setting where mistakes, of one kind or another, may have been made. This was largely thought to refer to their collective defamation of the institutions and society of their host city, inspired by their own unprovoked vandalism and intimidation of the place, but one could scarcely be sure, from the surface of their statements. There might just have been an escapade so degenerate that no self-respecting breakfast cereal could sponsor it, and not just another endearingly gender-specific exercise of boys being boys. Still, for teasing with payoffs in the millions, these testaments could not help but dazzle.

And yet, may we say, there was nothing in our jocks' unraveling Rashomon to compare with the ingenuity of Donny Thump-Thump's showy striptease in Charlotte. How suddenly a new pollster-campaign manager did proclaim her arrival to his rescue, in a classic Music Man shell game of coming clean by blowing smoke. He complained openly of having, statistically inevitably, surely but non-specifically, some-time but somehow forgettably, more than hypothetically but less than actionably, possibly given offense by an incidental embrace or two of errant terminology. I heard 75 trombones with that one, didn't you?

But behind Door Number 3, we met a bribe with no pretext of an apology. Within this refreshing distinction, on the other hand, would be found the carrot and stick style of seduction which clouds the judgment for the necessary nanosecond of a news cycle - that suffocation of the attention span imposed by a false innocence. We actually heard an adult male say, he would stop humiliating the nation on the condition that we empower his wife. We had hoped, Balthasar would stop being beaten, not that we'd have to feed his abuser. 

Eduardo Seco
public wall

Friday, August 19, 2016

Suppose it were Friday cxvi: Summer heroes

  When at last I bring my 
  self to sup upon their 
  symmetry in slender 
  sections, fanned out 
  in their shimmering to 
  sweat in virgin oil 
  beneath a mist in which
  they bleed of balsam 
  vinegar, I'm not reminded
  of the prancing horse in 
  the Limoges until they're 

Torso Gaddi
Uffizi Gallery
1st Century BC

Patrick Frey
ca 1990

Paddy Mitchell

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Origins of Wednesday xxxv: Summer color negative print

   1969. Friends go down to the beach.
   One of them brings a Rollei camera.
   This is how Oedipus was remembered,
   by Maria Callas taking the picture,
   and Pasolini daubing the napkin. Is
   there any question, before they go?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Arm music vi: Forster for our Summer

   A friend from ancient days said
   to me he had been reading short
   stories of Forster in his eyrie
   overlooking a diminutive bay in
   California. We all enjoy access
   to such places, but in lieu of
   hopping online to fetch those
   texts I took myself back to V-7,
   the Vintage Books serial number
   for Howards End. I don't con-
   sult Forster a lot, but I know
   the scent of good advice.

Yesterday in Youngstown,
in a strictly controlled
and redundantly counsel-
ed speech, the Republic-
an candidate presented a
worldview so purified of
surface inflammation that
it projected, inevitably,
the least alloyed hallu-
cinations of his paranoia.

Here again was the ideo-
logical demon, stalking
innocents from evil em-
pires we could isolate,
punish, and extirpate at
home, "viciously." This
speech, this priceless
confession of abysmal
delusion, belongs among 
our most important pol-
itical utterances, as
that rarest of entries:
one that isn't sarcastic.

       And Frieda Mosebach was stopping with them for another
       fortnight, and Frieda was sharp, abominably sharp, and
       quite capable of remarking: "You love one of the young
       gentlemen opposite, yes?" The remark would have been un-
       true, but of the kind which, if stated often enough, may
       become true; just as the remark, "England and Germany
       are bound to fight," renders war a little more likely
       each time it is made, and is therefore made the more
       readily by the gutter press of either nation.

       [This] might, by continual chatter, lead Helen into a
       repetition of the desires of June. Into a repetition -
       they could not do more, they could not lead her into
       lasting love. They were - she saw it clearly - Journal-
       ism; her father, with all his defects and wrong-headed-
       ness, had been Literature, and had he lived, he would
       have persuaded his daughter rightly.

What happened to the father,
we never ask in a novel of
the English educated classes
from 1921. An archaic sexism
in the formulation cannot mar
the underlying principle. Now, 
interlineating gossip, inter-
nal monologue and modish taunt,
well before the plain speech of
Orwell's Politics and the Eng-
lish Language laid out the man-
tras of Fox News, a bashful ac-
ademic suggested a compelling
choice for what literature of-
fers, against raw seductions,
courtships of dazzling terror,
intimidating the naïve, by un-
forgivably cynical manipulation.

Every time we look, there is a
Party clawing at our young, to
verify the reflex of pure trust.
Understand the thing, the way it
is. How could they do it again?

E.M. Forster
Howards End
Alfred A. Knopf, 1921©

Francisco de Goya