Saturday, April 1, 2017

Saturday commute cxxxviii: To peace and quiet

Ovid relates, as Dryden retells,
how Jupiter and Mercury go hunt-
ing for a place to crash for the
night, and after being met with
many locked palaces, come to the
shed of Baucis and Philemon, hos-
pitable, but tellingly austere -

    Inured to want, their poverty they bore,
    Nor aimed at wealth, professing to be poor.
    For master or for servant here to call
    Was all alike, where only two were all.
    Command was none, where equal love was paid;
    Or rather both commanded, both obeyed.

    And up they held their hands and fell to pray'r,
    Excusing as they could their country fare.

Selected Poems
Steven N. Wicker and
  David Bywaters
  Baucis and Philemon
    out of the Eighth Book
    of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'
Penguin Classics, 2001©

i  Alair Gomes, photo

Thursday, March 30, 2017

North Carolina's latest Reconstruction

     A very pretty and almost temperate
     swath of the sub-Mid-Atlantic, the
     first tier of the remainder which
     Virginia didn't want, has hatched
     to rejoin the empire of NCAA con-
     cessions, on the basis of prohibit-
     ing her municipalities to legis-
     late any steps against LGBTQ dis-
     crimination until 2020, at the cos-
     mic earliest, on pain of the usual
     pogroms fomented by Republicans to
     the contrary. Is it to be expected,
     that our collegiate sports monopoly
     is willing to throw countless North
     Carolinians under the bus, to grab
     the joys of showing off in Charlotte,
     in the shadow of a cynicism of this
     superlative perfection? We'll see.

Empiricism, and this world

The American government is now at
to keep in shape, and fact is mar-
velously isometric. Pushing back
against it, with that great exer-
cycle of the season, alternative
facts, is probably enough to slip
one into the profile of a politi-
cian, for a day. Supposing one 
were not enlisted, would one cower
beneath the seamstress's tape, or
whisper the obvious, Ain't it hot?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Origins of Wednesday xlvi: The road uproariously taken

I am acquainted with people
who come from large families,
and while I try not to let on
that I envy their diversifica-
sion of hereditary risk, it's
even more difficult to conceal
my awe at prospects they enjoy
for a specialization of labor,
among these strands of siblings
they flaunt, as so many bubbles
from a blow-pipe. Having grown
up with no more than a single
sibling - and he, of an avoca-
tion too precarious for memoir -
and the barest minimum of par-
ents, there never was any ques-
sion of one's father's turning
to young Evremond, for example,
You be responsible for Physics,
and on to sweet Clytemnestra,
You account for English travel
writing. Rather, it put every-
one's feet to the fire of the
basics of the orderly mind, to
have to do the reading for one-
self. The shelves expand, as
you'd fear, with prejudicial
speculation in both directions;
but with the diversions, not to
say procrastinations of experi-
mentation favoring scholarship
by conveyance, I still find my-
self slipping onto a carousel,
back studiously to the window,
to read in the travels of Bos-
well, Fielding, Byron, Durrell, 
Bedford, Chatwin, Paddy, Maugham,
Rory Stewart, and Graham Greene.
I never knew a tongue to spread
itself afield so fabulously, and
turn the telling phrase on time.

Tell me, Clytie: where am I now,
unless this is still Afghanistan? 

      We were well prepared. Bunches of chains, three spades,
      a pick, and stout ropes to prevent the lorry falling o-
      ver the edge, were quickly in action. The next mile took
      four hours. Some dug; some hung on to the ropes; some 
      cast down branches of a peppermint-smelling herb as though
      before the Saviour's ass. The day was almost gone when a
      zigzag spurt and cheers brought us to the narrow saddle of
      the Sauzak Pass. 

Robert Byron
The Road to Oxiana
Paul Fussell
Rory Stewart
Oxford University Press, 2007©

i Stanley Kubrick, photography

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Their big day, their grand
and gaudy roll-out of an-
other declaration of war a-
gainst humanity's inclement
interest in their greed and
rupture of an organism they
don't begin to understand,
but to steal, shred, devour.

Rape at its most gratifying.

When did even Zeus demand
some extra credit from his
idolators, for an abduction
of Europa? What is this bi-
zarre exultation in dismem-
bering the vulnerable, the
lovely, the plainly life-
sustaining, for cheap shots
of joy in some cistern of

Now who is the better cus-
todian of the fossils, if
not those who inherit them?

Photo Marat Mukhonkin

Photo David McNew 

Power Plant, California
Getty Images©
The New York Times
March 27, 2017

Photo Vic Bakin 

L'Officiel Ukraine©

Robinson Meyer

The Giant .. Climate Order
  is Here
The Atlantic©
March 28, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

First Class saloon, the Normandie

The radiant, febrile blonde has dis-
appeared, having betrayed him already 
once. The authorities have redoubled 
their resistance to his innocence. 
The hero absconds with himself in a 
stolen suit without defensive fire-
power, and Alfred Hitchcock has 39 
minutes left, to make it interesting. 

An art critic I admire considerably, 
has warned me that most fine cinema 
expires after a half hour. There have 
been 47 rather minor minutes already. 

God help the odds.

The hero leaps from a window to im-
merse himself in a temperance parade, 
having established his cocktail bona 
fides in the first 10 minutes. The 
strain is equally great upon us all, 
for, suddenly, originally, that man 
is the subject of no Dominion, no cus-
tom in common with anyone but himself. 

The cliffs hang with him in his flight 
for safety and rebuttal of the charge 
of willful murder. We know how Roger 
Thornhill worked it out, in North by 
Northwest. The difference in the pres-
ent film is that the story’s not played 
for comedy; and although the blonde’s 
betrayals are as constant as in Thorn-
hill’s saga, this one’s recantation 
turns upon a truth which sets them  
free as one.

We are likely to admire this movie 
more than we did, sitting by a fire 
in our college club library, half a 
century ago. In its time, it was a
scandalously free adaptation of a
popular text, without violating an
underlying pulse of stateless terror; 
bright fantasy in a time when the Wes-
tern world was coming apart, a witty 
feedback loop with no loose ends. Be-
neath it all, an immanent pressure is 
as obvious as the clock above our head.
These men act quickly, the victim says,
very quickly.

Grab a Scotch and hold a hand, and
kiss somebody senseless at the end.
It's Alfred Hitchcock, all the way.
What has it in common with the Nor-
mandie? No more than its birthday.
Yes, we have our MacGuffin today.

Alfred Hitchcock
Charles Bennett
  and Alma Reville
John Buchan
Robert Donat
Madeleine Carroll
Peggy Ashcroft
John Laurie
The 39 Steps

Robert Doisneau
The school clock

SS Normandie
1935 - 1942
Color by Walker

Sunday, March 26, 2017

50 years a T shirt

Hanging outdoors another laundering
to claim the springtime air to dry.

    A collegiate standby from a fresh-
    man year supply of student requis-
    ites, the logotype from the haber-
    dasher across the street from Nas-
    sau Hall. How do things just wear?

Telephone photo, Laurent

On to tax reform, they vow

      I suppose we could take
      that promise more seri-
      ously if they were pre-
      pared to confess income.