Saturday, June 17, 2017

Real government, real men

Sixty minutes into Costa-Gavras'
Cold War thriller, State of Siege,
a sexy masked terrorist interroga-
tor guides a captive CIA advisor of 
a repressive South American régime
to the core of his character's il-
lusions. Their dialogue now returns
to life in the nature of the new
American government, and tends to
make one sentimental for the music
of Mikis Theodorakis. Who restores
the state of mind of a nation to
grotesque alternatives, first em-
bodies one for seduction's sake.

Tupamaro: A policeman might become a 
revolutionary and vice-versa ..

Captive: Not a true policeman.

Tupamaro: Do you belong to a specific

Captive: Yes, in a way. Our vocation
is to uphold order; which means, that
we do not like change. We're conserva-

Tupamaro: Here, many become cops out of
hunger, not by vocation.

Captive: Yes, but they become policemen,
while others, out of hunger become thieves.

Tupamaro: You think hunger gives you the

Captive: I believe, that a man, a real man,
always has a choice. Don't you?

Tupamaro: No. We don't believe in real men,
[sir]. We believe in men, and their right
to equality.

Captive: I believe in those things.

Tupamaro: No, you do not. You accept in-
equality, you defend privilege. Actually,
what you believe in is ownership. 

Captive: What do I get out of it?

Tupamaro: The illusion that you're one of
the bosses, when in fact you're an errand

We accept that this is why the new government
sustains its unbroken partisan commitment to
the President's incompetence and instability,
given the vanishing opportunity he presents to
win the repressive alternative, of battles it
has lost before, and must surely lose again -
on the strength of a collage of ante-bellum
white male fetishes, crumbling before our eyes.

What illuminates the new government's betray-
als of these voters is his hunger to run any
errand to be petted as a boss. What brightens
the exposure of his Congressional conspirators
is the very same errand. All over again, des-
pair is premature. They make themselves real.

Franco Solinas
Pierre-William Glenn
State of Siege
KG Productions, 1972©

Fairfield Porter
Calm Sunrise

Friday, June 16, 2017

Suppose it were Friday cxxv: Calder at the moment

    Like a face crossing a mirror
    at the back of the room, Eros
    moves.. He never looks at you
    from the place from which you 
    see him. Something moves in
    the space between. This is the
    most erotic thing about Eros.

Anne Carson
  The Bittersweet
  What is this dialogue about?
Princeton University Press, 1986©

Dominik Sadoch

Alexander Calder

Whitney Museum
Calder: Hypermobility
An exhibition, June 9 - Oct 23
New York

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Likely stories come again

  One could sense we were on somewhat soggy
  ground when young Trump denounced the tak-
  ing of Shakespeare, relevantly, repeating
  these learned admonitions on the heels of
  another shooting spree. Of course convul-
  sive exhalations reign just now, such that
  soon enough a séance is bound to be called
  by some Calpurnia of the Right, to exploit
  the hour by demanding forgiveness of mis-
  rule. Why should opportunism lack for in-
  dignation's mask, with all that practice?

Arthur Garfield Dove
Sun on the lake
Museum of Fine Arts

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Origins of Wednesday lii: And the green?

         Ow. In fact ouch.
         I was just bothering over
         these torpid interpretations you see
         when, blessed by the grass, I understood the signs
         in the round. I felt dated,
         much as my contemporaries did.
         The clouds noticed.

         To be off and running
         the distance of a hilltop from old frame
         buildings without whose lens no one
         seems to understand. Nor can they
         move inside when the season decrees sheen:
         black yet morbid at the sunflower's
         peaked center. Yes you know I
         was saying that too. Blank testicles.

         Sometimes if we listen without noticing
         at the packed city's center other oblongs allude
         to what the hotel dissipates.
         There were onions at the triangular coated
         basin at the center of all aligning
         and shy tempests attuned to cottage
         meanderings - I mean, save me,
         I might not have candle power
         to unstring meritable hoops. I say,
         have we no thin power rotting
         in English kitchens for the duke's children
         to inherit like insecure boats
         too distant from the onyx horizon?

  Is it just me or
Harper Collins, 2009©

Alexandra Leblans

Souffleur de glace

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Strategies of falsehood

O sentiments sitting beside my bed
what are you thinking? of an ebony vase?
of a pail of garbage? of memorizing Whitman?
You are leaning on my elbow backwards.

What are you doing, my darling sentiments?
You are indeed bored. Can it be that I'm asleep?
Shall you stride on the shingle with an oar
in your hands, or beach my heart, my barnacled?

You would let me lay in bed all day,
free to drown in your wing-beatings as you fled
past and past my glazed, teary-from-the-breezes heart,
which is not going to open up and look out any more.

The great project of the new American government, to pulverize humane society into anomie through every pore of its apparatus, relies on sustained pummelings of humiliation by every available means. This afternoon, one of its pluperfect practitioners of vitriol, chosen for those qualities to be Attorney General of the United States, will carry out that task before every camera in the country, that can be conducted to the Senate. Again the beating will be inflicted, to cushioning huzzahs of Republicans on the dais, and especially from Rubio, to be rewarded soon with a crushing blow to relations with Cuba. What this nation can be conditioned to tolerate is written well enough in that revolting legacy of the Cold War; this new American government is but a sentimental monument to a transparent continuity.

So many of its rhymes are audible clarions of one reflex after another, tempered and tested for decades in demagogy's cauldron here, that I don't know why we aren't collecting this literature more meticulously as we go. But we do have another, incalculably more prolific in its tributaries than this procrustean lode of manipulation and force. As the poet Kenneth Koch wrote in The New Republic, "In its music and its language and in its conception of the relation of poetry to the rest of life, [O'Hara's] is a poetry which .. changed poets and others, and which promises to go on moving and changing them for a long time to come."

Refreshment rises to occasion, not to custom. Given the occasions mounted by this government, I shouldn't wonder that this language will do it in.  

Frank O'Hara
Donald Allen
  Dolce Colloquio
  Poetry, May 1970
University of California Press

Ryan Matthews

Kees Scherer
  Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon
  at MoMA

Matthias Lauridsen

Pier, 1950s, anonymous

"There is a house, somewhere in this city . ."

Remembering the spymaster, Smiley,
in Le Carré's twice perfectly film-
ed tale, Tinker, Tailor, we are told,
there is a house where the double a-
gent meets with the top brass of Her
Majesty's intelligence services, to
exchange tradecraft. There is no rea-
son to analogize that fiction, with
the picaresque reality of devoting
the only Cabinet meeting ever to be
held in the history of the new gov-
ernment, to idolatry for its leader.
The comparison would be contemptible.

No reason, but for the resonance of
the idea, that there is a house that
was used to facilitate this rite. A
room, indeed, presided over by por-
traits of George Washington, as Gen-
eral of the Continental Army, and
Harry Truman, as architect of the
Atlantic Alliance and the recovery
of every capital in the West. A room,
heretofore, which has hosted council
and decision touching on the gravest
crises in the survival of this Repub-
lic, now degradation's rendezvous.

I don't sense that we are asking
ourselves, soon enough, how we may
expect to find our way back from
these days, to the provenance we
inherit with that house. What pro-
visions have we laid by, to carry
us through these excoriating sea-
sons of abduction, betrayal, humil-
iation, and the revolting response
of despair? Apart from cataloguing
the requisite indictments and de-
fenestrations, contriving resis-
tances, and piling up barricades
of improvised alliances, where is
democracy's displaced debate occur-
ring, to keep us abreast of time?

We find, we need a city of houses,
somewhere close to this one, to 
nourish the restoration to be won.

Tomas Alfredson
Bridget O'Connor,
  Peter Straughan and
  John Le Carré, screenplay
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Focus Films, 2011©

Anna Morosini, photograph

Cabinet Meeting
November, 2009