The Delawares call this place (New-York Island) Mannahattanink or Mannahachtanink to this day. They have frequently told me that it derived its name from this general intoxication, and that the word comprehended the same as to say, the island or place of general intoxication.
“The Indian Tradition of the First Arrival of the Dutch, at Manhattan Island, Now New-York”
[D]erived from the manuscripts deposited among the collections of the Society by the Rev. Samuel Miller, D.D., to whom its was communicated by the Rev. John Heckewelder, for many years a Moravian missionary to the Indians of Pennsylvania.
Collections of the New-York Historical Society. Second Series. Volume 1. (1841)
Friday, December 29, 2006
The Delawares call this place (New-York Island) Mannahattanink or Mannahachtanink to this day. They have frequently told me that it derived its name from this general intoxication, and that the word comprehended the same as to say, the island or place of general intoxication.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Because of his visitation, we may no longer desire God as if He were lacking: our redemption is no longer a question of pursuit but of surrender to Him who is always and everywhere present.
For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I am ... chiefly attracted by the aesthetic of empire: its feel, its look, its human passions, the metaphysics of its power, the sense of it, the intuition--its ships too, and its horsemen, and the dust of its high veld, and its distant trains streaming across the Punjab plain: and paramount for me in this jumble of suggestions is a sense of alter ego--as though the British had another people inside themselves, very different from the people that Dickens or Cobden portrayed, who learned to break out of their sad and prosaic realities, and live more brilliant lives in Xanadu.
Jan Morris, Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress (1973)
Saturday, December 16, 2006
It is nonsense to say that the men of the Middle Ages did not observe nature, or cared only about their own souls, ignoring social relations: indeed it would be truer to say that their intellectual weakness was an oversimple faith in the direct evidence of their sense and immediate data of consciousness, an oversimplification of the relation between the objective and subjective world. Believing that the individual soul was a microcosm of the universe and that all visible things were signs of spiritual truths, they though that to demonstrate this, it was enough simply to use one’s eyes and one’s powers of relation to perceive analogies.
Introduction, Poets of the English Language, Vol. 1, (1953)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
That was in 630. Who would have guessed that within ten years both these great empries would be prostrated: that the Byzantine Empire would be utterly defeated, that Syria and Egypt would be lost for ever, that Jerusalem and the Cross of Christ would again pass to the infidel; and that the Persian Empire, the State which, with its great horses and its armed chivalry, had seemingly invented the perfect device against nomad invaders, would dissolve in a day? Yet this is what happened. It happened because a new social force had arisen in the Middle East: a force which combined the confederative powers of an Attila or a Genghis Khan with the intoxication of new ideology: Islam.
Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Rise of Christian Europe
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
"Man-on-the-Street", Dallas, Texas, December 9, 1941
John Avery Lomax, Interviewer
Edward Crane, Interviewee
John Lomax: This is Mr. Edward Crane talking. And this is John Lomax speaking at the present moment. And here is Mr. Crane before the microphone to ask him as a representative citizen of Dallas if he won't give to the American people his reactions when he heard of the Japanese aggression against this country that happened on the past Sunday morning. Mr. Crane.
Edward Crane: Well, it's difficult for me to express my language in printable language, my thoughts in printable language. When I saw what happened, I admit that while I've never had a very high opinion of the Japanese, their conduct in this particular situation has lowered them even in my estimations of them which was low enough. Frankly, I think there's only one thing for this country to do and that is we ought to realize the fact that we're in a war to the finish.
The issue raised is one where there's no place for compromise. In other words, it's a war to the death. There are two civilizations involved. Both of which cannot exist. Frankly, my view is and I include the Hun or the Germans so-called in what I have to say about the Japanese. That is, we ought to exterminate both of them. There's no place for either of those races in the world today. As I say, it started with, there is no compromise involved.
There are two civilizations or rather a civilization as I call it which represents the American and English viewpoint on one side and the Hun and the Jap on the other. It's going to be a long war, probably run six or ten years, but we ought to realize the fact there can't be any compromise and either one of two solutions is bound to follow. That is that the Hun and the Jap will go down or this country and England will go down. It's unthinkable for one minute to conceive the idea that the Hun and the Jap will prevail.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
At one time or another I have approached some splendid places, most of them instinct with mystery or age: Venice on a misty post-war morning, silent and shrouded, like a surrendered knight-at-arms; Everest, the watchtower, on the theatrical frontiers of Nepal and Tibet; or Krak of the Crusaders, high and solitary in the mountains of Moab. All are celebrated in history or romance; but none lingers so tenaciously in my memory as the approach to the City of New York, the noblest of American symbols.
Jan Morris, Coast to Coast: A Journey Across 1950s America (1956)
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
"Confessions of a Republican," Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Campaign (1964)
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
If I could have my way, I should go out to dinner every night, and then to a party or an opera, and then I should have a champagne supper, and then I should go to bed in some wonderful person's arms. Wouldn't you? When one reflects on one's pallid and actual existence one shudders. But I suppose there are always the triumphs of Art.
Lytton Strachey to Virginia Stephen (later Woolf)
Monday, November 06, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Since Americans have recently found it more comfortable to see where they have been than to think of where they are going, their state of mind has become increasingly passive and spectatorial. Historical novels, fictionalized biographies, collections of pictures and cartoons, books on American regions and rivers, have poured forth to satisfy a ravenous appetite for Americana. This quest for the American past is carried on in a spirit of sentimental appreciation rather than of critical analysis. An awareness of history is always a part of any culturally alert national life; but I believe that what underlies this overpowering nostalgia of the last fifteen years is a keen feeling of insecurity. The two world wars, unstable booms, and the abysmal depression of our time have profoundly shaken national confidence in the future. During the boom of the twenties it was commonly taken for granted that the happy days could run on into an indefinite future; today there are few who do not assume just as surely the coming of another severe economic slump. If the future seems dark, the past by contrast looks rosier than ever; but it is use far less to locate and guide the present than to give reassurance. American history, presenting itself as a rich and rewarding spectacle, a succession of well-fulfilled promises, induces a desire to observe and enjoy, not to analyze and act. The most common vision of national life, in its fondness for the panoramic backward gaze, has been that of the observation-car platform.
Richard Hofstadter, Introduction, The American Political Tradition (1948)
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
The Flying Pickets, "Only You"
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
Visiting a museum is a matter of going from void to void. Hallways lead the viewer to things once called 'pictures' and 'statues." Anachronisms hang and protrude from every angle. Themes without meaning press on the eye. Multifarious nothings permute into false windows (frames) that open up into a variety of blanks. Stale images cancel one's perception and deviate one's motivation. Blind and senseless, one continues wandering around the remains of Europe, only to end in that massive deception 'the art history of the recent past'. Brain drain leads to eye drain, as one's sight defines emptiness by blankness. Sightings fall like heavy objects from one's eyes. Sight becomes devoid of sense, or the sight is there, but the sense is unavailable. Many try to hide this perceptual falling out by calling it abstract. Abstraction is everybody's zero but nobody's nought. Museums are tombs, and it looks like everything is turning into a museum. Painting, sculpture and architecture are finished, but the art habit continues. Art settles into a stupendous inertia. Silence supplies the dominant chord. Bright colors conceal the abyss that holds the museum together. Every solid is a bit of clogged air or space. Things flatten and fade. The museum spreads its surfaces everywhere, and becomes an untitled collection of generalizations that mobilize the eye.
Robert Smithson, "Some Void Thoughts On Museums" (1967)
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Little islands are all large prisons: one cannot look at the sea without wishing for the wings of the swallow.
Sir Richard Burton, Wanderings in West Africa, 1863
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
A dreary old cliché has it that “one should eat to live and not live to eat.” It is typical that this imbecile concept, a deliberately fruitless paradox born of the puritan mind, should deny sensuous reaction at either pole, and it is fortunate that neither pole really exists, for man is incapable of being either altogether dumbly bestial or altogether dumbly “mental.”
Sunday, October 01, 2006
PERDITA: For I haue heard it said,
There is an Art, which in their pidenesse shares
With great creating-Nature.
POLIXENES: Say there be:
Yet Nature is made better by no meane,
But Nature makes that Meane: so ouer that Art,
(Which you say addes to Nature) is an Art
That Nature makes: you see (sweet Maid) we marry
A gentler Sien, to the wildest Stocke,
And make conceyue a barke of baser kinde
By bud of Nobler race. This is an Art
Which do's mend Nature: change it rather, but
The Art it selfe, is Nature.
Willam Shakespeare, A Winter’s Tale
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
"Lionesses don’t keep you from your butterflies?”
"They seem to think it’s gone farther away. I don’t suppose it would hurt me,” Mr. Tighe said. “And even if it did—when I think of the number of butterflies I’ve caught—I should feel it was only fair. Tit for tat, you know. The brutes—if you can call a butterfly a brute—getting a little of their own back. They deserve to.”
“In England perhaps” Anthony allowed, “but do you think altogether? […] “Haven’t the animals had it a good deal their own way on the earth?”
The other shook his head. “Think of the great monsters,” he said. “The mammoth and the plesiosaurus and the sabre-toothed tiger. Think of what butterflies must have been once, what they are now in the jungles. But they will pass with the jungles. Man must conquer, but I should feel a sympathy with the last campaign of the brutes.”
“I see—yes,” Anthony said. “I hadn’t thought of it like that. Do you think the animals will die out?”
“Perhaps,” Tighe said. “When we don’t want them for transport—or for food—what will be left to them but the zoos? The birds and the moths, I suppose, will be the last to go. When all the trees are cut down.”
“But, objected Anthony, “all the trees won’t be cut down. What about forestry and irrigation and so?’
“O,” Mr. Tighe said, “There may be tame forests, with artificially induced butterflies. That will be only a larger kind of zoo. The real thing will have passed.”
“And even if they do,” Anthony asked, “will man have lost anything very desirable? What after all has a lioness to show us that we cannot know without her? Isn’t all real strength to be found within us?”
“It may be,” Mr. Tighe answered. “It may be that man will have other enemies and other joys—better perhaps. But the older ones were very lovely.”
Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion (1933)
From the series: The Animal Kingdom
Monday, September 25, 2006
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Fifty years from now New York will be a capital city in a united world. A city of several levels of glass and light, with building masses set wide apart and separated by tree-lined malls. It will, I hope be run by atomic power, working for peace, not war. That, of course, is the hope on which the future of the city, and the world, depends.
Hugh Ferriss, New York Times Magazine (1949)
View east on 42nd Street
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
[T]he greatest glory of a building is not in its stones, nor in its gold. Its glory is in its Age, and in that deep sense of voicefulness, of stern watching, of mysterious sympathy, nay, even approval of condemnation, which we feel in walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity.
John Ruskin, "The Lamp of Memory," The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849)
Saturday, September 16, 2006
There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs - commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme down-town is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.
Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall northward. What do you see? - Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster - tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they here?
But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange! Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling in. And there they stand - miles of them - leagues. Inlanders all, they come from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues, - north, east, south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those ships attract them thither?
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Just as my fingers on these keys
Make music, so the selfsame sounds
On my spirit make a music, too.
Music is a feeling, then, not sound;
And thus it is that what I feel,
Here in this room, desiring you,
Thinking of your blue-shadowed silk,
Wallace Stevens, "Peter Quince at the Clavier" (excerpt)
Monday, September 11, 2006
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Had we but World enough, and Time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long Love's Day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges side
Shouldst Rubies find: I by the Tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood:
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the Conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable Love should grow
Vaster than Empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine Eyes and on thy Forehead Gaze;
Two hundred to adore each Breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An Age at least to every part,
And the last Age should show your Heart.
For, Lady, you deserve this State,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress" (excerpt), first published 1681
"Love has no ending.
"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,
"I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.
"The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world."
W.H. Auden, "As I Walked Out One Evening" (excerpt), 1938
To Thieves, Thugs, Fakirs, and Bunko-Steerers
Among Whom Are J.J. Harlin, alias "Off Wheeler," SAWDUST CHARLIE, WM. HEDGES, BILLY THE KID, Billy Mullin, Little Jack, The Luter, Pock-Marked Kid, and about Twenty Others:
If Found within the Limits of this City after TEN O'CLOCK P.M., this
Night, you will be Invited to attend a GRAND NECK-TIE PARTY,
The Expense of which will be borne by
100 Substantial Citizens
Las Vegas [New Mexico], March 24, 1882
From the series: Obsolete Morality
Friday, September 08, 2006
Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:
Curtsied when you have, and kist
The wilde waves whist:
Foote it featly heere, and there, and sweete Sprights the burthen beare
Harke, harke, bowgh-wawgh: the watch-Dogges barke,
Hark, Hark, I heare the straine of strutting Chanticlere
William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Thursday, September 07, 2006
When to the Sessions of sweet silent thought
William Shakespeare, Sonnet XXX
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
For the current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism. Perhaps the only thing that could bring Americans to their senses would be a clear demonstration of the fact that their highway program will, eventually, wipe out the very area of freedom that the private motorcar promise to retain for them. . . . That sense of freedom and power remains a fact today only in low-density areas, in the open country; the popularity of this method of escape has ruined the promise it once held forth. In using the car to flee from the metropolis the motorist finds that he has merely transferred congestion to the highway and thereby doubled it. When he reaches his destination, in a distant suburb, he finds that the countryside he sought has disappeared: beyond him, thanks to the motorway, lies only another suburb, just as dull as his own.
Lewis Mumford, The Highway and the City (1963) photo: Walker Evans
Monday, September 04, 2006
Let It Go
It is this deep blankness is the real thing strange.
The more things happen to you the more you can't
Tell or remember even what they were.
The contradictions cover such a range.
The talk would talk and go so far aslant.
You don't want madhouse and the whole thing there.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Just as we were all, potentially, in Adam when he fell, so we were all, potentially, in Jerusalem on that first Good Friday before there was an Easter, a Pentecost, a Christian, or a Church. It seems to me worth while asking ourselves who we should have been and what we should have been doing. None of us, I’m certain, will imagine himself as one of the Disciples, cowering in agony of spiritual despair and physical terror. Very few of us are big wheels enough to see ourselves as Pilate, or good churchmen enough to see ourselves as a member of the Sanhedrin. In my most optimistic mood I see myself a Hellenized Jew from Alexandria visiting an intellectual friend. We are walking along, engaged in philosophical argument. Our path takes us past the base of Golgotha. Looking up, we see an all too familiar sight—three crosses surrounded by a jeering crowd. Frowning with prim distaste, I say, “It’s disgusting the way the mob enjoy such things. Why can’t the authorities execute criminals humanely and in private by giving them hemlock to drink, as they did with Socrates?” Then, averting my eyes from the disagreeable spectacle, I resume our fascinating discussion about the nature of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.
Commentary on "Friday, Good" in A Certain World: A Commonplace Book (1970)
Friday, September 01, 2006
To me Owen Wister is the writer I wish when I am hungry with the memories of lonely mountains, of vast sunny plains with seas of wind-rippled grass, of springing wild creatures, and lithe, sun-tanned men who ride with utter ease on ungroomed, half-broken horses. But when I lived much in cow camps I often carried a volume of Swinburne, as a kind of antiseptic to alkali dust, tepid, muddy water, frying-pan bread, sow-belly bacon, and the too-infrequent washing of sweat-drenched clothing.
Theodore Roosevelt, A Book-Lover’s Holidays in the Open (1916)
Chemises d'organdi, chaussures de zébu
Cravate d'Italie et méchant complet vermoulu
Un rubis au doigt... de pied, pas çui-là
Les ongles tout noirs et un tres joli p'tit mouchoir
J'vais au cinéma voir des films suédois
Et j'entre au bistro pour boire du whisky à gogo
J'ai pas mal au foie, personne fait plus ça
J'ai un ulcère, c'est moins banal et plus cher
J'suis snob... J'suis snob
J'm'appelle Patrick, mais on dit Bob
Boris Vian, "J'suis snob" (excerpt)
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, Nobel Banquet, City Hall, Stockholm (December 10, 1950)
Un être humain qui rêverait son existence au lieu de la vivre tiendrait sans doute ainsi sous son regard, à tout moment, la multitude infinie des details de son histoire passé.
A human being who dreamed his existence rather than living it would undoubtedly have within his grasp, at every moment, the infinite multitude of details of his past history.
Henri Bergson, Matière et mémoire (1896)
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
[I]t is impossible to write a cube as the sum of two cubes, a fourth power as the sum of two fourth powers and in general any power beyond the second as the sum of two similar powers. For this I have discovered a truly wonderful proof, but the margin is too small to contain it.
Pierre de Fermat, note written in the margin of Arithmetica by Diophantus of Alexandria. First published in 1670: a.k.a Fermat’s Last Theorem
From the series: Mathematics
Monday, August 28, 2006
Is he not the celebrated author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid, a book which ascends to such rarified heights of pure mathematics that it is said that there was no man in the scientific press capable of criticizing it?
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
…he saw an orchard
closed by a pale—four spacious acres planted
with trees in bloom or weighted down for picking:
pear trees, pomegranates, brilliant apples,
luscious figs, and olives ripe and dark.
Fruit never failed upon these trees: winter
and summer time they bore, for through the year
the breathing Westwind ripened all in turn—
so one pear came to prime, and then another,
and so with apples, gigs, and the vine’s fruit
empurpled in the royal vineyard there.
Currants were dried at one end, on a platform
bare to the sun, beyond the vintage arbours
and vats the vintners trod; while near at hand
were new grapes barely formed as the green bloom fell,
or half-ripe clusters, faintly colouring.
After the vines came rows of vegetables
of all the kinds that flourish in every season,
and through the garden plots and orchard ran
channels from one clear fountain, while another
gushed through a pipe under the courtyard entrance
to serve the house and all who came for water.
Homer, The Odyssey, Book XI (trans. Robert Fitzgerald)
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
It takes eight hours to get from Paris to Lyons. On the way there is a very sudden change in the landscape. You come out of a tunnel into an abruptly southerly scene. Precipitous slopes, split rocks revealing their inner geology, a deeper green, soft, pale-blue smoke of a stronger, decidedly cerulean hue. A couple of clouds stand idly and massively on the horizon, as if they weren’t haze but dark stone. All things have sharper edges; the air is still; its waves don’t flatter the fixed forms. Each has its unalterable contours. Nothing hovers and havers between here and there. There is perfect conviction in everything, as if the objects were better informed about themselves and the position they took up in the world. Here you don’t wonder. You don’t have a hunch. You know.
Joseph Roth, Frankfurter Zeitung, September 8, 1925
Monday, August 21, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
[As I make it a point, never to publish any thing (under my editorial head) but what I can explain, i fhall not hefitate to gratify the curioufity of my inquifitive correfpondent: Cock tail, then, is a ftimulating liquor compofed of fpirits of any kind, fugar, water, and bitters--it is vulgarly called bittered fling, and is fupposed to be an excellent electioneering potion inafmuch as it renders the heart ftout and bold, at the fame time that it fuddles the head. It is faid alfo, to be af great ufe to a democratic candidate: becaufe, a perfon having fwallowed a glafs of it, if ready to fwallow any thing else. Edit. Bal.]
Balance and Columbian Repository, Hudson, New York, May 13, 1806, one week after the word "cock tail" appeared in a drink recipe:
From the series: Alcohol
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
My film is born first in my head; dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film, but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.
Robert Bresson, Notes sur le cinématographe
From the series: Cinema
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
(The poor old Past,
The Future’s slave.
She drudged through pain and crime
To bring about the blissful Prime,
Then—perished. There’s a grave!)
Power unanointed may come—
Dominion (unsought by the free)
And the Iron Dome.
Stronger for stress and strain,
Fling her huge shadow athwart the main ;
But the Founders’ dream shall flee.
Age after age shall be
As age after age has been,
(From man’s changeless heart their way they win) ;
And death be busy with all who strive—
Death with silent negative.
Herman Melville, “The Conflict of Convictions” [excerpt]
Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Art is compatible with polytheism and with Christianity, but not with philosophical materialism; science is compatible with philosophical materialism and with Christianity, but not with polytheism. No artist or scientist, however, can feel comfortable as a Christian; every artist who happens also to be a Christian wishes he could be a polytheist; every scientist in the same position that he could be a philosophical materialist. And with good reason. In a polytheist society, the artists are the theologians; in a materialist society, its theologians are the scientists. To a Christian, unfortunately, both art and science are secular activities, that is to say, small beer.
from "Postscript: Christianity & Art" in The Dyer's Hand
Sunday, August 13, 2006
He wrote me that only one film had been capable of portraying impossible memory—insane memory: Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. In the spiral of the titles he saw time covering a field ever wider as it moved away, a cyclone whose present moment contains motionless the eye.
In San Francisco he had made his pilgrimage to all the film's locations: the florist Podesta Baldocchi, where James Stewart spies on Kim Novak—he the hunter, she the prey. Or was it the other way around? The tiles hadn't changed.
He had driven up and down the hills of San Francisco where Jimmy Stewart, Scotty, follows Kim Novak, Madeline. It seems to be a question of trailing, of enigma, of murder, but in truth it's a question of power and freedom, of melancholy and dazzlement, so carefully coded within the spiral that you could miss it, and not discover immediately that this vertigo of space in reality stands for the vertigo of time.
He had followed all the trails. Even to the cemetery at Mission Dolores where Madeline came to pray at the grave of a woman long since dead, whom she should not have known. He followed Madeline—as Scotty had done—to the Museum at the Legion of Honor, before the portrait of a dead woman she should not have known. And on the portrait, as in Madeline's hair, the spiral of time.
The small Victorian hotel where Madeline disappeared had disappeared itself; concrete had replaced it, at the corner of Eddy and Gough. On the other hand the sequoia cut was still in Muir Woods. On it Madeline traced the short distance between two of those concentric lines that measured the age of the tree and said, “Here I was born... and here I died.”
He remembered another film in which this passage was quoted. The sequoia was the one in the Jardin des plantes in Paris, and the hand pointed to a place outside the tree, outside of time.
The painted horse at San Juan Bautista, his eye that looked like Madeline's: Hitchcock had invented nothing, it was all there. He had run under the arches of the promenade in the mission as Madeline had run towards her death. Or was it hers?
From this fake tower—the only thing that Hitchcock had added—he imagined Scotty as time's fool of love, finding it impossible to live with memory without falsifying it. Inventing a double for Madeline in another dimension of time, a zone that would belong only to him and from which he could decipher the indecipherable story that had begun at Golden Gate when he had pulled Madeline out of San Francisco Bay, when he had saved her from death before casting her back to death. Or was it the other way around?
Sans Soleil d: Chris Marker (1982)
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
For the moment, the insuperable philosophy of our time is contained in the Pac-Man. I didn’t know when I was sacrificing all my 100 yen coins to him that he was going to conquer the world, perhaps because he is the perfect graphic metaphor of man’s fate. He puts into true perspective the balance of power between individual and the environment, and he tells us soberly that though there may be honor in carrying out the greatest number of victorious assaults, it always comes a cropper.
Sans Soleil d: Chris Marker (1982)
From the series: Apocalypse
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
If I were to be asked what would be my greatest ambition as a Mozart player, I should reply: “Life-size Mozart.” It is so easy, in looking at Mozart from the dizzy cliffs of nineteenth-century instrumental sound, to see it as through the wrong end of an opera glass. And in holding in check the enormous resources of the modern grand piano it is easy to give the impression of walking tiptoe, lace-beruffled, on eggs. On the other side, habits of over-inflated sound and unceasing overstatement can lead to a notion of Mozart as a kind of colossus, unsuccessful perhaps because of his early death in reaching the proper size. (As a harpsichordist I am often grateful for the privilege of being able to look forward to Mozart from the other side of the eighteenth century, with fresh perceptions of his contribution to music, rather than like most of us, backwards at him through a haze of Beethoven.)
Monday, August 07, 2006
He wrote to me: I will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering, which is not the opposite of forgetting but rather its lining. We do not remember; we rewrite memory much as history is rewritten. How can one remember thirst?
Sans Soleil d: Chris Marker (1982)
My stare drank deep beauty that still allures.
My heart pumps yet the poison draught of you.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.
You are still kind whom the same shape immures.
Kind and beyond adieu. We miss our cue.
It is the pain, it is the pain endures.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.
William Empson, “Villanelle” (excerpt)
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Italy yeeldes excellent Wines, and the common red wine is held very nourishing, so as the fairest Women will dine with the same, and a sop of bread dipped in it, thinking it will make them fat, (which kind of Women the Venetians most love, all things being equall), yea, and more faire: So as they Proverbially say; Che beve bianco, piscia bianco, a chi beve rosso, avanza il colore. He that drinkes white, pisses white, he that drinkes red, gaines the colour.
An Itinerary, Fynes Moryson, 1605-1617
From the series: Alcohol
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Decidedly the chief attraction of Southern California is the climate—but not all California is alike—take for instance, an August afternoon in San Francisco, and at Indio, in the Colorado desert. In the former place, the inhabitants will be found attired in heavy overcoats and sealskin wraps, or seated around large, open coal fires; at the latter, a thin shirt and overalls are too warm for comfort. Los Angeles occupies a happy position between these two extremes.
Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, 1899
Monday, July 31, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
In 1807 Simon deWitt, Gouverneur Morris and John Rutherford are commissioned to design the model that will regulate the "final and conclusive" occupancy of Manhattan. Four years later they propose - above the demarcation that separates the known from the unknowable part of the city - 12 avenues running north-south and 155 streets running east-west.
With that simple action they describe a city of 13 x 156 = 2,028 blocks (excluding topographical accidents): a matrix that captures, at the same time, all remaining territory and all future activity on the island. The Manhattan Grid.
Advocated by its authors as facilitating "the buying, selling and improving of real estate," this "Apotheosis of the gridiron" - "with its simple appeal to unsophisticated minds" - is, 150 years after its super-imposition on the island, still a negative symbol of the shortsightedness of commercial interests.
In fact, it is the most courageous act of prediction in Western civilization: the land it divides, unoccupied; the population it describes, conjectural; the buildings it locates; phantoms; the activities it frames, nonexistent.
Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto For Manhattan
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Friday, July 28, 2006
A shady road, running along a wall like that of an English park, led out of the town for about half a mile in a direction of the hills, and a gate opened into the most beautiful botanical gardens I have ever seen. Lawns as perfect as the most ancient and august in England rolled in gentle slopes shaded by clumps of enormous and, for me, still unknown trees, except for another banyan under whose convolutions I lay for an hour or two and watched my cigar smoke drifting through its many trunks. Next to it a huge cannon-ball tree ever now and then loosed off its ammunition, which fell with a dull thud upon the grass. It was a casual and empty paradise, with no other purpose, it seemed, than to furnish a solitary refuge for the Marvellian reveries of the wisely recumbent gardeners and me.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Traveller’s Tree
From the series: Gardens
What wond’rous Life is this I lead!
Ripe Apples drop about my head;
The Luscious Clusters of the Vine
Upon my Mouth do crush their Wine;
The Nectaren, and curious Peach,
Into my themselves do reach;
Stumbling on Melons, as I pass,
Insnar’d with Flow’rs, I fall on Grass.
Andrew Marvell, "The Garden" (excerpt)
From the series: Gardens
Thursday, July 27, 2006
All reference books seem to agree that art requires uncommon skill, though this too is open to debate, as skill often reveals shallow content. Nowhere is it stated that art might, perhaps, be a hygienic search for obscure values, or a cultural memorandum, or an attempt to rival creation, an orderly investigation of chaos, or, at best, a compression of infinite power, spiritual power, into a confined space.
Josef von Sternberg, Fun in a Chinese Laundry
Because if memory exists outside of the flesh it wont be memory because it wont know what it remembers so when she became not then half of memory became not and if I become not then all of remembering will cease to be.—Yes, he thought, between grief and nothing I will take grief.
The Wild Palms
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Are our dreams indicative? Does it exist,
Where, cold into chasms, cataracts
Topple, and torrents
Through rocky ruptures rage for ever
In a winter twilight watched by ravens,
Birds on basalt,
And shadows of ships long-shattered lie,
Preserved disasters, in the solid ice
Of frowning fjords?
Does the Moon’s message mean what it says:
“In that oldest and most hidden of all places
Number is unknown”?
Can lying lovers believe their bones’
That all the elegance, all the promise
Of the world they wish is waiting there?
The Age of Anxiety (excerpt)
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Be not affeard, the Isle is full of noyses,
Sounds, and sweet aires, that giue delight and hurt not:
Sometimes a thousand twangling Instruments
Will hum about mine eares; and sometime voices,
That if I then had wak'd after long sleepe,
Will make me sleepe againe, and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and shew riches
Ready to drop vpon me, that when I wak'd
I cri'de to dreame againe.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Que reste-t-il de nos amours
Que reste-t-il de ces beaux jours
Une photo, vieille photo
De ma jeunesse
Que reste-t-il des billets doux
Des mois d'avril, des rendez-vous
Un souvenir qui me poursuit
refrain (excerpt) from "Que reste-t-il de nos amours" (1942) words: Charles Trenet music: Léo Chauliac
Jazz, the Follies, the flapper in orange and green gown and war-paint of rouge—impossible frenzies of color in a world that refuses to be drab. Even the movies, devoid as they are of color in the physical sense, are gaudy in the imaginations of the people who watch them; gaudy with exaggerated romance, exaggerated comedy, exaggerated splendor of grotesqueness or passion. Human souls who are not living impassioned lives, not creating romance and splendor and grotesqueness—phases of beauty's infinite variety—such people wistfully try to find these things outside themselves; a futile, often a destructive quest.
William Carlos Williams, The Great American Novel, 1923
Seeing, then, that man fell through pride, He restored him through humility. We were ensnared by the wisdom of the serpent: we are set free by the foolishness of God. Moreover, just as the former was called wisdom, but was in reality the folly of those who despised God, so the latter is called foolishness, but is true wisdom in those who overcome the devil. We used our immortality so badly as to incur the penalty of death: Christ used His mortality so well as to restore us to life. The disease was brought in through a woman's corrupted soul: the remedy came through a woman's virgin body. ... He was born of a woman to deliver us who fell through a woman: He came as a man to save us who are men, as a mortal to save us who are mortals, by death to save us who were dead.
On Christian Doctrine Book I, Chapter 14. How the Wisdom of God Healed Man
The symbol of Turkish cuisine is the meatball a dish which, as we all know, can be a perfection or an abortion and thus is generally regarded with suspicion, as is Bologna mortadella in London: in English, boloney is another word for rubbish.
Aldo Buzzi, "Journey to the Land of the Flies"
That is the substance of remembering—sense, sight, smell: the muscles with which we see and hear and feel—not mind, not thought: there is no such thing as memory: the brain recalls just what the muscles grope for: no more, no less: and its resultant sum is usually incorrect and false and worthy only of the name of dream.
from Absalom! Absalom!
MAJOR AMBERSON: So your devilish machines are going to ruin all your old friends, eh, Gene? Do you really think they’ll change the face of the land?
EUGENE MORGAN: They’re already doing it and they can’t be stopped. Automobiles are...
GEORGE AMBERSON MINIVER: Automobiles are useless nuisance.
MAJOR AMBERSON: What did you say, George?
GEORGE AMBERSON MINIVER: I said automobiles are a useless nuisance. Never’ll amount to anything but a nuisance. They had no business to be invented.
MAJOR AMBERSON: Of course you forget that Mr. Morgan makes them and also did his share in inventing them. If you weren’t so thoughtless, he might think you rather offensive.
EUGENE MORGAN: I’m not sure George is wrong about automobiles. For all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization. It may be that they won’t add to the beauty of the world or the life of men’s souls. I’m not sure. But automobiles have come, and almost all outward things are going to be different. They’re going to alter war and they’re going to alter peace. I think man’s minds will be changed in subtle ways because of the automobile. And it may be that George is right. It may be that in ten or twenty years from now, if we can see the inward changes in men by that time, I shouldn’t be able to defend the gasoline engine but would have to agree with George that automobiles had no business to be invented.
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) d. Orson Welles book. Booth Tarkington