At my door the leaves are falling
A cold wild wind has come
Sweethearts walk by together
And I still miss someone
Johnny Cash, “I Still Miss Someone”
Monday, July 31, 2006
At my door the leaves are falling
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
From the series: 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
From the series: Art
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
From the series: Faulkner
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
From the series: Scopitone
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"
From the series: Food
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!
From the series: Faulkner
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
From the series: The Automobile
For many days before the end of our earth people will look into the night sky and notice a star, increasingly bright and increasingly near. As this star approaches us, the weather will change. The great polar fields of the north and south will rot and divide, and the seas will turn warmer. The last of us search the heavens and stand amazed. For the stars will still be there, moving through their ancient rhythms. The familiar constellations that illuminate our night will seem as they have always seemed, eternal, unchanged and little moved by the shortness of time between our planet’s birth and its demise.
Orion, the Hunter. Gemini, the Twins. Cancer, the Crab. Taurus, the Bull. Sagittarius and Aries—all as they have ever been.
And while the flash of our beginning has not yet traveled the light years into distance… Has not yet been seen by planets deep within the other galaxies, we will disappear into the blackness of the space from which we came. Destroyed as we began in a burst of gas and fire.
The heavens are still and cold once more. In all the complexity of our universe and the galaxies beyond, the Earth will not be missed. Through the infinite reaches of space, the problems of Man seem trivial and naive indeed. And Man, existing alone, seems to be an episode of little consequence.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955) d. Nicholas Ray scenario: Ray, Irving Shulman, Stewart Stern
From the series: Apocalypse
"In cold weather like this," said the innkeeper of a Gastwirtschaft further down, "I recommend Himbeergeist." I obeyed and it was a lightning conversion. Spirits of raspberries, or their ghost--this crystalline distillation, twinking and ice-cold in its misty goblet, looked as though it were homoeopathically in league with the weather. Sipped or swallowed, it went shuddering through its new home and branched out in patterns--or so it seemed after a second glass--like the ice-ferns that covered the window panes, but radiating warmth and happiness instead of cold, and carrying a ghostly message of comfort to the uttermost fimbria. Fierce winters gave birth to their antidotes: Kummel, Vodka, Aquavit, Danziger Goldwasser. Oh for a thimble full of cold north! Fiery-frosty potions, sequin-flashers rife with spangles to spark fuses in the bloodstream, revive fainting limbs, and send travellers rocketing on through snow and ice. White fire, red cheek, heat me and speed me.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts
From the series: Alcohol
This new form of entertainment has gone far to blast maidenhood… Depraved adults with candies and pennies beguile children with the inevitable result. The Society has prosecuted many for leading girls astray through picture shows, but GOD alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives begun at the “moving pictures.”
The Annual Report of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Children, 1909
From the series: Obsolete Morality
In general, then, I had four extremely perilous encounters. In a word, such hazards, that if I had not in some way circumvented them, it would have been a question of my life. The first was the danger of drowning; the second, mad dogs; the third and lesser because it was only an incipient danger, the falling mass of masonry; and last, the quarrel in the house of the Venetian noble.
Girolamo Cardano, The Book of My Life
Ch. 30: "Perils, Accidents, and Manifold, Diverse, and Persistent Treacheries."
From the series: Scenes from a Life
[O]nly animals who are below civilization and the angels who are beyond it can be sincere. Human beings are, necessarily, actors who cannot become something before they have first pretended to be it; and they can be divided, not into the hypocritical and the sincere, but into the sane who know they are acting and the mad who do not.
The Age of Anxiety