Sunday, December 30, 2007

Organizations #7, Dead Presidents #28

Playground Association of America

Honorary President, President Theodore Roosevelt

(Founded 1906)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Anniverseries #7, Christianity #7

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life & bid thee feed,
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, wooly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek & he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child & thou a lamb.
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

William Blake, "The Lamb," Songs of Innocence

Monday, December 24, 2007

Lines Taken Out of Context #10

Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dead Presidents #27, Cinema #31

Theodore Roosevelt calls on neighbors at Christmas in Oyster Bay, New York, then poses for a group portrait before the newsreel cameramen (1917)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

History #7

Quid est enim aliud omnis historia quam Romana laus?

What else, then, is all history, if not the praise of Rome?

Francesco Petrarch, "Apologia contra cuiusdam anonymi Galli alumnias" in Opera omnia (Basel, 1554)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Book Titles Without Context #3

The Reason Why the Colored American is Not in the World's Columbian Exposition

Ida B. Wells (later Wells-Barnett) (1893)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cinema #30, Time #10

[Max Ophuls’s] elegant characters lack nothing and lose everything. There is no escape from the trap of time. Not even the deepest and sincerest love can deter the now from its rendezvous with the then, and no amount of self-sacrifice can prevent desire from becoming embalmed in memory. “Quelle heure est-il?” ask the characters in La Ronde, but it is always too late, and the moment has always passed.

This is the ultimate meaning of Ophulsian camera movement: time has no stop
. Montage tends to suspend time in the limbo of abstract images, but the moving camera records inexorably the passage of time, moment by moment. As we follow the Ophulsian characters, step by step, up and down stairs, up and down streets, and round and round the ballroom, we realize their imprisonment in time. We know that they can never escape, but we know also that they will never lose their pose and grace for the sake of futile desperation. They will dance beautifully, they will walk purposively, they will love deeply, and they will die gallantly, and they will never whine or whimper or even discard their vanity. It will all end in a circus with Lola Montès selling her presence to the multitudes, redeeming all men both as a woman and as an artistic creation, expressing one long receding shot, the cumulative explosion of the romantic ego for the past two centuries.

Andrew Sarris, entry on Max Ophuls, in The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968
last shot of Lola Montez (1955)

Order of the Universe #11

The first idea was not our own. Adam
In Eden was the father of Descartes
And Eve made air the mirror of herself,

Of her sons and of her daughters.They found themselves
In heaven as in a glass; a second earth;
And in the earth itself they found a green—

The inhabitants of a very varnished green.
But the first idea was not to shape the clouds
In imitation.The clouds preceded us.

There was a muddy centre before we breathed.
There was a myth before the myth began
Venerable and articulate and complete.

From this the poem springs: that we live in a place
That is not our own and, much more, not ourselves
And hard it is in spite of blazoned days.

We are the mimics. Clouds are pedagogues.
The air is not a mirror but bare board
Coulisse bright-dark, tragic chiaroscuro

And comic color of the rose, in which
Abysmal instruments make sounds like pips
Of the sweeping meanings that we add to them.

Wallace Stevens, "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

War #6, Dead Presidents #26, The Outer Boroughs #6, America #30

The lot of a prisoner of war at all times and under all circumstances is one of constant and inevitable hardship. […] Separated from his family and friends, deprived by the exigency of capture of the companionship of tent-mates and comrades, surrounded not only by strangers but by enemies, a captive without rights which his captor was bound to respect, it is impossible to conceive of a more hopeless, distressing, and heartbreaking situation.

In relatively recent times the lot of the prisoner of war has been made the subject of amelioration, in cartels, treaties, and conventions, which define the rights of the captured and the duties of the captor. The personal safety of the prisoner of war is secured, his personal possessions and belongings are protected from capture and spoliation, and offenses against him are rigorously punished. The measures of restraint to which a captor may resort of the detention of prisoners cannot now take the character of punitive imprisonment

It must be a source of gratification to all of us to learn the provisions of the The Hague Convention with reference to the rights of prisoners of war as they are now understood by all the signatory powers to that convention, and to see that it is the duty of the capturing forces to make as ample provision for the prisoners of war as far their own men. […] This great memorial which we dedicate to-day, the conditions of things which it records, and their contrast with present conditions, properly called to mind the humane advance which has been made even in so cruel a thing as war.

President-Elect William Howard Taft speaking at the dedication of the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn (November 14, 1908)

Monday, December 10, 2007

History #6

The capacity to live in the past by memory also emancipates the individual from the tyranny of the present. He can choose, if he wants, to reverse a present trend of history in favor of some previous trend. He can, if he wishes, seek asylum from present tumults in a past period of history, or use the memory of past innocency to project a future of higher virtue.

Reinhold Niebuhr, Faith and History (1949)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Archaeology of the Poster #5, Cinema #29

El Dorado d. Howard Hawks (1966)
Poster art by Jerzy Flisak (1973)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Lines Taken Out of Context #9

A single grain of gimlet-dust, for example, would have been as obvious as an apple.

Edgar Allen Poe, "The Purloined Letter"

Friday, December 07, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Annals of Profanity #1, The Sporting Life #3

That such brutal language as “You cock-sucking son of a bitch!” “You prick-eating bastard!” “You cunt-lapping dog!” “Kiss my ass, you son of a bitch!” “A dog must have fucked your mother when she made you!” “I fucked your mother, your sister, your wife!” “I’ll make you suck my ass!” “You cock-sucker!” and many other revolting terms are used by a limited number of players to intimidate umpires and opposing players, and are promiscuously used upon the ball field, is vouched for by the almost unanimous assertion of those invited to speak, and are competent to speak from personal knowledge. Whether it be the language quoted above, or some other indecent and infamous invention of depravity, the League is pledged to remove it from the ball field, whether it necessitates the removal of the offender for a day or for all time. Any indecent or obscene word, sentence, or expression, unfit for print or the human ear, whether mentioned in these instructions or not, is contemplated under the law and within its intent and meaning, and will be dealt with without fear or favor when the fact is established by conclusive proof.

Special Instruction to [National League? baseball] Players (~1898)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

In Memoriam #6, Aviation #11, Diptych #8, America #29

Evel Knievel


Evel Knievel crashes at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada (December 31, 1967)

still from Scorpio Rising
d. Kenneth Anger (1964)

Scopitone #30, Archaeology of the Music Video #6

Ernest Tubb, "Thanks a Lot" (1960s)