Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dead Presidents #29, The Automobile #15

Presidents Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge sit in the back seat of a convertible automobile on street in Washington, D. C., during Hoover's inauguration. (March 4, 1929)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Alcohol #9, Architecture #22, Manhattan #34

Three-Martini Lab?
Sample Room, Seagram Building, Mies van der Rohe, architect, with Philip Johnson (1958)
Ezra Stoller, photograph

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Faulkner #6, Architecture #21

And with the same success: as though his presence alone compelled that house to accept and retain human life; as though houses actually possess a sentience, a personality and character acquired not from people who breathe or have breathed in them so much as rather inherent in the wood and brick or begotten upon the wood and brick by the man or men who conceived and built them--in this one an incontrovertible affirmation for emptiness, desertion; an insurmountable resistance to occupancy save when sanctioned and protected by the ruthless and strong.

from Absalom! Absalom!

Friday, January 11, 2008

In Memoriam #8

Sir Edmund Hillary


Nous voulons, tant ce feu nous brûle le cerveau,
Plonger au fond du gouffre, Enfer ou Ciel, qu'importe?
Au fond de l'Inconnu pour trouver du nouveau!

Charles Baudelaire, "Le Voyage" (conclusion)

we want, this fire so burns our brain tissue,
to drown in the abyss — heaven or hell,
who cares? Through the unknown, we'll find the new.

trans. Robert Lowell

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Manhattan #33, The Sea #6, Cinema #32

Fleet Steaming Up the North River

From the Edison films catalog: Shows the "Brooklyn," flying Schley's twin-starred blue flag. Every detail brought out with wonderful clearness. Excursion craft in the distance. Bow of the "Indiana" appears toward end of film. 150 feet. $22.50.

Camera, J. Stuart Blackton and/or Albert E. Smith (1898)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Animal Kingdom #7

Invitation to Juno

Lucretius could not credit centaurs;
Such bicycle he deemed asynchronous.
"Man superannuates the horse;
Horse pulses will not gear with ours."

Johnson could see no bicycle would go;
"You bear yourself, and the machine as well."
Gennets for germans sprang from Othello,
And Ixion rides upon a single wheel.

Courage. Weren't strips of heart culture seen
Of late mating two periodicities?
Did not at one time even Darwin
Graft annual upon perennial trees?

Note: Dr. Johnson said it, somewhere in Boswell. Iago threatened Brabantio about gennets. Ixion rides on one wheel because he failed in an attempt at mixed marriage with Juno which would have produced demigods, two-wheeled because inheriting two life periods.

William Empson (from his Collected Poems)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Archaeology of Legislation #1

Act to Punish Seduction as a Crime

New York State (1848)

Archaeology of Comics #1

D.C. Comics projects an unimaginably distant future (1943)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Auden #14, Πολιτικά #1, America #33

As the issue between virtue first and liberty first becomes clear, so does the realization that the cost to any society that accepts the latter is extremely high, and to some may seem prohibitive. One can no longer make the task look easier than it is by pretending, as the liberals of the Enlightenment believed, that men are naturally good. No, it is just as true as it ever was that man is born in sin, that the majority are always, relatively, in the wrong, the minority sometimes, relatively, in the right (every one, of course, is free at any time to belong to either), and all, before God, absolutely in the wrong, that all of the people some of the time and some of the people most of the time will abuse their liberty and treat it as the license of the escaped slave. But if the principle is accepted, it means accepting this: it means accepting a State that, in comparison to its Roman rival, is dangerously weak (though realizing that, since people will never cease trying to interfere with the liberties of others in pursuing their own, the State can never wither away. Tyranny today, anarchy tomorrow is a Neo-Roman daydream); it means accepting a “Society,” in the collective inclusive sense, that is as neutral to values (liberty is not a value but the ground of value) as the “nature” of physics; it means accepting an educational system in which, in spite of the fact that authority is essential to the growth of the individual who is lost without it, the responsibility for recognizing authority is laid on the pupil; it means accepting the impossibility of any “official” or “public” art; and, for the individual, it means accepting the lot of the Wandering Jew, i.e. the loneliness and anxiety of having to choose himself, his faith, his vocation, his tastes. The Margin is a hard taskmaster; it says to the individual: “It’s no good your running to me and asking me to make you into someone. You must choose. I won’t try to prevent your choice, but I can’t and won’t help you make it. If you try to put your trust in me, in public opinion, you will become, not someone but no one, a neuter atom of the public.”

from his introduction to Henry James' The American Scene (1946)

Friday, January 04, 2008

America #32


CITY OF SAVANNAH, GA., Jan., 12, 1865—8 P.M.

On the evening of Thursday, the 12th day of January, 1865, the following persons of African descent met by appointment to hold an interview with Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, and Major-Gen. Sherman, to have a conference upon matters relating to the freedmen of the State of Georgia [...]

Garrison Frazier (aged 67 years, born in Granville County, N.C. Slave until eight years ago, when he bought himself and wife, paying $1,000 in gold and silver. Is an ordained minister in the Baptist Church, but, his health failing, has now charge of no congregation. Has been in the ministry 35 years) being chosen by the persons present to express their common sentiments upon the matters of inquiry, makes answers to inquiries as follows:

First-- State what your understanding is in regard to the acts of Congress and President Lincoln's [Emancipation] proclamation, touching the condition of the colored people in the Rebel States.

Answer—So far as I understand President Lincoln's proclamation to the Rebellious States, it is, that if they would lay down their arms and submit to the laws of the United States before the first of January, 1863, all should be well; but if they did not, then all the slaves in the Rebel States should be free henceforth and forever. That is what I understood.

Second—State what you understand by Slavery and the freedom that was to be given by the President's proclamation.

Answer—Slavery is, receiving by irresistible power the work of another man, and not by his consent. The freedom, as I understand it, promised by the proclamation, is taking us from under the yoke of bondage, and placing us where we could reap the fruit of our own labor, take care of ourselves and assist the Government in maintaining our freedom.

New-York Daily Tribune, "Negroes of Savannah," (February 13, 1865)