Sunday, May 31, 2009

Order of the Universe #26, Music #14

Peut-être est-ce le néant qui est le vrai et tout notre rêve est-il inexistant, mais alors nous sentons qu’il faudra que ces phrases musicales, ces notions qui existent par rapport à lui, ne soient rien non plus. Nous périrons mais nous avons pour otages ces captives divines qui suivront notre chance. Et la mort avec elles a quelque chose de moins amer, de moins inglorieux, peut-être de moins probable.

Maybe it is the nothingness that is real and our entire dream is nonexistent, but in that case we feel that these phrases of music, and these notions that exist in relation to our dream, must also be nothing. We will perish, but we have for hostages these divine captives who follow and share our fate. And death in their company is less bitter, less inglorious, perhaps less probable.

Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann
English translation by Lydia Davis

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Emotion is in the Emulsion #1, Dead Presidents #46

President William Howard Taft fights in vain against the physical destruction of the record of his Denver handshake.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Order of the Universe #25

This shining moment is an edifice
Which the Omnipotent cannot rebuild.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 25, 2009

Architecture #39

Architecture is a very good test of the true strength of a society, for the most valuable things in a human state are the irrevocable things—marriage, for instance. And architecture approaches nearer than any other art to being irrevocable, because it is so difficult to get rid of. You can turn a picture with its face to the wall; it would be a nuisance to turn that Roman cathedral with its face to the wall. You can tear a poem to pieces; it is only in moments of very sincere emotion that you tear a town-hall to pieces. A building is akin to dogma; it is insolent, like a dogma. Whether or no it is permanent, it claims permanence like a dogma. People ask why we have no typical architecture of the modern world, like impressionism in painting. Surely it is obviously because we have not enough dogmas; we cannot bear to see anything in the sky that is solid and enduring, anything in the sky that is solid and enduring, anything in the sky that does not change like the clouds of the sky. But along with this decision which is involved in creating a building, there goes a quite similar decision in the more delightful task of smashing one. The two of necessity go together. In few places have so many fine public buildings bee set up as here in Paris, and in few places have so many been destroyed. When people have finally got into the horrible habit of preserving buildings, they have got out of the habit of building them. And in London one mingles, as it were, one’s tears because so few are pulled down.

G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles (1909)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Age of Print #14

Front and back covers of first American edition of The Life of Alfred Nobel. (1929)

Monday, May 18, 2009

My God, I Shot the Wrong Architect #3

Mies van der Rohe relaxes at home in Chicago in furniture decidedly not of his own design. (c. 1956)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Annals of Typography #1, Age of Print #14

Line three enlarged:

John Donne, fragment of “The Flea” (c. 1610)

The long “s” (ſ) gives the line “Me it suck’d first, and now sucks thee” two possible readings.

Please notify William Empson.

Page from Poems on Several Occasions: Written by the Reverend John Donne, ... With Elegies on the Author’s Death. To this Edition is Added, Some Account of the Life of the Author
By John Donne
Published by printed for J. Tonson, and sold by W. Taylor. (1719)

Order of the Universe #24

[W]hat are called advanced ideas are really in great part but the latest fashion in definition--a more accurate expression, by words in logy and ism, of sensations which men and women have vaguely grasped for centuries.

Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Age of Print #13, Architecture #38

Cover of first edition of Louis Sullivan, Kindergarten Chats on Architecture, Education and Democracy (Washington, D.C.: Scarab Fraternity Press, 1934)

Diptych #11, Archaeology of the Music Video #7

Peggy Lee sings "Johnny Guitar". (c. 1954)

The Spotnicks play an instrumental version of "Johnny Guitar". (1962)