Thursday, December 16, 2010

Age of Print #22, Aviation #16

Leaflet dropped from balloon flight sponsored by the New York World and St. Louis Post-Dispatch (June 18, 1887)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Manhattan #45, Seasons #6, Architecture #42

“The One Advantage of a New York Tenement,” Life (June 13, 1895)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Books on Books #7, Order of the Universe #36

Le monde est fait pour aboutir à un beau livre.

The world is made to end in a beautiful book.

Stephen Mallarmé, Réponse à des enquêtes, sur l'évolution littéraire (1869)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Food #16, Order of the Universe #35

All culinary tasks should be performed with reverential love, don’t you think so? To say that a cook must possess the requisite outfit of a culinary skill and temperament—that is hardly more than saying that a soldier must appear in uniform. You can have a bad soldier in uniform. The true cook must have not only those externals, but a large dose of general worldly experience. He is the perfect blend, the only perfect blend, of artist and philosopher. He knows his worth: he holds in his palm the happiness of mankind, the welfare of generations yet unborn.

Norman Douglas, South Wind (1917)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Maps #1, Death #7, Christianity #10

As West and East
In all flatt Maps—and I am one—are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.

John Donne, “Hynme to my God in my Sicknesse” (c. 1630)

Monday, August 23, 2010

D is for Daguerreotype #5, Dead Presidents #50

The administration of Zachary Taylor.

Standing is Taylor; seated are, left to right: William Ballard Preston, Secretary of the Navy; Thomas Ewing, Secretary of the Interior; John Middleton Clayton, Secretary of State; William Morris Meredith, Secretary of the Treasury; George Washington Crawford, Secretary of War; Jacob Collamer, Postmaster General; Reverdy Johnson, Attorney General. (1849)

Below, closeup of Taylor.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dead Presidents #49, War #14

U.S. Grant

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dead Presidents #48

Detail view of pictorial envelope denouncing former President James Buchanan. The text reads:

He was elected President by fraud and trickery! Under his administration that Treasury was robbed! Duplicity and cowardice marked his career! finally, he sold his country to a band of Southern conspirators, and now lives to be pointed at with the finger of scorn, by all true men! and will go down to his grave unlamented.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Founders' Promissory Notes #3,

“How do you like it, Jefferson D?” Words and music by Amos Patton.(1864)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

America #55

[T]he only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars...

Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1951/1957)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Aphorisms #9, Food #15

The tragedy of English cooking is that “plain” cooking cannot be entrusted to “plain” cooks.

Countess Morphy, English Recipes (1935)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Art #20, Entrails of Finance #3, Manhattan #44,

Think of it, ye millionaires of many markets, what glory may yet be yours if you only listen to our advice, to convert pork into porcelain, grain and produce into priceless pottery, the rude ores of commerce into sculptured marble, and railroad shares and mining stocks—things which perish without the using, and which in the next financial panic shall surely shrivel like parched scrolls—into the glorified canvases of the world’s masters, that shall adorn these walls for centuries. The rage of Wall Street is to hunt the Philosopher’s Stone, to convert all baser things into gold, which is but dross; but ours is the higher ambition to convert your useless gold into things of living beauty that shall be a joy to a whole people for a thousand years.

Joseph H. Choate, to the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, upon the opening of the museum. (1880)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Book Titles Without Context #12

Future Arterial Program, New York City

Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (1963)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Word of the Day #33


Friday, May 21, 2010

Order of the Universe #34

The final truth about life is always an absurdity but it cannot be an absolute absurdity. It is an absurdity inasfar as it mush transcend the “system” of meaning which the human mind always prematurely constructs with itself as the centre. But it cannot be a complete absurdity or it could not achieve any credence.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man, Vol. 2 (1943)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aviation #15

Eagle airship, Chicago, Illinois. (1906)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Love #24

Si l’Amour porte des ailes,
N’est-ce pas pour voltiger?
N’est-ce pas pour voltiger?
N’est-ce pas pour voltiger?

Beaumarchais, Le Mariage de Figaro (1784)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

America #54

May it not be that we are shouting at Mr. [Henry] Ford because he has done us the inconvenience of revealing some of the American character a little too baldly? Is our indignation like that of the man making faces at himself in a mirror?

The first fact about Mr. Ford is that he is a very rich man. Whatever he says is therefore sure of a hearing in America. We have always acted instinctively on the theory that golden thoughts flow in a continuous stream from the minds of millionaires. Their ideas about religion, education, morality, and international politics carry weight out of all proportion to their intrinsic importance; and though we have not admitted that riches make wisdom, we have always assumed that they deserve publicity.

This automatic obeisance to wealth is complicated by our notions of success. We Americans have little faith in special knowledge, and only with the greatest difficulty is the idea being forced upon us that not every man is capable of doing every job. But Mr. Ford belongs to the traditions of self-made men, to that primitive Americanism which has held the theory that a successful manufacturer could turn his hand with equal success to every other occupation. ... Mr. Ford is neither a crank nor a freak; he is merely the logical exponent of American prejudices about wealth and success.

But Mr. Ford reveals more of us than this. He reflects our touching belief that the world is like ourselves. His attitude to the “boy in the trenches” is of a piece with his attitude to the boys in the Ford plant, kindly, fatherly, and certain that Mr. Ford knows what is best. His restless energy and success appear as a jolly meddlesomeness. He gives his boys good wages and holds them to good morals. He is prepared to do like for the boys in Flanders and around Monastir. Why shouldn't success in Detroit assure success in front of Bagdad? [sic] If Mr. Ford is unable to remember all men are not made in his own image, it is not strange. Have Americans ever remembered it? Has our attitude towards the old world ever assumed that Europe was anything but a laborious effort to imitate us?

Walter Lippman, “A Little Child Shall Lead Them” (December 4, 1915)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Titles Without Context #11

Adventures of a White-Collar Man

Alfred P. Sloan (1941)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cinema #47, Age of Print #18

Expressive esoterica: Film Culture 28, featuring Andrew Sarris' "American Directors" rankings and filmography, later revised into book form as American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968. (1963)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book Titles Without Context #9

Jefferson Davis: The Unreal and the Real

Robert McElroy (1937)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Auden #21, Love #23, Order of the Universe #33

Culture, in fact, is something more than merely a relative anthropological concept. “Men are born not with equal abilities but with an equal weakness.” Culture, then, is something to be won, and difficult to retain. It is not knowledge, though knowledge is essential; it is not intellect or will, though these are the means to its attainment; it is not self-expression, though those who have it are more truly themselves: it might be defined as a power to resist a blind all-or-none reaction to the immediate stimulus, a willingness to make choices and to admit when, as will often happen, they prove wrong, an awareness, with Dante, that “man was never without love natural and love rational. The natural is always without error, but the other may err through an evil object ... love is the seed of every virtue in you and of every deed that deserves punishment.”

W.H. Auden, review of Historian and Scientist, by Gaetano Salvemini, The Nation (July 6, 1940)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Apocalypse #22, Manhattan #43, Aviation #14, Cinema #46, Architecture #41, Age of Print #17

Parker Tyler, The Shadow of an Airplane Climbs the Empire State Building: A World Theory of Film (1972)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Titles Without Context #8

Fumifugium, or, The inconveniencie of the aer and smoak of London dissipated: together with some remedies humbly proposed

John Evelyn (1661)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Word of the Day #32


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Memoriam #17, Cinema #45

Eric Rohmer


[I]l n’est de beau style qu’efficace, la poésie est ici de surcroit, si l’on veut, mais en même temps première, indiscernible de l’utile qu’elle magnifie.

Maurice Schérer, “Les Maitres de l’aventure,” Cahiers du cinéma (December 1953)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Food #14, Order of Universe #32

[F]ood and wine—...the formalization of gastro-sensory pleasure—must be an essential aspect of the whole life, in which the sensuous-sensual-spiritual elements are so intimately interwoven that the incomplete exploitation of any one can only result in the imperfect opening of the great flower, symbol of the ultimate perfection which is understanding, when all things fall into place...

Richard Olney, Simple French Cooking (1974)