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Showing posts from December 27, 2009

my darling was naked, and knowing my heart...

Aristotle’s schemata of tropes gave us the sight-lines for comedy – the pain that is not pain, the ugliness that is a lure rather than a repulsion, the play between the height and the depth, all constructed from the point of view that comedy is ultimate determined by the audience that enjoys it – an audience that is ultimately base, or common qua audience. There is obviously going to be a problem with comedy from the point of view that identifies pleasure and pain as opposites, feelings that take polar positions on a continuum. Similarly with the point of view that identifies the beautiful, and the high, as the desirable, against the ugly, and the low, as the repulsive. These tropes don’t reappear in Baudelaire’s essay under Aristotle’s signature. In fact, the essay begins with a question of signature – Baudelaire has read ‘somewhere’ the phrase, la sage ne rit qu’en tremblant. This is a maxim that Baudelaire develops, but doesn’t sign – and yet, he dare not attribute it to anothe

Happy New Year countdown!

Although friend of LI, Amie, strongly recommended that we go out and shake our rump this New Year’s, LI has that whole snail feeling goin' on this holiday season. We long for a shell, and a place to fold our antlers. So instead of going out and about, we will do the traditional ten songs, plus review the last year, etc. and as follows, indent, bullet point. Obviously, LI became much less fun this year. In the old blogging days, which you will no doubt recite exciting stories of around the campfire to your grandchildren, back in aught eight, aught seven, we mixed up posts of eccentric, bizarre scholarship, meditations a la Pessoa if Pessoa had been a Texas puissant, and our usual political jeremiads – which was fun and edifying and much like a real tv show, if they had one about Nervous Breakdowns – Neurotic Survivor, say. ( Five characters, no med-pacs for a week!) I felt that everyone would enjoy scapegrace scholarship and confessions of deep personal inadequacy – since this wor

“Those grimaces called laughter”

As I write this, at Whole Foods, a couple of women sitting near me are exchanging life stories, very much not an unual occurrence here, and especially at the ruminative end of the year. One of the women – a pleasant, rather beaky face, black hair cut in a shag that spreads out in wings by each ear, a voice that lingers a bit too long in the nose for it to have learned that trick in Central Texas, about forty – finishes her story and laughs. “And that’s why you get divorced,” she says. The other - shorter, frankly less interesting, surely more together then her friend, who ,coming out with those slightly lopsided raven’s wings, has been reflecting on her life – the other laughs too. What is so funny? Such a short question, such a long shadow. The question of what to make of “ce monstreux phenomene”. For it is monstrous in every sense – it shows, it demonstrates, rather than says – it reveals an automatism of the face, that organ/sign, as if the human body were here ruled by a dif

some remarks on banality and realism

'Le Sage ne rit qu'en tremblant' - Baudelaire When we read Belinski claim, in his Views on Russian Literature in 1847, that Gogol ‘based his art exclusively on real life, eschewing all ideals” – and see him opposing Gogol’s ‘natural’ literature to the school of ‘rhetorical literature’ – we rub our eyes. Gogol, the man who wrote the Nose, the Overcoat, and Dead Souls – based his art exclusively on real life? “Herein lies the great service rendered by Gogol, and this is what men of the old schoool impute to him as a great crime against the laws of art. In this way he completely changed the prevailing view on art itself. The Old and threadbare definition of poetry as ‘nature beautified’ may be applied at a stretch to the works of any of the Russian poets; but this cannot be done in regard to the works of Gogol. Another definition of art fits them – art as the representation of reality in all its fidelity. Here the crux of the matter is types, the ideal being understood not