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Showing posts from November 11, 2012

rivers and Adam

Sometimes, after Adam is full to the brim with milk and formula, I sweep him back to me and let him lounge on my chest, his feet hanging off one side of me, his head cradled in the crook of my arm on the other side, and I let him sigh, nestle, burb and burble there. At these times, I think of Adam as a little Huck Finn on his raft. It is a strained association, and yet, to me, an irresistible one. Perhaps it is that he is so small against me, perhaps it is that he is so contented – the analogy to Huck, being pulled by a gigantic force beyond his reckoning, while looking up after his stew at a night sky full of riddles and of vast extent,  at the still point in his flight from his father to territories unknown, conversing with Jim – well, the analogy makes sense to me, and it is why I jump from this image I have so clearly in my mind to  Adam, here, pulled in his own way by gigantic forces, too, the irresistible growth of the body that flows, too, forward, carrying brain, limb, heart,

on taste

Gracian’s first book to acquire a European reputation was The Hero. It was translated into English in the seventeenth century, and into French in the early 18 th century by a translator who remarked on Gracian’s resemblance to La Bruyere. A book with such a title, one might expect, is an essay on heroes that one finds in history or literature. But this isn’t so – the book is in a sense a how to book about how to become a hero, or great man. Gracian worked in the field of worldly wisdom – his distant heirs now retail banalities about “leadership science”. The heirs are writing for an audience of essentially uneducated businessmen, and are often as lacking in education themselves, and make up for this last point by being ardent collectors of the inspirational sayings of the famous. Context, of course, isn’t the point – leadership disdains context, which is full of obstacles and other people’s objections, and marches proudly into war, or a higher ROI, with the conviction that the lo


There’s an essay by Louis Marin, the French critic, which begins with him discovering a 16th century Venetian book with the marvelous title, Of traps, of their composition and use, which, in the fashion of the humanist epoch, took the metaphorical sense of trap as an argument to organize an investigation not only of those devises by which we catch mice and rabbits, among other varmints, but also by which we catch men, in courtrooms and in power plays, in art and in the street.   However, I don’t think this book included the first and greatest of all traps: clothing. Just as we don’t really see ourselves as apes, which are an animal whose habitat is behind bars, or in front of a National Geographic film crew, contentedly shrieking and scratching their hairy hides, we don’t see our clothing as a way of trapping our ape’s bodies. Surely, however, they are. When I unbutton Adam to change him (showing a delight in the fact, if it happens, that this time, there is caca, that I would not have