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Showing posts from December 1, 2013

the drain

The day starts again, and all that is familiar has to be redone – for instance, you have to put together again the two huge faces, the one with the long hair that you like to grab and that when you grab it a giggle exactly the size of a bubble floats up in your throat and the other face with the toy on his nose – a nose so big it goes from your nose to your chin! – that you grab when he isn’t looking and that you then cluster your fingers around tight but that he unpries – a good game, although not as good as with the hair. And then you are floating down the stairs, dressed, your feet dangling, each step one that you will have to remember scrambling up it later peering down and laughing at the faces – now you remember, mama and dada – and challenging them to hurry in their ungainly way and catch you. Then the seat and the strap, the end of which you have to think about and the way you think is to suck it, which you do gravely while Dada is in the kitchen and he’s pouring water into th

the use of imprecision

A beautiful passage from Proust, in his preface to Paul Morand’s Tendres Stocks : “The sole reproach that I am tempted to make to Morand is that sometimes he has images that are other than inevitable. However, all images that are approximative don’t count. Water, under normal circumstances, boils at one hundred degrees celsius. We don’t see that phenomenon produced at  98 or 99.  Thus, it is better then to have no images.” I find this faith in precision beautiful, modernist, and at the same time classic. And that it should be so decisively illustrated (the image of boiling water is as precise as you can get) makes it sound like something pre-Socratic, something oracular. However, I don’t believe it. I believe that images “ à peul près” are sometimes incredibly useful – like smudges in a drawing, they can help the sketcher to open up a dimension of fantasy that would otherwise be lacking, that would otherwise make the drawing merely a banal copy. Yet I love the way Proust says


In Science, first hand , an odd, English language journal published by Akademika Koptyuga, there’s a fascinating article on the Gmellin-Mueller expedition to Siberia and the theme of alcohol by A. Elert, copiously illustrated with marvelous lubok – which are playing card sized woodcuts evidently produced for a mass audience. The article is aptly summarized thus: “This article will show our readers that the Russian people “took to the bottle” three centuries ago, which, however, did not prevent them from spreading over the vast area and building a most powerful empire in the world history. There is something wrong about it — too much passion in these talks about the “universal alcoholism” of Russians and too many extreme views. Our compatriots have long gotten used   to treating vodka as something almost sacred, something exclusively Russian, but in the last fifteen years they have been able to compare. The comparison proves paradoxical — Europeans drink at least as much as