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Showing posts from April 14, 2019

on sebald's vertigo: an article at Willett's Magazine

In 1821, Stendhal was on his downers. He had fled Italy on the advice of certain authorities, who knew he was in line to being scooped up by the cops because of his association with certain  revolutionaries. His hated father had died – on the bright side – but his inheritance was paltry – on the down side. So he was in Paris, making the rounds of the salons of the opposition, and writing journalism for the English papers from the scoops he’d gather. It was in these conditions, between brilliant banter and nostalgia, between personal penury and the  h ôtels  of the bourgeois grandees, that he  sat down and wrote his first book – which was also the first tryout of his pseudonym (his real name was Henri Beyle). On its publication,  Love  [De l’amour] was received, even among his friends, as a puzzle or a mystification. In an essay on Stendhal in the  London Review of Books , Tim Parks noted that Etienne-Jean Delécluze, in whose salon Beyle met the leading lights of the liberal oppositio

Poem for today

Ask the man all skilllless and off Upon whose face noiseless time has crept on weather In what veiny ruin his childhood coughs  Itself to sleep in wild blue forever But don’t expect prophecy, amigo: Though twigs and dirt stick in his beard The oracles were all shuttered long ago And God sings lonely in the mockingbird.

Cathedral and forest

« Toutes ses figures sont des mots; tous ses groups sont des phrasses ; la difficulte est de les lire. » - Huysman, La cath é drale The nineteenth century went crazy about architecture. As Haussman went about bulldozing the ancien regime in Paris, the gothic craze and statuemania made Paris streets into a spectacle for stone eyes. Ruskin in England had an influence that it is now difficult to understand: his melding of architectural critique and red Toryism – an aristocratic anarchy, protesting against the industrial age as a huge smudge enveloping human life – was so important to Gandhi that he made the anti-industrial, home cottage message into a program of independence. Viollet-le Duc made the case for restoring the gothic cathedrals of France – and even if restoration here sometimes seems like vampirism, it did succeed in making France aware of its vast fleet of stone spires and towers. Perhaps the last architectural critique with this popular pull was Adolf Loos in Vienna,

Perennial article about plutocracy and managed capitalism

We've all noticed, those of us denizens of twitter, commenters on newspaper comment spaces and the like, that any time a vague and distant hint arises that the rich in America might be oh, oh, slightly too… rich in some newspaper column, expressed by some leftleaning politico, etc., twitter, comment section, and pundit spaces in the NYT are reliably flooded by screeds against socialism and for the American way. It makes me long for a snappy way to point out that capitalism was not abolished in the U.S. in the fifties, nor was the Reagan tax cut on the wealthiest the second coming of Adam Smith in the eighties. What is funny about the rabid defense of the wealthy is that I imagine it often comes from the non-wealthy. It isn’t like billionaires are into making comments in comment boxes. Or even, save for Elon Musk and Trump, tweeting themselves - they've got factotums for that.  But what they are defending is, of course, absolutely against their interests. It is the great Am