Friday, October 21, 2016

Suppose it were Friday cxviii: Just enough for clapping

The Crown is catching up. The Times reported yesterday that dead persons convicted of crimes invented by British sodomy statutes are to be pardoned. Not sure what this means for Maurice or the greatest operas in the English language, but here's hoping their discretion keeps a seat for Oscar Wilde.

E.M. Forster and
  Benjamin Britten

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Right ascending: Hillary Clinton in Las Vegas

Now one can anticipate enormous
animation in post mortems of last
night's debate in Las Vegas, as 
further revealing that unbridled
unfitness of Donald Trump for gov-
ernment in a free society. And no
denial of this need be considered.

But I think historians will turn
to Hillary Clinton's presentation
of herself, on that stage, as the
turning point, indeed the bridal
turning point, in her acceptance
of political responsibility. The
departure from her veiled past
may have been occasioned by the
imminence of her selection, and
it may have been enabled by the
staggering haplessness of her 
nemesis. But it was a shift of
momentous revelation, not forti-
fying so much as introducing a
credibility in relation to that
office, which is incontestable.

I have never heard so untram-
meled, uncribbed, uncrabbed a
defense of unconditional free-
dom of reproductive choice in
the many years since I read 
the words, Roe v. Wade in the
newspaper on the day of its
publication. Splendid it was.
Unexpected, unimagined clari-
ty, yielding no ground to the
prospect of working together
with extraneous authorities,
government only first among
them, to trifle with a right.

No professions of its rar-
ity, no confessions of its
temerity, no concession to
its disparity with dogma.
This was a right embodied.

Here was the unveiling, what
the Greeks call the anakalyp-
teria, of the female being as
human policy, and who could
not exult to see it done be-
fore that gender's foulest de-
tractor ever to be exposed to
light, his intimidations quar-
tering him on prime time TV.

And we have come too far
                      to have that turned back
                      now. And, indeed, he said
                      women should be punished,
                      that there should be some
                      form of punishment for wo-
                      men who obtain abortions.
                      And I could just not be
                      more opposed to that kind
                      of thinking.

This is the diction of a
person prepared to assume
office, not of someone ask-
ing to be given it. Possib-
ly, it is structured by im-
minence, but what lasts is
its resolution. Even deeper,
however, is the genius in
this argument, to turn the
intolerably widely tolerated
Trumpian complaint of dir-
tiness in womanhood, of mat-
ter out of place, as the po-
et and classicist Anne Car-
son has it, against the in-
vasions of retrograde con-
tempt for which he stands, 
in public and in private.
Nasty woman, his soliloquy
meant for the camera, is
engraved now on the escut-
cheon of Republicanism.

The long collusion in Hil-
lary Clinton's career, of
the public to conceal the
private, fell away on that
stage. Was it the power in
the right that brought such
candor to its claim, or the
freedom to declare it as de-
light in being born to it?

Anne Carson
Men in the Off Hours
  Dirt and Desire:
  Essay on the Phenomen-
  ology of Female Pollution
  in Antiquity
Random House, 2000©

Edgar Dégas
Self portrait as a
  young man

Saul Leiter

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Origins of Wednesday xli: Appointment in Las Vegas

Oh, no, this will be good.

Ignoring the incongruity,
of our evening entertain-
ment's having anything to
do with the Presidency of
the United States, and con-
sidering only the perform-
ers arrayed to vindicate
the setting's remorseless
renown, we observe their
embodiment of just about
everything the other re-
viles. Unhappily, for the
one who put his crotch in
play, his taste is outnum-
bered. And it is that mis-
calculation which this e-
vent will anatomize, be-
neath the gauzy chatter,
ostensibly, of policy.

Who is prepared to wait
too long, to hear 50 years
of enduring sexist condes-
cension frame the response
long gathering at its core,
I don't think I caught your
name. For, say what one may
like for history being made,
the setting for settling that
score could not be more per-
fected, than to place these
two in the downmarket capital
of the casino world, to bring
that house crashing down. Who
is prepared to wait to watch,
the johnny-one-note simpleton
mantra of standing strong,
shredded, by a shrug of self-

Have we seen a greater cor-
relation in any occasion, be-
tween motive and opportunity,
than the gift of this one i-
deal opponent of gender equal-
indiscipline, inconstancy and
incontinence, to satisfy the
of a soul oblivious to distrac-
tion from that single goal? No
wonder, he stops at nothing to
trivialize that contest, he ex-
pects too painfully to lose.

Finally, the politics of the
occasion no longer elude us.
Finally, events have focused
the issue, and its parts have
been cast. Denial and belief
have never been more readied.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Are we missing the whole thing

Progressives, with whom we all 
fashionably identify, are lick-
ing their unsavory chops at the
prospect of a humiliation of a
large number of American people.

They, in turn, appear ecstatic
in exposure at last, as derelict
of hope, ever of becoming free.
Or was I describing one people,
all over again?

Is it the unendurably Verdun-
like monotony of the present
campaign that surpasses even
our awe at the inadequacy of
its generals, or is the land
simply exhibiting its fissures
again as intractably unbridge-
able? Neither one, I think.

We note a failure of referral
to our abiding resources. In
these last weeks of our con-
finement, resort to the land
as the compass that it is, is
likely to be the path of pop-
ular thinking; again, with
gratitude to a heterodox lan-
guage, for its versatile eye.

               Pitched high above the shallows of the sea
               lone bells in gritty belfries do not ring
               but coil a far and inward echoing
               out of the air that thrums. Enduringly,

               fuchsia-hedges fend between cliff and sky;
               brown stumps of headstones tamp into the ling
               the ruined and the ruinously strong.
               Platonic England grasps its tenantry

               where wild-eyed poppies raddle tawny farms
               and wild swans root in lily-clouded lakes.
               Vulnerable to each other the twin forms

               of sleep and waking touch the man who wakes
               to sudden light, who thinks that this becalms
               even the phantoms of untold mistakes.

Geoffrey Hill
Selected Poems
  Loss and Gain
Yale University Press, 2006©

Friday, October 14, 2016

And you're not going to forget this, are you

         I can't believe
         that I am saying
         that a candidate
         for President of
         the United States
         has bragged about
         sexually assault-
         ing women.

Michelle Obama
New Hampshire
October 13, 2016

Tim Egan
The New York Times
  Burning Down the
October 14, 2016

Xavier Serrano

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Yes, we do

    gaze upon the
    chimes of freedom flashing


         they're selling


The red and the black

Back in January, it was
dawning on us that we
were being given a can-
didate for office who
was having trouble ex-
pressing any interest
in it, apart from add-
ing it to a collection.

   To this day we ponder: is
   it for her head she wants
   to be known, or for being
   at the center of our gaze?

At long last her cam-
paign has settled upon
the mission of furnish-
ing a conclusion, to a
career in favor of fair-
ness to families and
children - exceedingly
commendable objectives
if ever there were any.

Yet not page-turning,
as regards the office
being sought, which is
expected to rise to o-
ther demands. How lit-
tle this mission can
capture the initiative
in the contest under
weigh, we see in the
dilettante late-night
antics of a mountebank,
free to dabble in the
principal challenges of
our time with flippant
idiocy, yes, but undeni-
able intrusiveness.

They say, a frozen time-
piece is accurate twice
a day; but they forget,
the globe is made up of
many time zones. Even a
staggering nitwit, offer-
ing any sort of motive, 
enjoys dozens of chances
a day, to re-set the nar-
rative of leadership. 

It could be said, hers
was the disadvantage of
Hubert Humphrey, justify-
ing an incumbent, which 
led to that acrid polar-
isation and descent in-
to caustic casuistry for
which we honor the mem-
ory of Richard Nixon. We
are sitting through the
interminable rotation of
the globe, pleading for
the ball to land on the
red, for all the direc-
tion it is given by the
most qualified apprentice
of a fitful energy system.

Mark Rothko
Black on Maroon
Commission for 375 Park Avenue
Gift of the artist to the Tate Gallery

Marco van Rijt
Roberto Sipos

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Origins of Wednesday xl: Narcissus' new pool

   I'm as willing as
   the next guy to
   tease Donald Trump
   for self-absorp-
   tion. But you can't
   up-end a democracy
   without a willing
   demos, and an agora
   where they gather
   by conditioning.

   The glossy screen
   is ostensibly the
   stage of a social
   medium. I wonder.

   At best.

 ii, iii  m-ban

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

American endgame

   A gathering irony of the locker room
   discovered by Donald Trump is that a
   misadventure in sexual conduct seems
   scheduled to restore the Clintons to
   the White House. The infamous phrase,
   only in America, returns to that hu-
   mid sphere of furtive power plays we
   nurture as the abbatoire of this de-
   mocracy, with a fundamentalist pruri-
   ence and capitalist concupiscence un-
   like that of any other Western socie-
   ty. The smear of 2016 is a precipit-
   ate from the hold of our slave ships,
   our counting houses and our choirs -
   every spring we repudiate, draws us.

   Now this is good news. You don't get
   condensation without air.

La Soule