Thursday, February 22, 2018

A market like no other

     Anyone willing to be arrested
     may shoot this irritant dead.
     This is only because, we know
     how remorseless the anger is,
     and its constituency pays for
     him to linger as its destiny.
     On earth, we are alone in our
     protections of this commerce.


C.B. Macpherson
The Political Theory
  of Possessive Individualism
Oxford University Press, 1962©

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Origins of Wednesday lxiv: Stale peanuts

The comic strip ran so long, that when
Lucy withdrew the football she feigned 
to hold for Charlie Brown’s kick-off, 
we ultimately assimilated that she was 
not a team mate but, for all the endear-
ing mirth in her first or second jest, 
she was nothing but a chronic saboteur 
of her own tease. My, how gamely Charlie 
Brown did bounce off his ever-trusting 
backside, as he slipped on one yellow 
peel after another in her deceptions,
as in, I'll sign any bipartisan bill a
majority wants. But that was last week. 

In the sickeningly familiar, dirty old man 
intonation he reserves for such occasions, 
to entice the naïve republic into his limo 
with a candy bar, he framed another above-
the-fray deception between heroic portraits 
in the East Room of the White House, to an 
audience of dress-uniformed conscripts for
the photo op. Now petting the very wings he 
had ripped from scores of butterflies there-
yet another pronunciamento, for his very per-
sonal Department of Justice to frame as some 
kind of enforceable restraint on the inter-
state sale of force multipliers for homicide
machines. Naturally, one could not expect a 
national prohibition against the enjoyment of 
the many dozens of thousands of such devices 
already in circulation, to say nothing of in-
vading their yeomanly trading at the sacred 
suburban Ballistics-and-Brew bazaars which dot
the map, proliferate online, and invigorate
our fairgrounds. His judges have seen to it.

Do we remember wondering, after a while, why
Charlie Brown kept on falling for Lucy's joke?
Was it because he'd been raised as a trusting 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Feeling recruited yet, today?

In the annals of tradition's tawdry tran-
sitioning from practical custom to acquis-
itive compulsion, we naturally cast our
mind back to the Bronze Age, when a metal
suitable for molding emerged as one more
noted for burnishing, not to say petting
into iconographic sculpture. Yet, never
ones to overlook the inventiveness of re-
cent generations, we have to ask, what
was wrong with the First World War? It
was, after all, from that watershed of
improvisatory ferment that the hallowed
plaid of Burberry first loomed large, to
magnify the wearer as a target, and so
to indulge its manufacture by such sur-
plus as to survive the original hostil-
ities, to concentrate class struggle at
home in Clapham. What was wrong with the
First World War, was pessimism.

In their unreasonably brilliant movie on
life in Clapham at the end of that war,
up to its resumption in 1939, Sir David
Lean, Sir Noel Coward, Sir Ronald Neame,
and a cast of immortals from the London
stage portray this civilian adaptation
of a military artifact with telling point,
as the maternally cautious Celia Johnson
inquires of her most incautious daughter,
Kay Walsh, if she has brought her Mac[in-
tosh] on their way to the Park. It's not
a Mac, the girl corrects her. It's a Bur-
berry. The tale goes on to delineate the
doom inchoate in that branding, as gent-
ly as her ticket to Singapore in 1939.

Over the weekend just passed, we all had
occasion to follow the movings-on of the
Burberry CEO and head of design, as re-
ported in The New York Times. As one verse
in his swan swong this Fall season, he an-
nounces the plaid's embrace of the logo-
type colors associated with the worldwide
movement for gender freedoms, not that he
has ever signaled much neglect of market
realities. A plaid, so inextricable from
baubles, has set its sights on the heart-
strings of history, and can anyone remind
me where I laid my trusty Macintosh?

ii  Swatch, Burberry
    The New York Times
    February 17, 2018©

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sighting the fugitive

  The press pool photographer caught the
  frantic Presidential flight from a hur-
  ried dump of platitudes on victims of
  his gun policies, yesterday, to his Xa-
  nadu retreat outside Palm Beach. It is
  a stressful weekend for being visible:
  with pristine probity, a prosecutor an-
  atomized his denial of foreign corrup-
  tion of the election that lent him his
  office; teenaged texters ran rings a-
  round his Fox News propaganda apparat-
  us, in wave after wave of real time ev-
  idence of their generation's devastas-
  tated trust in his government; as ad-
  ulterous liaisons continued to come
  forth, to attest to being paid off to
  forget him, and immigrant Americans
  learned first-hand the value of any
  of his promises. Where better to lick
  one's fork of chocolate cake, than in
  Xanadu's poshest suite, whilst laying

Al Drago, photography
The New York Times©
February 17, 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday commute cli: Indictments by the vanload

  Although out of season, indeed out of terroir,
  I thought of Jason Lowe's estimable glimpse of
  the vintner's van at the crushpad in Bourgogne,
  of the conspirators against the American elec-
  tions of 2016 were delivered to Federal Dis-
  trict Court in Washington yesterday. My second
  thought, was what a tourist trap that edifice
  must shortly become, as visitors from all over
  the world come to touch the façade, now demon-
  strably not false, of the American legal system.

  Grapes now ripe for pressing, if not a stamping 
  out, against rank wrath transgressing to pol-
  lute them with faux doubt. We have a Potemkin
  Congress. On, in time, to a jury of our peers.

Jason Lowe

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Another big day for "pure evil"

It was heartening to find the British
media picking up the rhetorical litter
from the Governor of Florida, at the
scene of yet another American massacre.
What is left of the English language
in America is so frequently nothing
more than the coded droning of Repub-
licanism's busiest worker bees, cel-
ebrating another visit from the devil.

"Pure evil" is the reflex term of art
they adopt for every civil slaughter
in their propaganda for private arsen-
als, apparently without the slightest
sense of how hilarious it is to com-
pound the superlative. With this new
gore, it was timely for that politic-
al flirt to get his marker down, be-
fore his eventual rivals, the Vice-
President, Mr Pence, and our new Am-
bassador Plenipotentiary to the Re-
ligious, Mr Brownback, could mount a
wired podium, somewhere near Fox HQ.
Dismiss the facts, rally the base,
on no account should insanity go to

But Governor Scott won that race of
rendering due process (a passion,
have you heard, of his Leader), by
sanctifying the bloodshed before the
abbatoire had even been hosed out,
the lumps and stumps of steaming,
streaming life bagged off to the ice.
Governor Scott had already shown us
that he walks on water, as the only
shoreline politician in America to
have exempted his beaches from his
Leader's war on the environment. To
find him rising above constituents'
gushing blood is no surprise.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Origins of Wednesday lxiii: Our new deli

    A fantastic growth, it seemed to me,
    every time I looked at the New Delhi
    of Sir Edwin Lutyens, a style without
    ancestry, without posterity, an archi-
    tectural sport; and I compared it, ac-
    cording to my varying mood, now with
    the Pyramids of Egypt, now with the
    great statues of Easter Island, now
    with the megaliths of Avebury or Stone-
    henge. All the same, as my eye sought
    to comprehend that great pink and white
    symmetry of palaces and pagodas, foun-
    tains and obelisks, ornamented ponds
    and regal statues, I couldn't help
    thinking of those Roman magnificos of
    whom Gibbon wrote, who "were not a-
    fraid to show that they had the spir-
    it to conceive, and the wealth to ex-
    ecute the most grandiose designs."

If there is anything that heartens me, on this recurrence of Valentine's Day, it is the promise of the eventual triumph of
a cultivated point of view over a disturbed frame of mind -
two familiar antagonists in the films of Alfred Hitchcock,
and even in the fantasias roiling the American government - 
which we can find in the survivorship of Gibbon, to write 
about Rome at her most hideous, and in the letters and diar-
ies of a 20th Century successor of his, still perhaps too 
warmly controversial for his virtues to be obvious. They 
are more valued with every passing day of trashings of our
point of view by a disturbed frame of mind; but most uncom-
monly beautiful, is his confiding of waging this very con-
flict before one's eyes, in a virile genius for language.

What heartens me is how he lifts himself, not by denial of
what he witnesses, but by refusing it; a benchmark mind,
I am also amazed, by the refreshment in his every return.

         It isn't a mist, - for a mist is a delicious thing
         that creeps down English valleys in the night-time,
         leaving a cool trail of dew, - it's a stinking, pes-
         tiferous miasma that hangs over the city of Basra;
         and as I sat in its chromium-plated hotel, contem-
         plating it, I recognised that whatever disgrunted
         travellers have reported of it is true. Like Bah-
         rain, .. it smells of singed wet flannel; and the
         Euphrates seeps through it, generating dusty palm
         trees and mosquitoes. Was it really here that our
         civilization began? It seemed incredible; let us
         rather give the priority to Egypt, I said to my-
         self, and went in to dinner to escape these morbid
         reflections. And at the same time they issued forth
         from the bar, the European colonists of Basra, 
         mirthless men with paperish yellow faces. The damp
         heat had ironed out their souls, and like the lotus-
         eaters, having drunk the gin-and-bitters of Basra, 
         they wished only to live on there, among the mud-
         houses, and the festering waterways, and the Shatt-
         al-Arab Hotel, with its bed-bugs and its execrable
         local gin. 

         And yet how trivial are these outward things! For
         sitting on a stool at Basra, I learned from a casual
         fellow-passenger that he had once, in the west coun-
         try, bred a pack of basset hounds; and at once the
         miasma parted, the heat and the smell vanished away,
         the gin tasted exquisite, the paper-faced colonists
         sparkled with wit and culture, and the glorious hea-
         ven shown down on Basra, cradle of our civilization.


Hugh Trevor-Roper
The Wartime Journals
Richard Davenport-Hines
Spring, 1944
Literary Estate of Lord Dacre
  of Glanton©
I. B. Tauris, 2012

ii  Margo Davis
     Antigua ruins
     ca 1970

iv  Tassos Paschalis
      ca 2010

Friday, February 9, 2018

Suppose it were Friday cxlix: Never a dull moment

In the new American parlour game
of contradicting a promise never
to take, lying down, the latest
thing the American President has
done to trigger it, we allow no
revulsion to obscure those mer-
rier occasions for this posture,
with their validation of a self-
regard remembered from democracy.

And when better than Friday, to
haul them out of the repertoire
of spinally spirited antics, and
relish their interesting effect?
Surely others are bound to recur
to one; these are but a start ..

Any suggestion of a sequencing,
temporal or hierarchical, is pos-
sibly unintended, although one can 
never be sure about intention now-
adays. So many vows, so little con-