I remember boiling 4 "new Potatoes (those are
the small ones others call salt potatoes) making myself a small sauce
pan of melted butter with pepper, and eating the potatoes whole and
scewered on my swiss army blade as I read Williams' Selected poems. I
was 18 years old, and the only one awake in the house at three in the
morning. It is one of the happiest memories of my life. Maybe it was the
linoleum which was torn just under my seat. I scratched an itch on my
bare foot with it. Maybe it was the flourescent light. It could have
been Williams' poems, too, but I know, know beyond all doubt that,
without those 4 potatoes, no happiness would have been as possible.
The eminent historian Walter LaFeber -- author of The American Age: U. S. Foreign Policy At Home and Abroad, from 1750 to the Present, as well as the more recent Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism
(Norton) -- turns out to be a diehard Cubs' fan, the experience of which has to have a chastening effect on the mind and heart. The Clash: U.S.-Japanese Relations Throughout History (1997) won the Bancroft Prize in American History.
The line reminded me of a remark made by Marv Levy, coach of the Buffalo Bills, the team that was always the bridesmaid, never the bride, to use that most curious of all sportscaster's cliches. The Bills would get to the Superbowl and lose it -- not a bad fate, all in all, when you conside the history of teams that have been to the Superbowl once in forty-three years. One week Levy was asked whether the following Sunday's game was "do or die." No, Levy said firmly, putting things in perspective. "D-Day was do or die," he said. Sunday against the Packers or Giants was just another game.
Effort is its own reward.
We are here to do, and through doing to learn; and through learning to know;
and through knowing to experience wonder; and through wonder to attain wisdom;
and through wisdom to find simplicity; and through simplicity to give
attention; and through attention to see what needs to be done.
All political language is alienated. Political language as such is the enemy. (Joseph [Brodsky's] posiiton).
-- Susan Sontag, entry for 12/ 6 / 77, in As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals & Notebooks 1964-1980 (ed. David Rieff, FSG, 2012)
Sontag's journals are extraordinary. It is irresistible to quote from them. as I plan to do in the weeks to come. She had a fabulous mind and was as brave in her self-encounters as she was voracious in approaching a world of intellectual stimulation. Thank you, David Rieff, for this significant accomplishment. -- DL
Is it time to admit that avant-garde is a phenomenon of the 19h and 20th century? Camille Paglia think so: <<< It's high time for the art world to admit that the avant-garde is dead.
It was killed by my hero, Andy Warhol, who incorporated into his art all
the gaudy commercial imagery of capitalism (like Campbell's soup cans)
that most artists had stubbornly scorned. >>> Moreover, <<< Young people today are avidly immersed in this hyper-technological
environment, where their primary aesthetic experiences are derived from
beautifully engineered industrial design. Personalized hand-held devices
are their letters, diaries, telephones and newspapers, as well as their
round-the-clock conduits for music, videos and movies. But there is no
spiritual dimension to an iPhone, as there is to great works of art.
Thus we live in a strange and contradictory culture, where the most
talented college students are ideologically indoctrinated with contempt
for the economic system that made their freedom, comforts and privileges
possible. In the realm of arts and letters, religion is dismissed as
reactionary and unhip. The spiritual language even of major abstract
artists like Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko is ignored
or suppressed. >>>
I quote from Camille Paglia's essay "How Capitalism Can Save Art" in the Wall Street Journal, October 6-7, 2012, p. C3.
It may also be "high time" to retire that impoverished term post-modernist, that sad token of belatedness, which has lost any of the descriptive power it may once have had, -- DL
A definitive example of the spontaneous aphorism: <<< One is irresistibly reminded of an incident in the French Chamber when capital punishment was being debated. A member had been passionately supporting its abolition and his speech was being received with tumultuous applause, when a voice from the hall called out: 'Que messieurs les assassins commencent!' [Let the murderers make the first move.]
-- Freud.Civilization and Its Discontents >>>
OK, everyone. In the course of writing, Civilization and Its Discontents, what argument or quotation "irresistibly reminded" Freud of this incident?
I wonder whether others will concur when I say that Civilization and Its Discontents is one of the most irresistible titles of the twentieth century. -- DL