Another Reason to Go To New York
Goya at the Frick.
The image is one of Eric's creations. He makes them on his printing press now.
If you're just arriving, here's Part I and here's Part II.
"These conditions apply to too many people all over the world to make me regard Gerda as isolated. She is an interantional phenomenon. But all the same I think that there may be enough Gerdas concentrated in separate areas to make her in effect a nationalist phenomenon. She probably exists in sufficient numbers in Central Europe to make it an aggressive and, indeed, irresistible power. She was, after all, the determining element in the Austro-Hungarian Empire all through the nineteenth century. The parasite city of Vienna, spoiled by its share of the luxury the Austrian and Hungarian nobles wrung out of their peasantry, and terrified by the signs of economic insecurity, howled all the time to be given other people's loaves. Think how furiously they demanded that they should be given preference over the Czechs in seeking employment, that they should not have to pass such difficult examinations as the Czechs for entrance to the Civil Service. It must have disgusted a proud German like Bismarck, who was an aristocrat, a rounded ma who repudiated nothing of life and knew the peasant's role as well as his own, and who was not afraid. But Gerda would have thought the agitation quite natural.
"Let us admit it, for a little while the whole of our world may belong to Gerda. She will snatch it out of hands too well-bred and compassionate and astonished to defend it. What we must remember is that she will not be able to keep it. For her contempt for the process makes her unable to conduct any process. You remember how when we met her at the station at Belgrade she expressed an opinion on the book you held in your hand, The Healing Hand, which was sheer nonsense, becauseu she had not read the book; she imagined that she could judge it by her knowledge of the bare fact of its existence. You saw at Ochrid how she had not the faitest idea of what Communism is and how it is distinguished from Social Democracy, though she was once a Cmmunist herself; she had obviously never thought of making any effort to find out what was the creed behind the church she had joined simply because it was large and many other people had joined it before her. You can conquer a country on this principle. To go up in an airplane and drop bombs is a simple use of an elaborate process that has already been developed. But you cannot administer a country on this principle....."
If you are just getting to this, Part I is here.
"....Look how she has defeated us. You love Macedonia more than any other country you have ever visited. Sveti Naum is to you a place apart; you wanted to take me there. We have made that journey. We have made it in the company of an enemy who tormented us not only by her atrocious behaviour to us but by behaving atrociously to other people whom we liked when she was with us. This has clouded our vision of the country, it has angered us and weakened us. When Constantine said to us, 'My wife wants to come to Macedonia with us,' we should not merely have said, 'We do not think that will be a success, we would rather she did not come,' we should have said, 'We dislike your wife extremely, we dislike the way she speaks against you and Yugoslavia, we will not travel with her, and if she turns up at the train we will take our luggage out of it.' But we could not. We did not believe that she could go on being as bad as she had been; we were sorry for her because she was a German who loved her country, and had committed herself to living in the Balkans; we have been elaborately trained from our infancy not to express frankly our detestation of others. So she got what she wanted, and she is still getting what she wanted. Do not think that she is going to Belgrade because we did not want her to go to Petch: she is going, quite simply, because she thinks it would be more pleasant to go back to her children.
"Gerda, in fact, is irresistible. It is therefore of enormous importance to calculate how many Gerdas there are in the world, and whether they are likely to combine for any purpose...." [Here I'll omit their recollection of other Gerdas they have known in their lifetimes - k} "In fact this type appears anywhere and everywhere, though probably much more densely in some areas than others. It seems to me that it appears wherever people are subject to two conditions. The first condition is that they should have lost sight of the importance of process; that they have forgotten that everything which is not natural is artificial and that artifice is painful and difficult; that they should be able to look at a loaf of bread and not realize the miracles of endurance and ingenuity that had to be performed before the wheat grew, and the mill ground, and the oven baked. This condition can be brought about by several causes: one is successful imperialism, when the conquering people has the loaf built for it from the what ear up by its conquered subjects; another is modern machine civilization, where a small but influential proportion of the population lives in towns in such artificial conditions that a loaf of bread comes to them in a cellophane wrapper with its origins as unvisualized as the beginning and birth of a friend's baby. The other condition is that people should have acquired a terror of losing the results of process, which are all they know about; they must be afraid that everything artificial is going to disappear, and they are going to be thrown back on the natural; they must foresee with a shudder a day when there will be no miraculous loaf born in its virginity of cellophane, and they will have to eat grass.
"Now, these conditions obtained in the case of the Turks when they became nuisances in the Balkan Peninsula. At first their wars were inspired not by fanaticism or greed or to enslave foreign populations but by legitimate enough desires for political and commercial security. They became cruel and tyrannous only when they were glutted by the conquest of Mohammed the Conqueror and Selim and Suleiman the Magnificent, and when the emergence of Russia and the successful opposition of Central Europe and Venice made them afraid of losing the fruits of those victories. They had never learned the art of prosperity in peacetime, they were not economically productive. Neither, oddly enough, is Germany, in spite of her enormous energy and resources. Gerda is bourgeoisis and town-bred. She is proud because her family are all professional men. It is of importance to her that she cannot bake a loaf, she likes to buy her cakes in a shop. Her theory of her own social value depends on her being able to put down money and buy results of processes without being concerned in the processes themselves. And she is enormously afraid that she will not be able to go on doing this. The war made her afraid, the depression has made her still more afraid. It does not occur to her that what she and her kind must do is to reorganize the process of state life till there is some sort of guarantee of a certain amount of artificial goods for all of us. It does not occur to her that she had better learn to bake bread instead of buy it, for since her social value depends on her not doing so, she regards this as a sentence of death. Therefore she wants to take results that belong to other people, she wants to bone everybody else's loaf."
Rebecca West and her wealthy and extremely affable are traveling over what seems to be every square inch of the country that, in the mid 1930s when they took this tour, had just become Yugoslavia. We have now lived, of course, to see it no longer be Yugoslavia. One of the sad things about reading it, which the book does not make explicit, is the realization that in a matter of a few years from the time of this narrative, the region will see slaughter that will make all the centuries of slaughter that went before there look like a picnic. You meet these wonderful characters and you wonder if they survived it and think, well, probably not. Too too creepy sad.
"Gerda has no sense of process. That is what is the matter with Gerda. She wants the result without doing any of the work that goes to make it. She wants to enjoy the position of a wife without going to the trouble of making a real marriage, without admiring her husband for his good qualities, without practising loyal discretion regarding his bad qualities, without respecting those of his gods which are not hers. She wants to enjoy motherhood without taking care of her children, without training them in good manners or giving them a calm atmosphere. She wants to be our friend, to be so close to us in friendship that we will ask her to travel about the country with us, but she does not make the slightest effort to like us, or even to conceal that she dislikes us. She is angry when you are paid such little respect as comes your way because you are a well-known writer, she feels it ought to come to her also, though she has never written any books. She is angry because we have some money. She feels that it might just as well belong to her. That our possession of this money has something to do with my work in the City and my family's work in Burma never occurs to her. For her the money might as easily have been attached to her as to us by a movement as simple as that which pastes a label on a trunk. As she has no sense of what goes to bring people love, or friendship, or distinction, or wealth, it seems to her that the whole world is enjoying undeserved benefits, and in a universe where all is arbitraray it might just as well happen that the injustice was pushed a little further and that all of these benefits were taken from other people, leaving them nothing, and transferred to her, giving her everything. Given the premise that the universe is purely arbitrary, that there is no causality at work anywhere, there is nothing absurd in that proposal.
"That is the conqueror's point of view. It was the Turks' point of view in all their aggressive periods. Everybody who is not Gerda is to Gerda 'a dog of an infidel,' to be treated without mercy. If she could get hold of our money by killing us, and would not be punished for it, I think she would do it, not out of cruelty, but out of blankness. Since she denies the reality of process, she would only envisage our death, which would be a great convenience to her, and not our dying, which would be a great inconvenience to us. She has shut herself off from the possibility of feeling mercy, since pain is a process and not a result. This will give her a great advantage in any conflict with more sensitive people, and indeed it is not her only advantage. Her nature gives her a firm foundation for her life that many a better woman lacks. Constantine is not less but more devoted as a husband because she is a bad wife to him. All his humility says, 'If she thinks so little of me, is there perhaps some lack in me?' All his affection says, 'Since she is so desperately hungry, what can I give her?' And, needless to say, her children are devoted to her. It is the impulse of children to do whatever their parents do not. If their parents bend to them, they turn away; if their parents turn away, they bend to them.
"In her wider relationships also she is very happy. To begin with, nobody who is not like Gerda can believe how bad Gerda is. We did not at the beginning; and if we told people the story of what Gerda has been to us on this trip in anything like the concentrated terms in which one usually tells a story we should see a doubt pass over their faces. 'They must have been tactless with her,' 'They cannot have made her properly welcome,' is what they would think to themselves. That she invited herself to be our guest and then continuously insulted us is not a proposition acceptable to the mind, which rightly sees that there is no hope for humanity if it can bring itself to behave like that. If we established the truth of our story they would grasp at excuses for her, would plead that she was an alien in a strange land, that her experience as a young girl in the war had made her neurotic, that she had been given an inferiority complex by the Treaty of Versailles.
"These things may be true; but it is also true that to recognize them is dangerous. It weakens the resistance that should be made against Gerda. Foir there is no way to be safe from her except to treat her as if she were, finally and exclusively, a threat to existence...."
Ian Buruma has a nice piece about him in the New York Review of Books. The same issue has a piece on Rembrandt by Robert Hughes.
Tom sent me this link after he read a clip I sent him, an article about people who collect things in Sonoma County (antique marbles, Oz books, beautiful things, you name it) that mentioned Zulu Lulu.
When you click on the word "Comment" at the bottom of each of the posts here, you are taken to the page that is for the posting and all the comments it has had so far. If you click on "Post a Comment" it opens a page that has a window for you to write in and some other possibly confusing features. Write your comment in the window.
The island of Grenada is in a bit of an uproar these days because of something called "Passa Passa." It is described in a news item on Caribbean Net News, as follows:
Passa Passa involves crowds of music fans congregating late at night until the early morning in noted downtown areas to dance and chill out to music, while street vendors provide refreshments.
The GNCRC [Grenada National Coalition for the Rights of the Child] in a news release said that they believe this non-traditional form of entertainment has serious implementation [they mean implications, of course --kp] for the social development of the nation’s youth.
The release further added that this adverse cultural penetration, which can best be described as lawless, doesn’t uplift the morals of young people and “we are calling on the members of the Royal Grenada Police Force to take the necessary actions as the law provides.”
The Education Minister, Claris Charles, in recent time has come out against the emergence of Jamaican-styled 'Passa Passa' entertainment events on the Caribbean island's entertainment circuit.
Charles noted that Passa Passa, the popular weekly street dance, has no place in Grenadian society and is definitely not welcome.
"I am hearing of something called Passa Passa which is creeping into the public," she is quoted as saying. "It's where persons are having dances and some young ladies are half-naked."
Continuing, Charles said, "I think when we want to be monkeys and copy other people, we should copy the right thing. There is no merit in young ladies exposing themselves in public and letting a DVD be made of them. These things are reminiscent of Sodom and Gomorrah. This has no place in Grenada."
The education minister urged the Grenadian people to "let Passa Passa pass Grenada by" calling it one of the biggest problems yet to face the island.
Speaking exclusively to BBC Caribbean Magazine from a Passa Passa dance in Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica on Thursday morning, Carlton 'Popcorn' McBridge said he'd been involved in Passa Passa events for more than a decade. He responded to Grenada’s opposition to Passa Passa.
"Its stupideness. Look at what they call Carnival. Look how they dress! Is there any murmur about that? They're almost naked! It’s the same thing – its culture.
"I don't understand why they would have anything to say about our culture. Passa Passa is one of the things that brings the whole island together. Everybody from all parts of the island come to Passa Passa. People can park their cars and leave them unlocked and come back and find them the same way. When Passa Passa finishes, you don't hear that someone has picked someone's pocket. You don't hear that anyone's been robbed or been raped. Those things don't go on at Passa Passa."
BBC Caribbean Magazine raised the issue Passa Passa DVDs. These are comprised of footage filmed at Passa Passas nights. Many are concerned at the unsuitable attire worn by women and young girls featured in the DVDs, and the overtly sexual dances that take place. Mr Mc Bridge said:
"That's not our fault you know. Before we came on the earth, there were people dancing naked. We must look back in our history, it’s the same thing."
It is, I admit, an irregular feature.
I really don't know what's up but Sweetie, my dog, is suddenly on a chewing binge. If you don't know Sweetie's history, she's the dog I brought back from St. Kitts with me. A veterinarian gave her to me, she had rescued Sweetie from the neighbors who were mistreating her. She delivered her to me one night at Mr. X's beach bar, this slender dog who was in a state of helpless dread. But Kelly, my friend from Texas, took one look at her and said, "She's a good dog." Which she has certainly turned out to be. She is what I call a Third World Economy Model Street Dog, lean and very shrewd and quick. She looks like what you might get if you crossed a Doberman with an Italian greyhound, and moves like what you'd expect from such a cross too. She is very fast on her feet and unbelievably vain about it.
Last night I kept trying to post the entry about the Goya book and Blogger kept telling me "There was a problem." So then I'd post it again a little later and get the same message. The result is three entries for the same posting. I'm going to delete the extras and also do a bit of editing on the one I'm keeping so it looks nicer.
Doesn't this make you want to read the book?
Goya, being neither madman nor masochist, had no taste for martyrdom. But he sometimes was heroic, particularly in his conflicted relations with the last Bourbon monarch he served, the odious and arbitrarily cruel Fernando VII. His work asserted that men and women should be free from tyranny and superstition; that torture, rape, despoliation, and massacre, those prennial props of power in both the civil and the religious arena, were intolerable; and those who condoned or employed them were not to be trusted, no matter how seductive the bugle calls and the searing of allegiance might seem. At fifteen, to find this voice -- so finely wrought and yet so raw, public and yet strangely private--speaking to me with such insistence and urgency from a remote time and country I'd never been to, of whose language I spoke not a word, was no small thing. It had the feeling of a message transmitted with terrible urgency, mouth to ear: this is the truth, you must know this, I have been through it. Or, as Goya scratched at the bottom of his copperplates in Los desastres de la guerra: "Yo la vi," "I saw it." Italics by Hughes
This is Alan Stephens's translation of a chorus from Antigone. I could speculate about why he picked this particular passage, but I'll spare us all. Best to just read it, really.
Just out of Columbia I actually had an interview with Jason Calacanis at the Silicon Alley Reporter. I could tell immediately that it did not take. I was not impressed with him and I rather doubt he was impressed with me. This was my first glimpse into the so-called dotcom world. I saw the sort of person who made me flinch when they showed up as students in my classes. Someone who would try to work the social angle of things, that is, try (and often quite successfully) to dominate his social environment, to his own advantage, while insisting on credit for great intellectual seriousness while never actually doing anything. Every year there were a couple of these. They seemed to favor the black jacket, as if they were practicing wearing a suit or going in for some decadent punk-based attempt at parodying T.S. Eliot's sartorial style. At any rate, the one consistency was they did not work. They yakked. They could not muster up even a decent appearance of being interested in literature, their writing was perfunctory but they wanted it considered great. Their greatness was either to be extorted out of you by nagging and whining or - less frequently - what passed with them for charm; or it was to come later when their genius had found its right soil for flowering. That right soil was usually a place where if "work" was the term for "aggressive, self-serving schmoozing, and impressing chicks with your profundity" yes, they'd be very busy indeed.
Alan Stephens--Draft from the Matilija
Down off the burnt-off slope
for a drink, the big snake
Stops me on my way
home at mid-day
To responsibilities (miles from here
in what is, for the U.S.,
A well-built little city)–how
quietly he lies,
In slow, slack curves, broken
by shadow, among three rocks,
Lowering his chin daintily to the Matilija.
Having paused to judge of me
by tonguing the air,
He resumes drinking now,
letting down and lifting
His U-shaped, thin, flat jaw.
On and on he drinks, taking
a very little at a time,
Slaking the whole length
of his thirst.
Earth’s a great harsh gaunt garden
here, made out of spiny chaparral,
The cliffs, bare crests, dry, stony slopes,
the fan that opens, desolate,
Scattered with boulders, below
this canyon; and, running through,
Narrow, bright and chill among its stones,
the Matilija. – Born
Somewhere in all this, on his own
from birth, in the fit
And hard gloss of his scales,
eye of translucent, dry horn,
Or some clear stone, for his seeing, strange
but, still seeing:
He lifts his head at last, done
with drinking, and without haste
Or hesitation winds out over the water–
not toward the far bank
But downstream, steering purposefully
between the rocks, the current
Very fast down there, he lifting his head higher,
moving rapidly now with an air
Of matter-of-fact eagerness into the loud water
smashing itself solid white
Among the boulders jammed together
below, where he vanishes.
What is it, to be? Slowly to find yourself
already alive to some place, alone with
Purposes already forming; what is snake
intelligence but intelligence
First and last, snake experience
but wholly experience?
No king of darkness, no god, something
as good, I think…. To live,
To live and at midday there, to be
a snake completely, very thirsty,
And drink your fill, at length, of
the clear Matilija.
I keep digging good things out of my boxes of books. They're still in boxes because bookshelves can't happen till a job happens. Sometimes I open a box and spot a book and wonder why I've been keeping it all these years. Other books, like my nice collection of Hazlitt, I would think about during the years they were in storage and miss, I'd have this piping little inner wail of anguish at the thought that I might never get my hands on them again. I now have just about half of them, 35 boxes that arrived here about six weeks ago.
Prejudice, in short, is egotism: we see a part, and substitute it for the whole; a thing strikes us casually and by halves, and we would have the universe stand proxy for our decision, in order to rivet it more firmly in our own belief; however insufficient or sinister the grounds of our opeinions, we would persuade ourselves that they arise out of the strongest conviction, and are entitled to unqualified approbation; slaves of our own prejudices, caprice, igrnoance, we would be lords of the understandings and reason of others; and (strange infatuation!) taking up an opinion solely from our own narrow and partial point of view, without consulting the feelings of others, or the reason of things, we are still uneasy if all the world do not come into our way of thinking.
To show at once the danger and extent of prejudice, it may be sufficient to observe that all our convictions, however arrived at, and whether founded on a strict demonstration or the merest delusion, are crusted over with the same varnish of confidence; or if there be any difference, we are in general "most ignorant of what we are most assured," the strength of will and impatience of contradiction making up for the want of evidence.
All the great points that men have founded a claim to superiority, wisdom, and illumination upon, that they have embroiled the world with,and made matters of the last importance, are what one age and country differ diametrically with each other about, have been successively and justly exploded, and have been the levers of opinion and the gorunds of contention, precisely because, as their expounders and believers are equally in the dark about them, they rest wholly on the fluctuations ofo will and passion, and as they can neither be proved nor disproved, admit of the fiercest opposition or th emost bigoted faith.
People think of Watergate, or Iran Contra as constituting crises. They were in the sense that an executive branch was acting in violation of the law, and in tension with the majority party in the congress. But in the end, the system worked, the abuses were investigated, and actions were taken - even if presidential pardons ultimately prevented a full measure of justice.
Today, the crisis is substantively and systemically far worse. The alleged acts of wrongdoing - lying about the decision to go to war; manipulation of intelligence; facilitating and countenancing torture; using confidential information to out a CIA agent; open and flagrant violations of federal wiretap laws - are far more egregious than any I have witnessed in my 41 years in Congress. The majority party has shown no ability to engage in simple oversight, let alone challenge the Administration directly. The courts, while operating as an occasional and partial check, are institutionally incapable of delving into most of the controversies we are presented with as a result of limitations on standing, ripeness, and other doctrines. The media, which is increasingly concentrated, was shell-shocked and in some respects cowered by 9/11, and for the most part unwilling to alienate the party in charge.
Faced with that dilemma, we had a choice. We could simply ignore the myriad of transgressions being committed, and continue to reacting to the legislative agenda put before us by the Republican Party on a day-to-day basis, or we could do everything in our power to call attention to and document these very grave abuses of power. I opted for the latter course.
I could not live with myself or my children, if when faced with an Administration that went to war under false pretenses, used classified information to smear political opponents; and wiretapped innocent Americans without warrants, I did not formally respond to it. If the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the constitution, is silent on these matters, who else can we expect to speak out?
The History Of Funk Archives
I sleep a little worse every year, I think. I cherish this optimistic belief that it will be solved, but it isn't. I am basically a crap sleeper. But I really like to sleep. Some people who don't sleep much I think don't like to sleep. But I have always loved to sleep and when I was younger could fall asleep almost anywhere. At night now I fall asleep with the light on and a big stack of a variety of soothing literature piled up on the bed next to me in case I wake up. In Santa Rosa, in the anguished weeks after the breakup, I even read novels in bed, a pleasure I have denied myself for years because once I start it's kind of hard to stop. I have this really cool lamp. It is ugly but it is a daylight bulb.
Bob sent me this link. It's a recording of Tolstoy himself, the actual voice of Leo Tolstoy, people.