Archive for 2010
Setting the East Ablaze
The main problem – and the reason why The Great Game is a superior book – is that the material does not seem fully digested. The tone changes from chapter to chapter depending on whose memoirs Hopkirk draws on…
city of stone
Birds of dark omen wait for you in the city of stone.
A few notes on Swann’s Way:1 ‘Combray’ is high-modernist fancy, a lush novella of remembered childhood within the the clear framework of our narrator trying to fall asleep. Interesting in not being tied to a particular bout of insomnia – though still tightly bound with insomnia at Combray as a child. How is this going […]
Muriel Barbery. The Elegance of the Hedgehog & Gourmet Rhapsody. trans. Alison Anderson. New York: Europa, 2008/2009. I’ve stayed in much richer ones than that. I’ve stayed in one so rich that when you pulled the lavatory-plug it played a tune… Rich people – you have to be sorry for them. They haven’t the slightest […]
The passes are probably closed.
of an age
I find nothing objectionable in the fact that the young scholar, as may be observed even in my retelling, was flirting a bit with erudition. Later on, scholars began to flirt with illiteracy and achieved in this regard a suspiciously natural effect. – Fazil Iskander, ’The Story of the Prayer Tree’ (Sandro of Chegem, p. […]
Within a Budding Grove
Racine isn’t telling a story about love among the sea-urchins (185). Again, this does not aspire to the level of essay, and will be simply some notes from reading this particular volume. Within a Budding Grove is a more thoroughly conventional novel than Swann’s Way, and presents the late childhood and early adolescence of our […]
A cup of over-steeped tea brings back the memory of student days, bent over a book, surrounded by papers, the tea overdrawing and becoming tepid, forgotten, on the desk. Legs crossed at the ankles, or sitting on one foot, it is possible to forget time itself, to say nothing of a cup of tea. A […]
The view from the kitchen.1 The landlord came to the apartment to repair the leaky sink in the kitchen, which was leaky because the neighbors are doing some remodeling and wanted to separate our plumbing from theirs. The landlord works long hours, and has to deal with people who don’t always want to do what […]
Crambe repetita (16)
Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia.
A view (29)
Graves in old Goris The day started out brilliantly sunny, and we went for a walk through the nineteenth century graveyards in the old village. By the afternoon, though, it was hailing – drops of ice the size of marbles mixed with torrents of rain.
View from Tatev Village
Right around the time I was reading that fibers from the cornel tree were used to make the Gordian knot, I realized that I was losing track of what I was interested in: how the cornels are used in Armenia.
a glance from Solomon
The hoopoe. At this stage, full of fervour, leapt forward the Hoopoe […] she had on her bosom the crest symbolizing her spiritual knowledge and on her head shone the crown of faith. […] She had the gift of divining underground sources of water and had directed the genii to them by pecking the earth. […]
fruits & spoils
The nourishing fruit of the historically understood contains time as a precious but tasteless seed.1 While content and language form a certain unity in the original, like a fruit and its skin, the language of the translation envelops its content like a royal robe with ample folds.2 —Walter Benjamin (Illuminations) ‘Theses on the Philosophy of […]
The Guermantes Way
Everything we think of as great has come to us from neurotics. It is they and they alone who found religions and create great works of art. The world will never realise how much it owes them, and that they have suffered in order to bestow their gifts on it. We enjoy fine music, beautiful […]
Sodom and Gomorrah
Probably the most titillating volume, but certainly one of the most dull. One imagines the narrator as a carbuncular, crepuscular teenager, creeping at the edges of the shadows and undercurrents of desire, without actually entering into the depths he peers in. This is rendered more obnoxious when we are told that the fawning ladies at […]
weak tea and memory
From Asterios Polyp, in a passage on memory.
have a rest
Tuck the blanket around your feet, lean back in your deck chair. Go and have a rest.
Crambe repetita (17)
Marcel Proust, The Captive.
in the afternoon
Afternoon tea out at the country, in November.
Watch the sunrise. Up and coffee, mending the lining of a jacket,1, attend sessions at conference, re-pack bags,2 knit on the fuzzy short-sleeve pullover, go out to coffee and read, finally finish all the tagging & categorizing on this very site that I have put off for two years already.3The fabric is almost rotten, and […]
the heart of the matter
Cowpaths The image occurs to me: Odysseus’ men eating the cattle of the sun; because they are hungry of course. But they do not see that the cattle are sacred, and more to the point, do not belong to them. The word returns to me: νήπιοι. And it felt good to say it.1Which is not […]
We look in the taxi. If there is a meter: fine. If there is not: ‘do you have a meter?’ ‘No – it’s a hundred dram a kilometer, we’ll go by the odometer.’ ‘Well how much is it to point B from here?’ If he says: ‘I don’t know, we’ll go by the odometer’ – […]
Crambe repetita (18)
Isabel Fonseca, Bury Me Standing.
it was in the bleak december
Ah yes, distinctly I remember, what I was doing ten years ago today. Of course looking at where I’ve been: 2000 (-ish)1 2005 …and where I am now:2 …one hardly knows what to expect for the next ten years.3Not the exact view, but close enoughWell, the picture is from last year as Goris isn’t looking […]
A view (30)
Boiling the kettle for tea steams up the windows. Still no snow, though.