Archive for 2015
13 January 2015, around 11.34.
Crambe repetita (34)
15 January 2015, around 5.17.
Virginia Woolf, ‘Four Figures: Beau Brummell’ from The Second Common Reader.
16 January 2015, around 19.26.
Achilles in exanimem Hectora saevit, Domenico Cunego after Gavin Hamilton, 1766 Having another go at Montaigne’s Essais,1 one of those books I always make a brave run at, but abandon a third of the way through, brushed away from the mindset of the book into arbitrary business. I’m not quite sure what to make of […]
18 January 2015, around 6.52.
of fictitious and real entities in motion and at rest
the long road
19 January 2015, around 7.56.
Robert Adam, Ruins of the palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia (1764) From time to time out of the text there emerged little black figures which postured on the white paper beside it, achieved a group which was magical, an incantation to death, and ran back again into the text, which carried […]
21 January 2015, around 10.28.
‘Menschenhaupt’, Aegidius Albertinus, Hirnschleiffer.
23 January 2015, around 19.30.
Roman fresco after Timanthes A passion which may be relished and digested is but a poor thing. Montaigne on sadness appears to be about excess of emotion rather than sadness as such – are the effects of emotion cumulative, is the inexpressible emotion stronger than that which may be vented with tears or sighs? It […]
the printer’s mark
25 January 2015, around 10.41.
Winsor McCay, A Good Book (not the book in question) It is not that the book is badly designed. No. The typeface suits and the pages are pleasingly laid out out. There are suitable illustrations, photos of the poet at various stages in her career – the ordinary image-making of an attractive woman. No. The […]
27 January 2015, around 5.21.
in which culture achieves its apotheosis and history is denied
30 January 2015, around 19.12.
from Albrecht Dürer’s Portrait of Maximilian I We are never at home with, but always beyond, ourselves. Fear, desire, and hope impel us into the future, and rob us of the sense and consideration of that which is, in order to keep us musing over that which will be, even when we shall cease to […]
in the study
3 February 2015, around 5.22.
Curie of the laboratory of vocabulary she crushed the tonnage of consciousness congealed to phrases to extract a radium of the word —Mina Loy (Corpses and Geniuses, ‘Gertrude Stein’) What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness if there is no pleasure in not getting tired of it. The question does not come […]
5 February 2015, around 9.31.
Action Comics #1, 1938 Anna Halsey was about two hundred and forty pounds of middle-aged putty-faced woman in a black tailor-made suit. Her eyes were shiny black shoe buttons, her cheeks were as soft as suet and about the same color. She was sitting behind a black glass desk that looked like Napoleon’s tomb and […]
6 February 2015, around 14.33.
But, in good sooth, when the hand is raised to strike we feel hurt if it misses its aim and falls on empty air; so also, if the sight is to have a pleasant prospect, it must not be lost and scattered on vacant space, but have an object to sustain it at a reasonable […]
a wholesome note of doubt
8 February 2015, around 9.16.
‘With so little new reading-matter to distract us we were able to carry all the details in our head until the next issue.’
9 February 2015, around 10.38.
She had been on the fringe of the class called educated, with a mind sufficiently at leisure to enjoy noticing things, and speculating over them, and reading books from the public library in order to learn more exactly about them. But this was a long time ago, and the scraps of knowledge she had then […]
13 February 2015, around 10.11.
Aegidius Albertinus, Hirnschleiffer (1645), p. 94 As to ourselves, who, not being so overscrupulous, give the honour of the war to him who has the profit of it, and who say, with Lysander, that ‘when the lion’s skin is too short, we must eke it out with a bit from that of the fox’, the […]
Crambe repetita (35)
15 February 2015, around 5.21.
Teffi, ‘One Day in the Future’ from Subtly Worded.
20 February 2015, around 9.40.
The dangers of conferring with the ‘enemy’ – both if one goes on one’s own or with one’s cohorts: dangers on all sides.1 Circumstances create their own consequence, and lead naturally to a certain course of action; the refrain from that action becomes difficult (specifically to do with the difficulty in restraining a conquering army […]
21 February 2015, around 17.51.
Around the neighborhood. One of the more interesting stylistic problems during the Hellenistic period was the problem of quotation. The forms of direct, half-hidden and completely hidden quoting were endlessly varied, as were the forms for framing quotations by a context, forms of intonational quotation marks, varying degrees of alienation or assimilation of another’s quoted […]
27 February 2015, around 16.49.
It is perhaps the result of reading too many detective stories, but Montaigne’s notes on the importance of intentions was full of possibilities: They do still worse who reserve for their last will the declaration of some spiteful intention against a neighbour after having concealed it during life; thereby manifesting little regard for their own […]
3 March 2015, around 10.45.
6 March 2015, around 13.35.
When lately I withdrew to my own home, resolved, as far as in me lay, to think only of spending in rest and retirement the little time I still have to live, it seemed to me that I could do my mind no greater favour than to allow it, in idleness, to entertain itself, to […]
13 March 2015, around 16.07.
From Pierre L’Estoile’s Les belles Figures et Drolleries de la Ligue We are human beings, and hold together, only by speech (30). When thinking back over the essay ‘On Liars’ I find myself thinking of it in terms of memory, for the first third of it is taken up with Montaigne’s concern about his own […]
15 March 2015, around 16.13.
A bit of light reading from Terry and the Pirates. I’ve been spending much of March reading Will Eisner’s The Spirit (as reprinted by DC Comics), and trying to put it in some sort of context, which involves more reading (of Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates and Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy). It hasn’t been […]
A Feeling for Books
20 March 2015, around 5.04.
By Janice Radway, Univ. NC Press, 1997.
20 March 2015, around 11.07.
As we advise ladies to take up those games and bodily exercises which will show off their particular beauty to the best advantage, so I would give the same advice with regard to those advantages in eloquence (33) […] I know by experience that natural disposition which is impatience of earnest and laborious premeditation, and […]
hope against hope (4)
24 March 2015, around 11.44.
A bit of Caravaggio’s painting of ‘Saint Jerome Writing’ It’s taken me a while to get through Hope Mirrlees’ Collected Poems, perhaps because it confounded my expectations (which were admittedly a bit confused). Eager readers of Mirrlees’ work or those interested in her life should, of course, pick up a copy, as it is contains […]
27 March 2015, around 11.08.
It is at this point in reading the Essays that I notice the running heads do not contain the titles of the essay but rather an arbitrary key point for the page – for the shorter essays this usually results in the title appearing as the running head, but the longer compositions generally have a […]
29 March 2015, around 17.02.
3 April 2015, around 16.46.
I cannot deny that if the loud report of an arquebus suddenly strikes on my ear in a place where I have no reason to expect it, I am startled; which I have seen happen to others more valorous than I. —Montaigne (Essays, ‘On Steadfastness’) Is steadfastness then to apply only in those circumstances that […]
10 April 2015, around 17.05.
An engraving by Matthäus Merian the Elder (1710) For my part, I often neglect both of these empty formalities, since I curtail all ceremony in my own house. If any take offence, what shall I do? Better to offend him once than myself every day; that would be a perpetual slavery. […] Not only every […]
Crambe repetita (36)
15 April 2015, around 9.04.
Allen Lane, quoted in Penguin Portrait.
17 April 2015, around 21.29.
I live from day to day, and am content with having sufficient for present and ordinary needs; for the extraordinary all the provision in the world will not suffice. And it is madness to expect that Fortune could ever sufficiently arm us against herself. With our own arms must we fight her. —Montaigne (Essays, ‘That […]
24 April 2015, around 9.36.
The bombardment of the Acropolis in 1687 from at 1707 edition of Francesco Finelli’s Atene attica : descritta da suoi principii fino all’acquisto fatto dall’armi venete nel 1687 (originally available via the Ottoman Imperial Archives, but no longer) So above all things a man should take heed, if he can, against falling into the hands […]
A view (43)
25 April 2015, around 5.45.
1 May 2015, around 6.30.
The Gunpowder plot conspirators, Crispin de Passe the Elder 1605 via Giornale Nuovo (ca. 2007) The recurring theme of willfulness, and the conflation of cowardice and ignorance as two pernicious forms of weakness one can, in part, lay at the feet of Nature, but only in part: It is reasonable indeed to see difference between […]
5 May 2015, around 6.12.
‘A Girl Walks Home Alone’ It moves slowly; indeed, the pacing is unsettling. It’s been quite a while, though, since I’ve enjoyed a movie as much as A Girl Walks Home Alone, which was a thoughtful bit of creativity, rather than a bombastic collection of marketing images. I cannot (and do not want to) say […]
8 May 2015, around 18.35.
…when I read history, which is written by all sorts and conditions of men, I usually consider what kind of man the author is: if his profession is that of letters only, he teaches me principally style and language; if he is a physician, I am the more ready to believe what he says of […]
11 May 2015, around 5.52.
A selection of ‘useful hints’ from Rambles in Rome (9th edition, 1903, page xiv) by S. Russell Forbes: Avoid bad odours. Do not ride in an open carriage at night. Take lunch in the middle of the day. This is essential. It is better to take a light breakfast an lunch, than a heavy breakfast […]
15 May 2015, around 16.21.
They who have had a good drubbing in a fight may be led back to the charge on the morrow, though still wounded and bleeding; but if they have been given a good fright by the enemy, you will not induce them even to look at them. —Montaigne (Essays, ‘Of Fear’) The consideration of fear […]
22 May 2015, around 11.17.
Solon the Athenian, from the Nuremberg Chronicle But in this last act, where death and ourselves each play there part, there must be no more pretending: we must speak plainly, and disclose what there is of good and clean at the bottom of the pot. —Montaigne (Essays, ‘That we should not judge of our happiness […]
29 May 2015, around 9.23.
‘Philosophy’ (1707) by Sébastien Leclerc (1637-1714) via Giornale Nuovo The other day somebody, turning over my tablets, found a memorandum of something I wished to be done after my death. I told him, what was true, that being but a league’s distance from my house, and healthy and robust, I had hastened to write it […]
5 June 2015, around 9.16.
Steel engraving by J.B. Bourgois, 1808, after ‘The Hermaphrodite’ in the Louvre. We sweat, we tremble, we turn pale and blush through the shock of our imagination and lying back in our feather-bed we feel our body agitated by its power… –Montaigne (Essays ‘Of the Power of Imagination’) The power of imagination – excesses of […]
8 June 2015, around 9.40.
Rodin, ‘Assemblage: mask of Camille Claudel and left hand of Pierre de Wissant’ (1895?) Reading Fiona Templeton’s Delirium of Interpretation, I didn’t quite know what to make of it – I do not believe I have recently read a work that so forcefully put me, as a reader, at such a great cultural distance from the […]
12 June 2015, around 11.00.
Hieronymus Brunschwig, Liber Pestilentialis de venenis epidemie The tradesman thrives only by the extravagance of youth, the husbandman by the dearness of grain, the architect by the ruin of houses, the officers of justice by lawsuits and men’s quarrels; even the honour and practice of ministers of religion depend on our death and our vices. […]
Crambe repetita (37)
15 June 2015, around 5.52.
M.V. Hughes, A London Home in the 1890s.
19 June 2015, around 9.15.
‘Philosophy and Christian Art’ (1868) by Daniel Huntington What can be more barbarous than to see a nation where, by lawful custom, the office of a judge is sold, and judgements are paid for in good ready money, and where justice is by law denied to him who has not the wherewithal to pay for […]
26 June 2015, around 13.22.
Now, I say that not only in medicine, but in several more certain arts, there is a good deal of luck. Why should we not attribute the poetic flights which ravish and transport their author out of himself to his good luck, since he himself confesses that they exceed his power and ability, and acknowledges […]
3 July 2015, around 15.22.
We labour but to cram our memory, and leave the understanding and the conscience empty. Even as the birds sometimes fly in search of grain, and bring it in their beaks without tasting it, to feed their young, so do our pedants go picking knowledge out of books, carrying it at the end of their […]
10 July 2015, around 5.49.
Vanity & Vexation And besides, I do not compete wholesale with those old champions, and body to body; I do so by repetitions, by frequent and light attacks. I do not stubbornly grapple with them, but only try their strength, and if I try to keep pace with them, I do so hesitatingly. If I […]
Crambe repetita (38)
15 July 2015, around 9.33.
17 July 2015, around 10.54.
Vainglory and curiosity are the two scourges of our soul. The latter prompts us to thrust our noses into everything, and the former forbids us to leave anything unresolved and undecided (182). Doubt concerning the ‘miraculous’ spread of information – such one knowing the results of a battle three days away within the hour. Odd […]
24 July 2015, around 12.23.
I cannot allow those other common friendships to be placed in the same line with ours. I have as much knowledge of them as another, and of the most perfect of their kind, but I should not advise any one to measure them with the same rule; he would be much mistaken (190). anachronism –entry […]
31 July 2015, around 17.49.
Medice, cura teipsum. And what are these essays but grotesque and monstrous bodies, pieced together of different members, without any definite shape, without any order, coherence, or proportion, except they be accidental? —‘Of Friendship’ (183) * * * These poems may be seen elsewhere. —Dedication of 29 sonnets (196)
7 August 2015, around 6.34.
vos conturbemini. For to him whom fasting would make more healthful and more sprightly, and to him to whose palate fish were more acceptable than flesh, the prescription of these would have no curative effect; no more than in the other sort of physic, where drugs have no effect upon him who swallows them with […]
14 August 2015, around 19.38.
America (1580), by by Theodor Galle after Jan van der Straet …but hold! they don’t wear trousers (215). Montaigne’s essay ‘Of Cannibals’ covers a great deal of ground and, if it does not reach the heights of ‘Of Moderation’, nonetheless typifies his style. In the course of the essay he considers bravery, relative morality, difference […]
Crambe repetita (39)
15 August 2015, around 5.22.
Pliny the Elder, The Natural History.
21 August 2015, around 7.49.
‘Contre les astrologues’, Gilles Corrozet, Hecatomgraphie (1540) We can neither understand the arbitrary and personal meaning of the stars, nor why Heliogabalus died in a privy.1 Montaigne seems to suggest that we should be content with not knowing and, while he would believe in a greater meaning for these things – a meaning perceptible only […]
28 August 2015, around 20.15.
I had never seen it either enjoined or practised, until that passage of Seneca fell into my hands, where, counselling Lucilius, a powerful personage and of great authority with the Emperor, to give up his life of pleasure and ostentation, and retire from worldly ambitions to a life of solitude and philosophic repose, to which […]
A view (44)
2 September 2015, around 11.20.
4 September 2015, around 8.59.
Illustration to Spenser’s Shepheardes Calender Montaigne presents an odd selection of (mis)fortunes to illustrate the precarious role of fate in the lives of men (and women). A pope mistakenly poisoned; a bridegroom captured in a tourney before his wedding night; a father and son condemned to death, killing each other to cheat the executioner’s sword; […]
6 September 2015, around 8.38.
Now Reader, don’t go making trouble fixing names to all this. I say thereଁs not a person nor a thing in this book that ever stepped outside of this book. It’s all out of my head. And don’t go looking like a sick cat for wicked envy, it’s a thing you might come to yourself: […]
11 September 2015, around 6.37.
Montaigne on household memories.
Crambe repetita (40)
15 September 2015, around 12.46.
Machi Tawara, Salad Anniversary.
18 September 2015, around 10.02.
Men in various clothes, ca. 1782, from the Wellcome Collection Now, all things being exactly furnished else-whence with all necessaries to maintaine this being, it is not to be imagined that we alone should be produced in a defective and indigent estate, yea, and in such a one as cannot be maintained without forrain helpe. […]
19 October 2015, around 20.56.
Books that currently ‘saved for later’ – either because I hope to find them at the library book sale, at the local bookstore, or I really don’t have need of them – offered without comment: The complete works of Elizabeth Gaskell The complete works of Constance Holme Thomas Love Peacock, The Misfortunes of Elphin and […]
the art of ‘truthiness’
21 October 2015, around 19.12.
Well, if I forked over the cover price for nonfiction, I consider it my business. While it’s great she [Vivian Gornick] owned up to her deceits, it’s hard to lend credence to any after-the-fact confession, especially one as vague or self-justifying as this one. It’s as if after lunch the deli guy quipped, ‘I put […]
notes on X
24 October 2015, around 14.07.
At the time my partner was infatuated – ‘in love’ – with X—. We had left the city two years before and were only just settling into the rhythms of life in a smaller town, with its limited pleasures and circumscribed acquaintance, when I became aware of my partner’s feelings. Or, rather, when I was […]
1 November 2015, around 10.13.
In the middle of too many projects. Work projects, personal projects, web projects, textile projects, reading projects. Everything is – or rather has become – a project, mostly because I am too lazy to try to think of another way of thinking about things. So I am left with these projects, which given my laziness […]
2 November 2015, around 17.15.
Carlo Levi, Paesaggio con Capo Mele e valletta (1933) I have often wondered why there is such a feeling of desolation in English cafés. Perhaps it comes from their desolate social relationships. Every place where the English gather to chat to one another exudes melancholy. Indeed, nothing in the world is sadder than an English […]
12 November 2015, around 15.47.
materiality and boredom…
Crambe repetita (41)
15 November 2015, around 12.26.
Natalia Ginzburg, The Little Virtues.
A view (45)
8 December 2015, around 16.44.
let no man speak
13 December 2015, around 9.49.
It has been a wretched week. Black cats crossed my path, a man missing a leg turned up on my doorstep claiming to live in my apartment, the car which I have the use of declined to start, and the rain – normally a solace – has almost seemed a blight. For consolation I turned […]
31 December 2015, around 6.34.
At this point it is unlikely I will finish reading any more books this year, so I might as well make a list of the books I most enjoyed reading in 2015: Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby Anne Garréta, Sphinx Mary Lascelles, Jane […]