Archive for 2016
caresses and lullabies
3 January 2016, around 13.12.
Natalia Ginzburg on vocations.
4 January 2016, around 15.56.
No one is telling me that I must like this book, and that is just as well because I do not. This book, Marguerite Duras’ Yann Andréa Steiner is not a bad book, but it is a self-indulgent one, and it approaches the reader with the watery over-familiarity of acknowledged eminence and suffering, for which […]
6 January 2016, around 5.02.
Sunshine, from The Illustrated London News (1865) Peter Toohey’s Boredom: A Lively History is a competent bit of work, hitting the key surface points of the topic, from Aristotle to Heidegger, with an obligatory early twenty-first-century excursus on neuroscience. It is, as the acknowledgements give away, a commissioned book – an editor’s idea of something […]
19 January 2016, around 5.29.
Mina Loy lights a candle.
25 January 2016, around 15.43.
the ship of fools…
bettered novels (13)
6 February 2016, around 6.50.
Clara Reeve, The Old English Baron (1778).
7 February 2016, around 10.11.
There are imperfections. A part of me would like to say that I have made a thing that is as perfect as possible, that the work’s flaws are entirely due to lack of technique or poor materials, but that is not the case: I have been lazy. I have made errors and, though I have […]
bettered novels (22.1)
13 February 2016, around 13.22.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, part 1, first impressions (1796/1813).
bettered novels (22.2)
20 February 2016, around 13.25.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, part 2, a brief notice of the servants (1813).
25 February 2016, around 13.34.
intellectual pelicans and plucked chickens…
rather a chaos
13 March 2016, around 6.53.
Margaret Cavendish on the confusions of reading.
Crambe repetita (42)
15 March 2016, around 9.17.
Danielle Dutton, Margaret the First.
26 March 2016, around 15.48.
Forgot Easter is tomorrow. A gaggle of families carried four outsize crosses (not sturdy enough to bear human weight, but strong enough for faith I dare say) in the direction of the river. A few minutes later, a fifth cross scurried down the sidewalk to catch up. Or so it seemed from the coffee shop. […]
29 March 2016, around 11.30.
It cost too much, to begin with. I really had no excuse for buying it, except that I was feeling out of sorts and aphoristic philosophy seemed like a good choice at the time; it seemed to be a clean copy, too, which would go a little way to excusing the price. At home, however, […]
13 April 2016, around 10.37.
A rather large spider has taken up residence in the living room. Well, it is not so much that the spider is large as that it has, shall we say, presence: one notices this spider. Indeed, it notices one right back, turning and glaring (if indeed spiders may be said to glare) when one comes […]
bears with swords
16 April 2016, around 18.55.
Plate with loversIn the same sense that The Need for Roots is primarily concerned with finding reasons for the fall of France and the Vichy government, Mavrogordato’s introduction to Digenes Akrites – while still an entertaining and enlightening excursion through the manuscript tradition and historical context of the poem – is less about Byzantine poetry […]
1 May 2016, around 15.00.
9 May 2016, around 6.33.
Catherine the Great on self-government.
Crambe repetita (43)
15 May 2016, around 6.53.
Poe, ‘The Philosophy of Furniture’.
16 May 2016, around 14.14.
This a juxtaposition of two quotations about self presentation, from Erving Goffman and Simone Weil.
26 May 2016, around 18.29.
Rousseau on ubiquitous reading.
6 June 2016, around 12.16.
18 June 2016, around 6.31.
on the best society…
6 July 2016, around 14.01.
Crambe repetita (44)
15 August 2016, around 6.11.
Gert Jonke, The System of Vienna.
19 August 2016, around 12.45.
One might be tempted to think this is merely the result of a false sort of conjugation, something along the lines of: ‘I have taste; you have preferences; s/he has an unfortunate partiality’; except I would be the first to admit that I have no real taste – it has been rarefied out of me […]
30 August 2016, around 14.18.
3 September 2016, around 10.26.
up to nature
4 September 2016, around 6.02.
Mirror Lake on an overcast day Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. [ . . . ] If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much. –Mary Oliver, ‘How I go to […]
7 September 2016 – Paris
7 September 2016, around 19.12.
Day 1 (belated). Walked south and stopped in at the church of Saint-Séverin, built to honor a fifth century hermit. A Romanesque church was built on the site in the eleventh century, but the present structure is the accretion of centuries onto a thirteenth century building. There are some quite nice gargoyles on the outside, […]
8 September 2016 – Paris
8 September 2016, around 19.25.
Day 2. Walked north to Sacré-Cœur, because PF wanted to see inside before the crowds arrived. The last time we were in Paris (some six years ago) we sat outside on a step reading while a constant pulse of people took nearly 45 minutes to circulate through the building. I wish there had been a […]
9 September 2016 – Paris
9 September 2016, around 19.28.
Day 3. Headed west to go to Rodin museum, but spotted the late nineteenth century church of Saint-François-Xavier and stopped to look around. It appeared a suitable, sober, appropriate 19th century church and so, indeed, it proved. The lines were bright and clean, most of the artwork tasteful if mediocre – and I will admit […]
10 September 2016 – Paris
10 September 2016, around 19.30.
Day 4. Headed north and a bit east to the Picasso Museum – a lingering irritability about Rodin making us somewhat hesitant, especially knowing two floors of the museum are currently closed to prepare for a new exhibition. We needn’t have worried. The basement featured an exhibit by Spanish artist Miquel Barceló (one of his […]
11 September 2016 – Paris
11 September 2016, around 19.31.
Day 5. We have reached that portion of the vacation where we are no longer disposed to be pleased by anything – though we did make the obligatory pilgrimage to 12 Rue de l’Odeon while we waited for bookstores to open. After that, there was nothing to be done but retreat to the comfort of […]
12 September 2016 – Paris
12 September 2016, around 19.33.
Day 6. We decided to walk east along the Blvd. Saint-Germain until we got tired or could think of a destination. We stopped in at the late 17th-century church of Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet, which had the eeriest sense of tension about it of any church I’ve been in. A priest patrolled the aisles, and such […]
13 September 2016 – Paris
13 September 2016, around 19.35.
Day 7. We went to Notre Dame first, thinking to climb the towers and admire the grotesques, but at opening time the guard estimated the line was already 45 minutes long – and to the unpracticed eye it certainly looked longer. So we decided to head to Père-Lachaise Cemetery (on which more anon) via the […]
14 September 2016 – Paris
14 September 2016, around 19.38.
Day 8. Took the Métro to the Balzac house museum – first time not venturing out on foot for these excursions. The Maison de Balzac is in the 16th arrondissement, just across the river from that dreadful iron tower. Like most house museums, it is an odd assortment of personal belongings and contextual clues – […]
15 September 2016 – Paris
15 September 2016, around 19.41.
Day 9. We intended to climb the towers at Notre Dame today, and waited in line in the rain for some twenty minutes to find out there was a strike and the towers were shut. So we went to the Centre Pompidou and found we had arrived forty minutes too early. We wandered away to […]
16 September 2016 – Crézan
16 September 2016, around 19.41.
Day 10. And at last we have arrived. It is autumn – the haws are ripening and the cyclamen are blooming. We’ve taken our country walk and are ready to curl up with a book.
17 September 2016 – Bibracte
17 September 2016, around 19.43.
Day 11. Our first real ‘excursion’ – to the Gaulish site of Bibracte on Mont Beuvray in Burgundy. Abandoned after the Roman conquest of Gaul (in favor of the town of Autun, which some scholars had believed to be the site of the battle of Bibracte – where Caesar defeated the Helvetii in 58 BCE), […]
19 September 2016 – Paris
19 September 2016, around 19.45.
Day 13. Reached saturation level for museums today. All the busts of Antinous merged at last into the unattainable; the funerary reliefs of society ladies looked at eternity with boredom; the sirens and sphinxes on red figure vases bemused and befuddled and bewildered. In short, it was worth the 45-minute wait in the mizzle. · […]
17 October 2016, around 12.23.
9 November 2016, around 18.41.
Meaning and mediocrity.
25 November 2016, around 13.05.
This a juxtaposition of three quotations about writing, practicality, and danger from Margaret Cavendish, Hegel, and Simone Weil.
24 December 2016, around 4.25.
These are by no means all of the books I read this year that I found enjoyable or good, but they are the ones that, when thinking back over the year, stood out to me as some of the better ones – or at least the ones that were the right books for me at […]
A view (46)
26 December 2016, around 11.06.