21 December 2000 – Rome
Tumbled out of the train station in a daze, only to find myself in the Piazza di Spagna, surrounded by people, tourists and Romans, worse than any cliché; and such noise and such bustle. The Spanish Steps and Keats’s house caught at a cross-glimpse. By sheer good fortune I managed to find my hotel within […]
22 December 2000 – Rome
Spent the best part of the day sitting in and ambling through the Pantheon; one wonders what it must have been like before the later Romans came with their god and their saints, tearing out the older deities and the bronze rosettes for the baldacchino at St. Peter’s. The Pantheon is on such a scale, […]
23 December 2000 – Rome
To the Musei Vaticani in the morning; the streets were deserted and trees cast pale shadows onto the Tiber. Having not the faintest clue of a suitable direction, I wandered vaguely Vaticanwards and found I needn’t have worried: one can’t miss it. Waited in a rather long line for admission, then darted away to see […]
24 December 2000 – Rome
At the Protestant Cemetery, in the company of numerous over-attentive cats. I cannot help but feel, porter aside, that the cats are the guardians of the place, keeping the pigeons away, trotting amicably among the tombs. It is a strange place, calm, yet with a curious access to something else. There is the flutter of […]
26 December 2000 – Rome
Wandered to the Villa Borghese, a rather large park containing such interesting things as the British School at Rome and the Galleria Nazionale d’ Arte Moderna. It being a sunny day, I didn’t much mind getting lost, and wandered past and around the Temple of Faustina with much amusement before finding the Viale delle Belle […]
27 December 2000 – Rome
Saw a double herm of Epicurus and Diogenes the Cynic at the Museo Capitolino, which pleased me much in my soul. At the Palazzo dei Conservatori, saw a herm of Alcibiades, which I thought particularly appropriate and a Roman statue of a toga’d man holding a scroll, whose expression was wonderful, though ineffable. Later — […]
Up, email, breakfast, coffee, read, library, chinaware (the only truly silent reading room available), room, books, lunch, library, Greek Literary dialects (using words such as ‘aposeosis’ – is that an anachronistic Doric sigma? – and phrases such as ‘this text goes in for unnecessary iotas every so often’ and ‘it would be syntactically cruel of […]
Up, coffee, email, breakfast, library, Greek Religion – what role do the Greek gods play in everyday life? From whence and how did they evolve? What is structuralism? Are you a structuralist? Is Gallic subtlety any match for the brute force of History? – lunch, essay, read, breathe, bed.
Up, coffee, essay, e-mail, breakfast, Hellenistic History with the public-school man – post-imperialist and orientalist subtexts in Greek literature after Alexander! – pretend not to suffer from nerves, lunch, Thucydides and Rhetoric (i.e., nearly two hours of sitting, staring at the floor and attempting to conjure an innovative opinion about Pericles’ funeral oration; also, if […]
Breakfast, library, J. E. Harrison, coffee, Historical Methods of Herodotus, postmodern critical article on palm-trees in Attic vase painting, Greek Religion, lunch, room, bath, computer, Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World, email, dinner, room, bed.
(unwell) Up, coffee, breakfast, room, Herodotus, bath, Herodotus, library, lunch, library (return book), race to → class, room, bed & sleep & sleep & sleep.
(unwell) Snooze, up, coffee, library, J. E. Harrison (couldn’t even manage a full hour…), coffee, bookstore (Themis), lunch, library (Divinity and History: the Religion of Herodotus; OCM), apple-mango juice, room, much sneezing & coughing &c., Chopin, read, tea, snooze, read, Satie, bed.
(unwell) Up, coffee, laundry, library (return books), coffee & sandwich, groceries (orange juice & instant soup), room, nap, idleness.
Up, coffee, email, breakfast, library (return book), Athenian culture and society, library, coffee, groceries, lunch, room, tidy, bath, Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, Mozart, Athenian Religion, tea, snooze, bed.
Up, coffee, Momigliano, breakfast, library, coffee, groceries, room, Athenian Religion, lunch, read, library, room, Satie, German, read, dinner, lecture, room, bed.
Up, coffee, Momigliano, breakfast, library, museum, essay, room, lunch, Greek literary dialects, library, essay, room, bed.
Up, coffee, breakfast, library, coffee, Greek religion, lunch, room, read, bed.
Up, coffee, breakfast, library, read, coffee & lunch, bookstore, class room, smirk, read, bed.
Up, coffee, read, library, coffee, bookstore (Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, vol. 2), brunch, talk, room, snooze, movie, room, relax, coffee, socialize, room, bed.
Up, coffee, laundry, email, room, read, coffee, cudgel poor brain about grad school, muddle, read, essay, bed.
Up, coffee, breakfast, Athenian culture and society (paideia), library (return books, browse periodicals, etc.), lunch, room, read, essay, bed.
Up, coffee, essay, breakfast, library, translate, tutorial, lunch, room, read, bed.
Up, coffee, Greek historiography, email, breakfast, coffee, museum, lunch, Greek literary dialects, room, out for dinner, room, bed.
Up, coffee, ΑΝΑΓΚΗ in Thucydides, email, breakfast, coffee, museum, read periodicals, Greek religion (also, womens’ festivals…), lunch, room, essay, read, dinner, room, bed.
Up, coffee, essay, email, breakfast, room, read, lunch, class (‘You’ve stunned them,’ this following a long silence when I’d read my essay; no constructive comments thereafter — no comments at all, in fact), sulk, room, tea, Ulysses, dinner with company, room, bed.
Up, coffee, Ulysses, bathe, putter, send letters, email, brunch.
Up, coffee, letter, Thucydides, coffee & lunch, bookstore, room, The Third Policeman, tea, bed.
Up, coffee, Greek historiography, Kagan YCS 24, send letters, breakfast, library (return books), Athenian culture (the oikos, the womens’ sphere, pederasty), coffee, library (return books, renew, and borrow Arethusa 11), groceries (bread, milk, etc., no honey), room, At Swim-Two-Birds, email, lunch, package, treats, novel, bath, At Swim-Two-Birds, bed.
Up, coffee, At Swim-Two-Birds, email, breakfast, library (return books), coffee, museum (periodicals, course reading), library (Thucydides, etc.), The Blessing, lunch, room, The Blessing, bread, Thucydides, bed.
Up, coffee, Greek historiography, email, breakfast, library, coffee, milk, room, Thucydides Mythistoricus, lunch, Euripides as social critic (‘question authority’ — I can’t believe I skipped two hours of discussing the Boeotian elements of Pindar to attend), room, generally well-disposed to world and lacking any desire to indulge in excessive criticism (this state being induced by […]
Up, coffee, email, breakfast, library (return book), bookstore, coffee, library (request books), Greek religion (the importance of myth!), lunch, bread & milk, room, read, dinner, room, bed.
Up, coffee, email, breakfast, library (return book), library II (read), library III (return book & photocopy), coffee & sandwich, room, read, class, which put in mind of Meredith: …one is not altogether fit for the battle of life who is engaged in a perpetual contention with his dinner… …which holds true for Thucydides as well; […]
Up, coffee, bath, Love in a Cold Climate (it troubles me somewhat, being clever and charming and not especially brilliant, the characters remain, as intended I suppose, card-board cut-outs — Cedric, for instance, is an insult to one’s intelligence — though it is entertaining to ponder the actual schedule of the narrator), library (Greek Religion, […]
Up, coffee, languish (a sleepy stupidity tucked amongst the blankets, watching the light seep across the wall and hiding from the sharpness of out-of-doors), laundry, email (a process which, with some manipulation, can be made to consume an hour and half), room, coffee & sandwich, grocery store (for the purchase of weekly necessaries such as […]
(unwell) Up (after a night of heated sleep, not tossing and turning, but trapped in the stillness inimical to rest), coffee, Ulysses, email, breakfast, library (return books & borrow Greek Prose Style), Athenian Culture, museum (return & borrow books), bookstore (check on religion books in cheap paperbacks), library (translations & TLS), email, lunch, room, tea, […]
(unwell) Up, coffee, essay, email, breakfast, library, essay, tutorial, buy books, coffee, purchase tea, room, tea, Ulysses, meet to arrange Latin, room, Ulysses, library (return books), dinner, room, bed.
(unwell) Up (after a night broken by coughing), coffee, Ulysses, email, breakfast, library, coffee, pick up tickets, room, rest, lunch, room, read, essay, rest, bed.
(unwell) Up (after a night broken by coughing), coffee, Ulysses, e-mail, breakfast, Bodley, coffee, pick up tickets, room, rest, lunch, room, read, essay, rest, bed.
(unwell) Up, coffee, essay, breakfast, email, essay, snooze, deliver essay, room, bed, A Room with a View, talk to Mama, mint tea, drift in & out of wakefulness, sleep.
Up, coffee, Baroque, Women in Ancient Persia (559–331 BC), Brahms, tea, notecards, Elgar, African Civilizations, brunch, groceries, room, Omeros, tea, continue reading, call M, Bach, bed.
Up, coffee, laundry, email, bread, Ulysses, tea, relax, bed.
Up, coffee, Women in Ancient Persia…, email, breakfast, letters, Athenian Culture, library (kinship diplomacy), library II (return book, renew books on Greek cults & borrow book on Roman Rhetoric), coffee, bookstore, bread & milk, room, settle, lunch, write letters, tea, Bach, Ulysses, &c., talk (dreadful and dull), room, bed.
Up, email, breakfast, library (kinship diplomacy), coffee, museum, bookstore, post-office (stamps for letter & forms), room, read, St. John’s Passion, tea, read, Ninth, read, email, dinner, room, bed.
Up, tea, email, breakfast, library (kinship diplomacy), coffee, room, read, idleness, bed.
Up, tea, email, breakfast, library (kinship diplomacy — finished at last), coffee, Greek Religion, room, read, coffee, collections, dinner (which invariably causes indigestion), concert, stroll, room, bed.
Up, email, breakfast, coffee, read, museum, bookstore, bread & juice, room, Lucky Jim, coffee, pita, read, class (medicine; more dreadful silences and skirting the essentials), room & mirth, potluck, taxi, room, bed.
A fine day today, overcast, with a light rain whispering the warmth of spring (to be purple about it). Finished Lucky Jim in the morning, which was adequate so far as novels go, but nothing out of the ordinary. Into college to, idle before the morning meal, which last I spent in moderate socialization with […]
Overcast toneless gray, neither warm nor cold. Reading The Ambassadors, then up, out and to coffee. Purchased litre of orange juice, email, return to room, where reading Hellenistic history, Sophocles & Antiphon whilst trying to organize my bibliography. Dull and stupid, partook of tea & more Henry James, then tired at last, to bed.
After a night of nausea, day dawned bright and clear, no frost, but chill preceding spring. Spent much of the day in bed, feeling not well enough for anything, though did stumble through more of The Ambassadors. To sleep early, with thanks.
Dark smoke-blue sky and evidence of rain, to which was added the sound of car alarm. Naturally. Organizing bibliography, &c., but in no humor for nearly anything.
Awoke to sunshine and roseate light brushing across the plaster walls. In a good humor, surprisingly, and spent much of the morning in the Bod. reading about Cicero, which was curiously enough entertaining. Much caffeine required thereafter, though. Finished The Ambassadors, and greatly pleased thereat; so spent the rest of the day in useful reading […]
To see ‘The Genius of Rome: 1592–1623;’ or, in other words, to see paintings by Caravaggio and … some other guys. Then wandered around the city feeling young and disillusioned, everyone and everything seeming uglier and stupider and slower than they should be. Two elderly ladies on the bus into town and St John the […]
Up to a mist & general laziness, very nice. Spending too much time in writing letters and making notes, which does little use. Have yet to complete summary to my satisfaction and so idle for inspiration.
Spent the day in search of books on modern Greece, which, strangely enough, are more difficult to find than books on ancient Greece. I find it somewhat strange that books on Greece tend to be shelved with ‘Western Europe’ while the ‘Balkans’ and the former Yugoslavia are under ‘Eastern Europe.’ Also purchased a cheap copy […]
More laundry and packing and reading of A Concise History of Greece. Tidying things up in general, as a means of distracting myself from Roman history and the minutiae of Greek grammar. Also looking wistfully at the three library books I must return tomorrow; I’ve had them for six weeks, but have scarce made a […]
Idled in coffee-shops & the library, and read and read and read. Such pleasure. Day started clear, but now overcast. Perfect.
Wandered around town, easing into habits. Babbitt-dom is still distant, one hopes. Vague unease, unsettled, unsure, balancing only barely. As usual. Spent too much money on books. Again.
Overslept and the morning passed while my brain was still leaden; an hour at the Bod., then coffee, the Ashmolean, lecture & lunch. In a frenzy to finish my essay for tomorrow & attend a lecture on Roman religion this evening.
Broken blue sky and translucent clouds after a night of rain. A typical Sunday, doing laundry, reading, preparing for another week. Churchbells call to all good Christians; the response, if any, is hidden from my window.
Tuesday. A heavy day, with mind weighted, wandering through the hours without leisure and without interest. Reading, too, for my essay, attending lecture, and a seminar (on the 18th century: curious how I had never viewed the 1700s as being ‘wedged’ between the monoliths of early modern and late modern history, but have always thought […]
Up early, and in good humor, scampering too and fro with mind at ease; taking great care not to overburden the old brain, which might crumble without warning. ‘…and though the merriment was rather boisterous, still it came from the heart and not from the lips: and this is the right sort of merriment, after […]
The morning in the Bod, nodding over libertas (& eleuthería), then to the Ashmolean for a few articles. Lecture as usual. Too sunny for comfort; in a malaise, if you like. Still, the afternoon listening to Bach & Beethoven & Mahler, a pleasant change, and pondering that most ideal of monarchs, Nero.
One of those very strange mornings, indecisive rain and sunshine, which last shone in (when it shone at all) an eerie perfect white upon the shadowed wall. Spent the early morning reading Seneca’s De Clementia and scrupulously avoiding any thought of Cicero.
After the ever-entertaining lecture on the city of Rome – the lecturer condescending to swear at the slide projector, which had a disposition to be willful — went to the Ashmolean. God’s gallery was shut for construction and conservation work, the red walls and the tops of paintings barely visible over a temporary divider; so, […]
Friday. Morning in various libraries, reading about the second sophistic. The LRR is shut from tomorrow until October, which saddens me a great deal: my last two weeks in England spent without access to its darkened portraits and harried classicists. Still, there are other libraries available, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. I’ve gotten into […]
Sunrise of broken light, white through the varying gray clouds. Nothing unusual, watching the rain fall occasionally, listening to Monteverdi, browsing through the Historia Augusta. A useful day, but not out of the ordinary, which, at times, is nice.
People sat or sprawled on the lawns, soaking in the sunshine or lolling in the shade. I, meanwhile, was content to walk along the river bank and admire the scene, the hum of bees, &c. The rest of the morning passed amid thoughts of the ancient Greek aristocracy, kaloikagathoi, the beautiful and the good. Have […]
Bleh. still. Hesiod is some consolation, and I hope to show great sense about the Works and Days. Oh Works. Oh Days. Oh. Let’s not imitate Cicero.
More and still more work in the library, reading about god and trying to comprehend Epidauros, which just leaves me muddled. I find it frightfully confusing that there were at least four different (?) artists called Polykleitos working in the Greek world during the late fifth and early fourth centuries BCE; it just shouldn’t be […]
More packing. In a haze of irritability, especially when I consider how much pleasanter these last few days would be if I had only begun to send things home sooner. One of the pleasantest sorts of the idleness is that which gives the illusion of business, as all the world well knows. But this is […]
Listless running of errands and pre-departure nostalgia. I cannot find black thread, but only a Swiss water-bottle that looks as though it should be used to cause an international incident, which worries me. Returned my last books to the Ashmolean and sat for some time in the stacks, not wanting to leave. Well, five minutes, […]
We students were trotted up Lycabettos hill, an occasion for profuse sweating and sporadic complaint, but the views rendered both bearable, the sun hesitating behind faint clouds, even Oedipus’ Cithaeron visible in the distance. Doorjamb at the sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron; Attika, Greece (21 June 2001; usual camera)
What is one looking for in these cases, anyway? One could find an object lesson, an unexpected symbol, but one is unlikely to find what it all meant; it is a void, then, and scholarship a waste of time? Perhaps. One little thing, this fixation on an object, whether worthy or no; wisdom and understanding […]
Acrocorinth. One sees the world open out to the horizon, from the span of Attica to the slopes of Parnassus, across the tenuous isthmus, the Peloponnese now broken to an island by the works of man. On the isle of Pelops, taciturn rocks lie uneven as a rumpled blanket, jagged as a broken shield. From […]
It’s deeply complex: it’s not what you see. There’s a tension between what you are and what you know. One must read behind the phenomena, the surfaces; one could take hours, days, months to comprehend one column capital, working over the surfaces with a magnifying glass in search of scratches. This is scientific. Then there’s […]
Delphi – up and about just before six to watch the Pythian sunrise, the bunched mountains and outcrops of rock losing their dusky shadow to the warm necessity of the sun. The trees in the valley seem almost lush, but dwindle to scrub along the harsh and rugged walls. A stillness through everything – even […]
One muddles oneself with thinking, succumbing too easily to the temptation to compare what is with what might be – learn to be insensate, let things, let people, be as they are, and do not expect what cannot be given. Kerameikos and the haze of the Acropolis in the background. Athens, Greece (31 July 2001; […]
Piling pebbles upon the beach, the water laps against the sky, the low sound measuring time’s loss, the imponderable construction of a memory. Set one foot, then, in front of the other, and take no moment to look back, but continue – onward.
The very light is altered, or simply different. There is an air about the place, this home, that both entices and fills me with foreboding. The normalcy of little things, scanning the shelves for books, toppling things gracelessly onto the floor, and yet so much has changed – furniture moved, or simply gone. Suffice to […]
It all comes down to a matter of contrast (if one wishes to deal with certainties). This dislocation springs, no doubt, from the abrupt difference of colors, the infinite bright variety replaced by a limited palette of infinite subtlety; a harsh chalk (or pastel) quality to the lines converted to a skillful watercolor. Even so, […]
First snatch at solitude; how sweet indeed it is. I have missed (oh how very much!) the joy of waking to an empty house, all the silences responding to my footsteps, brushing away the dust of evening entirely at my leisure (which means, of course, I need not hide away in bed, avoiding the day’s […]
To be more joyful, and border less on abject self-pity, I have taken to pillaging the shelves in my former room (now the library – which is apt) for books to take away; I fear my parents shall be left with hardly any modern literature at all. They merely smile at me, though, as I […]
The first day alone; on my own. Faded grandeur of a forgotten self. Searching for lost books. Remembering old friends, neglected, of course, as they too often are. Baking scones, making tea. Existence in fragments. One cannot expect more. Even so. Just a note: I realized what it was, that most important thing that I’d […]
Again, up early. Restless. Still reading the Letters of Rupert Brooke. Aside from having a perfectly splendid name and being a tremendously handsome (in the English manner, if you like that sort of thing) minor poet, I find he even manages to write amusing letters, about such interesting things as, well, life – which is […]
Something like a gloomy day; morning in the library, then returned couchwards for coffee & short stories. The old brain could handle nothing stronger; I put it down to a slight overindulgence in Shostakovich string quartets yesterday evening…
Ineffably charming, oozing good humor & politic attention; I listen & ask questions – then run to the library and hide among my friends, their dusty spines bristling at imagined indignities.
Williston Library Carrel-choosing at the Library — it seems to be one of the social events of the early fall semester… (Yours truly now the proud resident of of carrel no. 502 – fifth floor, by the window, one shelf away from Greek & Latin poetry, twenty-seven paces from Stendhal.) Up very late reading again.
Gainful toil + useful work = wasted time. No reading. Only joy in Monteverdi & a bit of Horace and Pindar and Epicurus (‘Send me a little pot of cheese so that I can indulge in extravagance when I wish’, as per Diogenes Laertius) and Epictetus (Τῶν ἡδέων τὰ σπανιώτατα γινόμενα μάλιστα τέρπει – Those […]
(unwell) Console myself with reading & umpteen cups of watery tea. Afternoons of such sweet enjoyableness are so rare with me that I tend to savor them, hold them lingering to myself, rather than share them.
Perfectly idle, reading Infinite Jest, which is not so bad as I remember. I finally got more than ten pages into it, which seems highly virtuous of me. It would have been more virtuous if I hadn’t needed to read Lysias instead.
Shaping into an utter emptiness. – oh – I was thinking, for a moment, of the world beyond the silly sighing, past the swaying hum of a string quartet, a world of mirth and loud laughter, of harsh tones and brash smiles, of confused and blurring lines, of lights unsteady and the dark ever before […]
History – surrounded, immersed, drowning, etc., with regards to it. Be wary of being ahistorical. Yet history has of late become mere voyeurism, people sitting in their homes before some flickering screen, or engaged in a voluntary deafness to all but the radio. Even the sound of newsprint has learnt hysteria – and this is […]
16.10.01 – Tuesday
At some point I find myself watching the clouds – the leaves are changing – some trees are already bare – but the clouds, the warm, the cold, the gathering, dispersing. Autumn puts me in mind of wool jackets, wood smoke, the break of apples, dust of books; also: steam rising from coffee; yellow-orange leaves […]
1.11.01 – Thursday
Much of the day spent in reading – Agora excavations and Dreiser’s The ‘Genius’. Waited late into the night in the language center for befuddled first-year Latin students to seek help; apparently, on Thursday nights, beginning Latinists have no difficulties with the lingua. I was left, then, to amuse myself as best I could, which […]
5.11.01 – Monday
I have come to the inevitable conclusion. Running into the eternal interrogative (thinking Forsterian here, can you tell?): the answer can, the answer must, for me at least, be yes. Not the ‘yes’ that means ‘no,’ not the affirmative that scorns, but that quiet ever so blank ‘yes’ which means everything & nothing, offers no […]
18.11.01 – Sunday
Lulled, gently, into the certitude of reading. Carefully writing out ideas and quotations on 3×5 cards, printing neatly, citing assiduously. Met J. at the Haymarket, chattering away about the month of October (where did it go? what happened? what did you do?) and the inchoate, incomprehensible fear of application (both to one’s studies and to […]
22.11.01 – Thursday
Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts – Palestrina, Missa Brevis — the smell of baking apples – seeds of a pomegranate. Cold air – blue sky.
24.11.01 – Saturday
I have not spoken to anyone for three days. My voice feels harsh and tight in my throat, a sharp clenched fist holding back – oh, everything. A hungry, haunted look now taints me about the eyes, and I must look away from passing strangers lest from my stares they catch hold of my unease, […]
29.11.01 – Thursday
The library. Dusty concrete steps to metal stacks and weak green-blue light. Reciprocity – sincerity – altruism. Walking. Cafés. Leading. Following. Chasing. Darkness. How the history crowds around one, pressing in on all sides, heading towards some incontrovertible truth.
8.12.01 – Saturday
Reading Invitation to a Beheading: In the evenings he would feast on ancient books in the lazy enchanting lap of wavelets in the Floating Library, in memoriam of Dr. Sineokov, who had drowned in just that spot on the city river (27). Motivation, of course, something to do with latent shame, as usually I’m the […]
12.12.01 – Wednesday
Smell of snow and, strangely, dust. Also leaves. Witnessed (a martyrdom indeed!) an incident of performance art in the library foyer, involving a team of ‘dancers’ and books, which received such abuse as dropping & general prop-dom (oh, ignominy!). Also spent the last geology lecture of the year reading essays by Francis Bacon: There be […]
22.12.01 – Saturday
Sent the last of my applications off yesterday, along with a story to JC and treats for other people. Well, maybe it is a bit overbold to call that little booklet a ‘treat’: more of a glorified holiday card, actually, except, of course, that it has nothing to do with the holidays, red cover notwithstanding. […]
7.01.02 – Monday
Have spent much of the weekend in bed with a cold and only now have the inclination to write even a little bit. Watched the DVD of Jan Svankmajer’s Alice (1988) this morning. It’s a strange film, all ominous puppetry and dark innocence. It started snowing last night and is now snowing again, big, heavy […]
8.01.02 – Tuesday
Went last night to the Pleasant St. Theater and saw The Royal Tenenbaums on M’s recommendation. Anyway, it was enjoyable, much as reading Sartre or Pound in a bus station with the cold smell of dirt, stale coffee, and old cigarettes is fun, I suppose. It was uplifting, a tale of redemption, &c. Walked home […]
18.01.02 – Friday
With continuing secularity: watched Psycho (1960) for the first time (ever) yesterday; it was better than its reputation would have one believe. J. Leigh was satisfactory, but really, Anthony Perkins… need I say more? I would imagine it would be great fun to watch with Jules Dassin’s Phaedra (1962), in which he plays another troubled […]
19.01.02 – Saturday
It seems a great pity to me that more people do not use proper handkerchiefs – as, for instance, the old man sneezing into the shrubberies. Went for a long walk through the snowfall this evening, with the sole intent of ambling once the videos were returned. Snow accumulated quickly in my communist shoes. I […]
1.02.02 – Friday
Of interest to me today: Nations with land bordering China, clockwise from lower right: Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, North Korea. Nations with land bordering the US, clockwise from lower right: Mexico, Canada. Pushing great sheets of ice off of cars; they slide so beautifully, cracking into […]
2.02.02 – Saturday
Read Zelda Fitzgerald’s novel; one gets the sense of scene and character, but the plot does not hang together particularly well and the flourishes can be heavy-handed. Immensely clever, but lacking something, some artistry, some polish, some ineffable thing, which might have made it very good indeed. Poor kid. Listening to Haydn string quartets as. […]
6.02.02 – Wednesday
Overheard conversation: ‘Yea, honey, you know I don’t love you, but I just want to f—k you,’ and you know I’m just saying, ‘I’m sorry, but you’re not even going to get to do that,’ if you know what I mean.’ ‘Yea, I totally understand. They always try to control relationships; they’re so selfish. I […]
9.02.02 – Saturday
Listening to The Marriage of Figaro (broadcast live from the Met). Which reminds me of one of my less savory moments (which, naturally, I shall relate): having waited outside of the other Met for nearly half an hour (for I am notoriously prompt, if by prompt one means invariably too early – you know, the […]
11.02.02 – Monday
Fevered. Sit in bed and scribble and sip water and stare out at the falling snow. Sibilance. A certain slowness of wit.
12.02.02 – Tuesday
It arrived. ‘With reference to your application for graduate study at Oxford, I am glad to inform you that the Faculty of Ancient History has provisionally agreed to admit you as an M.Phil. student with effect from Michaelmas Term 2002.’ Someone once complained that students ought not to set aside their studies in order to […]
13.02.02 – Wednesday
Stopping by the grocers for a carton of yogurt, I chanced to be behind a small red-haired woman who held up her young son for the clerk’s inspection. Aforementioned Son steadfastly averted his eyes from aforementioned Clerk, and snivelled. ‘Say you’re sorry. We’re not going until you say you’re sorry. I’m telling you…’ Son began […]
21.02.02 – Thursday
The house where I grew up was small and angular, striving for modernity but never quite attaining it. A model structure of middle class suburbia. Just down the street was another house built from the same plan; it was painted a different color. I always wondered, as I cycled past, what those people in that […]
22.02.02 – Friday
One would not hesitate to call her pretty; I wouldn’t, at any rate. Neither would one doubt that she was what some might describe as ‘a woman of opinion’ much as one might say that Bertie Wooster’s Aunt Agatha, in the Wodehouse stories, is ‘a woman of opinion.’ It should come as little surprise, then, […]
23.02.02 – Saturday
The smell of roses; melting ice; a warm room. Also. Books; dust; wool; ink; the faint metallic, mechanical savor of a fountain pen. Can one compose oneself? A lack of order. Unsavory.
27.02.02 – Wednesday
Hmm. Tired. Woke this morning to the smell of perfectly toasted bread and scrambled eggs – from someone else’s apartment. Overheard: ‘I only like art that I agr-ee with…’ – the words ‘art’ and ‘agree’ being intoned through the nose. ‘And yeah, like, Harvard is really cool and everything, but I just don’t know… and, […]
05.03.02 – Tuesday
From Mo Tzu: ‘If there were a man who, on tasting a little bit of bitterness, called it bitter but, on tasting a lot, called it sweet, we would conclude that he could not distinguish between bitter and sweet’ (p. 51, §17). ‘This is simply to destroy what one does not have enough of for […]
07.03.02 – Thursday
This is the way things are, then. Writing mediocre, unimportant essays, listening to Verdi and hoping they’ll all just stop singing & die already. Either that, or reading Boccaccio’s Famous Women. Which I enjoy. A great deal. However. It is procrastination. Yes. How reading medieval Latin texts came to be a form of procrastination I’m […]
14.03.02 – Thursday
Slept late. How much information is behind those two little words: slept late. Falling asleep just after nine, waking just before one, then sleeping still more until seven-thirty. It sounds appalling, very like laziness; but it isn’t. Suffering from a blight of coffee-stains. The surface of one of the tables is, if not quite Olympian […]
15.03.02 – Friday
Most mornings, when I wake, I stumble to the kitchen to make myself an espresso. This has, by now, become a habit so ingrained that the very smell of strong coffee causes me to feel as though I were wearing pajamas and had just rolled out of bed. It’s a comfortable feeling. If I were […]
26.03.02 – Tuesday
Now there’s a word I don’t like: spiritual. Heard in these contexts: ‘I’m not religious or anything, but I am very spiritual…’ -or- ‘yeah, you know, he’s all spiritual and shit.’ Spritual people supposedly tap into the grand essence that is, the great non-materialistic who-knows-what, all without the aid of organized religion. In general, they […]
28.03.02 – Thursday
Woke this morning to the chiding of the sun. One always knows that it shall be a bad – or, at the very least, trying – day when distant instances of extreme combustion seem to have gained the power of speech. Moving on, however, to other things. Why is it that, as I read some […]
29.03.02 – Friday
Spent an hour-and-a-half wandering around the Bridge St. Cemetery yesterday afternoon, obviously taking pictures. It was sunny, relatively warm, and faintly breezy – the sun was still a few hours from setting and an amiable solitude had settled over everything and if I’d had a lighter book than C. Starr’s The Economic and Social Growth […]
3.04.02 – Wednesday
Sweltering. Not that it’s warm or anything – just my poor brain tottering under the weight of the semester’s coming end. Even so. How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world!
2.05.02 – Thursday
The workmen spoke in iambic pentameter, a swift and toneless sequence of stressed and unstressed, not languid or melodic, but with a choppy sharpness, unconscious precision and imprecise annoyance. Curiously, the word ‘f—k’ could take any metrical position, as the sentiment or the phrase required.
15.05.02 – Wednesday
Am cutting up useless old photographs into tidy little squares, whether to make a mosaic or to rid myself of memories, I cannot really say. The little blocks of color, near one inch squared, look orderly and unnatural on the un-vacuumed carpet. Some people remake themselves everyday. I admire their energy, for even with a […]
17.05.02 – Friday
Reading Halliwell’s book on Aristotle’s Poetics (University of Chicago Press, 1999): mimêsis, katharsis, etc. I paced across the deep red of the carpet, carefully keeping within the wool boundary, my attention buried in the book; to leave the rug would be to fall into the abyss of daily life – and also to risk running […]
24.05.02 – Friday
Quickly, quickly to college. Mortification. The dean read out more than five hundred names within the close confines of the lecture hall – we sat and chattered and waited. CLASS PICTURE – a dully composed image of a people who can scarce bear the sight of each other sitting very close together and squinting into […]
25.05.02 – Saturday
Awoke at 4:40 this morning owing to the heat of the room and the itchiness of my feet, on which the mosquitoes had seen fit to bestow their generous attentions. Today’s events will run as follows: up moderately early, read, breakfast, partake of massive quantities of milky tea, drive to college, attend the social events […]
29.05.02 – Wednesday
It starts in the morning with laundry. No – that’s not quite it. It starts when they knock on my door at eight a.m. and I am not yet awake; in truth, I had opened my eyes to face the world at a quarter to seven, but the world at that point seemed irrelevant to […]
Wednesday, 24 July 2002
They live on the top floor of the house on the corner; there are windows on two sides of their apartment, and the roof slants steeply. They have no balcony. He has long, dark blond hair, which he usually wears in a ponytail. He is in his early thirties and works in a shop, selling […]
Hauptstr., Dresden Neustadt(4 September 2002) The fountain in Albertplatz is no longer populated by naked children; it is too cold. The couples who sit together on the benches are older, in their late twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and so forth. The benches themselves look tired, their once glossy paint worn dull by the rain, the […]
Socrates was married, you know, and his wife, Xanthippe, was a shrew. Perhaps that’s why he liked to sit in the cobbler’s shop and talk with young aristocrats about the meaning of words. ‘The only thing I know is that I don’t know anything.’ How many a man has said that, in the course of […]
Walking through the rain, avoiding umbrellas – nodding, sleepy, thwack, thwack, thwack of damp shoes on pavement yet damper. Publius Clodius Pulcher, like the emperor Gaius, is alleged to have been quite close to his sisters. Cicero did not like him – Clodius, that is; he never met Gaius.
How to explain it. The impermeable, invisible barrier which seeps between people, flowing between them so gradually that they do not notice until its inspissation is undeniable and no community is possible between them. Smoke and steam rolling off the slanting roofs atop the restaurants of Cowley, rolling down into the lamplight.
They took us into the store rooms of the Ashmolean, bright blue metal shelves crammed with funerary monuments, busts of Romans (or Sir Arthur Evans), and sculptures of every sort of absurdity. We are to look at inscriptions. And here we see an inscription from Smyrna; it is quite nice actually—the person carving it was […]
The thing is
That it seems nothing is happening. I spend each and every day following the same routine, the dull rhythm of the week waxing and waning, more timely than the moon. Waking up at 5:30 in the morning, the darkness still swirling like the fog, I stumble, tumble down the stairs, make dark coffee and a […]
It is a peculiar sort of blindness; I’m not sure I can explain it. I cannot call it literal. Because it is not. It is nothing of the sort. What it is, rather, is the a willful refusal to see. Perhaps not a refusal to see—perhaps an elision of what one notices. And I admit, […]
The scene was, necessarily, amusing. The setting—the dining room of New College, Oxford, shadows flickering across wooden panels and stained glass from the candles upon the table, which was set for a three-course dinner. We had by this point moved on to the port and chocolates portion of the feast, a few lingering half-filled glasses […]
The house is filling up again—graduate students (myself included) returning for naught week. My neighbor slams her door, rattles her keys, rustles a storm of plastic bags. I do not imagine I seem any quieter to her. And now everything smells of canned beef stroganoff, an odor which, with the interminable rumblings of the kitchen […]
It was very simple once; just a chronicle, a chronological exuberance bogged down in the details. E.g.: 13.01.2003 — Monday — Up late, then to the Bodleian, Gorgias, Blackwell’s (Sylvie & Bruno, £9.99 — cash), coffee, groceries, room, read… &c. But that is not quite right, is it? For who really wants to make of […]
An evening mildly out upon the town, following that vaguest of inclinations: civility. The plan had been to step out to the pub on the corner by the house; but peering in the windows at the sodden murmurings of the gray-haired regulars at the bar, we four, young and indecisive, given rather to nights ‘at […]
For the words and facts of the ancients are as bricks, from which we build the fortresses of our arguments, ever quarreling over the lines of the walls. These walls are torn down and rebuilt with such haste and such fury, that it does not seem strange when they are torn down again, or prove […]
Dusk, rain. I don’t know. Maybe I was expecting something different. It’s possible. Something other than the nights of fog and afternoons of rain, rudely punctuated by dawns and dusks and gloamings serene and unencumbered. Come to think of it, though, no one uses the word ‘gloaming’ anymore; nobody sane, anyway. Certainly not the young […]
An Observation (3)
Be suspicious of anyone who claims to be an intellectual. Especially if they say anything to the effect of: ‘I like to think of myself as something of an intellectual…’1 Be suspicious of anyone who makes you feel stupid. You probably are stupid, but that’s not the point. The sort of person who makes you […]
Sometimes I cannot tell if I am invisible because people think I do not wish to be seen, or because people do not wish to see me. Most times both seem true. The glacial drifting of the swans upon the river. Coasting loose-limbed on an ancient bike, almost Cassius-faced in a green wool coat. Birds […]
The letters arrived two weeks apart, sent by two different people; each requires a response, and yet I cannot think how to reply to them. The first letter was a love story; a year ago she’d met a young man, parted as friends, wrote to each other, talked on the telephone, fell in love at […]
My prophetic soul
…we defy augury: there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all: since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is’t […]
It was a strange dream. Of course, it was a strange sleep as well—dozing in the middle of the afternoon over Tristram Shandy and half-a-cup of tepid coffee, only to wake to the first signs of dawn at five in the morning. It was, I say, a strange dream. A restaurant in some unknown country, […]
a Record of Consumption
Including: Sterne; Novalis; Keats; too many Brontës; Chopin; R.L. Stevenson; Chekhov; Modigliani; Kafka; etc. Among other things: Vico, The New Science; A.A. Cooper (Earl of Shaftesbury), Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times; Pepys Diary: 1665 (ed. Lantham et al., vol. 6); Dos Passos, U.S.A.; dental floss; shampoo; oat cakes; muesli; rice crackers. Also: tea (whole […]
Two birds, perfectly white, pink-beaked, dark-eyed, pigeons, settled on the ledge outside my window, billing and cooing as birds will in spring. Startled, I stood hunched, half-risen from my seat at the desk, the pages of a book leafing shut; over the point where their shoulders would be my movement caught their eyes, and they […]
Not a lot of sun hazing through the clouds or the drifting petals from the pear tree in the back. The madwoman on the bench talks at the people waiting for the bus, Go’ blessh you, my chil’, Go’ blessh you; one man turns, delivering in pure Oxbridge and God bless you, as he steps […]
Consumers of Culture
It is only through difference that progress has been made. What threatens us right now is probably what we may call overcommunication—that is, the tendency to know exactly in one point of the world what is going on in all other parts of the world. In order for a culture to be really itself and […]
I remembered the incident because the young man with the gray velvet coat dropped a note card on the bridge, swearing faintly as he chased the wind-driven scrap of knowledge (carefully color-coded in blue and black and red) along the sidewalk, before snatching it at last from the path of an on-coming cyclist. The incident […]
Treasons and Strategems
Towards evening the women harp on the state of Sarah’s roses and the inevitable road works and the delays which make their schedules rather more hectic than less. The details are lost amid the uneven songs of the pigeons, the beat of wings and scrape of claw on slate. The women loiter in front of […]
waiting for the flood
piscium et summa genus haesit ulmo, nota quae sedes fuerat columbis… A family of fishes clings to the utmost elm, once familiar as a seat for the pigeons. – Horace (Odes, 1.2.9–10) A fool might think they were beautiful, their white wings flashing in the sun, their rubid eyes sparkling. They are no longer content […]
Through all the varied lawns the grass once green again is brown, the summer dulling even as does winter. I am a winter creature myself, and these warm days, clear skies and noisome jocundities cause me to ache for a long nap ’til sweet reason returns with the fall; the merest mention of aestivation, however, […]
The Most Illustrious Purpled Person will choose to hear the rogue’s confession of his crime. – Don Tarquinio, chapter xvii It is a hot, and it is summer, and there is soymilk and milk made of almonds, and there is also water purchased in blue plastic containers, and I too sometimes think there should be […]
Dogs aren’t allowed on the trail without a leash, both to prevent them from harassing other hikers and to keep the dogs themselves out of trouble. In places the sound of the river rises up the gravel slope, and thirsty dogs rush down for a drink and cannot reascend; should the owner go down to […]
on my desk
Book marks Books Alternatives to Athens Henry Auden’s Greek Prose Phrase Book (ca. 1949 — ‘It is similar to Meissner, but with the difference that it is not so elaborate and does not profess to contain everything, its object being rather to stimulate a boy’s own activity and suggest that he should add more phrases […]
Now although this elegant ordination of vegetables, hath found coincidence or imitation in sundry works of Art, yet is it not also destitute of naturall examples, and, though overlooked by all, was elegantly observable, in severall works of nature. – from the Garden of Cyrus I dreamt I was made to sit an examination on […]
‘I mean, Thessaly wasn’t precisely on the cutting edge of epigraphy…’ said the student. ‘To coin a phrase…’ replied the teacher.
I call that day good in which I may spend the morning in bed reading Aubrey’s Brief Lives (cf.) and Cornelius Nepos.1 When Oxford surrendred, the first thing General Fairfax did was to sett a good Guard of Soldiers to preserve the Bodleian Library. ’Tis said that there was more hurt donne by the Cavaliers […]
it was the distance…
A view (14)
Relics of the book trade; but see also a more impressive collection. O. W. Holmes, The Poet at the Breakfast Table: Joyce Kilmer, Trees and Other Poems: ibidem H. W. Auden, Greek Prose Phrase-Book: A. Kiesling, ed. Seneca Rhetor: Newton & Treat, Outline for Review: Roman History: Lord Houghton, Life and Letters of John Keats: […]
fragment from the shower
springtime and Cyprus
about the weather and teaching English as a Foreign (or second) language
The trouble with epigraphy. A fog has settled in for the winter and, although the café is warm and bright, the bustle and noise merely accentuate the drizzle and dark outside. It is my favorite time of year. It feels right to be inside, to be making things with my hands and reading books. Not […]
These days I spend a lot of time crossing bridges. Partly because we moved across the river from practically everything we are interested in; partly because, well because my feet are getting itchy again. It’s amazing how deadlines work – one puts things off, doesn’t think about them, and then the time creeps up when […]
At that moment it seemed to him that the queen of spades smiled ironically and winked her eye at him… —Pushkin (The Queen of Spades)
ginger mint lemonade
The way they look and see and go. Unable to slip a word in edgewise. Everything all at once but different times; missed tones in the afternoon. Expecting all receiving naught. Or aught. But chancing not to see. Finding out after the fact. A decade or so. Time not wasted, trim-waisted, but lost. Everywhere a […]
not at home
At home in the evening, planning escapades. The books read and unread gathering coffee stains and toast crumbs. The at one time unimaginable, commonplace. Things moving slowly. The sense of progress, though: gears turning, ticking well-oiled shiny. Intangible, unavoidable, inescapable. Backed into imagined corners that flatten and fade and open onto unexpected vantages. Yet continuance […]
The process of not writing has been a kind of sleep – fitful dormancy. I cannot tell if I am awake again – awake to the habit of writing, of typing, of setting my thoughts someplace other than the impermanent stream of the passing breath – cannot tell if this is not just another middle-of-the-night […]
of the times
fallen pears fermenting on the pavement indecisive days too warm and too cold leaden-eyed maidens drooping into evening slouching easily on an afternoon bicycle slumped down reading in a pillowed chair
Under the window-seat in the back parlor, where wasps die and desiccate, the memories are kept, unlocked, unbidden, and inaccessible – mint-green florilegium, pallor bred under the western sun. The thought makes me sleepy.
Life is too short for this book which smells of potpourri and afternoons misspent in faded floretry. I cannot tell whether it is the cloying stink or the dullness of the matter (promising to tend where I do not care to follow: to gossip and muddle and the human failing of overestimated importance) that caused […]
We find under the weather a layer of sun, wrapped tidily around that parcel of time we call today. The year therefore rounded itself as a receptacle of retarded knowledge – a cup brimming over with the sense that now at least she was learning. – Henry James, What Maisie Knew, ch. IX
Our little ship with paper sail Sets out upon the sea – A narrow nutshell for the boards Holds us both in state; And with brave splinter for a mast ’T will weather any gale.
A view (19)
olfactory, rather than visual.
sense of direction
Begin to move in one particular way rather than another; whither that tends unknown. Looking for the clew; no minotaurs. Reminds me of that Turkish Night, all angles and crossed wires. I misremember. Miss remembering, not but that madness that way lies – or tells the truth. Should stop playing with words like that; hurts […]
through the glass
It’s windy and cold and it gets dark out early – and I am too lazy to read.
Up, coffee, tofu, e-mail, cook lunch, read book about world with no people, bicycle to work in the rain, make rude gesture at driver who runs stop sign at cross street, data entry, knit, drink hot chocolate, data entry, eat lunch, read book about emotionally confused people, shuffle papers, knit, shuffle papers, data entry, bicycle […]
hold my coat and snicker
I remember being told by a teacher not to read Jane Eyre, because I would be reading it in her class in the fall. Of course I read it that summer. Propped in bed, or curled in a corner, but finally finishing peripatetic. That’s how I remember it, anyway. I walked the three miles from […]
in the workplace
We bicycled four miles through the strange weather of a Portland spring (snow, hail, rain, and sunshine, all in the span of two or three blocks) to see a movie about torture.1 As a movie, I don’t have much to say about it; if the topic interests you, or if the current state of America […]
Looking out the window of the coffee shop onto the overcast concrete, it seemed to have already become a picture, flat and filtered and filmy and flimsy. The sense of proportion was unmarred, but judging depth was a matter of relative position rather than perception, and a careless move might have scratched the surface, leaving […]
the kind of day
Started the new job today, the sort of thing that sounds interesting and civic-minded, but is merely ordinary: the good manager gone, no one understands the new equipment, the ‘we’ll muddle through somehow’ approach to training. A passage of time, of limited duration. Come evening I tumble down to a local favored restaurant and grab […]
Getting tickets for The Apartment Unable to concentrate on anything more than a few feet in front of my face. Reading fine, computer okay, walking definitely out; sleeping only semi-recumbent; but better than yesterday, or the day before.
How the body when ill sweetens the taste – of water, for instance, or broth, or tea – even as the appetite falters. All other food seems noxious. Except waffles. This is a paradox.
at a loss
There is something outrageous in a person’s misdirecting a traveller who has lost his way and then leaving him to himself in error, yet what is that compared with causing someone to go astray in himself? The lost traveller, after all, has a consolation that the country around him is constantly changing, and with every […]
The rooster runs across the bare uneven ground towards the barn like a samurai from some black and white film you can half remember seeing, sunlight pooling on his rusty black feathers. In the kitchen there is hope for another cup of coffee, thick with sugar, and lavash with a hard-boiled egg, yolk apricot-colored, and […]
The family cow ate some noxious weeds and fell and was butchered. The neighbor’s dog ate five of the youngest chicks and was thereafter executed. One chicken wandered into the latrine and drowned. Ten chicks mysteriously died in their box. For the anniversary of a death in the family, they slaughtered a sheep, slitting its […]
a cross bearing
We had mock language proficiency interviews the other day, just so our instructors could get a better sense of where we were in our language interview and whether they need to panic about our chances of passing the actual language proficiency interview at the end of training.1 The format was simple, the first part being […]
In the morning we wake to the sound of the neighbor’s two cows walking up the road to pasture. They walk slowly, as though their feet hurt. That’s at about quarter after six. The temptation to stay in bed, rather than venturing into the dismal cold of the room (especially shocking after a night of […]
And a fog settled over the village.
The room is warm and smells of expatriates, a peculiar blend of locally unavailable spices and foreign laundry detergent. There is a pile of completed books by the door, dwarfed by the stacks still unread beneath the window in the opposite wall. I am finishing up a few things I’ve been meaning to do for […]
winter’s dragon-voiced storms
We make the rounds, going from house to office to house to office, from tea to coffee to tea again with fruit and runny syrup. Mostly we talk about the weather. It is a never-ending source of conversation. The weather and health are the sacred fonts of social feeling. One is always cold, or has […]
When the sun is shining in the morning it is warm enough to drink coffee on the balcony with a book, perhaps something on regional politics, and listen to the swifts cross the sky. I had thought at first they were starlings, because the starlings paused on the wire linking the apartment building to the […]
She’s down on the street, and she says it’s a good bargain. The woman on the second floor shakes her head and makes a sleepy downward swat of the hand to signify disagreement. The woman on the fourth floor shouts down and asks how many there are. The woman on the street flings her right […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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’ – […]
1 February 2011
a snow day Guests were supposed to arrive in the afternoon, but the constant snow made the passes dangerous and the roads, if not actually closed, perhaps should have been. The students were restive and fussy, as were the teachers. Snow kept falling, and managed to find the gap between my scarf and the back […]
out and about
Alfred Algate, ‘Pine Forest, Ore.’1 Just something I found one day – a pebble as it were, to generate ripples of thought. [↩]
the printer’s mark
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 […]
7 September 2016 – Paris
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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. · […]
Reading odd bits of books in the evening as consolation for not being able to manage a satisfactory photo of any of the nurse stumps on the short walk through the woods I love the wind even if, exactly, my imagination tends to give it ferocious shapes and colors. Battered by the wind, I go […]
From the frontispiece of Hannah Wolley’s The Queen-Like Closet, or Rich Cabinet Now that we are traveling less, I have been seeing less need to maintain an ebook library – which I was keeping more from laziness than because I prefer the format. So I am trying to decide which books to let go because […]
so to speak
A scene from Rousseau’s Confessions1 We were walking away from the bookstore, where we had just purchased a second copy (with a nicer cover) of Nabokov’s translation of and commentary on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, and to pass the time before dinner we talked about Pushkin’s short stories. PF mentioned that Pushkin was noted for his […]
In the mending basket were three pairs of trousers waiting in diverse states of wear and disarray. They had been waiting there for some months, and weighing on my mind for longer – indeed, since I gathered them together with patch and thread and needle to undertake the task of repair, before setting them aside […]
on dogs, walking, running, Mongolia and nature.
To begin with how it is. Sun fallen behind the ridge to the south, the light fading in the valley, though still bright on the northern hills. Raking up after a frost, hoping to clear the drive and the edges of the road before the rain. For I can push a barrow as well as […]
a singular philosophy
The view from the ridge, circa late summer 2017. The path that I like to walk (and have for some years) is the beginning of a nine-mile trail that goes up to a Forest Service lookout (which I have not yet reached, and probably never will, by that route). The trail climbs a series of […]
A glimpse of the season’s first snowfall, through the window, at night. The first snow of the season (or the first snow I was awake to see falling) reminded me of something that I’ve been meaning to do. I am trying to read more patiently – not necessarily more attentively or carefully, but more patiently, or […]
The other day I happened see something about a fashion photographer’s memoirs and was bored and the ebook was available from the library, so I succumbed to the temptation of my phone and looked. It had the expected condescending, self-assured tone, with a rhythm to its prose like the jolting trot of a school-horse (willful, […]
Awake at ten past four with the clear impression, through earplugs, that someone has spoken my name. Light of the lamp slowly dawning. The dog nudges the rattling doorknob, then click-click-click away down the hall. A trip to the necessary reveals nothing new, and a short doze passes the time before the alarum. One stares […]
—All ideas come in some measure from misunderstanding, from a misreading of a situation or a text or an intention. Thinking, then, in its purest form, is a type of error – a constant going astray, or wander— —No. Too broad. —Most ideas— —No. —Some ide— —Some? Really? No. —There are ideas— —No. Too vague. […]