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A couple of years before the débâcle — as implicit within — Louis-Napoléon meditated, which is what he was best at, some wish-fulfilment . An accomplished author, his only known fiction had been, in hereditary fashion, official pronouncements.
‘Plot of a Novel by the Emperor’
“M. Benoît, an honest grocer, residing tn the Rue de la Lune, left, in 1847, for America. After having travelled in the countries extending from Hudson’s Bay to the Mississippi, he returned to France in April, 1868, having been nearly nineteen years out of the country. He had been only vaguely informed as to the events which had taken place in France since 1848. Some French refugees had told him that, if he visited France, he would find it crushed under a system of despotism, with poverty abounding everywhere; a France, in fact, very different from that he left flourishing under the reign of Louis Phillippe. Our friend Benoît arrives at Brest in a trans-Atlantic steamer, full of uncertainties, regrets, and apprehensions. ‘What are those black-looking vessels, so ugly when compared with the beautiful sailing vessels that I have left behind me ?’ he asks of the first sailor he meets. ‘Why,’ replies the sailor, ‘they are iron-clad men-of-war, the Emperor’s invention; covered in iron, they are impregnable; and this transformation has destroyed, to a certain extent, the supremacy of the English fleet on the seas.’ ‘That may be possible; but I am sorry for our old ships, with their poetical masts and sails.’ [ On the margin, opposite the latter phrase, are written these words : “Passports suppressed.” ] He sees the crowd rushing to the Court-house to record their votes. Astonishment at witnessing the existence of universal suffrage; astonishment at the railways which run throughout the whole of the country, and at the telegraph. Arrived in Paris; embellishments. The Octroi ( city dues ) carried to the fortifications. He wishes to make some purchases, which are cheaper, in consequence of the Treaty of Commerce; some half-price, &c. He fancies that there are a number of writers in prison. Error. No disturbances; no political prisoners; no exiles. No more preventative detentions; acceleration of trial; branding suppressed; civil death suppressed; Society for Assistance to the Aged; asylums at Vincennes; coalitions; Police de Roulage suppressed; military service shortened, pay increased, medal instituted, pension augmented, reserve increasing the regular force; funds for infirm priests; arrest for debt; brokers; a tradesman who sent his assistant to buy and sell goods was arrested; Councils-General.”
The Secret Documents of the Second Empire. Pub. by the Commission of the Govt. of National Defence. L. 1871 Translated from the French by T. Curry.
Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville — Bivouac devant le Bourget
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S. N. Behrman’s magisterial life of Duveen is always a great comfort to the young, not merely from the felicity of his style.
The passion of these newly rich Americans for industrial merger yielded to an even more insistent passion for a merger of their newly acquired domains with more ancient ones; they wanted to veneer their arrivisme with the traditional. It would be gratifying to feel, as you drove up to your porte-cochere in Pittsburgh, that you were one with the jaded Renaissance Venetian who had just returned from a sitting for Titian; to feel, as you walked by the ranks of gleaming and authentic suits of armor in your mansion on Long Island — and passed the time of day with your private armorer — that it was only an accident of chronology that had put you in a counting house when you might have been jousting with other kings in the Tournament of Love; to push aside the heavy damask tablecloth on a magnificent Louis XIV dining-room table, making room for a green-shaded office lamp, beneath which you scanned the report of last month’s profit from the Saginaw branch, and then, looking up, catch a glimpse of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan and flick the fantasy that presently you would be ordering your sedan chair, because the loveliest girl in London was expecting you for tea.
It was Frick’s custom to have an organist in on Saturday afternoons to fill the gallery of his mansion at Seventieth Street and Fifth Avenue with the majestic strains of “The Rosary” and “Silver Threads Among the Gold” while he himself sat on a Renaissance throne, under a baldachino, and every now and then looked up from his Saturday Evening Post to contemplate the works of Van Dyck and Rembrandt, or, when he was enthroned in their special atelier, the more frolicsome improvisations of Fragonard and Boucher. Surely Frick must have felt, as he sat there, that only time separated him from Lorenzo and the other Medicis. Morgan commissioned the English art authority Dr. George C. Williamson to prepare catalogues of his vast collections. Williamson spent years travelling all over the world to check on the authenticity and the history of certain items and to supervise the work on the catalogues. The last one he completed for his patron was “The Morgan Book of Watches.” For the illustrations, gold and silver leaf was used, laid on so thick that the engraved designs of the watches could be reproduced exactly. Morgan was in Rome when he received this catalogue, on Christmas Day, 1912, and he cabled Williamson, in New York, “IT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK 1 HAVE EVER SEEN.” It was lying by Morgan’s bedside when he died in Rome, early in 1913.
Duveen boasted that he understood the psychology of his dozen biggest customers much better than his competitors did. In his peculiar semantics, “to understand psychology” meant to be able to guess how much the traffic would bear, and under that interpretation his boast was not an empty one. He always knew how to shift the interest of his customers — or, more accurately, his protégés — from their original fields of accumulation to his own, and to persuade them, moreover, that his was the more exalted. The truth was that after having spent a lifetime making money, Duveen’s protégés were rich enough to go anywhere and do anything but didn’t know where to go or what to do or even how to do nothing gracefully. After the Americans had splurged on yachts and horses and houses, they were stymied. There were no noble titles to be earned — or bought — and lived up to, as there were in Europe, and if they ever made an attempt to do nothing gracefully, they were hampered by the Puritanic and democratic tradition that held such a life sinful. Whenever they let themselves go, they had a feeling of guilt. Stotesbury, in a gray business suit and a high stiff collar, with a Panama hat clamped down on his head, stood in the blazing sunshine of the tremendous patio of El Mirasol, his Palm Beach home, and said to one of his architects, who had recently added a wing to it, “It cost too much for ninety days!” And when his wife spent two hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars on Wingwood House, their place at Bar Harbor, he said the same thing again. He felt the same way about Whitemarsh Hall and Winoga, his two places at Chestnut Hill. A European of comparable means who spent ninety days in one of his residences would very likely have felt that whatever he had spent on it was justified, on the principle that ninety days was a segment of time that was worth enjoying even if at the end of it he went somewhere else. When the American millionaires of the era said, “I don’t care what it costs,” as they often did, they were silently adding, “So long as I have something to show for it.” And what they had to show for it had to be at once enviable and uplifting. Duveen was like an answer to a prayer.
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Belonging to the Old School, one of whose tenets is ‘Never trust anyone wearing a suit’, I was struck a couple of years back by how saturnine and excessively formalistic most world leaders — and minor leaders, since it was the occasion when some awful little fellow who was governor of South Carolina went AWOL for a week to visit his mistress — are nowadays. Messers Yeltsin and Kohl undoubtedly had faults, yet they managed a possibly spurious attitude of bonhomie and benevolence like a couple of drunk Cheeryble brothers: these sinister scoundrels combine devout self-belief with the amiablity of minor inquisitors’ assistants. Recent world gatherings indicated they were issued with the same dark suits and blue ties by some cruel demob depot seeking to save costs.
One of their key mantras is economic reform, which is code for making the poor poorer; the shifty Mr. Sarkozy doesn’t seem to have obsessed about this so much as Anglos do, concentrating more on domestic reforms which are probably silly yet less harmful. Nor, with his increase in presidential spending to 10,000 euros a day on food and 121 cars to ride in unsimultaneously, would he impress as an avid cost-cutter. Still, he could not help claiming recently that He Had Saved France, joing the long list of men who claimed to have Saved France, from Robespierre to Mirabeau to Napoleon to Thiers to Clemenceau to Petain to De Gaulle et al. None of them really did. One of his ‘reforms’ was steering the Three Strikes law against file-sharing, which is fairly doomed anyway as any fight against technology, not withstanding his palace was found to have indulged itself — and merciful heaven, they chose to download a Ben Stiller ‘comedy’…
However, he perhaps has some sympathy with the downtrodden, certainly his charming and very friendly wife appreciates what it is to be poor as can be seen in her excellent singing here:
Carla Bruni — Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
Fortuna — in a style of Mucha
Another song for luck Carla Bruni — Je Suis Une Enfant
and some discussion crap merely to admire her cheekbones. Carla Bruni — aged 28
And for traditionalists, Ottalie Patterson’s classic rendition [ yes, it shows Bessie Smith, and no it isn’t her ]. Ottilie Patterson — Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
Expensive To Maintain
Interestingly, one commentator from India had this to say on Sarkozy’s luxury:
There is no end of such news. Many Americans keep pet penguins that are very expensive to maintain. Some Americans send all dresses and even lingerie by courier to Paris laundry and get back by courier. …
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It is now three years since Mr. Obama was sworn in as POTUS; and if he has not been much of a president — not that much should be expected from anyone elected by the moronate; after all, it should never be forgotten that any president is merely a politician who got lucky — any sane look at those who are the very best the Republican party can put forward in competition must instill a heavy goodwill wish for the Chicago Thug to continue through a second term. Probably he won’t need much luck, since last year thanks to those interested in his progress it was ensured that he spent more than any other, and that this year he plans on breaking the magic Billion Dollar threshold.
Still, people may have too soon forgotten that his inauguration was fortuitously marred by a fortuitous assassination attempt by two fortuitous white racists who were fortuitously arrested in time, thus saving him and the nation for the benefits of the Leader’s intellect and wise guidance over the coming years: Wiggum was elected because he was African-American, highly intelligent, atheistic, young, and inspiring: plus he had rich friends — actually, he was none of these things, apart from the rich friends bit. I am not interested enough to select by race: all I can say is that the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, or even Charlie Rangel would have struck me as infinitely preferable choices were one to have blackness as a decider. Integrity still means something.
Yet this incident was to be overshadowed by a far more terrifying plot, one that very nearly succeeded in overthrowing the republic, had which it had done, would have sealed America into a horrifying future as a brutal fascist terror state, ruled by the arbitrary force of the conspirators and theocratic lunatics and cynical corporate interests.
The upcoming trial with anonymous jury of the Hutaree Milita starting today, by reminding them of the agonizing events of March 2010, when a nation’s fate twisted in the wind, should awaken the United States to the perils within. To put it at the simplest interpretation of the Government’s case, these rich men, living in their trailer parks and heavily armed with powerful state-of-the-art weaponry and unlimited access to the media, planned to first kill a government law official — as yet unknown to them and undecided by them — destroy the mourners at the funeral of the first; seize the state; abolish the United Nations; ‘replace all forms of government’; and found The Colonial Christian Republic, ruled by the Radok with the assistance of the Boramander and the Zulif.
This is nothing more than naked fascism.
To counter this grave threat the state was compelled to utilise the resources of the state police to capture those behind this shadowy Catilineseque conspiracy, and smash it to bits — in a different time and world sending a bobby around to knock on the trailer door of the President of Peasmouldia and give a stern lecture would have been sufficient, but now the threat of fascist terror is too great for such simple non-mechanized methods.
Since, some of the eight conspirators have been out on bail for the last 18 months — another pled guilty to weapons charges, and may give evidence — electronically tagged to prevent escape to sympathetic countries; and an unseemly dispute has arisen concerning the accused’ lodgings for the trial; being indigent they obviously cannot afford to travel 100 miles each day for 6 to 8 weeks, and the judge says the government cannot afford to pay for hotel rooms, so she has offered to put them in unconfined jail for the duration.
Only by standing firm, and having highly-trained performing lawyers scrutinze every word of those hundreds of pages of prosecutorial evidence, can America provide a fair trial and send them away to life imprisonment: showing her utter rejection of state fascism.
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There’s one pet I like to pet
And every evening we get set
I stroke it every chance I get
It’s my girl’s pussy
Seldom plays and never purrs
And I love the thoughts it stirs
But I don’t mind because it’s hers
My girl’s pussy
Often it goes out at night
Returns at break of dawn
No matter what the weather’s like
It’s always nice and warm
It’s never dirty, always clean
In giving thrills, never mean
But it’s the best I’ve ever seen
Is my girl’s pussy
There’s one pet I like to pet
And every evening we get set
I stroke it every chance I get
It’s my girl’s pussy
Seldom plays, never purrs
And I love the thoughts it stirs
But I don’t mind because it’s hers
It’s my girl’s pussy
Though often it goes out at night
And returns at break of dawn, break of dawn
No matter what the weather’s like
It’s always dry and warm
I bring tid-bits that it loves
We spoon like two turtle doves
I take care to remove my gloves
When stroking my girl’s pussy
Harry Roy & his Bat Club Boys — My Girl’s Pussy — 1931
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Full of grief, the low winds sweep
O’er the sorrow-haunted ground;
Dark the woods where night rains weep,
Dark the hills that watch around.
Tell me, can the joys of spring
Ever make this sadness flee,
Make the woods with music ring,
And the streamlet laugh for glee ?
When the summer moor is lit
With the pale fire of the broom,
And through green the shadows flit,
Still shall mirth give place to gloom ?
Sad shall it be, though sun be shed
Golden bright on field and flood;
E’en the heather’s crimson red
Holds the memory of blood.
Here that broken, weary band
Met the ruthless foe’s array,
Where those moss-grown boulders stand,
On that dark and fatal day.
Like a phantom hope had fled,
Love to death was all in vain,
Vain, though heroes’ blood was shed,
And though hearts were broke in twain.
Many a voice has cursed the name
Time has into darkness thrust,
Cruelty his only fame
In forgetfulness and dust.
Noble dead that sleep below,
We your valour né’er forget;
Soft the heroes’ rest who know
Hearts like theirs are beating yet.
Alice Macdonell of Keppoch : Culloden Moor ( Seen in Autumn Rain )
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The ongoing separate war the United States is waging to eradicate the Gaddafi clan by targeting it’s smallest members proceeds apace with the successful targeted killing of some more of his youngest descendants, “I Do it for the Gipper.” Wiggum murmured as he gave the order, continuing his sedulous quest to fulfil the mandates of his Republican mentors. Yet, equally impressive the Chicago Hit he ordered on the demonic bin Laden, another death foretold, actually as well as achieving the primary purpose — gaining votes from those screaming hordes who would publicly celebrate a death — was the final act in Interpol’s Warrant to capture the demonic bin Laden, which was first issued in ’98 at the request of… Libya.
One might think that however tragic the deaths on 9/11 — the destruction of the Towers sans deaths would merely be a blessing, as would be virtually every building since 1920 ( but including the deaths of all foul present modernist architects and scum bastard building workers everywhere who destroyed the old and erected the pointless vile concrete new ) — the swap of 30,000 Afghani civilians since would placate the manes of the 3000 murdered then
Anyway, for the demonic bin Laden, the present choices are: that he was either dead long ago in the Caves of Tora Bora; dead from his numerous ailments ( which included Marfan’s, kidney disease, liver disease etc. etc.); killed in Abottabad; or snatched for a life of imprisonment and torture under the auspices of the vengeful state — which has not treated those on Guantánamo, ever unclosed yet, whose guilt in much less culpable crimes than those of bin Laden was unproven, at all well. Or he may have escaped and a double killed, yet his charisma and mystique vanished.
The ‘DNA evidence’ is as valueless as anything else the propaganda machine issues, since we have to rely on, the retrieved bits actually coming from the corpse in Abottabad, the matching being done by the state who killed him, and the control sample actually having been taken from his sister’s corpse — bearing in mind that it was recently discovered that the piece of skull held by the Russians which they alleged was that of Hitler really belonged to some poor woman — and that in all reports the administration controls what information is released, and however generous they are in releasing in succession utterly different stories, this means believing in the good faith of Obama, a man rarely capable of understanding, let alone telling, truth; the Pentagon; and the various state security forces. One thing that is certain is that the corpse, real or not, was actually about his height: since the killers had omitted, understandably enough, to bring along a tape measure, one of them of a similar length lay down besides the body to provide a datum.
And even if the event is broadly true, whilst the raid was a credit to the hit squad, killing a bewildered old man was evidently preferred to capture, as execution of the unrighteous; especially since they said that anything less than utter submission — difficult to manage for the least alarmed when being shot at — didn’t qualify as surrender, and that attempting to retreat, as was the demonic bin Laden before he was rubbed out proved resistance. Since when they killed this sick old fellow crawling on the floor, in front of his 12 yr-old daughter, he seemed incapable of a fight to the death with tooth and nail, being unguarded and unarmed, which seems extraordinary carelessness on the part of a supervillain.
While this affair reminds one of the horrifying 2004 murder of Shiekh Yassin, which temporarily changed my internet signatures to:
‘If you could have heard the old man scream as he fell, and the noise of his bones upon the pavement !’
[ from The Story Of The Young Man With The Cream Tarts by RLS ]
I have to kill a 67-yr-old man
Considering he’s paraplegic, should I choose a knife fight ? Or as he’s blind, it might be pistols at dawn: in order to demonstrate my sheer fighting courage perhaps I should use a helicopter gunship when his wheelchair is exiting morning prayers.
the mention of dreary old Adolf may as well include here my very favourite joke, as told in Germany in late ’45, and perhaps almost relevant in this matter:
When they found the Führer’s body, there was a little note attached: ‘I was never a Nazi.’
Down in the Valley
And with all this cavilling, the fact remains the aging prisoner in Abottabad was wistfully planning yet more wacky mayhem: his computer files, as released by the administration showed his meticulous planning for a new atrocity. “…was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge.”; yet worse, this was to be specifically aimed at Amtrak’s 805 km per hour trains — which I’ll assume can cross the continent in three and a half hours — no doubt as the doleful plumes of smoke rose from the valley below the opera-glass gazing conspirators would toss their tophats into the air and fondle their waxed moustaches whilst cackling fiendishly.
For someone who hated America so, I’m guessing he had very little idea of daily life in America; let alone Amtrak.
And at the last the final question remains: What sort of person is terrified by a weird old loony such as bin Laden ?
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As President Wiggum details yet another bombing of a muslim country for their own good — I swear, part of America’s current mission policy statement is to rain death from the clouds upon each and every country in the world, in turn and prolly ending up with themselves — it can’t hurt to visit one of my favourite passages, from Herbert Gorman’s magnificent 1947 fictionalization of L’Affaire Boulanger, Brave General, painting the general’s unfortunate — in consequence — visit to Prince Napoleon’s Château at Prangins, in the canton of Vaud [ Obit ]. When did a Plon-Plon benefit anyone ? Suitable no doubt since Obama shares with Georges his amiable nullity, combined even yet with the fading aura of one also once claimed as messiah who brought death and dictatorial misery as travelling companions.
Yanks of a liberal disposition now try to disassociate themselves and Bush-Lite from any suspicion of Obamamania, claiming that it was their opponents who fastened the unreal expectations of a new dispensation upon the reputation of a remarkably shifty candidate and soon to be dilettante president, yet none who actually lived through November of ’08 will forget the revolting genuflections and hosannas which accompanied that victory; like Boulanger, who twisted in turn to solicit support from correct legitimists and the slippery factions who composed the body politic of the corrupt Third Republic, orleanists, bonapartists, socialists, clericals etc. etc., all realising in turn that he lacked spirit to do good for any, and not even for himself, the president courted foolishly his alleged enemies for bi-partisan support without having much of a plan for even the semblance of victory. As to whether being a hollow man is better than being a criminal worshipped war-lord, I can’t say; but trying to be both is a respectable recipe for disaster.
As Gorman includes: In Politics one insisted to the last that one’s party was winning, and when one’s party did not win one spent the the next week inventing extraneous excuses for the defeat. The simple fact that one’s party had lost because it had not received as many votes as the other fellow’s party was never a conclusive explanation in itself. Politics, it appeared, was a constant self-justification. If I had done that, if I had done this, if the question had been properly presented, if my agent in that particular place… if the funds had been distributed as… if… if… if… Ah, that was politics. It was an absurd game of chess with crazy moves and cheating antagonists who stole your pawns when you were not looking. There was more politics, she thought, in republics than there were in kingdoms or empires for the simple reason that in republics there was no definitive iron hoof to stamp it out. That was good. So everybody said. The People spoke. Sometimes they spoke in a dozen clashing voices and nothing was resolved, or, if was resolved, it took a long time and the resolution lost a part of its strength. Like the American Congress. A wilful minority in that Paradise of democracy could indefinitely obstruct the will of the majority. That was called rule by the people. It sounded more like rule by the sediment that was too clotted to go down the drain. It held back everything.
Twilight was falling
Twilight was falling when the Prince, looking very much like a blown-up caricature of his august uncle, waddled into the large library with the General at his heels.
“If you enter politics,” he was saying, “you will soon discover it to be a nasty and merciless business. Have you a fortune ?”
“Not a sou, “replied the General.
“Well,” said the Prince, as he thrust his hand into the front of his waistcoat, “if you run aground you will never be a stranger here.”
Thiébaud, who was standing by one of the glass cases of relics with Berthet-Leleux, turned smilingly towards the two men.
“I have been thrilled by some of the objects in this case, Your Imperial Highness,” he declared. “Look here, my General. Here are some things that will stir your soldier’s heart.”
Boulanger advanced towards the relics eagerly, and the Prince followed, his broad face wreathed with smiles.
“Yes,” he said, “I intended to show you some of these sacred souvenirs. Berthet-Leleux, hand me the keys.”
The four men gathered before the case, while the Prince awkwardly unlocked the glass-panelled door.
“There are the spurs that He wore on the return from Italy,” he explained. “And there is the cockade that was in His hat the day He made them eat grapeshot at the Church of Saint-Roch. There are two of His pistols and the sash He wrapped around His middle when He drove the recalcitrant Council of the Five Hundred out of the Orangerie. And here… here…”
He reached into the case and withdrew an Egyptian sabre in a gold-plated and bejewelled sheath. He extended it towards the General.
“This is the sword the First Consul carried at Marengo,” he said solemnly.
For an instant the magic of the Cult impregnated the still air in the library. Afterwards Thiébaud swore that he heard the distant grumble of grenadier drums as the General stretched forward a respectful hand and lightly touched the hilt of the glittering weapon.
“Are you sure that this is the sabre of the First Consul ?” he demanded in a hushed voice.
The Prince smiled.
“Do you think that this is bric-à-brac I have collected in flea-markets ?” he asked proudly.
“It is a beautiful souvenir,” declared the General in a reverent tone.
His hand again caressed the hilt of the sword as lightly, as tenderly as though it were the upturned face of a beloved woman. Thiébaud saw the grave melancholy visage of a professional soldier to whom warfare was a religion and in whose eyes the saints wore burnished epaulets. Like the Moor in the English play his profession was his life and without it he would have no life at all… nothing, indeed, but existence. What, then ? What, then ? The journalist closed his mind to the answer. The Prince, too, observed the General’s emotion and instinctively understood it. After all, he was a Bonaparte. Turning, he carefully placed the sabre back on the velvet in the open case.
“General,” he said, “when you have returned Alsace and Lorraine back to France I will offer you this sword.”
Justin entered the shadowy library with a lighted candelabra.
As elsewhere, earlier in the book, eternal truth remains for some of us outside all such montebanks of apparent power…
It was after four o’clock in the morning when the Polish waiter, leaning like an old collapsed scarecrow against the corridor wall, saw the door open and the octet emerge in a compact group. They were no longer laughing.
“Remember,” said Laguerre. “My dinner is tonight. You are all invited. In the meantime…”
“In the meantime we have accomplished nothing,” snapped Clemenceau.
“We are moving to an understanding,” said the General mildly.
Ignace observed how Clemenceau turned a brief sour glance at the handsome gentleman with the blond beard.
“Whose understanding ?” demanded the Breton abruptly.
As they were going down the stairs Ignace turned to Monsieur Frédéric.
“They all detest one another,” he remarked in a surprised tone.
Monsieur Frédéric, who had been a maître d’hôtel for thirty years, shrugged his shoulders.
“After all,” he replied, “we live under a Republic. They have the liberty to detest one another. As for me… I am a Royalist.”
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The Dollyrots — Because I’m Awesome
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And superstitious dread came to the unsuperstitious Soames; he turned his eyes away lest he should stare the little house into real unreality. He walked on, past the barracks to the Park rails, still moving west, afraid of turning homewards till he was tired out. Past four o’clock, and still an empty town, empty of all that made it a living hive, and yet this very emptiness gave it intense meaning. He felt that he would always remember a town so different from that he saw every day; and himself he would remember — walking thus, unseen and solitary with his desire.
He went past Prince’s Gate and turned. After all he had his work — ten-thirty at the office ! Road and Park and houses stared at him now in the full light of earliest morning. He turned from them into the Park and crossed to the Row side. Funny to see the Row with no horses tearing up and down, or trapesing past like cats on hot bricks, no stream of carriages, no rows of sitting people, nothing but trees and the tan track. The trees and grass, though no dew had fallen, breathed on him; and he stretched himself at full length along a bench, his hands behind his head, his hat crushed on his chest, his eyes fixed on the leaves patterned against the still brightening sky. The air stole faint and fresh about his cheeks and lips, and the backs of his hands. The first sunlight came stealing flat from trunk to trunk, birds did not sing but talked, a wood pigeon back among the trees was cooing. Soames closed his eyes, and instantly imagination began to paint, for the eyes deep down within him, pictures of her. Picture of her — standing passive in her frock flounced to the gleaming floor, while he wrote his initials on her card. Picture of her adjusting with long gloved fingers a camellia come loose in her corsage; turning for him to put her cloak on — pictures, countless pictures, and ever strange, of her face sparkling for moments, or brooding, or averse; of her cheek inclined for his kiss, of her lips turned from his lips, of her eyes looking at him with a question that seemed to have no answer; of her eyes, dark and soft over a grey cat purring in her arms; picture of her auburn hair flowing as he had not seen it yet. Ah ! but soon — but soon ! And as if answering the call of his imagination a cry — long, not shrill, not harsh exactly, but so poignant — jerked the blood to his heart. From back over there it came trailing, again and again, passionate — the lost soul’s cry of peacock in early morning; and with it there uprose from the spaces of his inner being the vision that was for ever haunting there, of her with hair unbound, of her all white and lost, yielding to his arms. It seared him with delight, swooned in him, and was gone. He opened his eyes; an early water-cart was nearing down the Row.
Soames rose and walking fast beneath the trees sought sanity.
John Galsworthy : Cry of Peacock, 1883 from On Forsyte ‘Change
John Atkinson Grimshaw — A Wintry Moon
Leo Kottke — World Turning : Kaneva Print This Post
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Neighbour introducing new movee Mr. Handslip into neighbourhood:
“On your other side is Mrs. Egremont, a widow. A very nice lady, Philippa is marvellous, the children are OK, most of them.” with a quickening.
“How many got ?” startled.
“Four. Paul’s the oldest, he’s going in the Army when older. Not the sort of life I’d choose, but it’s a good thing we’re not all alike, isn’t it ? two girls, Ysobelle and Nancy, and… the youngest, James.” A stilted note modulated his enthusiasm, unnoted by the questioner.
“Any of them noisy ?”
“They won’t be any trouble at all.” Eagerly, “The girls are very pretty, and although they could be boisterous and cause difficulties, they don’t. The oldest lad is square strong affable, very decent young man.”
“And the younger ?”
“As I said Paul’s going into the Army, which I think such a waste.” Mr. Pigg was by way of being a pacifist, which the two boys had always respected with the great tolerance of which they were both very proud. “He really could do anything, very brilliant mind indeed.” respectfully, “And unassuming with it. You always feel he’s working out formulæ with a part of his mind while talking easily to one…”
“And the other ?” Handslip enquired bluntly. Mr. Pigg nearly cringed.
“Um, Jamie. Well, he’s different.”
“You mean, er, mentally disturbed ?” with a faint shyness intruding into the brusqueness of the bald enquiry.
“Good God no ! And you’d better not ever hint of such a thing. I doubt if he’d care a rush,” bitterly, “but any of the others, let alone his dear mama, would be very offended if anyone considered such a thing. No, he’s normal enough, and bright enough, even if he doesn’t shine at school from all I hear.”
He sighed, Philippa had confided at length enough times to weary him with the subject; but having done badly himself when young he was sufficently sceptical to wonder if schooling was as important as it was cracked up to be. Conversely he respected brilliance, and was anxious to get back to Paul’s mental prowess. In fact he had long decided never to initiate comment upon, or prolong discussion upon, James Egremont.
“Well, what’s wrong with him ?” bluntly
Pigg looked around.
“Jamie,” picking his words, “is not someone to annoy; or complain about; or piss off. Do not criticise any of the family where he can hear you. He has a strong family feeling. I said the others are no trouble: one reason is that they… continue, upon the lines he lays down. If any person confronts his feelings, or does something he construes as unpleasant, things sometimes happen.” Delicately.
“You mean he’s one of these violent youths ? Some kind of yob ?” wondering what sort of brute was going to appear.
Pigg was shocked and amused. “He’s only 11 or 12 ! I forget which; and weak with it. He’s as pretty as the girls in fact. I guess he’s bullied at school: but that’s there: in his patch, it’s different. As say, an old-fashioned squire visiting London might be vulnerable in the great world, but master of his own domain; which was one reason they usually preferred to cultivate their own gardens. With experience he may be able to grow and handle parts of the great world. I hope not. Very courteous. They all are: but him the most. He’s the hidden patriarch of a patriarchal clan. They do what he directs with only half knowing the fact.”
“You know we have an excellent Guy Fawkes Night and they all used to come. At least when it was the parents and the two older kids. Then the year before Mr. Egremont died that kid, he was very small, took against it — wasn’t scared by the bangs; some bloody nonsense about not liking the Guy being burnt: he knew it was just a, a lay-figure, not real: but he still hated the idea. Now you or I would have left him at home with a baby-sitter, but they’ve never come since.
I can’t imagine how anyone would listen to a bloody toddler, Philippa, well sometimes I reckoned she was weak-minded or something: I mean, yes well now, if he was my child, I’d probably do precisely what he said; life would be simpler that way, and he’s the sort of kid who would be right most of the time: but back then… he was so small. We thought well, she’s just lost a husband, that’s why not: but the next year they wouldn’t come. Asked her why not: ‘Jamie says it’s wrong to pretend to burn people, and you know, I think he’s right.’ Look, he… he wasn’t dominant back then, even in that weird family; he is now: back then he’d just argued at them. I’d have told him to take a running jump; some fucking small kid talking back at me. Pity that because Christian and Philippa were always generous about joining in village stuff.”
“So does one have to show him one’s friendly ?” uneasily.
“What’s to prove ? Just be nice to him and don’t say anything to make his mother unhappy.”
“About him ?”
“No.” He laughed at the mistake. “Not about him: about anything. What I meant was try never to do aught that doesn’t conduce to Philippa’s happiness in life. Mrs. Hutchinson, who is separated from her own husband, had a nervous breakdown and moved away a year ago. She’d been sniping at Philippa in the Mother’s Union. Apparently someone posted her phone number as emergency counsellor for marital breakdowns; a 24 Hour Plumbing consultant; and Police Liaison Officer for the local Police Authority, specialising in all reports from concerned victims for Follow-Up Action. I remember that,” he continued reflectively, “since it never stopped after she denied the post in the local rag, and the police, confused themselves since half the time they’ve no idea what further idiocy the Home Office has shoved at them, not only didn’t deny anything, they even referred a few people to her. That was actually the least annoying thing that happened to her. Both boys have an unpleasant sense of humour. Unlike Paul he acts on it.”
“As I said they’re all polite; each will hold a conversation nicely if you stop them and talk. The boys chat about guns a bit too much — the mechanics,” hastily, “no fascination with actually using them at all — but then most lads think about that sort of thing. I did, expect you did. Paul will grow out of it and join the army. James won’t grow out of it, but I daresay he won’t ever bother to shoot a gun.
“Neither ever cracked even the hint of a smile at my name or modulated their intonation in any way; and believe me, when your name is Pigg, you certainly get even a hint if people do. You look out for it.”
“Paul’s reckless: he’ll always add the exact amount of yeast. The other, well, he’s cautious: he’d put in a bit too much. Jamie’s idea of a hint is a car-bomb. Paul has pointed out he has no idea of minimum force. In attack too much rather than just right. Double or treble strength in building work. Won’t fall down in five hundred years, but wasteful. He told me there were no definite maxims in war, a fluid business.”
“OK, the boy’s a terror, but how come people stand that sort of thing ?”
Mr. Pigg looked at him pityingly. Most of the time no proof, plus he is winning enough when you do things right. ‘Right’ being how he assesses you should behave.
“How do you know it’s him then ?” naturally wondering if it was just rumour, possibly started by the boy himself to gain a reputation. He expressed this diffidently
Pigg breathed deeply: “You don’t want that sort of reputation. Not a roisterous cavalier but the quiet kind of kingsman who would suddenly hang half a dozen villagers then torch their homesteads because their favorite mare was stolen probably drinking up deep quietly the while. Anyway you wouldn’t consider it rumour if you found eight dead rats hidden about your home.”
Handslip looked surprised and confessed this had never entered his household oeconomy.
Pigg explained: “Gutherington, someone who was quite a friend of the family. Discovered a small but vibrant colony of rats were camping out in the back alley, on a piece of land which, to be truthful, is not claimed by anyone, just a few yards square, anyway it’s a tip. So he got an airgun and a couple of friends with airguns, and spent a few hours acting out a massacre of red injuns. The little blighter didn’t react in any way when they were told, Nancy most upset and screaming, but he seemed uninterested. Not even mentioning that he had been feeding the fucking pests and adopted them as friends. Three weeks later, after some extremely interesting smells had manifested in the Gutherington domain, they began the painful discovery of a deceased rat; and then another; and the smell not diminishing each day, another, until finally after paying sanitation people to inspect the house, the grand total of eight had been found: all tucked away in the most unlikely places. It being another week before the last came to light, I understand that one was really not at all nice. It was quite a warm May.”
“If he’d kept the existence of the rat family secret for their own safety, he’s quite prepared to lie about his system of revenge, so it’s no use tackling him at all. But simple logic eliminates most neighbours; and the other youth around here would not go into someone’s house to revenge rodents.”
Handslip had sniggered a bit
“Not that amusing,” coldly, “yes the boy is a holy terror, but also never forget he’s also nuts.”
“How so ?” composing himself.
“Well… he’s not hot on respect for elders: I don’t mean he’s not very polite, but he doesn’t revere us anymore than others: he tries,” — an aggrieved note at the condescension murmured through — “quite obviously at times” moodily “to be extremely polite to everyone. I tackled him once about this and explained that the older an adult was the more one should respect them.”
The little bugger looked at me like a great-grandfather and — politely — explained that respect was not due to anyone as an individual, even if earned, but had to be paid to all things as created beings. It was something given not to be demanded. Then he got weird and explained that age although a reality was an illusion — how he combined the two, I mean this wasn’t religious or philosophical, he really is not clever, I don’t know, just silliness really — but the totality of a person was that they existed in all their ages at once, since the person at 80 was an extension of the same person at 8 and vice versa. And in Eternity.
“Well, don’t people complain to his mother ? Or does that count as ‘bothering her’ ?” asked the sceptical Handslip.
Pigg looked thoughtful: “A moot point; but I reckon it’s not that because he’s a fair little sod. He’d be quite willing to argue the matter out with her. OK, she doesn’t spoil him at all, though she adores him: pity she doesn’t, he might be a lot more bearable. If she’d stop pushing him so hard about school particularly, he can’t help not being able: puts all his energies in establishing his presence. No, the main reason is that he doesn’t leave evidence behind. Those sort are cunning if not clever. When he plans things — I’m not saying he puts a lot of thinking into that, just roughs out a plan, tests it then expects to deal with matters on the fly only if something really unforeseen occurs — he makes sure he’s covered the bases.”
Handslip: “Boys’ cleverness is the most devious and annoying ingenuity in the world. Explains why they’re best at creative art when older;” he put up a hand, “yes, I know this chap’s not of a high mental standard: but I mean in that cleverness wherein they direct their energies.”
“He does that all right.” moodily. Somehow he felt better at having spoken so freely about the bête noire, so contrary to his usual practice
“Doubbel, the retired butcher. There was an old abandoned mannequin — male, half falling down, left on a skip at the dress-shop last May. Heaven knows why they had a male one left over; discussing it with the non-committal Paul later, he told me his dear brother had suggested the old bird who ran the shop had brought it in to make the female models feel wanted. That’s what I mean, a deeply unkind mind. Mind you,” reluctantly, “thinking about Mrs. Toye, now I can well imagine it might have been true: she was a dizzy old bird. Anyway, it disappeared. No-one thought anything about it, nor would have, until Doubbel came down for breakfast one morning and found the fucking thing seated in the lounge on his own chair. In a cloak. With horns added and the usual appurtenances of the Devil.”
“Beard made from wool and a couple of rams’ horns found somewhere. What sort of bloody mind is that ? Nearly gave him a seizure. Swapped homes half a year later. Explained he could never feel the same way about the house after that. More importantly: how do you prove something like that ? We know who we suspect, but there wasn’t even a particle of evidence, and whoever it was came in through the window. Not that locks bother him. Family firm all connected with damned locks. Probably unlatched the door to bring it in, then locked up from the inside and went out back the window. Little bastard.”
“Breaking and entering ? That’s illegal.”
“He never breaks and enters. Read up law. He might trespass for five minutes, but that’s about all you could complain of. And no-one has ever gone to the police. They’re bloody useless half the time. I reckon half of them around here are students building up a bit of good pay in temporary work: no dedication. Anyway he’s not a thief, nothing has ever gone missing. Just mischief.”
“Well, there was once someone went to the police, but that was for insurance: the Whittakers at 34. Had run over The Runyons’ dog, poodle. OK, freezing weather and probably skidded, but weren’t concerned. Week later somebody had emerged in the wee small hours, connected to the outside tap, and hosed the outside walls patiently for quite a while. Who’s going to see that at three in the morning ? Wore rags around the boots, no pattern in the snow; no trail leading down the lane. They found it was like staring through three of those old-fashioned circled sweet-shop windows at once the ice was so thick. And because it seemed a little chilly inside they put up the heating full blast. Cracked half the windows. A not unintended bonus for the perpetrator no doubt.”
“They didn’t suspect James. He’d never spoken to them or they to he. We didn’t suggest it,” Seeing Handslip’s surprise, he shrugged, “Well, they weren’t that nice as people anyway. But we guessed.”
“D’don’t, you think… you might be ascribing to him all the things others do, sometimes ?”
“The day before I heard him playing Tosca very loudly. That was a good enough clue for me.”
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But the truth is that the knowledge of external nature, and the sciences which that knowledge requires or includes, are not the great or the frequent business of the human mind. Whether we provide for action or conversation, whether we wish to be useful or pleasing, the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong; the next is an acquaintance with the history of mankind, and with those examples which may be said to embody truth and prove by events the reasonableness of opinions. Prudence and Justice are virtues and excellences of all times and of all places; we are perpetually moralists, but we are geometricians only by chance. Our intercourse with intellectual nature is necessary; our speculations upon matter are voluntary and at leisure. Physiological learning is of such rare emergence that one man may know another half his life without being able to estimate his skill in hydrostaticks or astronomy, but his moral and prudential character immediately appears.
Milton when he undertook this answer was weak of body and dim of sight; but his will was forward, and what was wanting of health was supplied by zeal. He was rewarded with a thousand pounds, and his book was much read; for paradox, recommended by spirit and elegance, easily gains attention: and he who told every man that he was equal to his King could hardly want an audience.
His political notions were those of an acrimonious and surly republican, for which it is not known that he gave any better reason than that “a popular government was the most frugal; for the trappings of a monarchy would set up an ordinary commonwealth.” It is surely very shallow policy, that supposes money to be the chief good; and even this without considering that the support and expence of a Court is for the most part only a particular kind of traffick, by which money is circulated without any national impoverishment.
It has been observed that they who most loudly clamour for liberty do not most liberally grant it. What we know of Milton’s character in domestick relations is, that he was severe and arbitrary. His family consisted of women; and there appears in his books something like a Turkish contempt of females, as subordinate and inferior beings. That his own daughters might not break the ranks, he suffered them to be depressed by a mean and penurious education. He thought woman made only for obedience, and man only for rebellion.
The wisdom of the nation is very reasonably supposed to reside in the parliament. What can be concluded of the lower classes of the people, when in one of the parliaments, summoned by Cromwell, it was seriously proposed, that all the records in the Tower should be burnt, that all memory of things past should be effaced, and that the whole system of life should commence anew ?
Samuel Johnson : The Lives of the Poets — Milton
“Sigh No More”
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Oscar Grogan & The Columbians — Are You Lonesome Tonight ? 1927
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I am always stupified by an aspect of militant atheism never remarked upon: these curious little chaps so outraged and so angry at a non-existent God they devote time to refuting Him and belief in Him — for time is the one thing they cannot afford.
Let us suppose that God does not Exist. OK then, if not thrown by eventual nothingness — which on the contrary they gleefully embrace — there’s very little to be said; and certainly nothing of eternal value: however one may as well live one’s life out as pleasantly as possible according to one’s own choices. It is tough to spend half of that time labouring at a job one detests, yet this too is not a problem for them, since they enjoy whatever weird stuff they do — such as being a professor or economist; but time runs out no matter how one uses it. If mentally unstable they may substitute Humanity as their ersatz-religion of choice, chosen solely because they happen to be human, and insist on working for and lecturing to humanity, ( and if so inclined, working for the eradication of social elements opposed to their own social philosophy of choice for the betterment of all mankind [ except those elements eradicated ] ) despite the fact that all of humanity is destined for nothingness just as much as they when time runs out. And that nothing will be left of them, their acts and thoughts, nor those of any other, when time runs out.
So let us suppose one of these: he is say, 40, that gives him roughly 40 more years of existence until he is extinguished to the point that he will never know he was extinguished or was ever alive. Not to mention that the memory of him will be as vanished as most in 10,000 years. Allowing two-thirds of time for eating, sleeping, working, worrying about money or worrying about social stability etc., that leaves 13 years of possible enjoyment. Instead he uses up this time on earth self-righteously persuading others that they will go into nothingness and unimportance with no salvation, and arguing about a deity in whom he does not believe. All the time the clock clicks to his termination and his remaining time runs out, as in a death cell. This has to be a definition of insanity: to spend the sole amount of time you will ever have, not even in anger at not going on to an afterlife, but railing against a God one thinks non-existent, hating the idea that others believe they go on, and mocking those whose faith is sure.
Karl Marx was one such, and despite his seminal work as a social philosopher and economist, all for an aim he believed he could never be conscious to see and which would end in nothingness itself, was largely inspired by early nineteenth century romantic rebellion against the God he didn’t believe Existed, and Whom rationally he should not have cared about in the least, as a magnificent essay by Murray N. Rothbard I have referenced elsewhere makes clear.
Here are lyrics to Mother Nothingness ( The Triumph Of Ubbo Sathla ) from The Vision Bleak, and some of Marx’s poetry from that essay: try and guess first…
Worlds I would destroy forever,
Since I can create no world;
Since my call they notice never
I shall build my throne high overhead,
Cold, tremendous shall its summit be.
For its bulwark –– superstitious dread.
For its marshal –– blackest agony.
I shall howl gigantic curses on mankind.
Ha ! Eternity ! She is an eternal grief.
Ourselves being clockwork, blindly mechanical,
Made to be foul-calendars of Time and Space,
Having no purpose save to happen, to be ruined,
So that there shall be something to ruin
If there is a Something which devours,
I’ll leap within it, though I bring the world to ruins ––
The world which bulks between me and the Abyss
I will smash to pieces with my enduring curses.
I’ll throw my arms around its harsh reality:
Embracing me, the world will dumbly pass away,
And then sink down to utter nothingness,
Perished, with no existence – that would be really living !
In the steaming morass
Of a newborn earth
Lies the formless mass
Which to all gave birth
In a sea of sludge
Of immense extend
Lies the thoughtless mass
Which is source and end
We all must follow
Into her void
To her fetid womb
We all return
Her voiceless howl
Resounds through time
From primal mud
And fenses foul
A limbless thing
Mindless and coarse
This wretches guise
Is end and source
We all must follow
Into her void
To her fetid womb
We all return
Fall through the aeons
Onward to the earth in it’s prime
Fall through the aeons
Becoming the spawn
Of the great old slime
…the leaden world holds us fast
And we are chained, shattered, empty, frightened,
Eternally chained to this marble block of Being,
… and we – We are the apes of a cold God.
The Vision Bleak — Mother Nothingness ( The Triumph Of Ubbo Sathla )
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Once when young I saw an old album cover which rather stuck in my memory, — despite then and now being mostly uninterested in prog rock, as I here discover it was — it’s not everyday one sees a budgie waving a gun, let alone wearing a bandolier ( down-under, budgerigars roam in huge flocks, although I doubt they cover the sun with their wings nor the sound drowns out the wind and thunder: over here they are stuck singly or in pairs in small cages and called Petie ). Although it stayed, I never expected to find out where it was from. However, an hour back, from mere chance I typed the first word I thought of into Demonoid search under Music, not expecting any results at all — it was ‘napoleon’ — and it came up with ‘Budgie’s Bandolier’. With the instinct that only pure genius can achieve in mental comparison and patterning, like a flash I realised that it might quite possibly be connected to that ancient image. Which it was.
Budgie was a Welsh band of the 1970s ( Amazon ) and here there are pictures of them then and now. The music’s fine enough…
More recently, here I made a post a few years back reffing Robert Browning with a postcard — complete with camel in those innocent days — of pre-Great War Venice Beach. The almost imperceptible joke being that Venice Beach is rather different now and whilst still worldly enough to satisfy Browning’s magnificent judgemental gloom, has not the qualities to satisfy the exacting standards of the Haute Ton. Still, I daresay one can find cameltoes there if one looks sufficiently hard…
Although none of the comments can quite match mj88’s perfect critique of California in a City Data Forums’ thread
‘I’ve never been to CA but they both sound like great and lovely areas (NOCAL or SOCAL). I always seem to hear positive things about CA such as the weather, friendly people, and beaches. The one and only drawback I have heard is that it occasionally gets congested on that one freeway in LA — can’t remember its name at the moment.’
which carries subtlety to a new level, Yelp has a list of comments on Venice Beach which engagingly shows why it has an especial place in the hearts of it’s countrymen:
The best way to describe Venice Beach is as a psychiatric hospital on a beach. Depending on how you feel about that, you can easily be entertained…or lose faith in humanity. Classic examples include guy collecting funds to rebuild Death Star and recruiting to kill off Jedi, guy in alien mask reading book in corner, and kids telling me how marijuana is the cure all drug (i.e. stub your toe…smoke a joint). In a one mile stretch, there were no less than 25 of these kids passing out cards. The numerous stands and booths all get horribly repetitive. Essentially, the boardwalk plays like one of those old time cartoons where the artists just recycled the background over and over. Food options are limited to mainly pizza places with a few burger places sprinkled in…and the occasional fruit cart.
Incense wafted everywhere like a light, perfumed fog it coiled about and hung over the Strand to mask or enhance the transitory and brief wisps of burning sage, scented candles, marijuana and body odor. Furry freaks danced with bespeckled nerds while tattooed rastafarian wanna-bes pulled stunned, pale and overweight tourists into impromptu reels as drums pounded incessantly to the accompaniment of piano, flute and electric guitar. Bleached blond surfers, salt-licked from a morning go-out passed by ancient hippies still peddling peace signs while cops turned their heads like they never saw the kid with the fat joint.
I especially thought the bums with a “Parents killed by ninja monkey. Help me pay for karate lessons” sign and a “I’m not going to lie, I want weed” sign were special.
If you don’t like Venice Beach, you don’t belong in California…
No, seriously get the hell out! This place is awesome! I love the atmosphere! Everyone’s so chill. My only advice is be picky about the crazy people who perform their stunts, some of them aren’t worth it, lol and I think they just spend the money on crack
2. I always see that guy who sells tongue whistles. I think the price is 5 different whistles for a dollar. I can’t think of anything in this world that I would want less to spend a dollar on.
The creativity of the beggars is also notable. Just today I saw signs stating “Need fuel for my learjet”, “Will fuck for weed” and “the happy wino”.
I guess you have to love it or hate it. More on yelp love this place, but I have to disagree yet again with the yelpers. This place is nasty. Nasty in a dirty, homeless, shady, don;t bring your kids, way. My baby dropped her hat, (just purchased) and in 2 minutes it was gone. Someone stole a hat for a BABY that said Princess on it!!!! What real and I do mean real losers would do that? Even the homeless cannot possibly wear it.
What you get when you arrive, regardless of your reason for being there, is a dismal, despressing wasteland, and if you’re from Nebraska or somewhere else decidedly non-Californian, much of what you’ll see here you’ve already seen on your State Fair’s sad midway. Decrepit and depressing tattoo parlor after tattoo parlor, sad and dejected t-shirt shops, and grimly appointed pizza stands make up the bulk of the boardwalk. The same astonishingly depressing people from your State Fair midway are here, too.
Sadly, Mr. Mozena has not yet become mayor of LA, and worse will not become write-in governor of CA, although there is no possibility that he could do worse than the laughable Arnold or either unholy front-runner in the present race between rich retards. However, on the credit side, Venice Beach has inspired many, many artists.
Sir Peter Blake RA — Madonna of Venice
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After dawdling around Monaco itself, we went round to the ‘Jeux’ — a large gambling-house established on the shore near Monaco, upon the road to Mentone. There is a splendid hotel there, and the large house of sin, blazing with gas lamps by night. So we saw it from the road beneath Turbia our first night, flaming and shining by the shore like Pandemonium, or the habitation of some romantic witch. This place, in truth, resembles the gardens of Alcina, or any other magician’s trap for catching souls which poets have devised. It lies close by the sea in a hollow of the sheltering hills. there winter cannot come — the flowers bloom, the waves dance, and sunlight laughs all through the year. The air swoons with scent of lemon groves; tall palm trees wave their branches in the garden; music of the softest, loudest, most inebriating passion swells from the palace; rich meats and wines are served in a gorgeously painted hall; cool corridors and sunny seats stand ready for the noontide heat or evening calm; without are olive gardens, green and fresh and full of flowers. But the witch herself holds her high court and never-ending festival of sin in the hall of the green tables. There is a passion which subdues all others, making music, sweet scents and delicious food, the plash of melodious waves, the evening air and freedom of the everlasting hills subserve her own supremacy.
When the fiend of play has entered into a man, what does he care for the beauties of nature or even for the pleasure of the sense ? Yet in the moments of his trial he must drain the cup of passion, therefore let him have companions — splendid women, with bold eyes and golden hair and marble columns of imperial throats, to laugh with him, to sing shrill songs, to drink, to tempt the glassy deep at midnight when the cold moon shines or all the headlands glitter with grey phosphorescence and the palace sends its flaring lights and sound of cymbals to the hills. And many, too, there are over whom love and wine hold empire hardly less than play. This is no vision; it is sober, sad reality. I have seen it to-day with my own eyes. I have been inside the palace and breathed its air. In no other place could this riotous daughter of hell have set her throne so seducingly. Here are the Sirens and Calypso and Dame Venus of Tannhäuser’s dream. Almost every other scene of dissipation has disappointed me by its monotony and sordidness. But this inebriates; here nature is so lavish, so beautiful, so softly luxurious, that the harlot’s cup is thrice more sweet to the taste, more stealing of the senses than elsewhere. I felt, while we listened to the music, strolled about the gardens and lounged in the play-rooms, as I have sometimes felt at the opera. All other pleasures, thoughts and interests of life seemed to be far off and trivial for the time. I was beclouded, carried off my balance, lapped in strange forebodings of things infinite outside me in the human heart. Yet all was unreal; for the touch of reason, like the hand of Galahad, caused the boiling of this impure fountain to cease — the wizard’s castle disappeared and, as I drove home to Mentone, the solemn hills and skies and seas remained and that house was, as it were, a mirage.
John Addington Symonds : Diary
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Sofie Alvén — Tie A Yellow Ribbon
An electrifying performance by 18-yr-old Sofie Alvén at Tivoli in Copenhagen in 2008.
I only found out about the recent General Election in Britain, as with the Olympics, and other sporting events, after the fact — having made a conscious decision to avoid mind-corrupting trash — however, after suddenly choosing to hear this song again, expecting the usual performance by an elder capable of appearing a grizzled old con, and being enchanted by this, I found that apparently that song is being used to signal the Tory/Lib-Dem Alliance. Yellow being the colour of Liberals, whilst Conservatives can always produce jail-fodder. One old joke when Lady Thatcher’s mob were in office went: ‘Which cabinet ministers are in prison ?’ — ‘Not enough.’.
In British politics Blue is the colour of Conservatives; Red of Labour, Old or New; and Yellow for Liberals. Which leaves Green for the Greens.
T’was not always thus: Dark Blue, Red or Scarlet and Blue for 18th century Tories and Orange or Buff and [ Light ] Blue for the Whigs ( both being equally ancestral to the present Conservative Party ).
Still, on the wider world stage excluding the hues of regal families or national flags, colours go:
White : Royalist
Black : Fascist ( or Roman Church parties )
Blue : Conservative
Red : Communist
Pink : Socialist
Yellow : Liberal
Brown : Nazi
Green : Green or Islamist
Wiki endearingly says: ‘Symbols can be very important when the overall electorate is illiterate.’ Which mixed message says a lot about the sort of people who believe in democracy.
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Sinéad O’Connor — The House of the Rising Sun
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Frederick Schlegel ( and after him Coleridge ) aptly indicated a distinction, when he said that every man was born either a Platonist or an Aristotelian. This distinction is often expressed in the terms subjective and objective intellects. Perhaps we shall best define these by calling the objective intellect one that is eminently impersonal, and the subjective intellect one that is eminently personal; the former disengaging itself as much as possible from its own prepossessions, striving to see and represent objects as they exist; the other viewing all objects in the light of its own feelings and preconceptions. It is needless to add that no mind is exclusively objective or exclusively subjective, but every mind has a more or less dominant tendency in one or the other of these directions. We see the contrast in Philosophy, as in Art. The realist argues from Nature upwards, argues inductively, starting from reality, and never long losing sight of it; even in the adventurous flights of hypothesis and speculation, being desirous that his hypothesis shall correspond with realities. The idealist argues from an Idea downwards, starting from some conception, and seeking in realities only visible illustrations of a deeper existence. The achievements of modern Science, and the masterpieces of Art, prove that the grandest generalisations and the most elevated types can only be reached by the former method; and that what is called the “ideal school,” so far from having the superiority which it claims, is only more lofty in its pretensions; the realist, with more modest pretensions, achieves loftier results. The Objective and Subjective, or as they are also called, the Real and the Ideal, are thus contrasted as the termini of two opposite lines of thought. In Philosophy, in Morals and in Art, we see a constant antagonism between these two principles. Thus in Morals the Platonists are those who seek the highest morality out of human nature, instead of in the healthy development of all human tendencies, and their due co-ordination; they hope, in the suppression of integral faculties, to attain some superhuman standard. They call that Ideal which no Reality can reach, but for which we should strive. They superpose ab extra, instead of trying to develop ab intra. They draw from their own minds, or from the dogmas handed to them by tradition, an arbitrary mould, into which they attempt to fuse the organic activity of Nature.
If this school had not in its favor the imperious instinct of Progress, and aspiration after a better, it would not hold its ground. But it satisfies that craving, and thus deludes many minds into acquiescence. The poetical and enthusiastic disposition most readily acquiesces : preferring to overlook what man is, in its delight of contemplating what the poet makes him. To such a mind all conceptions of Man must have a halo round them, — half mist, half sunshine; the hero must be a Demigod, in whom no valet de chambre can find a failing ; the villain must be a Demon, for whom no charity can find an excuse.
Not to extend this to a dissertation, let me at once say that Goethe belonged to the objective class.“‘Everywhere in Goethe,“said Franz Horn, “you are on firm land or island ; nowhere the infinite sea.’ A better characterization was never written in one sentence. In every page of his works may be read a strong feeling for the real, the concrete, the living; and a repugnance as strong for the vague, the abstract, or the supersensuous. His constant striving was to study Nature, so as to see her directly, and not through the mists of fancy, or through the distortions of prejudice, — to look at men, and into them, — to apprehend things as they were. In his conception of the universe he could not separate God from it, placing Him above it, beyond it, as the philosophers did who represented God whirling the universe round His finger, “seeing it go.” Such a conception revolted him. He animated the universe with God ; he animated fact with divine life ; he saw in Reality the incarnation of the Ideal; he saw in Morality the high and harmonious action of all human tendencies ; he saw in Art the highest representation of Life.
George Henry Lewes : The Life & Works of Goethe
AoBlue — Marisa Kirisame sleeping on the Air
Title from Third Rock From The Sun.
With His Peculiar Look And Emphasis
As an extra… Lewes in a footnote adds a personal note of the old loon Carlyle:
‘I remember once, as we were walking along Piccadilly, talking about the infamous Büchlein von Goethe, Carlyle stopped suddenly, and with his peculiar look and emphasis, said, “Yes, it is the wild cry of amazement on the part of all spooneys that the Titan was not a spooney too ! Here is a god-like intellect, and yet you see he is not an idiot ! Not in the least a spooney !”
Readers not current in early 19th century England may note that ‘Spooney’ means soppy, soft, wet: sissies, but not necessarily including the present-day connotation of sexual maladaption.
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About this time, as a relief from the graver matters which claimed his attention, Luther engaged in the occupation of turning. In a letter to Wenceslas Link, he begs his friend to purchase for him the necessary tools at Nuremburg… Luther returns his acknowledgements in a letter in which his characteristic gaiety of expression is apparent.
“We have received the turning tools, the quadrant, the cylinder, and the wooden clock. We greatly thank you for the trouble you have taken. One thing, however, you forgot: you did not mention how much more you expended, for the money I sent [ One guilder ] could not have been enough. For the present, we have got all we need, except you could send us some new machinery, which will turn by itself when Wolfgang is lazy or sleepy. The clock suits me perfectly, especially for showing the time to my drunken Saxons, who look more to the bottle than the hour, caring but little whether the sun, or the clock, or its hands show wrong.”
Wolfgang had been for some years in Luther’s service, and remained with him throughout his life. He was a worthy, honest fellow, devotedly attached to his master, and possessed but one failing, a frequent propensity to go to sleep over his work. This unconquerable drowsiness was often the subject of Luther’s mock complaint. The master, with his own immense capacity for work without much interval for rest, was amused by the dull, heavy somnolence of his honest famulus. On one occasion, Wolfgang built a floor, and upon it fixed a contrivance for catching birds. Luther, whose nature was loving and feeling as that of a child, did not approve of this plan to entrap the feathered songsters, and drew out a Bird’s Indictment against their foe. The birds besought Luther’s protection against Wolfgang, whose sleepiness, they said, maliciously, everybody knew, as he never left his bed until eight o’clock in the morning; they required that every evening he should spread grain for their morning meal, as they rose up hours before him; and that his attention throughout the day should be devoted to catching frogs, snails, daws, mice and other pests, whereby he would be enabled to gratify his destructive instincts, without endeavouring to ensnare the poor birds, whose songs fully paid for the little grain they consumed. The Bird’s Petition, brimful of soft pleadings on behalf of one of the Creator’s sweetest gifts to charm the ears of that lordly creature, Man, concluded with a threat that if Wolfgang, their enemy, did not mend his ways, they ( the birds ) would pray to God to cause fleas and other insects to crawl about him at night, and torment him beyond endurance.
Luther took great delight in the simple happiness to be gained in his garden, cultivating the flowers, listening to the plashing of the waters of the fountain he had himself erected, to the singing of the birds, and to the gambols of the fish in a small pond. These small matters often took from his mind much of the trouble and anxiety inseparable from his position, and broke the hard intensity of intellectual and spiritual care.
…on the 3rd of April [ 1530 ], the Elector, unarmed and accompanied by one hundred and sixty horsemen, set out from Torgau on his way to meet the Emperor at Augsburg. Luther, Melanchthon, Jonas, Agricola, and Spalatin were with him. When they reached Coburg, the Elector directed Luther to remain there. The ban of the Empire prevented his appearance at the Diet. Without hesitation Luther obeyed the command of his prince. He proceeded to the fortress of Coburg, where he remained during the time of the proceedings at Augsburg. The elector with his followers reached Augsburg on the 2nd of May, and there awaited the arrival of the Emperor, which did not take place until the 15th of June. Luther, from the castle, wrote constantly to the Elector, to Spalatin, and to Melanchthon. The solitude and inaction to which he was constrained to submit were irksome and distressing. Writing to Melanchthon on the 22nd April he says: “I have arrived at my Sinai; but of this Sinai I will make a Sion: I will raise thereon three Tabernacles, one to the Psalmist, another to the Prophets, and lastly, one to Æsop…” He was at this time engaged in the translation of these fables.
Caspar Friedrich — The Tree of Crows * Colour alternates
“There is nothing here to prevent my solitude from being complete. I live in a vast abode which overlooks the castle; I have the keys of all its apartments. There are scarcely thirty persons within the fortress, of whom twelve are watchers by night, and two other sentinels, constantly posted on the castle heights.
On the 9th of May he wrote to Spalatin an amusing account of the rooks and jackdaws, the denizens of the wood beneath the elevated part of the castle in which he lived.
“I am here in the midst of another diet, in the presence of the magnanimous sovereigns, dukes, grandees, and nobles of a kind different to those at Augsburg. Mine confer together upon State affairs with all the gravity of demeanour; they fill the air with unceasing voice, promulgating their decrees and their preachings. They do not seat themselves shut up in those royal caverns, you call palaces, but they hold their councils in the light of the sun, having the heavens for a canopy, and, for a carpet, the rich and varied verdure of the trees, on which they are congregated in liberty; the only limits to their domains being the boundaries of the earth. The stupid display of silk and gold inspires them with horror. They are all alike, in colour as in countenance — black. Nor is their note different one from the other; the only dissonance being the agreeable contrast between the voices of the young and the deeper tones of their parents. In no instance have I ever heard them speak of an Emperor; they disdain with sovereign contempt the horse which is so indispensible to our cavaliers; they have a far better means of mocking the fury of cannon. In so far as I have been able to comprehend their decrees, they have determined to wage an incessant war during the present year against barley, corn, and grain of all sorts; in short, against all that is most enticing and agreeable amongst the fruits and products of the earth. It is much to be feared that they may become conquerors wherever they direct their efforts; for they are a race of combatants, wily and adroit; equally successful in their attempts to plunder, by force or by surprise. As for me, I am an idle spectator, assisting willingly, and with much satisfaction at their consultations. But enough of jesting ! Jesting which is, however, sometimes necessary to dispel the gloomy thoughts which overwhelm me.”
The clamour of the rooks and crows, by which, as in another letter he wrote, “they charitably intend to bring sleep gently to my eyelids,” was not altogether successful in diverting his attention from the grave business of the diet.
John Rae : Martin Luther — Student, Monk, Reformer
Note that the More tag no longer works on this particular blog — it destroys the lay-out: for which lack we apologise…
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From St. Petersburg, the Scottish Tribute Ballad to Andrew Barton… SherWood — Henry Martin
Gioacchino Pagliei —The Naiads
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THE GODS GIVE EVERYTHING
The gods give everything, the infinite ones,
To their beloved, completely,
Every pleasure, the infinite ones,
Every suffering, the infinite ones, completely.
Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe
[tr. Stephen Spender]
“Alles gaben Götter die unendlichen
Ihren Lieblingen ganz
Alle Freuden die unendlichen
Alle Schmerzen die unendlichen ganz”.
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The fairies break their dances
And leave the printed lawn,
And up from India glances
The silver sail of dawn.
The candles burn their sockets,
The blinds let through the day,
The young man feels his pockets
And wonders what’s to pay.
A. E. Housman : The Fairies Break Their Dances
Richard Wagner — Overture to The Fairies
–George Cruikshank — A Fantasy –The Fairy Ring
Great was the excitement in Paris when it was announced the King of Prussia and the Tsar would arrive in close succession at the beginning of June . Although the latter was the real guest of honour ( high politics decreed it so ), it was King Wilhelm of Prussia and his massive Chancellor, Count von Bismarck, who attracted all eyes. On the train they passed positions the old King had occupied in 1814, when he had contributed to the downfall of his present host’s uncle. Though some Parisians detected a note of typical Teutonic tactlessness as the King complimented, ecstatically, on ‘what marvellous things you have done since I was last here !’, on the whole they thought his behaviour quite unexceptionable. In fact he stole many hearts by his kindly display of affection for the fragile Prince Impérial, then recovering from an illness. A comfortable figure projecting an image of some benevolent country squire, he set the nervous French at ease, and indeed seemed utterly at ease himself; as someone remarked uncharitably after the event, he explored Paris as if intending to come back there one day.
Even the terrible Bismarck, whose great stature made Wickham Hoffman of the U.S. Legation think of Agamemnon, positively glowed with goodwill. Beauties of Paris society surrounded him. admired his dazzling White Cuirassier unform and the enormous spread eagle upon his shining helmet, and attempted to provoke him; but in vain. In conversation with Louis-Napoleon, he dismissed last year’s Austro-Prussian war as belonging to another epoch, and added amiably ‘Thanks to you no permanent cause of rivalry exists between us and the Court at Vienna’. The festive atmosphere temporarily obscured the full menace of this remark.
On April 12th, the Emperor attended the première of one of the great entertainments to be produced in honour of his Royal guests: Offenbach’s La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein…
…Now here was this new triumph about the amorous Grand Duchess of a joke German principality, embarking on a pointless war because its Chancellor, Baron Puck, needed a diversion. Its forces were led by a joke German general called Boum, as incapable as he was fearless, who invigorated himself with the smell of gunpowder by periodically firing off his pistol into the air. The farce, tallying so closely with Europe’s private view of the ridiculous Teutons, was too obvious to be missed. When the Tsar came to see it, his box was said to have rung with unroyal laughter. Between gusts of mirth, members of the French court peeped over at Bismarck’s expression, half in malice, half in apprehension, wondering if perhaps King Wilhelm’s lack of tact about his previous visit to Paris had not been revenged to excess. But nobody appeared to be showing more obvious and unrestrained pleasure than the Iron Chancellor himself; one might almost have suspected that the pleasure was enhanced by the enjoyment of some secret joke of his own.
Alistair Horne : The Fall of Paris