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
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.
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 Chateau 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. Nobody answered. 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."
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.
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.
The Wind in the Willows was not my initiation into reading --- the first book I was observed reading happened to be Of Mice and Men : and on review it is to be sincerely doubted that any seven-year-old would understand more than half of that --- yet this was the most important book of my childhood; and nothing, absolutely nothing, can overstate the incredible importance of this work to all true English men and women. Roughly the same significance as held the Bible in the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries.
Winslow Homer -- Sloop at Nassau
The wayfarer was lean and keen-featured, and somewhat bowed at the shoulders; his paws were thin and long, his eyes much wrinkled at the corners, and he wore small gold ear rings in his neatly-set well-shaped ears. His knitted jersey was of a faded blue, his breeches, patched and stained, were based on a blue foundation, and his small belongings that he carried were tied up in a blue cotton handkerchief.
When he had rested awhile the stranger sighed, snuffed the air, and looked about him.
'That was clover, that warm whiff on the breeze,' he remarked; 'and those are cows we hear cropping the grass behind us and blowing softly between mouthfuls. There is a sound of distant reapers, and yonder rises a blue line of cottage smoke against the woodland. The river runs somewhere close by, for I hear the call of a moorhen, and I see by your build that you're a freshwater mariner. Everything seems asleep, and yet going on all the time. It is a goodly life that you lead, friend; no doubt the best in the world, if only you are strong enough to lead it !'
'Yes, it's THE life, the only life, to live,' responded the Water Rat dreamily, and without his usual whole-hearted conviction.
'I did not say exactly that,' replied the stranger cautiously; 'but no doubt it's the best. I've tried it, and I know. And because I've just tried it --- six months of it --- and know it's the best, here am I, footsore and hungry, tramping away from it, tramping southward, following the old call, back to the old life, THE life which is mine and which will not let me go.'
'Is this, then, yet another of them ?' mused the Rat. 'And where have you just come from ?' he asked. He hardly dared to ask where he was bound for; he seemed to know the answer only too well.
'Nice little farm,' replied the wayfarer, briefly. 'Upalong in that direction' --- he nodded northwards. 'Never mind about it. I had everything I could want --- everything I had any right to expect of life, and more; and here I am! Glad to be here all the same, though, glad to be here ! So many miles further on the road, so many hours nearer to my heart's desire !'
His shining eyes held fast to the horizon, and he seemed to be listening for some sound that was wanting from that inland acreage, vocal as it was with the cheerful music of pasturage and farmyard.
'You are not one of US,' said the Water Rat, 'nor yet a farmer; nor even, I should judge, of this country.'
'Right,' replied the stranger. 'I'm a seafaring rat, I am, and the port I originally hail from is Constantinople, though I'm a sort of a foreigner there too, in a manner of speaking. You will have heard of Constantinople, friend ? A fair city, and an ancient and glorious one. And you may have heard, too, of Sigurd, King of Norway, and how he sailed thither with sixty ships, and how he and his men rode up through streets all canopied in their honour with purple and gold; and how the Emperor and Empress came down and banqueted with him on board his ship. When Sigurd returned home, many of his Northmen remained behind and entered the Emperor's body-guard, and my ancestor, a Norwegian born, stayed behind too, with the ships that Sigurd gave the Emperor. Seafarers we have ever been, and no wonder; as for me, the city of my birth is no more my home than any pleasant port between there and the London River. I know them all, and they know me. Set me down on any of their quays or foreshores, and I am home again.'
'I suppose you go great voyages,' said the Water Rat with growing interest. 'Months and months out of sight of land, and provisions running short, and allowanced as to water, and your mind communing with the mighty ocean, and all that sort of thing?'
'By no means,' said the Sea Rat frankly. 'Such a life as you describe would not suit me at all. I'm in the coasting trade, and rarely out of sight of land. It's the jolly times on shore that appeal to me, as much as any seafaring. O, those southern seaports ! The smell of them, the riding-lights at night, the glamour !'
'Well, perhaps you have chosen the better way,' said the Water Rat, but rather doubtfully. 'Tell me something of your coasting, then, if you have a mind to, and what sort of harvest an animal of spirit might hope to bring home from it to warm his latter days with gallant memories by the fireside; for my life, I confess to you, feels to me to-day somewhat narrow and circumscribed.'
'My last voyage,' began the Sea Rat, 'that landed me eventually in this country, bound with high hopes for my inland farm, will serve as a good example of any of them, and, indeed, as an epitome of my highly-coloured life. Family troubles, as usual, began it. The domestic storm-cone was hoisted, and I shipped myself on board a small trading vessel bound from Constantinople, by classic seas whose every wave throbs with a deathless memory, to the Grecian Islands and the Levant. Those were golden days and balmy nights ! In and out of harbour all the time --- old friends everywhere --- sleeping in some cool temple or ruined cistern during the heat of the day --- feasting and song after sundown, under great stars set in a velvet sky ! Thence we turned and coasted up the Adriatic, its shores swimming in an atmosphere of amber, rose, and aquamarine; we lay in wide land-locked harbours, we roamed through ancient and noble cities, until at last one morning, as the sun rose royally behind us, we rode into Venice down a path of gold. O, Venice is a fine city, wherein a rat can wander at his ease and take his pleasure ! Or, when weary of wandering, can sit at the edge of the Grand Canal at night, feasting with his friends, when the air is full of music and the sky full of stars, and the lights flash and shimmer on the polished steel prows of the swaying gondolas, packed so that you could walk across the canal on them from side to side! And then the food --- do you like shellfish ? Well, well, we won't linger over that now.'
He was silent for a time; and the Water Rat, silent too and enthralled, floated on dream-canals and heard a phantom song pealing high between vaporous grey wave-lapped walls.
Sprawled on the carpet, Jamie was nibbling his lower lip in a thoughtful rapture. “Wot’cha doing ?” enquired Paul. Whilst glad he was actually doing something, and not staring inwardly; the ever-active Paul mistrusted the contemplative impulse: noting that Jamie, unusually for him had been reading the Sunday literary supplements and scribbling away for the last hour. His pretty little brother had given up on others’ critical theory when he was ten, not just on literature.
“Making a game..” Jamie murmured in soft distraction; then shaking his platinum head explained: “One creates ten titles with synopsis-blurbs for well typical modern books — fiction’s gonna be the easiest ‘The crap we read now’ to be Trollopian…” not that Jamie had hardly read Trollope in his young life… “then lists ten adjectives commonly used in such heated minds as write blurbs to describe the protagonist; and ten adjectives used to encapsulate such rot. The others than have to match up the correct two adjectives to each book to win. Remember: All fiction is wish-fulfilment. The skill of the author lies mostly in how they can disguise this truth. Modern authors can barely even try; which is why their heroes and heroines are all brilliant, multi-skilled, sexy geniuses.”
After a while he handed Paul his first list, “Knock yourself out.” he said cheerfully.
I. Miss Jazzy Queening it Down The Gap. — The adventures of a mixed race Black/Puerto Rican drag-artiste hustling in Times Square to fund his sex-change operation.
II. The Potting-Shed in Autumn. — In the garden of a country-house in 1935 an ageing gardener, once an Oxford graduate, recalls how he came to the ruin of his dreams and his present status, and considers the tapestry of life represented by the denizens of Maddingleigh Hall from the servants’ quarter to the Osterley-Browns, the wealthy but corrupt family who now own the land.
III. The Gash of Time. — A Scotswoman’s vigorous fight for self-improvement against the opposition of family, friends, children and all the menfolk she ever meets. Until at last she gains a doctorate in Council Studies, makes the largest fortune in Scottish history as a successful businesswoman, and finally becomes the first woman first minister of Scotland’s Parliament.
IV. The Seabirds of Yalta. — Charlie Werner, troubled maverick of the SIS, has five days to stop Walter Schellenburg’s most daring plot of all: to assassinate the Big Three at their meeting in 1945. Facing the sinister ex-lawyer Ulrich von Kartoffeltopf, now SS Brigadeführer and confidante of Himmler, he has only the beautiful Larissa, once secretary to Yagoda, only allowed to buy her life by fulfilling the most dangerous of all missions, and Una, ‘The Lovely Valkyrie’, a Prussian aristocrat playing a double game, and ‘Dutch’ O’Murphy, a tough wise-cracking US Master-Sergeant, eager and willing to pay off old scores. These four are pitted against Otto Skorzeny and an élite band of assassins formed from a company of the surviving parachutists of Crete sworn to dark and mystical oaths which have to do with revenge on traitors responsible for the near débâcle and the random recovery of ancient objects of great occult power. Can they protect the leaders of the Free World, or is there a traitor in their own ranks ? How will they pair off into bed ? And in what order ?
V. The Bread-and-Butter Pudding Club. — Polly, Gail, Rosie and Miriam all want their men to settle down and take things seriously: they form a pact with the rest of the girls in the firm and it’s a side-splitting race to see who becomes pregnant first.
VI. The End of the Pier. — July 1914: The Twelve Joeys, a struggling party of Pierrots and Pierrets work the South Coast during the splendid Summer. What will Autumn bring ?
VII. Riding A Rainbow. — Dainty vowed never to be dependent on anyone after her parents split up; now a brilliant success as the best marketing executive in the tough world of publishing ever, she wants a child. But at 26 she has to act fast. Who shall she choose as the father ? Josh, her live-in lover of three years, genius research scientist, but irresponsible and feckless; Rudy, the sweet gentle impoverished motorcycle courier, only 19 but living in a communal squat in Brixton; or Simon, suave multi-millionaire business entrepreneur who will give her a life of perfection, but demand marriage as the price ? Dainty has to make the most difficult decision of her life.
VIII. Dead of Day. — A serial killer is murdering women, all of whom are young, clever and excessively attractive: can the J9 team, a crack police squad formed to foil these crimes — oldish gaffer, young female second-in-command, black male, computer genius, black female, several gays of either sex, ordinary plods with combat skills — work out why he uses these criteria in time before he slays another six victims ?
IX. The Holy Ball. — Latvia in the early fourteenth century is a grim and dangerous place, ruled by the cruel Sword-Brethren. Some men fight in rebellion, others knuckle under: but all, ultimately are depressed. A group of their wives however refuse to yield, and defy the imperialistic oppressors and their hypocritical Church by inventing football. The infuriated rulers must strike back and destroy the game and all memory of it, or it will spell the end of all their anti-democratic power. Inspiringly, after the massacre one girl escapes and, abjuring all else, spends every moment of an immensely long and minutely detailed mediæval life travelling to every country in Europe, Africa, and Asia to secretly spread the knowledge of this inspiring game, with it’s promise of ultimate liberation, amongst all disaffected peasants.
X. Fresh Meat — Horror: an especial group of Sûreté investigators put together an alarming collection of facts. All over the globe, butchers return home to find their families gone: there are no clues, except the abductors left several hundred kilos of sausages sitting in each living room. Marvel as the authorities take several weeks before something clicks and they call in what sausages remain for forensic examination.
a) life-enhancing b) wise c) gentle-fable d) brilliant e) hilarious f) astounding g) amazing h) witty i) assured j) mythic
Paul read this in silence. “Some of your sodding preoccupations are present;” Jamie smirked. “I wouldn’t talk about ‘Lovely Valkyries’ much if I were you.” he continued sourly. Jamie bit him. At least he tried to. Certain subjects were taboo.
Jamie has this gift also, the gift of the compelling eye --- which is not to be confused with the evil eye, nor yet witchcraft --- which suggests to the unwary and lesser-willed the pure unreason of unobedience [ I wish I had it... ]
She believed profoundly in herself and in the suggestions of her own imagination. So fixed and unalterable was that belief that it amounted to positive knowledge, so far as it constituted a motive of action. In her strange youth wild dreams had possessed her, and some of them, often dreamed again, had become realities to her now. Her powers were natural, those gifts which from time to time are seen in men and women, which are alternately scoffed at as impostures, or accepted as facts, but which are never understood either by their possessor or by those who witness the results. She had from childhood the power to charm with eye and hand all living things, the fascination which takes hold of the consciousness through sight and touch and word, and lulls it to sleep. It was witchery, and she was called a witch. In earlier centuries her hideous fate would have been sealed from the first day when, under her childish gaze, a wolf that had been taken alive in the Bohemian forest crawled fawning to her feet, at the full length of its chain, and laid its savage head under her hand, and closed its bloodshot eyes and slept before her.
I was fond of F. Marion Crawford's The Witch of Prague as a child, and though he wasn't prone to incident in his unelaborate plotting, few could deny the beauty of his descriptive, suggestively so, powers.
The man introduced him into a spacious hall and closed the door, leaving him to his own reflections. The place was very wide and high and without windows, but the broad daylight descended abundantly from above through the glazed roof and illuminated every corner. He would have taken the room for a conservatory, for it contained a forest of tropical trees and plants, and whole gardens of rare southern flowers. Tall letonias, date palms, mimosas and rubber trees of many varieties stretched their fantastic spikes and heavy leaves half-way up to the crystal ceiling; giant ferns swept the polished marble floor with their soft embroideries and dark green laces; Indian creepers, full of bright blossoms, made screens and curtains of their intertwining foliage; orchids of every hue and of every exotic species bloomed in thick banks along the walls. Flowers less rare, violets and lilies of the valley, closely set and luxuriant, grew in beds edged with moss around the roots of the larger plants and in many open spaces. The air was very soft and warm, moist and full of heavy odours as the still atmosphere of an island in southern seas, and the silence was broken only by the light plash of softly-falling water.
He who has won woman in the face of daring rivals, of enormous odds, of gigantic obstacles, knows what love means; he who has lost her, having loved her, alone has measured with his own soul the bitterness of earthly sorrow, the depth of total loneliness, the breadth of the wilderness of despair. And he who has sorrowed long, who has long been alone, but who has watched the small, twinkling ray still burning upon the distant border of his desert—the faint glimmer of a single star that was still above the horizon of despair—he only can tell what utter darkness can be upon the face of the earth when that last star has set for ever. With it are gone suddenly the very quarters and cardinal points of life's chart, there is no longer any right hand or any left, any north or south, any rising of the sun or any going down, any forward or backward direction in his path, any heaven above, or any hell below. The world has stood still and there is no life in the thick, black stillness. Death himself is dead, and one living man is forgotten behind, to mourn him as a lost friend, to pray that some new destroyer, more sure of hand than death himself, may come striding through the awful silence to make an end at last of the tormented spirit, to bear it swiftly to the place where that last star ceased to shine, and to let it down into the restful depths of an unremembering eternity. But into that place, which is the soul of man, no destroyer can penetrate; that solitary life neither the sword, nor pestilence, nor age, nor eternity can extinguish; that immortal memory no night can obscure. There was a beginning indeed, but end there can be none.
As to Prague itself, it was no doubt a fine city, from when it was the capital of the Old Reich to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; yet I do have some distance from all things Czech: excessive nationalism from when they first began their interesting practice of throwing people out of high windows and set off the most devastating war in modern history; a wry humour allied to a smug morosity similar to that of my own people which insisted on striving for barren independent democracy; and, of course, the depraved vengefulness which sped possibly the most unspeakable atrocities on Germans of any nation which had been under the nazi control ( after an occupation which was as collaborative as most [ they supplied superb weaponry with all their noted craftsmanship and the occupation was not as grim as in, say, Poland ] ) --- here's one link, but I've read far, far worse... If the Russians were dreadful, they were restrained compared to some of the smaller regimes which were to become their future puppets. Besides, they honoured the Grand Tradition by chucking Jan Masaryk --- ghastly son of a still ghastlier father --- out of a window...
Still Art has nothing to do with politics, and Bohemia even in it's despicable guise of the late scarcely lamented Czechoslovakia had some severely unknown artists: here's a site devoted to Tavik František Šimon
Mucha is naturally well-known, yet Golden Age Comic Stories blog has some nice examples of his work on the 8th June entry --- for some reason I cannot link directly to posts there; this blog has a large resource of illustrative fantasy ranging from the fascinating to the banal [ I have to say I despise classical comic book 'art' and such genre; and find it generally as debased and weak-minded as say it's successors in film such as Star Wars or Star Trek ].
[ Although I have to preface this by pointing out that the painting above the snippet, Vincent Neumann's Witch on a Broom --- reffing to above mention of Bohemian witches... --- is uncannily reminiscent of Auld Scotia right up to the present time. Go into any Edinburgh pub. ]
The White Lady von Rosenberg Perchta von Rosenberg, known as the White Lady, lived in the Český Krumlov castle in the 15th century. Her father, Ulrich II. von Rosenberg married her off against her will and without love to the Moravian lord Johann von Lichtenstein who was cruel to Perchta all her life. When Johann was dying he had Perchta called in and asked her for forgiveness. She refused, and her husband cursed her. Since then, the soul of the White Lady von Rosenberg has had to roam the Rosenberg castles and tends to appear before significant events. White gloves on her hand bear good tidings, whereas black gloves are a sign of impending disaster. Tales of the White Lady is a theme for many authors.
Apart from the fact I find the notion of forgiveness unmanly and fairly inexplicable, the trouble here is that under no rational or irrational standard can forgiveness be demanded, and why this poor girl should have to expiate her lack of pity for the brutish lout who had injured her is totally beyond me.
Temporary ill-health precludes any capacity for thought greater than that which lesser beings need for the selection for their choice of president ( something which in any case is more decided on the grossest sentiment rather than pure reason, of course: otherwise the leading Democrat candidates might not have the appearance of sinister liars, and the leading Republicans --- as they were --- that of shifty dolts ), therefore a short mélange of diverse items stored in draft without any unifying theme....
From the wiki on Turbo-Folk, that relentless mystical musical experience which expresses the yearning for the ideal life as perceived by the ordinary man:
However, turbo-folk was equally popular amongst the South Slavic nations during the brutal wars of the 1990s, reflecting perhaps the common cultural sentiments of the warring sides. When a Muslim market seller in Sarajevo was asked why in the midst of a Serb shelling of the city he illegally sold CDs by turbo-folk superstar Ceca, a wife of the notorious Serbian warlord Arkan, he offered a laconic retort: "Art knows no borders!"
Two by Atomik Harmonik --- for frailer spirits, less is more is something particularly applicable to hearty polkas, but they go nuts on this in the Balkans.
Finally, to combat near delirium, amongst other discoveries of things unknown, I read up on Neodymium Magnets: which are very powerful for their size, and can disrupt floppy disks ( who the hell still uses floppy disks ? ), computer monitors, fingers, credit cards, and heart pacemakers. Jamie is conducting experiments with just one of these listed in unwitting conjunction with an elderly grouch of a neighbour.
Ivanov Seven is an excellent boys' book by Elizabeth Janeway, and regards a mid-19th century recruit into the Russian army who is fortunate enough to return home to the hills with a charming little howitzer named Katya for his very own > which is the sort of souvenir no-one could resist; particularly a Prussian ornate cannon that is antique bronze inscribed:
Anyway, during the royalist war in the Vendée against the brutish scum of the French Republic, there was another notable piece with a sweet name. She was a bit bigger, but just as lovable.
Really, the only engaging with life which makes the curious matter of existence endurable is to destroy republicans... And maybe, to collect cannon. Not only for that good purpose, but just because... I find myself unable to believe God created us in order that we might worship Him --- although He would have every right so to do if He so Chose ( that's the arbitrary and unfettered bit that is the essence of power; which we must try to mirror, howsoever unsuccessfully here on earth, at least for His equally arbitrarily Chosen lieutenants... ) --- and His reasons for creation must remain a mystery, but fighting on the right side each time consoles us at least during each such struggle.
The soldiers reassembled in large numbers, till, with Bonchamps' division, there were close on forty thousand, but destitute of powder; the army spent the night before La Châtaigneraie, which had been re-occupied by the Republicans. At daybreak the town was found to have been evacuated, all the Blues having fallen back on Fontenay. The Catholic Army marched forward without delay and towards noon reached Pissotte, three-quarters of a league from Fontenay; the Blues, to the number of ten thousand, with upwards of forty pieces of cannon, were drawn up in battle array before the town. The priests were asked to give the men absolution before the battle. "We have no powder, boys", the generals said to them; "Come on and recapture Marie-Jeanne with your cudgels, as you did at first. See who can run fastest, for we cannot stop to fire this time." M. de Lescure was in command of the left wing; his men showing a disposition to hang back, he was obliged to ride on alone forty paces ahead of them; then, pulling up, he called out "Vive le Roi !" He was instantly greeted with six rounds of grapeshot, for the enemy had aimed at him as though he was the bullseye on a target; by a veritable miracle he was not wounded, though his clothes were riddled, his left spur shot away, and also a large piece of his boot from the right calf. Turning round he called out to the men, "You see, boys, the Blues cannot shoot. On with you ! Forward !" The men, carried away with enthusiasm, rushed forward at such a pace that my husband had to break into a quick trot in order to keep at their head. Just then the peasants, catching sight of a mission cross, fell on their knees around it, though within range of the cannon. More than thirty balls passed over their heads. At that point there were only MM. de Lescure and de Baugé on horseback. The latter would have had my husband bid them go on. "No, let them finish their prayers first", he answered quietly. At length they sprang up and rushed upon the enemy. Meanwhile M. de Marigny fired off the few charges we had with good effect. M. de la Rochejaquelein had put himself at the head of the cavalry with MM. de Dommaigné and de Beaurepaire; they all displayed the utmost gallantry, while Henri distinguished himself by a judgment beyond his years. After repulsing the Republican cavalry, instead of pursuing it, he fell upon the flank of the enemy's left wing, which till then had been maintaining the fight with some success, and by so doing placed the victory beyond a doubt. I wish I could give further details with regard to the circumstances of this battle, but I can only say what I know for certain.
The Blues, appalled by the desperate onslaught of the Vendeans, were completely routed in three quarters of an hour. The left wing, under the command of M. de Lescure, reached the gate of the town, and he himself was the first to enter, but his men, to begin with, had not the courage to follow him. MM. de Bonchamps and Forest, spying him from a distance, dashed forward to join him ; it was high time, for he was alone and in a very perilous situation. The three officers together were rash enough to penetrate into the town, though the streets were still crowded with over four thousand Blues, who, paralysed with terror, fell on their knees and began begging for quarter. When they had reached the square they separated and took three different streets, likewise thronged with armed volunteers, to whom they cried, "Surrender, down with your arms !Vive le Roi ! We will do you no harm." Scarcely had he parted from M. de Lescure, however, than M. de Bonchamps was wounded. One of the soldiers, after laying down his musket and crying for quarter like the rest, picked it up again as soon as he had passed, and fired, shooting him through the arm and fleshy part of the breast and inflicting four wounds upon him : luckily our troops were just then crowding into the town in the wake of their generals. Bonchamps' men in their fury closed in on the street and slaughtered about sixty Blues who were in it, so that the guilty one should not escape their vengeance.
As for M. de Lescure, he had the greatest pleasure a man can experience ; on leaving M. de Bonchamps and Forest he had taken the Street of the Prisons, which he caused.to be thrown open, to the cry of Vive le Roi, and flung himself into the arms of M. de la Marsonniere and the two hundred and forty prisoners confined along with him. This officer and several of the men were to have been guillotined the following morning; he had shown at his examination a nobility and greatness of character worthy of the highest praise. M. de Lescure had hastened to deliver them for fear they should be massacred by the Blues, and having done so flew at once to another prison in which were confined the relations of émigrés and other suspected persons, to the number of over two hundred. They had viewed the battle from afar and barricaded themselves on the inside for fear of being butchered by the patriots. M. de Lescure knocked repeatedly, crying, "Open, in the King's name !" Immediately the doors flew open, while the prison rang with cries of Vive le Roi ! All the captives embraced M. de Lescure, but without recognizing him, even though a great many were relations or friends of his ; after telling them his name he left them, to engage in the pursuit of the patriots like all the other officers.
Forest had taken the street leading to the Niort road, and accordingly found himself at the very head. Everyone's chief concern was to recapture Marie-Jeanne, the idol of the army, while the Blues, who were aware of this, used every endeavour to save her. They were already well over a league from the town. Forest had pushed forward so far that he found himself in the midst of over a hundred gendarmes ; fortunately he had the horse, saddle and weapons of a gendarme he had killed in a previous engagement, besides which, he was not dressed like a peasant and had no white cockade, and as at that time most of the Republican regiments were full of new recruits not yet in uniform, the Blues took him for one of their own men. "Comrade," said one of them, clapping him on the shoulder, "there is a reward of twenty-five thousand francs for those who save Marie-Jeanne; she is in danger; let us turn back and prevent her from being taken." All the Blues promptly turned back, whereupon Forest began to play the hero, declaring that he must be the foremost, and so gradually worked his way forward till he found himself leading, some way ahead, and followed only by the two boldest. When he was only a short distance from our men, he turned round with a cry of Vive le Roi ! and killed the two Blues who were following him, while the Vendeans, recognizing him, fell upon the enemy and captured Marie-Jeanne who was defended by some foot. To bring the history of this gun to a conclusion, I will add that she was brought back by the soldiers in triumph to La Vendée, where, in all the villages, the women came out to meet her, embracing her and covering her with flowers and ribbons.
Memoirs of the Marquise de La Rochejaquelein [ trans : Cecil Biggane ]
Henri, Marquis de La Rochejaquelein fighting at Cholet
It is absurd for fond parents to think to enlist great interest from strangers in the writhing or passive tenants of the cradle. Except in theory, this undeveloped bud must be a blank to nearly all but Father ( sometimes ), Mother and nurse always. No baby can suggest to the mind that strange thrill of parental wonder until it is your own, your firstborn. To be a Father ! That is a holy name, a sweet relation, a thought full of surprise at first. So it is by the cradle in your own nursery that you must be supposed to be sitting if these musings are to find an echo in your heart. It is the evening hour; you have come in from a parish round, or from a day in the counting-house; you pass the nursery door; the curtains are drawn across the window ; there is a mellow glow and dance of firelight in the room; the nurse has gone downstairs for her mistress’s hot water; you steal in and take your seat by the cradle or the cot. Such quiet, soft breathing, such a passive tiny hand outside the counterpane: so helpless and dependent a creature; the parted lips a full-drawn Cupid’s bow; the scant silky hair; the flushed round cheek, — so soft when you stoop to kiss it, — the little clutching thumbs, and slight twitching movements of the tiny dimpled hand ; the pretty noise and motion, sucking in his dreams. Yes, there is plenty of beauty in the sight to the interested watcher. You crave soon to touch the wee passive hand; to feel its soft tendril-closing about your coarse big fore-finger, to kiss the white smooth forehead. And you pass from wonder at the little newcomer, which has settled down so confidingly and securely as a life-inmate with you, to musings about it, about its future. What will that Future be ? Oh what strange store of experiences lies before this unconscious little traveller, asleep in its bark while storms rage around it in the weary world ! What meanest thou, 0 sleeper ? — while we are casting out our bales, of joy, and health, and gladness, and blithe spirits, to be sucked in by the hungry sea. What meanest thou, 0 sleeper ? And yet, ah, sleep on ! For who can tell what life will bring, in the coming years, to thee ? What sadnesses — ( you think of these, you will notice, rather than of the joys, which come seldom, and less certainly, and fleet sooner ) — what disillusions as life goes on; what blights, and frosts, and winds, and insects, ready for the sheets of blossom ! What strong agonies; what silent aches; and, far worse than these wholesome bitters of sorrow, — what experiences of sin; stains on the white unwritten page; marring worms in the unfolding bud. But what will be the completed story, when God writes “Finis” on the last page of the earth-portion of the everlasting history, which has here begun ? What flower will open from the bud ; resulting in what fruit, meet for the Master’s table? Ah, you shudder to think how fond Mothers and Fathers have watched by the cots and stooped over to kiss the lips of an Absalom, — a Nero, — a Judas. A monstrous growth, and no flower of beauty or fruit of use, has sprung from such tender buds. Those little pearls, which gave such interest and anxiety in the cutting, have turned out to be serpents’ teeth, yea ” sharper than a serpent’s tooth,” before now. — Hush ! such thoughts shall not have place by this innocent dear slumberer. Yet let them; for God has made it very much your responsibility, ( He tells us so, however mysterious it must be now to us ), whether an angel of light or an angel of darkness shall finally develop out of that tender bud.
Two posts from ‘Ingleside and Wayside Musings’: My copy has no titlepage, yet Google informs that this was written by the Rev. I. R. Vernon. Whatever, the influence of Carlyle is rather manifest — even perhaps partaking of Carlyle’s own influence to style, the surprising Jean-Paul Richter — allied to the natural fervency of the impassioned Victorian preacher…
STARS : These seem to me even as the quiet thoughts of Heaven; and some similes and meditations may well therefore be linked with them to introduce this humble cluster of musings, a constellation of lesser lights, no doubt, which, however, I would hang somewhere, if I may, between earth and heaven ; stars, I would have them, abiding in the one, but still looking down upon the other. Thoughts removed from earth, but not alien from it: orbs watching and shining down upon the turmoil and the jostling, but taking no feverish or heated part in it: — this is the character which I would have my constellations to bear, however minute be their twinkle. Mild light, let them give, scarce perceived through the haze; light clear and vivid through the frost; light luminous and large now and then, and making a narrow quiet trembling path upon some restless ocean underneath. Stars with all the jewel-lights of dew-drops on a hoary autumn lawn; jasper; sapphire; a chalcedony ; an emerald ; beryl; jacinth; amethyst; opals ; pearls ; all hues of diamonds, and
“One star, the chrysolite.”
For all these are to be found on —
“Heaven’s star-sprinkled floor,”
which is our canopy. Stars. Ay, you must wait for the quiet hours, when work is done, before you can find them ; they will not make their presence known in the busy day. Above the dust and the heat and the turbulence, they watch on, indeed, in grave contemplation ; but they are withdrawn behind a screen of light from that carefulness and trouble about many things which goes on beneath their shining. Stars are ever lovely ; stars watching, with their haunting eyes, over still lakes and sleeping mountains; over hushed autumn forests and vast prairies; over interminable miles of sand, and over hedge-patterned fields, and twinkling homesteads, and nestling farms ; over the great unquiet sea, and over the heaped dead in a battle-field; over a mounded churchyard, and over a dance in a garden ; — they are lovely, and perhaps as it were most at home, over all the scenes of quiet, and innocent gladness, and repose. But they have to me a special charm, a charm of incongruity and yet of peculiar fitness, when I see them steal out one by one, or in faint clusters, into the dusking sky above the streets of a great City. They come — not with any scorn or sarcasm, — come in their sublime ethereal stillness to look upon the thronged streets, and the glittering wares, and the squalid back lanes; gay Regent Street; noisy Cheapside ; sedate Paternoster Row ; murky Seven Dials ;-— not with any touch of sarcasm, oh no ; — rather with a hint of hope-in-sadness ; still more, with a revelation, a message from God; a voice without speech or language speaking down through the smoke and the foul exhalations and the clang and clash and roar, — telling of what-not that is high and pure, and ethereal and peaceful ? Of infinity, amid that which is finite ; of calm, amid that which is an endless perturbation ; of rest, to weary toil; of peace, where there are many distractions ; of nobility, amid a whirl of meannesses and low aims ; of Heaven to that which, having Earth’s unloveliness, is shut out from all her beauty, except that of the clouds and the sky, Still above these lower clouds and this blue atmosphere, they abide and watch, and are speechlessly eloquent; when the roar dies into a murmur, and the murmur into a few hours’ broken hush, while the sin-burdened, sorrow-laden, toiling, laughing, weeping City sleeps ; over all, those grave eyes are watching. There are the casinos, with their frantic revelry, and heat, and glare; there are the dens of vice and infamy; there is the murderer with his hand raised over his victim; there are the lonely wanderers in the street, or the the rows of dark, dumb, blind houses; there is a jumble of sleeping and waking, of laughing and sobbing, of living and dying, while over all —
“Starry tears are trembling on the mighty Midnight’s face.”
And above this close-packed speck on the world’s plains, where there is neither elbow-room nor air-room, and where acres are worth millions, there is reminding, but not mockery, in the prodigal exhibiting of infinite Space, with which —
“The night reveals Her hollow gulfs of stars.”
0 money-absorbed men in London; in Manchester; in Liverpool; in Glasgow; wheresoever; 0 nation of shopkeepers, more bent than ever now on earning this name ; 0 grave and honest men, shrewd and practical, yet ever looking down, looking down; ever in a whirl of busy life, ever set to the grindstone of money-making; — gradually growing more and more to be mere dull drudges in the heavy cart laden with this world’s short-lived but exacting wants and whims, requirements and conventionalities; 0 lofty spirits, in danger of ever-growing and even eternal lessening and degradation: — it is for you that those Stars are set in the heaven, above your Offices and Warehouses ; it is for you that they come from their radiant chamber when Night empties your counting-houses, and out in the streets you cannot elude them ; it is for you that they look down between the houses, over the roofs, over the courts, glittering like to fruit through the gaunt solitary tree here and there ; penetrating with their great gracious eyes your very being; — and oh, if you would listen, — and not still look only on or down, still absorbed, still absorbed; — if you would look up, — what a heart-stirring sermon you might gather from their silence ! what a lesson of vastness, contrasted with the ever-increasing pettiness of your lives ! What infinity, compared with your ends, which are growing more and more utterly finite! What a speech of Eternity, what silent bell-music, stealing over the jangling voices of Time ! How ? say you the necessities of business must make an artificial code of morality, at variance with, and that must supersede, the everlasting principles of Right ? Has not —
“The intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,”
a word to say about this ? As you emerge from the hot glaring office, and stand apart from the stream of men — ( in that recess, say, by St. Michael’s Church, Cornhill ), and look up, above the Temple-like Royal Exchange, and see those eternal Watchers; the abysses of black-blue between them ; and, across this, cast, like a light mist or scarf, the untold billions of the Milky Way; do not flimsy sophistries exhale ? can expedient Wrong ( profitable for this moment ) endure that glittering picture of eternal Right and Order ?
When this bright bee had departed as the other had done before him, then Toupan moved his wings, and he made ready to overlook the work of Koshchei: and in the instant that Toupan moved, the worlds in that part of the universe were dislodged and ran melting down the sky. It was Gauracy who swept all the fragments together and formed a sun immeasurably larger than that which he had lost, and an obstreperous mad conflagration which did not in anything conform with the handiwork of Koshchei. And Gauracy then shouted friendlily to Toupan, "Now is the hour of thy release, O Toupan ! now is the hour of the return of the Old Ones, now is the hour that Koshchei falls !" Toupan answered: "The hour of my release is not yet come. But this is the hour of my overlooking." Then Gauracy bellowed, as he swept yet other worlds into the insatiable flaming of his dreadful sun, "I kindle for you a fine light to see by !" And now the gods who were worshipped in those worlds which remained, these also cried out to Koshchei. For now, in the intolerable glare of Gauracy's malefic sun, they showed as flimsy and incredible inventions. And the gods knew, moreover, that, if ever the last remaining bee were freed from the cross, the dizain of the Pleiades would be completed, and Toupan would be released, and the power of the Old Ones would return; and that a day foretold by many prophets, the day upon which every god must shave with a razor that is hired, would be at hand; and that, with the falling about of this very dreadful and ignominious necessity, the day of the divine contentment of all gods in any place would be over, for ever. Meanwhile the eyes of Toupan went forth, among the Star Warriors and the Wardens of the Worlds. It was They who, under Koshchei, had shaped the earths and the waters, and who had knit together the mountains, and who had fashioned all other things as they are. It was They who had woven the heavens, and who had placed the soul of every god within him. They were the makers of the hours and the creators of the days and the kindlers of the fires of life, and They were powers whose secret and sustaining names were not known to any of the gods of men. Yet now the eyes of Toupan went among the Star Warriors and the Wardens of the Worlds, and Toupan regarded them one by one; and wheresoever the old eyes of Toupan had rested there remained no world nor any Warden watching over it, but only, for that instant, a very little spiral of thin sluggish vapour. And those of them who were not yet destroyed cried piteously to Koshchei, who had devised Them and who had placed Them in Their stations to keep eternal watchfulness over all things as they are. Now there is no denying that, in the manner of artists, Koshchei had cleared his throat, and had fidgeted a little, in the while that Toupan was overlooking Koshchei's handiwork. But when the Wardens and the Star Warriors cried out to him for aid, then Koshchei, lifting never a finger, said only: "Eh, sirs, have patience ! For I made all things as they are; and I know now it is my safeguard that I made them in two ways."
James Branch Cabell : The Silver Stallion --- Chapter 16.
With the Fall of Stage6 the honours of providing elderly films through a much more cumbersome model fall to Veoh for the time being. [ Five minute previews are given, but to see all, the Veoh software has to be installed and then one either clicks to watch immediately via the application or downloads the video to watch later : this application makes it extremely easy to lose whatever one is viewing, enabling one to have to start over from the beginning and re-enjoy anything one had not missed --- besides which, .avis really are no match for .divx... ]
I have fairly strong feelings on the House of Barrymore, despite the fact they were/are undoubtedly perfectly pleasant people in private life; yet John of that Ilk is here far more restrained and more thoughtful than in his usual performances.. And indeed, more than any of his extended family.
Trilby has been underrated since the reaction to Victorianism in the 1920s --- Michael Sadleir's strictures in his preface to Murger's Vie de la Boheme being particularly scathing --- but it was of it's slightly interesting time --- mid-nineteenth century France --- and it can be read simply as a tragedy for each individual fulfilling their destiny. There are wide differences between the book and film of course: in the first, it is Svengali actually singing through Trilby, and his love for her, although probable, is scarcely manifest; in the film he rather unlocks her singing through the same uncanny genius and loves her inordinately --- yet vainly since she is merely his creation. Further in the novel, his death prostrates her to mortal illness, the psychic link of control having been shattered; whereas in this film, she merely passes as soon as humanly possible.
Having been privileged to read the especial UNEXPURGATED version, like all du Maurier's work wistful tristeness is the overlaying key, which as a melancholic he carried out with exemplary zeal, I should say it's rather like once popular music played on a barrel organ in a minor key in a pretty courtyard with flowers fading as autumn comes.
Actually, the word UNEXPURGATED was undoubtedly purposed to catch the eager unwary into hopes that it would be imbecile to imagine du Maurier could or would ever satisfy > it just meant that his rancorous portrayal of Jimmy Whistler as a youth was included.
Lingering self-respect has oftimes preserved me --- 'gainst all temptations --- from the more egregious effects of the zeitgeist of sentimentality: a modest pride holds in that I have nevereverseen either It's A Wonderful Life or The Wizard Of Oz, f'rinstance. Now, Upton Sinclair was a notable story-teller, but a Hemingwayesquely poor writer --- 'What other culture could have produced someone like Hemingway and not seen the joke ?' as Gore Vidal wrote of his native land --- and his themes here are rather trite; bad capitalists... bad religion... exploiters... the family saga genre... so it's rather unlikely I shall bother to watch There Will Be Blood. Having a nearly all-male crew probably clinches it --- single sex movies suck as much as single sex communities... However the title is awfully good --- especially considering the vast importance of titling and it's common neglect --- so I tried to find from whence it came.
It makes good on the film's title, which may be taken from Lord Byron. "The king-times are fast finishing," he said. "There will be blood shed like water, and tears like mist. But the peoples will conquer in the end. I shall not live to see it, but I foresee it."
This is pretty painful stuff even for Byron, who ever veered precariously betwixt plodding doggerel and occasionally splendid fustian, and rarely hit the rocks of glorious lyricism. And as with Marx --- But Hubbard’s superb record for inaccuracy of statement clouded any of his positive remarks with a fog of doubt. to quote Stewart H. Holbrook on a notable capitalist of the latter's era --- it's not easy to ascertain the finished construct of the promised Paradise: presumably it will include peace, love, harmony, compulsory gender and racial equality, an incredible amount of daily uplift though one way communication, and a total absence of thought. Or, let us say, no class whatsoever.
Fortunately though, the probably ever-reliable China Daily gave the definitive origin:
Smite The Waters
The film's resonantly Old Testament title comes from the seventh chapter of Exodus where God, via Moses, orders Aaron to smite the waters so that "they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt". In the context of the film this biblical blood is oil, the contaminating element dealt in by its forceful central character.
The Bible is so beautiful...
[sarc] And God said, "Let there be Blood." [/sarc].
More importantly, a link from the China Daily went on to better news; in Düsseldorf the police are equipping their dogs with shoes.
Small, Medium And Large
"All 20 of our police dogs -- German and Belgian shepherds -- are currently being trained to walk in these shoes," Andre Hartwich said. "I'm not sure they like it, but they'll have to get used to it."
The unusual footwear is not a fashion statement, Hartwich said, but rather a necessity due to the high rate of paw injuries on duty. Especially in the city's historical old town -- famous for both its pubs and drunken revelers -- the dogs often step into broken beer bottles.
"Even the street-cleaning doesn't manage to remove all the glass pieces from between the streets' cobble stones," Hartwich said, adding that the dogs frequently get injured by little pieces sticking deep in their paws.
The dogs will start wearing the shoes this spring but only during operations that demand special foot protection. The shoes comes in sizes small, medium and large and were ordered in blue to match the officers uniforms, Hartwich said.
It's rarely one sees police-dogs in Great Britain --- nearly as rarely as police-horses --- but I hope they institute it here: broken glass on the streets, however, is not rare at all. [ If randomly picking up shards, I've found that one hand can hold a dozen of any size, but not more; and of course, one can only fill one hand... ]
I was born in Düsseldorf, and that is why they call me Rolf...
From Aldous Huxley's Chrome Yellow, the Tale of Sir Hercules.
To which one might add, apart from being tedious and silly, democracy carries one internal flaw so massive, it's professed devotees sedulously avoid ever actually implementing it --- People Kinda Suck...
Benjamin West - Omnia Vincit Amor
"The infant who was destined to become the fourth baronet of the name of Lapith was born in the year 1740. He was a very small baby, weighing not more than three pounds at birth, but from the first he was sturdy and healthy. In honour of his maternal grandfather, Sir Hercules Occam of Bishop's Occam, he was christened Hercules. His mother, like many other mothers, kept a notebook, in which his progress from month to month was recorded. He walked at ten months, and before his second year was out he had learnt to speak a number of words. At three years he weighed but twenty-four pounds, and at six, though he could read and write perfectly and showed a remarkable aptitude for music, he was no larger and heavier than a well-grown child of two. Meanwhile, his mother had borne two other children, a boy and a girl, one of whom died of croup during infancy, while the other was carried off by smallpox before it reached the age of five. Hercules remained the only surviving child.
"On his twelfth birthday Hercules was still only three feet and two inches in height. His head, which was very handsome and nobly shaped, was too big for his body, but otherwise he was exquisitely proportioned, and, for his size, of great strength and agility. His parents, in the hope of making him grow, consulted all the most eminent physicians of the time. Their various prescriptions were followed to the letter, but in vain. One ordered a very plentiful meat diet; another exercise; a third constructed a little rack, modelled on those employed by the Holy Inquisition, on which young Hercules was stretched, with excruciating torments, for half an hour every morning and evening. In the course of the next three years Hercules gained perhaps two inches. After that his growth stopped completely, and he remained for the rest of his life a pigmy of three feet and four inches. His father, who had built the most extravagant hopes upon his son, planning for him in his imagination a military career equal to that of Marlborough, found himself a disappointed man. 'I have brought an abortion into the world,' he would say, and he took so violent a dislike to his son that the boy dared scarcely come into his presence. His temper, which had been serene, was turned by disappointment to moroseness and savagery. He avoided all company ( being, as he said, ashamed to show himself, the father of a lusus naturae, among normal, healthy human beings ), and took to solitary drinking, which carried him very rapidly to his grave; for the year before Hercules came of age his father was taken off by an apoplexy. His mother, whose love for him had increased with the growth of his father's unkindness, did not long survive, but little more than a year after her husband's death succumbed, after eating two dozen of oysters, to an attack of typhoid fever.
A small crisis in the Housing Association deftly handled to several people's satisfaction...
But it was around 11:20 when Russell drifted substantially over to Juli’s desk and coughed lightly to attract her attention as she slowly keyed in data to an Excel worksheet, and tried to remember which action to perform each time she wanted a result. He stood there plump and uneasy in a tannish brown tweed-effect suit, and canary-yellow waistcoat. Then once her attention was eased away from the spreadsheet, he chatted about this and that, polishing his round glasses. Lucy looked up alertly, ever willing to be of assistance. Russell seemed upset about something, Lucy made him a mug of coffee, as he chatted with Juli about this. She refrained from offering Juli one, having received some haughty regardings of incredulity that made her blood run cold until she realised that Juli held the quite reasonable view that instant drinks were designed for pesticide; she had since given them up herself. Juli brought her own nicer stuff along and made it separately from other people. Just another small thing which endeared her to all. “Yolanda ?” Juli enquired without much real interest, since other people’s love-lives held no fascination. “Oh no, Juli: Yolanda’s been fine recently. It’s Happy Valley. One of the houses caught fire last night.” Juli shuddered. “Wow. Was anybody... ?” “Ooh no ! But the Tolands were cleared out of everything. And,” his voice broke with a greater self-pity, “they got the police to wake me up at 3:45. I dunno what they thought I could do. Anyway they put them in an hotel for the night, and now I’ve got to find an empty property.” “Plenty of them about.” Juli answered, purposely obtuse, “Sometimes I reckon what with renovations and court orders, we sometimes have more vacant than occupied.” “Thank you.” acidly, “No, well, I know what you mean; but that’s not the problem: I mean it’s the Tolandses.” “I don’t want them as neighbours, so you can understand people’s feelings.” Juli said reasonably. “I know, if they moved in next to me, I’d move to Turkestan; but that doesn’t help here. I’ve got to shove them as far away from their previous place as possible, and next to people who’ve not heard of them, or are too weak to protest much.” “Who...” started Lucy. “A/ They are not going to leave that estate, they’ve got about 80 relations there; and anyway they would rather be there than in a Cathedral Close. B/ Everyone on the estate does know them. C/ They’re not going to lose face from the Collingwoods and Hartleys.” He groaned. Juli was correct. “Who... ?” Lucy began again, and was unheard in their ruminations. She had heard of none of these, and only knew a tiny bit of the background: she had early asked — the day she started work — where Happy Valley was. Juli sniggered: “My name for the Robert Owen Housing Estate. It’s ex-Council, and has got a lot worse since it was privatised. Bloody wasteland of falling panels, pram-pushers in clam-diggers, a cheap supermarket whose manager wants armed mercenaries, and gangs of youths at night.” “H’how nasty.” “Oh the drugs help.” she contended optimistically. “Something’s gotta.” “Anyway, don’t go there, not unless you’re with a camera-crew in a jeep.” Instruction seemed a trifle authoritative, especially at so early in a relationship, but Lucy minded no more than she who directed, who basically ever unconsciously chose to command without the slimmest doubt as to her own authority. She realised the name Juli had coined seemed to have gained universal currency, at least in the office. Especially if Russell, who doubled as Housing Manager for Robert Owen, used it. Now Juli was proceeding. “Three in the morning. Then it wasn’t a chip-pan. The Hartleys ?” “Andra, I think: they owe him for the coke franchise, according to the cops. And Evan, young Evan, got in a fist-fight with his nephew Damien, and said he could whistle for his money until they made two grand.” “Smart lad.” “Oh I think it was the drink talking,” Russell said tolerantly, “His dad hit him with a spanner, and broke his little finger; spent ages on his mobile trying to apologise to Andra, the neighbours said, but he wouldn’t take his calls.” “Andra’s a weird little cunt; but then it’s face again.” grossly misleading Lucy as to the fabulous Mr. Neill’s height. Unlike the popular conception of crime bosses, he was not 5 foot nothing in a hideous and hideously expensive suit, but 6’ 2”, and had allegedly been a paratrooper, and wore sports wear. Russell looked slightly shocked, possibly at Juli’s language, but more likely at her plain speaking, because Andra was not a nice person, and for that reason people did not remind others, and least of all himself, of this fact. “Still, I reckon he won’t want them out of the estate. This was a warning then.” He looked sceptical: “Well, it was a very small blaze, considering; the Firemen arrived within a few minutes, but that might just have been providence. It won’t be structurally safe though for a bit, so we can’t put them back there. You don’t think he’ll do them over again ?” “Nope, there’s still the franchise to work: and he won’t give it back to the Hartleys. Too much trouble.” “Um, you’ve got a point.” reflectively, “Old Hartley’s clinically insane.” “So was Margaret Thatcher, didn’t stop her. No, I was thinking of the fact none of them can get in a car without gunning it to 60, and that’s in built-up areas. Makes the police work easier. Tell you what: I’ll make a couple of calls to the estate, I may find out where they can go.” He brightened. “Oh please, Juli. That’d be great.. Uum, to... ?” “No doubt. On the other hand, I’d better be clear about this. It’ll be our lot picking up the insurance, right ?”
Wolfgang Borchert wrote prose-poems rather than short stories, mostly of a despairing and strongly pacifistic tendency, but then he had a bad war, being imprisoned twice by the military for extending his critical faculty on the subject of the war — something not only that many soldiers through the ages have done and shall do, but which was in any case rather prevalent amongst German soldiers. Especially the less enthusiastic on the OstFront.
Stephen Spender, who added so much to the concept of effeteness for English authors, wrote an introduction to the posthumous translations by David Porter: ‘Borchert’s soldiers are the doomed race of the Russian winter of 1941, and of Stalingrad. Nothing existed for them before they went to Russia. They are filled with the sense that if there are other soldiers, they must all feel the same, and be equally passive victims of their time. The Russians are only a background to their own misery and to the German Doom which is regarded as universal doom.’
Fair enough. Despite passivity not being quite the operative word for a front that was nearly 2000 miles in length, and a 1000 miles in the wild blue yonder.
Anyway, one of his short stories…
They crouch on the stone-cold bridge parapets and on the frost-hard metal railings along the violet-stinking canal. They crouch on the hollowed, gossip-worn area steps. Among the silver paper and autumn leaves at the side of the street, and on the sinful benches in the parks. They crouch, leaning, lolling against the doorless walls of houses, and on the nostalgic walls and moles of the docks. They crouch in a lost world, crowfaced, shrouded grey-black and croaked hoarse. They crouch and all abandonment hangs down from them like limp, loose, crumpled feathers. Abandoned by the heart, abandoned by women, abandoned by the stars. They crouch in the dusk and damp of the shadows of houses, shunning the gateways, black as tar and tired of the pavement. They crouch in the early haze of the world’s afternoon, thin-soled and coated grey with dust, belated, daydreamed into monotony. They crouch over the bottomless pit, held by the abyss, sleep-swaying with hunger and homesickness. Crowfaced ( and how else ? ) they crouch, crouch, crouch and crouch. Who? The crows ? The crows perhaps. But above all human beings, human beings. At six o’clock the sun turns the city mist and smoke red-gold. And the houses are velvet-blue and soft-edged in the tender light of early evening. But the crowfaced men crouch pallid-skinned and white-frozen in their hopelessness, in their inescapable humanity, crept deep into their patchwork jackets. Since the day before one man had been crouching on the dock, smelling himself full of harbour smell and rolling crumbled masonry into the water. His eyebrows hung on his forehead like the fringe of a sofa, despondent but with incomprehensible humour. And then a young man came along, his arms elbow-deep in his trouser-pockets, the collar of his jacket turned up round his bony neck. The older man didn’t look up, he saw beside him the comfortless mouths of a pair of shoes and up from the water there quivered at him the tossing caricature of a melancholy male figure. Then he knew that Timm was back again. Well, Timm, he said, there you are again. Through already ? Timm said nothing. He crouched on the quay wall beside the other man and put his long hands round his neck. He was cold. So her bed wasn’t wide enough, eh ? the other began softly after many minutes. Bed ! Bed ! said Timm angrily, I love the girl. Of course you love her. But tonight she showed you the door again. So the billet was no go. It’s because you’re not clean enough, Timm. A night visitor like that has to be clean. Love alone isn’t always enough. Oh well, anyway, you’re not used to a bed now. Better stay here, then. Or do you still love her, eh ? Timm rubbed his long hands on his neck and slid deep into his coat collar. She wants money, he said much later, or silk stockings. Then I could have stayed. Oh, so you do still love her, said the old man, hell, but if you’ve no money ! Timm didn’t say that he still loved her, but after a while he said rather more quietly: I gave her the scarf, the red one, you know. I hadn’t anything else. But after an hour she suddenly had no more time. The red scarf ? asked the other. Oh, he loves her, he thought to himself, how he loves her ! And once more he repeated: Aha, your beautiful red scarf ! And now you’re back here again and soon it’ll be dark. Yes, said Timm, it’ll be dark again. And my neck’s miserably cold, now that I haven’t got the scarf. Miserably cold, I can tell you. Then they both looked at the water in front of them and their legs hung sadly from the quay wall. A launch shrieked, white-steaming, past them and the waves followed, fat and chattering. Then it was still again, only the city hummed monotonously between heaven and earth, and crowfaced, shrouded blue-black, the two men crouched there in the afternoon. When after an hour a scrap of red paper tossed by on the waves, a gay, red piece of paper on the lead-grey waves, then Timm said to the other: But I had nothing else. Only the scarf. And the other answered: And it was such a wonderful red, d’you remember, eh, Timm ? Boy, was it red ! Yes, yes, Timm mumbled dejectedly, it was that. And now my neck’s damn well freezing, my friend. How’s this, thought the other, he still loves her and was with her for a whole hour. Now he won’t even be cold for her. Then, yawning, he said: And the billet’s a goner, too. Lilo’s her name, said Timm, and she likes wearing silk stockings. But I haven’t got any. Lilo ? exclaimed the other, don’t tell me that, man, she’s never called Lilo. Of course she’s called Lilo, replied Timm indignantly. D’you suppose I can’t know one called Lilo ? I even love her, I tell you. Timm slid angrily away from his friend and drew his knee up to his chin. And he held his long hands round his skinny neck. A web of early darkness laid itself on the day and the last rays of the sun stood lost on the sky like a lattice. Lonely, the men crouched over the uncertainties of the coming night and the city hummed, big and full of seduction. The city wanted money or silk stockings. And the beds wanted clean visitors at night. I say, Timm, began the other and was silent again. What is it ? asked Timm. Is she really called Lilo, eh ? Of course she’s called Lilo, Timm shouted at his friend, she’s called Lilo, and she said when I have anything, I’m to go back. I say, Timm, his friend managed after a while, if she’s really called Lilo, then you certainly had to give her the red scarf. If she’s called Lilo, in my view, then she can have the red scarf. Even if the billet’s no go. No, Timm, forget the scarf, if she’s really called Lilo. The two men looked across the misty water away to the mounting twilight, fearless, but without courage, reconciled. Reconciled to quay walls and gateways, reconciled to homeless-ness, to thin soles and empty pockets, reconciled. Inescapably idled away into indifference. Thrown high, startlingly, on the horizon, blown hither from who knows where, crows came tumbling, their song and their dark feathers filled with the presentiment of night, reeling like inkspots across the chaste tissue paper of the evening sky, tired with living, croaked hoarse, and then, unexpectedly, a little further off, swallowed by the twilight. They gazed after the crows, Timm and the other man, crow-faced, shrouded blueblack. And the water smelt full and mighty. The city, a wild towering of cubes, window-eyed, began to twinkle with a thousand lamps. They gazed after the crows, the crows, long since swallowed, gazed after them with poor, old faces, and Timm, who loved Lilo, Timm, who was twenty, said: The crows, man, they’re all right. The other man looked away from the sky straight into Timm’s wide face, floating pale-frozen in the half-dark. And Timm’s thin lips were sad lines in his wide face, lonely lines, twenty-year-old, hungry and thin from too much bitterness too soon. The crows, said Timm’s wide face softly, this face made up of twenty bright-dark years, the crows, said Timm’s face, they’re all right. They fly home at night. Just home. The two men crouched there, lost in the world, small and dejected in face of the new night, but fearlessly familiar with its frightful blackness. The city, million-eyed and sleepy, glowed through soft, warm curtains at the night streets emptied of noise, their pavements deserted. They crouched there hard by the depths, leaning over like tired rotten poles, and Timm, the twenty-year-old, had said: The crows are all right. The crows fly home at night. And the other babbled stupidly to himself: The crows, Timm, hell, Timm, the crows. There they crouched. Dumped there by life, the alluring, the lousy. Dumped on the quay and the corner. On pier and pontoon. On mole and hollowed cellar-steps. Dumped by life on the dust-grey streets between silver paper and fallen leaf. Crows ? No, human beings ! Do you hear ? Human beings! And one of them was called Timm and he’d loved Lilo for a red scarf. And now, now he can’t forget her again. The crows, the crows croak their way home. And their croaking hung comfortless on the evening. But then a launch stuttered, foam-mouthed, past them, and its scattered red light crumbled quivering in the harbour haze. And the haze was red for seconds. Red as my scarf, thought Timm. Infinitely far off, the launch chugged away. And Timm said softly: Lilo. Again and again: Lilo Lilo Lilo Lilo Lilo.
Don Juan: ...And I, my friend am as much a part of Nature as my own finger is a part of me. If my finger is the organ by which I grasp the sword and the mandoline, my brain is the organ by which Nature strives to understand itself. My dog's brain serves only my dog's purposes; but my own brain labors at a knowledge which does nothing for me personally but make my body bitter to me and my decay and death a calamity. Were I not possessed with a purpose beyond my own I had better be a ploughman than a philosopher; for the ploughman lives as long as the philosopher, eats more, sleeps better, and rejoices in the wife of his bosom with less misgiving. This is because the philosopher is in the grip of the Life Force. This Life Force says to him "I have done a thousand wonderful things unconsciously by merely willing to live and following the line of least resistance: now I want to know myself and my destination, and choose my path; so I have made a special brain - a philosopher's brain - to grasp this knowledge for me as the husbandman's hand grasps the plough for me. And this" says the Life Force to the philosopher "must thou strive to do for me until thou diest, when I will make another brain and another philosopher to carry on the work."
The Devil: What is the use of knowing ?
Don Juan: Why, to be able to choose the line of greatest advantage instead of yielding in the direction of the least resistance. Does a ship sail to its destination no better than a log drifts nowhither ? The philosopher is Nature's pilot. And there you have our difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to steer.
We confidently use words like might, truth, justice. They are words signifying something great. But what that 'something' is we cannot conceive. We say that God 'fears', that God is 'angry', that God 'loves'.
Immortalia mortali sermone notantes ~ Denoting immortal things in mortal speech [Lucretius ]
But they are disturbances and emotions which in any form known to us find no place in God. Nor can we imagine them in forms known to him. God alone can know himself; God alone can interpret his works. And he uses improper, human, words to do so, stooping down to the earth where we lie sprawling.
Take Prudence; that consists in a choice between good and evil; how can that apply to God ? No evil can touch him. Or take Reason and Intelligence, by which we seek to attain clarity amidst obscurity; there is nothing obscure to God. Or Justice, which distributes to each his due and which was begotten for the good of society and communities of men; how can that exist in God ? And what about Temperance ? It moderates bodily pleasures which have no place in the Godhead. Nor is Fortitude in the face of pain, toil or danger one of God's qualities: those three things are unknown to him. That explains why Aristotle held that God is equally as free from virtue as from vice. 'Neque gratia neque ira teneri potest, quod quae talia essent, imbecilla essent omnia' ~ 'He can experience neither gratitude nor anger; such things are found only in the weak'.
Michel de Montaigne : An Apology for Raymond Sebond
Truth of intercourse is something more difficult than to refrain from open lies. It is possible to avoid falsehood and yet not tell the truth. It is not enough to answer formal questions. To reach the truth by yea and nay communications implies a questioner with a share of inspiration such as is often found in mutual love. Yea and nay mean nothing; the meaning must have been related in the question. Many words are often necessary to convey a very simple statement; for in this sort of exercise we never hit the gold; the most that we can hope is by many arrows, more or less far off on different sides, to indicate, in the course of time, for what target we are aiming, and after an hour's talk, back and forward, to convey the purport of a single principle or a single thought. And yet while the curt, pithy speaker misses the point entirely, a wordy, prolegomenous babbler will often add three new offences in the process of excusing one. It is really a most delicate affair. The world was made before the English language, and seemingly upon a different design. Suppose we held our converse, not in words, but in music; those who have a bad ear would find themselves cut off from all near commerce, and no better than foreigners in this big world. But we do not consider how many have "a bad ear" for words, nor how often the most eloquent find nothing to reply. I hate questioners and questions; there are so few that can be spoken to without a lie. "Do you forgive me ?" Madam and sweetheart, so far as I have gone in life I have never yet been able to discover what forgiveness means. "Is it still the same between us ?" Why, how can it be ? It is eternally different; and yet you are still the friend of my heart. "Do you understand me ?" God knows; I should think it highly improbable.
Robert Louis Stevenson : Truth of Intercourse
Sir Joseph Noel Paton --- Study for The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania
Danton: Will the clock not be still ? With every tick it slides the walls closer round me, till they're as narrow as a coffin. I once read a story like that as a child. It made my hair stand on end. Yes, as a child. What a waste of time fattening me up and keeping me warm! Mere work for the grave-diggers. I feel as if I were rotten already. My dear carcass, I'll hold my nose and make believe you're a girl all smelly and sweating after a dance and pay you compliments. We used to have better times together. Tomorrow you'll be a broken fiddle, with no tune left in you. Or an empty bottle --- the wine's drunk but I'm not; I have to go sober to bed. Lucky people who can still get drunk ! Tomorrow you'll be a worn-out pair of pants --- you'll be thrown in the wardrobe and the moths will eat you whether you're stinking or not. --- Ah, it's no good. Dying is a wretched business. It apes birth. Dying, we're as naked and helpless as new-born infants. We're given a shroud as a napkin. But it's no help. We can grizzle in the grave as well as in the cradle. Camille ! He's asleep. [ Bending over him ] There's a dream playing between his eyelashes. I'll not brush the golden dew of sleep from his eyes. [ Stands up and walks to the window. ] I shan't go alone. Thank you for that, Julie. Yet I'd have liked to die differently, effortlessly, like a falling star, like a note fading away, kissing itself to death with its own lips, like a ray of light burying itself in clear water. The stars are sprayed across the night like shimmering tears; there must be great grief in the eye that shed them.
“Money !” he said. “Yes. You’re right. What a rotten thing this business of money is. Half the best chaps in the world are crippled for want of it. And the fellows who have got it haven’t a notion what to do with it. Take old Frisby, for instance. Worth millions.”
“I suppose so.”
“And is a bloke with a face like a horse and a spending capacity of about twopence a day. On the other hand, take me. You know me, Berry, old man. Young, enthusiastic, dripping with joie de vivre, only needing a balance at the bank to go out and scatter light and sweetness and — mark you — scatter them good. If I had money, I could increase the sum of human happiness a hundredfold.”
“By flinging purses of gold to the deserving, old boy. That’s how. And here I am, broke. And there is your foul boss, simply stagnant with the stuff. All wrong.”
“Well, don’t blame me.”
“What ought to happen,” said the Biscuit, “is this. If I had the management of this country, there would be public examinations held twice a year, at which these old crumbs with their hoarded wealth would be brought up and subjected to a very severe inquisition. ‘You !’ the Examiner would say, looking pretty sharply at Frisby. ‘How much have you got ? Indeed ? Really ? As much as that, eh ? Well, kindly inform this court what you do with it.’ The wretched man, who seems to feel his position acutely, snuffles a bit. ‘Come on, now !’ says the Examiner, rapping the table. ‘No subterfuge. No evasion. How do you employ this very decent slice of the needful ?’ ‘Well, as a matter of fact,’ mumbles old Frisby, trying to avoid his eye, ’ I shove it away behind a brick and go out and get some more.’ ‘Is that so ?’ says the Examiner. ‘Well, upon my Sam ! I never heard anything so disgraceful in my living puff. It’s a crying outrage. A bally scandal. Take ten million away from this miserable louse and hand it over to excellent old Biskerton, who will make a proper use of it. And then go and ask Berry Conway how much he wants.’ We’d get somewhere then.”
He contemplated dreamily for a while the Utopia he had conjured up. Then he looked across the room again, and clicked his tongue disapprovingly.
“I’ll swear Hoke swindled you over that mine,” he said. “I can see it in his eye.”
P. G. Wodehouse : Big Money
Prolly my favourite Plum novel…
This post is dedicated to the Web’s servile anarcho-hyper-capitalist-libertarian Tendency.
A month or so back I attended some bookfair and amongst others, purchased this small item for 50p, which I only just decided to look at: 18th century writing being somewhat precious.
This horrific little tale is slightly patronising to uneuropean cultures in the world-set of the time, nevertheless displays a healthier and more cynical view that the hideous idealism and disgusting relativism inseminated by Rousseau and brought to birth by Boas — both of whom have good claim to be in the top ten of most repellent persons evah — which holds sway for now. In the end, one culture, however massively imperfect, can still be decided to be generally better than another; and the nearer to naked nature a culture, the less satisfactory it remains. Anyway the author was evidently having enormous fun in writing it…
More thoughtfully, it does increase the conclusion that, whatever the difficulties, it is worth being a vegan if only for hygienic reasons.
VII. STORYOFTQUASSOUWANDKNONMQUAIHA, TWOHOTTENTOTLOVERS. CONNOISSEUR, numb. 21.
TQUASSOUW, the fon of Kqvuffomo, was Konquer or Chief Captain over the Sixteen Nations of Caffraria. He was defcended from N’oh and Hingn’oh, who dropt from the moon; and his power extended over all the Kraals of the Hottentots.
This prince was remarkable for his prowefs and activity : his fpeed was like the torrent, that rufhes down the precipice ; and he would overtake the wild afs in her flight : his arrows brought down the eagle from the clouds; the lion fell before him, and his launce drank the blood of the rhinoceros. He fathomed the waters of the deep, and buffeted the billows in the tempeft : he drew the rock-fifh from their lurking-holes, and rifled the beds of coral. Trained from his infancy in the exercife of war, to wield the Haffagaye with dexterity, and break the wild bulls to battle, he was a ftranger to the foft dalliance of love ; and beheld with indifference the thick-lipped damfels of Gongeman, and the flat-nofed beauties of Hauteniqua.
Following all the versions of the Bible, ranging from King James to the New English, the Rheims-Douai to the Revised Standard, etc., and their translations into different vernaculars, an important gap is being filled by an ongoing internet project into Lolcat, Teh Holiez Bibul, from The Lolcat Church.
This retains all the generous humanity and loveliness of the original jewish screeds.
1 so king n haman n esther b havin tasty foodz.2 tasty foodz wuz gud so king ask esther “wot u want dis time?”
3 esther sez “i can haz life n mi ppl can haz life?4 cuz mi ppl haz been solded into nonlivng n dat not gud. not mind beeng solded 4 work, but not living v bad.”
5 so king askz “hoo wud mayke u ded?6 n esther sez “lol haman” n haman wuz scarded7 king went 4 walkies so haman askded esther for merci
8 but king not happi 2 cum bak n find haman on esthers bed. king ask “u trying to SURPRIZEBUTTSECKS mi wife?” so servents cum 2 tell haman to stfu noob and tuk him awai.9 n one gai sez 2 king “luk at v big rope swing haman builded 4 mordecai” n king sez “lol neck swing 4 haman insted“10 n wen haman wuz swinging from big rpe swing, king b happy agin. “Esther 7”
1 iff i talkd wif teh tungz of manz n angylz, n duzzn haz luff, i are becom liek teh human, knockin down all teh potz n panz frm teh shelf, srsly.2 iff i haz powarz of liek tellin the futurez an, an i gotz all teh missteriez an all teh knowingz an all teh faithz, enuff 2 taek all teh mowntanz awayz, an i duzzn haz luff, i gotz nuffink.3 an evn iff i givez all mai stuffz awai, n iff i delivur mai bodiz to b burnded up, and i duzzn haz luff, i gotz nuffink.
4 luv is pashient n kind, luv haz no jelusniss or showin offz, luv no is stuck-up5 or r00dz. Luv no insistzes on doin it rite, itz not pisst off alla tiem or rezentfluffle.6 luv izzn all happiez about doin it wrong, but is happiez about teh truthz.7 luv putz up wiht all teh stuffz, beelivez all teh stuffz, hoepz for all teh stuffz. Luv putz up wiht all teh stuffz. i sed that areddy.
8 luv no haz endingz. Tellin the futurez, tungz, an alla stuffz u know wil die.9 we haz knowingz a bit, an we haz profacy a bit. We no haz 2 much tho.10 o, wait. wen teh perfict coemz, teh not perfict will dyez, lolol.11 wen i wuz a kitten, i meweded leik a kitten, thinkded liek a kittenz, an I chazed strings liek a kittenz. wen i wuz becomez a cat, i NOTWANT kitten waiz né moar.12 for nao we see in teh foggy mirorr like when teh human gets out of teh shower, but tehn we see faec tow faec. Nao i haz knowingz just a bit, tehn i will haz all teh knowingz, as i haz been knownz.
13 nao faithz an hoepz an luvs r hear, theses threes, but teh bestest iz teh luvs, srsly. “1 Corinthians 13”