January 21, 2021

A throwback to PLANTS days, I think this concerns the Delphinium ajacis, the origin story of which is related to the Homeric hero Ajax.

Pausanias 1.35.4 [English]

λέγουσι δὲ οἱ περὶ τὴν Σαλαμῖνα οἰκοῦντες ἀποθανόντος Αἴαντος τὸ ἄνθος σφίσιν ἐν τῇ γῇ τότε φανῆναι πρῶτον: λευκόν ἐστιν, ὑπέρυθρον, κρίνου καὶ αὐτὸ ἔλασσον καὶ τὰ φύλλα: γράμματα δὲ ἔπεστιν οἷα τοῖς ὑακίνθοις καὶ τούτῳ.

You are not full with it, and it is not full with you, and yet you can be no where else.

January 20, 2021

Leering at attractive persons, objects, as the opposite of Schopenhauer’s “pure subject” (and maybe of scientific inquiry also — is leering the opposite of science or can one be said to leer through a microscope? Maybe the scientist as a scientist is like the artist as an artist a pure subject.)

Rather than becoming “full” with the object, rather than concentrating on it, one is distracted by it and made to vanish in it… You are not full with it, and it is not full with you, and yet you can be no where else. One is objectified by the object (made into a leerer for one thing) rather than being the observing subject of the object.

January 20, 2021

true? is it the case that demagogues of old were supported by actual majorities or were they just, like Trump, supported by passionate minorities (mobs)? Seems like Hitler (while managing majority acquiescence eventually) began with minority support, and that demagogues don’t need necessarily to be elected at all.

“I would like” — very slowly

January 19, 2021

— By the way the customer articulated the first item of his order the attendant successively intuited there would be three items in his order.

Attendant has come to feel that people will employ different rhetorical devices and gestures and intonations based on how many items are in their order. If they are ordering just a small coffee, for example, they might say “small coffee” in a different tone of voice than they would if they were ordering a small coffee and a juice; and if they were ordering a bagel with cream cheese along with their juice and small coffee, they would say “small coffee” in still another tone of voice.

Similarly the prefatory remarks will be different in the case of long and short orders. Something very common for an order of three items or more, say, is when someone begins by saying “I would like” very slowly. (In rhythm this might almost be a dactyl or cretic; in pitch, I can’t quite determine –one might need an ear for quarter tones– but it would seem two of the same notes (I, would) followed by one of a lower pitch (like).)

— The PLU number for the second item he articulated, a small latte, was 721, and the price of the first and second item together was $7.21, so that, although it’s very uninteresting, the attendant received a mild surprise when he saw this sequence of three numbers twice in rapid succession, meaning totally different things.

(Note. When ringing up an item on the register, you don’t enter its price, but its code or PLU number, which helps with inventory and such things. 721 is the code for a small latte, the price of which is something like 3.38.)

The attendant had received a mild surprise, he has written, yet it must happen every couple months or so that the total of the register either equals the PLU number or interestingly comments on it in some way.

(Chance Sweepings)

Difficulty of style of Henry James.

January 18, 2021

It’s not obvious to me why I find James so hard to read: his sentences are not, in general, long, and his syntax is not, usually, tortuous. But there is an idiom at work here (often involving phrases such as “come at” “make up to”) which seems peculiar to a social group in which one doesn’t indigenously belong, an idiom in which the prepositions deployed are frequently not those one would expect.

Wandering in and out of metaphor, one comes upon a culminating sentence that, by its tone, promises to be revelatory about the scene which has just passed, but which one feels is not entirely grammatical. . . This is another thing.

Where there is a murkiness and obvious obscurity to certain passages of Faulkner, say, there is to James a more ice-like dilemma of believing it is clear then discovering it is hard; and where a Faulkner or Joyce sentence might be unpacked and parsed –or clearly can’t be unpacked– with James, the feeling is, you need a dictionary that doesn’t exist. Needed to have belonged to that social group.

Dylan’s Chronicles, Caesar’s Gallic Wars

January 17, 2021

In this post from a while back, I suggested that Bob Dylan’s winning of the Nobel Prize represented a win for populism from the left over cultural institutions just as Donald Trump’s election to the Presidency represented a populist win from the right over political institutions.

I was thinking about these issues again and thought of another point of similarity between Dylan and Trump — their antagonistic attitude toward the press– but additionally felt I should add this one caveat about Dylan: that he had done at least one thing I considered seriously “literary” in the traditional sense, which his songs in fact seemed a sort of prelude or foundation for, which was his book Chronicles.

Now, I haven’t that read since it came out, and I am not sure what I’d think of it now, and I am sure he didn’t win the Nobel on its account; and yet, at the time of reading it, a comparison to Caesar’s Gallic Wars had come vividly to mind: not literature like a novel or a poem is, but as a well written personal account by someone of rare experience — a person, moreover, perhaps uniquely representative of their time.

January 16, 2021

1er avril 1824… J’ai vu le masque moulé de mon pauvre Géricault. Ô monument vénérable ! J’ai été tenté de le baiser… sa barbe… ses cils… Et son sublime Radeau ! Quelles mains ! Quelles têtes ! Je ne puis exprimer l’admiration qu’il m’inspire.

January 15, 2021

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Is . . . . . in summer


January 14, 2021

Hm: hoax maybe from hocus-pocus, hocus pocus the name of a juggler initially, probably nonsense Latin.

January 13, 2021

A lady bears fruit for this poor brute,
Who cups and he grates, and he cuts and he plates,
And he endlessly hears the cash register’s toot.
It isn’t for moot, this fine fruit, he salutes.

(Doggerel aplenty @ Chance Sweepings)


January 12, 2021

“A Life of Flannery O’Connor” review:

One should pretty much ignore her own pronouncements on her art, though in her last years she increasingly endeavored to explain her intentions. She was an anagogical writer, of that there is no doubt.