Archive for December, 2008

Bottom Right Corner

December 29, 2008

photo6Oh, Idaho


BDS (Button Derangement Syndrome)

December 28, 2008

I have a problem with the trailer for the new film, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” I watch it, but I don’t then want to see the new film, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” I just want to beat Benjamin Button to death with a seven iron.

December 28, 2008

I’ve been reading Ingrid Rowland’s new collection of her New York Review essays.

Her review of the 2003 Titian retrospective mounted in London and Madrid brought me back to my art historical ‘annus mirabilis,’ when, at a much more impressionable age than I then realized, I digested the Prado (my first major European museum) and then the glorious thousand pages of Gardner’s Art Through the Ages (the eleventh edition, with a detail of the hands of that Bronzino on the cover) in the space of ten months.  I remember that show so well. I remember stopping in front of Ranuccio Farnese

and realizing that my life had, in some palpable but certainly not yet articulable way, changed for good.

I miss that year, and I miss art history.  I’ve felt a delinquent’s guilt at having strayed from the discipline at U.

But it dawned on me recently that the delinquency might make good sense~that art history~in that compelling first encounter, at least, before it descends into husband-hunting & canvas-counting~can be a preparation for something else.

To see this painting, and then this painting, and to fall in love with both, is to have the scope & stakes of intellectual history telegraphed to you in a moment. To find yourself caught up in the rivalry between colorito and disegno is to intuit the unresolvable tension~and the subsequent battle of ideas~that lies at the heart of our civilization.

Of course, art history is not just the history of ideas in cliffsnotes. There is a quality to that first uncomprehending glimpse of a vast panorama that no itemized analysis or methodical exploration can ever recover.

No understanding can beat that instant of knowing, that divine lurch in your stomach when you first see Bacchus step off his car.

Ingratitude Watch II

December 22, 2008

Sylvia Plath invented the word ‘dreamscape’. In 1959.

Ingratitude Watch  

December 22, 2008

The word ‘campus’ was first used in the modern sense to describe Princeton.

December 22, 2008

Have you ever tried to think of an appropriate pseudonym for yourself? I did once, and came up with Nicolas de Staël. Which is why I was amused to learn of this guy.

December 15, 2008

“”To say that a language is dead is like saying that a person is dead. It could be no other way~for languages have no existence without people.” It is not difficult to see the limitation of such reasoning. If it were sound, one would be logically obliged to maintain a number of claims to which one doubts the experts in language death would immediately subscribe, such as that pirouettes, time zones, taboos, and arpeggios must also be said to be born and to die, just like human beings, since they, too, “have no existence without people.””

~Daniel Heller-Roazen, Echolalias

December 15, 2008

Various doctrines hold that our loves define us.

J., however, makes the interesting suggestion that our fears do. As it turns out, his isolation from his peers came not from failing to share their interests, but from being afraid of different things.

I wonder: to what extent have my own fears (poverty, boredom, chaos) determined who I am?

December 12, 2008

I have had a classmate this semester who takes the fine art of insufferability to new heights.

Sometimes, he talks about the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The thing is, he pronounces it rather, shall I say, eccentrically.

In other words, we get treated to lectures on the “grand dookie.”

It has been a wonderful term.

December 10, 2008

“One morning, over at Elizabeth’s beach house, she asked me if I’d rather go water-skiing or lay out. And I realized that not only did I not want to answer that question, but I never wanted to answer another water-sports question, or see any of these people again, for the rest of my life.”

~Anthony, in Wes Anderson’s “Bottle Rocket”