I have a backlog of miscellaneous items, many months in the making, saved away to be pointed to in an appropriate post. Since many of those posts seem destined never to arrive, here is an attic-cleaning catch-all of items whose only common feature is that they caught this Fool's interest:
- Søren Kierkegaard, Denmark's gift to philosophy and one of the best writers ever to apply himself to that trade, has been turning up with some frequency in my weblog reading. Here, for instance is ArtsJournal music blogger Kyle Gann, en route to Copenhagen, thinking at length about SK's place in his personal canon:
Of course, I was a musician too, and while the 'Or' of Either/Or held a certain academic interest, it was the 'Either' that I devoured with page-flipping relish. Kierkegaard's pseudonymous division of his authorship into 'aesthetic' versus 'ethical' or religious personas may have been ironic in intent, with a finger on the religious side of the scale, but his detailed psychology of the total aesthete was, as he knew, the more seductive. His argument about Don Giovanni - that since the seducer is the personality most trapped in time, and music is the art that deals with time, seduction is the perfect musical subject, therefore Don Giovanni is the most perfect possible piece of music - wasn't very convincing then or now, despite the persuasive fanaticism with which it is developed. But he captured and conveyed, in startlingly vivid terms, the manic subjectivism of a mental life turned away from the quotidian world and devoted to the absolute in art. To read that was a heady loss of innocence, a recognition that someone else had heard the same siren song I did - and followed it.
Via Sounds & Fury. I have LA Opera's Don Giovanni to look forward to in a few weeks, which is as good an excuse as any to revisit the unconvincing but enjoyable musical portions of Either/Or. [Kierkegaard fanciers may derive a small chuckle from the Amazon.com page reachable by that link, which straightfacedly lists "Victor Eremita," one of Kierkegaard's numerous pseudonyms, as "editor" of that Penguin edition. Others will wonder what we are chuckling about.]
SK also turned up unexpectedly on Tom Wark's daily wine blog, Fermentation, in a post entitled "Kierkegaard & Self Medicating with Wine." Tom's subject is the dangerous illusions that may lie concealed behind "appreciation" of the noble grape and its works:
Even more depressing than finding one's self embracing Kierkegaard's aesthetic life of jumping from transitory experience to transitory experience in an attempt to stave off a life of boredom, is the somewhat similar strategy of dealing with the boredom of life by pretending that self-medication with wine is actually the act of connoisseurship.
- Combining two of my favorite things -- original series Star Trek and the late great Edward Gorey -- Shaenon Garrity imagines Edward Gorey's "The Trouble With Tribbles".
What does it mean? I derive from it this Foolish aphorism:
Pastiche is a cracking form of flattery, and crackers are a flatter form of pastry!
Tired of imitations? For real Goreyana, repair to the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouthport, Massachusetts.
- Writers on Writing #1: Back in April, Mike Snider connected the dots between poetry and improvisational comedy.
- Writers on Writing #2: M. John Harrison, a very fine writer mysteriously underappreciated in this country, offers valuable safety tips for writers of fantasy.
Substitute imagination for exhaustiveness, and inventiveness for research. As a reader I’m not interested in a 'fully worked out' world. I’m not interested in 'self consistency'. I don’t care what kind of underpants Iberian troops wore in 1812, or if I do I can find out about it for myself. I don’t want the facts about the Silk Road or the collapse of the Greenland Colony, sugared up & presented in three-volumes as an imaginary world. I don’t want to be talked through your enthusiasm for costume. I don’t want be talked through anything.
- Writers on Writing #3: Novelist John Crowley reports:
I was describing to tomsdisch the things I'd been finding via Google in service of my new book (some described herein) -- things I didn't know could be known -- and he said 'ah yes, Google has put an end to the art of wondering.'
Which to me attains very nearly to the status of an immortal apercu.
To which category might also be added Disch's recent two-line poem, "Correction."
- Fluffy-Tailed American Imperialism: Dispatches from the trenches in The English Civil War of the Squirrels:
'Unless something radical and imaginative is done . . . Squirrel Nutkin and his friends and relations are going to be toast.'
The fox and badger lobbies are also heard from.
- Lives of the Connoisseurs: TIME Magazine' Richard Lacayo on Peggy Guggenheim, reminding us that the early 20th Century was a pretty good time to be well-off and blessed with discerning taste:
She found a house with the largest private garden in Venice and had the last private gondola in the city for her daily long rides. She entertained frequently, though not lavishly. She was notorious for her scanty food and cheap wine. From her biographers you get the sense of a full life — the guest book carried names like Giacometti, Paul Bowles, Cocteau, Chagall, Saul Steinberg, Cecil Beaton, Stravinsky, Tennessee Wiliams, Paul Newman and Truman Capote — but not always a happy one. She lavished fast cars on one of her younger lovers. He died in one.
- "O brave new world that hath such produce in't!"
Whole Foods has opened a new 2-story greengrocer's establishment here in Pasadena, its largest store west of the Rockies. Callie Miller of LAist dotes, posts many photos and declares that it "seem[s]...excessive, in the most eco-friendly way possible."
Unfortunately not shown in those photos: the site was formerly occupied by auto repair facilities and a tire store, all in a brick garage building that I would guess dated back to the mid 1920's. In a nice bit of adaptive reuse, Whole Foods left two of the brick walls standing and incorporated them into the ground floor of the new store. For a city sitting slambang in the thick of earthquake country, old Pasadena has a remarkable quantity of brick construction.
- Poetry Mashups! T.S. Eliot meets Portishead in the room where the women be coming and going and talking up papal painters, whilst down at the bar Charles Bukowski goes a few rounds with Led Zeppelin.
[escapegrace pointed the way.]