Thursday, December 31, 2015

In praise of boy art...

"Only with Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, was there a sudden flood of fully-realized sexual--especially homoerotic--art. Not since antiquity had "boy art" been realized with such assurance."
-Colin Eisler, "O Caravaggio" chapter in "Masterworks in Berlin: a City's Painting Reunited"

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The importance of cleaning book shelves...

"I entered one of the narrow aisles. For a while I proceeded in darkness, which was illuminated here and there by the glow of putrefying books. I switched on my torch and let the beam wander over the bookshelves. In the damp air the pages of the books curled, swelled, frayed and turned to pulp, expanding and forcing the bindings outwards, tearing them and squeezing out through the holes. Covers were falling apart and leaves prolapsed from them, lolling out of the books like tired tongues, falling on the ground and mixing with leaves from other books, putrefying and forming a soaring pile of oozing, phosphorescent, malodorous compost, through which I had to force my way waist-deep at times. The wooden shelves on which the books stood cracked and twisted. In the putrefying insides of the books, in dark crannies between the leaves, seeds of plants became fixed and sprouted in the damp darkness, sinking their roots into the paper... What was most nauseating in these stuffy and fetid surroundings was not the realization that a strange accidental calamity was occurring with rampant nature devouring the fruits of the human spirit; what gave rise to increasing anxiety was rather the fact that the dreamlike transformation of books into dangerous and unemotional vegetation laid bare the malignant disease secretly festering in every book and every sign created by humans."
-Michal Ajvaj, "The Other City"

Ladies and gentlemen, this is magical realism:

"That was during the time the Greek ship arrived," she said. "It was a crew of madmem who made the women happy and didn't pay them with money but with sponges, living sponges that later on walked about the houses moaning like patients in a hospital and making the children cry so that they could drink the tears."
-Gabriel García Márquez, "The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother"

What happens at Sizzler stays at Sizzler...

“It is within my financial power to buy that place [Weight Watchers across the street], and to fill it with steaks, fill it with red steak, all of which I would and will eat. The door would under this scenario be jammed with a gnawed bone; not a single little smug psalm-singing baggy-skinned apostate from the cause of adiposity would be able to enter. They would pound on the door, pound. But the bone would hold. They’d lack the bulk to burst through. Their mouths and eyes would be wide as they pressed against the glass. I would demolish, physically crush the huge scale at the end of the brightly lit nave at the back of the place under a weight of food, The springs would jut out. Jut. What a delicious series of thoughts. May I see a wine list?”
-man trying to order 9 steaks in "The Broom of the System" by David Foster Wallace

goodbye to all that...

"Case endings will gradually free themselves from their demeaning position and shine once more in their ancient glory. Bit by bit they will separate themselves from the roots of nouns and become what they were at the beginning -- the invocation of demons. The roots of nouns will loose their significance and be pronounced more and more quietly, until they will eventually become extinct. All that will remain in language are the former endings and people will realize that all the rest is actually superfluous. All that will be heard in the quiet of the halls is the rustling of curtains in the draft and the dreadful names of demons that we now call declension endings."
-"The Other City" by Michal Ajvaz

a tyranny of reason?

"The trouble with coercion through reason, however, is that only the few are subject to it, so that the problem arises of how to assure that the many, the people who in their very multitude compose the body politic, can be submitted to the same truth. Here, to be sure, other means of coercion must be found, and here again coercion through violence must be avoided if political life as the Greeks understood it is not to be destroyed. This is the central predicament of Plato's political philosophy and has remained a predicament of all attempts to establish a tyranny of reason."
-Hannah Arendt, "What Is Authority?", 1958ish, collected in "Between Past and Future"