Posts in: 2005s

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole.”

The news of John Spencer’s death makes me very sad.

Ever since Bartlet walked out of the Oval, having signed over his presidential powers to the Speaker of the House, I have hardly watched the show because, to quote Sam, “they forgot to bring the funny.”

But for a few years there, that show was deeply important to me, out of all proportion for a television show. It was important to me the way the Daodejing is important to me, or Gravity’s Rainbow. And the role of Leo McGarry was pivotal to its importance. Leo was the basso continuo.

Raise a glass to his memory.

First Snowfall

We are hosting our nieces this weekend. They are 12 and 10, so our dinner last night was chicken fingers and french fries; I made a special trip to the corner store for ketchup, since the decree went forth to all corners of the realm that fries would under no circumstances be consumed if not accompanied by lots and lots of ketchup. I went in to work yesterday to make up some hours, so they went out looking for xmas trees without me.

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Young Girls in Flower

In the last week or so, I advanced to Volume 2 of In Search of Lost Time. So far, we have returned to the youthful narrator’s perspective, and we are hearing about his naïve love for Swann’s daughter, Gilberte. We are also gaining more insights into Swann’s obsessive and disastrous affair with Odette, and we understand a little better how they came to be married, despite Swann having arrived at the sobering realization, at the end of Swann in Love, that Odette really just isn’t his type.

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Proust Update

Mere pages away from the end of Swann’s Way — so close in fact that I don’t know if I should even haul it to work or not; I could finish it on the ride in this morning, and I hate lugging dead books with me. Volume 2 is somewhat larger, so I sure as heck don’t want to drag them both. Ah, the quandaries of a reader. But more about the book itself:

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The Plunge

I have at long last taken the Proust plunge. I began the Moncrieff/Kilmartin translation about six years ago, but stalled out. I tried picking it up again this spring, and faltered once again. Then, on a whim a month or so ago, I poked around online trying to tease out what had always struck me as its bewildering history of translations in English. I found that there are essentially only two.

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Poetry and Shock

I think people follow sensational news stories that escalate into media frenzies at least in part to try to figure out why the stories have been whipped up into frenzies at all. We wait for some news outlet to supply us with something genuinely revelatory, the newsworthy fact that will justify all the live feeds and up-to-the-minute rumor-mongering, correspondents in parkas before the hotel, the impounded car. Do we hear anything during these updates that sheds profound light on the human condition, or exposes some deep flaw in law enforcement, government, morality, ethics?

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On the Hay(na)ku form

We are pattern seekers and meaning makers: we cannot escape form. Even a depiction of chaos will be, in some fundamental way, formal. Indeed, chaos is simply the unfiltered and the uncategorized. As soon as I call this bit “this,” and that bit “that,” I have performed an act of creation. We cannot choose to be formal; we can only choose how heavily we lean into it. Seeking patterns and making forms is simply our minds in the work of comprehension.

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Furthering the Discussion

Some years ago, I heard a music reviewer criticize a band for “not furthering the discussion.” They were, he said, bringing nothing new or interesting to the form or structure of whatever sub-genre of pop they purported to belong to, nor were they engaging coherently with their own history or influences. He said they were simply making the kind of noise you make when you’re a band that wants to be “A Band.

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