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KATHRYN'S ORPHANS


Ada Monroe and Inman  (Cold Mountain)

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

Babe (Babe)

Bambi

Bathsheba Everdene (Far from the Madding Crowd)

Batman

Beatrice (Much Ado about Nothing)

Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair)

Cecily Cardew (Importance of Being Earnest)

Champion (Les Triplettes de Belleville)

Cinderella

Collin Fenwick (The Grass Harp)

Dorothea Brooke (Middlemarch)

Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz)

Edward Scissorhands

Eleanor Roosevelt

Elizabeth (Frankenstein)

Ellen Foster (Ellen Foster)

Ellie Arroway (Contact)

Eppie (Silas Marner)

Estella (Great Expectations)

Esther Summerson (Bleak House)

Eustacia Vye (Return of the Native)

Evelina

Flora Poste (Cold Comfort Farm)

Francis Marion Tarwater (The Violent Bear It Away)

Frodo Baggins (The Lord of the Rings)

Gou Wa “Doggie” (King of Masks)

Hadji (Johnny Quest)

Harriet Smith (Emma)

Harry Potter

Harvey Cheyne, Jr. (Captains Courageous)

Hawkeye (Last of the Mohicans)

Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)

Heidi

Helena (All’s Well That Ends Well)

Homer Wells (Cider House Rules)

Huckleberry Finn

Hyacinth Robinson (The Princess Casimassima)

Irwin (Northfork)

Isabelle Archer (The Portrait of a Lady)

Jack Dawson (Titanic)

Jack Redburn (Master Humphrey's Clock)

Jake and Elwood Blues (The Blues Brothers)

James Henry Trotter (James & the Giant Peach)

Jane Eyre

Jane Fairfax (Emma)

Jen and Kira (The Dark Crystal)

Jo (Bleak House)

Joe Christmas (Light in August)

Jude Fawley (Jude the Obscure)

Kim (Kim)

Leo Tolstoy

Lilo (Lilo and Stitch)

Lillian (The Chimes)

Lily Bart (The Age of Innocence)

Lily Owen (The Secret Life of Bees)

Little Foot (The Land Before Time)

Little Nell (The Old Curiosity Shop)

Little Orphan Annie

Lucinda Leplastrier (Oscar and Lucinda)

*Lucy Manette (Tale of Two Cities)

Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)

Margaret, Helen, and Tibby Schlegel (Howard's End)

Marilyn Monroe

Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden)

Mary McCarthy

Mathilde and Manech (A Very Long Engagement)

Mattie Silver (Ethan Frome)

Miette (City of Lost Children)

Millie Theale (The Wings of a Dove)

Miriam Chadwick (Oscar and Lucinda)

Mowgli (The Jungle Book)

Nameless (Hero)

*Neo (The Matrix)

Oliver Twist

Orphan Girl (Gillian Welch)

Oscar Hopkins (Oscar and Lucinda)

Our Johnny (Our Mutual Friend)

Pai (Whale Rider)

Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame)

Peter Pan and the Lost Boys

Philip Carey (Of Human Bondage)

Pip (Great Expectations)

Pollyanna

Posthumus (Cymbeline)

Princess Mononoke

Queen Elizabeth I

Rickie Elliot (The Longest Journey)

Rosa (Edwin Drood)

Salvatore “Toto” (Cinema Paradiso)

Sara Crewe (The Little Princess)

Seymour Krelborn (Little Shop of Horrors)

Smike (Nicholas Nickleby)

Solomon Perel (Europa Europa)

Sophie Neveu (The DaVinci Code)

Sophy Viner (The Reef)

Spiderman

Stuart Little
Sue Bridehead (Jude the Obscure)

Tarzan

Tanya Chernova (Enemy at the Gates)

Tertius Lydgate (Middlemarch)

Tom (Water Babies)

Tom Jones

Tom Sawyer

Trilby

Trinity (The Matrix)

Will Ladislaw (Middlemarch)

Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean)

W. Somerset Maugham

 

 

 

* = new or recent addition

 


AMNESIACS


[no name] (The Man Without a Past)

Dory (Finding Nemo)

Eleanor Mannering (Garden of Lies)

Giambattista "Yambo" Bodini (The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana)

Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity)

Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Leonard Shelby (Memento)

*Manech (A Very Long Engagement)

Nick Petrov (Oblivion)

Peter Appleton (The Majestic)

Rita (Mulholland Drive)

Ryder (The Unconsoled)

Samson Greene (Man Walks into a Room)

Will Barrett (The Last Gentleman)

 

January  29,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

We finished lunch, and a 'cigarette cup', then whistled the Company together for the afternoon's work.  At 3 p.m. a short, stout figure puffed up to Pepper and greeted him heartily.  It was Major Townsend, with whom Holland used to disappear for his drinking bouts.  We walked a little way with him, across to an old ruined sugar factory behind the road.  There was nothing left of the building, and in a huge, green, slimy pool were piled bodies of men and horses in a ghastly putrefying swamp.  The stench was horrible and we soon beat it back to the road, meeting a dozen high-velocity shells en route, one of which burst a few yards from Pepper as he lay grovelling in the mud.

Just after 4 p.m. we marched back to Longavesnes, the troops heavily laden with salad and vegetables which they had scrounged.  I don't think they had carried out a lot of work.

--Some Desperate Glory: The World War I Diary of a British Officer, 1917 by Edwin Campion Vaughan

January  28,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

We were perfectly quiet all day, and I thoroughly enjoyed wandering round with Kentish and Ewing looking at corpses of Jerries.

--Some Desperate Glory: The World War I Diary of a British Officer, 1917 by Edwin Campion Vaughan

January  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I now found myself in the square, the general aspect of which was one of cruel and dreary devastation.  All the houses on my left were in ruins, whilst those on my right, though still standing, were badly battered, all doors and windows being smashed in.  Opposite me the whole side was enveloped in tremendous walls of fire.

Near the centre of the square, an iron paling surrounded a stone pedestal, from which the statue had been removed.  I walked over to it, wondering what statue had been there, and then I stopped--sickened by the sight of a body impaled on the iron spikes.  In a Frenchman's blue uniform, gaily bedecked with ribbons, he hung with arms extended along the railing, his head hanging down to his bright-buttoned chest, and his legs dangling.

Sick with horror but impelled by curiosity I went nearer, and saw some straw sticking out at the knee.  Then I peered into the face--a black grinning mask--and saw that it was a realistic dummy.  Nevertheless, in the eerie half-light, with the flicker of flames on the scene of devastation, it was a gruesome spectacle, and walking on I stood for a while at heat-range from the flames into which the heavy rain poured with no effect whatever.

--Some Desperate Glory: The World War I Diary of a British Officer, 1917 by Edwin Campion Vaughan

January  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

After coming off duty, I was lying alone in the straw, and just dozing off, when I heard someone stop outside the cellar.  Sitting up, I saw the blanket slowly lifted and a head appeared in the dim light of the candle.  I hardly repressed a scream of horror, and an icy numbness gripped me as I scanned--a blackened face, thick lips and acquiline nose, big eyes that stared at me, and a cap comforter drawn down almost to the eyebrows.  It was the face of the dead man that I had buried.

For fully half a minute we looked in silence at each other, then he asked me if I could tell him what time the rations would be up.  I laughed hysterically and made him come in so that I could dispel by conversation the awful fright that this appearance had given me.  It was Corporal Harrison, his face blackened with wood-smoke but his every feature identical with that of the corpse.

--Some Desperate Glory: The World War I Diary of a British Officer, 1917 by Edwin Campion Vaughan

January  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

In the old cellar I found Watkins and an older fellow, attached from the 25th Londons, and chatted to them until 'Stand-to'.  Stand-to is the name given to the period of one hour during which every soldier in the front line is on the alert.  It takes place twice a day--the hours before sunrise and the hour after sunset.  During these eerie periods of twilight, when normally all living things are just awaking or settling down for the night, the air is full of strange noises, the light is dim and deceptive and all things are most favourable for an attack.  As a precaution, therefore, every officer and man gets into fighting order and for a solid hour remains at his post on the parapet with rifle loaded and bayonet fixed, until either day had broken or darkness descended and the order to 'Stand-down' is passed along.

--Some Desperate Glory: The World War I Diary of a British Officer, 1917 by Edwin Campion Vaughan

January  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Gribelin had been as complicit as any in the conspiracy against Dreyfus, had venerated Henry and had not changed his mind about Dreyfus's guilt; but he was astute enough to see that the wind was now blowing in a new direction.  He co-operated with Targe.  'He had become truthful with age,' Joseph Reinarch would write, 'as one becomes obese or bald.'

--The Dreyfus Affair by Piers Paul Read

January  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

This deadly hatred of French Catholicism is skillfully depicted in the novels of Octave Mirbeau.  the anti-clerical Julien Sorel in Stendhal's Le Rouge et le noir was a Bonapartist; the same class antagonism in Mirbeau's Sébastien Roch, Abbé Jules and The Diary of a Chambermaid leads to a darker, embittered anarchism.  Mirbeau was among the Dreyfusards who met at the Trois Marches during Drefus's second court martial in Rennes.  His depiction of Catholicism as the hypo-critical ideology of a pretentious bourgeoisie, cold-hearted clergy and arrogant nobility is of more use in the understanding of the aftermath of the Dreyfus Affair than Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu.

--The Dreyfus Affair by Piers Paul Read

January  22,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Brunetière's anti-Dreyfusard stance went beyond questioning the qualification of a novelist to judge judicial questions; he had been critical of Zola as a writer long before the Dreyfus Affair.  His misgivings about intellectuals, which he expressed in a book entitled After the Trial, were part and parcel of his misgivings about academics as such, with their arrogant assumption that their insights into the working of the material world somehow placed them on the high moral ground.  He did not understand, he wrote, 'what entitles a professor of Tibetan to govern his equals, nor what rights to obedience and respect are conferred by a knowledge of the properties of quinine or cinchonine'.

--The Dreyfus Affair by Piers Paul Read

January  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Freemasonry was also perceived as a conspiracy against the Catholic Church.  As early as 1738 Pope Clement XII had published a papal constitution, In Eminenti, condemning Freemasonry for its secrecy, its religious indifferentism and its promotion of humanistic values detached from Christian revelation.  Catholics were forbidden to become Masons.  The spread of the ideas of the French Enlightenment confirmed, in the eyes of subsequent popes, the prescience of Clement's warnings.  Freemasonry 'was officially blamed for the calamities that had befallen the Church since the French Revolution, for example in the Encyclical Quo Graviora of 1826'.

--The Dreyfus Affair by Piers Paul Read

January  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

One of the main attractions of Freemasonry to its members was a commitment to mutual assistance.  Masons took a vow to come to one another's aid.  They made useful contacts in the Lodges and supposedly identified one another outside by secret handshakes.  Because of the oath of secrecy, non-Masons had no way of knowing whether they were denied a promotion or lost a contract because their competitors were Freemasons and they were not.

--The Dreyfus Affair by Piers Paul Read

January  19,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Freemasonry] was not atheist in its inception but nor was it Christian: the Supreme Being recognised by the Freemasons was not the God of Israel, let alone the Trinitarian God of the Christian religion, but a philosophical notion, and in France it was the philosophes - those writers whose sceptical attitude towards feudal institutions and revealed religion paved the way for the Revolution - who became its apostles.  On 7 February 1778, Voltaire was solemnly initiated in Masonic garb by 'Brother' Helvetius, who was in fact an atheist; uniquely in France, atheists were admitted as Freemasons.  They did not have to subscribe to a belief in a Supreme Being.

--The Dreyfus Affair by Piers Paul Read

January  18,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The essential point is to avoid celebrating the liturgy as an occasion for the community to exhibit itself, under the pretext that it is important for everyone to involve himself, though in the end, then, only the "self" is really important.  Rather, the decisive thing is that we enter into something that is much greater.  That we can get out of ourselves, as it were, and into the wide open spaces.  For the same reason, it is also very important that the liturgy itself not be tinkered with in some way.

--Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times by Benedict XVI

January  17,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Your predecessor called the Jews "our elder brothers".  You speak of them as our "fathers in the faith".

The phrase "elder brothers", which had already been used by John XXIII, is not so welcome to Jews.  The reason is that, in the Jewish tradition, the "elder brother"--Esau--is also the brother who gets rejected.  One can still use it, because it expresses an important point.  But it is true that they are also our "fathers in the faith".  And this way of putting it illustrates perhaps even more clearly the character of our relationship to each other.

--Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times by Benedict XVI

January  16,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished; this is a real threat we face.  The danger is that reason--so-called Western reason--claims that it has now really recognized what is right and thus makes a claim to totality that is inimical to freedom.  I believe that we must very emphatically delineate this danger.  No one is forced to be a Christian.  But no one should be forced to live according to the "new religion" as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind.

--Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times by Benedict XVI

January  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

This, too, is one of the terrible responsibilities of the West: that it uses drugs and that it thereby creates countries that have to supply it, which in the end exhausts and destroys them.  A craving for happiness has developed that cannot content itself with things as they are.  And that then flees into the devil's paradise, if you will, and destroys people all around.

and then there is a further problem.  The destruction that sex tourism wreaks on our young people, the bishops say, is something we cannot even begin to imagine.  The destructive processes at work in that are extraordinary and are born from the arrogance and the boredom and the false freedom of the Western world.

You see, man strives for eternal joy; he would like pleasure in the extreme, would like what is eternal.  But when there is no God, it is not granted to him and it cannot be.  Then he himself must now create something that is fictitious, a false eternity.

--Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times by Benedict XVI

January  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

A large of proportion of contemporary philosophies, in fact, consist of saying that man is not capable of truth.  But viewed in that way, man would not be capable of ethical values, either.  Then he would have no standards.  Then he would only have to consider how he arranged things reasonably for himself, and then at any rate the opinion of the majority would be the only criterion that counted.  History, however, has sufficiently demonstrated how destructive majorities can be, for instance, in systems such as Nazism and Marxism, all of which also stood against truth in particular.

--Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times by Benedict XVI

January  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

For many people today, practical atheism is the normal rule of life.  Maybe there is something or someone, thy think, who once set the world in motion eons ago, but the does not matter to us at all.  If this attitude becomes a general existential position, then freedom no longer has any standards, then everything is possible and permissible.  That is why it is so urgent also to bring the question about God back into the center.  Of course, this does not mean a God who exists in some way or other, but rather a God who knows us, speaks to us, and approaches us--and who is then our judge also.

--Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times by Benedict XVI

January  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Of course the intellectual climate of the 1970s, for which the 1950s had already paved the way, contributed to this.  A theory was even finally developed at that time that pedophilia should be viewed as something positive.  Above all, however, the theses was advocated--and this even infiltrated Catholic moral theology--that there was no such thing as something that is bad in itself.  There were only things that were "relatively" bad.  What was good or bad depended on the consequences.

--Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times by Benedict XVI

January  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Evil, too, will always be part of the mystery of the Church.  And when we see what me, what the clergy have done in the Church, then that is nothing short of proof that he founded and upholds the Church.  If she were dependent on men, she would long since have perished.

--Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times by Benedict XVI

January  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The intellectually inclined had another reason to hold Napoleon in high regard: his exceptional intelligence shone all the more brightly at a time when rulers were almost invariably dynasts, very ordinary people and perhaps less than ordinary because of inbreeding.  The contemporary belief that Napoleon had an extraordinary mind is easily proven by the 41,000 or so letters preserved in the archives, in which he directed his ministers on how to govern France, instructed his familiars in the rule of their vassal states, commanded the campaigns of his armies, and ordered their supplies.  He would habitually dictate four letters at a time on four different subjects to four different secretaries, to give each of them the time they needed to write down each paragraph he spoke out loud, and all this in a style both elegant and concise, which could convey complex orders and important admonitions in very few words, sometimes by way of revealing details ('I noticed that several gun caissons did not have their little pots of grease or all their replacement parts').

--A Damned Nice Thing by Edward Luttwak reviewing Britain Against Napoleon: The Organisation of Victory, 1793-1815 by Roger Knight in London Review of Books (Volume 36 Number 24, 18 December 2014) 

January  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I walked over to Notre Dame along the quays, and was more than ever struck with the brilliant picturesqueness of Paris as, from any point opposite to the Louvre, you look up and down the Seine.  The huge towers of Notre Dame, rising with their blue-gray tone from the midst of the great mass round which the river divides, the great Arc de Triomphe answering them with equal majesty in the opposite distance, the splendid continuous line of the Louvre between, and over it all the charming coloring of Paris on certain days--the brightness, the pearly grays, the flicker of light, the good taste, as it were, of the atmosphere--all this is an entertainment which even custom does not stale.

--Parisian Sketches by Henry James

January  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

It is the "idea" that is somehow conspicuous by its absence in M. Meissonier's pictures; and yet in so eminent a painter you cannot help looking for it.  But, to my sense, they are dry and cold.  Look at them beside a Gérôme, indeed, and they seem to bloom and teem with high suggestions; but look at them beside a Delacroix or a Millet and they appear only brilliantly superficial.  It is a difference like the difference to the eye between plate glass and gushing water.

--Parisian Sketches by Henry James

[N.B.:  It is unfortunate that nowadays Millet would be considered closer to Gérôme  than to Delacroix.  But, given the current high praise meted out to the likes of Koons and Hirst, I should take some small comfort in how history will ultimately judge these painters.  Oh Fortuna!  Oh Mores!]

January  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

It is probable that the painter considers it his greatest achievement, for he has evidently spent a world of care and research upon it.  The critics in general, apparently, are not of this mind; most of them are of the opinion that the success, on the whole, is not proportionate to the attempt.

--Parisian Sketches by Henry James

[N.B.:  Me-Oww!]

January  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

And yet, in spite of these reflections, M. Meissonier's little picture seemed to me dear, as I have said, at $76,000.  It must be added, however, that in dealing with so high a talent as Meissonier's, it is very hard to fix the line of division between the fair value and the factitious value.  The ability is so extreme, so consummate, so defiant of analysis, that it carries off with an irresistible assurance any claims it may choose to make.  To paint so well as that, you say as you stand and look, must be so difficult, must be impossible--to anyone but Meissonier; and if Meissonier is unique, why should he not command the prices of unique things?  If there were only one sewing machine in the world, for instance, who can say what might be the pecuniary conditions annexed to its changing hands?  And then I humbly confess that if a certain number of persons have been found to agree that such and such an enormous sum is a proper valuation of a picture, a book, or a song at a concert, it is very hard not to be rather touched with awe and to see a certain golden reflet in the performance.  Indeed, if you do not see it, the object in question becomes perhaps still more impressive--a something too elevated and exquisite for your dull comprehension.

--Parisian Sketches by Henry James

[N.B.:  Every age has its Meissonier--the prior generation had Warhol and ours is blessed with two:  Koons and Hirst.]

January  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

He had immense talent, and if to seize and imprison in clay or marble the look of life and motion is the finest part of an artist's skill, he was a very great artist.  The shopwindows just now are full of reproductions of his figures and busts.  They are the most modern things in all sculpture.  That undressed lady and gentleman who, as distinguished from the unconsciously naked heroes and heroines of Greek art, are the subjects of modern sculpture, have reached in Carpeaux's hands their most curious development.  In this vicious winter weather of Paris, behind their clear glass plates, they make the passer shiver; their poor, lean, individualized bodies are pitifully real.  And to make the matter worse, they are always smiling--smiling that fixed, painful smile of hilarious statues.  The smile in marble was Capeaux's specialty.  Those who have seen it have not forgotten the magnificent tipsy laugh of the figures in the dancing group on the front of the Opera; you seem to hear it, as you pass, above the uproar of the street.

--Parisian Sketches by Henry James

[N.B.:  More back-handed insults--James packed them in tight for Capeaux.]

January  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Nothing in this way was too difficult for Barye to attempt; like all real masters he relished difficulties, he loved them, and he triumphantly solved the problem of impossible attitudes and inconceivable combinations.  One of his works is in this respect prodigious; the "Combat of the centaur and the Lapitha" is, perhaps, indeed, the strongest of his productions.  The Lapitha is astride of the Centaur's back, locking his flanks in his powerful knees, swinging a club in his uplifted arm.  The Centaur's torso is twisted back with an admirable play of muscle, and he is fiercely trying to unseat his enemy.  The subject is magnificent, and the author has handled the human element in it with a skill which, for him, is quite exceptional.

--Parisian Sketches by Henry James

[N.B.:  Yet another fine example of James's mastery of the feline, back-handed insult--that neat insertion of the qualifier, "for him," is as professional as Mack the Knife's chiv between the ribs.]

December  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

He perhaps felt the force of that truth (which is by no means the paradox it seems) that for artistic purposes there is such a thing as knowing too much about your subject.  There are doubtless many matters in regard to which a little knowledge is a dangerous thing; but I should say that often, for the artist, it is a great knowledge that is dangerous--in the sense that it crowds out inspiration and imagination.  When a writer or a painter says in answer to a request to make a sketch of a certain place or person, "Oh! I can't; I have been there too long; I have seen him too often!" he is talking purer reason than he may get credit for.

--Parisian Sketches by Henry James

[N.B.:  And that, my friends, maybe why Henry James chose as his abiding subject matter the relations between a man and a woman--a subject he would never be accused of "knowing too much."]

December  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Barye was a specialist--he produced little else than wild beasts, in attitudes more or less ferocious and voracious.  But in this line he was a man of genius, and his lions and tigers have an extraordinary reality.  They are familiar half the world over, for he worked chiefly for the trade, and his models were numerously reproduced on a small scale.  To have on one's mantel-shelf or one's library table one of Barye's businesslike little lions diving into the entrails of a jackal, or one of his consummate leopards licking his fangs over a lacerated kid, has long been considered the mark, I will not say of a refined, but at least of an enterprising taste.

--Parision Sketches by Henry James

[N.B.:  I think one slightly shabby reason that we so much enjoy Henry James today is that we take a bit of spiteful pleasure in seeing the master of the feline, back-handed insult at work.]

December  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

We wander about Europe on a sensuous and esthetic basis--eating good dinners, rolling over smooth roads, served by sympathetic domestics, staring at picturesque scenery, listening to superior music, watching accomplished acting.  We have all our private joys and miseries, which demand a greater or less amount of attention; but the average American in Europe, traveler or resident, makes up the substance of his life out of these things.  Whether he might not do better is a question I am not discussing; certain it is that these things are offered him in Paris in a fashion that enables him to lay down his money with one hand and take with the other in perfect security.  His security puts him in good humor, and though he has decidedly to lay down more money each year than the last, he finds nothing to break the charm, and mutilates an axiom which he considers philosophic, to the effect that it is better to pay much for delights than for disappointments.

--Parisian Sketches by Henry James

December  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

At a prolonged drinking-bout one of the party remarked, "What gars the Laird of Garskadden luk sae gash?"

"Ou," says his neighbour, the Laird of Kilmardinny, "Garskadden's been wi' his Maker these twa hours; I saw him step awa', but I dinna like to disturb gude company."

--Dean Ramsay collected in  A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

FANTASIA ON PORT

A Chirrup was in the Rev. Doctor's tone: "Hocks, too, have compassed age.  I have tasted senior Hocks.  Their flavours are as a brook of many voices; they have depth also.  Senatorial Port! we say.  We cannot say that of any other wine.  Port is deep-sea deep.  It is in its flavour deep; mark the difference.  It is like a classic tragedy, organic in conception.  An ancient Hermitage has the light of the antique; the merit that it can grow to an extreme old age; a merit.  Neither of Hermitage nor of Hock can you say that it is the blood of those long years, retaining the strength of youth with the wisdom of age.  To Port for that!  Port is our noblest legacy!  Observe, I do not compare the wines; I distinguish the qualities.  Let them live together for our enrichment; they are not rivals like the Idæan Three.  Were they rivals, a fourth would challenge them.  Burgundy has great genius.  It does wonders within its period; it does all except to keep up in the race; it is short-lived.  An aged Burgundy runs with a beardless Port.  I cherish the fancy that Port speaks the sentences of wisdom, Burgundy sings the inspired Ode.  Or put it, that Port is the Homeric hexameter, Burgundy the Pindaric dithyramb.  What do you say?"

"The comparison is excellent, sir."

--George Meredith (1828-1909) collected in  A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  22,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When I came before them they took my name and abode, examin'd me why, contraire to an ordinance made that none should any longer observe the superstitious time of the Nativity (so esteem'd by them) I durst offend, and particularly be at Common Prayers, which they told me was but the Masse in English, and particularly pray for Charles Steuart, for which we had no Scripture.  I told them we did not pray for Cha. Stewart, but for all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governours.  They replied, in so doing we praid for the K. of Spaine too, who was their enemie and papist, with other frivolous and insnaring questions and much threatning: and finding no colour to detaine me, they dismiss'd me with much pitty of my ignorance.  These were men of high flight and above ordinances, and spake spiteful things of our Lord's Nativity.  As we went up to receive the sacrament the miscreants held their musketts against us as if they would have shot us at the altar, but yet suffering us to finish the office of Communion, as perhaps not having instructions what to do in case they found us in that action.  So I got home late the next day, blessed be God.

--Evelyn's Diary, 1657 collected in  A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

THE NIGHT OF MOTHERS

The Saxons began their year on the 8th of Kalends of January (25 December) which is now our Christmas Day, and the very night before, which is now holy to us was by them called Mœdrenack, or the Night of Mothers, because as we imagine, of those ceremonies which were performed that night.

--Venerable Bede (673-735) collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

FOR A BIRTHDAY BOOK

Of the Properties of the Twelve Signs.  X. Of the Sign of Capricorn.

She who is born at this time will be modest and fearful; she will overcome her enemies; she will have children by three men; she will make many pilgrimages in her youth; she will have after that much prosperity; she will have great eye-trouble, and will be at her best at thirty-one; she will live seventy years and four months, in the way of Nature.

--Le Grant Kalendier des Bergiers, 1480 collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  19,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

FOR A BIRTHDAY BOOK

Of the Properties of the Twelve Signs.  X. Of the Sign of Capricorn.

I find that he who is born under Capricorn, that is, between the middle of December and the middle of January, will be quarrelsome, a libertine, a liar, and toilsome, and nourished with strange things.  He will commit several crimes and will experiment in brawls; he will be a governor of four-footed beasts; he will not remain long with his wife; he will suffer divers great besettings and mischiefs in his youth; he will be forced to give up several riches and goods; he will be in great peril at the age of fifteen; he will have very great courage; he will frequent honest men and will become rich through women, and he will be a guide to maidens; his brothers will play the spy on him greatly; he will live seventy-four years and three months, in the way of Nature.

--Le Grant Kalendier des Bergiers, 1480 collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  18,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

To the horrible people who are best designated as Dons, whose idea of Heaven is an everlasting examination, it is repulsive that this young wastrel, with a possible Grammar School smattering, should have written the finest things in the world.  "The Warwickshire yokel," says one of them in high contempt.  And so has arisen the most marvellous folly of the world: the Baconian Hypothesis.  Grave men, being first assured that shabby Bohemian fellows do not write immortalities, have committed themselves to all the wonderful lunacies of the Bilateral Cypher, have gone a little father, and have at last found that Bacon wrote not only all Shakespeare but all the literature of his age, including Montaigne's Essais and Cervantes' Don Quixote.  The last book which I read on the subject showed that Don Quixote should be read "d'un qui s'ôte"--concerning one who hides himself--Bacon, of course.  Indeed, the writer proved that the alleged author, Cervantes, had an illegitimate child and was very poor: which is evidence, of course, that he could not write masterpieces.  The masterpieces notoriously are all written by moral men with large banking accounts. 

May this January, this Twelfth Night, bring us better sense, as we sit about our sea-coal fire.  

--A Talk for Twelfth Night by Arthur Machen collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

[N.B.:  I think the Shakespeare deniers fundamentally fail to understand the public nature of a playwright's craft.  The playwright does not scribble away a play in isolation and then have the players mechanically wound up to perform his completed masterpiece.  Rather, the playwright works in collaboration with the players and others constantly revising the work as it is performed and thus, through such collaboration, a play is born.  And as Machen points out, the fact that Shakespeare did not have a grand education is beside the point.  It's like arguing that Babe Ruth did not hit his homeruns because he was fat, slow and pigeon-toed.  Who you going to believe: me or your lying eyes?]

December  16,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

TO MAKE A DISH OF SNOW

Take a pottle of sweet thick Cream, and the white of eyght Egs, and beate them altogether, with a spoone, then put them into your cream with a dishfull of Rosewater, and a dishfull of Sugar withall, then take a sticke and make it clene, and then cut it in the end foursquare, and therewith beat all the aforesaid things together, and ever as it ariseth take it off, and put it in a Cullender, this doone, take a platter and sette an Apple in the midst of it, stick a thicke bush of Rosemary in the Apple.  Then cast your Snow upon the Rosemary and fill your platter therewith, and if you have wafers cast some withall, and so serve them forthe.

--A Book of Cookerie, 1594, collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"That," said Marcel, indicating a superb bird displaying through its rosy transparent skin the truffles of Périgord with which it was stuffed, "is called a truffled turkey.  I have seen impious creatures eat a thing like that without first kneeling to it," added the painter, casting on the turkey a look capable of roasting it.

--Vie De Bohème by Henry Murger collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

If they reached the point of no return surprisingly quickly it's even more surprising to find that one of them has already reached the point of giving up.  sometimes the two are one and the same; the usual difference is that there's only one point of no return whereas the point of giving up is constant--the opposite of a point, in fact--and can be yielded to at any and every step of the way.

--Zona by Geoff Dyer

December  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Walker Evans opened our eyes . . . to the sagging shacks, wrecked cars and fading signs of America in the thirties.  To that extent Evans anticipate Bresson's reminder to himself, in Notes on the Cinematographer:  'Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.'  A little later Bresson added a medium-specific twits to this ambition: 'Quality of a new world which none of the existing arts allowed to be imagined.'  Two related questions, then: would we regard this landscape of fields, abandoned cars, tilted telegraph poles and trees as beautiful without Tarkovsky?  And could it have been brought into existence by any medium other than film?

--Zona by Geoff Dyer

December  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

In taking on a book's arguments, I don't pull my punches.  But I do have one golden rule: I never put something in a review that I would not be prepared to say to the author's face.  'If you couldn't say it, then don't write it', should (in my view) be the reviewers unwavering maxim.

--Reviewing Classics collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

[N.B.: Here Ms. Beard puts her finger on why there are so many positive--and positively boring--book reviews: reviewers lack the courage of their convictions to admit when an author is wrong because they do not want to confront that author later at a cocktail party.  This was the benefit of the old concept of a university as a monastery or "ivory tower"--splendid isolation allows for a degree of "home truth" that incessant networking does not.]

December  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

For what it's worth, my basic rule is never to send any book to any reviewer if I'm fairly sure I can predict what they will say about it.  And if the reviewer knows the author (as in the relatively close-knit community of classics is sometimes bound to be the case), I have to be confident that the reviewer would feel able to write either a positive or negative review, depending on what they found (I don't send books out to people who are only prepared to be nice about them).  But the simple fact is that it's not all that difficult to be fair - indeed, it's probably a lot easier to be fair than to be successfully corrupt.

--Reviewing Classics collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

December  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The irony is that, while publishers continue to harass literary editors to review their books, they also rightly reassure their anxious authors that what the reviewers say appears to have very limited effect on how many books get sold.  To put it another way, the only person who can be absolutely guaranteed to read, and to re-read, a review with intense concentration is the author of the book concerned.  (So, authors, however bruised you feel by what you think is a piece of unfair criticism, never write in to complain; the chances are that you will just draw attention to something that no one else has much noticed!)

--Reviewing Classics collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

December  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Even more eccentric than most was Edmund Morshead, teacher at Winchester in the late nineteenth century: nicknamed 'Mush', he had his own private idiolect ('Mushri') that he shared with his pupils and he taught in a classroom known predictably enough as the 'Mushroom'. . . . The died-in-the-wool Mr chips and the dreariness of the grammar grind is more our own modern myth than (at more radical schools, at least) the eighteenth-and nineteenth-century reality.

--What Gets Left Out collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

December  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The basic point is that almost all slave-owning societies have had some mechanism for giving some slaves their freedom, but none - so far as we can tell - ever freed slaves in such large numbers as Rome.  More than that, the Romans gave ex-slaves almost all the rights and privileges of Roman citizenship.  In ancient Athens, a freed slave became at best a 'resident alien'; in Rome any slave freed, according to certain legal rules, by a Roman citizen, himself became a Roman citizen, with only a few restrictions (ex-slaves could not serve in the army, for example, or hold political office); and no restrictions at all applied to the second generation.  The poet Horace is just one notable example of a son of an ex-slave who lived close to the top of the Roman pecking order.

--Ex-Slaves and Snobbery collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Contrary to popular opinion, we are not starved of evidence: enough material survives from the Roman world alone to last any historian's lifetime; and if you include relevant material from Judaism and early Christianity, the problem is one of excess, not shortness of supply.  Yet historians still start their books with a ritual lament about 'the sources' and their inadequacy.  The lament is not entirely insincere (though it is something of a self-constructed problem): the sources often are inadequate for the particular questions that historians choose to pose.  But that is part of the ancient-historical game: first pick your question, then demonstrate the appalling difficulty of finding an answer given the paucity of the evidence, finally triumph over that difficulty by scholarly 'skill'.

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

To be fair to Birley, he does signal his conjectures, guesses and inferences for what they are. Obsessively so.  His text is littered with the technical terminology of 'careful' ancient history: 'presumably', 'one may readily postulate', 'the odds are that', 'it is no more than a guess', 'no doubt', 'in all likelihood', 'on this hypothesis'.  Such phrases occur literally hundreds of times throughout the book.  The problem with this method is not its dishonesty (though readers should be warned that many of Birley's terms are used in their narrowest academic sense: 'no doubt' means 'this is an extremely dodgy speculation').  The real issue is that this veneer of scrupulous scholarship ('I shall claim nothing as fact that I cannot firmly authenticate') turns out to act as a brilliant alibi for outright fiction.

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The wilder the speculation, the greater the panoply of scholarship.  Fragmentary inscriptions are dissected in detail (largely because Birley conveniently assumes that an inscribed dedication to Hadrian in town X means that Hadrian actually visited town X - when there are plenty of other reasons to account for such displays of local loyalty).  Poetry is grilled for 'facts' that it could never yield.  In one horribly memorable argument he takes a fragment of an epigram by the poet/historian Florus ('I don't want to be the emperor/Strolling about among the Britons') as evidence to support his claim that Hadrian made his first inspection of Hadrian's Wall on foot.

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Why, then, was Nero overthrown and demonised, while Hadrian died safely in his bed and escaped with nothing more damning than an awkward question mark over his aims and motives?  Partly, no doubt, because Hadrian walked the tightrope of imperial image-making more deftly than Nero.  The Golden House caused offence because it monopolised the heart of the city of Rome itself ('Romans flee to Veii - your city has become one man's house' was a well-known joke against Nero's building schemes), whereas Hadrian's yet more grandiose Villa was at a discreet (enough) distance from the capital.  Partly, the question provides its own answer: most Roman rulers were not overthrown because they were demons or demonised (my guess is that assassinations were more often the result of self-serving rivalries within the palace than of political principle or moral outrage), they were demonised because they were overthrown.  If one of the many attempts on Hadrian's life had been successful, he, too, would most probably have been written into history as a tyrannical maniac.  Instead, whatever the truth about his regime, his loyal and chosen successor, Antoninus Pius, made sure that posterity did not treat him as badly as it might have done - or (who knows?) as he might have deserved.

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

[N.B.:  Mary Beard should write an updated The Prince.]

November  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The Emperor Hadrian once went to the public baths and saw an old soldier rubbing his back against a wall.  Puzzled, he asked the old man what he was doing.  'Getting the marble to scrape the oil off,' the old man explained, 'because I can't afford a slave.'  The emperor immediately presented him with a team of slaves and the money for their upkeep.  A few weeks later, he was in the baths again.  Predictably, perhaps, he found a whole group of old men ostentatiously rubbing their backs against the wall, trying to cash in on his generosity.  He asked the same question and got the same response.  'But haven't you thought,' replied the canny emperor, 'of rubbing each other down?'

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  22,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is, however, a bigger question raised by Champlin's Nero, and by any biographical study, ancient or modern, of a Roman emperor: just how influential on the wider developments of Roman history was an individual ruler?  Imperial biographers are professionally committed to the idea that the emperor is crucial, and Champlin does his best to demonstrate that there was a significant imperial programme at work during this reign that can be raced back to Nero himself.  This approach would, no doubt, draw support from Tacitus' comments on the influence of changing rulers, the fear and flattery they provoked, on the pattern of Roman history writing.  But Tacitus could also be taken to support almost exactly the opposite position: namely, that so long as the right words were mouthed, praise and blame delivered in the expected quarters, business could go on as usual from reign to reign, no matter who was on the throne.  Even if you had been an elite ally of the last emperor, all that was required was some well-honed denunciation of the previous regime to keep your place in the new hierarchy.

--Nero's Colosseum? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is also a wide range of more or less revealing anecdotes attached to [Livia's] name.  A fourth-century medical writer preserves a recipe for one of Livia's concoctions for sore throats and another for nervous exhaustion (without any hints of sinister side effects).  And from the vast compendium of useful knowledge assembled in the elder Pliny's Natural History, we learn that she put her longevity down to drinking wine from Friuli (a claim still used to advertise the vintage); and we glean hints of an unlikely rivalry between Livia and Augustus' granddaughter Julia over who owned the smallest dwarf (Julia won the male competition with a specimen of two foot five inches, Livia the female - height unspecified).

--Married to the Empire collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The description of this procession [in honour of the god Dionysus, sponsored in the early third century BC by one of Cleopatra's predecessors on the throne, Ptolemy II 'Philadelphus' ('sister-lover')] oozes with amazement at the extraordinary spectacle.  Each of the floats required hundreds of men to pull them along, partly because of the ingenious, mechanical - and presumably very heavy - displays that they carried.  One of the highlights, and a triumph of Alexandrian engineering, was an eight-cubit-tall (approximately twelve feet) statue that 'stood up mechanically without anyone laying a hand on it and sat back down again when it had poured a libation of milk.'  Another attraction was the chariots not pulled by men or horses, but by ostriches.  Another was the 'wine-sack made of leopard skin and holding 3,000 measures', which gradually released its contents onto the processional route.

--Cleopatra: The Myth collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  18,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

It concerns the period just after the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, at which Augustus (then known as Octavian, or just plain Caesar) defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra and effectively gained control of the entire Roman world.  He was met on his return to the capital by a man with a tame raven, which he had taught to say 'Greetings to Caesar, our victorious commander.'  Augustus was so impressed that he gave the man a substantial cash prize.  but it turned out that the bird's trainer had a partner who, when none of the 20,000 sesterces came his way, went to the emperor and explained that the man had another raven which he should be asked to produce.  Predictably, the pair had been hedging their bets: this bird squawked 'Greetings to Antony, our victorious commander.'  The emperor saw the funny side and did not get angry - but simply insisted that the prize money be shared between the two men.

--Looking for the Emperor collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  17,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The fate of Gavius from the Sicilian town of Consa, who was flogged, tortured and crucified for being a spy, despite the fact that he was a Roman citizen and so legally protected from such treatment, has remained a powerful political symbol.  Gavius died with the words 'Ciis romanus sum' ('I am a Roman citizen') on his lips - a slogan that was later adopted by Lord Palmerston when he sent a gunboat in support of the British citizen Don Pacifico, who in 1847 had been attacked by an anti-Semitic crowd in Athens.  It was famously wheeled out again in 1963 by John F. Kennedy in Berlin: 'Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum".  Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "ich bin ein Berliner".  Kennedy, presumably, did not know what happened to Gavius.

--Quousque Tandem ...? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  16,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Decapitation, and its attendant embellishments, was something of an occupational hazard for front-line political figures in Rome in the hundred years of civil war that led up to the assassination of Julius Caesar.  The head of Antony's own grandfather was said to have graced the dinner table of Gaius Marius in one of the pogroms of the early first century BC.  A cousin of Cicero had his severed head ('still alive and breathing', in Cicero's words) presented to the dictator Sulla.  And, in an even more baroque twist, the head of the unfortunate general Marcus Crassus, whose defeat by the Parthians in 53 BC counted among the worst Roman military disasters, ended up as a bit-part in a performance of Euripides' Bacchae at the Parthian Court.

--Quousque Tandem ...? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Pride of place in the Philogelos goes to the 'egg-heads', who are the subject of almost half the jokes for their literal-minded scholasticism ('An egg-head doctor was seeing a patient.  "Doctor", he said, "when I get up in the morning I feel dizzy for 20 minutes."  Get up 20 minutes later, than."').  After the 'egg-heads', various ethnic jokes come a close second.  In a series of gags reminiscent of modern Irish or Polish jokes, the residents of three Greek towns - Abdera, Kyme and Sidon - are ridiculed for their 'how many Abderites does it take to change a light bulb?' style of stupidity.  Why these three places in particular, we have no idea.  But their inhabitants are portrayed as being as literal-minded as the egg-heads, and even more obtuse.  'An Abderite saw a eunuch talking to a woman and asked if she was his wife.  When he replied that eunuchs can't have wives, the Abderite asked, "So is she your daughter then?"

--What Made the Greeks Laugh? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The tolerance of the Emperor Augustus in the face of quips and banter of all sorts was still being celebrated four centuries after his death.  One of the most famous one-liners of the ancient world, with an afterlife that stretches into the twentieth century (it gets retold, with a different cast of characters but the same punchline, both in Freud and in Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea), was a joking insinuation about Augustus' paternity.  Spotting, so the story goes, a man from the provinces who looked much like himself, the emperor asked if the man's mother had ever worked in the palace.  'No', came the reply, 'but my father did.'  Augustus wisely did no more than grin and bear it.

--What Made the Greeks Laugh? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The master in any art who abandons the methods of his mastery and falls back on prentice habits runs a fearful risk.  No lover, of any kind, not even the lover of himself, can safely turn from maturity to adolescence.  His adolescence is in his maturity.  The past may be recalled and redeemed in the present, but the present cannot be forsaken for the past.

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"The last infirmity of noble mind" can in fact make the mind so infirm that it becomes ignoble, as the divine Milton very well knew, or he would not have called it infirmity, nor caused Messias to reject it with such a high air; for paradise is regained not only by the refusal of sin but by the healing of infirmity.

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The hierarchy of the abyss does not know anything of equality, nor of any lovely balance within itself, nor (if he indeed be) does the lord of that hierarchy ever look up, subordinate to his subordinates, and see above him and transcending him the glory of his household.  So that never in all the myths, of Satan or Samael or Iblis or Ahriman, has there been any serious tale of that lord becoming flesh by human derivation; how could he be so supposed to submit, in bed or cradle?

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Wise readers of verse do their best to submit their voices to the verse, letting the words have their own proper value, and endeavor to leave them to their precise proportion and rhythm.

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

He knew the derivation of the word "Clerk," and that the original Greek meant "inheritance."  The clerks were the inheritors; that was the old wise meaning--men who gathered their inheritance. 

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Behind her, Evelyn's voice said, "Oh come away!"  At the words Lester, for the first time in her life, saw a temptation precisely as it is when it has ceased to tempt--repugnant, implausible, mean. 

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Betty was far away, gone as lovers and wives do go, as Richard's wife had gone, gone to her deathbed.  Betty's own bed was cold, even like her chastity.  I would I were where Betty lies; no wedding garment except this fear, in the quiet, in the quiet, in the quiet, where a figure of another world stood.  All things rose fluttering round it; beetles? too light for beetles: moths, bright light moths round a flame-formed dark; the cloak of the dark and the hunger in the dark.  The high moon a moth, and he; only not Betty, Betty dead like Richard's wife, dead women int he street of the City under the moon. 

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

She knew she had never really liked Evelyn, but Evelyn had been a habit, almost a drug, with which she filled spare hours.  Evelyn usually did what Lester wanted.  She would talk gossip which Lester did not quite like to talk, but did rather like to hear talked, because she could then listen to it while despising it.  

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

She had the common, vague idea of her age that if your sexual life was all right you were all right, and she had the common, vague idea of all ages that if you (and your sexual life) were not all right, it was probably someone else's fault--perhaps undeliberate, but still their fault. 

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  4,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I found I had begun to understand the meaning of the young man's prophecy that I would come to appreciate death and what it had to offer.  Death was my only means of getting away for good from this body and all its pseudo-symptoms of disease and fear, from the constant awareness of this body, from this person, with his ruthlessness and sentimentality and ineffective, insincere, impracticable notions of behaving better, from attending to my own thoughts and from counting in thousands to smother them and from my face in the glass. 

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

November  3,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I could see through the window of a supermarket.  The place was still open; I went in and bought something I had never heard of by a writer whose first book, a satire on provincial life, I remembered had been commended at the time.  In the little cocktail bar of the University Arms, I got through about forty minutes' worth of this too, before going out and dropping it into a rubbish basket on the way back to my car.  To the endemic unreality of all fiction, the author had added contributions of his own: an inability to leave even the most utilitarian sentence unadorned by some verbal frill or knob or curlicue, recalling those savage cultures whose sacred objects and buildings are decorated in every square inch; a rooted habit of proceeding by way of violent and perfunctory transitions from one slackly observed scent to the next; and an unvaried method of characterization whereby, having portrayed a person as one sort of cliché, he presently revealed him as a predictable different sort of cliché.  Oh well, what had I expected?  The thing was a novel.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

[N.B.:  I wonder if Amis is criticizing himself here--after all, Lucky Jim, his well-received first novel, was a campus farce regarding provincial life.]

November  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

On bad days, sitting in a cinema can give me a curiously strong foretaste of dying, out of some fortuitous combination of the darkness, the felt presence of unseen strangers, the vast, unnaturally coloured, ever-changing images, the voices that are not quite like voices.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

November  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Sorry, Dad, it wasn't the time to say it, I know, but there's nothing good about being self-sufficient except over things that don't matter or when you've got to be because there just isn't anybody else around, but that isn't so in your case--it's bad that you don't depend on other people, especially the ones that depend on you.  I can see you're feeling rotten, but if anything really crappy happened and it could have been prevented by you telling someone like me, or Joyce, what was going on beforehand, then you'd only have yourself to blame, or rather I'd blame myself too for not going on at you about it.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

October  31,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

A drama coach I once took lessons from told me a good actor should be able to act with the back of his head.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  30,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I will say this for suffering, that it lends a solemn weight to things and casts them in a starker, more revealing, light than any they have known hitherto.  It expands the spirit, flays off a protective integument and leaves the inner self rawly exposed to the elements, the nerves all bared and singing like harp-strings in the wind.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  29,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

To talk to her is like dropping stones into a deep well; the response that comes back is long-delayed and muted.  She has the wariness of a person much put-upon and menaced--that husband again--and before speaking seems to turn over every word carefully and examine it from all sides, testing its potential to displease and provoke.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  28,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

And thus we went on, scratching and tearing at each other, so the tears would not cease nor our ardour grow cool, until we had exhausted ourselves, or got too old, and called an unwilling truce that nowadays is disturbed by no more than an occasional, brief and half-hearted exchange of small-arms fire.  So that, I suppose, is why I think I do not know her, heave ceased to know her.  Quarreling, for us, was intimacy.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Around us the many noises of the hospital were joined together in a medleyed hum, and the air in the overheated room had the texture of warm damp cotton.  Through the window on the far side of the bed I could see the mountains, distant and faint, and, closer in, an extensive building site with cranes and mechanical diggers and many foreshortened workmen in helmets and yellow safety-jackets clambering about in the rubble.  It does not know how heartless it is, the workaday world.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

How--I ask it again--how did he not see what was going on between his mother and me?  How did they all not see?  Yet the answer is simple.  They saw what they expected to see and did not see what they did not expect.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Mrs. Gray had left a kettle of water on the stove, grumbling to itself over a low flame.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I have known many leading ladies but I had never been thus close up to a real film star before, and I had the odd impression of Dawn Devonport as a scaled-down replica of her public self, expertly fashioned and perfectly animate yet lacking some essential spark--duller, slightly dowdier, or just human, I suppose, just ordinarily human--and I did not know if I should feel disappointed, I mean disenchanted.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Rhetorical in the extreme, dramatically elaborated, wholly unnatural, synthetic and clotted, it is a style such as might be forged--le mot juste!--by a minor court official at Byzantium, say, a former slave whose master had generously allowed him the freedom of his extensive and eclectic library, a freedom the poor fellow all too eagerly availed himself of.  Our author--the tone is catching--our author is widely but unsystematically read, and used the rich tidbits that he gathered from all those books to cover up for the lack of an education--little Latin, less Greek, ha ha--although the effect is quite the opposite, for in every gorgeous image and convoluted metaphor, every instance of cod learning and mock scholarship, he unmistakably show himself up for the avid autodidact he indubitably is.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  22,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Families are strange institutions, and the inmates of them know many strange things, often without knowing that they know them.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

What may one know of another, even when it is one's own daughter?  A clever man whose name I have forgotten--my memory has become a sieve--put the poser: What is the length of a coastline?  It seems a simple enough challenge, readily met, by a professional surveyor, say, with his spyglass and tape measure.  But reflect a moment.  How finely calibrated must the tape measure be to deal with all those nooks and crannies?  And nooks have nooks, and crannies crannies, ad infinitum, or ad at least that indefinite boundary where matter, so called, shades off seamlessly into thin air.  Similarly, with the dimensions of a life it is a case of stopping at some certain level and saying this, this was she, though knowing of course that it was not.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

As I have said, we had not ever believed in the immortal soul, Lydia and I, and would smile i gentle condescension when others spoke of their hopes of some day seeing again departed loved ones, but there is nothing like the loss of an only child to soften the wax of sealed convictions.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  17,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When I look back all is flux, without beginning and flowing towards no end, or none that I shall experience, except as a final full stop.  The items of flotsam that I choose to salvage from the general wreckage--and what is a life but a gradual shipwreck?--may take on an aspect of inevitability when i put them on display in their glass showcases, but they are random; representative, perhaps, perhaps compellingly so, but random nonetheless.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

What do I recall of her, here in these soft pale days at the lapsing of the year?  Images from the far past crowd in my head and half the time I cannot tell whether they are memories or inventions.  Not that there is much difference between the two, if indeed there is any difference at all.  Some say that without realising it we make it all up as we go along, embroidering and embellishing, and I am inclined to credit it, for Madam Memory is a great and subtle dissembler.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"There is to be no form or parade--a sort of gipsy party.--We are to walk about your gardens, and gather the strawberries ourselves, and sit under trees ;--and whatever else you may like to provide, it is to be all out of doors--a table spread in the shade, you know.  Every thing as natural and simple as possible.  Is not that your idea?"

"Not quite.  My idea of the simple and the natural will be to have the table spread in the dining-room.  The nature and the simplicity of gentlemen and ladies, with their servants and furniture, I think is best observed by meals within doors.  When you are tired of eating strawberries in the garden, there shall be cold meat in the house."

--Emma by Jane Austen

October  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Mr. Churchill has pride; but his pride is nothing to his wife's : his is a quiet, indolent, gentleman-like sort of pride that would harm nobody, and only make himself a little helpless and tiresome ; but her pride is arrogance and insolence!  And what inclines one less to bear, she has no fair pretence of family or blood.  She was nobody when he married her, barely the daughter of a gentleman ; but ever since her being turned into a Churchill she has out-Churchill'd them all in high and mighty claims: but in herself, I assure you, she is an upstart."

--Emma by Jane Austen

October  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"My dear, you are too particular," said her husband.  "What does all that signify?  You will see nothing of it by candle-light.  It will be as clean as Randalls by candle-light.  We never see any thing of it on our club-nights."

The ladies here probably exchanged looks which meant, "Men never know when things are dirty or not;" and the gentlemen perhaps thought each to himself, "Women will have their little nonsenses and needless cares."

--Emma by Jane Austen

October  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.

--Emma by Jane Austen

October  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Thriftless gives, not from a beneficent pleasure in giving, but from a lazy delight in spending.  He would not deny himself one enjoyment ; not his opera-stall, not his horse, not his dinner, not even the pleasure of giving Lazarus the five pounds.  Thrifty, who is good, wise, just, and owes no man a penny, turns from a beggar, haggles with a hackney-coachman, or denies a poor relation, and I doubt which is the most selfish of the two.  Money has only a different value in the eyes of each.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

And for my part I believe that remorse is the least active of all a man's moral sense--the very easiest to be deadened when wakened : and in some never wakened at all.  We grieve at being found out, and at the idea of shame or punishment : but the mere sense of wrong makes very few people unhappy in Vanity Fair.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I could pay everybody, if I had but the money.  this is what the conjurors here pride themselves upon doing.  They look down with pity upon us miserable sinners who have none.  They think themselves generous if they give our children a five-pound note, and us contemptible if we are without one."  And who knows but Rebecca was right in her speculations--and that it was only a question of money and fortune which made the difference between her and an honest woman?  If you take temptations into account, who is to say that he is better than his neighbor?  A comfortable career of prosperity, if it does not make people honest, at least keeps them so.  An alderman coming from a turtle feast will not step out of his carriage to steal a leg of mutton ; but put him to starve, and see if he will not purloin a loaf.  Becky consoled herself by so balancing the chances and equalizing the distribution of good and evil in the world.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

As long as we have a man's body, we slay our Vanities upon it, surrounding it with humbug and ceremonies, laying it in state, and packing it up in gilt nails and velvet : and we finish our duty by placing over it a stone, all written over with lies.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

[N.B.:  Thackeray's viciousness as a writer is right up there with Shakespeare's.]

October  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Our luck may fail : our powers forsake us : our place on the boards be taken by better and younger mimers--the chance of life roll away and leave us shattered and stranded.  Then men will walk across the road when they meet you--or, worse still, hold you out a couple of fingers and patronize you in a pitying way--then you will know, as soon as your back is turned, that your friend begins with a "Poor devil, what imprudences he has committed, what chances that chap has thrown away!"  Well, well--a carriage and three thousand a year is not the summit of the reward nor the end of God's judgment of men.  If quacks prosper as often as they go tot he wall--if zanies succeed and knaves arrive at fortune, and vice versa, sharing ill luck and prosperity for all the world like the ablest and most honest amongst us--I say, brother, the gifts and pleasures of Vanity Fair cannot be held of any great account, and that it is probable *  *  *  *  but we are wandering out of the domain of the story.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

[N.B.:  So what might those four ellipses mean?  "They burn in hell"?]

October  4,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

He was proud of his hatred as of everything else.  Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt ; are not these the great qualities with which dulness takes to lead in the world?

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  3,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Who has not seen how women bully women?  What tortures have men to endure, comparable to those daily repeated shafts of scorn and cruelty with which poor women are riddled by the tyrants of their sex?  Poor victims!

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Well, my dear Blanche," said the mother, "I suppose, as Papa wants to go, we must go ' but we needn't know them in England, you know."  And so, determined to cut their new acquaintance in Bond street, these great folks went to eat his dinner at Brussels, and condescending to make him pay for their pleasure, showed their dignity by making his wife uncomfortable, and carefully excluding her from the conversation.  This is a species of dignity in which the high-bred British female reigns supreme.  To watch the behaviour of a fine lady to other and humbler women, is a very good sport for a philosophical frequenter of Vanity Fair.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

What is the secret mesmerism which friendship possesses, and under the operation of which a person ordinarily sluggish, or cold, or timid, becomes wise, active, and resolute, in another's behalf?  As Alexis, after a few passes from Dr. Elliotson, despises pain, reads with the back of his head, sees miles off, looks into next week, and performs other wonders, of which in his own private normal condition, he is quite incapable ; so you see, in the affairs of the world and under the magnetism of friendship, the modest man become bold, the shy confident, the lazy active, or the impetuous prudent and peaceful.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

WHAT WE'RE READING


Patrick:

  1. The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis
  2. Paris Journal 1944-1965 by Janet Flanner
  3. Paris, City of Art by Jean-Marie Perouse De Montclos

Kathryn:

  1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
  2. Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis

 


RECENT READS
Patrick: Kathryn:
IN THE QUEUE
Patrick:

Kathryn:

  • Story by Robert McKee
  • Consilience by Edward O. Wilson

LITBLOG BIBELOTS

SUGGESTED LINKS
Patrick:

The Reading Experience (a smart and witty litblog)

Invisible Adjunct (a sad and poignant blog written in ravishing prose by an anonymous adjunct professor ultimately denied tenure; she  left the site up as a well-visited tombstone)

The Dickens Page (Dickens, Dickens and more Dickens)

About Last Night (Terry Teachout rocks!)

OS Shakespeare (All things Shakespeare--and it's free!)

Kathryn:

Arts and Letters Daily

Internet Movie Database

Literary trivia: First Line Quiz

Movie reviews: Rotten Tomatoes

Photo.net: Fish around in "Top-rated photos."

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About: Want a good laugh?

More earnest chain email propagating misinformation? Send the sender to Snopes.com.

An animated primer on The Internet vs. Real Life; takes a long time to load.

New Orleans Links
NOLA.com
WWOZ radio
Jazz Fest
Parasol's for po boys
Maple Street Books

Basin Street Records
Mardi Gras 2005

Austin Links
Mother Egan's Irish Pub
Austin City Limits Music Festival
Salvage Vanguard Theater
Book People