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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)

 

April 20,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

We didn't attend to our dead and didn't bury them either, just put on their coats and gloves.  Things and values changed.  Money had become meaningless.  We used paper money for rolling cigarettes or gambled it away indifferently.  Several got so far into debt that they couldn't pay with a year of their soldiers' wages, and that wouldn't be called in either.  A piece of bread, though, was a fantasy that could not possibly be realized.  But that too was part of the war.  Death brought with it a limitless desire for sleep and oblivion.  Only few sought intimacy, most drugged themselves with superficialities, with gambling, cruelty, hatred.  This between fighting.

--A Stranger to Myself by Willy Peter Reese (tr. Michael Hofmann)

April 19,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

One soldier forced his way into a farmhouse, and the farmer set bread and milk before the hungry man.  But the soldier wanted more.  He wanted honey, which he soon found, and flour and lard.  The farmer beseeched him, his wife cried, and in their fear of starving, the couple tried to wrest his booty away from him.  The soldier smashed in the farmer's skull, shot the farmer's wife, and furiously torched the place.  He fell that same night, hit by a stray bullet.  But we shouldn't ask after God's justice in war.

--A Stranger to Myself by Willy Peter Reese (tr. Michael Hofmann)

April 18,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

We were oblivious to the way we were often given food when we set foot in a hut, to the peasants giving us their makhorka to smoke, a woman freely offering us a couple of eggs, or a girl sharing her milk with us.  We still dug around in every corner, even if we let what we had taken just go bad later.  We didn't want it; it was a sort of compulsion.  Our commands kept telling us that we were the lords of the universe, in a conquered country.

--A Stranger to Myself by Willy Peter Reese (tr. Michael Hofmann)

April 17,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

We were the victors.  War excused our thefts, encouraged our cruelty, and the need to survive didn't go around getting permission from conscience.  Women and children were made to go to the wells for us, water our horses, watch our fires, and peel our potatoes.  We used their straw for our horses or bedding for ourselves, or else we drove them out of their beds and stretched out on their stoves.

--A Stranger to Myself by Willy Peter Reese (tr. Michael Hofmann)

April 16,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

What I wanted was a transformation beyond consolation, dream, and refuge with god; and I found my pride and my greatness in wanting this carnival of killing and burning just exactly as it was; and to love it, and to stand in it without illusion, support, or belief; to laugh into the void and still be there, in the criminal pleasure of being cut adrift from gods and angels.

--A Stranger to Myself by Willy Peter Reese (tr. Michael Hofmann)

April 15,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

But to the living, it was not only a matter of being in this void without metaphysical shelter--in doom and dread, bitter irony and dance of death, laughter and torture.  It was tolerating its frightfulness, and also to want this fiendish life as it was, to take it as it came, and to love it in its barren bitterness and corruption, to call it beautiful, and to live it powerfully to the end; to find pride in its gruesomeness, delight in its decay, enthusiasm, in its devastation; to deepen the worst horror with one's intellect, to live consciously and die coolly, at one with a reviled fate.  There was merely the brazen inexorable necessity, Ananke, going her ways, over men and times as over grass and sand, grinding everything under her heel and at the same time alerting it all to a meaningless and godless existence.  She tossed the church and the atom on a pair of scales, despised God and glorified death, and still bore fruitful blossoms in her soul: nightshade growth of time.

--A Stranger to Myself by Willy Peter Reese (tr. Michael Hofmann)

April 14,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Life was suffering.  Death ruled the world.  After the pain of birth, man's path led through sweat, anxiety, grief, fear, and hunger.  Death was the only release; it took destruction to restore freedom and peace.  It was a terrible thing to live in this world, in meaninglessness, viciousness, and godlessness.  Better, as the Greeks said, never to have been born.  The Flood and the end of the world were the only consolation; destruction was the final task of the seer and expert of our age.  The last gods still needed to be forgotten, the idols smashed, love eradicated, procreation foiled, and life concluded.  Ruins, dirt, and ashes should lie there as plainly visible, as they had long secretly been forming the picture of the world.

--A Stranger to Myself by Willy Peter Reese (tr. Michael Hofmann)

[N.B.:  This is the diary, not discovered until 2002, of a German soldier who fought for three years on the Eastern Front until he was finally killed there.]

April 13,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Anyway, safely home with the Diebenkorn and having obliterated a wall by hanging it, we fell deeply in love with the painting and for the five years we've owned it now, that love has grown.  I'll tell you why.  This painting demands nothing from you but enjoyment of it.  It doesn't say I'm a landscape, a portrait, or even an abstraction of reality--it just hangs there to be looked at like an ever present and ever changing sunset.  In different moods and light, the lights and moods change--you can discover it.  My wife, when once asked the title of it by a group of visiting ladies, summed it up.  She said, "It's called 'We Like It!'"

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

April 12,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

But I liked it--in fact, I was terribly excited by it--so I bought one and had the hysterical experience of trying to take it home in my Hillman Minx, the canvas being five feet by six feet, and the Hillman very little bigger.  I drove one-handed with the top down and held onto the crossbar of the stretcher with the other.  A sudden gust of wind caught the canvas and took me out of the seat as the car sped along a few hundred feet with me standing straight up, my foot down on the accelerator and no hands on the wheel.

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

April 11,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The third painter, Richard Diebenkorn, I have known only a short time and his work a little longer, but I use him as another example of the American painter, because he, too, has fought his way to originality and is not afraid to tackle the American art audience in its many moods.  In his early work he has a sense of space and color and pattern which seems to have intrigued our mid-century painters more than anything else.  When I first saw his work, I had the wit to ask myself (and no one else), "What is it?  Why does he see like this?  Why is there no identifiable form, why no virtuosity, dash, or amble in the brush stroke?"  And I didn't have an answer.

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

April 10,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

It doesn't matter what it costs--I'd make any sacrifice if I decide I can't live without it--but can I live without it?  Aye, there's the rub--and the escape.  To be this critical, in my case, is to be economical.  If I can argue my way out of owning it, I save money.  So let's go.  It fits into my pattern of collection--it's original, new, well done, and it has a tradition.  And it's beautiful, serene, and those are qualities that sometimes worry me.  Would it inquire enough of me--would it ask me lots of questions over the years, or would I just accept it on a wall and forget it?  That I don't want.  Now, it's possible it's so beautiful it will always make demands on me--like an Ingres drawing and certain Feiningers.  They have the mystery that can belong to perfection--mystery of how it is done, not technically, but sprititually.

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

April 9,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"O.K., Vincent, what do you do when you look at a painter's work for the first time?  How do you look and what do you see?"  Obviously, what I have to say is no dogmatic standard, but let me analyze my reactions to a specific painter.  Spring, 1958; Santa Barbara; the painter, William Dole; I have never seen him before.

I walk into the gallery and am immediately charmed.  The water colors are clear and bright, the lines of the drawings delicate but strong.  He obviously is saying what he has to say the way he wants to say it.  There is no hesitation in these reports of a trip to Italy.  He is in a true American tradition without being eclectic (he stems from Demuth, Marin, Feininger); there is a desire to record beauty here and a true way of seeing it.  One picture called "Narrow Street, Florence" I would like to own.

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

[N.B.:  Price saw Dole's work right before he adopted his signature style of collage.  In any case, here's an example of a work, Via dello Studio, that is probably similar to the picture that Price admired.]

April 8,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I've said a dozen times a dozen ways that one of art's greatest joys is that it allows you to see through another's eyes, his mind, his heart.  But it isn't often that the genius of two men is blended so that the one can tell the story of the other with such distinction that the report is comparable to the act.  When it occurs, art reaches new heights.  Bellini has done it twice for me: once in his "Agony in the Garden" and in the Frick's "St. Francis in Ecstasy."  Sometimes you read a passage by a great writer, and you know what he says and how he says it will always be, for you, the only possible way it could be.  Less often a painter will describe an event in a way that fits into your interpretation of that event so perfectly that it becomes the event itself.  This is how it was, and where it was, when St. Francis had his triumphant ecstasy.  Perhaps it's only me, but then, that is another joy of art . . . it is always personal. 

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

April 7,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Another of [Rembrandt's] paintings there used to have the most romantic title in the world: "Death on a Pale Horse."  I don't know who dreamed that up, but it was a great idea.  Before a ruined castle in a landscape of rich gloom, a noble young man, arrogant and aware of his beauty, rides a proud horse the color of pearls.  Why not Death, leading us to the end of our days, to herd us into oblivion?  Well, they've changed the title now to "The Polish Rider."  Those clinical art historians, I'm sure, couldn't support this wonderful frivolity where the master was concerned.  What a pity--but it couldn't matter less.  Just look at it and think what you like.  To me, it will always be "Death on a Pale Horse."

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

[N.B.:  Probably whomever named the painting originally was thinking it would be a good rebuke to the then-famous painting by Benjamin West with the same title.]

April 6,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The Frick Rembrandt self-portrait is, of all his self-portraits, a true monument to his honesty.  No painter saw himself more profoundly, nor in so many moods.  In this, re reached his peak, and a monument it is.  Beyond just being a picture, it has the solidity of the Pyramids, the anguishing beauty of the Parthenon.  Rembrandt looks beyond himself in this picture to the very secret of life . . . to the reason of man . . . to his soul.

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

April 5,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

To me, the most beautiful male portrait I have ever seen is the Titian in the Frick.  It is all romance, all renaissance, all man.  I don't suppose we'll ever know who he was.  I don't really care.  I like to think that perhaps Titian saw him walking in the square and was so struck by his manliness, his clothes, by the romance of this creature, he broke through the crowds of ladies who must have surrounded him and dragged him off to his studio to sit for him.

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

April 4,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I think my favorite museum, however, is the Frick collection.  The Met is so vast that, even for a hungry art lover like myself, it's a pretty big meal.  But the Frick is just right . . . not too many pictures and almost all of the highest quality.  Its greatest invitation is extended through four of the most wonderful paintings in the world: two Rembrandts, a Titian, and a Bellini.

--I Like What I Know by Vincent Price

April 3,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

And yet she loved all things French, loved being in France.  When we went there en famille after the war she exclaimed continuously on its marvellous Frenchness, everything was just as French as she remembered it - 'Look,' she said, as we drove away from the boat through Calais, 'the very streets - the cars, a Citroën, James! - oh, a gendarme, and there, the little outside lavatory, they're called pissoires, and you see the wine shops - James, see the windows! all that wine - and the pavement cafés and there's a patisserie' - she said the word with such a French flourish - 'you boys have never tasted a real French pâtisserie - do stop, James, and we'll all have a pâtisserie, the boys can have their first tarte au pommes!'  James stopped,a nd she led us to the little shop, its open counter just off the pavement laden with cakes, fruits, tarts, etc., the smell of their recent baking hanging in the warm air, and it's certainly true that Nigel and I had never seen such a display, not even in Montreal, nor smelt such smells - 'peach, pear, apple,' she said, 'apricot, fraises, framboises - and that's the one I'll have' - she gestured at it, one of her grand gestures - 'the blackberry!' and a swarm of flies rose up from it, leaving not a blackberry but a plain custard tart - we hurried back to the car, and Nigel and I experienced our first real pâtisseries further down the road, deep inside a café off the pavement, where the pâtisserie counter had a net over it.

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

April 2,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Some nights there were dances in private houses.  One of the great hosts of the day, the writer George Moore, strewed white lilies over dozens of tables, hired two bands, and kept his guests dancing until dawn.  He opened his doors almost as often as it was still decent.  Each time, some guests would go back to France and never return.  The evenings became known as the Dances of Death.

--The Bolter by Frances Osborne

[N.B.:  Now that we've entered the Great War's centenary, it's important to remember the blight it inflicted upon British manhood.]

April 1,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Where the King went, society tended to follow.  If he took mistresses among his friends' wives, then so could and would those of his minions with both the time and the inclination (although many remained appalled by his behavior).  Married women were safer.  First, they were not going to trap a man into marriage.  Second, if they became pregnant, the child could be incorporated within their existing family.  For this reason a married woman was expected to wait until she had produced two sons for her husband ("an heir and a spare") before risking introducing somebody else's gene pool among those who might inherit his property--thus "adulterating" the bloodline.

--The Bolter by Frances Osborne

March  31,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The term "adultery" is chosen carefully, for it applies only to women who were married.  And it was married, rather than unmarried, women who were likely to pass the couple of hours between five and seven (known as a cinq à sept) in the pattern set by Queen Victoria's pleasure-loving son, King Edward VII, and his coterie of friends.  This group had been named the Marlborough House Set after the mansion Edward had entertained in as the Prince of Wales before becoming kind.

The choice of this hour of the day was purely practical.  It took some considerable time for a lady to unbutton and unlace her layers of corsets, chemises, and underskirts, let alone button and lace them up again.  Lovers therefore visited just after tea, when ladies were undressing in order to exchange their afternoon clothes for their evening ones.

--The Bolter by Frances Osborne

March  30,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The group of Cedars, remaining on this part of the Lebanon, is held sacred by the Greek Church, on account of a prevailing notion that the trees were standing at the time when the Temple of Jerusalem was built.  They occupy three or four acres on the mountain's side, and many of them are gnarled in a way that implies great age, but except these signs I saw nothing in their appearance or conduct that tended to prove them contemporaries of the cedars employed in Solomon's Temple.  The final cause to which these aged survivors owed their preservation, was explained to me in the evening by a glorious old fellow (a Christian Chief), who made me welcome in the valley of Eden.  In ancient times the whole range of the Lebanon had been covered with cedars, and, as the fertile plains beneath became more and more infested by Government officers and tyrants of high and low estate, the people by degrees abandoned them, and flocked to the rugged mountains for protection, well knowing that the trouble of a walk up hill would seriously obstruct their weak and lazy oppressors.  The cedar forests gradually shrank under the axe of the encroaching multitudes, and seemed at last to be on the point of disappearing entirely, when an aged chief, who ruled in the district, and who had witnessed the great change effected even in his own life-time, chose to say that some sign or memorial should be left of the vast woods with which the mountains had formerly been clad, and commanded accordingly that this group of trees (a group probably situated at the highest point to which the forest had reached) should remain untouched.  The Chief it seems was not moved by the notion I have mentioned as prevailing int he Greek Church, but rather by some sentiment of veneration for a great natural feature,--a sentiment akin, perhaps, to that old and earthborn Religion which made men bow down to creation, before they had yet learnt to know and worship the Creator.   

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  29,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The broad cold marble floor--the simple couch--the air freshly waving through a shady chamber--a verse of the Koran emblazoned on the wall--the sight and the sound of falling water--the cold fragrant smoke of the narguilè, and a small collection of wives and children in the inner apartments--all these, the utmost enjoyments of the grandee, are yet such as to be appreciable by the humblest Mussulman in the empire.   

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  28,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The impossibility of handing down property from father to son for any long period consecutively, seems to prevent the existence of those traditions by which, with us, the refined modes of applying wealth are made known to its inheritors.  We know that in England a newly-made rich man cannot, by taking thought, and spending money, obtain even the same looking furniture as a Gentleman.  The complicated character of an English establishment allows room for subtle distinctions between that which is comme il faut, and that which is not.  All such refinements are unknown in the East--the Pasha and the peasant have the same tastes.    

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  27,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The chief places of public amusement, or rather, of public relaxation, are the baths, and the great café.  This last is frequented at night by most of the wealthy men of the city, and by many of the humbler sort; it consists of a number of sheds, very simply framed and built in a labyrinth of running streams--streams so broken and headlong in their course that they foam and roar on every side.  The place is lit up in the simplest manner by numbers of small, pale lamps, strung upon loose cords, and so suspended, from branch to branch, that the light, though it looks so quiet amongst the darkening foliage, yet leaps and brightly flashes, as it falls upon the troubled waters.  All around, and chiefly upon the very edge of the torrents, groups of people are tranquilly seated.  They drink coffee, and inhale the cold fumes of the narguilè; they talk rather gently the one to the other, or else are silent.     

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  26,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Every man wanted to know,--not who was his neighbour, but who was to be his ruler; whose feet he was to kiss, and by whom his feet were to be ultimately beaten.  Treat your friend, says the proverb, as though he were one day to become your enemy, and your enemy as though he were one day to become your friend.  The Syrians went further, and seemed inclined to treat every stranger as though he might one day become their Pasha.  

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  25,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I reached Suez at last.  The British Agent, though roused from his midnight sleep, received me in his home with the utmost kindness and hospitality.  Heaven! how delightful it was to lie on fair sheets, and to dally with sleep, and to wake, and to slepp, and tow ake once more, for the sake of sleeping again!

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  24,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

For several hours I urged forward my beast at a rapid, though steady pace, but at length the pangs of thirst began to torment me.  I did not relax my pace, however, and I had not suffered long, when a moving object appeared in the distance before me.  The intervening space was soon traversed, and I found myself approaching a Bedouin Arab, mounted on a camel attended by another Bedouin on foot.  They stopped.  I saw that there hung from the pack-saddle of the camel one of the large skin water-flasks commonly carried in the Desert, and it seemed to be well filled.  I steered my dromedary close up alongside of the mounted Bedouin, caused my beast to kneel down, then alighted, and keeping the end of the halter in my hand, went up to the mounted Bedouin without speaking, took hold of his water-flask, opened it, and drank long and deep from its leathern lips.  both of the Bedouins stood fast in amazement, and mute horror; and really if they had never happened to see an European before, the apparition was enough to startle them.  To see for the first time a coat and a waistcoat with the semblance of a white human face at the top, and for this ghastly figure to come swiftly out of the horizon, upon a fleet dromedary--approach them silently, and with a demoniacal smile, and drink a deep draught from their water-flask--this was enough to make the Bedouins stare a little; they, in fact, stared a great deal--not as Europeans stare with a restless and puzzled expression of countenance, but with features all fixed and rigid, and with still, glassy eyes.  Before they had time to get decomposed from their state of petrifaction, I had remounted my dromedary, and was darting away towards the East.

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  23,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The theory is that the English traveller has committed some sin against God and his conscience, and that for this, the Evil Spirit has hold of him, and drives him from his home like a victim of the old Grecian Furies, and forces him to travel over countries far and strange, and most chiefly over Deserts and desolate places, and to stand upon the sites of cities that once were, and are now no more, and to grope among the tombs of dead men.  Often enough the wandering Englishman is guilty (if guilt it be) of some pride or ambition, big or small, imperial or parochial, which being offended has made the lone places more tolerable than ball-rooms to him a sinner.

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  22,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

One of them got a few minutes of private conversation with Dthemetri, and ventured to ask him anxiously whether the English did not travel under the protection of Evil Demons.  I had previously known . . . that this notion, so conducive to safety of our countrymen is generally prevalent amongst the Orientals.  It owes its origin partly to the strong wilfulness of the English Gentleman (a quality which, not being backed by any visible authority either civil or military, seems perfectly superhuman to the soft Asiatic), but partly too to the magic of the Banking System, by force of which the wealthy traveller will make all his journeys without carrying a handful of coin, and yet, when he arrives at a city, will rain down showers of gold.

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

[N.B.:  That explains the current "magic" of the Banking Sytem--Evil Demons!]

March  21,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

You look to the Sun, for he is your task-master, and by him you know the measure of the work that you have done, and the measure of the work that remains for you to do.  He comes when you strike your tent in the early morning, and then, for the first hour of the day, as you move forward on your camel, he stands at your near side, and makes you know that the whole day's toil is before you; then for a while, and a long while, you see him no more, for you are veiled and shrouded and dare not look upon the greatness of his glory, but you know where he strides over head, by the touch of his flaming sword. 

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  20,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

As long as you are journeying in the interior of the Desert you have no particular point to make for as your resting place.  The endless sands yield nothing but small stunted shrubs; even these fail after the first two or three days, and from that time you pass over broad plains--you pass over newly reared hills--you pass through valleys dug out by the last week's storm, and the hills and the valleys are sand, sand, sand, still sand, and only sand, and sand, and sand again.

--Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

March  19,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

It is in such things as my rescue by the two angels that make me in life believe more in E. M. Forster's and Elizabeth Bowen's sort of plot, that intersperses literally incredible melodrama with lulls where the shifts are apparently minimal, rather than in the steady organised tempo offered by more evenly plotted novels.  Elizabeth Bowen says this in her notes on writing a novel: 'Chance is better than choice, it is more lordly.  Chance is God. Choice is man.'

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

[N.B.:  And that, succinctly, is the problem with modern art--chance may create startling juxtapositions and the frisson of the strange and unknown--but those are fleeting sensations.  The enduring interest in the classical artists is due to choice, not chance.]

March  18,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Who, fully conscious, lives in the moment, actually?  I have met some who think they do, or even appear to.  The first are often intolerably selfish, the second usually very old and of apparently high principle, or very young indeed.

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

March  17,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

My computer has just offered to me, within its menu of formatting, the information that 'Widow/orphan control' is already in place.  This means that no lone word will be left to stand unprotected by the words with which it has been conjoined, or with which it has grown up on to the page.

When I worked at Vogue, laying out copy, we hunted these widows with our scalpels, taking out antecedent text in order to bring the widowed word up into a warm paragraph away from the cold of white space.

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

March  16,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

She voiced an idea that is a common one but whose truth inheres, or so I think that I deeply believe, in its opposite, that she was glad I was doing a memoir as that is where truth lies not in fiction.

Well, exactly so.  It is in a memoir that truth will, if not lie, tell as many versions of itself as there are drops of water in a river.  Does anyone who has lived feel that there is one version of their life?  There is only the frozen water of story that will melt and retell itself in another shape, there are only the tides and storms, whose drift will be countered whose wreckage will be rebuilt, in countless ways by the survivor, and the survivors of that survivor.

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

[N.B.:  This is absolutely true--if one is a pathological liar with no one left to lie to.  Old Scratch himself would have to work mighty hard to come up with a better self-justification for wrongdoing.  What is truth?  What is right?  What is wrong?  What is this bloody knife gripped in my hand?  I'm just a survivor--and a liar.]

March  15,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

So, in the face of being uncertain of sight, on my own, unsure of where I belong or live, and afraid of all of it, let us say that I can: resolve to use any talent I might have; try to use discipline as a tree and not a gallows; check for authenticity as you might for woodworm; avoid bitterness; reflect that anything that dismantles delusion and falsity is for the best.  Above all, it must be vital never to compare one's lot with that of others, which we cannot ever really know; continually to take the longer view; and always to see off the gratifications of self-dislike, that is cousin to pride.

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

March  14,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

An ebb so low is reached that I feel my thoughts dwindled to just the one thought trawling empty along the stony repetitious levels and approaching the underwater cave mouth I do not want to look into, covetable extnctness.  Not extinction, extinctness.  It is a wanting to be dead, not emphatically, a wanting to die.  Moreover I can see it off with various forms of everyday magic, from folding sheets to washing my hands with welcome soap.  It's just not practical, though, routinely to address low-grade thoughts of suicide early every afternoon if you can avoid it.  It leaves a banal plaque on the mind and is no doubt antisocial, like bad breath.  That is what it is, bad breath.  The breath so bad, it stops at nothing.

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

March  13,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The last play I say in the company of my mother was The Cherry Orchard.  I had forgotten this till now, or so I think.  I must I suppose have remembered it every time I've read the play since then, or when it's been mentioned.  I've not seen it again, which is a bit peculiar.  At that first, that only visit, I was painfully bored until the end, when I couldn't bear it to stop in the way it did.  Perhaps that's what they mean when they say Chekhov is like life?  Unbearably boring, then you don't want it over with.  Or, please, not like that.  Boring isn't the word, it is?  The word is . . . like life.

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

March  12,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Proper fiction tells the truth by a means that, far from producing pain as untruth does, gives pleasure; this doesn't mean that it fails to reproduce or convey pain.  The transformative element is not lies but art.  Human truth is caught in translation, such that we may briefly be as close to not being ourselves while we read as we shall ever be.  It's not a promise but there is always the promise of a promise.

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

March  11,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

What does the Brahms Adagio mean now?

It means itself.  And after it has passed there comes that formal silence full of promise in which one lies refined and maybe hopeful.

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

March  10,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

My gaze, like that of Actaeon upon the naked goddess Diana, is refused.  Many of my new or fresh thoughts came, in the sighted past, to my brain through my eyes in reaction to what I saw or to what I read.  The thoughts that lay in the new dark within were in danger, without the ever-fed light from outwith my closed brain, of knotting up.  My eyes had brought in the light that kept my mind open, or as open as it was.  Now that my brain refuses my gaze to me (my brain absolutely will not open my eyes; I do it, when I can, manually.  I would rather mention this blinkingly between the curving lids of parentheses), the thoughts can be like hunting dogs in my mind and tear and tear at my jittery gaze, my dear and dragged-low sight, tear at it constantly.

--What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Candia McWilliam

March  9,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

For Romans the existence of the gods was accepted by almost everyone as true but tales about the gods were freely described as the inventions of the poets.  It is indeed rather hard to imagine Jupiter approving or encouraging the wide dissemination of the stories about his sexual misdemeanours; these were not stories designed to increase reverence for the gods.  Romans did not often ask themselves the function of their myths--it is hard, within a society, to stand back sufficiently from fundamental beliefs and attitudes in order to raise such issues--but a plausible explanation may be that the myths helped to make sense of the world as it was, or seemed to them: a mass of competing, contradictory forces, lacking any overall structure or purpose, in which cataclysmic change by earthquake, storm or death might strike at any time for reasons unknown and unknowable to humans, but a product of the struggles of the gods.

--Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman

March  8,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Romans thought about the gods much as the scientifically illiterate nowadays think about germs, microbes and viruses.  We do not all know exactly what such entities are, and we cannot see, touch, hear or smell them at all, but we believe that they surround us in their millions and that they have the power radically to affect both us and the world about us.  Some gods were "known" and could be named and expected to intervene in the world specifically or mainly within certain spheres: the divinity Robigus or Robigo, whose festival of the Robigalia was celebrated by Romans on 25 April, was described by some Latin writers as a divinity worshipped for the purposes of averting blight from young cornfields, although his (or her) other characteristics were apparently obscure.  Since the cosmos contained an indefinitely large population of gods, most divinities were unknown to humans--hence invocations to a divine figure "sive deus, sive dea" ("be it god or goddess"), and the Roman state prayers which list a series of divinities but still end, cautiously, with "and all the other gods."  Romans thought of these supernatural beings as belonging in a number of different categories: deus (a god who had always been immortal), divus (a god who had once lived as a human), nymph or spirit.  Some were more powerful than others, some (like nymphs) generally benevolent to humans, others less so.  Some, like the divinities inherent in abstract qualities such as Iustitia (Justice) or Fides (good faith), had no real personality or stories about their characters.

--Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman

March  7,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Who is a jew?"  The question was as difficult to answer in the early Roman empire as it is now.  Indeed, the lack of clear boundaries to define Jewishness makes the contemporary world--or, more accurately, the world in which European and American Jews have lived since the emancipation of European Jews began in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries--more similar to the multicultural society of the pagan Roman empire than of any intervening period of Jewish history.  Throughout the Middle Ages, under both Christian and Muslim rule, the limits of Jewish communities were generally agreed both by the Jews themselves and by the states in which they lived.  In the Roman world in the first century CE, there was no such clarity.  Jewish identity was then, as now, both religious and ethnic, and the root cause of uncertainty was, for Jews as for Romans, the liberal extension of this identity to outsiders.  Precisely when and why Jews began to believe that gentiles who came to join them and took up their customs should be treated not just as tolerated strangers but as Jews in their own right is uncertain.  However, the notion of such proselytes was well entrenched in the text of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, and it is therefore reasonable to suppose that gentile conversions to Judaism were taken for granted by Greek Jews in the third and second centuries BCE, when the Septuagint was completed.  There is much in favour of the hypothesis that this Jewish concept was adopted in response to the universalism of Hellenism.  Just as anyone who wished to do so could become Greek by behaving in a Greek fashion, so too anyone who wished to do so could become a Jew by following the customs of the Jews.

--Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman

March  6,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Both language about barbarians and the physical depiction of them could be extremely violent.  On the column of Trajan in Rome, which celebrated the emperor's victories in Dacia in 101-2 and 105-6, a series of images carved in relief record the operation of the Roman army on the Danube.  The scenes depicted, evidently preserved for the admiration of the general Roman public (even if not all the details could be fully appreciated from the ground), show the mass murder of the enemy, the enslavement of women and children, even the display of severed heads as trophies.  Extermination of such enemies could be celebrated in chilling terms.  According to the historian Cassius Dio, when the annihilation of the Nasamones in Africa in 85-6 included the destruction of all the non-combatants, the emperor Domitian announced triumphantly to the Senate, "I have forbidden the Nasamones to exist."  Peoples and groups might be defined as "internal barbarians" in this way only be certain individuals at particular times for specific purposes, but the language and concept were dangerously available for their isolation and denigration.

--Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman

March  5,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Other Jews must have travelled to the diaspora voluntarily in search of a living, what we would now call economic migrants, compelled to leave their homeland by over-population caused not least by the distinctive Jewish antipathy to abortion and infanticide.  Their choice of destinations will have been determined in large part by distance: the biggest diaspora communities were in Egypt and Syria, the regions closest to Judaea.  Many must have been attracted by the prospects of joining existing Jewish communities which might offer charitable help, a religious framework, a social base or employment.  . . .  Jews were thus spread widely across the eastern Mediterranean world by the first century CE--indeed, to the angry emperor Claudius, attempting in a stern letter to the city of Alexandria dated 10 November 41 to bring to an end intercommunal disturbances between Jews and Greeks, Jews seemed to be everywhere.

--Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman

March  4,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Even if it is impossible to know what proportion of the empire's economy was fuelled directly by state expenditure or direction, and how much depended on the decisions taken by the thousands of individuals who turned the political unity of the Roman world to their commercial advantage, the cumulative effect on the Mediterranean world of all this industrial activity has been illuminated, rather surprisingly, by discoveries far to the north, in the Arctic circle.  Analysis of the ice floes, which have accreted annually since antiquity, has shown tha the level of metal residues released into the world's atmosphere reached a peak in the first two centuries CE which was not to be equalled again in volume until the Industrial Revolution.

--Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman

March  3,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Government without bureaucracy could operate successfully only if it was government by consent--even if the motivation for consent was ultimately the fear of extreme violence by the state as penalty for open opposition.  Much administration, such as the collection of taxes at the local level, was in effect carried out on behalf of the state by local urban elites in return for Roman support of their local status.  The success of government thus depended upon acceptance by provincial aristocrats of the value of honours and titles bestowed by local people and recognized by Rome.  Much of the extant evidence for this "empire of honour" appears to confirm such a consensus.  Inscriptions on monuments from all over the empire boast about the status of local magistrates and the favours granted to them, and through them to their communities, by governors and emperors.  Such evidence suggests an integrated society of provincials willingly cooperating with a benevolent and responsive state.  But of course only those individuals who accepted and benefited from the system will have paid for such monuments to be erected.

--Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman

March  2,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of.

--Emma by Jane Austen

[N.B.:  Only the interesting die young.]

March  1,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Depend upon it Emma, a sensible man would find no difficulty in it.  He would feel himself in the right; and the declaration--made, of course, as a man of sense would make it, in a proper manner--would do him more good, raise him higher, fix his interest stronger with the people depended on, than all that a line of shifts and expedients can ever do.  Respect would be added to affection.  They would feel that they could trust him; that the nephew, who had done rightly by his father, would do rightly by them; for they know, as well as he does, as well as all the world must know, that he ought to pay this visit to his father; and while meanly exerting their power to delay it, are in their hearts not thinking the better of him for submitting to their whims.  Respect for right conduct is felt by every body.  If he would act in this sort of manner, on principle, consistently, regularly, their little minds would bend to his.

--Emma by Jane Austen

[N.B.:  Always maintain your frame--Jane Austen game.]

February  28,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"There is one thing, Emma, which a man can always do, if he chuses, and that is, his duty; not by manoeuvring and finessing, but by vigour and resolution.  It is Frank Churchill's duty to pay this attention to his father.  He knows it to be so, by his promises and messages; but if he wished to do it, it might be done.  A man who felt rightly would say at once, simply and resolutely, to Mrs. Churchill--'Every sacrifice of mere pleasure you will always find me ready to make to your convenience; but I must go and see my father immediately.  I know he would be hurt by my failing in such a mark of respect to him on the present occasion.  I shall, therefore, set off to-morrow.'--If he would say so to her at once, in the tone of decision becoming a man, there would be no opposition made to his going."

--Emma by Jane Austen

[N.B.:  Women hate wimps--Austen knew good game.]

February  27,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

It is a great deal more natural than one could wish, that a young man, brought up by those who are proud, luxurious, and selfish, should be proud, luxurious, and selfish too.

--Emma by Jane Austen

[N.B.:  Otherwise known as the apple not falling far from the tree.]

February  26,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Mr. Elton in love with me!--What an idea!"

"I do not says it is so; but you will do well to consider whether it is so or not, and to regulate your behaviour accordingly.  I think your manners to him encouraging.  I speak as a friend, Emma.  You had better look about you, and ascertain what you do, and what you mean to do."

"I thank you; but I assure you you are quite mistaken.  Mr. Elton and I are very good friends, and nothing more;" and she walked on, amusing herself in the consideration of the blunders which often arise from a partial knowledge of circumstances, of the mistakes which people of high pretensions of judgment are for ever falling into; and not very well pleased with her brother for imagining her blind and ignorant, and in want of counsel.

--Emma by Jane Austen

[N.B.:  No, "irony" does not mean saying something that turns out to be in error--rather it is saying something that turns out to be true but only the audience knows it at the time (i.e., the audience has greater knowledge than the speaker).]

February  25,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.

--Emma by Jane Austen

February  24,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"And then their uncle comes in, and tosses them up to the ceiling in a very frightful way!"

"But they like it, papa; there is nothing they like so much.  It is such enjoyment to them, that if their uncle did not lay down the rule of their taking turns, which ever began would never give way to the other."

"Well, I cannot understand it."

"That is the case with us all, papa.  One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other." 

--Emma by Jane Austen

February  23,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I have always thought it a very foolish intimacy," said Mr. Knightley presently, "though I have kept my thought to myself; but I now perceive that it will be a very unfortunate one for Harriet.  You will puff her up with such ideas of her own beauty, and of what she has a claim to, that, in a little while, nobody within her reach will be good enough for her.  Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.  Nothing so easy as for a young lady to raise her expectations too high. 

--Emma by Jane Austen

[N.B.:  "Likes" on Facebook should be re-branded "Emmas."]

February  22,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I have not done about Harriet Smith.  I think her the very worst sort of companion that Emma could possibly have.  she knows nothing herself, and looks upon Emma as knowing every thing.  She is a flatterer in all her ways; and so much the worse, because undesigned.  Her ignorance is hourly flattery.  How can Emma imagine she has any thing to learn herself, while Harriet is presenting such a delightful inferiority?  And as for Harriet, I will venture to say that she cannot gain by the acquaintance.  Hartfield will only put her out of conceit with all the other places she belongs to.  She will grow just refined enough to be uncomfortable with those among whom birth and circumstances have placed her home. 

--Emma by Jane Austen

February  21,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Upon such occasions poor Mr. Woodhouse's feelings were in sad warfare.  He loved to have the cloth laid, because it had been the fashion of his youth; but his conviction of suppers being very unwholesome made him rather sorry to see any thing put on it; and while his hospitality would have welcomed his visitors to every thing, his care for their health made him grieve that they would eat.

--Emma by Jane Austen

February  20,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

REMEMBER TOMORROW

Starting point for search:

It no longer avails to start with creatures and prove God.

Yet it is impossible to rule God out.

The only possible starting point: the strange fact of one's own invincible apathy--that if the proofs were proved and God presented himself, nothing would be changed.  Here is the strangest fact of all.

Abraham saw signs of God and believed.  Now the only sign is that all the signs in the world make no difference.  Is this God's ironic revenge?  But I am onto him.

--The Movie-goer by Walker Percy

February  19,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

My mother's family think I have lost my faith and they pray for me to recover it.  I don't know what they're talking about.  Other people, so I have read, are pious as children and later become skeptical (or, as they say on This I Believe: "in time I outgrew the creeds and dogmas of organized religion").  Not I.  My unbelief was invincible from the beginning.  I could never make head or tail of God.  The proofs of God's existence may have been true for all I know, but it didn't make slightest difference.  If God himself had appeared to me, it would have changed nothing.  In fact, I have only to hear the word God and a curtain comes down in my head.

--The Movie-goer by Walker Percy

February  18,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

But, good as it is, my old place is used up (places get used up by rotatory and repetitive use) and when I awake, I awake in the grip of everydayness.  Everydayness is the enemy.  No search is possible.  Perhaps there was a time when everydayness was not too strong and one could break its grip by brute strength.  Now nothing breaks it--but disaster.  Only once in my life was the grip of everydayness broken: when I lay bleeding in a ditch.

--The Movie-goer by Walker Percy

February  17,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

A rotation I define as the experiencing of the new beyond the expectation of the experiencing of the new.  For example, taking one's first trip to Taxco would not be a rotation, or no more than a very ordinary rotation; but getting lost on the way and discovering a hidden valley would be.

--The Movie-goer by Walker Percy

February  16,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Sometimes when she mentions God, it strikes me that my mother uses him as but one of the devices that come to hand in an outrageous man's world, to be put to work like all the rest in the one enterprise she has any use for: the canny management of the shocks of life.  It is a bargain struck at the very beginning in which she settled for a general belittlement of everything, the good and the bad.  She is as wary of good fortune as she is immured against the bad, and sometimes I seem to catch sight of it in her eyes, this radical mistrust: an old knowledgeable gleam, as old and sly as Eve herself.

--The Movie-goer by Walker Percy

February  15,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Rasputin's] line of theology is worth notice.  Its big point was repentance.  "Repent, and ye shall be clean."  The deeper and oftener the repentances, the higher the spiritual bliss.  But it is clear as daylight that there can be no repentance without sins to repent of.  We must sin, then, in order to repent and receive the blessing.  Temptation is sent by heaven for this purpose, argued the "holy man," and to resist it is to resist God!

--Colossal Blunders of the War by William Seaver Woods

February  14,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Lord Clark of Civilisation, a man who spent his entire life protecting and curating heritage--though he would have wrinkled his epicurean nose at anything as tacky and saccharine as nostalgia--once said that his favorite quotation was German.  It translated as: "If we do as our fathers did, we don't do as our fathers did."  On first meeting it sounds Krautishly opaque, but persevere and it becomes, in a Teutonic head-furrowed way, quite profound.  And it couldn't be more appropriate for the English; to repeat something is not to re-create it, every action is new within the context of its time.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

[N.B.:  Jorge Luis Borges wrote a short story based on this theme.]

February  13,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The vile two-tier love of primogeniture is peculiar to England.  Apart from being nastily eugenic it lands the genetically favored boy with the sole responsibility for some hopeless, Jurassic pile of bricks and mortgaged parcel of rough grazing, which is deemed to be his lot in life.  He's chained tot he service of this leaky box because his father was and his grandfather got it for fiddling military procurement or gathering slaves or sending Welsh children down holes.  Now he's indentured to being a janitor in his own home.  Never able to do anything else, live anywhere else or have any money, just the hocked wealth of more damp rooms than he'll ever know what to do with.  Forced to search out the sort of girl who'll put up with his unwinnable battle against decay and be sustained by the thin gruel of nostalgia.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  12,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Every English person has a cautionary tale, an apocryphal story, about those who transgress the un-law of queues--often foreigners.  I've just been told this one, a story of a ski lift.  Apparently the lift was a little funicular.  It pulled into a platform, its doors opening and closing automatically.  People hopped on, clipping their skis to a rack on the side.  The queue was long.  As my storyteller got to the platform a band of strapping Germans loudly shoved their way to the front and jumped into the next empty car.  The rest of the queue looked on in fury, the automatic doors closed and the Germans stared back with their characteristic mien of Germanic entitlement and triumphalism.  "We came to ski, not to stand in line," their faces said.  And then just as the car began to move, a slight middle-aged man, an Englishman of no distinction with a look of calm determination, trotted onto the platform and unclipped the German skis. laying them with exaggerated care on the platform.  German faces were wiped with impotent indignation and mimed threats.  The queue erupted into polyglot cheers, the little Englishman was slapped on the back.  His hand was wrung and he made his way back to his place in the queue.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  11,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The renaissance of sport in the nineteenth century served a practical purpose for a small country that had a lot of the world to administer.  Games were a way of quickly and enjoyably working out leadership material, extolling and teaching all those things that the administrative class admired so much.  Games, particularly team games, fostered clannish bonding and homo-erotic hierarchy worship--all of which was held to be a good thing when dealing with lesser people.  Games gave you a sense of honor and justice and were implicitly the gift and birthright of evolved societies.  If you had to find a district commissioner, a magistrate, a police chief or a civil servant to run some lost corner of Empire, then a games captain or a boy with House Colours was as good a bet as any.  The English had to work with the material to hand--there weren't that many Englishmen and there was an awful lot of Empire.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  10,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The best heckle I ever hears of was to Kirk Douglas's other son--Zeppo Douglas.  He was a drunk and a bit of a druggie and a bit of a lost soul with personal worth issues.  So naturally he turned to stand-up.  His act was dying in some Hollywood club and in desperation he said:  "You know who I am, I'm Kirk Douglas's son," and someone in the audience stood up and shouted, "No, I'm Kirk Douglas's son," and then another stood up: "I'm Kirk Douglas's son," and the whole audience was on its feet.  That was a proper moment of Anglo-Saxon humor.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  9,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

So I walked through Soho to the Crown on Brewer Street, with four televisions showing Chelsea v. Newcastle.  The pub was half full of office workers, waylaid on their way to homes too distant and uninviting to arrive at sober.  Everyone was looking up, eyes transfixed at a different corner of the room like so many cats watching moths.  The saloon-bar upstairs was where they kept the comedy, next to the lavatories again.  There was a powerful and effulgent smell of industrial disinfectant.  It's a smell that never reassures you about cleanliness; rather, it makes you doubly squeamish of lurking vileness.  Soap smells clean, disinfectant smells dirty.  Funny that.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  8,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

It was the successful blockade of France that precipitated the invention of canned food.  The French navy found it increasingly difficult to find ports where they could re-victual.  Even by the unspeakable standards of nineteenth-century navies, a ship of the line got through a lot of food, so they needed a way of preserving it.

Ships often used turtles, which could be stacked alive like cornflake boxes for up to six months.  A French chemist discovered that if you heated pork and beans to between 240° and 265°F in a sealed container they stayed anaerobically edible indefinitely . . . .  So one of the great social boons and culinary disasters of life was invented by the French.  They don't like it when you remind them they're responsible for baked beans and, alas, it didn't make their navy any more effective.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  7,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

England is one of the only countries in the world where you'll see people dressed up as soldiers from 1640, but not from the present.  Military personnel aren't allowed to wear their uniforms in public in peace-time.

Kipling famously wrote about the English expecting miracles from Tommy Atkins when the drumbeats rolled, but wanting nothing to do with him when it was all over:

Oh, it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy go away"; But it's

"Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.

This may infuriate majors and snug-bar sentimentalists, but it's actually a surprisingly rational and far-sighted view for a nation.  The purpose of an army must surely be to put itself out of business.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  6,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

If you watch American films with the sound turned off, you can usually tell what's happening.  The story's readable through body language.  Often you can understand quite complex plots and emotions without hearing what anyone's saying.  But with an English film, it's almost always impossible.  There is barely any indication of what the participants are thinking or talking about.  The most extreme example is Brief Encounter, David Lean's melodrama of thwarted love between the characters played by Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson.  This is a story of the highest emotion, but turn the sound down and you'd never know.  In fact the characters' reserve is so complete that they're utterly English.  Even when you can hear what they say, the emotion has to be carried by the Rachmaninov score.  It needed a Russian romantic to add the love.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  5,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The English do love their ostentatious shows of dowdiness.  The apogee of stateliness is for a duke to be mistaken for his gardener.  English generals regularly affected the dress of their soldiers, like Montgomery, the vainest of men, with his tank beret and sheepskin jacket; or the staff officers at Waterloo and the Crimea who turned up in hunting kit and umbrellas.  Being good at things while appearing completely hopeless is a joke which never ceases to amuse the English, they just love ragged billionaires, tongue-tied orators, engineers who are baffled by can openers, plutocrats who are bullied by their dailies and admirals who are seasick.  What they can't bear are men who boast, who show bravado, who try too hard.  It's often pointed out that England is the only country in the world where "intellectual" is a term of derision.  But so is "professional" and "expert."

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  4,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

It was the most perfectly English invention.  It only existed because everybody agreed it did.  There is a road beside Buckingham Palace called Constitution Hill.  We don't have a constitution and it isn't a hill.  The Establishment was an empty name that was given supernatural powers.  The English particularly like institutions that have grown without rules or written agreements.  They like the world to be unframed--a society formed from precedent and common practice.  Heritage and good manners are far more compelling than a contract or a rule book for the English.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  3,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I watch a football match on TV in a pub.  Bony, thin men with lager-pregnant stomachs bellow singsong expletives at the screen.  Their hands are permanent fists, nicotine knuckles punching the air or throttling bottles.  Even on a Saturday lunchtime the atmosphere is thickly aggressive.  Flint-faced lasses with lank home-dyed hair, sloppy bosoms and bruised thighs slouch round-shouldered over their drinks.  Their eyes dart smugly, knowing that even the plainest of them could start a bone-spattering fight with the merest wink.

--The Angry Island by A.A. Gill

February  2,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

His Most Benevolent Highness no longer hurled people into dungeons, but very simply sent them home from the Palace, and this sending home meant condemnation to oblivion.  Until that moment you were a man of the Palace, a prominent figure, a leader, someone important, influential, respected, talked about, and listened to; all this gave one a feeling of existence, of presence in the world, of leading a full, important, useful life.  Then His Highness summons you to the Hour of Assignments and sends you home forever.  Everything disappears in a second.  You stop existing.  Nobody will mention you, nobody will put you forward or show you any respect.  You may say the same words you said yesterday, but though yesterday people listened to them devoutly, today they don't pay any attention. 

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

February  1,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Germame, according to this survivor of the old regime, understood that he had gotten a step ahead of history, that he had walked more quickly than others, and he knew that someone who strides ahead of history with a gun in his hand is bound to perish.  And he probably preferred that he and his fellow fugitives see to their own deaths.  So when the peasants rushed forward to capture them, Germame shot Baye, then he shot his brother, and finally he shot himself.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  31,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Three thousand people, or perhaps as many as five thousand, ended up in prison, and twice that number died, to the joy of hyenas and jackals that came from far away to roam the woods in search for food.  For a long time those woods laughed and howled all night long.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  30,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is a sort of inverse proportionality between the corpulence of folders and of people.  He who wears himself out, loses weight, and wastes away in fighting against the Palace has a folder that grows fatter and fatter.  On the other hand, he who plants himself with dignified loyalty at His Majesty's side grows fat with favors while his folder remains as thin as the membrane of a bladder.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  29,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Whoever wanted to climb the steps of the Palace had first of all to master the negative knowledge: what was forbidden to him and his subalterns, what was not to be said or written, what should not be done, what should not be overlooked or neglected.  Only from such negative knowledge could positive knowledge be born--but that positive knowledge always remained obscure and worrisome, because no matter how well they knew what not to do, the Emperor's favorites ventured only with extreme caution and uncertainty into the area of propositions and postulates.  There they would immediately look to His Distinguished Majesty, waiting to hear what he would say.  And since His Majesty had the habit of being silent, waiting, and postponing things, they, too, were silent, waited, and postponed things.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  28,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Money in a poor country and money in a rich country are two different things.  In a rich country, money is a piece of paper with which you buy goods on the market.  You are only a customer.  Even a millionaire is only a customer.  He may purchase more, but he remains a customer, nothing more.  And in a poor country?  In a poor country, money is a wonderful, thick hedge, dazzling and always blooming, which separates you from everything else.  Through that hedge you do not see creeping poverty, you do not smell the stench of misery, and you do not hear the voices of the human dregs.  But at the same time you know that all of that exists, and you feel proud because of your hedge.  You have money; that means you have wings.  You are the bird of paradise that everyone admires.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

[N.B.:  Now you know what Ethiopia and the United States have in common.]

January  27,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I'll come out and say it: the King of Kings preferred bad ministers.  And the King of Kings preferred them because he liked to appear in a favorable light by contrast.  How could he show himself favorably if he were surrounded by good ministers?  The people would be disoriented.  Where would they look for help?  On whose wisdom and kindness would they depend?  Everyone would have been good and wise.  What disorder would have broken out in the Empire then!  Instead of one sun, fifty would be shining, and everyone would pay homage to a privately chosen planet.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  26,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The faction of "personal people" was a peculiarity of our regime, created by the Emperor himself.  His Supreme Majesty, a partisan of a strong state and centralized power, had to lead a cunning and skillful fight against the aristocratic faction, which wanted to rule in the provinces and have a weak, pliable Emperor.  But he could not fight the aristocracy with his own hands, so he always promoted into is circle, as representatives of the people, bright young men from the lowest orders, chosen from the lowest ranks of the plebeians, picked often on little more than a hunch from the mobs that surrounded His Majesty whenever he went among the people.  These "personal people" of the Emperor, dragged straight from our desperate and miserable provinces into the salons of the highest courtiers--where they met the undisguised hatred of the long-established aristocrats--served the Emperor with an almost indescribable eagerness, indeed a passion, for they had quickly tasted the splendors of the Palace and the evident charms of power, and they knew that they had arrived there, come within reach of the highest state dignities, only through the will of His Highness.  It was to them that the Emperor would entrust the positions requiring greatest confidence: the Ministry of the Pen, the Emperor's political police, and the superintendency of the Palace were manned by such people.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  25,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The arms of the plebeians were inferior and often quite old: flintlocks, breechloaders, muskets, shotguns, a whole museum to carry on one's back.  Most of these antiques are useless because nobody produces ammunition for them any more.  Thus, on the street market the bullet is often worth more than the gun.  Bullets are the most valuable currency in that market, more in demand than dollars.  After all, what is a dollar but paper?  A bullet can save your life.  Bullets make your weapons more significant, and that makes you more significant.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  24,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

First of all, one can't unmask oneself too early, showing the rapacity for power, because that galvanizes competitors, making them rise to combat.  They will strike and destroy the one who has moved to the fore.  No, one should walk in step for years, making sure not to spring ahead, waiting attentively for the right moment.  In 1930 this game brought His Majesty the crown, which he kept for forty-four years.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  23,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Face rubbed against face, the taller ones squelching down the shorter ones, the darker ones over-shadowing the lighter ones.  Face despised face, the older ones moving in front of the younger ones, the weaker ones giving way to the stronger ones.  Face hated face, the common ones clashing with the noble ones, the grasping ones against the weaklings.  Face crushed face, but even the humiliated ones, the ones pushed away, the third-raters and the defeated ones, even those--from a certain distance imposed by the law of hierarchy, it's true--still moved toward the front showing here and there from behind the first-rate, titled ones, if only as fragments: an ear, a piece of temple, a cheek or a jaw . . . just to be closer to the Emperor's eye!

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  22,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Let's says that the Imperial gaze just grazes your face--just grazes!  You could say that it was really nothing, but on the other hand, how could it really be nothing, when it did graze you?  Immediately you feel the temperature of your face rise, and the blood rush to your head, and your heart beat faster.  These are the best proofs that the eye of the Protector has touched you, but so what?  These proofs are of no importance at the moment.  More important is the process that might have taken place in His Majesty's memory.  You see, it was known that His Majesty, not using his powers of reading and writing, had a phenomenally developed visual memory.  On this gift of nature the owner of the face over which the Imperial gaze had passed could build his hopes.  Because he could already count on some passing trace, even an indistinct trace, having imprinted itself in His Highness's memory. 

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  21,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

As I've mentioned, Haile Selassie never commented on or questioned the reports he received, during his morning walks, about the state of conspiracy in the Empire.  But he knew what he was doing, as I shall show you.  His Highness wanted to receive the reports in a pure state, because if he asked questions or expressed opinions the informant would obligingly adjust his report to meet the Emperor's expectations.  Then the whole system of informing would collapse into subjectivity and fall prey to anyone's willfulness. 

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  20,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The occupation to which these people devoted themselves was hard and dangerous.  They lived in fear of not reporting something in time and falling into disgrace, or of a competitor's reporting it better so that the Emperor would think, "Why did Solomon give me a feast today and Makomen only bring me leftovers?  Did he say nothing because he didn't know, or did he hold his tongue because he belongs to the conspiracy?"  Hadn't His Distinguished Highness often experienced, at cost to himself, betrayal by his most trusted allies?  That's why the Emperor punished silence.

--The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski

January  19,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Immediately the armistice had been signed, German engineers prepared to move Foch's wagon-lit in triumph to Berlin.*  With a barbarity worthy of Genghis Khan, Hitler decreed that--excepting Foch's statue--the site should be totally razed.  He then set off on a tour of First World War battlefields, together with two old comrades from the company in which he had served as a corporal, taking in some of the Maginot Line forts--like any German tourist--before returning to Berlin to organise the celebrations that would suitably commemorate this astonishing victory.  For Hitler, as for many of his soldiers, the war was over.  France, the archenemy, was prostrate at last; Britain no longer counted, she would fall like a plum from a tree in due course. Russia did not exist; America did not exist.  Ever since that day of humiliation at Versailles, it was France alone that had obsessed German thoughts.  Karl Heinz Mende summed them up well when, writing home about the armistice, he said; "The great battle in France is now ended.  It lasted twenty-six years. . . ."

* Where it was later destroyed in an RAF air raid.

--To Lose a Battle: France 1940 by Alistair Horne

January  18,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

When Huntziger and his co-delegates, dazed and weary from the journey, realised they were being led to Foch's wagon-lit, they were deeply shocked.  Together with his service chiefs, Ribbentrop and Hess, Hitler had already arrived at the clearing.  In warm sunshine he strode up to the great granite block and meticulously read the inscription on it:

HERE ON THE ELEVENTH OF NOVEMBER 1918 SUCCUMBED THE CRIMINAL PRIDE OF THE GERMAN PEOPLE . . .

Fifty yards away, Shirer was intently studying Hitler's expression through binoculars:

It is afire with scorn, anger, hate, revenge, triumph.  He steps off the monument and contrives to make even this gesture a masterpiece of contempt. . . . Suddenly . . . he throws his whole body into harmony with his mood.  He swiftly snaps his hands on his hips, arches his shoulders, plants his feet wide apart.  It is a magnificent gesture of defiance, of burning contempt for this place now and all that it has stood for in the twenty-two years since it witnessed the humbling of the German Empire.

Then Hitler led the way into the railway coach.

--To Lose a Battle: France 1940 by Alistair Horne

January  17,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is something infinitely pathetic about Pétain in these days.  Except when mention of the troops and their suffering would snap him to life, there were long periods when he seemed not to be aware of what was going on.  Reynaud notes in his memoirs that after Weygand had delivered his account of the fighting at the Cabinet meeting of June 9th, "Marshal Petain said nothing.  He seemed to be asleep, prostrated.  I questioned him.  'Don't you want to express an opinion, Marshal?  These gentlemen are anxious to hear you.'  'I've nothing to say,' he replied."  Listening to 'that thin voice and cough" on the radio, Arthur Koestler was reminded of "a skeleton with a chill" and somehow it was such images of the grave and "the snows of yesteryear" that most struck people on encountering Pétain in these days.

--To Lose a Battle: France 1940 by Alistair Horne

January  16,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Yet, amid all the adverse accounts from these days of France's expiring agony, one episode at least will always leap froth from French history books in a blaze of glory, the kind of glory belonging almost to a past age.  On June 19th, the day Pétain was asking for an armistice, Bock's panzers had reached Saumur on the Loire, the site of the famous cavalry school.  Though still under instruction, the young cadets decided that they would not allow the school to fall without a fight.  Armed only with training weapons, they held the Saumur bridges for two whole days against panzers--until at last their ammunition ran out.

--To Lose a Battle: France 1940 by Alistair Horne

[N.B.:  Screenplay, anyone?]

January  15,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

At Lens, [General William E.] Ironside found Billotte with Blanchard, the commander of the French First Army.  They were both, he said, "in a state of complete depression.  No plan, no thought of a plan.  Ready to be slaughtered.  Defeated at the head without casualties.  Très fatigués and nothing doing."  There ensued an angry scene.  The British CIGS was also--to foreign eyes--something of a caricature of an Englishman; aged fifty-nine, he had been the original prototype for Buchan's Richard Hannay and stood six foot four (inevitably, this had gained him the nickname "Tiny").  In Army circles he had openly referred to Secretary of State Hore-Belisha as "that little monkey," the Cabinet as "the old gentlemen," and had a healthy, Kiplingesque contempt for those "lesser breeds."  In a rage he must have presented a daunting figure before the two distressed French generals of modest stature.  Ironside admits he lost his temper and "shook Billotte by the button of his tunic.  The man is completely beaten," he added contemptuously for the benefit of his diary.

--To Lose a Battle: France 1940 by Alistair Horne

January  14,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Whatever sympathy the horse tribes may once have inspired was gone.  The idea was to annihilate them, both in retribution for what they had done and to prevent future attacks.  Chivington was their champion, and he believed God was on his side.  "Damn any man who sympathizes with the Indians!" he said.  "I have come to kill Indians, and I believe it is right and honorable to use any means under god's heaven to kill Indians."  To encourage recruitment into the volunteer units, he displayed the mutilated corpses of a white family of four next to the enlistment table.  He spoke enthusiastically of "taking scalps" and "wading in gore."  His instructions to his men, which later became famous, were unambiguous:  "Kill and scalp all, big and little.  Nits make lice."

--Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne

[N.B.: Chivington is an odd figure in history--he got his start fighting Texans in the Civil War as a Union abolitionist.  A true scoundrel, Chivington spent his life as a rogue falling from one scrape into another.  But irony, or ironies, he died a hero and his funeral was attended by thousands.  I do believe there's a good Hollywood bio-pic in them thar details.]

January  13,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Texas was thus left alone, broke and militarily punchless, for ten years to confront two implacable enemies: Mexico on the south, and the Comanche nation on the west and north.  The fledgling country would never know peace.  Mexican incursions persisted; the city of San Antonio was captured twice by large Mexican armies in 1842.  Raids were constant, as was the predation of itinerant bandits across the border.  And Texas's western frontier was the scene of continuous attacks by Comanches.  It is interesting to note Texas's peculiar position here: Neither of these enemies would have accepted peace on the terms the new republic would have offered them.  Even more remarkably, neither would accept surrender.  The Mexican army consistently gave no quarter, most famously at the Alamo.  All Texan combatants were summarily shot.  The Nermernuh, meanwhile, did not even have a word for surrender.  In plains warfare there was never any such thing; it was always a fight to the death.  In this sense, the Texans did not have the usual range of diplomatic options.  They had to fight.

--Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne

January  12,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The whole point of drawing is choosing the right line.

--Philip Larkin, June 15, 1943

[Epigram to Introduction in the September 2008 edition of Poetry]

January  11,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Art is so much the most exciting thing in the world

--Philip Larkin, June 15, 1943

[Epigram to Introduction in the September 2008 edition of Poetry]

January  10,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Years ago, when I was the Chicago stringer for Art in America, I faced a dilemma not unlike the one Jason Guriel describes in March's Poetry.  The magazine usually let me review only one exhibition per issue.  Why write a negative review?  There were good artists who could use the publicity; why waste the slot in telling the general reader that someone in Chicago he'd never heard of was no good?

So I wrote favorable reviews until I felt it beginning to injure my soul.  Some of this was the usual disquiet about being a part of the art marketing system: What's the difference between writing, "Joe Blow's new paintings are his best ever," and writing, "With new Crest toothpaste you'll have 74% fewer cavities?"  Not too much; both sets of words will be used to sell a product.

But on a deeper level, honest criticism involves a word that has fallen into disfavor: discrimination.  You have to be discriminating; you have to say this is great, this is good, and this is bad.  It's the middle value in such discrimination that makes the critic's job harder.  If something's great, you can rave about it; if something's terrible, you slam it; but the hardest books or exhibitions to review are those that can be summed up as "professional."  They're competent, honorable, and well-meaning, but six months later you can't remember reviewing them

--Reagan Upshaw letter to the editor in May 2009 edition of Poetry

[N.B.:  Mr. Upshaw alludes to perhaps the most terrible aspect of creating art:  In the long run--which, as Milord Keynes has so pithily put it, we'll be dead--all that survives is that which is not just great, but the best of the best.  So what can be recognized today at that middle category of art--the merely good--shall suffer the same fate as the bad: oblivion.  In the long run, good and bad art mean exactly the same thing and will be remembered in the same way.  The professional shall lie down with the unprofessional, the amateur in the same cold, dark grave.]

January  9,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Lord Copper quite often gave banquets; it would be an understatement to say that no one enjoyed them at all, while Lord copper positively exulted in every minute.  For him they satisfied every requirement of a happy evening's entertainment; like everything that was to Lord Copper's taste, they were a little over life-size, unduly large and unduly long; they took place in restaurants which existed solely for such purposes, amid decorations which reminded Lord Copper of his execrable country seat at East Finchley; the provisions were copious, very bad and very expensive; the guests were assembled for no other reason than that Lord Copper had ordered it; they did not want to see each other; they had no reason to rejoice in the occasions which Lord Copper celebrated; they were there either because it was part of their job or because they were glad of a free dinner.  Many were already on Lord Copper's pay-roll and they thus found their working day prolonged by some three hours without recompense - with the forfeit, indeed, of the considerable expenses of dressing up, coming out at night, and missing the last train home; those who were normally the slaves of other masters were, Lord Copper felt, his for the evening.  He had bought them and bound them, hand and foot, with consommé and cream of chicken, turbot and saddle, duck and pêche Melba, and afterwards when the cigars had been furtively pocketed and the brandy glasses filled with the horrible brown compound for which Lord Copper was paying two pounds a bottle, there came the golden hour when he rose to speak at whatever length he liked and on whatever subject, without fear of rivalry or interruption.

--Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

January  8,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"By the way, did Boot ever come and see me?"

"No, Lord Copper."

"But I asked for him."

"Yes, Lord Copper."

"Then why was she not brought?  Once and for all, Salter, I will not have a barrier erected between me and my staff.  I am accessible to the humblest . . ."  Lord Copper paused for an emphatic example . . . "the humblest book reviewer as I am to my immediate entourage.  I will have no cliques in the Beast, you understand me?"

--Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

January  7,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Remember how tremendous it was in the canteen having sausages and chips and a cup of tea and listening to the Forces' Programme?  While some poor sod in the same barrack-room was on guard?  Same idea.  Going abroad teaches you how important small comforts are.  But I knew all about that already, see?  And then there's the weather.  It does make everything seem romantic, there's no getting away from that.  But aren't we supposed to have grown out of all that type of stuff?  It's just as much an evasion as looking at the telly, only more expensive and you can't stop it when you want to and go out to the pub, you have to wait for your ship.  Then when you get home you realise how much you like it here.

--I Like It Here by Kingsley Amis

January  6,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Bowen thought about Fielding.  Perhaps it was worth dying in your forties if two hundred years later you were the only non-contemporary novelist who could be read with unaffected and whole-hearted interest, the only one who never had to be apologised for or excused on the grounds of changing taste.  And how enviable to live in the world of his novels, where duty was plain, evil arose out of male violence and a starving wayfarer could be invited indoors without hesitation and without fear.  Did that make it a simplified world?  Perhaps, but that hardly mattered beside the existence of a moral seriousness that could be made apparent without the aid of evangelical puffing and blowing.

--I Like It Here by Kingsley Amis

January  5,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

One of the insidious effects of abroad was to delude you into thinking that there were some things you had to come abroad in order to find out.  He had squashed that one pretty effectively, he remembered thinking, a couple of times already.  And yet here it was again.  It just showed how careful you had to be.

--I Like It Here by Kingsley Amis

January  4,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"In England, it's  from the sons of the rich men that you draw so many of your splendid public servants, your officials in the colonies, your administrators, and your novelists and poets too.  But these [Portuguese]--they think of nothing but cars and new clothes and entertaining themselves.  They're like women.  Here in Portugal we have conscription, as you have in England.  But these bright lads will never join the Army; their pappas will see to that, bribe some fashionable doctor to give a medical certificate that they're unfit.  You imagine if that was tried in England.  Your Queen herself joined your women's Army.  You imagine the row which would be kicked up if some rich Englishman tried to keep his son from conscription.  No, my dear fellow.  The rich men of a country, if they have the sense of responsibility, can be everybody's salvation.  Without that responsibility they bring shame and ruin."

--I Like It Here by Kingsley Amis

January  3,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Bowen rather liked what he had heard about Portuguese laws.  One extra good one said that any restaurant meal that included meat must also include free wine.  another one said that you could eat one course at a restaurant and then validly plead hunger in your defence when the time came to reveal that you had no money.  These were measures that no British Government could hope to get through, unless perhaps they were drafted to exclude from their provisions all poets, painters and sculptors, both supposed and real.

--I Like It Here by Kingsley Amis

January  2,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

After a time they reached the coast road, the estuary of the Tagus on their left.  Everything looked cheerful, expensive and brand-new, even vaguely important.  Perhaps it was all to do with the sun and how bright it was.  It was a pity that such terrible people said that colours were brighter in the south, because they were right.  Oh well, they talked so much that they were bound to be right occasionally, just by accident.

--I Like It Here by Kingsley Amis

December  28,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

If we are too young our judgement is impaired, just as it is if we are too old.

Thinking too little about things or thinking too much both make us obstinate and fanatical.

If we look at our work immediately after completing it, we are still too involved; if too long afterwards, we cannot pick up the thread again.

It is like looking at pictures which are too near or too far away.  There is just one indivisible point which is the right place.

Others are too near, too far, too high, or too low.  In painting the rules of perspective decide it, but how will it be decided when it comes to truth and morality?

--Pensées by Blaise Pascal (tr. A. J. Krailsheimer)

December  27,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is something about leaving a place on a small boat--something about the movement of the waves, the noise of the engine: it is like you are leaving your life behind and yet, since you are part of the life you have left behind, part of you is still there.  Dying, at its best, might be something like this.  Everything was a memory, and everything was still happening in some extended present, and everything was still to come.

--Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer

December  26,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I have an idea for a self-help book, " I said.  "Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It."

"But you can't be bothered to write it, right?"

"You stole my punch line," I said.

--Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer

December  25,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

When I was younger I had a predatory attitude to women, but these days I could no longer bear the exertion, the stress, the single-mindedness it required.  I was trying to be passive, to put myself at the mercy of events rather than willing them to happen.  I tried, as the four of us sat there, not to do any of the things that I dislike men doing when they are obviously interested in a woman.  I tried not to talk too much, tried not to impress, tried to talk to Gareth and Jake rather than directing all my attention at Kate.  I listened but tried not to listen with that "Look how hard I'm listening" look on my face to which I am sometimes prone (especially if I'm not listening).  And yet, however hard I tried to take a disinterested, even sceptical view of things, it did seem that Kate was leaning towards me, that I was getting slightly more than my fair share of her attention, that her eyes whenever I looked her way, were always there, waiting to meet mine.  It was like those odd occasions when you are playing cards and are dealt one good hand after another.  It may be luck but it feels like the opposite, it feels like destiny.

--Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer

[N.B.:  Good advice here--although it's coming from an old, greyback lion gazing longingly out at the gazelle on the veldt and letting the younger lions know that, sure, he could run down there and catch one, but he doesn't feel like bearing the exertion, the stress, the single-mindedness it required.]

December  24,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

On my first afternoon I met Jake from Austin, Texas.  Feeling very much like a self-conscious new arrival, I was relieved when he introduced himself and sat down next to me on the beach.  H had rock star hair and biker tattoos--women, a dagger, serpents--down his back and arms.  Actually, pretty much everyone on Ko Pha-Ngan had some kind of tattoo; you tended to notice people who didn't have one, but Jake's were not easily overlooked.  I asked him about them and he told me what they signified, but as far as I could see most of them signified nothing but their own ugliness.  The last one he'd had done--a rose bursting into flame--was slightly nicer and symbolised redemption from the bad things he'd done in his past (like getting himself covered in repulsive tattoos).  He had changed his entire belief system since then, he said as we sat on the beach, pouring coarse sand through our fingers.  Now he was "into the whole self-journey thing."

--Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer

[N.B.:  I wish I could refute Dyer and loudly denounce this description as a crude caricature of Austinites, but, being a native myself, I will take the advice of Wittgenstein.]

December  23,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

All visitors to the developing world, if they are honest, will confess that they are actually quite keen on seeing a bit of squalor: people living on garbage dumps, shantytowns, that kind of thing.  In India we met a Swede who had strayed into one of the worst slum districts of Bombay.  To elicit his sympathy and money a woman who was begging shoved her dead baby in his face.  There was a group of about six of us listening to this story; we were all horrified and, I think, more than a little envious.

--Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer

[N.B.:  Ho, ho, ho and a Merry Christmas to you too--is there another writer who could away with that sentiment?  Nope, I didn't think so.  That's just what makes Dyer great: he's so politically correct that he winds up being politically incorrect, and doesn't care.]

December  22,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

We were under the impression that a taxi was taking us from the Mahogany guest house to the boat, but the taxi turned out to be a pickup, and by the time it had finished making all its pickups, twelve of us were crammed into the back and four in the front with the driver.  As we headed out of Siem Reap the road did what all roads in Cambodia: it deteriorated.  The sun came up, boiling, undeterred, right on time.  The pickup lurched and bucked over the ruts and holes and craters of the road that was barely a road.

--Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer

December  21,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Tankers went by, full of slow purpose, between us and the cranes of Algiers, across the water.  There was no fog, but the sound of foghorns is a part of my memory of the scene.  Every now and again the fullish moon was obscured by clouds making their way to the sea.  The river did not seem like a strong brown god; it just seemed like a huge river, so old and heavy it had long ago lost all interest in making it to the Gulf of Mexico or wherever.  Only the weight of implacable habit impelled it onwards.

--Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer

December  20,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I call it spondee for lack of a better tem.  "Spondee" means strictly two long syllables, but two English syllables may succeed each other, one of which is not long in the sound but halted by the nature of the consonant--for instance, the phrase "bad lot" although "a" and "o" are both short.  "Bad" might be long anyhow, because there is the "d" and the "l" after it, but "lot" does not become short, as it would be by itself; it becomes long by finding itself in this association.

Consider in the fine sonnet "When the assault was intended to the city," the fifth and sixth lines:

"He can requite thee, for he knows the charms

That call fame on such gentle acts as these."

The rhythm of the first line sinks and rises admirably, and then at the beginning of the second you get the nasty stumbling check of the spondee "call fame."  It is impossible to pronounce that line so that it fits in: it stops the whole movement.  And this is remarkable because the rest of the piece is a trophy of superlative rhythm.  Read it again.  The very punctuation suits the singing of this great song; and the three last lines have all the appeal of a sighing wind coming at evening over fields and trees.  In those lines the word "repeated" is the pivot of the measure; and no one but Milton would have hit instinctively upon that word.

--The Sonnets of Milton  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  This malady afflicts not just great poets, or great writers, but anyone who relies on his rhetoric for his reputation.]

December  19,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

[A new uncritical pride] happened to Tennyson.  It was in middle life that he did his worst, and pretty bad it was.  And the reason seems to me explicable.  Your good poet in youth is diffident, because he is, by the nature of his calling, sensitive.  He is athirst for fame, he has heard the unmistakable note of his great predecessors, he despairs of rivalling them, he keeps back what he writes, he is abashed by the least discouragement, even from the most incompetent.  Then in time, perhaps in the late thirties or after, he finds that men begin to praise him; he beings to worship his own work.  As he approaches middle age he is flattered by the parrot repetition of these praises among the rich, who have heard from their betters below them that he has a reputation.  He is too much pleased also by the adulation which now also begins to be paid to him by certain juniors.  His old diffidence is altered into a new confidence and, since poets are as vain as they are sensitive, an over-confidence.  He comes to think that such as he are permanently inspired.

The error increases through the falsity of fashionable praise.  His worst lines, his mannerisms, are dwelt upon enthusiastically by fools; he snuffs the incense, and though he may have known on writing it that this or that passage was weak, this or that line pedestrian, yet he reads into them, after a while, a subtle beauty which they do not contain, and prints what he ought to have suppressed.

--The Sonnets of Milton  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  This malady afflicts not just great poets, or great writers, but anyone who relies on his rhetoric for his reputation.]

December  18,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

As for any man who quarrels with the bad history of it, and thinks by that to diminish Milton's triumph--he knows nothing of the Poet's trade.  Bad history makes good verse--witness the Song of Roland--and verse more powerful than this has never been written in the English tongue.  It not only sounds, it burns; it not only burns, it engraves.  It is one thing; complete in its noise and in its meaning, from its surface to its depths, in its under and its over tones and in the immediate full sweep of its being.  It is a living thing.

--The Sonnets of Milton  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

December  17,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The splendour of this piece of verse lies (if you will forgive my saying it) in its sound.  And it is folly indeed to belittle sound in verse, as though it were a secondary thing.  It is primary.  It is by the sound of verse that you know it.  Good verse is a music, shrill or deep, calm or ecstatic--but it is music always if it is to be poetry, and when the music fails the poetry fails with it.

See how John Milton has, not without art, but more by some sudden inspiration of anger, produced music here.

It is the rolling of an organ, sustained, modulated, appealing, over-awing from the first line to the last.  It has such inspiration that what should be in any other a defect (the assonance of all the last syllables in the first eight lines) here passes unperceived--or rather enhances their value.  For those long syllables, and the images they call up, "moans," "roll," "old," "bones" and "soul" make a recurrent noise like the waters of the Alpine hills, and give the full note required.

--The Sonnets of Milton  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  Oh, I know--it is quaint to actually refer to the "music" of verse, but keep in mind this was written at the turn of the last century and Belloc, simple soul that he was, thought the original purpose for a form of writing was necessarily its highest and best use.  He could not appreciate that just about anyone, even a rank novice, can use an instrument as it was intended.  But only a genius--or, just as well, an academic--could show how the instrument could be used in novel ways never intended by its inventor.  Anyone can learn to drive a car.  But not just anyone can look at a car and think it would be much more striking to have it sticking up out of the ground like a modern kitschy Stonehenge.]

December  16,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Praise a man for his best, and praise Milton for that glorious gift to immortality, "Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints whose bones Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold."

"Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones

Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;

Even them who kept thy trust so pure of old,

When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,

Forget not: in thy book record their groans

Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold

Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that rolled

Mother with infant down the rocks.  Their moans

The vales redoubled to the hills, and they

To heaven.  Their martyred blood and ashes sow

O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway

The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow

A hundred fold, who, having learnt thy way,

Early may fly the Babylonian woe."

--The Sonnets of Milton  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

December  15,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

It is not to be denied that in Milton's treatment of the sonnet he ignores what is most essential to its effect--especially in the English tongue.  He ignores the contrast of the octave with the sextet.  A sonnet has been called the expression in verse of a single thought.  That definition is insufficient: a sonnet is rather the expression in verse of a thought and the consequence of that thought.  "If this . . . then that."  "How is this . . . it is thus."  "Is this so? . . . No, it is otherwise."  "Though . . . yet," etc.: and this duality appears in the division of the sonnet into two parts.

This double formation is of the essence of the sonnet, as Shakespeare intimately understood.  If the sonnet is divided into its octave and its sextet--which division makes it what it is--there is a reason for the separation of the two and for contrast between them.  The first eight lines make a unity which asks a question to which the last six lines give the reply; or the first eight state an unfinished mood which the last six follow up and determine; or the first eight express some complaint which the last six relieve by denunciation; or the first eight announce the subject of strong love, which the last six proceed to adorn and confirm.  The sonnet to work with full force must have this central hinge.  For the sonnet is feminine and needs a waist: the limber must be followed by its gun.

--The Sonnets of Milton  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

December  14,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The reason is this: that the sonnet is the prime test of a poet.  The writing of verse, like all activity, is strengthened by limitation, and the poetry of a mind classical is braced up (and thus strengthened) by fixed form and rule.  Thus those who shall come to question the greatness of Shakespeare--and a reaction sooner or later will certainly do that--can be answered abruptly by the example of the sonnets.  In that mould he excelled himself--and all others. 

--The Sonnets of Milton  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

December  13,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Thus there is the destruction of an Inn by gluttony of an evil sort--though to say so sounds absurd, for one would imagine that gluttony should be proper to Inns.  And so it is, when it is your true gluttony of old, the gluttony of our fathers made famous in English letters by the song which begins:

I am not a glutton,

But I do like pie.

But evil gluttony, which may also be called the gluttony of devils, is another matter.  It flies to liquor as to a drug; it is ashamed of itself; it swallows a glass behind a screen and hides.  There is no companionship with it.  It is an abomination, and this abomination has the power to destroy a Christian Inn and to substitute for it, first a gin-palace, and then in re-action against that, the very horrible house where they sell only tea and coffee and bubbly waters that bite and sting both int he mouth and in the stomach.  These places are hot-beds of despair, and suicides have passed their last hours on earth consuming slops therein alone.  

--On Inns  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  Even Belloc peering into the misty future could perceive that rough, foul thing slouching, ever slouching, towards . . . Starbucks.]

December  12,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The strict design of such a thing weighs upon one as might weigh upon one four great lines of Virgil, or the sight of those enormous stones which one comes upon, Roman also, in the Algerian sands.  The plan of such an avenue by which to lead great armies and along which to drive commands argues a mixture of unity and of power as intimate as the lime and the sand of which these conquerors welded their imperishable cement.  And it does more than this.  It suggests swiftness and certitude of aim and a sort of eager determination which we are slow to connect with Government, but which certainly underlay the triumph of this people.  A road will give one less trouble if it winds about and feels the contours of the land.  It will pay better if it is of earth and broken stones instead of being paved, nor would any one aiming at wealth or comfort alone laboriously raise its level, as the level of this road is raised. But in all that the Romans did there was something of a monument.  

--The Roman Road  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

December  11,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

When one has pushed one's way through the brambles and the rounded great roots which have grown upon this street--where no man has walked perhaps for about a thousand years--one gets to the place where it tops the hill, and here one sees the way in which the line of it was first struck out.  From where one stands, right away like a beam, leading from rise to rise, it runs to the cathedral town.  You see the spot where it enters the eastern gate of the roman walls; you see at the end of it, like the dot upon an "i," the mass of the cathedral.  Then, if you turn and look northward, you see from point to point its taut stretch across the weald to where, at the very limit of the horizon, there is a gap in the chain of hills that bars your view.

--The Roman Road  collected in Selected Essays by Hilaire Belloc

December  10,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

'It's a pretty arresting thought, not being anything, not being anywhere, and yet the world still being here.  Simply having everything stopping for ever, not just for millions of years.  And getting to the point where that's all there is in front of you.  I can imagine anyone finding themselves thoroughly wrapped up in that prospect, especially since it's where we're going to get to sooner or later, and perhaps sooner.  Of course, it's not really true to say that that's all that's going to be in front of you.  There are all sorts of other things thrown in, like waiting to see the doctor, and fixing up to have a test, and waiting for the test, and waiting for the result of the test, and fixing up another test, and waiting for that, and waiting for that result, and going in for a period of observation, and being kept in, and waiting for the operation, and waiting for the anaesthetist, and waiting to hear what they found, and waiting for the second operation, and waiting to hear how that went, and being told they can unfortunately do nothing radically curative but naturally all measures will be taken to prolong life and alleviate suffering, and that's where you start.  A long way to go from there before you get to the first lot of things that are turning up for the last time, like your birthday and going away and going out to dinner, and then the rest of those things, like going out anywhere and going downstairs and getting into bed and waking up and lying down and shutting your eyes and beginning to feel drowsy.  And that's where you start too.'

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

December  9,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I knew this would be nowhere good enough for Diana in her present mood, indeed in the only mood I had ever seen her in in the three years I had known her.  Glumly, I tried to run up in my mind a spontaneous-sounding remake of the standard full answer--reproductive urge, power thing, proving one's masculinity (to be introduced one moment and decisively rejected the next), restlessness, curiosity, man-polygamous-woman-monogamous (to be frankly described as old hat but at the same time not dismissible out of hand) and the rest of it, the whole mixture heftily spiked with pornographic flattery.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

December  8,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

'But what's at the back of it all, Maurice?  What makes you so determined to make love to me, for instance?'

'Sex, I should imagine.'

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

December  7,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I am too old a hand to be put off pleasure by even the certain prospect of not enjoying it.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

December  6,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I missed out the artichoke, a dish I have always tended to despise on biological grounds.  I used to say that a man with a weight problem should eat nothing else, since after each meal he would be left with fewer calories in him than he had burnt up in the toil of disentangling from the bloody things what shreds of nourishment they contained.  I would speculate that a really small man, one compelled by his size to eat with a frequency distantly comparable to that of the shrew or the mole, would soon die of starvation and/or exhaustion if locked up in a warehouse full of artichokes, and sooner still if compelled besides to go through the rigmarole of dunking each leaf in viniagrette.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

December  5,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

After three quick double whiskies I felt better: I was drunk, in fact, drunk with that pristine freshness, that semi-mystical elevation of spirit which, every time, seems destined to last for ever.  There was nothing worth knowing that I did not know, or rather would not turn out to know when I saw my way to turning my attention to it.  Life and death were not problems, just points about which a certain rather limited type of misconception tended to agglutinate.  By definition, or something of the kind, every problem was really a non-problem.  Nodding my head confidentially to myself about the simple force of this perception, I left the pub and made for where there was a fair case for believing I had left the Volkswagen.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

December  4,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

As I walked over to where my Volkswagen was parked in the yard, I told myself that I would soon start to relish the state of being alone (not rid of Amy, just alone for a guaranteed period), only to find, as usual, that being alone meant that I was stuck with myself, with the outside and inside of my body, with my memories and anticipations and present feelings, with that indefinable sphere of being that is the sum of these and yet something beyond them, and with the assorted uneasiness of the whole.  Two's company, which is bad enough in all conscience, but one's a crowd.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

December  3,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

On the television screen, a young woman was denouncing an older one who was keeping her back turned throughout, not so much out of inattention or deliberate rudeness as with the mere object of letting the audience see her face at the same time as her accuser's.  For a moment I watched, in the hope of seeing them do a smart about-turn at the end of the speech, and wondering to what extent real life would be affected if there were to grow up a new convention that people always had to be facing the same way before they could speak to each other.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

[N.B.:  Such a convention did exist once:  it was known as traditional Mass (pre-Vatican II).]

December  2,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I was expecting two private guests, Dr and Mrs Maybury.  Jack Maybury was the family doctor and a personal friend, or more precisely, somebody I could bear to talk to.  Among that tiny proportion of humanity more entertaining than very bad television, Jack stood high.  Diana Maybury made television seem irrelevant, dull; an enormous feat.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

December  1,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I agree with the opinion of the majority," Vdovichenko inserted in a rumbling bass.  "to put it poetically, it's precisely like this.  Civil institutions should grow from below, on democratic foundations, the way tree layers are set in the ground and take root.  They can't be hammered in from above like fenceposts.  That was the mistake of the Jacobin dictatorship, which is why the Convention was crushed by the Thermidorians."

--Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (tr. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)

[N.B.:  Why, what preposterous nonsense--just look at how successful the United States was at nation building in Iraq.]

WHAT WE'RE READING


Patrick:

  1. Some Do Not . . . by Ford Madox Ford
  2. Napoleon and His Marshals by A. G. Macdonell
  3. Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

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
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Jazz Fest
Parasol's for po boys
Maple Street Books

Basin Street Records
Mardi Gras 2005

Austin Links
Mother Egan's Irish Pub
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Book People