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ARCHIVED ENTRIES FOR JANUARY 2012

January  31,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

When a man rides a long time through wild regions he feels the desire for a city.  finally he comes to Isidora, a city where the buildings have spiral staircases encrusted with spiral seashells, where perfect telescopes and violins are made, where the foreigner hesitating between two women always encounters a third, where cockfights degenerate into bloody brawls among the bettors.  He was thinking of all these things when he desired a city.  Isadora, therefore, is the city of his dreams: with one difference.  The dreamed-of city contained him as a young man; he arrives at Isidora in his old age.  In the square there is the wall where the old men sit and watch the young go by; he is seated in a row with them.  Desires are already memories.

--Cities & Memory 2 from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

January  30,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Treason!  Faithfully that terrible word reappears on French lips the moment there is a major disaster, revealing one of the less admirable national traits.  Gallic pride can never admit that the nation has been collectively at fault; inevitably, she has been betrayed by an individual or a faction.  Repeatedly during the Franco-Prussian War, and again in the most adverse moments of 1914-18, the expression Nous sommes trahis rings out across the ramparts.  But the soil had never been more fertile for such an interpretation of France's woes than in May 1940.

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

January  29,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Later Giraud was forced to seek refuge in an isolated farmhouse.  At 6 A.M. on the 19th it was surrounded by German troops, and Giraud was forced to surrender - according to the French, to a group of tanks; according to the War Diary of the 6th Panzer, to the men of one of its field kitchen units.  That same day the division also captured General Bruneau, the commander of the annihilated French 1st Armoured Division.  Giraud's command had lasted exactly three and one-half days.  He had done the best he could in an already hopeless situation.

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

January  28,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

One of Rommel's panzer commanders recalled simply shouting, loudly and impudently, at the French troop columns to throw away their weapons.  "Many willingly follow this command, others are surprised, but nowhere is there any sign of resistance."  Several times his tank men were questioned, hopefully: "Anglais?"  There was evidently one rare, recalcitrant exception, who brought out the ruthless streak in Rommel: a French lieutenant colonel overtaken by Rommel as his staff car was trapped in the road jam.  On being asked by him for this rank and appointment "his eyes glowed hate and impotent fury and he gave the impression of being a thoroughly fanatical type."  Rothenburg signalled to him to get in his tank.  "But he curtly refused to come with us, so, after summoning him three times to get in, there was nothing for it but to shoot him."

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

January  27,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

But the important physical feature of Reynaud was his modest stature.  He had most of the attributes of the small man: agility, combativeness, vulnerability to flatterers, the self-confidence that masks a sense of inferiority - and courage.  His enemies (and they were many) called him "Mickey Mouse."  But to others he was a little fighting cock who, when a subject fired his imagination, would "get to his feet, put his hands in his pockets, throw back his head to raise his short figure to its full height, and hold forth in picturesque and biting phrases like quick hammer blows."  In debate he showed a brilliant, quick intellect and a devastating logic; but he sought to master rather than charm, and this with his natural assertiveness and love of battle did not endear him to other politicians of the Third Republic - especially to Daladier, who loathed him.

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

January  26,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Daladier was a stockily built, energetic man with a dull-brown complexion and a greasy lock of hair that imparted a slight (and deceptive) look of Bonaparte.  Under the strain of the Front Populaire, he had come to depend increasingly on the more fiery French liquors.  Writing in all the bitterness of 1940, Vincent Sheean describes him as "a dirty man with a cigarette stuck to his lower lip, stinking of absinthe, talking with a rough Marseillaise accent. . . . He had a certain southern eloquence, particularly over the air when he could not be seen."  While Daladier was still in power, Harold Nicolson wrote in his diary that he looked "like a drunken peasant.  His face must once have had sharp outlines but now it is blurred by the puffiness of drink.  He looks extremely exhausted and has the eyes of a man who has had a bad night.  He had a weak, sly smile."  In the south, his supporters nicknamed Daladier "the bull of Vaucluse," but as Spears remarked acidly, "his horns bore more resemblance to the soft feelers of the snail than to the harder bovine variety."  Others said that his was a case of a "velvet hand in a glove of iron."

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

January  25,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

How difficult it is at this range to recapture, let alone explain, the instant magic that, in the 1930s, Hitler wielded over German youth - sublimely unaware as it was of the dark tunnel of unprecedented horror into which he would eventually lead them and all Europe!  Onto the fertile stock of German childhoods cast over by the miseries of hunger, crazy inflation, followed by depression and mass unemployment, the humiliations of defeat and occupation, the apparent injustices of Versailles and the seeming pointlessness of life under Weimar, Hitler was able to graft the bud of intoxication.  As Nietzsche said of the Germans, "Intoxication means more to them than nourishment.  That is the hook they will always bite on.  A popular leader must hold up before them the prospect of conquests and splendour; then he will be believed."  Hitler was believed and his early bloodless conquests confirmed and reconfirmed that belief.  Satisfying some elemental need for mysticism in the German soul, the gigantic Nuremberg Rallies with their pageantry and colour, their hysterical, chanting masses of assenting humanity, filled young Germans with a revolutionary fervour which they carried with them into the Wehrmacht.

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

January  24,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

The early stages of opium abuse are characterized by vivid and exciting dreams, and Harry put a high price indeed on his dreams.  Opium seemed as cheap a ticket as any both to Nirvana, beyond banal physical functions, and to Dionysian ecstasies--especially since it is one of the peculiar properties of opium that it can still or excite, is either a stimulant or depressant, depending upon the psychology and physiology of the user at the time of use, upon the dose consumed and upon a full spectrum of environmental and spiritual variables.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

January  23,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Opium (pace Coleridge and De Quincey) may be eaten, or, broken down into its alkaloid (morphine) or derivative (heroin), it may be injected.  But for Harry the smoking was crucial because it was part of an exotic and Oriental tradition.  To smoke opium required elegant paraphernalia and practiced skill: a bamboo dipper was used to remove a bit of the treacly opium, which was then twisted around the sharp end of the stick while the stuff was roasted, just so, over a lamp, till it resembled burnt wool.  Too much flame and the opium was dried out, ruined; too little and it could not be smoked.  A the exactly right moment the stuff was transferred from the dipper to the tiny bowl of a heated pipe, and inhaled three or four times.  The preparation might occupy minutes, the smoking thirty seconds.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

January  22,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Harry consistently overdrew his account not only at Boston's State Street Trust Co., but also at Morgan, Harjes.  Both places indulged him, and the latter institution accustomed itself to honoring such of his checks as were delivered for collection written on napkins from the restaurant where he had dined, or on plates, or whatever came easily at hand.  Harry did not like to carry a billfold.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

January  21,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

When he discovered D. H. Lawrence, who later became his friend, Harry was awed, but not by everything he wrote.  (He found Lady Chatterley's Lover silly and salacious.)  He noted that it had been said of Lawrence that "like a Roman voluptuary he would sacrifice a nation for a night of perfect love."  Beside that extravagant claim, Harry penciled:  "Who wouldn't who had any sense?"

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

January  20,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

It should be recorded in Harry's favor that apart from a light supping upon one lady's neck, he was never, till his bloody end, a man for cruelty or violence, physically or social.  He instructed himself constantly to learn the arts of gentle love, and he pleased himself by pleasing those whom he loved.  And when he tumbled into love with a new girl, he would not repudiate his previous mistresses.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

[N.B.:  Maybe Newt Gingrich is the reincarnation of Harry Crosby.]

January  19,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

His seductive habits became legendary among his friends.  If he noticed a girl who attracted him, he approached her, whatever his circumstances at the moment, or hers.  He might be dining in a restaurant with Caresse and another couple, and suddenly his attention would deflect from them to someone else--a pretty girl, perhaps, at table with her husband.  Witnessed testify that he was entirely capable of leaving his own table, going to a strange girl's and departing with her, without explanation or apology.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

January  18,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Excess was the only measure he knew.  when he ate, he ate oysters, and when he drank, he drank champagne, and too much of both, yet paid no price, laid on no fat and managed not to appear foolish.  If he saw something he wished to have, he had it:  "Went out this morning to buy silk pyjamas but came back with a 1st edition of Les Illuminations very rare as there were only 200 copies edited by Verlaine."  Another day, going to look for zebra skins, he returned home with the skeleton of a girl wrapped in a yellow raincoat, her feet hitting the stairs of 19 rue de Lille as he carried her to his library, where he hung her from a bookcase:  "And who was this woman, princess or harlot, actress or nun young or old pretty and passionate or ugly and dumb?"

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

January  17,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

You can't relive your life and it's a mistake to go looking for the job you lost, or an imitation of it.  The trick is not to sell what you have, but to have what will sell.  You take me, for example.  I'm not sure I'd go back to the newspaper business if I could.  My newspaper business is dying and I belong to its past.  In some other line, who knows?  I could be the man of the future.  I might make a good copywriter for an ad agency.  I spent most of my life writing short, punchy heads, you know.  Maybe I could bring some new ideas to the ad business.

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

[N.B.:  It seems that the newspaper business has been dying for a long time now--this book was written in 1965.]

January  16,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

A man should have carved out his niche by the time he's forty, that's what they said.  Well, I had carved my niche and now I couldn't find it.

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

January  15,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I think it's like very thin ice on a very deep lake.  The lucky ones never break through.  But if you do, you don't drop just a couple of inches--you go down and down and down.  Somebody's got to pay for the affluent society--it stands to reason--and from now on I guess that includes us.  It's like--well, it's a sort of hidden depression.  It's a great big pit outside everyone's office door.  Maybe you don't put your foot into it, maybe you do."

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

January  14,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

There are fears beyond the things you fear and fears beyond them, too, one circle below another, and on that cold, clear day in the heart of midtown Manhattan I was close to panic. . . . I had hoped for a good job; I had been prepared for a fair one; I had feared being forced into a poor one.  It had never occurred to me that I might not be able to find a job--any job--at all. 

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

January  13,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Any smart businessman pays his rent before he starts spending his profits.  The old man took care of the customers who paid his overhead before the customers who represented his profit.

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

January  12,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

I had made the job hunter's classic mistake; I had tried to juggle two spots and I had lost both.  Well, what do you do?  You can't take Job A and then quit it a week later if Job B comes through.

I was to learn later that you certainly can.  This came from a salesman I met who had joined one firm and paid his first "sales calls" each day on two others which were still thinking about him.  "You can't be squeamish about this," he told me.  "For them it's just an inconvenience; for you and your wife and kids it's survival.  Besides, those other spots won't come through.  I know some of those boys like a book.  Half the time they haven't even got a genuine opening.  They're just window-shopping for personnel.  They like to keep a stream of guys flowing through on the off-chance some genius will wander in."

--The Job Hunter by Allen R. Dodd

January  11,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

On the morning of Christmas Eve a man in B Company on our right was hit in the head by a sniper's bullet, and died a few minutes later.  The new Second-in-Command of the Battalion was in the line on a visit of inspection.  He was an energetic and efficient officer but he was also a fire-eater.  He made both platoons file past the dead man, saying to each, 'You must avenge this.  You must kill two Germans for every one of our dead.'  I said nothing, but felt outraged.  The men evidently thought he was mad.  The object of war, the aim of a battle, is not primarily to kill numbers of the enemy, but to defeat his forces in battle.  The men resented the Major's tactless tactics.  It was the mistaken psychology of fire-eating blimps and it made the bloodshed of the war evilly bloodier.

--Recollection of 2nd Lt. W. Cushing, collected in 1915: The Death of Innocence by Lyn Macdonald

January  10,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

I went further along and looked into the next dug-out and there was a Guardsman in there.  They talk about the psychology of fear.  He was a perfect example.  I can see that Guardsman now!  His face was yellow, he was shaking all over, and I said to him, 'What the hell are you doing back here?  Your battalion is out in front.  What are you doing back here?'  He said, 'I can't go.  I can't do it.  I daren't go!'  Now, I was pretty ruthless in those days and I said to him, 'Look, I'm going up the line and when I come back if you're still here I'll bloody well shoot you!'  Of course I had plenty to do because you had to reconnoitre the line and reverse the defences, so it took quite a while to get that going, and when I came back, thank God, he'd gone.  He was a Coldstream.  A big chap six foot tall.  He'd got genuine shell-shock.  We didn't realise that at the time.  We used to think it was cowardice but we learned later on that there was such a thing as shell-shock.  Poor chap, he couldn't help it.  It could happen to anybody.  But at that time you either did your job or you didn't.  There was no halfway house.  I've seen chaps go, but I've never seen anybody go like that.  It was horrible.  A day or two later we heard that a Guardsman had been shot for cowardice.  I often wondered if it was that chap.

--Recollection of CQMS G. Fisher, 1st Bn (TF), Hertfordshire Regt., 6 Brig., 2 Div., collected in 1915: The Death of Innocence by Lyn Macdonald

January  9,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

One of our Generals came up to inspect us in our trenches in front of Lone Pine, and he was a fatherly sort, always used to ask the blokes about their family and stuff like that.  He spoke to all the troops and he said to soldier on the firing step, 'Don't forget to write home.  How is your father?'  The bloke answered, 'He's dead.'  A bit later the General coming back along the trench asked the same question to the same soldier, 'And how is your father?'  And the bloke said, 'He's still the dead, the lucky bugger.'  We all laughed.  I don't know what the General thought!  But the tale went the rounds.

--Recollection of Cpl. G. Gilbert, A Sqn., 13th Light Horse, collected in 1915: The Death of Innocence by Lyn Macdonald

January  8,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

I never saw any attack with so many men who had bullet wounds as at Aubers Ridge.  The Germans just mowed them down and most of the bullet wounds were through the legs.  We had a lot of splinting to do, splinting, splinting, splinting.  But one man was brought in with his face covered with a bandage and when the Major came in to look at him and see what was the matter he went out and was violently sick.  When he took the bandages off we saw the man had no eyes, no nose, no chin, no mouth - and he was alive!  The Sergeant called me and said, 'The doctor says I've got to give him four times the usual dose of morphia.'  And I said,  'You know what that will do, don't you?'  And he said, 'Yes.  And I can't do it.  I'm ordering you to do it.'  So I had to go in and give him four times the dose of morphia.  I laid a clean bandage on his face and stayed with him until he died.  That stayed in my memory for a very long time.  It stays in it now.

--Recollection of Pte. L. Mitchell, 24th Field Ambulance, 8 Div., collected in 1915: The Death of Innocence by Lyn Macdonald

January  7,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

Of course we were standing to all day, ready to go, but about three o'clock in the afternoon we were stood down and told we could rest a bit in the trench, and it was fairly clear that nothing much else was going to happen.  Well of course we were exhausted, and I got down in the trench next to Walter and I dropped off right away.  All of a sudden there was an almighty explosion, right in the trench, a direct hit just a little bit further along from where we were.  I was right next to Walter - touching him even.  I was stunned of course, but when I got my wits together I could hardly believe it.  I was covered in blood - saturated - and I really thought I'd bought it.  But it was Walter's blood.  I didn't have a scratch myself.  Walter had taken the full blast and somehow of other it hadn't touched me.  He was blown to bits.  A terrible sight.  I don't think there was a bit of his body bigger than a leg of lamb.  I gathered up what I could, put him into a sandbag and later on when it got dusk, a few of us got out  of the trench and buried him a little way behind, about twenty-five yards back, because we couldn't go far.

--Recollection of Cpl. A. Wilson collected in 1915: The Death of Innocence by Lyn Macdonald

January  6,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

I had a glimpse of what the Great War did to Cousin Audrey's life when last week she told me that every day of her girlhood at Lochinver Lodge began with the raw sound at 5 a.m. of her father vomiting his guts up.  It was the trenches he was remembering.  His body sicked them up every single dawn until his dying day.

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

January  5,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

The drugs that tell you most sharply that you must have them the minute you've got out of the place that is protecting you from them appear to be methamphetamine sulphate and crack.  Speedballs, once had, are never forgotten.  speedball bores are like orgasm bores.  You can't convey it unless you can.

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

January  4,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

You will recall St Elizabeth who, when asked what she had in her basket by a superior who was growing weary of her good deeds, replied, 'Only roses', though in fact she was bearing bread rolls to distribute among the poor.  So once, caught terribly short on Lexington Avenue, very late at night and unable to find the keys of my sweet old-fashioned hosts, I peed into my Accessorize evening bag.  No trace at all in the morning; a miracle.

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

January  3,  2012

Patrick: Lagniappe

'Hello, big girl, who are you married to at the moment?'  Peculiarly enough, I have been asked this question twice in my life and I take it ill. 

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