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ARCHIVED ENTRIES FOR OCTOBER 2015

October  31, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

It is part of fate that great rulers find to their hand exceptional servants.  The thing is not a coincidence, it is cause and effect.  He that desires to govern, that has the appetite and the instinct for government and the energy to conceive and bring into being, will discover his own instruments.  But also those instruments which he inherits will he use to right purpose.

And there is more than this: the attraction is mutual.  For an exceptional rule raises of itself as exceptional a staff by an instinctive action.  And there is yet more: latent powers are brought to life; insufficient development matures; the mere light of glory is permeated by the warmth of achievement.  Therefore have you the Pleiad of poets as a testimony to the greatness of Ronsard; his marshals as a testimony to Napoleon.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  Indeed, you see this phenomenon over and over again: Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Dickens and Beethoven--a great light surrounded by other wonderful lights that, perhaps, do not shine quite as brightly.]

October  30, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Men are great through a great function: are made great by that function if the function be great, and make the function greater by their own greatness.  So it is with every craftsman and so it was with this man in the chief craft of kingship.  He dedicated himself, so young, to indefatigable daily labour, to the weighing of issues, to the comprehension of advice and to the framing and the carrying out of plans.  Had there been in him what is called creative genius he could not have thus acted.  He had the good fortune to lack the fire and the vagary of genius.  That good fortune of his was a good fortune for his country also.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

October  29, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Louis] was France and therefore he himself must be broken and lost in Kingship.

Now indeed did he know the meaning of that word "Monarchy."  It weighed more than all the world.  Its reality and mass crushed all on which it lay, and first of all the man in whom it was.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

October  28, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The aristocratic state is menaced by two things only: the moral menace of falling into mere plutocracy, a cancer which rapidly kills,* and the material menace of invasion by a large army.  For in aristocracies the masses will never accept permanent military service.

* Here is the test of this disease appearing: it is present when a very rich anybody is treated as the superior of a very poor gentleman.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

October  27, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Next day, December 25th, was Santa Claus Day; no holiday in the department of Euthanasia, which was an essential service.  At dusk Miles walked to the hospital, one of the unfinished edifices, all concrete and steel and glass in front and a jumble of huts behind.  The hall porter was engrossed in the television, which was performing an old obscure folk play which past generations had performed on Santa Claus Day, and was not revived and revised as a matter of historical interest.

It was of professional interest to the porter for it dealt with maternity services before the days of Welfare.  He gave the number of Clara's room without glancing up from the strange spectacle of an ox and an ass, an old man with a lantern, and a young mother.

--Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh collected in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

[N.B.:  "Santa Clause Day" seems a bit far-fetched to me, even for speculative fiction--next Waugh will have us believe that even Santa Claus would be discarded and everyone would just go around and wish "Happy Holidays" to each other.]

October  26, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Dr. Beamish squinted at the waiting crowd through the periscope and said with some satisfaction:  "It will take months to catch up on the waiting list now.  We shall have to start making a charge for the service.  It's the only way to keep down the demand."

"The Ministry will never agree to that, surely, sir?"

"Damned sentimentalists.  My father and mother hanged themselves in their own backyard with their own clothesline.  Now no one will lift a finger to help himself.  There's something wrong in the system, Plastic.  There are still rivers to drown in, trains--every now and then--to put your head under; gas-fires in some of the huts.  The country if full of the natural resources of death, but everyone has to come to us."

--Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh collected in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

October  25, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Satellite City was said to be the worst served Euthanasia centre in the State.  Dr. Beamish's patients were kept waiting so long that often they died natural deaths before he found it convenient to poison them.

--Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh collected in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

October  24, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Euthanasia?  I say, you're in luck.  they work you jolly hard, of course, but it's the one department that's expanding."

"You'll get promoted before you know your way about."

"Great State!  You must have pull.  Only the very bright boys get posted to Euthanasia."

"I've been in Contraception for five years.  It's a blind alley."

"They say that in a year or two Euthanasia will have taken over Pensions."

"You must be an Orphan."

"Yes, I am."

"That accounts for it.  Orphans get all the plums.  I had a Full Family Life, State help me."

--Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh collected in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

October  23, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

He was in a key department.

Euthanasia had not been part of the original 1945 Health Service; it was a Tory measure designed to attract votes from the aged and the mortally sick.  Under the Bevan-Eden coalition the service came into general use and won instant popularity.  The Union of Teachers was pressing for its application to difficult children.  Foreigners came in such numbers to take advantage of the service that immigration authorities now turned back the bearers of single tickets.

--Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh collected in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

October  22, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

He proceeded as he had done at countless congresses, at countless spas and university cities.  He concluded, as he always did: "In the New Britain which we are building, there are no criminals.  There are only the victims of inadequate social services."

--Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh collected in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

October  21,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Every detail of his adolescence was recorded and microfilmed and filed, until at the appropriate age he was transferred to the Air Force.

There were no aeroplanes at the station to which he was posted.  It was an institution to train instructors to train instructors to train instructors in Personal Recreation.

--Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh collected in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

October  20,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I'll tell you what it is, chum," continued Mr. Sweat.  "There's no understanding of crime these days like what there was.  I remember when I was a nipper, the first time I came up before the break, he spoke up straight: 'My lad,' he says, 'you are embarking upon a course of life that can only lead to disaster and degradation in this world and everlasting damnation in the next.'  Now that's talking.  It's plain sense and it shows a personal interest.  But last time I was up, when they sent me here, they called me an 'antisocial phenomenon'; said I was 'maladjusted.'  That's no way to speak of  man what was doing time before they was in long trousers, now is it?"

--Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh collected in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

October  19,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Despite their promises at the last Election, the politicians had not yet changed the climate.  The State Meteorological Institute had so far produced only an unseasonable fall of snow and two little thunderbolts no larger than apricots.  The weather varied from day to day and from county to county as it had done of old, most anomalously.

--Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh collected in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

[N.B.:  This story was first published in 1953--the "near future" indeed.]

October  18,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Roger] had been hoping that a giant penny would drop, a light bulb would go on, Arabella would have a 'moment of clarity' and see that this just couldn't go on.  Not only for economic reasons - for them of course but not only for them - but because this just wasn't enough to live by.  You could not spend your entire span of life in thrall to the code of stuff.  There was no code of stuff.  Stuff was just stuff.  You couldn't live by it or for it.  Roger's new motto: stuff is not enough. 

--Capital by John Lanchester

October  17,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Mill's experience was that while it was true that some people wanted to be caught, there was another category, less well known, of people who wanted to have been caught.  In other words they did not go out of their way to be nicked, but once they had been, they went to pieces with guilt and relief. 

--Capital by John Lanchester

October  16,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Rohinka had wanted to be married, had wanted to have a husband and a family, and a family's life together, and as the middle of five children had a pretty good idea, she thought, of what family life meant; but nothing had prepared her for the sheer quantity of emotion involved, the charge of feeling.  There could be wild mood swings, tantrums, exhilaration, giggling laughter, a sense of the complete futility of all effort, a grinding realisation that every hour of the day was hard, the knowledge that you were wholly trapped by your children, and moments of the purest love, the least earthbound feeling she had ever had - and all this before nine o'clock in the morning, on a typical day.

--Capital by John Lanchester

October  15,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Ahmed gave Usman a warning look: he and Rohinka were careful not to speak ill of Mrs Kamal in front of her grandchildren.  They had a strict no-badmouthing policy about her.  This was partly to set a good example for their old age, and partly because they were worried that Fatima would pass on anything they said.

--Capital by John Lanchester

[N.B.:  Similarly, imagine what your children think when you place your parents in a nursing home.]

October  14,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The woman who ran the Neighbourhood Watch stood and put her hand to her mouth while making a harrumphing cough - evidently this was her way of calling the room to order.  A pool of silence began in the seats closest to her and then spread until the church hall was quiet, broken only by a mobile phone playing the opening bars of 'The Girl from Ipanema' and then abruptly cutting out.

--Capital by John Lanchester

October  13,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Eugène Manet finally died, slowly, on April 13, 1892, and Berthe Morisot, who thought she was resigned to everything, was not resigned to everything.  Her parents dead, Manet dead, now Eugène dead, she wrote in her notebook: "I don't want to live anymore.  I want to go down into the depths of pain because it seems to me it must be possible to rise from there; but now for three nights I've wept: mercy--mercy."  But there was an incredible strength and resilience in Berthe Morisot.  She read Montaigne.  She reflected.  She wrote in her notebook: "I say 'I want to die' but it's not true at all; I want to become younger."

--Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich

October  12,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

"White does not exist in nature," Renoir explained long afterward in examining a young student's snow scene.  "You admit that you have a sky above that snow.  Your sky is blue.  That blue must show up in the snow.  In the morning there is green and yellow int he sky.  These colors also must show up in the snow when you say that you painted your picture in the morning.  Had you done it in the evening red and yellow would have to appear in the snow.  And look at the shadows.  They are much too dark.  That tree, for example, has the same color on the side where the sun shines as on the side where the shadow is.  But you paint it as if it were two different objects, one light and one dark.  Ye the color of the object is the same, only with a veil thrown over it.  Sometimes that veil is thin, sometimes thick, but always it remains a veil. . . . Shadows are not black; no shadow is black.  It always has a color.  Nature knows only color. . . . White and black are not colors."

--Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich

October  11,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Degas liked to affect the air of a disdainful dandy.  As when he said to a model: "You are a very rare case; you have pear-shaped hips.  Like Mona Lisa."  Or when he said admiringly of his friend and protégé Mary Cassatt, "I am not willing to admit that a woman can draw that well."  Or when he denied the more common charge of misanthropy (misogyny was hardly considered a crime in those days): "I am not a misanthrope, far from it.  But it is sad to go on living surrounded by swine."

--Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich

October  10,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

How much would any painter as skilled and disciplined as Degas actually need to rely on any model?  He used them, of course, but more as tools than as subjects.  His greatest hero among his predecessors was Ingres, who once told him: "Young man, never work from nature.  Always from memory, or from the engravings of the masters."  Degas himself expressed almost the same belief when he said to Georges Jeanniot: "It is very good to copy what one sees; it is much better to draw what you can't see any more but in your memory.  It is a transformation in which imagination and memory work together.  You only reproduce what struck you, that is to say the necessary.  That way, your memories and your fantasy are freed from the tyranny of nature.

--Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich

October  9,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

And when Offenbach abandoned the world of fantasy, later that year, for a very contemporary comedy, La Vie Parisienne, it was the greatest success he had ever had.  The visiting khedive of Egypt, Khalil Pasha, who had recently commissioned Courbet's famous erotica, The Sleepers and The Origin of the World, was inspired to declare that Offenbach's newest hit made him feel that "the whole city of Paris is my mistress."  More specifically, the khedive wanted Hortense Schneider to represent the city of Paris, and so he invited her to visit him in Vichy, where he was taking the waters.  Unfortunately, the aide in charge of fulfilling the khedive's wishes misunderstood his instructions and sent the invitation to the famous arms merchant Eugene Schneider.  The khedive's attendants were trained not to question the ruler's wishes, and so they did not question his request that the visitor be ushered into a luxurious suite at the Grand Hotel, that the suite be filled with flowers and perfumes, and that the visitor be invited to bathe in preparation for the khedive's arrival.  What the khedive and the arms merchant said on their first encounter remains one of history's many unanswered questions.

--Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich

October  8,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

'[T]hat man [Napoleon III] was stupid, he was stupidity incarnate!'

"'Certainly I am of your opinion,' I say to him; 'but stupidity is usually loquacious and his was silent.  That was his strength: it allowed people to suppose anything.'"

--Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich

October  7,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Prophets are often wrong, of course, and pseudo-prophets even more often, but one senses that Zola, for all his conniving opportunism, saw and felt in Manet what Herman Melville had said of his own encounter with Hawthorne: "One shock of recognition."  "People may laugh at the panegyrist as they laugh at the painter," Zola Wrote.  "One day we shall both have our revenge.  There is one eternal truth that upholds me as a critic: it is that genius alone survives and dominates the centuries.  It is impossible--impossible, do you understand?--that Manet will not have his day of triumph and crush the timid mediocrities who surround him."

--Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich

October  6,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Manet nonetheless learned much of his craft in Couture's atelier.  But when he tried to impress the older master by inviting him to his own studio to see one of his first major paintings of Parisian life, The Absinthe Drinker (1859).  Couture's reaction was shattering, and prophetic.  "An absinthe drinker!" he exclaimed.  "And they paint abominations like that!  My poor friend, you are the absinthe drinker.  It is you who have lost your moral faculty."

--Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich

October  5,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

I insisted on wielding the bullhorn, and it has to be conceded that things soon . . . But I simply don't accept that I'm getting worse at deceiving the evacuees.  What's happened is that they've got better at not being taken in.  and (come to think of it) it's easy to see why.  yes, we should have anticipated this difficulty--but you can only live and learn.  The people in the target communities are drawing their own conclusions from an obvious and irrefutable truth: Nobody Has Ever come Back.  Thus they've put 2 and 2 together, and we have lost the "element of surprise" . . .  All right, I'll phrase that slightly differently: in the matter of what awaits these "settlers" in the eastern territories, we no longer have the advantage of being unbelievable.  the decisive asset of being beyond belief.

--The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

October  4,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

"What would you rather?" yelled Sybil from the distant sandpit.  "Know everything or know nothing?"

"Know nothing," I yelled back.  "Then you have the fun of finding everything out."

--The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

October  3,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Once upon a time there was a king, and the king commissioned his favourite wizard to create a magic mirror.  This mirror didn't show you your reflection.  It showed you your soul--it showed you who you really were.

The wizard couldn't look at it without turning away.  The king couldn't look at it.  The courtiers couldn't look at it.  A chestful of treasure was offered to any citizen in this peaceful land who could look at it for sixty seconds without turning away.  And no one could.

I find the KZ is that mirror.  The KZ is that mirror, but with one difference.  You can't turn away.

--The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

[N.B.:  The KZ is the "Zone of Interest" a/k/a Auschwitz.]

October  2,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

What was the mouse saying?  It was saying, All I can offer, in mitigation, in appeasement, is the totality, the perfection, of my defencelessness.

What was the cat saying?  It wasn't saying anything, naturally.  Glassy, starry, imperial, of another order, or another world.

--The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

October  1,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

There was, I believed, a hidden world that ran alongside the world we knew; it existed in potentia; to gain admission to it, you had to pass through the veil or film of the customary, and act.  With a hurrying gait Hannah Doll led me down the cindery path to the greenhouse, and the light was holding, and would it be so strange, really, to urge her on inside and to lean into her and gather in my dropped hands the white folds of her dress?  Would it?  Here?  Where everything was allowed?

--The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis