Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Out of the Archive

In the process of organizing picture files devoted to Mabel over the past three years, I found that certain images were requiring me to display them over again. These are some of the most insistent.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pretend Ice Cream

At the playground on Sunday afternoon Mabel was taking her ease at one point on an odd, low cable-anchored swing-contraption when she observed another child and that child's grandmother playing ice-cream store very nearby. Mabel became almost hypnotised, and happily observed the ice-cream game as long as it lasted.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Late Sunday afternoon Mabel and I climbed the hill to the playground. Before anything else she wanted to demonstrate her current way of playing hopscotch..Mabel's hopscotch game has grown more ambitious since the last time she showed it to me. The new rules appeared to require more acrobatics.

When we took a cookie break under the arbor, a toddler came teetering up to stare. Mabel turned and asked the mother if her little child could have some cookie. The mother took a tiny piece for this barely-walking baby, and the baby was enthralled.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Burning Bush

Moses and the Burning Bush

Temptation of Eve

Biblical paintings and drawings by William Blake (1757-1827) preserved at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The number of Blake's supporters was painfully small during his lifetime, but for the past hundred years (since the dawn of Modernism) the splendor of this artist has never been in general dispute.

Christ in the House of Martha & Mary

Third Temptation of Christ

Angels Hover over the Dead Christ


Our Lady with Infant Jesus

Virgin & Child in Egypt

Our Lady Adoring the Infant Jesus Asleep on the Cross

Angel Striding Among Stars

Friday, June 26, 2015


from p. 25:

appendix 15 (a) on adjectives

Adjectives are the handles of Being. Nouns name the world, adjectives let you get hold of the name and keep it from flying all over your mind like a pre-Socratic explanation of the cosmos. Air, for example, in Proust can be (adjectivally) gummy, flaked, squeezed, frayed, pressed or percolated in Book 1; powdery, crumbling, embalmed, distilled, scattered, liquid or volatilized in Book 2; woven or brittle in Book 3; congealed in Book 4; melted, glazed, unctuous, elastic, fermenting, contracted, distended in Book 5; solidified in Book 6; and there seems to be no air at all in Book 7.

 from The Albertine Workout (2014) by Anne Carson

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Beauty of the Husband

Jean Mounet-Sully (1841-1916)
in the role of Hernani 
photographed by Nadar
Victoria & Albert Museum

Why did nature give me over to this creature  don't call it my choice,
I was ventured:
by some pure gravity of existence itself,
conspiracy of being!
We were fifteen.
It was Latin class, late spring, late afternoon, the passive periphrastic,
for some reason I turned in my seat
and there he was.
You know how they say a Zen butcher makes one correct cut and the whole ox
falls apart
like a puzzle. Yes a cliché

and I do not apologize because as I say I was not to blame, I was unshielded
in the face of existence
and existence depends on beauty.
In the end.
Existence will not stop
until it gets to beauty and then there follow all the consequences that lead to the end.
Useless to interpose analysis
or make contrafactual suggestions.
Quid enim futurum fuit si. . . . What would have happened if, etc.
The Latin master's voice
went up and down on quiet waves. A passive periphrastic
may take the place of the imperfect or pluperfect subjunctive
in a contrary-to-fact condition.
Adeo parata seditio fuit
ut Othonem rapturi fuerint, ni incerta noctis timuissent.
So advanced was the conspiracy
that they would have seized upon Otho, had they not feared the hazards of the night.
Why do I have
this sentence in mind
as if it happened three hours ago not thirty years!
Unshielded still, night now.
How true they were to fear its hazards.

 Secton XI from Anne Carson's book-length poem, The Beauty of the Husband (2001)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015



God's Justice

In the beginning there were days set aside for various tasks.
On the day He was to create justice
God got involved in making a dragonfly

and lost track of time.
It was about two inches long
with turquoise dots all down its back like Lauren Bacall.

God watched it bend its tiny wire elbows
as it set about cleaning the transparent case of its head.
The eye globes mounted on the case

rotated this way and that
as it polished every angle.
Inside the case

which was glassy black like the windows of a downtown bank
God could see the machinery humming
and He watched the hum

travel all the way down turquoise dots to the end of the tail
and breathe off as light.
Its black wings vibrated in and out.

– Anne Carson
from Glass, Irony and God (1995)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eleven Words

Friedrich Melchior Grimm (1723-1807)

Jean-Baptiste Greuze
Portrait in profile of Denis Diderot 
Morgan Library

In 1759 the writer Denis Diderot was feeling old and discouraged. The year before, his much-censored, multi-volume Encyclopédie project had fallen into royal disfavor (through court intrigue, by none other than the Jesuits). Seven of the projected seventeen folio volumes had already been issued to subscribers and booksellers when publication was suddenly ordered to cease. Diderot felt that he could no longer risk publishing anything at all. For the next six years the syndicate behind the project kept  him on the payroll for editing (and to a great extent writing) the remainder of the work  clandestinely. The backers continued to wager in favor of the day when the royal ban would be lifted. As, in time, it was.

Because of the scandal, Diderot lost friends as well as collaborators. His most trusted remaining ally in Paris was the German expatriate Friedrich Melchior Grimm, editor of the Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique. This newsletter circulated only in manuscript and never to more than fifteen subscribers, all of them European rulers who could seldom or never enjoy personal access to Parisian high culture. Such an audience particularly valued the explicit frankness that caused trouble for Diderot elsewhere. Grimm's newsletter could employ him as an arts journalist because the entire enterprise was conducted privately and circulated by diplomatic couriers, immune to surveillance.

In a letter to Grimm the isolated Diderot of 1759 quoted Horace 

Quid tibi prodest aerias tentasse domos, animoque rotundum percurisse polum morituro.

What advantage is it to you to have scaled the airy heights and by your intellect voyaged over the rounded pole, you who are about to die?

Horace needed exactly eleven words of Latin verse to create his original chain of images. Translation into English required twenty-seven words.

After 1759 Diderot in fact lived for another twenty-five years  years that were filled with intense and largely joyful creative labors.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mabel Magazine

There was a happy Father's Day party yesterday at Mabel's house where I received two major gifts that I am installing this morning in the places where they will live.

Above on my desk blotter accompanied by local dragons are two views of the object Mabel made for me. It is MABEL MAGAZINE, with many pictures on the inside. The two pages visible are drawings named Daddy-Long-Leg and Falling-Zig-Zag.

And the other present (below) was a hummingbird feeder for outside the window of the new library. I mixed the nectar and hung it up just now.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

People & Trees

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Woman with dog
c. 1769
Metropolitan Museum

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Two sisters
c. 1769-70
Metropolitan Museum

From several sources, paintings of surpassing facility by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806). Like other French artists of the period, Fragonard formed his technique through extended periods of study in Italy – the place where educated Europeans were agreed that absolutely the finest paintings in existence could be emulated.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Studies of figures seen from below
18th century
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Study of standing young woman
c. 1775-80

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Gathering at wood's edge
c. 1761-73
Metropolitan Musueum

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Shaded avenue
c. 1775
Metropolitan Museum

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
18th century
Morgan Library

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Rinaldo in the enchanted forest
c. 1761-65
Metropolitan Museum

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Elijah (etching after Boucher)
c. 1752-56

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Villa d'Este
18th century
Morgan Library