Friday, September 16, 2011

St. Paul, again

Thursday, September 15, 2011

stilled life

And one reason for this atheistical failure of interest is its failure of theological radicalness: such atheists are but what are called 'negative' theologians, but attenuated ones. In a sense which I hope to clarify in a moment, they give shorter measure than good theologians do in the extent of what they deny. It is indeed extrordinary how theologically conservative some atheists are, and one might even speculate that atheists of this species have an interest in resisting such renewals of Christian faith and practice as would require the renewal of their rejection of it. I suppose it must be upsetting for atheists when the target of their rejection moves; for insofar as a moving Christian target does upset the atheist, it reveals, depressingly, the parasitical character of the rejection. So a static atheism can have no wish for a moving theism. (D Turner, 'How to be an atheist': link) || When René Magritte made his 1949 parody/tribute version of Manet's "Le Balcon", he metamorphosed the figures on the balcony into three wooden coffins, seated or standing. A pictorial pun on nature morte.The English phrase "still life" has always seemed to me a more affirmative term than nature morte. It was derived from the Dutch stilleven, which may be translated as "stilled life". This makes good sense, of course, when understood as a generic name for all the elaborate memento mori symbolism that shaped a century or two of Dutch still life painting. (N Wadley, "Modern life by moonlight", TLS June 3 2011, p.17) || Seit alters ist Arkadien für Hadeseingänge berühmt. - Arcadia has always been renowned for its entrances to Hades. (F Kittler, "Ein Erdbeben in Chili und Preußen", p.33. Transl. mine) || In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps, that snores when you pick it up. If the ghost cries, they carry it to their lips and soothe it to sleep with sounds. And yet, they wake it up deliberately, by tickling with a finger. (C Raine, Caxtons and Ghosts: link)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

nature morte

"Lovynge is the hynde, and frendlye is the Roo", so Proverbs assured him, "let hyr brestes alwaye satisfye the, and holde the ever content wyth hyr love." (JP Carley, "Italic ambitions", TLS June 3 2011, p.3) || My recollection is that the perhaps sufficiently devious Paris audience watching [Rohmer's Marquise von O...] with me, in 1976, was tickled by its naiveté, since giggling and snickering greeted its melodramatic representation. (A Kotin Mortimer, 'The devious second story in Kleist's Die Marquise von O...' The German Quarterly vol.67(3), 1994, p.297) || Und man muß Bewohner von Städten sein, sei es, um sich mit einer civilité höherer Art zu brüsten, sei es, um in melodischen und äußerst kunstvollen Versen das Glück der Hirten und die arkadische Stille als verloren zu beklagen. - And it is necessary to be an urbanite, be it in order to boast of one's refined civilité, be it to lament the loss of the joy of shepherds and arcadian calm in melodic and rather artful verse. (J Starobinski, Kunstgriffe der Aufklaerung, Ffm., Fischer, 1994, p.21. Transl. mine) || [...] Prayers or Medytacions, wherein the mynd is stirred, paciently to suffre all afflictions here, to set at nought the vayne prosperitee of this worlde, and alwaie to longe for the everlastynge felicitee [...] (Carley, ibid., p.4) || We learn that William Kent, the eighteenth-century architect, built "a grotto for Queen Caroline based on Spenser's description of Merlin's cave, and at Stowe a hermitage based on Archimago's cell." (H Wilkinson, "Child of Chaucer", TLS June 3 2011, p.10)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Logis in St. Paul

On the way a lightning bolt of undefined inspiration ran right through me - a passionate desire to write, and to write in Russian. And yet I can't. I don't think anyone who hasn't experienced this feeling can really understand its torment, its tragedy. English in this sense is an illusion and an ersatz. (V Nabokov, "Nov 10, 1942, St. Paul, Minnesota" in The New Yorker, June 13 2011, p.104) || Der Fehler, den wir Zuhörer immer machen, liegt in der Annahme, daß in diesen melodischen Wundern die Sprache und die Musik ihr natürliches Erbteil zitieren, während sie doch in Wahrheit daran das Künstlichste sind. Was es zu dessen Herstellung braucht, das ist nach wie vor ein weitgehend unerschlossenes Geheimnis. Gewiß ein seltenes handwerkliches Geschick, das zu den kleinsten Adjustierungen und Korrekturen befähigt; außerdem, glaube ich, ein sehr langes Gedächtnis und, möglicherweise, auch einen gewissen Mangel an Liebesglück, der das Los gerade derer gewesen zu sein scheint, die, wie Mörike und Schubert, wie Stifter, Keller und Walser, ein paar der schönsten Zeilen für uns geschrieben haben. - The error we listeners always make lies in the assumption that language and music recite their natural legacy in these melodic miracles while in truth they comprise its most artifical aspect. What is required for its production continues to remain a largely undiscovered secret. Certainly a rare artisanal deftness that has the capacity for the most minute adjustments and corrections; furthermore, I believe, a very long memory and, possibly, also a certain lack of romantic fortune which appears to have been the lot exactly of those, who, like Mörike and Schubert, Stifter, Keller and Walser, have written for us a few of the most beautiful lines. (WG Sebald, Logis in einem Landhaus, p.90. Transl. mine.) || I love you, my sweetheart. Try to be cheery when I come back (but I love you when you're low, too). (Nabokov, Ibid.)