Just read a great review of Eco’s "On Ugliness" in the Telegraph. I confess a weakness for Eco’s essays and fiction, but Brian Dillon pulls no punches in his attempt to put Eco into historical place. Worth the read, made me want ot read him again:
"By the Romantic period, the grotesque and the sublime were established as aesthetic categories, and the decadents of the late 19th century loved nothing more than a deathly consumptive countenance. In the wake of 20th-century avant-gardes, unadulterated beauty looks saccharine, immature or kitsch. We seduce only with our faults, wrote Baudrillard. Or as Johnny Rotten put it: there’s nothing so boring as a pretty face."
read the rest after the jump HERE
"If we do not respect ourselves … we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out — since our self-image is untenable — their false notions of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give. Of course I will play Francesca to your Paolo, Hellen Keller to anyone’s Annie Sullivan: no expectation is too misplaced, no role too ludicrous…
It is the phenomenon sometimes called “alienation from self.” In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something so small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — their lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home."
–Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem
via the excellent Maud Newton
I am waiting for an arrival, a return, a promised sign. This can be futile, or immensely pathetic; in Erwartung (Waiting), a woman waits for her lover, at night, in the forest; I am waiting for no more than a telephone call, but the anxiety is the same. Everything is solemn; I have no sense of proportions.(…)
Waiting is enchantment: I have received orders not to move. Waiting for a telephone call is thereby woven out of tiny unavowable interdictions to infinity: I forbid myself to leave the room, to go to the toilet, even to telephone (to keep the line from being busy); I suffer torments if someone else telephones me (for the same reason); I madden myself by the thought that at a certain (imminent) hour I shall have to leave, thereby running the risk of missing the healing call, the return of the Mother. All these diversions which solicit me are so many wasted moments for waiting, so many impurities of anxiety. For the anxiety of waiting, in its pure state, requires that I be sitting in a chair within reach of the telephone, without doing anything.(…)
The being I am waiting for is not real. Like the mother’s breast for the infant, “I create and re-create it over and over, starting from my capacity to love, starting from my need for it”: the other comes here where I am waiting, here where I have already created him/her. And if the other does not come, I hallucinate the other: waiting is a delirium…. (more)
via the incomparable wood s lot
This is the first time in 3 years I will not make it to the Festival of Books in LA. If you’re in town don’t miss it. My first year, I met George Plimpton at the Paris Reveiw booth who told me to, "keep writing." Wish I had had a picture phone at the time. He was as gracious and as kind as they said he would be. We miss you George:
"In the LA Times Festival of Books, the most read paper in town joins forces with the city’s most respected school, bringing LA’s bibliophiles together for a massive weekend of readings, signings, lectures, and sales. While there are plenty of serious discussions and A-list literary celebs for the high-minded, pop-culture junkies get their fix, as well, with an appearance by fashion icon and Project Runway superstar Tim Gunn, who shows up to sign his magnum opus, Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, and answer questions for the fashionably challenged. (MEM)"
I might be shooting myself in the foot by posting this, but the table of contents for the newest issue of the New Yorker is usually available on Sunday on newyorker.com, the day before the issue hits the newsstands and arrives in subscriber mailboxes. All you need to do is hack the URL of the TOC from the previous Monday. Here’s the URL for the April 23 TOC:
“2007/04/23” is the date of the issue and “toc_20070416” refers to the date of the posting. This then is the URL for the April 30 issue:
At right is the cover for tomorrow’s issue, which includes Adam Gopnik’s piece on the Virginia Tech shooting, a new piece by Atul Gawande, and Anthony Lane’s review of Hot Fuzz. Monday’s New Yorker on Sunday is usually only available to the select few of the Manhattan media elite who are sped their new issues hot off the presses. Now everyone can have a similar experience on the web.
Check it out right now. Then go buy the book!
"A rare, original illustration by The Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has been discovered in Japan. François d’Agey, the author’s nephew, was among those at a media conference in Tokyo on Wednesday announcing the discovery.
"Seeing [the drawing] made me very happy," the 81-year-old d’Agey told the gathering of reporters.
The image depicts the businessman on the fourth star visited by the title character of Saint-Exupéry’s beloved story. The man is so busy counting stars that he pays no attention to the philosophical little character.
The precious drawing is only the sixth discovered of the estimated 47 illustrations by Saint-Exupery (1900-1944). Most of the author’s drawings are missing, officials said.
The drawing has been kept by Minoru Shibuya, head of the Ehon Museum Kiyosato in Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture, which displays the works of picture-book writers from around the world and who is said to not have realized the drawing’s value (!).
We can’t help you with finding the time, but we’ve found the perfect place. The Bibliochaise by Nobody & Co. holds up to 5 linear meters of your favorite books. Just fill it up with the books on your list and start reading. When the shelves/chair are/is empty, repeat.
seen at http://www.rossanaorlandi.com/
TS Eliot by Craig Raine
"For a good many decades, thick fumes of incense have been wafting from the English literary establishment in the general direction of TS Eliot. The latest offering by the acolytes to the high priest is this study by Craig Raine, which admits that some of Eliot’s drama isn’t up to much but otherwise won’t hear a cross word about the great man. "There is no evidence," Raine piously remarks, "that Eliot was either a fornicator or a homosexual," as though being homosexual was a trespass to be vigorously rebutted. Eliot was not, he rashly maintains, a misogynist either, even though the poetry is shot through from end to end with a fear and loathing of women. He even seeks to face down the charge that this ascetic ex-bank clerk was a bit of a dry old stick, although Eliot himself admitted as much.
Why do critics feel a need to defend the authors they write on, like doting parents deaf to all criticism of their obnoxious children?"
To find out, read the rest HERE.