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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beckett on Jack Yeats

Interesting comment from Beckett in a tribute to painter Jack Yeats (brother of the poet) on the occasion of an exhibition of his works in Paris, 1954:

L'artiste qui joue son être est de nulle part. Et il n'a pas de frères. [The artist who risks his being does not belong anywhere. And he has no brothers.] (Tr. George Craig; modified R.McN.)

This may or may not be a rearticulation of a concept he may have encountered in Baudelaire, that he, SB, imitated consciously or unconsciously; it's said that when writers lift materially unconsciously that they plagiarize, unwittingly, like thieves in the night and congratulate themselves on their originality, Baudelaire's comment having been:

"To be great is to be unique."

Photographer unknown.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Flaubert's Brilliance

On venomous literary critics:

"As long as they don't say it to my face, there's no real problem."

Photo uncredited.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Extraordinary Republican Delusions & the Madness of Speaker Ryan

The incoherence of Republican Party thinking as the misguided House Speaker Paul Ryan and colleagues attempted unsuccessfully to repeal the Affordable Care Act last month is nicely illustrated by this quote from one of the Republicans' worshipped thinkers, F.A. Hayek:

"[T]here can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. ... Where, as in the case of sickness [italics supplied] and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state to organise a comprehensive system  of social insurance is very strong." The Road to Serfdom (UK: Routledge, 1944; repr. 1976), p. 90.

So not only were the Republicans spitting in the face of their sister and fellow Americans in their malicious effort to undo Obama Care, which the non-partisan Office of Management & Budget stated would result in millions of citizens losing their health insurance, they were also spitting in the face of their twentieth-century equivalent of Adam Smith.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Times Reporter Shows Openness to a Suggestion

Dear Kristoff,

Read! (When you can.)

I’m not sure if you had a chance to read them, but I made a series of comments in support of your actions touching the intruder who slipped into your wife’s hotel room a few weeks ago, congratulating you on your courage.

Today I write regarding your practice of using the expression 'Read!' in the promotional bulletins for your columns.

I was listening to BBC radio the other day, and the presenter said at one point, ‘Stay tuned, if you can.” This struck me as a wonderful way to show respect for the listener, to avoid the usual fascistic command, ‘Stay tuned!’ No one likes to be bossed around. To say, ‘Stay tuned, if you can,’ shows respect for listener, recognizes that many of us these days are under unrelenting pressure, from minute to minute, to maintain our position in a competitive, not to say dog-eat-dog, workplace, and do not need to have more pressure gratuitously applied via a radio presenter. Or a leading journalist.

Whenever I read your exhortation Read!," it strikes my ear as a sour note, the kind of aggressive act one associates with the archetypal Ugly American—imperialist, domineering, disrespectful, insensitive, ‘superior.’ The content of your columns of course justifies use of ‘Read!,’ no question. However, as Oscar Wilde said, ‘The most important thing in life is style,’ which is an exaggeration, but one that makes a point worth considering. Your ethics are beyond criticism, your writing lucid, your choice of subject matter deeply human, and the tag ‘Read!,’ while politically and rationally justified, is aesthetically, temperamentally, in its implications, out of sync with your good qualities, in my humble opinion.

You have a powerful intellect and you have a heart. I respect both, and offer this suggestion merely as something to think about.

Ponder! (When you can.)

R.McN., ‘69

Mr. Nicholas Kristof, Columnist, New York Times, 620 Eighth Ave., New York NY 10018


April 19, 2017 @ 5:07 PM

Cordial and interesting reply from Mr. Kristof received today in which he exhibits an admirable openness to considering an idea mailed in from out of the blue. 

Sur la Même Page?

Genet writes:

"Unhappiness is the enchanted potion...."

and Beckett:

"Nothing is funnier than unhappiness."