Archive for March, 2008

To Texas!

I’m going to be visiting a friend in Texas through next week. Blogging may be sporadic.

In the meantime, here is Barack Obama’s More Perfect Union speech:


March 19, 2008 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

Toward a review of The Hours

In a nameless local bar (though of course it has a name) I’d once revealed to a friend that Virginia Woolf is my favorite bourgeois novelist. In particular, I’d been seduced by Mrs. Dalloway. It is a novel that portends to present the joyous measure of abject lucubrations in one sublime day (flashbacks inter alia) of Clarissa Dalloway’s life:

What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as she then was) solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen; looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke winding off them and the rooks rising, falling; standing and looking until Peter Walsh said, “Musing among the vegetables?”–was that it?–“I prefer men to cauliflowers?”–was that it?

The sign of life is a semi-colon; it is the syntactic scaffold upon which the continuous form of a sentence hangs. In its conjunctive suspension the accumulation of words and ideas inhabit a space of their own, the alert expression of a moment’s experience held to the light. Woolf’s waves locate the motion of memory as stream of conscious creativity such that a muse among the vegetables makes for curiously luminous sport: A lark! A plunge! But with the contrast of something solemn and awful ever present. Tragedy triumphs in Woolf, but it is always a partial victory. The rest is what beauty we make of the everyday stuff that binds our moments into hours, the quotidian refuse of another bright possible day.

Masterfully, Michael Cunningham‘s love letter to Woolf, The Hours, captures the moment:

The vestibule door opens on to a June morning so fine and scrubbed Clarissa pauses at the threshold as she would at the edge of a pool, watching the turquoise water lapping at the tiles, the liquid nets of sun wavering in the blue depths. As if standing at the edge of a pool she delays for a moment the plunge, the quick membrane of chill, the plain shock of immersion. New York in its racket and stern brown decrepitude, its bottomless decline, always produces a few summer mornings like this; mornings invaded everywhere by an assertion of new life so determined it is almost comic, like a cartoon character that endures endless, hideous punishments and always emerges unburnt, unscarred, ready for more. This June, again, the trees along West Tenth Street have produced perfect little leaves from the squares of dog dirt and discarded wrappers in which they stand. Again the window box of the old woman next door, filled as it always is with faded red plastic geraniums pushed into the dirt, has sprouted a rogue dandelion.

Cunningham’s splendid lyric translation of Woolf is foregrounded by the spare news that it is New York City. It is the end of the twentieth century. From the death of a terrible century, a rogue dandelion. One recalls Wallace Stevens‘ pathos,

What more is there to love than I have loved?
And if there be nothing more, O bright, O bright . . .

Into the bright quiet beauty of morning and mourning, both authors pause for the space of these fraught caesuras to give us ourselves all over again. If life is our dearest possession, to have and to hold for unspecified seasons, then we ought do our best, while we can, to be aware.

I mentioned Stevens, but perhaps it is Whitman‘s grass that I want? Is there something about the latter’s ecstatic democracy that seems averse to a discussion of Woolf? The way the death of another is instrumental to one’s consumptive appreciation of life? What is that? Have I been seduced by privilege? Raymond Williams writes that the Bloomsbury fraction, as he calls it, is simply a fraction of the ruling class. What then? What then?

I had set out to write a review of the film version of The Hours. For that I refer you to a capable friend.

March 14, 2008 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

McCain Files: straight talk?

March 14, 2008 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

Ellen DeGeneres calls Sally Kern

March 14, 2008 at 4:29 am 2 comments

Shame Files: Geraldine Ferraro

And to think that I voted for her and Walter Mondale in 1984 during an elementary school mock election. I’d always thought the vote rather precocious, especially as the majority of my peers went the way of the nation, and elected Reagan/Bush. Well, I take back my symbolic vote.

March 14, 2008 at 4:11 am Leave a comment

Obama after Mississippi

March 12, 2008 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

Child in Clinton Attack Ad Actually Supports Obama

March 10, 2008 at 3:30 pm 4 comments

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