One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Friday, November 30, 2012

Musilese VIII

Or a few Musil-bullets:

  • "How things might turn out! That's always the way with you; it would never occur to you to wonder how things should be."
  • It was essentially the same conversation he had had with Diotima, with only superficial differences. Nor did it make much difference which woman happened to be sitting there facing him; a body, introduced into a given magnetic field, invariably sets certain processes in motion.
  • "Why on earth should I feel called upon to write a book?" Ulrich objected. "I was born of my mother, after all, not an inkwell."
  • In this fashion Arnheim spoke with disapproval of desire, even as he felt it struggling like a blinded slave in the cellar.
  • The moment we speak, certain doors begin to close; language works best for what doesn't really matter; we talk in lieu of living. . . ."

An Example: The Law of Large Numbers

The illustration above demonstrates the law of large numbers using a particular run of rolls of a single die. As the number of rolls in this run increases, the average of the values of all the results approaches 3.5 [the average value of all faces: (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6)/6]. Though early on in the run (at left) the mean value may fluctuate wildly, over a large number of rolls (at right) the mean value will move closer and closer to the expected (theoretical) value of 3.5.  

Musilese VII

     At this point Gerda's resistance tried to break through. "Are you trying to explain progress to me?" she cried out, doing her best to sound sarcastic.
     "But of course," Ulrich came back at her, without breaking stride. "It's called the law of large numbers, a bit nebulously. Meaning that one person may commit suicide for this reason and another for that reason, but when a great number is involved, then the accidental and the personal elements cancel each other out, and what's left . . . but that's just it: what is left? I ask you. Because  you see, what's left is what each one of us as laymen calls, simply, the average, which is a "something," but nobody really knows exactly what. Let me add that efforts have been made to find a logical and formal explanation for this law of large numbers, as an accepted fact, as it were. But there are also those who say that such regularity of phenomena which are not casually related to each other cannot be explained at all by conventional logic, and the point has been made, among others, that such phenomena must be analyzed not as individual instances but as involving some unknown laws of aggregates or collectives. I don't want to bother you with the details, which I no longer have at my fingertips anyway, but I would certainly love to know, for myself, whether there are such laws of the collective phenomenon, or whether it is simply by some irony of nature that the particular instance arises from the happening of nothing in particular, and that the ultimate meaning turns out to be something arrived at by taking the average of what is basically meaningless.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Imperial and Royal

The German phrase kaiserlich und königlich (pronounced [ˈkaɪzɐlɪç ʔʊnt ˈkøːnɪklɪç], Imperial and Royal), typically abbreviated as k. u. k., k. und k., k. & k. or Hungarian: cs. és k. (in all cases the "und" is always spoken unabbreviated), refers to the Court of the Habsburgs in a broader historical perspective (see below). Some modern authors restrict its use to the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary from 1867 to 1918. During that period, it indicated that the Habsburg monarch reigned simultaneously as the Emperor of Austria and as the King of Hungary, while the two territories were joined in a real union (akin to a two-state federation in this instance). The acts of the common government, which only was responsible for the Imperial & Royal ("I&R") Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the I&R Ministry of War and the I&R Ministry of Finance (financing only the two other ministries), were carried out in the name of "His Imperial and Royal Majesty" and the central governmental bodies had their names prefixed with k. u. k.

Other uses

The abbreviation k.k. gave rise to the noun Kakania (spelling out the letter K [kah] twice as well as reminiscent of caca in the Central European languages). It was intended to describe the Habsburg Monarchy as a state of mind, bureaucratic and with a highly stratified formal society. A discussion of Kakania became a highlight of the first volume of Robert Musil's novel The Man Without Qualities (1930).

[From Wikipedia:]

Gustav Jagerspacher: Portrait of Peter Altenberg 1909

A portrait I dug up on Flickr. No idea (yet) who Jagerspacher is. Very interesting and, yes, the hands are creepy.

Peter Altenberg (1859 - 1919)

From The Man (re the relationship between Walter and Clarisse):

Actually, she owed him a lot. It was he who had brought the news that there were modern people who insisted on plain, cool furniture and hung pictures on their walls that showed the truth. He read new things to her, Peter Altenberg, little stories of young girls who rolled their hoops in the love-crazed tulip beds and had eyes that shone with sweet innocence like glazed chestnuts.


Peter Altenberg (9 March 1859, Vienna – 8 January 1919, Vienna) was a writer and poet from Vienna, Austria. He was key to the genesis of early modernism in the city.


He was born Richard Engländer on 9 March 1859. The nom de plume, "Altenberg", came from a small town on the Danube River. Allegedly, he chose the "Peter" to honor a young girl whom he remembered as an unrequited love (it had been her nickname). Although he grew up in a middle class Jewish family, Altenberg eventually separated himself from his family of origin by dropping out of both law and medical school, and embracing Bohemianism as a permanent lifestyle choice. He cultivated a feminine appearance and feminine handwriting, wore a cape, sandals and a broad-brimmed hat, and despised 'macho' masculinity.

Discovered by Arthur Schnitzler in 1894 and appreciated by Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Karl Kraus, Altenberg was one of the main proponents of Viennese Impressionism. He was a master of short, aphoristic stories based on close observation of everyday life events. After reading Altenbergs' first published collection 'Wie ich es sehe' (1896) Hofmannsthal wrote: "Even though entirely unconcerned with things important, the book has such a good conscience that one can immediately see that it cannot possibly be a German book. It is truly Viennese. It flaunts it – its origin – as it flaunts its attitude."

At the fin de siècle, when Vienna was a major crucible and center for modern arts and culture, Altenberg was a very influential part of a literary and artistic movement known as Jung Wien or "Young Vienna". Altenberg was a contemporary of Karl Kraus, Gustav Mahler, Arthur Schnitzler, Gustav Klimt, and Adolf Loos, with whom he had a very close relationship. He was somewhat older, in his early 30s, than the others. In addition to being a poet and prolific letter writer, he was an accomplished short story writer, prose writer, and essayist.

He became well known throughout Vienna after the publication of a book of his fragmentary observations of women and children in everyday street activities. Because most of his literary work was written while he frequented various Viennese bars and coffeehouses, Altenberg is sometimes referred to as a cabaret or coffee house poet. His favorite coffeehouse was the Cafe Central, to which he even had his mail delivered.

Altenberg's detractors said he was a drug addict and a womanizer. Altenberg was also rumored to have problems with alcoholism and mental illness. Yet his admirers considered him to be a highly creative individual with a great love for the aesthetic, for nature, and for young girls. He is certainly known to have had a large collection of photographs and drawings of young girls, and those who knew him well (such as the daughter of his publisher) wrote of his adoration of young girls.

Altenberg was never a commercially successful writer, but he did enjoy most if not all of the benefits of fame in his lifetime. Some of the aphoristic poetry he wrote on the backs of postcards and scraps of paper were set to music by composer Alban Berg. In 1913, Berg's Five songs on picture postcard texts by Peter Altenberg were premiered in Vienna. The piece caused an uproar, and the performance had to be halted: a complete performance of the work was not given until 1952.

Altenberg, like many writers and artists, was constantly short of money, but he was adept at making friends, cultivating patrons, and convincing others to pay for his meals, his champagne, even his rent, with which he was frequently late. He repaid his debts with his talent, his wit, and his charm. Many academics consider him to have been a "bohemian's Bohemian."

Most of Altenberg's work is published in the German language and, outside of anthology pieces, is difficult to find. Much of it remains in university libraries or private collections. Two selections have been translated, Evocations of Love (1960) and Telegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose of Peter Altenberg (2005).

The Altenberg Trio is named after Peter Altenberg. Formed in 1994 in Vienna, the classical chamber music group is an internationally acclaimed piano trio.[1]

Altenberg, who never married, died on 8 January 1919, aged 59. He is buried at Central Cemetery in Vienna, Austria.

[From Wikipedia:]

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" -- Wright's Version More Artifice Than Art

The stage/world thing intrigued me for about a minute (I kept hoping for that trick to disappear but it never did). At some point I wondered if I wasn't watching a spoof on Anna. I guess I'll have to wait some more (or check out the other versions I haven't seen -- that'll keep me busy) -- or better yet: just reread the perhaps unfilmable masterpiece again.

It's on my list.


Forget the glossing over of Levin's essential intellectual meanderings, how can you film this?
     She looked at the lower part of the carriages, at the screws and chains and the tall cast-iron wheel of the first carriage slowly moving up, and trying to measure the middle between the front and back wheels, and the very minute when that middle point would be opposite her.
     "There," she said to herself, looking into the shadow of the carriage, at the sand and coal dust which covered the sleepers--"there, in the very middle, and I will punish him and escape from everyone and from myself."
     She tried to fling herself below the wheels of the first carriage as it reached her; but the red bag which she tried to drop out of her hand delayed her, and she was too late; she missed the moment. She had to wait for the next carriage. A feeling such as she had known when about to take the first plunge in bathing came upon her, and she crossed herself. That familiar gesture brought back into her soul a whole series of girlish and childish memories, and suddenly the darkness that had covered everything for her was torn apart, and life rose up before her for an instant with all its bright past joys. But she did not take her eyes from the wheels of the second carriage. And exactly at the moment when the space between the wheels came opposite her, she dropped the red bag, and drawing her head back into her shoulders, fell on her hands under the carriage, and lightly, as though she would rise again at once, dropped on to her knees. And at the same instant she was terror-stricken at what she was doing. "Where am I? What am I doing? What for?" She tried to get up, to drop backwards; but something huge and merciless struck her on the head and rolled her on her back. "Lord, forgive me all!" she said, feeling it impossible to struggle. A peasant muttering something was working at the iron above her. And the light by which she had read the book filled with troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than ever before, lighted up for her all that had been in darkness, flickered, began to grow dim, and was quenched forever.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

To Muses Past (1992)

What can I say? A small piece of incidental music. Combing through the "archives" (looking for cats and horned prophets), I found HER: an anonymous muse from the fall and winter of 1992/93. Back then it seemed she followed me everywhere (from Germany to Italy to Austria).

2012.11.24, 2012.11.24 

Musilese VI

     Someone pointed out that a man was a mysterious innerspace, who should be helped to find his place in the cosmos by means of the cone, the sphere, the cylinder, and the cube. Whereupon an opposing voice made itself heard, to the effect that the individualistic view of art underlying that statement was on its way out and that a future humanity must be given a new sense of habitation by means of communal housing and settlements. While an individualistic faction and a socialistic one were forming along these lines, a third one began by voicing the opinion that only religious artists were truly social-minded. At this point a group of New Architects was heard from, claiming leadership on the grounds that religion was at the heart of architecture, besides which it promoted love of one's country and stability, attachment to the soil.

"Moses" by Michelangelo: "Radiant" not "Horned"

The Moses (c. 1513–1515) is a sculpture by the Italian High Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti, housed in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome. Commissioned in 1505 by Pope Julius II for his tomb, it depicts the Biblical figure Moses with horns on his head, based on a description in the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible used at that time.


The marble sculpture appears to depict Moses with horns on his head, though some modern artists and historians claim that there were never intended to be horns.[2]

The depiction of a horned Moses was the normal medieval Western depiction of Moses, based on the description of Moses' face as "cornuta" ("horned") in the Latin Vulgate translation of Exodus.[3] The Douay-Rheims Bible translates the Vulgate as, "And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord."[4] This was, however, a mistranslation of the original Hebrew Masoretic text which uses a term equivalent to "radiant",[5] suggesting an effect like a halo. The Greek Septuagint translated the verse as "Moses knew not that the appearance of the skin of his face was glorified."[6]

The church historian Diarmaid MacCulloch comments about this: "Jerome [the translator of the Old Testament into Latin], mistaking particles of Hebrew, had turned this into a description of Moses wearing a pair of horns - and so the Lawgiver is frequently depicted in the art of the Western Church, even after humanists had gleefully removed the horns from the text of Exodus."[7]

The assumption for centuries was that Michelangelo simply "didn't know better" than the accepted mistranslation. However, as Rabbi Benjamin Blech pointed out in his 2008 book, Sistine Secrets,
"[The statue] never had horns. The artist had planned Moses as a masterpiece not only of sculpture, but also of special optical effects worthy of any Hollywood movie. For this reason, the piece had to be elevated and facing straight forward, looking in the direcion of the front door of the basilica. The two protrusions on the head would have been invisible to the viewer looking up from the floor below — the only thing that would have been seen was the light reflected off of them." [2]    
[From Wikipedia:]

Moosbrugger Dances

Meanwhile Moosbrugger was still sitting in a detention cell at the district courthouse while his case was under study. His counsel had got fresh wind in his sails and was using delaying tactics with the authorities to keep the case from coming to a final conclusion.
     Moosbrugger smiled at all this. He smiled from boredom.
     Boredom rocked his mind like a cradle. Ordinarily boredom blots out the mind, but his was rocked by it, this time anyway. He felt like an actor in his dressing room, waiting for his cue.

Juliette Binoche et Laura Morante - Egéries Lancôme

Ok, they're aging -- but who isn't. The Binoche has always been a favorite of mine. Enjoyed Laura just the other night (along with Javier) in rewatching Malkovich's The Dancer Upstairs.

Cats at the Protestant Cemetery - Cimitero protestante: Rome

Not mine (mine were more numerous and had a buffet of milk and open tins) but close enough. Not sure if I ever found Keats' grave.

Michelangelo's Moses statue (1515)

I was looking for something else (cats in the Protestant Cemetery of Rome) and found "my Moses" (too lazy to digitalize and post it so this one is surrogate) from circa 1992. I believe the "horns" are due to a mistranslation of the Hebrew text. When I was there the church was under repair, scaffolding and draping canvas everywhere, and it was very dark: had to put a few lire into the box for lighting.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Harold and Maude and Me

Harold and Maude and Me by Larry He's So Fine
Harold and Maude and Me, a photo by Larry He's So Fine on Flickr.


Ruth Gordon Jones (October 30, 1896 – August 28, 1985), better known as Ruth Gordon, was an American actress and writer.[1] She was perhaps best known for her film roles such as Minnie Castevet, Rosemary's overly solicitous neighbor in Rosemary's Baby, as the eccentric Maude in Harold and Maude and as the mother of Orville Boggs in the Clint Eastwood film Every Which Way but Loose. In addition to her acting career, Gordon wrote numerous well-known plays, film scripts and books. Gordon won an Academy Award, an Emmy and two Golden Globe awards for her acting, as well as three Academy Award nominations for her writing.

[From Wikipedia:]

Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor

Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor by sjb4photos
Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor, a photo by sjb4photos on Flickr.
When I was in A-squared it seems like The Rocky Horror and Harold & Maude were playing all the time. Am I wrong? Who knows. I saw neither then. I finally got around to seeing H & M and I loved it. Will watch it again soon.

The last time I had a chance to stop in to the Michigan it was La vie en rose.

Musilese V

     Digression Three or Answer Number Four: The course of history was therefore not that of a billiard ball--which, once it is hit, takes a definite line--but resembles the movement of clouds, or the path of a man sauntering through the streets, turned aside by a shadow here, a crowd there, an unusual architectural outcrop, until at last he arrives at a place he never knew or meant to go to. Inherent in the course of history is a certain going off course. The present is always like the last house of a town, which somehow no longer counts as a house in town. Each generation wonders "Who am I, and what were my forebears?" It would make more sense to ask "Where am I?" and to assume that one's predecessors were not different in kind but merely in a different place; that would be a move in the right direction, he thought.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Musilese IV

A few things I've inked in The Man lately:

"Now please don't think," he said, turning to her in all seriousness, "that all I mean by this is that everyone wants what is hard to get, and despises the attainable. What I mean is this: Within reality there is a senseless craving for unreality."
     "And what would you do," Diotima asked irritably, "if you could rule the world for a day?" 
     "I suppose I would have no choice but to abolish reality."

If we ask ourselves dispassionately how science has arrived at its present state--an important question in itself, considering how entirely we are in its power and how not even an illiterate is safe from its domination, since he has to learn to live with countless things born of science--we get a different picture. Credible received wisdom indicates that it all began in the sixteenth century, a time of the greatest spiritual turbulence, when people ceased trying to penetrate the deep mysteries of nature as they had done through two millennia of religious and philosophical speculation, but were instead satisfied with exploring the surface of nature in a manner that can only be called superficial. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Szymborska's "Redemptive Handrail"

Like her (love a lot of her) but I wasn't really crazy about "Some Like Poetry" when I first read it. Part of what nettled me was the ending (variously translated). Anyway, I found the original and a few "versions" (see below), and may (I have a Polka in my house) eventually include a version of my own.


Niektórzy lubią poezję

Niektórzy -
czyli nie wszyscy.
Nawet nie większość wszystkich ale mniejszość.
Nie licząc szkół, gdzie się musi,
i samych poetów,
będzie tych osób chyba dwie na tysiąc.

Lubią -
ale lubi się także rosół z makaronem,
lubi się komplementy i kolor niebieski,
lubi się stary szalik,
lubi się stawiać na swoim,
lubi się głaskać psa.

Poezję -
Tylko co to takiego poezja.
Niejedna chwiejna odpowiedź
na to pytanie już padła.
A ja nie wiem i nie wiem i trzymam się tego
Jak zbawiennej poręczy.


From Google Translate:

Some like poetry

Some -
that is not all.
Not even the majority of all but a small minority.
Not counting schools, where they must,
and the poets themselves,
I think these people will be two per thousand.

like -
but also likes chicken soup with noodles,
likes compliments and the color blue
like an old scarf,
likes to put on your own,
likes to pat the dog.

poetry -
Just what is poetry.
More than one rickety answer
this question has already fallen.
And I do not know and do not know and stick to it
As redemptive handrail.


Some like poetry

Some -
thus not all. Not even the majority of all but the minority.
Not counting schools, where one has to,
and the poets themselves,
there might be two people per thousand.

Like -
but one also likes chicken soup with noodles,
one likes compliments and the color blue,
one likes an old scarf,
one likes having the upper hand,
one likes stroking a dog.

Poetry -
but what is poetry.
Many shaky answers
have been given to this question.
But I don't know and don't know and hold on to it
like to a sustaining railing.

Translated by Regina Grol


Some People Like Poetry

Some people--
that is not everybody
Not even the majority but the minority.
Not counting the schools where one must,
and the poets themselves,
there will be perhaps two in a thousand.

but we also like chicken noodle soup,
we like compliments and the color blue,
we like our old scarves,
we like to have our own way,
we like to pet dogs.

but what is poetry.
More than one flimsy answer
has been given to that question.
And I don't know, and don't know, and I
cling to it as to a life line.

Translated by Walter Whipple


Some People Like Poetry

Some people—
that means not everyone.
Not even most of them, only a few.
Not counting school, where you have to,
and poets themselves,
you might end up with two per thousand.

but then, you can like chicken noodle soup,
or compliments, or the color blue,
your old scarf,
your own way,
petting the dog.

but what is poetry, anyway?
More than one rickety answer
has tumbled since that question first was raised.
But I just keep on not knowing, and I cling to that
like a redemptive handrail.

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh


Some like poetry


that means not all.

Not even the majority of all but the minority.

Not counting the schools, where one must,

and the poets themselves, there will be perhaps two in a thousand.


but one also likes chicken noodle soup,

one likes compliments and the color blue, one likes an old scarf,

one likes to prove one's point,

one likes to pet a dog.


but what sort of thing is poetry?

More than one shaky answer

has been given to this question.

But I do not know and do not know and clutch on to it,

as to a saving bannister.

Translated by Joanna Trzeciak


Monday, November 12, 2012

Louis Scutenaire (1905 - 1987)

According to the Wiki on Golconda, Scutenaire gave Magritte the idea for the title: Golconda (in French: Golconde). Supposedly one of the larger "raining men" in the painting (I could never blow it up to pinpoint which one) has Scutenaire's face.

Louis Scutenaire is chiefly remembered as a central figure in the Belgian Surrealist movement, along with René Magritte, Paul Nougé, Marcel Lecomte and his own wife Irène Hamoir. He studied law at the Free University of Brussels (now split into the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and was a criminal lawyer from 1931 to 1944. In 1926 he discovered surrealism and was a primary contributor to the Revue surréaliste. He was sympathetic to communism during the 1930s and 1940s but as the truth about Joseph Stalin's regime became more apparent, he grew disenchanted with it and became an anarchist. After the Second World War he became a civil servant in the Belgian Ministry of the Interior, a job he kept for the rest of his life.

Scutenaire grew disillusioned with the increasing commercialisation of Surrealism after the Second World War, but this did not apparently impair his close friendship with the most famous Belgian surrealist René Magritte. Scutenaire and his wife would visit the Magritte home on Sundays, where Scutenaire would be invited to give titles to Magritte's recent paintings; 170 of the paintings still bear the titles that Scutenaire suggested. (He is also the model for the figure in Magritte's canvas Universal Gravitation.)

Scutenaire's published works include a series of books entitled Mes Inscriptions, collections of gnomic and mischievous aphorisms, as well as one of the earliest and most entertaining monographs on Magritte. He was awarded in 1985 the Grand Prix spécial de l'Humour noir in recognition of his achievements as a writer with a lifelong distrust of authority and institution.

He died twenty years to the hour after his friend Magritte, just after watching a television programme on the painter.

[From Wikipedia:]

On Moosbrugger and the Human Attitude of Precision

From The Man Without Qualities:

     Precision, as a human attitude, demands precise action and precise being. It makes maximal demands on the doer and on life. But here a distinction must be made.
     In reality, as we all know, there is not only an imaginary precision (not yet present in reality at all) but also a pedantic kind, the difference being that the imaginary kind sticks to the facts and the pedantic kind to imaginary constructs. The precision, for instance, with which Moosbrugger's peculiar mentality was fitted into a two-thousand-year-old system of legal concepts resembled a madman's pedantic insistence on trying to spear a free-flying bird with a pin; this precision was concerned not at all with the facts but only with the question of whether Moosbrugger could be legally condemned to death, the psychiatrists were absolutely precise: they did not dare say more than that Moosbrugger's clinical picture did not exactly correspond to any hitherto observed syndrome, and left any further conclusions entirely to the jurists.

Toward Moosebrugger in "The Man Without Qualities"



Sunday, November 11, 2012

The App's Inspiration: Magritte's "Golconda"

[Image from Photobucket]

Bertha von Suttner (1843 - 1914)

In The Man Without Qualities she's mentioned in the same breath as Tolstoy:
Take Tolstoy, for instance, and Bertha Suttner, two writers whose ideas were equally discussed at the time -- but now, Diotima thought, can mankind even have a roast chicken without violence?
Bertha Felicitas Sophie Freifrau von Suttner (Baroness Bertha von Suttner, Gräfin (Countess) Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau; 9 June 1843 – 21 June 1914) was an Austrian novelist, radical (organizational) pacifist, and the first woman to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Suttner was born in Prague, Bohemia, the daughter of an impoverished[1] Austrian Field Marshal, Franz-Josef Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau, and wife Sophie von Körner, and governess to the wealthy Suttner family from 1873. She had an older brother, Arthur Franz Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. She became engaged to engineer and novelist Arthur Gundaccar Freiherr von Suttner (who died on 10 December 1902), but his family opposed the match, and she answered an advertisement from Alfred Nobel in 1876 to become his secretary-housekeeper at his Paris residence. She only remained a week before returning to Vienna and secretly marrying Arthur on 12 June 1876.
Suttner became a leading figure in the peace movement with the publication of her novel, Die Waffen nieder! ("Lay Down Your Arms!") in 1889 and founded an Austrian pacifist organization in 1891. She gained international repute as editor of the international pacifist journal Die Waffen nieder!, named after her book, from 1892 to 1899. Her pacifism was influenced by the writings of Immanuel Kant, Henry Thomas Buckle, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin and Leo Tolstoy (Tolstoy praised Die Waffen nieder!). [2] Suttner was also a journalist, with one historian stating her work revealed her as "a most perceptive and adept political commentator".[2] Though her personal contact with Alfred Nobel had been brief, she corresponded with him until his death in 1896, and it is believed that she was a major influence in his decision to include a peace prize among those prizes provided in his will, which she won in 1905.

[From Wikipedia:]

Bertha von Suttner
[From Wikimedia Commons]

Musilese III

And so Count Leinsdorf thought: "Things can never again be what they were, the way they were," and as he thought this he was quite astonished. For one assumed that if there was indeed no voluntary going back in history, then mankind was like a man driven along by some inexplicable wanderlust, a  man who could neither go back nor arrive anywhere, and this was a quite remarkable condition. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Magritte Your World

Magritte Your World a video by gamabin on Flickr.
Only because I think I ran into a little Magritte magic this week. Impossible to explain.

Musilese II

But a shared bedroom, with the lights out, puts a man in the situation of an actor having to play before an invisible house the rewarding but by now worn-out role of a hero impersonating a growling lion. For years now, Leo's dark auditorium had not let slip the faintest hint of applause, nor yet the smallest sign of disapproval, and this was surely enough to shatter the strongest nerves. In the morning at breakfast, which the couple took together in accordance with time-honored tradition, Clementine was stiff as a frozen corpse and Leo twitchy with nerves. Even their daughter, Gerda, noticed something of this every time and had come to imagine married life with dread and bitter loathing, as a catfight in the dark of night.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Musilese I

Without a pen I had to dog-ear a page (regrettably), turning in the smallest triangle possible.
     It may be a convenience and a comfort for most people to find the world ready-made, apart from a few minor personal details, and there is no disputing that whatever endures is not only conservative but also the foundation of all advances and revolutions; but it must be said that this casts a feeling of deep, shadowy unease on those who live according to their own lights.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Musil's Humorous Chapter Titles

But first a few lines from Musil that deserved a vertical Hogarthian stroke (blue, in the margin):

     But the man without qualities was now thinking. One may draw the conclusion from this that it was, at least in part, not a personal affair. But then what is it? World in, and world out; aspects of world falling into place inside a head.

Now to just a few of Musil's interesting titles:

3: Even A Man Without Qualities Has A Father With Qualities

7: In A Weak Moment Ulrich Acquires A New Mistress

9: The First Of Three Attempts To Become A Great Man

10: Second Attempt. Notes Toward A Morality For The Man Without Qualities

11: The Most Important Attempt Of All

13: A Racehorse Of Genius Crystallizes The Recognition Of Being A Man Without Qualities

17: Effect Of A Man Without Qualities On A Man With Qualities

22: The Parallel Campaign, In The Form Of An Influential Lady Of Ineffable Spiritual Grace, Stands Ready To Devour Ulrich

28: A Chapter That May Be Skipped By Anyone Not Particularly Impressed By Thinking As An Occupation

Friday, November 2, 2012

R L Swihart's New Poem in "Right Hand Pointing"

My little poem, "Feels Like It," went up today at Right Hand Pointing.

Two Bits from Musil's Opus

"We're all socialists at heart" was one of his pet sayings, meaning no more and no less than that there were no social distinctions in the hereafter.
In her misery she read a great deal, and discovered that she had lost something she had previously not really known she had: a soul.
     What's that? It is easy to define negatively: It is simply that which sneaks off at the mention of algebraic series.