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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Adding (Joyce) vs. Subtracting (Beckett)

I realized that Joyce had gone as far as one could in the direction of knowing more, in control of one's material. He was always adding to it; you only have to look at his proofs to see that. I realised that my own way was impoverishment, in lack of knowledge and in taking away, subtracting rather than adding. When I first met Joyce, I didn't intend to be a writer. That only came later when I found out that I was no good at all at teaching. When I found I simply couldn't teach. But I do remember speaking about Joyce's heroic achievement. I had a great admiration for him. That's what it was: epic, heroic, what he achieved. I realized that I couldn't go down that same road.
Samuel Beckett 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Chateaubriand: The Execution of His Cousin

On the day of execution, I wanted to accompany my comrade onto his last field of battle; I could find not a single carriage, and hurried on foot to the Grenelle Plain. I arrived, drenched in sweat, a moment too late: Armand had been shot against the outer wall of Paris. His skull was shattered; a butcher’s dog was licking his blood and brains. I followed the cart which carried the bodies of Armand and his two companions, plebeian and noble, Quintal and Goyon, to the Vaugirard cemetery where I had buried Monsieur de Laharpe. I saw my cousin for the last time, without being able to recognise him: the bullets had disfigured him, he had no face left; I could not see the ravages of time there, nor even see death there within that shapeless, bleeding orb; he remained youthful in my mind as at the time of Libba and Thionville. He was shot on Good Friday: the Crucified One appears to me at the end of all my ills. When I walk along the ramparts of the Grenelle Plain, I stop to look at the bullet marks, still visible on the wall. If Bonaparte’s lead had left no other traces, he would no longer be spoken of.

A strange linkage of destinies! General Hulin, the Military Commandant of Paris, named the commission which blew out Armand’s brains; he had been, in the past, named as President of the commission which shattered the Duc d’Enghien’s skull. After that first misfortune, ought he not to have abstained completely from councils of war? And I, I spoke of the death of the Great Condé’s descendant without mentioning General Hulin’s part in the execution of an unknown soldier, my relative. For judging the judges of that tribunal at Vincennes, I have doubtless, in turn, received my commission from Heaven.

Walking [12.24.16]

Got a little windy last night.





Friday, December 23, 2016

Chateaubriand (back from his Pilgrimage)

I arrived in Paris before the news I had sent about myself: I had overtaken my existence. As insignificant as those letters are, I glance through them as one looks at poor sketches of places one has visited. These letters are dated from Modon, Athens, Zea, Smyrna, and Constantinople; from Jaffa, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Tunis, Granada, Madrid, and Burgos; these lines traced on all sorts of paper, in all sorts of ink, brought by all the winds, interest me. I not only delight in unrolling my firmans (passports etc): I touch their vellum with pleasure; I am revealed in elegant calligraphy and am dumbfounded by the pomp of their style. I was a very great person, then! We are such miserable devils, with our letters for three sous and our passports for forty, next to those lords of the turban!

Walking [12.23.16]

Morning. Post-coffee and post-Chateaubriand (he just got back from his pilgrimage). Where did he come from? From a distance (he was up on the bridge, I was headed down to the concrete bank of the river), I heard him yell. He used the N. word so creatively (uncreatively): tag for both ass-kicker and ass-kicked. Then he used the somewhat redundant "white cracker." Am I really in Southern California? Anyway ... I kept quiet, visited the target venue, snapped a few pics, wondered about another guy (down on the bike path, heaping cart of uncollectibles), then circled back, past Wally's World and to the tire store.

They fixed the nail wound for free.




Monday, December 19, 2016

"Le Transi de René de Chalon"

Ligier Richier (c. 1500 - 1567)

Ligier Richier (c. 1500–1567) was a French sculptor active in Saint-Mihiel.
Richier primarily worked in the churches of his native Saint-Mihiel and from 1530 he enjoyed the protection of Duke Antoine of Lorraine, for whom he did important work. Whilst Richier did sometimes work in wood, he preferred the pale, soft limestone with its fine grain, and few veins, extracted at Saint Mihiel and Sorcy and when working in this medium he experimented with refined polishing techniques, with which he was able to give the stone a marble-like appearance.[1] One of his finest works is the "Groupe de la Passion", consisting of 13 life-size figures made in the local stone of the Meuse region. It can be found in the Church of St. Étienne.[2] It is also known as the "Pâmoison de la Vierge" (Swoon of the Virgin, the Virgin fainting, supported by St John).[3] Other works attributed to him are in the Church of St. Pierre, Bar-le-Duc, and in the Louvre.

Possibly his best known work is "Le Transi de René de Chalon" in the church of Saint-Étienne i, Bar-le-Duc. Made in Sorcy stone and standing at 1m74cm, it depicts the corpse of Rene de Chalon, Prince of Orange (who died on the 15th of July 1544) in the form of a flayed corpse clutching its own heart.

(From Wikipedia:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Chateaubriand Quotes Saint Augustine

.. What has happened with me is what happens with all who undertake a work on a grand scale: I have, first of all, set up a flag at both ends then, planting and replanting my scaffolding here and there, I have raised the stones and cement of intervening constructions; it takes several centuries to create a Gothic cathedral. If Heaven allows me to live, the monument will be completed throughout my life, the architect, ever the same, will only vary in his age. For the rest, it is painful to keep the intellectual self intact, imprisoned in a worn material envelope. Saint Augustine feeling his body weakening, said to God: ‘Be the tabernacle of my soul’; and he said to men: ‘When you find me in this book.. pray for me.'

Chateaubriand on Charlotte Ives

For the rest, in marrying Charlotte Ives, my role in the world would have altered: buried in a county of England, I would have become a hunting gentleman: not a single line would have issued from my pen; I would even have forgotten my own language, since I could write English, and the thoughts in my head were starting to shape themselves in English. Would my country have lost much by my disappearance? If I were to set aside what has been my consolation, I would say I might have already reckoned on many peaceful days, instead of the troubled days that have been my lot. The Empire, the Restoration, divisions, the disputes within France, what would I have had to do with all that? I would not have had to counteract faults, and combat errors, each morning. Is it certain that I have a true talent, and a talent worth the painful sacrifices of my life? Will I outlast my tomb? When I pass beyond, will there be, given the transformations which will occur, in a world altered and preoccupied with other things, will there be a public to listen to me? Will I not be a man of the past, unintelligible to the new generations? Will my ideas, my sentiments, even my style not seem boring and old-fashioned to scornful posterity? Will my shade be able to say as Virgil’s did to Dante: ‘Poeta fui e cantai: I was a poet, and sang.’!

Chateaubriand Sleeps (Hardly) in Westminster

Concealed beneath my marble cloak, I lapsed from these lofty thoughts into my naïve impressions of place and time. My anxiety mixed with pleasure, was similar to that which I experienced in winter in my tower at Combourg, when I listened to the wind: a sigh and a shade are of like nature.

   Gradually, I accustomed myself to the darkness, and made out the statues placed on the tombs. I gazed at the corbelled vaulting of the English Saint-Denis, from which one would have said past events and vanished years hung in a Gothic light: the whole edifice was like a monolithic temple of petrified centuries.

   I counted ten hours, eleven by the clock; the hammer which rose and fell, on the bronze, was the only ‘living’ thing beside me in the place. Outside, a vehicle passing by, the cry of a watchman, that was all: those distant sounds of earth reached me in a world within a world. The Thames fog, and the smoke from the chimneys, infiltrated the basilica, and spread secondary shadows.

   At last, a pre-dawn glow blossomed in a corner of dullest gloom: I gazed fixedly at the progressive growth of the light; did it emanate from the two sons of Edward IV, murdered by their uncle? ‘O, thus lay the gentle babes’, says the great tragedian, ‘. girdling one another within their alabaster innocent arms. Their lips were four red roses on a stalk, and in their summer beauty kiss’d each other.’ God did not send me those sad and tender souls; but the slender phantom of a barely adolescent girl carrying a light sheltered by a leaf of paper twisted like a shell: it was the little bell-ringer. I heard the sound of a kiss, and the bell rang for daybreak. The bell-ringer was utterly terrified when I exited with her through the cloister door. I told her my tale; she explained that she was there to carry out her father’s task because he was ill; we did not speak of the kiss.

Walking [12.17.16]: Colorado Lagoon

Better than floating Xmas trees? Nine dredgers dredging. Eight palms w/wind wreckage on a carpet of green. The blue ribbon fence.



Sunday, December 11, 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Chateaubriand on Marriage

My sisters took it into their heads to make me marry Mademoiselle de Lavigne, who had become very attached to Lucile. The affair was conducted without my knowing. I had scarcely seen Mademoiselle de Lavigne two or three times; I recognised her far off on Le Sillon, by her pink pelisse, white dress and her fair wind-blown hair, while I was on the beach, abandoning myself to the caresses of my old mistress, the sea. I felt I lacked every qualification for being a husband. All my illusions were alive, nothing in me was exhausted; the very energy of my being had redoubled on my travels. I was tormented by my Muse.

Walking [12.10.16]

TGIF [12.9.16]

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Walking [12.4.16]

Very little time today. A "quicky" around a park and back.





Xmas Parade 2016






Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chateaubriand on the Evolution and Extinction of Languages

The small tribes of the Orinoco no longer exist; of their dialect there only remain a dozen or so words uttered in the tree-tops by parakeets that have been freed, like Agrippina’s thrush that chirped Greek words from the balustrades of the Roman palaces. Such will be, sooner or later, the fate of our modern tongues, the ruins of Greek and Latin. What raven, freed from a cage, belonging to the last Franco-Gallic priest, will croak, to a foreign people, our successors, from the heights of some ruined bell-tower: ‘Hear the accents of a voice once known to you: you will bring an end to all such speech.’ 
Live on so, Bossuet, that in the end your masterpiece may outlast, in a bird’s memory, your language and your remembrance among men!

Chateaubriand on Civilization

In what concerns the dead, it is easy to find signs of the savage’s attachment to sacred relics. Civilised nations, in order to preserve their country’s memories, have the mnemonics of writing and the arts; they have cities, palaces, spires, columns, obelisks; they have the marks of the plough on once-cultivated fields; their names are cut in bronze and marble, their actions recorded in their histories.

Nothing of that appertains to the peoples of the wilderness: their names are not written on the trees; their huts, built in a few hours, vanish in a moment; the sticks with which they labour barely scratch the earth, and cannot even raise a furrow. Their traditional songs die with the last memory that retains them, vanishing with the last voice that repeats them. The tribes of the New World have only one monument: their graves. Take the bones of their fathers from these savages, and you take from them their history, their laws and even their gods; you remove from those men, for future generations, the proof of their existence as that of their extinction.

Chateaubriand Convalesces with the Indians

I stayed for twelve days with my doctors, the Indians of Niagara. I saw tribes there who had come from Detroit or from the country to the centre and east of Lake Erie. I enquired about their customs; for a few small gifts I obtained re-enactments of their ancient rites, since the rites themselves scarcely exist now. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the American War of Independence, the savages still ate their prisoners, or rather the dead ones: an English captain, ladling some soup from an Indian woman’s cooking pot with a ladle, retrieved a hand.

Walking [12.3.16]



Downtown LA: Xmas Lights


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chateaubriand on Religious Thinking

I struck a bargain with a captain called Desjardins: he had to carry the Abbé Nagot, Superior of the Saint-Sulpice Seminary, to Baltimore, with several seminarists in their principal’s care. These companions on the voyage would have been more to my liking four years earlier: from being the zealous Christian I once was, I had become a free thinker, that is to say a feeble thinker. This change in my religious opinions had been brought about by reading philosophical works. I believed, in all good faith, that a religious mind was partially paralysed, that there were truths which would not occur to it, however superior it might be otherwise. This smug pride led me astray: I inferred in the religious mind the absence of a faculty which is found precisely in the philosophic mind; a limited intelligence thinks it sees all, because it opens its eyes wide; a superior intelligence consents to close its eyes because it sees all within. One final thing completed my misery: the groundless despair I carried in my heart’s depths.

Chateaubriand on Politics

Free from all ties, I had, on the one hand, quite heated arguments with my brother and Président de Rosanbo; and on the other, no less bitter discussions with Ginguené, La Harpe, and Chamfort. Since my early youth, my political impartiality had pleased no one. Moreover, I only attached importance to the questions raised at that time because of common ideas of human liberty and dignity; personally, politics bored me; my true life lay in more exalted regions.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Chateaubriand on the Perfect 10

In old Paris, in the precincts of Saint-Germain-des-Près, in the cloisters of monasteries, in the vaults of Saint-Denis, in Notre-Dame, in the narrow streets of the Cité, at Héloïse’s humble door, I saw my enchantress again; but she had assumed, beneath the Gothic arches, and among the tombs, something of a deathlike appearance: she was pallid, she looked at me with melancholy eyes; she was only the shadow or the manes of the dream I had loved.

Chateaubriand on the French Revolution

The Revolution would have carried me along with it, if it had not begun criminally: I saw the first head aloft on the end of a pike, and I recoiled. Murder can never be a subject for admiration in my eyes, nor an argument in favour of liberty; I know of nothing more servile, contemptible, cowardly and stupid than a terrorist. Have I not encountered in France the whole race of Brutus in the service of Caesar and his police? The levellers, regenerators, and cut-throats were transformed to valets, spies, sycophants, and still more unnaturally into dukes, counts and barons: how medieval!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Dali-Day (1st Annual)

😀To counteract all the "blacks" (e.g., black Thursday night, black Friday, black cyber Monday, ...).


From Chateaubriand's Memoirs

Our existence flies past so swiftly, that if we do not write in the evening the events of the morning, the effort burdens us and we no longer have time to bring them to light. That does not prevent us wasting our lives, scattering to the winds those hours that for mankind are the seeds of eternity.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Grounded: Xmas Trees and the Colorado Lagoon [2016]

This year the lagoon is "under construction." Which means: this year -- at least floating Xmas-tree-wise -- we'll have to "make do."

Happy Holidays!



Excerpt: Chateaubriand's Mémoires d'outre-tombe ("Memoirs from Beyond the Grave")

Now I come to a moment when I need strength to confess my weakness. The man who attempts his own life shows the feebleness of his character rather than the power of his soul.

I owned a hunting rifle whose worn trigger often fired when un-cocked. I charged this gun with three bullets, and went to a remote part of the Great Mall. I cocked the weapon, placed the muzzle in my mouth, and struck the butt on the ground: I repeated the attempt several times: the gun did not fire; the appearance of a gamekeeper altered my resolution. An unconscious and involuntary fatalist, I concluded my hour had not yet come, and I deferred the execution of my plan to another day. If I had killed myself, all I have achieved would have been buried with me; nothing would have been known of the tale which led to my catastrophe; I would have swelled the crowd of nameless unfortunates, I would not have induced anyone to follow the trail of my sorrows, as a wounded man leaves a trail of blood.

Those who might be troubled by these scenes, and be tempted to imitate these follies, those who might attach themselves to my memory by means of my illusions, must remember that they hear only a dead man’s voice. Reader, whom I shall never know, nothing remains: nothing is left of me but that which I am in the hands of the living God who has judged me.

Chateaubriand: 1768 - 1848

François-René, Vicomte de Chateaubriand (/ʃæˌtbrˈɑːn/;[1] French: [fʁɑ̃swa ʁəne də ʃɑtobʁijɑ̃]; September 4, 1768 – July 4, 1848) was a French writer, politician, diplomat, and historian, who is considered the founder of Romanticism in French literature. Descended from an old aristocratic family from Brittany, Chateaubriand was a royalist by political disposition; in an age when a number of intellectuals turned against the Church, he authored the Génie du christianisme in defense of the Catholic faith. His works include the autobiography Mémoires d'outre-tombe ("Memoirs from Beyond the Grave"), published posthumously in 1849–1850).

Thanksgiving in Corona

Went to Starbucks everyday. Walked to the park or to where the "settlement" meets the mountain. Read Chateaubriand; played some cards.