25 November, 2010

Explanations and Excuses

The general lack of any original material on this blog of late can be explained away by a few facts.

-I have work to do this semester for what is arguably the first time in my college career. Writing twenty-five pages in French is actually a bit of a challenge. Not super-much, but it still requires a bit of time. Writing a twenty-page English paper is also something to get used to, not because it's hard to fill twenty pages (not at all), but because the usual mindless rhythm of the six page essay is no longer appropriate. One has to consider things like pacing for the first time since high school.

-Academia is not my life. Neither is blogging. If it comes down to it, I'd much prefer to spend all my free time (of which there is still quite a lot, marvelously!) cooking large dinners, having dinner parties, talking to people, drinking real eggnog, reading something for fun, or tasting wine on a Saturday evening.

Est modus in rebus, as Horace would say.

15 November, 2010

Ragueneau at the Bakery

A very much less-than-serious poem, on the subject of my all-time-favorite French swordsman, Cyrano de Bergerac.

“Ah ! te voilà, toi, la Sottise !/ --Je sais bien qu'à la fin vous me mettrez à bas; / N'importe. . .
Quelque chose que sans un pli, sans une tache,/J'emporte malgré vous,/et c'est. . .

C'est ?. . .

Cyrano :
Mon panache.”

Cyrano de Bergerac, Scene 5, Act IV

He was dying for love when I first saw his face,
Poor Gascon with a nose like a cudgel of wood
So I gave him a pastry; he saw it was good,
And he wrote me a poem that was full of grace.

I read it with care as a gentleman should.
And what godlike esprit! Quel bon goût! What good taste!
But a fearsome quiver of that thing on his face
Turned my transports to silence, if anything would.

This bemusing appendage, it sets him apart,
Attracting disciples; yet from it springs his art
Of hiding beneath swirls of a rakish moustache
While he oversees others' affairs of the heart.
Well, I keep him well-fed as he plays his sad part,
Writing Christian's je t'aime's in a surge of panache.

07 November, 2010

Auden Yet Again

This Auden fellow is really quite insightful sometimes. One further comment on one of the reasons writers generally have very mixed feelings about publicizing their work. It's a bit of an elitist remark in some respects; I think I'd be more comfortable with it in general if the conclusion were "if a good ethos were equally distributed among all men." But still.

Every writer would rather be rich than poor, but no genuine writer cares about popularity as such. He needs approval of his work by others in order to be reassured that the vision of life he believes he has had is a true vision and not a self-delusion, but he can only be reassured by those whose judgment he respects. It would only be necessary for a writer to secure universal popularity if imagination and intelligence were equally distributed among all men.

06 November, 2010

The Fictionality of Fiction

According to Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass. Rather brilliant little book.

`Now, if you'll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I'll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House. First, there's the room you can see through the glass -- that's just the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way. I can see all of it when I get upon a chair -- all but the bit behind the fireplace. Oh! I do so wish I could see that bit! I want so much to know whether they've a fire in the winter: you never can tell, you know, unless our fire smokes, and then smoke comes up in that room too -- but that may be only pretence, just to make it look as if they had a fire. Well then, the books are something like our books, only the words go the wrong way; I know that, because I've held up one of our books to the glass, and then they hold up one in the other room.

`How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty? I wonder if they'd give you milk in there? Perhaps Looking-glass milk isn't good to drink -- But oh, Kitty! now we come to the passage. You can just see a little peep of the passage in Looking-glass House, if you leave the door of our drawing-room wide open: and it's very like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be quite different on beyond. Oh, Kitty! how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking- glass House! I'm sure it's got, oh! such beautiful things in it!

Let's pretend there's a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let's pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it's turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It'll be easy enough to get through -- ' She was up on the chimney-piece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist.

In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room. The very first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was quite pleased to find that there was a real one, blazing away as brightly as the one she had left behind. `So I shall be as warm here as I was in the old room,' thought Alice: `warmer, in fact, because there'll be no one here to scold me away from the fire. Oh, what fun it'll be, when they see me through the glass in here, and can't get at me!'

01 November, 2010

More Auden

"In literature, as in life, affectation, passionately adopted and loyally persevered in, is one of the chief forms of self-discipline by which mankind has raised itself by its own bootstraps."