Archive for December, 2020

December 31, 2020

More crumbs tapped from the pan of Chance Sweepings . . .

Customer showed attendant pictures of cruise to Panama. Customer showed attendant pictures of recent family cruise. Customer showed attendant pictures from trip to Greece. Customer showed tendentious “funny” political youtube … a youtube of an incredible soccer goal … a video of hilarious saturday night live sketch… showed him latest jokey internet meme. Customer showed picture of her walking, picture of her running, picture of her resting, picture of her hilariously collapsing after having run; picture of her meal, of her meal with friends, of her alone at the empty table afterwards. Customer wanted to show video of Abiy Ahmed doing pushups. Attendant shown beautiful pictures of native Morrocco and Tunisia, of the mosques and fruit trees of the horn of Africa. Attendant shown “portrait of a customer as a young man.” Attendant shown live eagle nest cam. (Seeing what the eaglets were doing.)

Yes, attendant did have copy of Whitney Huston holiday album, he said. Tig was name of the pit-mix dog of the gal. Zero was name of the cat of Tony’s that had been struck by a car and lived. Will had been the name of the young man of yesterday who saw a future in hyperbaric medicine. “Maybe a version that could travel with sports teams.” Brian in Charleston this weekend, Nancy in Chicago next weekend — Rick, Margo, & Max. Shared with Max my theory that when people say they’ll see you “tomorrow” you never actually see them the next day. You may see them soon –and if they say they’ll see you soon you may in fact see them tomorrow— but you won’t see them tomorrow if that’s when they say they’ll see you. (It may even be a certain type of person’s polite way of saying that you should probably not expect to see them too soon.) Cheerful teenage gal with Giant shirt who apologized for the happy cartoon figure on her credit card, which she figured I was mystified by (– I was actually looking for the chip); said she had chosen it when she was “much younger.” Cute happy teenage girl working at Giant: small mocha blended coffee drink with whipped cream.

For a headache so bad it shows

December 30, 2020

Watching old exedrin comercials — Life got tougher so we got stronger, for a headache so bad it shows

“Alight” first meant to make less heavy

December 29, 2020

Interesting, original sense of word alight (to land on, dismount) was to make less heavy (a horse’s burden was made light after you’d dismounted.) Online etymological: “The notion is of getting down off a horse or vehicle, thus lightening it.”

Love makes its home in those of a soft disposition

December 28, 2020

Symposium (Plato) 195e

ἐν γὰρ ἤθεσι καὶ ψυχαῖς θεῶν καὶ ἀνθρώπων τὴν οἴκησιν ἵδρυται, καὶ οὐκ αὖ ἑξῆς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ψυχαῖς, ἀλλ᾽ ᾗτινι ἂν σκληρὸν ἦθος ἐχούσῃ ἐντύχῃ, ἀπέρχεται, ᾗ δ᾽ ἂν μαλακόν, οἰκίζεται.

(Roughly: For Love makes its home in the souls and dispositions of gods and men, and not in all souls equally, but when it should chance on one having a hard disposition, it flees; and when it chances on a soft one, it abides.)

December 27, 2020

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Chained up paddle boats for tourists and sounds of construction

December 26, 2020

Had sought, typing this into the search bar: walden old masters. (Search had returned– walden universiity masters program). Had erased that and typed in WLuden then shook head no and typed WH old masters without seeking the results for that one either then put WH Icarus in the entry field and finally found the poem. (Not Walden, or Ogden or Wadden, but Auden, W.H. Auden. W.H. Auden.)

I was still in my running shorts. I had already seen the Bruegel painting on which the poem is based, — the pale green of its water, as seen on the painting’s reproduction on the wikipedia page devoted to it, reminding me of something that occurred while I was still running perhaps an hour previously, before I had even reached the schoolyard that had made me think of Bruegel for the first time in a while (for the first time probably since the last time I had passed that schoolyard, which always makes me think of those Bruegel scenes of communities with everyone up to various activities, if Bruegel is the one I mean). (When I first wrote this, I was sure it was Bruegel, having just looked it up, and could even spell Bruegel with a sense of assuredness, but now while I’m editing months later, I am unsure.) (I should probably continue editing this, for clarity and such, but let me just give the order of operations here, the plot so to speak, to make it simpler. Maybe that will allow me to avoid any more editing. (i.) I went for a run and saw a strange green paleness in the river. (ii.) on the way home I passed a school yard which always reminds me of well-known paintings by Breughel. (iii.) Breughel reminds me Auden’s poem The Old Masters but I couldn’t think of Auden’s name all the way home, and that was the first thing I did when I got home, performed an internet search for the name of the author of that poem, still in my running shorts. (iv.) Actually, the first thing I looked up was not Auden but Bruegel, to make sure that was the painter I was thinking of. (v.) It took me a few attempts to type in something similar enough to W.H. Auden to have his name come up. That’s about all that’s recounted in this post.)

I had been running for exercise along the river, rested on a sunwarped picnic bench, and raised my sunglasses to see what that pale greenness in the water was: was it the sun or something submerged or something submerged that the strong sun had revealed? I continued on the path and further on found the discrepancy still more stark: there was the shadow of the bridge, then beyond it a patch of water rendered this extraordinary green by the sun. Pollution maybe. That was the very same hue of green the wikipedia page of the Brueghel painting later reminded me of — the color of the water toward which Icarus fell.

From there, I went over the fourteenth street bridge on foot for the first time ever that day, myself and my knee braces, to the Jefferson Memorial, which was then having some work done on it, which I’d read about in the Post — some sort of algae being removed from the exterior of its dome. I walked around the paths, noting their vulnerability to flooding. It occurred to me: fiction did at least have this one sure un-obscure point with the “real world” in common: that point in the life of a fiction writer when he has the idea for a fiction. This is “the hinge”! I cried out in my interior. “This is the answer I’ve sought!” (For one could deny that a fiction has any relation to the thing it portrays, I had thought, but one could not deny that in some point in history, a very real point, the idea of a fiction or a book took hold; and this, what inspires fiction, locks in place the fiction to the person, the fiction to the non-fiction, to the history.) (Not exactly sure what I meant by this now.)

Unimportant though it is, the idea for a fiction occurred, a believable future in which the potomac’s waters were level with the memorial’s base. Character in his knee braces, his sweaty shirt and ‘bra’, meanders to the other side of the Memorial and witnesses a spot he hasn’t been in many years, “not since he was a child” he probably thinks. He had been on one of those paddle boats once, he knows, and tries to recall the circumstances, though that was probably forty years ago. That character is sitting on the steps of the Memorial now, looking at the chained up paddle-boats, thinking things of this kind (those chained up paddle boats seeming a Memorial of their own, he’s probably thinking, a memorial to the forty years of ones life that had elapsed, those chained up paddle boats for tourists, in the river gently rocking) — sounds of construction erupting from the interior chamber of the memorial, “Nymphette”-looking Japanese tourists taking selfies in front of the water, Forty-something housewife with a limbaugh-listening husband taking pictures with her Ipad at a goose.

I had looked up Bruegel because I couldn’t remember the name of the painter whom I think of every time I pass that schoolhouse and its grounds, which I only pass these days when I’ve gone too far on my run (the Memorial being about seven miles away) and need a short cut back to my house, –schoolyard in which, during recess, in every part of the wide roughly parabolic zone, some extraordinary child-like activity is occurring, utterly oblivious to every other child-like activity occurring right beside it:

In the corner, a child is alone and kicks at the base of a tree repeatedly; in this area, children throw a ball through the gaps of a jungle gym; in this area, three girls are gathered, serious as adults, expressing judgments; afar, a baseball game occurs on one half of a baseball diamond and a football game on the other, each with no more than half the needed players; afar, tag and hide-and-seek; between the near-and-far, two girls who have a ball but are talking and not throwing it while standing at what seems an unreasonable distance apart… many such activities.

Exhausted and with joint pain, walking by this, and unable to think of the name Breughel, unable to think of the name Auden — in my thoughts calling him Walden.

Portnoy’s Complaint

December 25, 2020

(a.) We’re taught to feel guilty and ashamed of things that are not wrong and are not shameful. (b.) Efforts to escape this condition tend to result in still more guilt and shame. (c.) There is a desire both to treat people as objects and to prevent them from being treated that way. (d.) Is it evil to sometimes fulfill our perverse desires? (e.) The bad are bad with abandon, while the good aren’t permitted any fun. (f.) (Speculation: could Wallace’s “fraudulence paradox” be a sort WASP analog to Roth/Portnoy’s Complaint?)

December 24, 2020

Hippocrates 13 ( English):

γέροντες εὐφορώτατα νηστείην φέρουσι, δεύτερον, οἱ καθεστηκότες, ἥκιστα, μειράκια, πάντων δὲ μάλιστα, παιδία, τουτέων δὲ αὐτέων ἃ ἂν τύχῃ αὐτὰ ἑωυτέων προθυμότερα ἐόντα.

(He’s talking about what age of person is best able to bear with fasting.)


December 23, 2020

“Even if the textual and historical arguments on both sides of the issue were evenly balanced, respect for the well­settled views of all of our predecessors on this Court, and for the rule of law itself, would prevent most jurists from endorsing such a dramatic upheaval in the law”…..District of Columbia v. Heller/Dissent Stevens


In his dissent to Citizens United, Stevens delivered a knockout blow to the majority opinion, as I thought, but in Heller, I’d say he won by a split decision…

I’d like to read all the opinions involved again, but one point I wish Stevens had stressed, which I don’t think he did, was all the things the preamble to the second amendment doesn’t say.

The preamble doesn’t say, for example, that “Because hunting and fishing are essential to the American way of life, the right to bear arms shall not be infringed”; and it doesn’t say that “Because all people have a right to defend themselves and their family and property, the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.”

In fact, the need to protect oneself and ones family is so much more universal than the need for state militias, one would have thought the founders might have used that in their preamble to an amendment in defense of gun ownership, if that’s what they really had meant.

Instead, what they really meant would appear to be something entirely different from what I imagine many of today’s defenders of gun rights have in mind –it involves this obscure and long superseded organization once known as a state militia.

Epiphany, Spots of Time

December 22, 2020

There are in our existence spots of time … (Wordsworth)

A recent article on Gaddis compared Wordsworth’s ‘spots of time’ with Joyce’s ‘epiphany’. Not sure to what extent I think they are analogous: the beginning of the referred to Wordsworth passage seems to say no (then yes), and the end, maybe yes, to the comparison:

A girl, who bore a pitcher on her head,
And seemed with difficult steps to force her way
Against the blowing wind.

(More on epiphany on this site.)

Soffits and staircase terminology

December 21, 2020

Good: video on staircase terminology. Came up because of some discussion at the store about what a soffit was.

Seemed like all the home owners, among the customers, had a clear idea of what a soffit was (which I had never heard of) but most associated it with roofing ( a la).