Compare the silent rose of the sun and rain, the blood-rose living in its smell, with this paper, this dust.
That states the point.

With only the flimsiest of pretext I offer a Saturday afternoon selection from one of my favorite poets. I do this for my enjoyment as much as your own. See below for poetry or quail and click away with a marksman-clean scoff. What do I care?

07.08. filed under: !. books.

Posthumous Papers of a Living Author

Picked up a nice little volume today, put out by Archipelago Books, as an impulse-buy gift for my girlfriend- Posthumous Papers of a Living Author by Robert Musil. It was originally published in 1936 and was, in fact, the last thing he published before his sudden death in 42. I read part I of Musil’s The Man Without Qualities years back and admired it greatly so I thought this tidy little selection of essays and reflections would be a no-brainer. And I was correct. Have not read it all yet but the pieces I read on the train did not disappoint. The pieces include subjects like, “Flypaper” (which looks at a fly’s struggle to break free of the trap), “Can horses laugh?” (which answers the title’s question), “Rabbit Catastrophe” (about a baby hare being hunted and killed by a woman’s lap-dog), etc. One of the pieces I wanted to share with you all straight away it was so good. I’ve transcribed it, in full, below.

06.27. filed under: !. books. 4

and a smattering of wisdom drawn there from

Ol’ Ben Franklin began his professional life as a printer. Beginning in the year 1732, under what would become his most famous of many pseudonyms, Richard Saunders, he began publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack after the traditions of almanac making which had developed in England during the late 17th and early 18th centuries (but whose origins stretch much further back). In the main it contained weather forecasts and astronomical information and was hugely successful. It is Franklin’s best known publication, remembered today primarily for the assorted nuggets of wit and wisdom which were peppered throughout its pages. “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise” for instance is an old chestnut from Poor Richard. But there are many, many more which are less well remembered. I’ve taken the liberty of reprinting a smattering of them below. 

06.25. filed under: !. books. history. ideas. 2

Il Bestario Barocco: The Feather Book

Came across an interesting oddity yesterday, The Feather Book. Made in 1618 by Dionisio Minaggio, Chief Gardener of the State of Milan, it is a book depicting 112 birds and 44 human figures, each composed entirely of natural, undyed birds’ feathers. It is separated into 4 sections themed: birds, hunters, tradesmen, musicians and Commedia del’Arte figures. This book contains some of the earliest efforts to depict behavior rather than simply showing birds sitting in profile, and the feathers used are among the oldest preserved samples in existence. Neat. The images themselves strike me as having what we might today call an “outsider art” kind of feeling, whether due to the difficulty inherent in the materials, the meticulous obsessiveness certainly required to complete them, or the apparent lunacy of some of the subjects, I’m not sure. They’re pretty amazing. See below for a sampling.

06.23. filed under: art. !. books. history. 4

Endless battle of the Monkeys and the Crabs

Or: no blood for persimmon juice!

There is an old story in Japanese folklore which is told to teach the following lesson: “If a man thinks only of his own profit, and tries to benefit himself at the expense of others, he will incur the hatred of Heaven.” The story is called Battle of the Monkey and the Crab and there are many versions, which though different in their particulars, share that same nugget of implied wisdom. Just recently I came upon a version of the story which deviates from the norm enough to be not only a broad lesson in human nature but strangely applicable to modern events as well. Creepily applicable you might say. I’ve transcribed it below…

06.14. filed under: art. !. books. death. fiction. lies. politics. 6

Instructing the young, reforming the old, correcting the town, and castigating the age.

In October 0f 2001 a small-format newspaper appeared at book and magazine stores across at least 4 of the 5 boroughs of New York. Copies showed up in coffee houses. Copies were seen on benches. The occasional copy was perhaps taken aloft by a discerning wind. Amid the lunatic crush of printed bombast and color-glossed offal, literate residents of the great city might certainly be excused for having missed its arrival and subsequent departure completely. But if you did it’s a shame, because for its year-long run Three Weeks was without doubt the best written publication the city had to offer.

06.07. filed under: !. books. history. ideas. people. 12

as she was in the year eighteen hundred and thirty one.

All of the following engravings and accompanying texts are from a book called Views in New York and its Environs, subtitled: From accurate, characteristic, & picturesque drawings taken on the spot, expressly for this work. It was put out in 1831 when the population of Manhattan Island was about 203,000 and horse-drawn stages were still the dominant form of mass transit. Hope you enjoy.

05.31. filed under: art. !. books. history.

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