Time beacon: T: -14 billion years.
And I see you've found me here. All aboard the time train!
I've scraped out a moment and built the time machine as the movie version of Galaxy Express for this particular journey --hang on, some of that fourth wall is still stuck to your eyebrow there allow me to remove it, pesky stuff. Anyway, let's head on into the bar-car. We can join everyone else there, and I'll begin.
No doubt, as you look out the window here, you'll see why I did. Less obvious, at first, is that the cast and the adventure also seems to resonate with events unfolding in our own time. The iconograpy also fit with the US election news. Thus the Cpt. Harlock sailor outfit I'm wearing, and this strange black bird. Curious, no?
But putting haberdashery, pets, horrid puns, and fowl [sic] allusions aside for a moment, let's ramp up the timeclockspeed and look out onto that which becomes us. That crap, there picked out against the rest, is the beginnings of our galaxy, and so in turn our sun.
And as interesting as that collection of matter forming, into the lovely little solar system we call home, all is... there are some good reasons to bring our viewpoint back this far in time. I will allow some others to expand on that in the quotes today. So drop, smoke, or drink what you like and let's listen to the first of them. Some news, previous entry links, and the texttoon. Oh, he's already started.
How he of the Times has found Velasquez "slovenly in execution, poor in colour--being little but a combination of neutral greys and ugly in its forms"--how he grovelled in happiness over a Turner--that was no Turner at all, as Mr. Ruskin wrote to show--Ruskin! whom he has since defended. Ah! Messieurs, what our neighbours call "la malice des choses" was unthought of, and the sarcasm of fate was against you. How Gerard Dow's broom was an example for the young; and Canaletti and Paul Veronese are to be swept aside--doubtless with it. How Rembrandt is coarse, and Carlo Dolci noble--with more of this kind. But what does it matter?
"What does anything matter!" The farce will go on, and its solemnity adds to the fun.
Mediocrity flattered at acknowledging mediocrity, and mistaking mystification for mastery, enters the fog of dilettantism, and, graduating connoisseur, ends its days in a bewilderment of bric-a-brac and Brummagem!
"Taste" has long been confounded with capacity, and accepted as sufficient qualification for the utterance of judgment in music, poetry, and painting. Art is joyously received as a matter of opinion; and that it should be based upon laws as rigid and defined as those of the known sciences, is a supposition no longer to be tolerated by modern cultivation. For whereas no polished member of society is at all affected at admitting himself neither engineer, mathematician, nor astronomer, and therefore remains willingly discreet and taciturn upon these subjects, still would he be highly offended were he supposed to have no voice in what is clearly to him a matter of "Taste"; and so he becomes of necessity the backer of the critic--the cause and result of his own ignorance and vanity! The fascination of this pose is too much for him, and he hails with delight its justification. Modesty and good sense are revolted at nothing, and the millennium of "Taste" sets in.
The whole scheme is simple: the galleries are to be thrown open on Sundays, and the public, dragged from their beer to the British Museum, are to delight in the Elgin Marbles, and appreciate what the early Italians have done to elevate their thirsty souls! An inroad into the laboratory would be looked upon as an intrusion; but before the triumphs of Art, the expounder is at his ease, and points out the doctrine that Raphael's results are within the reach of any beholder, provided he enrol himself with Ruskin or hearken to Colvin in the provinces. The people are to be educated upon the broad basis of "Taste," forsooth, and it matters but little what "gentleman and scholar" undertake the task.
Eloquence alone shall guide them--and the readiest writer or wordiest talker is perforce their professor.
The Observatory at Greenwich under the direction of an Apothecary! The College of Physicians with Tennyson as President! and we know that madness is about. But a school of art with an accomplished litterateur at its head disturbs no one! and is actually what the world receives as rational, while Ruskin writes for pupils, and Colvin holds forth at Cambridge.
Still, quite alone stands Ruskin, whose writing is art, and whose art is unworthy his writing. To him and his example do we owe the outrage of proffered assistance from the unscientific--the meddling of the immodest--the intrusion of the garrulous. Art, that for ages has hewn its own history in marble, and written its own comments on canvas, shall it suddenly stand still, and stammer, and wait for wisdom from the passer-by?--for guidance from the hand that holds neither brush nor chisel? Out upon the shallow conceit! What greater sarcasm can Mr. Ruskin pass upon himself than that he preaches to young men what he cannot perform! Why, unsatisfied with his own conscious power, should he choose to become the type of incompetence by talking for forty years of what he has never done!
Let him resign his present professorship, to fill the chair of Ethics at the university. As master of English literature, he has a right to his laurels, while, as the populariser of pictures he remains the Peter Parley of painting. --JM Whistler
From one of the true classics and a personal favorite; The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. It was recently posted on PG and just skimming over it, before I stored it in my palette of texts, caused me to mark the above as 'use soon'. There's more there could be presented from it, and the preamble to the above is also of note. However, the idiotic press punditry, Rush flap etc, and general fearmongering of the last while about Obama (and Clinton) pushed me use it today. On to the next quote.
The story of Medea, whose husband Jason married a new princess, and who then poisoned the bride and murdered her own two children, has been interpreted in various ways.
In some versions Medea is a witch and commits infanticide out of revenge; but the play by Euripides is surprisingly neo-feminist. There's quite a lot about how tough it is to be a woman, and Medea's motivation is commendable - she doesn't want her children to fall into hostile hands and be cruelly abused - which is also the situation of the child-killing mother in Toni Morrison's Beloved. A good woman, then, who does a bad thing for a good reason. Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles kills her nasty lover due to sexual complications; here too we are in the realm of female-as-victim, doing a bad thing for a good reason. (Which, I suppose, places such stories right beside the front page, along with women who kill their abusive husbands. According to a recent Time story, the average jail sentence in the U.S. for men who kill their wives is four years, but for women who kill their husbands - no matter what the provocation - it's twenty. For those who think equality is already with us, I leave the statistics to speak for themselves.)
These women characters are all murderers. Then there are the seducers; here again, the motive varies. I have to say too that with the change in sexual mores, the mere seduction of a man no longer rates very high on the sin scale. But try asking a number of women what the worst thing is that a woman friend could possibly do to them. Chances are the answer will involve the theft of a sexual partner.
Some famous seductresses have really been patriotic espionage agents. Delilah, for instance, was an early Mata Hari, working for the Philistines, trading sex for military information. Judith, who all but seduced the enemy general Holofernes and then cut off his head and brought it home in a sack, was treated as a heroine, although she has troubled men's imaginations through the centuries - witness the number of male painters who have depicted her - because she combines sex with violence in a way they aren't accustomed to and don't much like.
Then there are figures like Hawthorne's adulterous Hester Prynne, she of The Scarlet Letter, who becomes a kind of sex-saint through suffering - we assume she did what she did through Love, and thus she becomes a good woman who did a bad thing for a good reason - and Madame Bovary, who not only indulged her romantic temperament and voluptuous sensual appetites, but spent too much of her husband's money doing it, which was her downfall. A good course in double-entry bookkeeping would have saved the day. I suppose she is a foolish women who did a stupid thing for an insufficient reason, since the men in question were dolts. Neither the modern reader nor the author consider her very evil, though many contemporaries did, as you can see if you read the transcript of the court case in which the forces of moral rectitude tried to get the book censored.
One of my favourite bad women is Becky Sharpe, of Thackeray's Vanity Fair. She makes no pretensions to goodness. She is wicked, she enjoys being wicked, and she does it out of vanity and for her own profit, tricking and deluding English society in the process - which, the author implies, deserves to be tricked and deluded, since it is hypocritical and selfish to the core. Becky, like Undine Spragg in Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country, is an adventuress; she lives by her wits and uses men as ambulatory bank-accounts. Many literary adventurers are male - consider Thomas Mann's Felix Krull, Confidence Man - but it does make a difference if you change the gender. For one thing, the nature of the loot changes. For a male adventurer, the loot is money and women; but for a female one, the loot is money and men.
Becky Sharpe is a bad mother too, and that's a whole other subject - bad mothers and wicked stepmothers and oppressive aunts, like the one in Jane Eyre, and nasty female teachers, and depraved governesses, and evil grannies. The possibilities are many.
But I think that's enough reprehensible female behaviour for you today. Life is short, art is long, motives are complex, and human nature is endlessly fascinating. Many doors stand ajar; others beg to be unlocked. What is in the forbidden room? Something different for everyone, but something you need to know and will never find out unless you step across the threshold. If you are a man, the bad female character in a novel may be - in Jungian terms - your anima; but if you're a woman, the bad female character is your shadow; and as we know from the Offenbach opera Tales of Hoffman, she who loses her shadow also loses her soul.
Evil women are necessary in story traditions for two much more obvious reasons, of course. First, they exist in life, so why shouldn't they exist in literature? Second - which may be another way of saying the same thing - women have more to them than virtue. They are fully dimensional human beings; they too have subterranean depths; why shouldn't their many-dimensionality be given literary expression? And when it is, female readers do not automatically recoil in horror. In Aldous Huxley's novel Point Counter Point, Lucy Tantamount, the man-destroying vamp, is preferred by the other female characters to the earnest, snivelling woman whose man she has reduced to a wet bath sponge. As one of them says, "Lucy's obviously a force. You may not like that kind of force. But you can't help admiring the force in itself. It's like Niagara." In other words, awesome. Or, as one Englishwoman said to me recently, "Women are tired of being good all the time." --Margaret Atwood
The rest of that is online as I found out when sorting through possible texts to use. A google search to see if any of it had been quoted to save me typing it all in from "Moving Targets" had it off her official site. Yay internets! Anyway, moving along...
As much as I'd like to see Dolley Madison's record of double occupation broken in the best way, and also knowing I've gone on record here (long ago) in stating Hillary looked to me as being well on her way to becoming a far better politician than her husband ever could be, I'd like to see a man of colour in the Whitehouse. Not my call to make, and I'm not too worried either way there. Which leaves one ill matched pair unmentioned. This last quote will fill that void.
I was his last disciple, as you say, I went to him, at seventeen years of age, and offered him my hands and eyes to use,
When, voicing the true mind and heart of Rome, Father Castelli, his most faithful friend, wrote, for my master, that compassionate plea; "The noblest eye that Nature ever made is darkened, one so exquisitely dowered, so delicate in power that it beheld more than all other eyes in ages gone and opened the eyes of all that are to come."
But, out of England, even then, there shone the first ethereal promise of light that crowns my master dead. Well I recall that day of days. There was no faintest breath among his garden cypress-trees.
They dreamed dark, on a sky too beautiful for tears, and the first star was trembling overhead, when, quietly as a messenger from heaven, moving unseen, through his own purer realm, amongst the shadows of our mortal world, a young man, with a strange light on his face knocked at the door of Galileo's house. His name was Milton.
By the hand of God, He, the one living soul on earth with power to read the starry soul of this blind man, Was led through Italy to his prison door. He looked on Galileo, touched his hand "O, dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, irrecoverably dark".
In after days, he wrote it; but it pulsed within him then and Galileo rising to his feet and turning on him those unseeing eyes that had searched heaven and seen so many worlds, said to him, "You have found me."
Often he told me in those last sad months of how your grave young island poet brought peace to him, with the knowledge that, far off, in other lands, the truth he had proclaimed was gathering power.
Soon after, death unlocked his prison, and the city that he loved, Florence, his town of flowers, whose gates in life he was forbid to pass, received him dead.
You write to me from England, that his name is now among the mightiest in the world, and in his name I thank you.
I am old and I was very young when, long ago, I stood beside his poor dishonoured grave where hate denied him even an epitaph.
And I have seen, slowly and silently, his purer fame arising, like a moon in marble on the twilight of those aisles at Santa Croce, where the dread decree was read against him. --Alfred Noyes
"And then you see things/ The size/ Of which you've never known before", he said, and we should be on track here to watch the arms of our galaxy build up from that storm out there, so I'll finish up this section.
What it comes all down to, in my opinion, is what you choose to do at those/these key times. We've all got choices at the junctions of futures. A really-really big broom used on that dust, out the window of this train, and it could never make it to be you or me. Classical-wisdom says we should all just watch and let the/that dust settle, as it may, in fear of altering the course of history or some deity's big plan. I'm not so sure about most, if not all, of that. If we all choose to make our own mark in that dust now, our current state says we must have --or had not, done so [here and now]-- in the past.
There are no locks on the doors of the train. And it's all taken much longer than seventy years to get back up the timeline from here and now to there and now. You may say it's one hell of a way to run a railroad, or a system of government for that matter. But I say, stately-farce it all may be, it is however, one of the better methods found so far. For those of you in the USA, I'll add that it works even better if you do choose to participate.
I've said my piece and I'm going to head on back now. The train is all yours, I'll try to see if I can see any changes when I get there. Until then.
Lard Tubby in the can. The UK peer will serve his sentence at a low-security prison 50 miles north west of Orlando in central Florida. He will also have to pay back $6.1m (£3m).
Taxi! Bel-Air, and step on it. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said negotiations could only resume after calm was restored. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is winding up a trip to the region on Wednesday in which getting the Palestinians back to the negotiating table has been a key target.
Speaking of key targets... The head of Opec, the cartel of oil-producing nations, has said it is unlikely to increase production at this week's meeting. It had been hoped members would boost the supply of oil to help prices fall from their historically-high levels.
Y helo thar! A controversial new talk show has hit TV screens in southern India. The programme, "Ipadikku Rose", is not only unusual in its subject matter but its new host has certainly broken from the ranks. The programme is hosted by Rose, who used to be a boy called Ramesh.
Previously in this journal:
100386 : QUESTION: This is a new topic, on Italy and the firing of the convoy. I know that you talked a little about it yesterday. But today, General Casey maintained that he did not know that the convoy was going to be arriving at this checkpoint. He couldn't rule out that nobody in the U.S. Government or the Embassy or anybody knew that the convoy was going to be moving in this area, and the Italian Government maintains that the U.S. Government did know. Can you say whether anybody at the Embassy or any U.S. officials out of this Department --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try do this piecemeal. What we need now, and I think we and the Italians agree on this, is a complete and cooperative investigation and we will be undertaking that with the Italians participating in the inquiry and that -- that's going to commence shortly. We will get to the bottom of this together with the Italians. We will get to the bottom of this and get to the know all the facts together. That's what's important.
I think we've very clearly expressed our deep condolences for the tragic event. We've offered Italy our assistance in dealing with the aftermath of the incident. I think the Pentagon has, in fact, briefed on this. But the important thing now is to get the facts and we'll be doing that and we'll be working with the Italians to do that together.
66476 : The United States is sending up to 2,000 more marines to Afghanistan to step up the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda and Taleban leaders. The troops will join about 12,000 US troops already in the country. Pakistan has also announced it is reinforcing its operation in the tribal areas on its side of the border. Pakistani forces there have launched a full-scale assault against al-Qaeda and foreign militants and the tribesmen believed to be protecting them. "We are pursuing with the Pakistanis parallel, complementary efforts on both sides of the borders," a US military spokesman told the BBC. This amounts to a significant stepping up of the pressure, but is not the final US push against al-Qaeda - nor an explicit mission to capture Bin Laden, says the BBC's defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus.
6191 : "We have Word, WordPerfect, and Acrobat, but the one that's easiest to manipulate is WordPerfect for the CD-ROMs."
Colourized clipart/jpg: A drawing of the "Old Grey Lady" and "Rector Time" standing before a man dressed as an oversized schoolboy. Slouched in his seat with his book bag labeled "Radicalism" carelessly at his feet. The old lady tells the rector, "Go on, ask. Nicely!". He leans in and asks, "Excuse me, I was wondering if you could help us out?" The radical replies, "Blow me!!!", and continues over the rectors "What?!?" with, "No seriously. You, the grey Mrs. and all her flashy offspring have choked down the most appalling mushrooms before. Why be so prissy about it now?". The old woman says "This is going to be harder than I thought." with the radical replying "Flattery! Good start."