Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Maxfield Parrish - The Lantern Bearers, c. 1910

Oh, little prince! Bit by bit I came to understand the secrets of your sad little life . . . For a long time you had found your only entertainment in the quiet pleasure of looking at the sunset.

I learned that new detail on the morning of the fourth day, when you said to me:

"I am very fond of sunsets. Come, let us go look at a sunset now."

"But we must wait," I said.

"Wait? For what?"

"For the sunset. We must wait until it is time."

At first you seemed to be very much surprised. And then you laughed to yourself. You said to me: "I am always thinking that I am at home!"

Just so. Everybody knows that when it is noon in the United States the sun is setting over France. If you could fly to France in one minute, you could go straight into the sunset, right from noon. Unfortunately, France is too far away for that. But on your tiny planet, my little prince, all you need do is move your chair a few steps. You can see the day end and the twilight falling whenever you like . . .

"One day," you said to me, "I saw the sunset forty-four times!"

And a little later you added: "You know, one loves the sunset, when one is so sad . . ."

"Were you so sad, then?" I asked, "on the day of the forty-four sunsets?"

But the little prince made no reply.

From The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Paris Papers: Part Six

Paris, May 1968

1. I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that often art has judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts, and honor.

2. Common-sense is part of the home-made ideology of those who have been deprived of fundamental learning, of those who have been kept ignorant. This ideology is compounded from different sources: items that have survived from religion, items of empirical knowledge, items of protective skepticism, items culled for comfort from the superficial learning that is supplied. But the point is that common-sense can never teach itself, can never advance beyond its own limits, for as soon as the lack of fundamental learning has been made good, all items become questionable and the whole function of common-sense is destroyed. Common-sense can only exist as a category insofar as it can be distinguished from the spirit of inquiry, from philosophy.

3. The camera relieves us of the burden of memory. It surveys us like God, and it surveys for us. Yet no other god has been so cynical, for the camera records in order to forget.

4. Compassion has no place in the natural order of the world which operates on the basis of necessity. Compassion opposes this order and is therefore best thought of as being in some way supernatural.

5. Ours is the century of enforced travel of disappearances. The century of people helplessly seeing others, who were close to them, disappear over the horizon.

6. You can plan events, but if they go according to your plan they are not events.

7. A man's death makes everything certain about him. Of course, secrets may die with him. And of course, a hundred years later somebody looking through some papers may discover a fact which throws a totally different light on his life and of which all the people who attended his funeral were ignorant. Death changes the facts qualitatively but not quantitatively. One does not know more facts about a man because he is dead. But what one already knows hardens and becomes definite. We cannot hope for ambiguities to be clarified, we cannot hope for further change, we cannot hope for more. We are now the protagonists and we have to make up our minds.

8. Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and, in this, hasn't changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.

9. The past grows gradually around one, like a placenta for dying.

10. Modern thought has transferred the spectral character of Death to the notion of time itself. Time has become Death triumphant over all.

John Berger

Musique Du Jour: Unstoppable, Santogold

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Paris Papers: Part Five

Hitler in Paris, 1940

German Forces in Paris, 1940

Paris, 1940

Paris, 1940

American troops in tank passing the Arc de Triomphe after the liberation of Paris, 1944

Victory Parade - American troops of the 28th Infantry Division marching down the Champs Elysees, Paris, August 29, 1944

The Reluctant Prussian

Hitler's orders were blunt: if Paris could not be defended against the onrushing Allied armies, it was to be destroyed. The bridges of the Seine, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, even the Eiffel Tower, were to be blasted to oblivion. The conquerors were to find that, in its dying gasp, the Thousand-Year Reich had leveled a thousand years of Western history's most treasured monuments, leaving Paris, in Hitler's words, "nothing but a blackened field of ruins."

Even Hitler knew he would need an exceptionally loyal man to carry out his orders. He was sure he had found that man in General Dietrich von Choltitz. The stubby, impassive Prussian had led the blitzkrieg on Rotterdam, and later, on the Eastern front, had earned the reputation of a "smasher of cities," starting with Sevastopol which he had leveled for Hitler on Hitler's orders. He was the scion of a Prussian family that in three generations as officers had never disobeyed an order. On Aug. 7, 1944, Hitler summoned Von Choltitz, put him in command of the Paris area and told him what he had to do.

Gift to Humanity. . .

On the one hand there were the Führer's orders to raze Paris, cabled and telephoned with increasing frequency, culminating in Hitler's furious two-word query: "Brennt Paris?—Is Paris burning?" On the other was the eloquent plea of the Vichy mayor of Paris, Pierre Taittinger, as the two stood on the balcony of the Hotel Meurice looking out across Paris shortly after the general had arrived. "Often it is given to a general to destroy, rarely to preserve," said Taittinger. "Imagine that one day it may be given to you to stand on this balcony again, as a tourist, to look once more on these monuments to our joys, our sufferings, and to be able to say, 'One day I could have destroyed all this, and I preserved it as a gift for humanity.' General, is not that worth all a conqueror's glory?"

Act of Treason. At that point, Von Choltitz still intended to do his duty, and he said so. "You are a good advocate of Paris, Mr. Taittinger. You have done your duty well. And likewise I, as a German general, must do mine." But there were other things that weighed on him. The one interview he had with Hitler in his life - the one assigning him to Paris - had been unsettling. He went expecting to be inspired; he came away convinced that Hitler was mad. Finally, it became clear that the war was lost, that the destruction of the City of Light would serve not the slightest military purpose. By then, explosives had been carefully planted under every symbol of Paris. To ignite them, Von Choltitz realized, would mean that his family's name would be forever dishonored in history. In the end, the Prussian reluctantly went beyond doing nothing: using the Swedish consul as his liaison, he secretly invited the Allies to enter Paris in order to save the city.

By his own lifelong military code, it was an act of treason beyond measure. By any other measure, it was one of the few luminous deeds to come out of the darkness of Nazi Germany.

TIME, Friday, June 04, 1965

Hitler, 2008

Musique Du Jour: L'Hymne À La Beauté Du Monde, Isabelle Boulay

L'Hymne À La Beauté Du Monde

Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde
Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde

Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde
Chaque fleur, chaque arbre que l'on tue
Revient nous tuer à son tour

Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde
Ne tuons pas le chant des oiseaux
Ne tuons pas le bleu du jour

Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde
Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde

Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde
La dernière chance de la terre
C'est maintenant qu'elle se joue

Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde
Faisons de la terre un grand jardin
Pour ceux qui viendront après nous
Après nous . . .

Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde
La dernière chance de la terre
C'est maintenant qu'elle se joue

Ne tuons pas la beauté du monde
Faisons de la terre un grand jardin
Pour ceux qui viendront après nous
Après nous . . .

Isabelle Boulay

Note: Only after publishing it did I realise that this is my 666th post!

The Ripples Of Reflection

Doug Aitken - don't think twice II, 2006

Reflection is the courage to make the truth of our own presuppositions and the realm of our goals into the things that most deserve to be called into question.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Zen Commandments (Gerhard Richter)

Three Sisters, 1965

Forest Piece, 1965

Deer II, 1966

Shadow Picture, 1968

Sternbild Constellation, 1970

180 Colours, 1971

Three Candles, 1982

Apples, 1984

Dead, 1988

Tulips, 1995

Musique Du Jour: Farewell to Philosophy, Gavin Bryars

The Ten Commandments (Gilbert & George)

Gilbert and George - The Ten Commandments

Thou shalt fight conformism.
Thou shalt be the messenger of freedoms.
Thou shalt make use of sex.
Thou shalt reinvent life.
Thou shalt create artificial art.
Thou shalt have a sense of purpose.
Thou shalt not know exactly what thou dost, but thou shalt do it.
Thou shalt give thy love.
Thou shalt grab the soul.
Thou shalt give something back.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tender Miseries

Gerhard Richter - I.G., 1993

alone with everybody

the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
and nobody finds the
but keep
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than

there's no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular

nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill

nothing else

Charles Bukowski

Musique Du Jour: Song To The Siren, The Czars (The My Flash Fetish player does have a track for you to play today. Unfortunately, the operators of the widget have been toying with it again and disabled the listing function. Just click on the [blank] gray strip - where the words 'musique du jour' would normally be seen - if you want to hear Song To The Siren. For some reason, they have also made 'replay' the default setting. If you want to stop the track repeating, click 'play/pause'.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Aesthetics, Year Zero

Brett Whiteley - Self Portrait in the Studio, 1976

There is no art without eyes that see it as art.

Jacques Rancière

Musique Du Jour: Blue Honey, Pop Levi