Friday, October 26, 2018


How about something contemporary?
C'mon, greybeards, you gotta admit it's atmospheric.

•  I just caught up with the marker that went on Philip Larkin's spot when he was reinterred in Poet's Corner at Westminister in 2016. The quote from Larkin's "An Arundel Tomb" (Our almost-instinct almost true:/What will survive of us is love) seemed like it had to have been pulled entirely out of context, an absurd attempt to draw puppy-dog eyes on the famously caustic poet like Steven Spielberg talking about Stanley Kubrick's "vision of hope and wonder" at the 1999 Academy Awards. But I could not say because I had not read it, so I went and did. It's the one about the statues holding hands. As Jeremy Axlerod exegetes it at The Guardian, it can be seen in a less romantic light, more about oblivion than immortality (...The stone fidelity/They hardly meant has come to be/Their final blazon...), and the "almost" more important than the "love." But it moves me anyway and maybe even more for that. If awareness of the world's cheats and disappointments were enough to deaden the heart to its beauties and wonders, we would have by now built concentrations camps not only for others but for ourselves. (I know, on bad days it looks as if we have.) I don't think Larkin's intimations of the absurd and futile debunk the "sharp tender shock" of the couple's gesture, I think they enrich it. Oblivion has its own majesty, and Larkin's somewhat courtly rhyme scheme shows a desire to built something beautiful of his own in its shadow, and maybe find immortality in that; else why write at all, sculpt at all, love at all? And now in another cathedral the closing couplet of his tribute lies, catching the dust.

•  P.J. O'Rourke has a magazine online. Here's something by him about "Why kids are commies":
What’s the matter with kids today? 
Nothing new. The brats, the squirts, the fuzz-faced mooncalves, the sap-green sweet young things, and the wet-behind-the-ears in general have always been “Punks for Progressives.” 
As soon as kids discover that the world isn’t nice, they want to make it nicer. And wouldn’t a world where everybody shares everything be nice? Aw… Kids are so tender-hearted. 
Kids are broke – so they want to make the world nicer with your money...
Marxism puts inarticulate notions of a sharing-caring nicer world into vivid propaganda slogans. 
Slogans such as: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." 
Which may be the most ridiculous political-economic idea that anybody has ever had.
My need is for beluga caviar, a case of Château Haut-Brion 1961, a duplex on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park, a bespoke suit from Gieves & Hawkes in Savile Row...
At the top of the essay are recent poll citations and references to Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but other than that it could have been written in 1984. Some things persist because they have stood the test of time, and others because they still make a profit, but I think the repetition of the "you-hippies-like-nature-well-my-dick-is-all-natural" routine is a retro thing like Happy Days. What's next, the return of Andrew Dice Clay? The Bell Curve Special Anniversary Edition? A revival of Family Ties starring Ben Shapiro? (He's the right height, anyway.) I was hoping the 80s revival would have more cocaine and Hüsker Dü. Cheats and disappointments indeed! Yet I will not harden my heart so long as hope survives that Baboon Dooley will ride again.

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