Archive for March, 2009

Yes, I am having fun with internet-quotes.

Disclaimer: English is a very serious major. We majors read lots of hard things like Pound or Eliot and then write very intense papers in way too little time (English majors like the youtube). We know how to use whom and why you all speak wrong. I don’t even know who Raymond Chandler is, or any other “genre” writers. (Who are Agatha Christie or Pelham Grenville Wodehouse? I just do not know!) I’m innocent, innocent of anything not written before 1957 or reviewed by Michiko Kakutani (aside: such a fantastic name).

An age which is incapable of poetry is incapable of any kind of literature except the cleverness of a decadence.

— Raymond Chandler

Yet another reason to love Chandler (besides his hot-noir-ness, his wicked analogies, and the ultimate woobie Phillip Marlowe)—he’s aphoristic.

All slang is a metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.

— GK Chesterton

That’s really nice and quite true. Though of lesser and greater goodness of course—I would not argue “If U Seek Amy” is any great shakes. Speaking of that, there was a delightful article collecting that particular pun’s history in today’s Slate. And they say that the English major is irrevalant!

Now, to recapture my cred, some Donne:

by John Donne

I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so
In whining poetry ;
But where’s that wise man, that would not be I,
If she would not deny ?
Then as th’ earth’s inward narrow crooked lanes
Do purge sea water’s fretful salt away,
I thought, if I could draw my pains
Through rhyme’s vexation, I should them allay.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.     But when I have done so,
Some man, his art and voice to show,
Doth set and sing my pain ;
And, by delighting many, frees again
Grief, which verse did restrain.
To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
But not of such as pleases when ’tis read.
Both are increasèd by such songs,
For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.

Oh no, you caught me! I found the first three lines of the poem on like poetry quotes dot com or something.  Intrigued, I then googled, yes googled, to find the poem. My Norton Anthology of Poetry is catching dust somewhere at home. Don’t worry: I will never claim to be an English major again. Like so many (other? hahaha, that would never happen. Like I can even add—I’m an English and Fine Arts major) investment bankers, I will hide my dark humanities-lite past.



Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows.

—Edmund Burke

I Just Meet Something Here That Knew Me

Don’t be fooled. I can’t keep up with my thoughts; I barely sense myself. Maybe you see something you recognize of yourself, an imprint of something familiar.

— Barbara Ess, This is Not My Body

destiny into awareness

When I first looked at Walker Evans’ photographs, I thought of something Malraux wrote: “To transform destiny into awareness.” One is embarrassed to want so much for oneself. But, how else are you going to justify your failure and your effort?

—Robert Frank

This reminds me that of my current struggle to understand Walker Evans. I find it kinda fascinating—that gap between the two understandings. Whenever I look at one of his photos I feel a metaphorical tickle  in my brain.


I heard  someone quoting Frank, quoting Malraux and just thought that was delicious and fascinating. Just the isolated

To transform destiny into awareness.

When I googled to find the phrase, I found that beautiful second part of Frank’s statement—the separate

One is embarrassed to want so much for oneself. But, how else are you going to justify your failure and your effort?

I’m going to hold that one close.

“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”


painting is over.

the novel is dead—DEAD I tell you.

pillowcases are plebian.

organ-jazz is the harbringer of anarchy.

string beans could only have arisen in the logical system of an elite society.

potatoes are the first tool of the protelariat (scalloped please).



Photography implies the recognition of a rhythm in the world of real things. 

Henri Cartier-Bresson, “The Decisive Moment”

Alicante, Spain, 1932


He also said, “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”

Ha! I love when people call random things bourgeois, especially artists. Peaches are a bourgeois notion. Smoke is an invention of the bourgeois. Tampons: a bourgeois conception.


One might expect that this generalization would be especially true in the case of photography. It has been said (repeatedly) that photography is a universal language. In fact, however, photography is merely a universal technique. To speak of it as a language is to ignore the fact that its meanings (unlike those of Greek, or algebra, for example) cannot be translated with any acceptable degree of precision into other languages. It is surely clear also that only in its most pedestrian and utilitarian functions does photography approach universality of meaning.

John Szarkowski, from his introduction to New Japanese Photography