Tuesday, April 12, 2016

from seat 26F at 30,000 feet

Mighty Reader and I have been away, to Our Nation's Capitol and to The City That Never Sleeps. I finished Treasure Island in a studio apartment in beautiful Capitol Heights and began reading a collection of Abraham Lincoln's letters. In beautiful Brooklyn I purchased a copy of Clarice Lispector's Near to the Wild Heart, which I have not begun to read yet. There were a number of Lispector novels on the shelf at Greenlight Bookstore, and of course I bought the one with the James Joyce reference in the title. My attorney, Salvatore, had read the novel long ago and could not vouch for it, which I also took as a sign. Salvatore and I bonded over the complete stories of John Cheever a million-and-a-half years ago.

While in DC and NYC, Mighty Reader and I gazed long at several Vermeers and Turners. I appreciate a Vermeer, but I find that I am increasingly smitten with the works of Mr Turner, especially his later paintings when he moved away from figurative art and focused on light and color. Though I am a sucker for his maritime subjects once he got past the Dutch influence of ships tossed by a storm. The thing about Mr Turner, though (and I've said this before), is that he teaches the viewer that the sky is the largest part of any landscape, that the works of Nature and of Man are tiny things at the feet of the heavens, nearly invisible from the great heights of the clouds.

We took in a show in Brooklyn: the Anbessa Orchestra in concert (a gig in the tiny tiny tiny backroom of Barbes, a sweet little club that Mr and Mrs Salvatore could vouch for). The Anbessa Orchestra plays a sort of 1960-70s Ethiopian horn-based pop music. Very nice indeed.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Published by Erasmus in Belgium

If you do not find a remedy to these evils it is a vain thing to boast of your severity in punishing theft, which, though it may have the appearance of justice, yet in itself is neither just nor convenient; for if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this but that you first make thieves and then punish them?
2016 is, in case you were unaware, the 500th anniversary of the first publication of Thomas More's Utopia. I have an interest in utopian literature. There's quite a bit of good scholarship around utopian literature, it turns out. There is a slight possibility that one day I'll write a novel called An Atlas of Utopias (the title is stolen from George Woodcock's 1980 review of the book Utopian Thought in the Western World by Frank and Fritzie Manuel; Woodcock notes that "The utopia is in fact the literary genre in which the difference between creative imagination and plausible invention is most clearly exemplified," which seems true enough).