Saturday, August 24, 2013

Being’s Road

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:16 PM

For the late Julie Harris —

By slow and carefully modulated steps Bradford's narrative
has brought his community of separatists to the place he
calls Cape Harbor… where, face-to-face with the bleak
and wintry reduction that is his image for American space,
he finds himself stopped, able to do nothing but come to
an astonished pause. The final step, that of imaginative
crossing into the land that lies before them, remains
beyond the power of narrative to take. Narrative falters, and
finding his journey advanced to an "odd Fork in Being's Road"
and himself nothing so much as an "empty spirit / In vacant
space" (to adopt apt phrases from Dickinson and Stevens…),
Bradford requires the sublime if he is to continue moving
forward: separation becomes exaltation as it becomes
manifest that only an influx 
of "the Spirit of God and His
grace" can have permitted the community to survive its
passage to the limit depicted.

— David Laurence, "William Bradford's American Sublime,"
PMLA , Vol. 102, No. 1, 1987, pp. 55-65

Cast (continued)

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 3:31 AM

The death yesterday of British cinematographer
Gilbert Taylor suggests an image from last evening's
Log24 search Point Omega —


The die in the above image (shown here Dec. 28, 2012
displays the numbers 3-6-5 in counterclockwise order.
A similar die in an earlier post served as a metaphor for
a time-jump to 365 days in the past.

For some religious remarks by Umberto Eco that may
serve as a small memorial to Taylor, see this journal 
a year before  the day he died— August 23, 2012.

"Everybody comes to Rick's."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vacant Space

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM

A passage from Wallace Stevens

The spirit and space,
The empty spirit 
In vacant space.

A frame from the film American Psycho  (2000), starring Christian Bale—

IMAGE- 'espace' sign from the film 'American Psycho'

The rest of the film is not recommended.

Related material—

"24 Hour Psycho" at the Museum of Modern Art in the novel Point Omega .

Illustration from a New York Times  review

IMAGE- NY Times headline 'A Wrinkle in Time' with 24 Hour Psycho and Point Omega scene

Ten Years of Nothing

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:02 PM

For insatiable actor Patrick Bateman (protagonist of
American Psycho) and anti-theologian Kirk Varnedoe
Pictures of Nothing, this journal ten years ago today )

Philip Rieff, The Crisis of the Officer Class,
University of Virginia Press, 2007

From page 73:

The third culture's life-style, its way, is no way: it is abandonment, 
an ethos of empty seriousness best expressed, I think, by the 
greatest of American poets in the tradition that began with 
Emerson. Wallace Stevens was the greatest American maker of 
that "fictive music" of the "unreal" by which poets "give back to us 
what you [God] gave," Creation itself, now understood, in the third
culture, as the "imagination that we spurned and crave." Stevens
understood the fictive music of faith, that intensity which

The near, the clear …
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
… an image that is sure,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Yet not too like, yet not so like to be
Too near, too clear, saving a little to endow
Our feigning with the strange unlike…. [12]

This is masterly anti-theology. This is what no "mickey mockers" of 
the spirit can ever become: the "American sublime," the mar-

[12] Wallace Stevens, "To the One of Fictive Music," in Collected 
 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1954), 87-88; all citations of 
Stevens are to this edition.

From page 74:

velous panic and emptiness of belief by which the "sublime comes 
down/To the spirit itself" and terrifies the American self:

The spirit and space,
The empty spirit 
In vacant space.
What wine does one drink?
What bread does one eat? [13]

This poet is no great character, nor temple priest. He is a virtuoso 
chef, preparing the food for the American feast of unbeliefs. This 
supreme fictionist invents bread and wine, anything that will act as 
that "act of the mind." [14] Stevens had a shrewd Emersonian idea 
of myth, or Freudian, the "sexual myth" or any other "images of 
metaphors." [15] He knew that it was in "this invented world" that "the 
death of one god is the death of all." This is the most supreme of all 
fictions, by which "He imposes orders as he thinks of them." [16]

[13] Stevens, "The American Sublime," 130-31
[14] Stevens, "Of Modern Poetry," 239-40; modern poetry, which is 
"the finding of a satisfaction," or a script for a theater– whatever 
"will suffice" for the "insatiable actor" of the third culture, even the 
script of "cuisine bourgeoise," where we may "feast on human 
heads" (240, 227).
[15] Stevens, "Men Made out of Words," 355; and "Thinking of a 
Relation between the Images of Metaphors," 356-57.
[16] Stevens, "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction," 380-81, 403.

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