usc – 20

IMG_1057Ultimately, Lytton believed the world was governed not by extremists, not by flagrantly unreasonable fanatics, but by moderate men.

He was referring to Lloyd George and Herbert Asquith, who at least didn’t paint their hair orange, knew what was up in Austria, the dismal parts.

And the sight of these men, with their seductive plausibility, in full control of events, posed for him a profoundly menacing spectacle.  For their inflated sentiments and headstrong actions presented a terrifying revelation of what the multitudes of ordinary, solid, humdrum, and respectable men and women were thinking.  By invoking the lowest common denominator within society, such leaders were able to exert a powerful brake upon the natural advancement of civilization, and to give dominion to the basest, most egotistical elements in human nature.

She turned out to be ludicrously out of touch, the former female activist in coke bottle glasses, braying about being first this and that, surrounded by a galaxy of famous fools, whereas most only cared about money.  Now she’s elderly, out to pasture, with her pile in the bank.   

Lytton Strachey by Michael Holroyd.

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usc – 19

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The New World.

The place where information, cascading images, many scarifying, invade our sanctuaries, fly in the face through technology; it arrived one morning while a Robin sang.

Given the assault of the unpleasant, it’s more a miracle than ever, a cleansing operation, to stare with sharp intention at soft pink clouds, at canyons of frozen crystals, the various colors bleeding in the sky.
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It’s Turner off his leash as the scene shifts, with everything yielding to temporary obliteration, black velvet, till dawn.

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As for the ones who fail to incline their gaze, they get caught in worm holes, a private form of hell, which the mind, keeping pace with capitalistic developments, excels at setting.

And when they’re done, they find a new toy, another trick to beguile their days while the broken parts end on a smoldering heap in Africa.

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usc – 18

pouissinSam Wagstaff, the uber American, had everything including a cerebral lover with a refreshing attitude towards sexual acrobatics. That was a lucious kid from Floral Park, NY, Robert Mapplethorpe, who led him from a self imposed exile from which he was never lonely, into the mineshaft.

Sam Wagstaff’s instinct for the beautiful, strange and overlooked gave the art of photography peerless direction.

Solemnly under oath, friends declare they last saw Sam Wagstaff much reduced from the virus that carried off so many of the best emotional nonconformers, dragging a bundle of sterling silver down a sidewalk in Manhattan, his eyes blazing forth from the withered edifice.

I have only loved three things in my life. Robert, my mother, and art, Sam Wagstaff said before he expired and left his ex, also wasting into a skeleton, a pile.

One wonders what he thought of Poussin.

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usc – 16

gothicIn Edmund Wilson’s journals from the 1940’s, the author appears confused by how life can get bumpier the longer you hang around.  After the descent of his great love, St. Vincent Millay, into melancholy and booze, he worried he was close to a “crack up.”
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And yet, his voice emerges as questioning whether his countrymen had gone too far in bombing Berlin, the German people, to cinders, calling the Japanese animals on the radio; the tactics of Goebbels, he quipped while seated comfortably at the Princeton Club, a customary cocktail in hand.

Despite nagging doubt, paroxysms of lust, frequent hangovers, he noticed deer tracks sharp deep divided footprints in Wellfleet, changes in tide and weather, sat with George Santayana in Rome, feeling a sacred awe in seeing the philosopher a shell of faded skin and frail bone but incandescent in which the power of intellect, the color of imagination, still lived and gave out……..their vibrations and rays…”, traveled the world to absorb the latest – snapshots of Mussolini and his mistress dead; the disposition of the British now that they’d lost their Empire; how filthy the children were in Naples.  As it turned out, his powers, those of the finest critical mind of the 20th century, were getting underway.

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