Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Party on the LES

My friend Starra's cousin is an artist who works in neon and she has a great apartment and really knows how to throw a party.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

It's OK to appropriate the culture of the Celts, apparently

I really hate the concept of "cultural appropriation" which is based in the belief that
a. we are all neatly divided into "races" and  
b. only people of the correct "race" can do or wear certain things.
This of course goes against all of human history and is a reactionary and stupid and most importantly a completely untenable position to hold.

Most Irish people don't fetishize being Irish (except for a few of my cousins) so nobody seems to realize that Halloween is a Celtic tradition.

As history.com says:
Halloween is an annual holiday, celebrated each year on October 31, that has roots in age-old European traditions. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating and carving jack-o-lanterns. Around the world, as days grow shorter and nights get colder, people continue to usher in the season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.
So idiots whining that a non-Hawaiian wearing a Disney's Moana costume is cultural appropriation - yes, it really happened need to realize is that unless you have ancestors from the British Isles, if you celebrate Halloween you are guilty of cultural appropriation.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Fascinating recent article in the Guardian about Macron, Orbiting Jupiter: My Week with Macron by Emmanuel Carrère. 

One of my favorite parts:
He started by breaking the ice in a particularly effective way with a two-minute preamble in Greek, learned phonetically. 
And, speaking as someone with a smattering of modern Greek, I can tell you that’s no mean feat. Then he launched into his favourite topic: Europe, and the sovereignty of the European peoples, which he doesn’t want to leave, he says, to the faint-hearted, fearful clan known as sovereigntists – those rightwing populists who want to shut out the world and retreat into splendid isolation. 
Half an hour of fine rhetoric leads up to the oratorical climax: “Look at the time that we are living in: it is the moment of which Hegel spoke, the moment when the owl of Minerva takes flight.” Macron doesn’t explain the metaphor; no doubt he overestimates his audience’s level of philosophical sophistication. Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, and the owl is her symbol; this owl, Hegel says, waits for night to fall before flying over the battlefield of history. In other words, philosophy can’t keep pace with events. “The owl of Minerva,” he continues, “provides wisdom but it continues to look back. It looks back because it is always so easy and so comforting to look at what we have, what we know, rather than at the unknown … ”
You would never catch an American president, even Obama, making allusions to a German philosopher and Roman mythology, let alone in the same sentence. That's what's great about the French, they don't despise someone who displays intelligence even to the point of esotericism. 

A little later on in the article:

When it’s not Hegel he’s quoting, it’s Spinoza, who he loves for his struggle against the “sad passions” such as bitterness, resentment and defeatism – to which Macron himself seems to have had remarkably little exposure. Today in interviews he engages in dialogue with the German thinker Peter Sloterdijk, and while still in his 20s he served as assistant to Paul Ricoeur, an immensely respected, octogenarian humanist philosopher. Since Mitterrand, we have forgotten what it’s like to have a cultivated president. The day after his speech on the Pnyx, there was a lunch with Greek intellectuals. These Greek intellectuals were ardently Francophile, and quoted one great French poet after the next. With each poem Macron was able to pick up where the other person had left off, reciting the next verses without missing a beat. Baudelaire, Rimbaud, all by heart: it’s hard not to believe that this man really likes poetry.

I despise Hegel but I still respect his knowledge of his work. And Carrère doesn't mention it but it strikes me that French socialists will appreciate Macron's shout-out to Hegel, given that the Hegelian dialectic is at the heart of Marxism (although the mystical nonsense that ruined Marxism according to anthropologist Marvin Harris.) 

I have seen Bernie Sanders-supporting socialists with Hegel quotes in their profiles, so that's some indication of where Hegel stands to the far left. And that matters especially since, according to this article, Macron has been leaning right.

Like many people, Carrère speculates on the authenticity of the Macron marriage and comes down firmly on the side of love:

Philippe Besson, a French writer who knows him well, wrote a book about him aptly called Un Personnage de Roman, or “a character from a novel”, which contains the following description: “This man, so warm, so physical, who knows so many people and whom so many people know, has no friends.” Is that true? I ask. He’ll go on to answer that it’s not exactly true, that although he has few real friends, he does have some, and that his private life is absolutely essential for him. But before he says these reasonable things, before reflecting at all, he blurts out: “My best friend is my wife!” 
It’s tempting to see Macron as a sort of cyborg, a seducing machine completely void of emotion. It’s tempting, but no sooner has it occurred to you than you’re obliged to think the opposite. Because there’s no getting around the fact that the young, ambitious technocrat, the man who tells everyone what they want to hear, is also, at the same time, the hero of a grand love story. I think this story is what the French like most about him, particularly French women. It’s a kind of revenge for centuries of patriarchy during which everyone found it normal for a man to be 24 years older than his wife, but not the other way around. And, taking this breach of convention to the extreme, the woman who is 24 years older than him seems perfectly at ease, and her husband loves her as much as he did when they first met.
He also offers this charming portrait of Brigitte Macron:
She had been one of those teachers that students love, to the point of hanging around after class to talk about Stendhal or Flaubert. Even though she’s retired, she remains a teacher, and accepts with a smile that she’s a bit of a pedant. Where others would say “I don’t want to talk in my husband’s place”, she said something I’ve never heard anyone else say: “I don’t like prosopopoeia.” (Just in case you don’t know, prosopopoeia is a figure of speech in which an absent person, or even an abstract thing, speaks.) Coming back to my question, she let me know kindly that both she and her husband faced their share of adversity. “I can’t honestly say we’ve had to deal with defeat, but we’ve had our share of adversity. To live a love like ours, we’ve had to harden ourselves against malicious remarks, mockery and gossip. We’ve had to stand shoulder to shoulder, be courageous and joyful.” And she was joyful when she said it, just as joyful – and likable – as everyone told me she would be. (Everyone loves her.)
Again that failure to apologize for a large vocabulary. J'adore!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How David Mamet portrays sexual harassment claims in OLEANNA

I updated my essay about OLEANNA from thirteen years ago for the NYCPlaywrights weekly email, with 2017 info.
In OLEANNA David Mamet portrays charges of sexual harassment as a plot by feminists to destroy men. And it should be noted that OLEANNA was first produced long before Mamet came out of the closet as an extreme conservative happily joining his buddy Rush Limbaugh on his radio show.
Many people, including critics, seem to think that David Mamet wrote about male-female miscommunications. In Virtual-Lancaster, Paul Wilkenson wrote:
“What men say and what women hear (and visa versa) is one of those tricky areas of human nature that science steers clear of and only playwrights and comedians dare to tread.” 
Some people think OLEANNA is an indictment of political correctness, as Michael Billington of the Guardian believed:
“Mamet is not just attacking the lunatic excesses of political correctness. His play is really a lament for the destruction of mutual trust and personal interaction that makes academic freedom possible.”
Maybe it seems to be about miscommunications or political correctness on the stage, and the final message of the play depends a good deal on how it is directed. But on the page, OLEANNA is a folk tale about a hero fighting evil. 
The title of the play is inspired by a folk song, which Mamet quotes in the introductory pages of the published play:
"Oh, to be in Oleanna, 
That's where I would rather be. 
Than be bound in Norway 
And drag the chains of slavery. 
- folk song”
In OLEANNA, John the professor fights evil in the form of the Group (Mamet's capitalization). Many reviewers entirely overlook the importance of the Group to the dramatic structure of the play. This review of a currently running production does not mention The Group at all.
The Group is mentioned only four times in the play, and probably in a stage presentation the physical reality of actors portraying John and Carol works to minimize audience awareness of the Group even further. But in the text it's easier to see the Group is responsible for the power dynamic that develops between Carol and John.
JOHN: Yes. Tell me frankly.
CAROL: ...my position...
JOHN: I want to hear it. In your own words. What you want. And what you feel.
CAROL: ...I...
JOHN: ...yes...
CAROL: My Group.
When asked what she wants, Carol refers to the Group. It's what the Group wants that matters now, and Carol is merely its spokeswoman. 
In the Lindsay Posner production (London, 2004) some critics felt that John was portrayed as sexually exploitive.  
Charles Spenser in The Telegraph comments:
“One also feels a great deal less warm towards the professor in Aaron Eckhart's performance. He presents a man fatally in love with the sound of his own voice and far too preoccupied with his impending purchase of a new home to concentrate fully on his pupil's distress. When he puts his arm round Carol to comfort her, and later hugs her and offers to massage her grades, there is a distinct crackle of exploitative sexuality in the air.”
To audiences the big question in the play is always whether or not John is actually making a sexual move on Carol. I think the text shows he is not. But although that issue is in dispute, what is absolutely indisputable is that the Group tries to blackmail John in its efforts to ban his book:
CAROL: We can and we will. Do you want our support? That is the only quest... 
JOHN: .. to ban my book...? 
CAROL: ...that is correct... 
By the end of the play, the charge of sexual harassment has become attempted rape:
CAROL: My Group has told your lawyer that we may pursue criminal charges. 
JOHN: ... no... 
CAROL: Yes. And attempted rape. That's right. (Pause)
This completely changes the ethical issue at the heart of the play. The play does not portray at any point an attempted rape. The charge is clearly a vicious lie by an evil shadow organization that has immense but unexplained power. We never learn anything about the Group except its criminal machinations and its control over Carol's mind. 
So the play is not actually about a man-woman misunderstanding or political correctness gone wild. This play is about a Group with an agenda to censor free thought by any means necessary. The Group creates a situation where John's life is ruined unless he capitulates to blackmail. And he responds by transforming from a self-absorbed jerk or a subtle groper (depending on the production) into a fearless champion of free speech:
JOHN: And, and, I owe you a debt, I see that now. (Pause) You're dangerous, you're wrong and it's my job... to say no to you. That's my job. You are absolutely right. You want to ban my book? Go to hell , and they can do whatever they want to me.
This is why audience members cheer at the end of some productions when John makes Carol cower before him: at great personal sacrifice the Hero slays the Dragon. 
It's fascinating to compare Mamet's folk tale with reality. And Hollywood isn’t the only problem. Naomi Wolf claimed she was groped by literary celebrity Harold Bloom when she was his student.
She was attacked for discussing it in public and  Kathleen Parker, writing for Townhall.com, even suggested that Wolf owed Bloom an apology for her reaction:
The fact that Bloom's boneless hand prompted Wolf to regurgitate her dinner inarguably put an immediate and explicit end to this would-be tale of sexual harassment, with no harm to any except perhaps to poor Bloom's withered self-esteem. Given Wolf's then-considerable gifts of youth, beauty and guile, I should think she owes the dear fellow an apology.
Incredibly Parker can't imagine that the incident could have a long-term impact on Wolf's relationship with Bloom, and therefore on Wolf's academic career. In general the conservative response to Wolf's claim is not disbelief that Bloom did what Wolf says he did, the response is that it's no big deal, it's strictly a personal issue between Wolf and Bloom, and Wolf should get over it. 
And Wolf herself advises extreme caution when making accusations: unlike the world of OLEANNA, in Wolf's experience the accuser is far more likely to be punished than the accused:
“For years now, Yale has been contacting me: Would I come speak at a celebration of women at Yale? Would I be in a film about Jewish graduates? Would I be interviewed for the alumni magazine?  
I have usually declined, for a reason that I explain to my (mostly female) college audiences: The institution is not accountable when it comes to the equality of women. I explain that I was the object of an unwanted sexual advance from a professor at Yale - and that his advances seemed to be part of an open secret. I tell them that I had believed that many Yale decision-makers had known about his relations with students, and nothing I was aware of had happened to stop it. Where is the professor now? they ask. He is still there, I explain: famous, productive, revered. I describe what the transgression did to me - devastated my sense of being valuable to Yale as a student, rather than as a pawn of powerful men. 
Then, heartbreakingly, a young woman will ask: "Did you tell?"  
I answer her honestly: "No. I did nothing. "
"Have you never named the guy, all these years on?"  
"No," I answer. "Never."  
"But," she will ask hesitantly, "don't you have an obligation to protect other women students who might be targets now?"  
"Yes," I answer. "I do have that obligation. I have not lived up to it. I have not been brave enough." 
And then there is always, among those young, hopeful women, a long, sad silence.  
After such speeches, a young woman will come up to me - in Texas, in Indiana, in Chicago - in tears: My music professor is harassing me , she'll say. I tried to tell the grievance board, but they told me it is my word against his, and that there is no point in pursuing it. I know I won't get a job if I do anything about it. My lit professor made a pass at me; he is grading my senior thesis. My female adviser basically told me to drop it if I want to graduate; to switch classes; to start all over with another subject. My lab instructor keeps putting his hands on my body, and his mentor is on the grievance committee. I can't sleep. What should I do?  
I am ashamed of what I tell them: that they should indeed worry about making an accusation because what they fear is likely to come true. Not one of the women I have heard from had an outcome that was not worse for her than silence. One, I recall, was drummed out of the school by peer pressure. Many faced bureaucratic stonewalling. Some women said they lost their academic status as golden girls overnight; grants dried up, letters of recommendation were no longer forthcoming. No one was met with a coherent process that was not weighted against them. Usually, the key decision-makers in the college or university - especially if it was a private university - joined forces to, in effect, collude with the faculty member accused; to protect not him necessarily but the reputation of the university, and to keep information from surfacing in a way that could protect other women. The goal seemed to be not to provide a balanced forum, but damage control.
So why is it that although many women have been sexually harassed at school and on the job and even Naomi Wolf advises them to worry about making TRUE accusations, the most famous play on the subject of sexual harassment is about an evil Group using lies and blackmail to ban a book? 
Village Voice theatre critic Alexis Solomon noted in 1999:
“…since 1975 the percentage of plays by women has stayed virtually the same on Broadway (16 percent) and increased only marginally off-Broadway (from 13 to 21 percent). Never mind that the study found that nearly two-thirds of ticket buyers are women. Often they're trying to drag their reluctant husbands or boyfriends along to the theater, and winning them over means insisting that the play in question will appeal to their male sensibility. (No wonder the misogynist OLEANNA was one of the most-produced plays in the history of regional theaters.)”
In 2015 the Women Count study by the League of Professional Theatre Women indicated the situation had improved somewhat: 21% of off-Broadway plays were by women in 1999, sixteen years later the number was 29% (down from a high of 36% in 2013).
Things are slowly getting better, but men are still telling a greater share of human stories although humanity is 50% female.  
Under such conditions, it’s not surprising that the focus in theater has not been on the impact of sexual abuse on women’s lives but rather on men as victims of false charges. 
Mamet includes some lyrics from the folk song "Oleanna" in the published version of the play. Oleanna is not only a place to escape the chains of Norway, it is a magical land, where chores are done for you. The cows milk themselves and the hens lay eggs ten times a day. And if the women get out of line, you don't even have to beat them yourself:
In Oleanna the women do all the work.  
If she doesn't work hard enough 
She takes a stick 
And gives herself a beating!
You can read the entire song here:
(please note - the above link to the OLEANNA pdf is no longer available. Here is a different version of the lyrics - the translation is different, but the idea is the same:

The women there do all the work 
As round the fields they quickly go 
Each one has a hickory stick 
And beats herself if she works too slow
Maybe one day when women's plays are produced 50% of the time, or when sexual harassment is no longer so common, Mamet will have cause to be paranoid about female power. But OLEANNA is an example of the way history - and folk tales - are written by the winners.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dreams from My Father

I finally listened to the audiobook Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama. It's really great for the most part, but the last hour and a half is so much about Obama's paternal relatives.

I know more about his relatives than I know about mine. 

That would have been OK, but he ends the book there, with a tiny epilogue. I really wanted to hear about his years in law school and then meeting Michelle and working and going into politics.

Obama is a good mimic and handles impressions of his African relatives, male and female, convincingly.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Happy Macron Anniversary

The Macrons have been married for 10 years today.

There are excerpts of their marriage video in the documentary Macron, la stratégie du Météore.

I had two different therapists tell me I should date "older men." I made clear to each of them that I had no objections to dating a man my own age, or even a little older, but that I wouldn't rule out younger men either. So it was evident that what they meant, but I couldn't get either of them to come out and admit it, was that I should only date "older men." Because, you know, we live in a misogynistic patriarchy and it's never going to change.

At that point I fired each of them - the first one after seeing her for three years, the second after only four months - but I gave the second one warning right when I began seeing her that I fired the first one for telling me to date older men. So she should have known better.

I think part of the problem is that these two women believe that marriage should be at least in part about how much money the man has. Their minds are totally stuck in the old model of heterosexual relationships. 

Women making their own money changes everything. Had Bridgette Auziere been a traditional French housewife, instead of having a career of her own as a teacher, she would not have had the option to leave her husband and take up with such a young man.

Every time I think about the Macrons I'm tempted to send a postcard to each of my ex-therapists that says "suck it, bitch." I'm sure had Bridgette Auziere gone to either of them in the early days of her relationship with Emmanuel, they would have told her to end the relationship. Immediately. And she would have missed out marrying the love of her life, not to mention becoming first lady of France.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Charles & David Koch destroy the world

Billionaires Charles and David Koch are absolutely not afraid to go down in history as the two individuals most responsible for climate change and all the attending weather & oceanic disasters that entails. Their insatiable, pathological greed blinds them to anything in the world except making more money.

As Jane Mayer, New Yorker's scourge of the Koch brothers writes in her article about Mike Pence this week:

One by one, all the things that Trump campaigned on that annoyed the Koch brothers are being thrown overboard. And one by one the Koch brothers’ priorities are moving up the list.” Trump’s populist, nationalist agenda has largely been replaced by the agenda of the corporate right. Trump has made little effort at infrastructure reform, and he abandoned his support for a “border-adjustment tax” after the Koch network spent months campaigning against it, and after Pence and Short discussed it privately with Charles Koch at a meeting in Colorado Springs this summer. Bannon’s proposal to create a higher tax bracket for citizens earning upward of five million dollars was dropped. The Kochs enthusiastically support the White House’s proposed tax-cut package, which, according to most nonpartisan analyses, will disproportionately benefit the super-rich. (The proposed elimination of the estate tax alone would give the Koch brothers’ heirs a windfall of billions of dollars.)

There are no people who embody sociopathic evil more than those two Koch brothers. Every time I read another example of them using the Republican party to rig the system for their own financial gain, I think about that scene in Chinatown where Jake Gittes asks Noah Cross how much more money he needs. Cross says he wants to buy the future. But the future will surely remember the evil done by the Koch brothers and so they are not even buying "the future" for themselves. They are just relentlessly trying to make as much money as they can before they shuffle off this mortal coil. Let's just hope it's not much longer - Charles is 81 and David is 77 -  and that their children are not as monomaniacal about piling up enormously excessive wealth and screwing the whole world to do it.

There are two other Koch brothers - one, William, is also involved in right-wing political organizations but not to the same degree as Charles and David. He appears to be the playboy Koch.

Meanwhile the oldest of the brothers, Frederick, appears to have no political involvement, based on his Wikipedia entry, and fun fact, has an MFA in playwriting from Yale. I don't know if he's ever had any of his work performed, but if you're going to be a playwright, starting out with an inherited fortune is a good way to do it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Art imitates life

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The apotheosis of Jesse Green

Jesse Green interviewed me for this article about the lawsuit against Edward Einhorn. I thought he was a swell guy and I love the title of the piece, although perhaps Green didn't write the headline. And now he's one of the two leading critics at the NYTimes. How about that?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Did Rusinol paint a double portrait of Satie and Valadon?

Here is a painting by Santiago Rusinol painted in 1894 called "A Romance" - does this portray Erik Satie and Suzanne Valadon together?

"A Romance" by Rusinol 

We know that Rusinol had painted Satie.

Portrait of Eric Satie at the harmonium

Portrait of Suzanne Valadon,
in a blue dress, black shawl and black hat

The painting "A Romance" is dated 1894, which would be two years after their brief Satie/Valadon relationship was over.

The museum housing the piece identifies the man as Satie - and it certainly looks like him, based on all the paintings of him. 

But is that Valadon? For one thing, the painting is called "A Romance" and it is said that the only romance Satie ever had was with Valadon. 

However, Valadon was not known to be able to read music, and the woman playing the piano is clearly reading from sheet music. And a "Romance" is a type of classical music composition.

Also this person on Pinterest identifies the woman as Stephanie Nantas, a frequent model for Rusinol, to whom Satie dedicated his waltz Poudre D'or (Gold Powder).

But it would be nice to have a painting of the two of them together. Which is probably why  this website identifies the people in the image as Satie and Valadon although they don't provide any evidence for that claim.

This painting is called "Laughing Girl" but I've seen it claimed online that this is Suzanne Valadon, and I think it definitely looks like her - and that is how she liked to wear her hair. But what an unusual image from that time period. A woman grinning full-face right at the viewer with her arm in a very awkward position - it looks like it could be based on a photo.

But what is the deal with those spidery hands? Rusinol could paint anything beautifully - except for his weird hang-up with hands.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

19th century woman checking her email.

Of course she isn't holding a cell phone she's holding a candle - but it's hard for me to see it as anything but a cell phone. 

But I wanted to post this because I love the coloring he used.

This painting, "The Prayer" is by Santiago Rusinol who painted both Satie and Valadon, and maybe both of them on the same canvas - more about that tomorrow.

Rusinol was a great painter but he had a really weird approach to hands, which always look excessively thin and spider-y.

I'd never heard of Rusinol outside of searching for images of Satie and Valadon, but he's apparently a very big deal in Spain.

They even put him on their money.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Recherches du Satie et Valadon

Satie around the time of the affair with Valadon - he
started going bald early but he was rather cute in his
younger days

Recently I bought a biography of Erik Satie, by Pierre-Daniel Templier in order to do research for my play about the brief relationship between him and Suzanne Valadon, but was very disappointed by it. It had some very interesting details about the life and work of Satie, and reproduced the portrait that Valadon painted of Satie, but it mentions her by name not at all and only refers to her once:
A romantic affair he had with a young girl artist brought him closer still to the world of painters.
She's not named, someone on the Internet claims (I don't remember where) because the book was originally published when Valadon was still alive. She died in 1938.

It seems there is a graphic novel about Satie out there.

I suppose if I want real information about their relationship I will have to shell out 77 bucks to buy Correspondance presque complete (Almost Complete Letters) of Satie. It was published in 2000 and it still isn't translated into English yet. I guess I'm going to have to be the one to do the translation myself. In about a year I'll be fluent enough in French to do a good job of it.

The book includes this letter from Satie to Valadon: 
Cher petit Biqui            
Impossiblede rester sans penser à tout            
ton être ; tu es en moi toute entière ; partout            
je ne vois que tes yeux            
exquis, tes mains douces            
et tes petits pieds d’enfant.            
Toi tu es heureuse ; ce n’est pasma pauvre pensée qui ridera ton front transparent ;            non plus que l’ennui de ne point me voir.            
Pour moi il n’y a que la glacialesolitude qui met du vide dans la tête            
et de la tristesse plein le cœur.            
N’oublie pas que ton pauvre amiespère te voir au moins à un de ces trois rendez-vous :             
1° Ce soir à 9 heures moins le quart de chez moi            
2° Demain matin encore chez moi            
3° Demain soir chez Devé (Maison Olivier)J’ajoute, Biqui chéri, que je ne me mettrainullement en furie si tu ne peux venir à ces rendez-vous ;            
maintenant je suis devenu terriblement raisonnable ;            
et malgré            
le grand bonheur que j’ai à te voirje commence à comprendre que tu ne peux point toujours            
faire ce que tu veux.Tu vois, petit Biqui, qu’il y a commencement à tout.            
Je t’embrasse sur le cœur. 
Erik Satie

Which translates to (roughly)
Satie knew everybody in the Belle Epoque France
which is probably why there are so many paintings
and drawings of him in existence, including
one by Picasso. This one is by Casas. There are also lots of
photos of Satie especially from the early 20th century
Dear little Biqui
to stay without thinking about everything
            your being; you are in me entirely; all over
            I only see your eyes
            exquisite, your soft hands
            and your little child's feet.
            You are happy; it's not
my poor thought, which will make your transparent forehead wrinkle;
            nor the boredom of not seeing me.
            For me there is only the icy
solitude that puts a vacuum in the head
            and full heart sadness.
            Do not forget that your poor friend
hope to see you at least one of these three appointments:
            1 ° Tonight at 9 o'clock in the morning
            2 ° Tomorrow morning at home again
            3 ° Tomorrow evening at Devé (Maison Olivier)
I add, Biqui darling, that I will not put myself
not at all furious if you can not come to these appointments;
            now I have become terribly reasonable;
            and despite
            the great happiness I have to see you
I begin to understand that you can not always
            Do as you like.
You see, little Biqui, that there is a beginning in everything.
            I kiss you on the heart.
Erik Satie

There are many of images of Valadon too, but many of those are painted by herself.


Monday, October 09, 2017

Frenchy-French archives

At Les Archives de la RTS

It makes me very happy that all the old men keeping women out of their race are good and dead by now.

Soundless video of John and Yoko in France

Sound video of Marcel Marceau - an interview with him even

About Christian Dior

Harrison Ford & Carrie Fisher interviewed about Les guerres étoiles, 1977

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Power couple

Two really good editorials in the past week's NYTimes, one about the lack of an official age of consent in France by Valentine Faure, and the other a response to the identitarian leanings of Ta-Nehisi Coates by Thomas Chatterton Williams.  

Turns out they're married to each other. Now there's a power couple. I couldn't find a picture of them together online but Williams writes about meeting Faure here.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Robin DiAngelo's sleazy dishonorable career continues

DiAngelo was recently given yet another free advertisement for her career of capitalizing on racial resentment through lies and exaggeration, this time by Michigan public radio.

And she was in usual form, providing no data backing to claim white progressives are racist. 

I assume she is including Heather Heyer and any other white person who lost their life while opposing racial injustice.

I've never known a self-described progressive who hasn't thought long and hard about ethnic injustice in this country, and who hasn't rejected claims that one "race" is better in any way than another - not to mention questioning the bullshit concept of race itself which was invented by white supremacists.

Progressives are aware of the racist system - so who are these alleged progressives who are so stupid and ignorant and need Robin DiAngelo to tell them what's what?  They don't exist. Just like the alleged whites, who DiAngelo claims think Jackie Robinson succeeded in "white" baseball only because he was the first non-white good enough to play in white baseball, DiAngelo INVENTED these racist progressives in order to advance her stupid sleazy career. 

Because Robin DiAngelo's livelihood is based on selling her cure for racism - you have to pay her to come and speak at your business or college. Only then can you be considered one of the good whites. DiAngelo operates in the grand tradition of all sleazy con-men and snake-oil salesmen and witch hunters. 

The only way you can be free of the curse of racism, if you are white, is to give Robin DiAngelo money.

And why should anybody be surprised that DiAngelo is making a career out of racial resentment? Racial resentment is the entire basis of the Trump presidency. Different "races" but the principle of demonizing people of other ethnicities is exactly the same. And it's always a winning strategy because hating the Other of a different ethnicity is the basis of most human societies - of any "race."

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Renoir sucks at drawing too


The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently holding an exhibition of drawings, including work by Ingres, so I'm definitely going.

They also unfortunately include a drawing by Renoir which demonstrates that not only did Renoir suck at painting, he sucked at drawing too.

The drawing in the exhibition, the bottom image in this post, displays Renoir's faults evident in his painting, especially the stupid cow-like appearance of the subject's face and indifferent background and boneless body and indistinct fingers; and on top of those, this drawing also includes a bizarre right arm - not only much too long for the figure, but the upper arm is thinner than the lower arm.

In constrast to the Renoir are gorgeous drawings by Degas and Ingres. Two very different artists with very different approaches in the drawings, but both clearly far superior to Renoir. 

It's true that I have critiqued Ingres for weird-looking limbs, but every other aspect of his work makes up for it.

Renoir sucks at drawing too

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Mill & Schopenhauer

A recent article got me thinking about Schopenhauer and John Stuart Mill.

Mill is notable, among other things, for his strong support of the rights of women while Schopenhauer is frequently called a misogynist.

Although I should say that not only did Schopenhauer declare late in life he had not said his last about women, but his contempt for women was not at all unusual for his time  - he just considered women important enough to discuss in his work, unlike most pre-20th century philosophers.

The article was in the New York Times this week, on a mental crisis experienced by John Stuart Mill and the author, Adam Etison, mentions Schopenhauer:
Or was Mill concerned that, in a perfect world, with nothing more to strive for, we might simply grow bored? As the 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once upliftingly put it, “life swings back and forth like a pendulum between pain and boredom.” When we are not consumed by the desire to achieve something (food, shelter, companionship, wealth, career, status, social reform, etc.), we are tortured by boredom.
What I found most interesting about the article is that ultimately Mill and Schopenhauer came to the same conclusion about how to best get on with life. Again from the article:
 The answer, he discovered through reading Wordsworth, is to take refuge in a capacity to be moved by beauty — a capacity to take joy in the quiet contemplation of delicate thoughts, sights, sounds, and feelings, not just titanic struggles.
This discovery is convenient for a philosopher. Mill was trained, from a very young age, to think: to be a quiet contemplator. So, it’s no surprise that he was desperate to make sure he could still take joy in his allotted craft, once the hard labor of social reform was done. But, as Mill says, imaginative pleasures are available to “all human beings,” not just poets and philosophers.
This is pretty much exactly Schopenhauer's view - to lose oneself in contemplation of art is the best way to be relieved, if temporarily, of the constant desiring of the Will. Schopenhauer put a special emphasis on music, but the idea is the same.

Schopenhauer and Mill were contemporaries for awhile - Schopenhauer was eighteen when Mill was born and lived to be 72, while Mill died at age 66, but I've never heard what either thought of the other, or even if they ever mentioned each other in their work. Schopenhauer was fluent in English, having been to school in London so there's no reason to think he had never heard of or read Mill, and Schopenhauer was pretty famous by the time he died, so there's no reason to think Mill had no opinion on his work. I will have to keep a lookout for any possible commentary.

In any case, it is striking that two such different men - and not only different in opinions towards women - would both ultimately come to the same conclusion about dealing with existence.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Le potentiel de la francophonie

Interesting tweet from Macron.


Sunday, October 01, 2017

Good to know...