Dear visitor, if you take the trouble to read : I apologize for all the bad, syrup-thick blog prose here. Man is it bad, so much of it. I wish hereby to take responsibility and express regret for many wrongs committed by keyboard. — pdb
That’s Poe in full smirk, ‘How to Write a Blackwood Article’ — parody it might have done me good to come across sooner than I did, some years back now.
Quare id faciam I pulled from one of Catullus’ better-known little verses, encountered in low-level Latin courses in college. Embarrassing, yes, that I borrowed it in the first place (albeit without much pretension; just liked the excised snippet for itself) twenty-odd years ago. More embarrassing that I’m kind of using it as a handle still !
Well, I’m kind of attached to it still — what can I say? Not every dumb thing you do when young has to be repudiated utterly.
brief items( see all )
Learned last night, courtesy of social-platform feed and a 2-min. CBS news bit from a couple of years ago, below, of the curious fact of the survival deep into the 21st century of grandchildren of John Tyler, single-term U.S. president in the first half of the 1840s. As of this summer, according to Wikipedia, the last of these grandchildren remains with us. His brother died last year, age 95.
Under Tyler, John C. Calhoun — about whose large unwholesome presence in the national life I posted brief items in March and May — held the second top-level federal appointment of his political career, as Secretary of State.
Anyhow, nice occasion for dwelling on something frequently on my mind, expressed in longer posts e.g. last October and in January: our tendency to think of events a century or two removed from the current moment as more distant than probably they really ought to be perceived. Here you have the whole timeframe of existence of the U.S. as a state, from the year after ratification took effect right to present, described in three-lifespan generational sequence within a single family.
Sometime earlier this year the YouTube algorithm plied me with an item from a channel devoted (mostly) to a two-years-running series of short presentations stepping through Jewish history, survey-style, by Sam Aronow, a youngish American-Israeli. I got hooked with the middle ages (Muslim Iberia particularly) and have since listened to all the entries added so far, just jumping around in the timeline a bit according to whim. The pieces get better (which is partly to say longer, the longest at nearly half an hour now) as he’s built the series.
Aronow’s merely whetted my appetite, I guess. Waiting for his next to drop, not long ago, I got to looking for something else in similar vein and was happy to find a channel maintained by an historian at what looks like the top of the arc of a very productive career, Henry Abramson, featuring (alongside other series and a lot of one-offs) a series he names ‘Jewish History Lab,’ covering much the same ground Aronow’s does. In this case, I’ve started at number one and am working through them in order.
Differences between the two men’s perspectives are good for some reflection. Aronow is non-religious and regards Israel, his adopted home, with some ambivalence; he’s moved evidently by fascination with the breadth and peculiar connective-tissue tenacity in a collective Jewish experience diversely realized across centuries and continents. He’s an advocate speaking from strong sense of ethnic identity, certainly, but one conscious, at the same time, of inviting viewers along on a personal journey without clear destination. I find that appealing. Abramson is more straightforwardly a believer, it seems fair to say, as both a religious person and someone committed, from the position of North-American-diaspora and academic-profession security, to an idea of the importance of a somewhat linearly unfolding story of Jewish culture and thought. For me this feels familiar and accessible, which reflects perhaps my relative closeness to Abramson generationally as much as the conservatism of my background.
Both combine passionateness for their subject with caution, a pluralist sensitivity to the difficulties taking it up in public dialogue in our era of shaky Western-Christian world dominance entails.
My phone is a 6-year-old iPhone SE. Battery has been iffy for a while, in recent months acutely so. Not that occasion to be very far from home is common for me these days, but this worry that I’d have to regret being out with no way to charge the thing after a few hours’ sustained use was overdue for being dispelled.
I don’t want — and even if I did, right now couldn’t well afford — to replace the phone. Options naturally include taking it to a local repair operation. I am curious about the market in these services, really, and wouldn’t mind an excuse to become better acquainted. My default path is to tackle a problem like this with my own hands if I can, though, and in this case I did that.
I’ve gone to iFixit for help with issues with my Macs (memory upgrades, say, back when that was still a thing you could do with an Apple product) in past. Don’t recall that I’ve needed to do anything to a phone before. I have to say that I appreciate how developed iFixit’s resources are for somebody in my situation.
Right to Repair has been building steam. It’s a hot topic of the moment — lots of recent published items addressing it. The current White House wants to be associated with it. Better late than never, they say.
Very quickly scratched out sketchbook head of Jack Kirby’s Big Barda from a couple of days ago (prompted by remarkable Russian Artyom Trakhanov’s tweet). Quite like it in spite of sloppiness. I can’t pretend to any great devotion to this or any other comic book character, but Barda is for me on the whole a favored woman superhero of the era. Managed here subtly — by decidedly not thinking hard, I guess — to catch something of what in the character appeals to me. Would be happy to find time to play with this further.
I have to be honest with you guys, I love painting, and I’m completely attached to traditional painting history, but whenever I have the chance to just — not put that to the side, because I think that all of art, all of painting, all of comic books, all of illustration is just one big history, if you really think about it, if you let it be, it’s just one big thing and it’s an amazing place where you can just gather so much information, and you can collect so much knowledge and inspiration, that — whenever I feel that I can tap into the things that I loved when I was a little kid, and that are obviously things that have remained to be true — even though I’m not a comic book artist, even though I’m not an illustrator anymore . . . — when I can combine all the things that I love about the history that I have with these fantastical characters and with amazing visual storytelling and images and illustration: if I can combine all of that into doing paintings like this — oh, I adore this, I think it’s a blessing, I think these are the moments where this doesn’t feel like a job . . . .
(It is a job, feel like it or no. But that’s another conversation.)
It’s a pleasure to listen to Uribe dilate on the various subjects painting leads him to. Watch the whole thing, below, if you have time, or play from the timestamp I’ve set it to start at to hear just the bit transcribed above.
For a barrier-free immersion in what for a large (western) segment of today’s visually-literate media consumers stands as the most resonant chunk of that ‘one big history,’ Manchester UK cartoonist and YouTuber Pete Beard offers hours and hours of material confined, nominally, to the not very cleanly delineable category of illustration, but inevitably folding in all sorts of ‘fine’ and ‘design’ visual arts history as well along the way. As historiography his accounts often leave something to be desired individually, but that’s by no means to suggest that Beard fails in his mission to inform. Unless you’re already a period expert, merely encountering all these contemporaneous ‘golden age’ figures together, many of their once well-known names now long fallen out of currency, will have some intensifying effect on your feeling for the decades of Europe’s over-stretched, warring global dominance and high-industrial-age media-culture profusion. (Beard’s a good deal more relaxing than is Uribe, happily, to listen to at length.)
now on 1 of 11 pages