Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on Kickstarter!

The Land of Hurricanes and Happiness

Gerasene Selfie

image

Upon a Letter from a Friend Which Included Mention of Swans

jack yeats swans of coole

TO B.Y.

Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

– Yeats

The span of years hasn’t helped the eyes
Adjust to beauty’s knot in troubled times,
Nor eased the heart into its frame. Surprise
Is taken wedge by ounce
With gin and limes
We raise to give to Providence its half a chance.

You wrote to say that beauty’s gauge these days
Has been a ratio of swans per wing
To children growing old. – Here lie the ways
That lead to winter, straight
From early spring
To bleeding grapes which fill the untapped tun of Fate….

You said that swans preferred the Danube now
To Rhone or Rhine: in lamentation’s flight
Or drifting flocks of Charon’s candid dhow,
Each freights the stony ken
Of final night
In multiples of starry Cygnus – cob and pen.

How strange to think upon your mated swans
As each a year of moments gliding past us:
Their slender necks submit to clear-eyed Fons
As our own eyes blear with
Tears of Bacchus,
Who keeps us blind to Leda’s fortune – beauty’s myth.

No Word Is an Island

image

Roger Sterling, Lost in the Cosmos

Detail of a frame from Mad Men Season 4, Episode 2, ‘Christmas Comes but Once a Year’

Detail of a frame from Mad Men Season 4, Episode 2, ‘Christmas Comes but Once a Year’

[W]hat is not generally recognized is that the successful launch of self into the orbit of transcendence is necessarily attended by problems of reentry. What goes up must come down. The best film of the year ends at nine o’clock. What to do at ten? […]

Options of reentry into [the everyday] world [include]: […]

(4) Reentry by travel (sexual). One has a succession of lovers […]. It is difficult to imagine the self of the autonomous artist in his singular and godlike abstraction from the ordinary world of men settling down with a wife and family any more than Jove settling down with Juno. Juno — yuck! […] Better to grow old alone in the desert, sit on a rock like a Navajo. But how lovely are the daughters of men! Indeed, heterosexual intercourse is the very paradigm of the reentry of the ghost-self back into the incarnate world whence it came.

–Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book (New York: Open Road Integrated Media, 2011), Nook edition, chap. 14.

***

Frame from Mad Men Season 7, Episode 7, 'Waterloo'

Frame from Mad Men Season 7, Episode 7, ‘Waterloo’

ROGER STERLING (July 21, 1969)

Did you see we landed on the moon? Neil Armstrong, what are you going to do with the rest of your life? Screw every girl in Florida, I guess.

–Carly Wray and Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 7, Episode 7 (‘Waterloo’)

Angel Three Oh

potter air pic1

-For Potter, somewhere six miles above Wisconsin

You traded angels for the altitude
That ventures guesses at horizon’s curve;
Exchanged the earth for nimbostratus cloud
Imbued with sherbet hues that ripple, carve
And veil existence. Dancing on the wing,
The sunlight spreads its own, a swan in song
Reminding you that destinations bring
Their own departures. Time and space belong
To speed, a fleeting moment’s vista, caught
On film, by minds afloat in fluted planes
And amber waves of whiskey. Not for naught
Do clocks and maps contract for cars and trains;
But flight elaborates with immanence
As man transcends his grounded transience.

Follow-up to previous day’s post

image

From Day by Day by Robert Lowell (probably Jeb O’Brian’s favorite poet).

NB: A first edition of this book was located in Dauphine Street Books in the French Quarter, a good place to ride the train to if you have the chance.

Paging Dr. Percy

So I went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film very much about the importance of the artist.

grand-budapest-hotel
And at the end, there was a note about how the film was inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. Over at The New Yorker, Richard Brody shone a little light on the connection. Naturally, that led me to this longer consideration of Zweig in the magazine. Ah – a suicide. And naturally, that led me to this longer consideration of suicide’s resurgence, also in the magazine.

Artists, suicides, Zweig…ah. Of course. A Moveable Piece: Stefan Zweig and Walker Percy’s Problem of Artist-Writer Reentry, Jennifer Levasseur’s very fine presentation (attended by several members of the Kollektiv) at the second Walker Percy Conference (not to be confused with the Walker Percy Weekend, which somehow has yet to be mentioned on this blog).

Perhaps Dr. Percy is not quite as doomed to the past as I had feared. When I applied for the Amtrak writer thingy, I pitched The Last Gentlemen. Hoo!

Suitable Accommodations

wills_1010131

“Waugh was here in March. Said he came to Minnesota to see me and the Indian reservations. He is also interested in Father Divine. He was all right, and his wife, but it wasn’t anything like the bout I’d anticipated from his books. Suppose that’s life.”

— J.F. Powers, letter to Robert Lowell, May 25, 1949

Oh, mercy, good people, it’s always been the same: Catholic writers huddled together in odd places and mostly failing to make a go of it. There’s even a Sister Mary Joseph Scherer who starts up a Gallery of Living Catholic Authors. But it’s a wonderful book, this is.

We Continue to Monitor the Situation

image

Happy New Year, y’all.