Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Little of the Old In and Out


(image via via robert birnbaum of identitytheory)

In: Joan Didion. The Corsair has just begun Martini-dry essayist Joan Didion's new book "The Year of Magical Thinking," which is ecstatically reviewed in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review by former poet laureate Robert Pinsky. Here, Pinsky describes Didion's literary handling of her husband, John Gregory Dunne's, tragic and sudden death at the dinner table:

"As in Didion's previous writing, her sense of timing, sentence by sentence and in the arrangement of scenes, draws the reader forward. Her manner is deadpan funny, slicing away banality with an air that is ruthless yet meticulous. She uses few adjectives. The unshowy, nearly flat surface of her writing is rippled by patterns of repetition: an understatement that, like Hemingway's, attains its own kind of drama. Repetition and observation narrate emotion by demonstrating it, so that restraint itself becomes poetic, even operatic:

"'I had entered at the moment it happened a kind of shock in which the only thought I allowed myself was that there must be certain things I needed to do. There had been certain things I had needed to do while the ambulance crew was in the living room. I had needed for example to get the copy of John's medical summary, so I could take it with me to the hospital. I had needed for example to bank the fire, because I would be leaving it. There had been certain things I had needed to do at the hospital. I had needed for example to stand in the line. I had needed for example to focus on the bed with telemetry he would need for the transfer to Columbia-Presbyterian.'

"This is the opposite of hack 'vividness.' Instead of modifiers or the conventions of 'description,' the repeated, vague, nearly meaningless phrases 'certain things; and 'for example' and 'needed to do' dramatize both the inner numbness of shock and the outer reality of the emergency, a terminal reality that is uniquely complicated and simple."

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(image via tribuneindia)

Out: "The Squeaker." Did you get a load of what The Corsair calls: "The Squeaker"? That would be the environmentally hostile House Oil Refinery Bill, which passed by a squeaker of 212-210 votes. If Hurricane Katrina was the moment historians will look back on as the moment George Bush became, officially, a lame duck President, then "The Squeaker" could foreshadow another historic turning of the tide as 13 Republicans joined the Democrats -- perhaps looking to reelection -- in opposing the bill. On the Chris Matthews Show last week, Matthews the Insider let drop the astonishing claim that he was "hearing" "up to 70 House seats up for grabs."

The chaos in the House, which could have been mistaken for a particularly spirited debate in the Ukraine's Parliament is described thusly by TheHill:

"In its first big legislative test without indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) at the helm, the House Republican leadership held open a vote on energy legislation for forty-five minutes while the GOP whip operation - including DeLay - persuaded enough Republican lawmakers to secure passage, 212-210.

"The energy package's sputtering finish is the latest in a series of mishaps for Republicans, who have been hampered by legal questions and power struggles ever since lawmakers returned from their August recess.

"Friday's cliffhanger was not unanticipated by the Republican whip operation, but was a sign that the GOP's once-strong party discipline has suffered from the leadership struggles."

The Old Gray Lady had another take, focusing on the particulars, namely:

"Mr. Hastert repeatedly cornered Representative C. W. Bill Young, Republican of Florida, a longtime lawmaker who opposed the measure, and pressed him to change his vote.
Mr. DeLay, who may be officially out of power but not out of practice as a persuader, concentrated on Representative Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland.

"The majority whip, Roy Blunt of Missouri, helped work on Representative Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania, who was unhappy with a liability provision in the bill.

"During the lawmaker-on-lawmaker lobbying, House decorum deteriorated. Democrats who have been outraged over the Republican willingness to hold votes open to secure close victories called loudly for the gavel to fall, sending the bill to defeat.

"'Doesn't this make the House a banana republic?' Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, asked as the two sides shouted down each other."


(image via gothamist)

In: Scott Lapatine. On a lighter note than the last two posts (sorry guys-expecting-humor, it's going to be a serious posting day today), we'd like to congatulate Scott Lapatine of Stereogum on his upcoming nuptuals -- a blogger wedding -- to Eliza Jane. Since Scott is, along with Ultragrrrl, the resident New York blog music go-to guy -- to borrow from Lindsayism -- "I think it's a safe bet that this wedding will have the best music of any wedding in history."

Yes, to be sure; and we believe her even if the effervescent-Lindsay does like the "Gasolina" song. Congraulations, Scott and Eliza Jane.


(image via timemagzine)

Out: The Earthquake. Now, back to the sad pandaemonium of international tragedy that is, incresingly, defining our Age. Once again, our useful ex-Presidents, Bill Clinton and Bush, 41 will be called upon to raise cash and awareness in a global disaster zone. If The Corsair weren't a steadfast agnostic, the sheer concentration and devastation of natural disasters in the past year alone might move us, mightily, to a declaration of faith in the existence of a Divine -- or, more likely, a disustingly Malevolent -- agent at play in the world.

Of the earthquake that has hit, simultaneously, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan -- says Time Magazine's Yusef Jameel in Kashmir:

"At mid-morning, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck just west of Kashmir's Line of Control, along which hundreds of thousands of Indian and Pakistani troops face off in bunkers and artillery installations and over which they have fought two wars and countless skirmishes and nearly came to a nuclear confrontation in 2002. An Indian army spokesman told TIME:

"'Destruction is massive in Uri. It's close to the epicenter. Initial reports are that not many houses are standing.' As buildings crumbled, he added, gas pipes ruptured and fires swept the central market in the town just across the Line of Control on the Indian side of Kashmir. Simultaneously, landslides cut off Uri, and much of the surrounding area, from the world and swatted two buses full with passengers into a rocky mountain gorge. Sixteen Indian soldiers were buried alive in a bunker at Uri. The Police Inspector General of Police, Javed Mukhdoomi, had definite information on one town, Dangdar, near Kupwara. 'Almost the entire town has been razed,' he said. The Indian army spokesman also had his certainties. The final count of dead would be 'very high,' he said.

"Tens of thousands of people have died in a civil war between Indian security forces and Muslim insurgents demanding either independence from India or union with Pakistan. But the earthquake managed to instill new levels of fear.

"'I'm 86,' said Gul Muhammad Butt. 'Never in my life have I experienced anything like it.'"

One can only hope that in an existential moment like this, when Nature's wraith dwarfs the Liliputian concerns of Man's inane border conflicts ("mine ... is not ... is too"), a skillful politician with an idealistic soul will emerge to the occasion from out of the concrete rubble and take this opportunity-tragedy to put an end to the long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan and pool their collective resources to help the weak -- Why does Nature's Wraith always strike the weak with the lustiest Ardor? -- and the afflicted of both nations to come out of this ... this nightmare.

Red Cross donations here.


CNN's Joe Watkins, clearly in high-auction mode (image via nysocialdiary)

In: The Community Coalition benefit auction. According to our favorite social chonicler, David Patrick Columbia, The Community Coalition benefit auction and cocktail party raised necessary funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. How else would we have known of these good works? Says NYSocialDiary:

"The late media mogul Malcolm Forbes' daughter Moira Forbes Mumma along with co-chairs Chad Burkhardt, Christopher London, and Allison Weiss welcomed guests to the Forbes Magazine Galleries two Thursday ago for The Community Coalition benefit auction and cocktail party hosted by New York Tomorrow's Leaders to raise funds for the Coalition and the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

" ... CNN Crossfire's Joe Watkins served as the auctioneer and riled up the crowd as he tried to raise the bids on hot auction items like a New York Jets jersey from quarterback Jay Fiedler, and a trip to the fabulous Forbes ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The event raised $25,000 for The Community Coalition and an anonymous donor gave additional $10,000 to the victims of Hurricane Katrina."


1 comment:

Abel said...

It can't work in reality, that's exactly what I think.
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