n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog

june 2023
january 2023
december 2022
september 2022
august 2022
july 2022
january 2022
november 2021
october 2021
september 2021
august 2021
july 2021
june 2021
may 2021
april 2021
march 2021
february 2021
january 2021
september 2020
august 2020
july 2020
may 2020
april 2020
march 2020
february 2020
december 2019
october 2019
july 2019
june 2019
may 2019
april 2019
march 2019
february 2019
january 2019
december 2018
november 2018
october 2018
september 2018
august 2018
july 2018
june 2018
may 2018
april 2018
march 2018
february 2018
january 2018
december 2017
november 2017
october 2017
september 2017
august 2017
july 2017
june 2017
march 2017
february 2017
january 2017
november 2016
october 2016
september 2016
august 2016
july 2016
june 2016
may 2016
april 2016
march 2016
february 2016
december 2015
november 2015
october 2015
september 2015
may 2015
march 2015
february 2015
january 2015
december 2014
november 2014
october 2014
september 2014
august 2014
may 2014
april 2014
march 2014
february 2014
*april 2013
*march 2013
*february 2013
*january 2013
*december 2012
*november 2012
*october 2012
*september 2012
*july 2012
*october 2011
*september 2011
*august 2011
*july 2011
*june 2011
*may 2011
april 2011
march 2011
april 2010
march 2010
february 2010
january 2010
december 2009
november 2009
september 2009
june 2009
may 2009
february 2009
january 2009
december 2008
october 2008
september 2008
august 2008
july 2008
june 2008
may 2008
april 2008
january 2008
december 2007
november 2007
october 2007
september 2007
august 2007
july 2007
june 2007
may 2007
april 2007
march 2007
february 2007
january 2007
december 2006
november 2006
october 2006
september 2006
august 2006
july 2006
june 2006
may 2006
april 2006
march 2006
february 2006
january 2006
december 2005
november 2005
october 2005
september 2005
august 2005
july 2005
june 2005
may 2005
april 2005
march 2005
february 2005
january 2005
december 2004
november 2004
october 2004
september 2004
august 2004
july 2004
june 2004
may 2004
april 2004
march 2004
february 2004
january 2004
december 2003
june 2003
april 2003
march 2003
From a first New Yorker in Florence...

There is the cocoonish hustle of Paul Sevigny's Beatrice Inn, and this conversation (served up so you know to hold on to your ticket, when checking items downstairs):

Recently, a woman was howling at the attendant, “Itís the black mink coat! Itís probably the only real mink there.” To which the response came: “We got a lot of black mink back here.”


There is the fact that Martin Luther King Jr Day was not fully recognized in all the states until 1999, that New Hampshire was the last state to recognize the day, and that, in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, King Day is also the day on which they celebrate the birth of another historical figure: Robert E. Lee.


There is Silas Farley, who tells us, in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum, that one of his favorite things to do with my friends is reŽnact the poses of sculptures.  He also tells us this:

“Classical ballet is this elevating form—you have to rise to meet it, whether you are the dancer or the audience,” he said.  “The thing is, the audience possesses the same instrument. The audience members have the same body.  Itís like a cello playing for an audience of cellos.”


There is the idea of a charismatic religion.  (Even as the pastor preached, the organ would honk, or a cymbal would crash, or someone in the congregation would open her mouth and let fly a stream of Spirit-given tongues.)  The idea of bringing the world into the church.  The idea of Jesus with an 808.  The idea that you can do life with someone (the idea that you can do life, at all).  The idea that you can shed music's religious content while retaining its fervor.  (What if you can do that with things other than music?)

There are words like hymnody and melismatic and analysand.


There is this, from a novel by Amos Oz (about nineteen-sixties Jerusalem, Zionists, and Israeli statehood):

“All the power in the world cannot transform someone who hates you into someone who likes you.”


There is the contention that our inner lives are double, that all emotions are mixed, and that all conclusions are inconclusive.  That having two emotions at once is better than having one emotion repeatedly.

There is the idea of an inner human whose contradictions are identical with his conscience.  (“If I speak diversely of myself, it is because I look diversely upon myself...”)

There is the question of how to preserve our inborn clear-mindedness in front of all the threats and dangers of fanaticism.

(And maybe there are some answers?  Montaigne is present now in the things he feels and the way he sounds, and that is like a complete human being.  Heís funny, heís touching, heís strange, heís inconclusive.  Ironic self-mockery, muted egotism, a knowledge of oneís own absurdity that doesnít diminish the importance of oneís witness, a determinedly anti-heroic stance that remains clearly ethical...  Maybe.)

There is, in thinking of the essay (and in particular, of the Montaigne essay), the idea that each written form creates its own reader.

And finally, there is an idea of what the best of such forms, might do: Good critics and scholars can teach us how to listen.  Only writers show us how to speak.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[lunedž 30 gennaio 2017 ore 17:04:13] []

We are still in the middle of the crossing, and literature makes do however it can.

Some things I think about, from an exchange between Sheila Heti and Elena Ferrante over at Hazlitt, via Jeannie:


The idea that what is written while smoking seems better than that which fears for its health.


How the satisfaction of many nineteenth-century novels may come from a sense of the writer not living in a landscape of busily competing media, but rather writing in a world where the quiet of readers can be taken for granted.

This gets me thinking of Anna Karenina and Middlemarch, but also, unhelpfully (in that it's most definitely not a nineteenth-century novel), of My Struggle.

(And look, here it is again, the making of links between Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard.  Ha.)


What it might mean to collapse the gap between the sort of books that writers feel awe for and that the reading public canít get enough of—the rarest thing.

I think of a Twitter survey that AWP ran last month, in which members were asked, “What's one piece of writing you wish you'd written?” Among mentions of The Catcher in the Rye and The French Lieutenant's Woman, To Kill a Mockingbird, and even “Donald Hall's latest essay in @NewYorker.  A masterpiece.” — among all that, there's someone named Matt Hoskison, who says, “Given how lucrative it's been ...  Harry Potter.”

(And yes, that Donald Hall essay is a masterpiece.  Though maybe this one is better.)


The idea that imagination is not a function of memory, but rather a function of nostalgia.


What this says about revision:

So letís say that, pulled this way and that by countless readings, by varied layers of taste, by inclinations and idiosyncrasies, I generally aim at what seems to me perfection.  Then, however, perfection suddenly seems an insane excess of refinement and I return to versions that seem effective precisely because they are imperfect.

(And maybe about other things too.)


Also.  How this:

Itís only by reflecting on myself with attention and care that I can reflect on the world.  Itís only by turning my gaze on myself that I can understand others, feel them as my kin.  On the other hand itís only by assiduously watching myself that I can take control and train myself to give the best of myself.  The woman who practises surveillance on herself without letting herself be the object of surveillance is the great innovation of our times.

...reminds me of this:

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.


And lastly, this idea that a distinctly female point of view [is] the point of view not of the natural victor but of one who has to fight for the right to observe.

I think about that.

I think especially, about how this conversation happened over the summer of 2016, several months before some Italian guy behaved, as Dan Piepenbring put it, so very Italianly in The New York Review of Books.

About how itís difficult to read a manís attempt to Ďoutí a writer who has said she would stop writing if she were ever identified, as anything but an attempt to make her stop writing.

I think also, about the question of an authorís right not to be known, and the particular resonance of that question when the author concerned is, presumably, female.

About how a man may believe that he can obtain power over a great writer by exposing her, not for the purpose of interpretation or greater understanding but simply for the sake of being the first to do it.

And I think finally, because how can you not, with all this talk of victors and power and exposure, about other things, again.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giulio Cesare, Santa Marinella]
[martedž 24 gennaio 2017 ore 20:02:20] []