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Archive for March, 2010

Unrelieved Grim

Imagine a city. Then imagine a city under the sway of democratic politicians, the unions and their political bosses, and the flight of IQ from the clutches of decay. I give you Detroit.

detroit-ruins

This was the main train junction, useless since 1988:

Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline
 
The train station has been closed since 1988. Detroit is a harbinger of what awaits the USA under the Obamacrats. I drove through Detroit back in 1992 on my way to Canada. I missed an exit and found myself in a foreign country, bombed out and destroyed. A city to be avoided at all costs, but it’s what awaits the rest of us…Don’t pass near unless locked and loaded.
 
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Courtesy of nosheepleshere.blogspot.com.

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Nul doute que ce ne soit une folie pour un homme de s’exposer à l’amour-passion. Quelquefois cependant le remède opère avec trop d’énergie. Les jeunes Américaines des États-Unis sont tellement pénétrées et fortifiées d’idées raisonnables, que l’amour, cette fleur de la vie, y a déserté la jeunesse. On peut laisser en toute sûreté, à Boston, une jeune fille seule avec un bel étranger, et croire qu’elle ne songe qu’à la dot du futur.

De L’Amour, Fragments Divers XL, 1822.

There is no doubt that it is madness for a man to lay himself open to passionate love. Sometimes, however, the cure acts too drastically. Young American girls in the United States are so imbued and fortified with rational ideas that love, the flower of life, has deserted their youth. In Boston a girl can quite safely be left alone with a handsome stranger, in the certainty that she will think of nothing but the income of her future husband.

De L’Amour is a confounding yet amusing book. I gobbled it up after reading Le Rouge et Le Noir and La Chartreuse de Parme back in the early 1990s. Stendhal had rather amusing ideas about America, her inhabitants and the states of their souls due to their rational politics. It gets me to thinking about what De Toqueville said about American women as well. The reality he observed has gone the way of the dodo bird. The enshrinement of equality as the sine qua non for everything else has resulted in the curious state of affairs that obtains today between the sexes. The Futurist has written a very long article on this state of affairs. I’m not sure I agree with it but it’s worthy of perusal. It’s best read tongue in cheek although that was not his intention.  

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One of the first “cultural” things I did back in 1988 as a freshman at The University of Chicago was to attend the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I knew a fair amount of classical music by then, particularly Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin, but had never been to a live performance. Of course, I was having trouble staying awake several minutes into Beethoven’s Third Symphony. Shocking! The program was Beethoven’s Third and two other pieces which I cannot recall, except that one was by Villa-Lobos. Classical music takes a fair amount of concentration so it’s understandable if you have to put some effort into it when you first begin attending live performances. My friends and I spent a lot of time in the jazz joints as well although now I hardly listen to jazz at all yet my classical CDs number in the hundreds.

When I took a leave of absence in the Spring of 1991 I spent a month on Isla Margarita off the coast of Venezuela. I brought two pieces of music with me. One was a compilation of solo piano pieces played by Arthur Rubinstein which included Francis Poulenc’s  Trois mouvements perpétuels. The other was I believe The St. Petersburg Philharmonic under Yuri Temirkinov performing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Petrushka. Part of my daily routine was to climb an arid dusty hill far outside of town that towered over the ocean and rocky beach below. Ensconced on my perch I would listen to my tapes of Stravinsky, Poulenc, Debussy and Ravel. To this day a certain chord or a hint of melody will transport me back almost twenty years to the arid heat, azure ocean, odd brain corals and ugly iguanas of Isla Margarita. Nor do I forget the numerous military types at the airport locked and loaded with AK-47s. And Vivianna, if you’re still around, que tal y ciao!

Here’s a performance of Poulenc’s piece.

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Hilariously titled Obama Debt Orgy: Barackanalia and Gotterdamerung.

Follow the link: http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/search/label/Doombama

In other words, without any additional debt or devastation caused by Obama-Pelosi beyond the FY 2011 budget, the US will reach that mythical $20 trillion “point of no return” just by “staying Obama’s course.”

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Things began with a bang when I read Anna Karenina. I chose not to continue the progression with War and Peace. I have yet to tackle that leviathan. My curiosity of things Russian (I had devoured pretty much everything written by Dostoevski) took a historical turn as I began to read Russian history and (auto)biographies. Although oddly, it was reading Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and Orwell’s 1984 which provided the impetus to tackle both the historians’ and the participants’ (eyes on the ground) views of the great ideological experiment of Soviet Communism. In no particular order is a list of important books of which no educated citizen should be ignorant (especially since we are entering another dark night of attempted totalitarianism). I can’t remember everything I read back then, but these stand out above all:

Evgenia Ginzburg, Into the Whirlwind, Within The Whirlwind.

Nadezhda Mandelshtam,  Hope Against Hope.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn,  One Day in the Life of Ivan DenisovichThe Gulag Archipelago.

Varlam Shalamov, Kolyma Tales.

Vassily Grossman, Forever Flowing, Life and Fate.

Robert Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow (The Ukraine Terror Famine), The Great Terror (Showtrials and Purges ’30s), Kolyma (The Arctic Death Camps).

Roy Medveded, Let History Judge.

I also remember reading Czeslaw Milozs’  The Captive Mind. I was fascinated with the attention that Stalin lavished on artists, poets and musicians (composers, particularly Shostakovich); attention not in a good way. Supposedly Osip Mandelshtam was picked up by the NKVD because he wrote a poem comparing Stalin’s mustache to a cockroach. Osip remarked that in Russia a poet is respected-  “Only in Russia is poetry respected — it gets people killed. Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?”

It seems apt that I recall reading those books from oh so long ago. I thought that Marx and his epigones and the devastation they wrought had been buried by history. I thought if you wanted examples of technology allied with totalitarianism you would have to consult history. But lamentably there appears to be a new dawn of totalitarian thinking on the march.

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