Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I'm a big fan of the early work of Giorgio de Chirico--his squares and buildings--and especially his "Enigma of Arrival and the Afternoon" (1912), which I sometimes say is the most beautiful painting ever made (knowing that this is really a meaningless judgment). When I visited the Nivaagaard Collection this weekend, I'm sure you can see why C. W. Eckersberg's "Temple of Vesta" (ca. 1815) caught my eye. I almost want to say that de Chirico must have had it "in mind". Note, for example, the shadow in the foreground.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bartleby, de Silentio, Palinurus

There is something about these three figures that engages with Hemingway's views in my last post. They all indicate the (precarious) possibility of an image to set against "the accelerated grimace" of a totalitarian fantasy, whether that of Wall Street, the Systen (i.e., Hegel), or Rome. They share the grand refusal.

Monday, June 04, 2007

June 4, 1937

Seventy years ago today, Ernest Hemingway addressed the American Writers' Congress to talk about fascism and the problem of writing about war.

A writer's problem does not change. He himself changes, but his problem remains the same. It is always how to write truly and, having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it.


Really good writers are always rewarded under almost any existing form of government that they can tolerate. There is only one form of government that cannot produce good writers, and that system is fascism. For fascism is a lie told by bullies. A writer who will not lie cannot live or work under fascism.

Because fascism is a lie, it is condemned to literary sterility. And when it is past, it will have no history except the bloody history of murder that is well known ...

(Source: Bruccoli, Matthew J., ed. Conversations with Ernest Hemingway. University Press of Mississippi, 1986, pp. 193-195.)

Friday, June 01, 2007


A concept is a way of thinking.

An emotion is a way of feeling.

A body is a way of life.