Fleur Jaeggy is the most accomplished scribe of detachment. In her collections of short stories, I Am the Brother of XX and Last Vanities, and in the novels, SS Proleterka and Sweet Days of Discipline, there is a prevailing sense of isolation—readily recognizable as the epidemic condition of our time—an almost truculent inability to connect, and desperation without surfeit. And here is Patrick Modiano as heartbreakingly accomplished in these unfortunate states as she is, describing the daily coming into being of the abandoned child who builds a person from the sad materials of neglect, lack of regard, of never having been held, or insufficiently—and then overlooked and left behind. Keep Reading
Before global warming and the publication of Gertrude Stein’s “The Making of Americans”, Paul Klee noted in his diary (“The Diaries of Paul Klee 1898–1918”) that in Switzerland the summer of 1911 was one of extreme heat.
It gave me no end of pleasure, a frisson of pleasure, to have come, many years ago, upon the fact that my grandfather, born on July 15, 1892, shared a birth day with Walter Benjamin.
For this period, detachment is the state of things. Easier, safer, recommended. No noisy, unmanageable, untidy passions. No individual cluttered urgencies with ends and tags askew. Each her own island country, complete and selfsufficient, an isolationist policy in place for all.
Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “The Library of Babel,” Aby Warburg’s Atlas Mnemosyne project, British cookery writer Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food and the series of 28 instructional cookbooks published by Time-Life in the early ’80s called “The Good Cook” have two things in common.
This story has been told before. It’s largely an urban romance, for a number of reasons. In one telling gold coins are involved and this implies structures…
For Picasso, the bombing of the Basque city of Guernica in April 1937 marked a new terrifying industrial and anonymous warfare, a warfare of the modern period. Keep Reading
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