WRB—Jan. 24, 2024
“tis capable of sevral Interpretations.”
Has it ever occurred to you that today, looked at from the Managing Editors’ perspective, would look even worse?
The second WRB x Liberties salon will take place on Saturday, January 27 at 8:30 p.m. and will attempt to answer the question: is forgiveness possible? If you are interested in attending, please contact Chris or Celeste Marcus.
In The Yale Review, Victoria Baena on the afterlife of Proust’s Albertine in later feminist works:
Proust’s fiction is generally obsessed with the connection between desire and knowledge. But the relationship between the two more often than not is an inverse one: “We only love what we do not wholly possess.” By making at once an aesthetics and an erotics out of evasion, In Search of Lost Time forged an enduring model, explored and interrogated even in later works that do not explicitly cite Albertine. One can catch glimpses of her, for instance, in the novels of Elena Ferrante, which recast the dance between captor and escapee as a game that takes place between women. Proust’s fugitive today travels under other aliases. Turn away an instant, and she might disappear.
Also obsessed with the connection between desire and knowledge is the Washington Review of Books. Why not subscribe?
When he introduces the “filthy and obscene treatise de Concubinis retinendis” by Phutatorius (4.27) he does not need to explain that it’s about how to keep a mistress, nor that the author’s name is likely a play on the Latin verb futuo (“I fuck”). Elsewhere in a list of logical arguments he gives us, among others, the Argumentum Fistulatorium (the argument of a player on the pipe), the Argumentum ad Crumenam (the argument to the purse) and the Argumentum Tripodium (the three-legged argument) (1.11). A nose (more on noses later!) is ad mensuram suam legitimam (at its proper size), while another is ad excitandum focum (suitable for stirring up the fire) (3.27-28).
[This is pretty much the spirit of every Latin class I’ve taken. —Steve]
Just as Sontag’s love for her characters kept leading her beyond her own self-conscious aesthetic practices, so too does it give her in Volcano Lover an unaccustomed freedom to be funny (although her poor narrator has a page-long digression on how, as a woman, she finds it very hard to tell a joke!). This humor, which lies in the sudden movement from one perspective to another, allows the condemnatory voices of the narrator, the revolutionary, and Goethe to be seen as arising naturally from their own, limited, points of view. It suggests that we too, all of us, even serious geniuses, must appear from some other perspective to be ridiculous.
[The Managing Editors don’t have this problem. —Steve]
In our sister publication in the City of Angels, Jason Christian on a trip to George Orwell’s birthplace:
Behind the unlocked gate stood a security guard in plain clothes, a cricket match blaring from his phone. He seemed a bit startled at first—visitors!—but snapped into an ambassador role and showed us around. We walked past more goats chomping weeds in the courtyard, and I noticed, hanging above one door, a golden-framed, water-warped Xerox print of the writer’s unmistakable face, with his high forehead and parted hair and deep-set eyes. His name was printed in all caps across the collar of his shirt, and below that his birth and death years: 1903–1950. He died so young, I thought: 46—only a year older than me.
In The New Yorker, an excerpt on the moral dimension of economic thinking, as seen by Tolstoy and Keynes, from Nick Romeo’s The Alternative: How to Build a Just Economy (January 16):
But a series of seemingly rational decisions somehow culminates in catastrophe. At each new level of wealth, instead of enjoying the resources he already has, Pahóm quickly becomes dissatisfied, returning to a previous level of happiness. Late in the story, when he is desperately exhausted, he could easily choose to forfeit his thousand rubles, rest in the grass, and then walk leisurely back to the starting place. Yet he believes that he’s invested so much effort that it would be foolish to stop, and continues pouring more energy into a doomed endeavor. Moments before his death, Pahóm realizes his essential error. “I have grasped too much and ruined the whole affair,” he thinks. How could a calculated business venture have gone so horribly wrong?
[Behind the paywall: Julia on the idiosyncratic syntax of a poem by Carl Phillips, Hadrian’s Wall, all those references in works like Mac Flecknoe and the Dunciad, notes on the end of Pitchfork, and more links, reviews, news items, and commentary carefully selected for you. If you like what you see, why not subscribe, and why not consider a paid subscription? The WRB is for you, and we couldn’t do it without you.]