Fausta's buys

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday blogging: Camille Paglia

I've been a fan of Camille Paglia for many years. Her writing is always interesting, always clear and always thought-provoking. You can go back and read her essays and they're still as fresh as the first time you read them.

She does tend to get carried away with the meaning of symbolism: For instance, while skyscrapers might be phallic, the very obvious reason men (and women) architecs design them is not because they are phallic, but because so far they're the most practical way to maximize the use of space in highly populated areas.

Be that as it may, while you might not agree with her views, it's worth reading her books. (I make an exception: I haven't read the one on Madonna because if it was up to me Madonna would still be working at the IHOP. 'Nuf said on Madge.)

I first started reading her work in the early 1990s when I came across her book Sexual Personae at a used book store in Manhattan. I bought it because of her essay on Pre-Raphaelite art, about which I have an interest, and after that I kept going back for more of Paglia's writing. This kind of writing is not light reading, however. It demands commitment and attention.

Her very successful book of commentary on poetry classics is much easier to read, and it lends itself to reading in brief intervals, as you want to read the poem, think about what it says to you and then read what she has to say. Reading is two minds communicating; in Break Blow Burn it's three minds.

Now she has a new book about visual images coming up, and Salon has an interview. Here's a sampler:

On Foley and the Democrats
And with the Democrats' record of sex scandals, what the hell were they thinking of? For heaven's sake, after we just got through the whole Clinton maelstrom! What Clinton did with Monica Lewinsky was far worse than any evidence I've seen thus far about what Foley did with these pages. Clinton, whom I voted for twice, used his superior power as an employer to lure Monica Lewinsky, who was perfectly willing, into these squalid sexual assignations on the grounds of the White House. There was a time when feminists were arguing, in regard to sexual harassment in the workplace, that any gross disparity in power cannot possibly produce informed consent. All of a sudden, all of that was abandoned for partisan reasons in the Clinton case. I take the European view that any government official has the right to conduct as many sexual affairs as he wishes -- off government property. But Clinton, with all his power, somehow couldn't figure out a way to discreetly meet his chosen women at the mansions of his many friends. I can understand why hotels and motels might have been difficult to manage, with the telltale Secret Service presence. But to use the hallway off the Oval Office for those encounters -- to be serviced by a young woman to whom he gave no other dignity and whom he used like a washrag -- he turned that hallway into a sleazy mosh pit! The Democrats are being extremely imprudent to arouse all those sleeping tigers again -- particularly if their next presidential nomination is Hillary Clinton. They've reignited the endless series of charges about Clinton's allegedly abusive physical encounters with women, beginning when he was governor of Arkansas. The Foley case shrinks in comparison to Clinton's rumored history of hitting on women in subordinate positions.
On Condoleezza Rice:
Every feminist who wants to smash the glass ceiling should realize she has a stake in Condi Rice's success.
On Bob Woodward:
Oh, Woodward, what a big yawn! Who the hell cares about Woodward? I mean, at this point, he's just an inside-the-Beltway figure. I certainly don't need him to clarify my view of the Iraq debacle.
Chomsky certainly doesn't fare any better, and neither does robo-Hillary.

Read the interview, buy the books.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday blogging: Savall in concert

Two weeks ago I was posting about my passion for Early Music. Later on I hotlinked a picture of John Hurt as Caligula (yes, I should know better by now) and the webmaster courteously complained. After apologizing and promising to make ammends, I visited the website.

Imagine my delight when I found out that he had attended a Hesperion XXI concert. Here's his review:

I was gratified to note that Gaspar Sanz's Canarios and Jacaras - favorites of mine from Hesperion recordings - were to be performed; but then I was somewhat dashed when I saw they had gotten the boot in the revised program. But Diego Ortiz's Canarios was substituted, so I was mollified. And I loved the performance of Captain Tobias Hume's A Souldier's Resolution, a battle piece from Hume's curious collection of music for the viola da gamba, Musical Humours. Here it is [please go to the website for link], in streaming Real Audio format, from Savall's album of pieces from Musical Humours. By the way, Sanz also wrote a stirring battle piece for guitar, Clarinas y Trompetas - one could come up with an entire program of battle music, what with William Byrd's The Battell. Savall returned to the stage after the concert, answering questions in the friendliest way, showing his instruments, including his priceless treble viola da gamba, circa 1500:
You must go to the website to look at the photos and listen to the audio. I can only wish I'd been there.

One note on my prior post: the old soundtrack CD of Tous Les Matins doesn't have the complete Savall rendition of the Spanish variations. The film does.

If you like Savall/Marais, you're also going to love this:

In other matters, Dr. Sanity has the carnival!

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Little book of the week: Tiara

A friend gave me this charming book a few years ago. It features some 4 dozen tiaras, beautifully photographed, as "The tiara is the hallmark of grace and distinction".

My only complaint is that several interesting photographs are too small to be appreciated.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Balm for the spirit

I have a passion for Early Music, and nearly worship Jordi Savall and his recording label, Alia Vox. I developed an interest in this music after listening to the soundtrack of a thoroughly depressing film, Tout Les Matins Du Monde, where Mr. Savall knocked my socks off with a magnificent rendition of Marais's Spanish Variations

Mr Savall has produced an impressive body of work, and performs along with his exceedingly beautiful and talented family, who are exceptional musicians on their own.

Here are two selections from Alia Vox that I recently purchased:
Metamorphoses Fidei (Metamorphosis of Faith), which the CD booklet states,
The programme offered in these Metamorphoses Fidei is the expression of a mestissage of different cultures and music which came together thanks to the presence, contact and coexistence of people in Old Hesperia during the Middle Ages, a process which was intensified as a result of the discovery and conquest of the New World.
I find these songs at once haunting and relaxing.

Equally enjoyable is Diaspora Sefardi (Sepherdic Diaspora),
The Sephardic Jews, scattered through the world after their expulsion from Spain in 1492, kept alive for centuries not only their language, Ladino, but an extraordinary repertory of "folk" songs, many of them quite sophisticated. As Ladino culture began to slowly fade away over the course of the 20th century, musicologists collected and transcribed these melodies from Ladino-speaking communities in Sarajevo, Sofia, Salonika, Smyrna, Jerusalem, and other cities. Beginning in the 1970s, these extraordinary songs were revived (to considerable excitement) for concert audiences--a revival sparked in large part by a 1976 recording by Hesperion XX. This now-legendary early music ensemble, renamed Hesperion XXI for the new century, has returned to the music of the Sephardic Diaspora with this beautifully produced and packaged release.
Enjoy them all, and bask in the beauty of their joyful music.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Michael Totten's latest

The New Pamphleteer has just published

Everything could explode at any moment.
Dispatches from the Lebanese-Israeli front

Blog digest #1: The Hezbollah War

both by Michael Totten.

Also don't miss Michael Totten on Blog-Journalism and the Middle East

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