On Thursday afternoon I tried to visit the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. In my arrogance I thought, “I don’t really have to do much planning. After all, I’m looking for a massive park, which includes the highest elevation in Paris.” They say pride comes before a fall, but in my case it was a rather substantial but fruitless climb.
At any rate, it was okay. Because it’s what we’d call “transitional” in the US, there are lots of sort of not-too-authentique, not-too-trop-moderne houses along my route, which I was able to revel in in lieu of goofy follies.
Like all foot journeys around here, mine ended along the canal. Almost everyone you can see in this picture is sketching, which is pretty great.
My evening was marred by losing the key to my flat, which was pretty embarassing, and also a bit frightening, as there is no way to get out of the apartment without one. My host was able to come by early Friday afternoon to let me out, at which point I discovered that the key had been trapped in the lining of my hat, which is both infuriating and hilarious.
Here is C looking extremely glamorous at Holocene.
Here are C and I posing for our the cover of our as-yet-unrecorded (or conceptualized or even discussed) album cover at Holocene.
Here I am on Hawthorne having purchased a festive little hat for sipping rose under when I jet off to France on Thursday. Let’s hope it isn’t stolen from me by a swarm of loathsome flies as the last hat I took to France was.
So C’s birthday was last month and we went out to Ocean Haven and did things like have a picnic that consisted of cold pizza and Bourbon and ginger (Reed’s if you’re curious) with lots of lemon. Just to be clear, we also did things like stare out of the window for hours at a stretch. I had sort of hoped that it would serve as an impetus to start writing here again, but it didn’t. Now I’m sort of doing it for no other reason than to do it. Here we are!
I guess the other impetus is that I’m going to France in a few weeks to get some roses in my cheeks, as precocious grownups do from time to time. I guess I’m hoping that a little headwind here will make recording that easier, which I think is a good goal. We shall see how it goes. In the intervening time: lots of pictures of the cat, obvs.
Work has been incredibly grueling lately, because I’m supposed to be exercising functionality that has problems that fall between people’s object domains. Basically, there’s a systems-level problem deep within code that somebody else is writing, so nobody has a very clear picture of what the hell is going on. For my part, I’ve been turning Amazon EC2 instances on and off a lot which, let me tell you, is pretty satisfying.
Part of the whole turning things on and off process is making sure the EC2 instances is making sure their domain names are all in a line, which is good because the recaptcha phrases at dnspark.net are basically the only thing keeping my head from exploding. Small miracles &c.
Speaking of complaining, I have finally reached the ultimate volume of Proust’s Masterwork and am almost ready to participate in a seaside summarizing contest while on holiday. I picked it up at St. Mark’s Books when I was in NY a couple weeks ago, which I found kind of appropriate, as I have purchased my copies of all but one of the previous volumes there. The Fugitive finished strong, and this one is starting well, so I have high hopes. There’s a lot of explicit discussion of memory here. We’ll see if it’s cool enough to displace the dream-talk of volume 3 as my justification for slogging through the crap parts.
This is a really fruity book about the sorts of ways that people enjoy things. Even though it is very short, I found it kind of interminable, mostly because the context that it represents is way more interesting to me than anything that it contains. That phase of history when all the French psychoanalysts were obsessing over realization. Barthes tosses out a snide dismissal early on of people who decry pleasure, a sort of holding in the mouth already of the ashes of the apocalypse,* that is sort of illustrative of the terms of this project. In particular, it’s very eurocentric. You can’t really be telling people to reify their potential by casting off restraints (which, ultimately, is what we’re after here, all books aside) if you’re seriously considering the condition of the (third/post-colonial/take your damn pick) world. The whole thing was a bit of a funny bubble, which is part of the reason why Lacan gets sidelined for Derrida and Foucault.**
Of course, Barthes knows better than this. The flagship (har har) metaphor of “Myth Today” shows that he’s attuned to the larger world and (as I was surprised to discover) Le Plaisir du texte was published in 1973. I guess what we can take away from that is that Barthes saw fit to live in something of a capsule (albeit one he ventured beyond ably and often) pretty much until his tragic demise. That’s probably an important part of his contribution to philosophy, although it’s also an angle people play when they try to label him a lightweight.
* This is a Derrida joke. You can bet your sweet ass we’ll be coming back to it when we cover Specters.
** 1) This is not a weigh-in on this fact.
2) I didn’t say it was this way, Slavoj did.***
*** In a way.