Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Scenes of Versailles

The Queen's library
From Le Boudoir de Marie-Antoinette.

The King and Queen dined in public
Madame de Pompadour's room


The NeverTrump-Left Alliance Crumbles

From American Greatness:
This collection of failed magazine editors, Iraq War propagandists, washed-up columnists, Russian collusion pimps, and losing campaign consultants have dogged Donald Trump and his supporters for three years. While some anti-Trump “conservatives” who contributed to National Review’s infamous “Against Trump” issue in early 2016 have become supporters of the president, others cannot let go—but their obstinance is less about principle and more about grift: Acting as the useful conservative idiot for the Washington Post or MSNBC has breathed new life into once stale careers and burned reputations.

Despite making repeated threats and floating the names of several potential candidates, they have failed to produce a legitimate primary challenger to Trump. (Bill Kristol, the de facto head of NeverTrump Inc., last year claimed he was building a “war machine” to take on Trump in 2020, making this yet another war Kristol waged from the sidelines and lost.) NeverTrumpers also failed to help Democrats run Trump out of the Oval Office, whether it was by promoting the egregious special counsel investigation into imaginary Russian collusion or supporting any and all empty calls for impeachment. They have not produced a detailed policy agenda to offer an alternative to Trumpism, only bromides about vague “principles.” (Read more.)

The Plan To Redistribute Wealth By Race

From The Federalist:
U.S. senators and 2020 presidential rivals Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) both announced new plans over the weekend for government to redistribute private wealth differently according to recipients’ race. Both announced these plans at a cultural and music festival hosted by Essence Magazine, a monthly magazine for African-American women. The festival attracted several high-profile speakers, including former first lady Michelle Obama and six 2020 White House hopefuls: Harris, Warren, U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX.), and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Harris and Warren took the opportunity to showcase new proposals aimed at government picking economic winners and losers according to race and sex. (Read more.)

How Jane Austen Found the Space to Write

From Women Writers:
The truth is I have written on the fly— in cafés and restrooms, on trains and planes, sometimes using improvised materials such as the backs of envelopes, theater programs, and once, when I got back to the car from a hike and realized I didn’t have the key or a piece of paper in my pocket, on a leaf. I will hasten to add, though, that while these moments have been fun and piquant, routine is my bread and butter. I like to write in the morning because that’s when my brain cells work best, at my desk with its view of trees and birds, wordless classical music on the radio, in a composition book, with a good fountain pen.

But do I need all that? Wouldn’t I still manage to write if I didn’t have the nice desk and the morning set aside? Wouldn’t it somehow magically get done? Over the years I’ve had to defend my working time from family, friends and co-workers who will one moment marvel at my productivity and the next look puzzled or hurt when I’m not free in the mornings or available for extra assignments. Isn’t writing something I can “just fit in”? What does a writer really need to write? 
Which brings me to Jane Austen. The famous picture of Jane Austen is of her craftily sneaking her writing time, scribbling in the corner of the parlor, hiding her pages when interrupted, and never shirking her housework. After her death, when the secret of her authorship was revealed to the world, her nephew James-Edward Austen-Leigh wrote in his memoir of his aunt, “She was careful that her occupation should not be suspected by servants, or visitors, or any persons beyond her own family party. 
She wrote upon small sheets of paper that could easily be put away, or covered with a piece of blotting paper. There was, between the front door and the offices, a swing door which creaked when it was opened; but she objected to having this little inconvenience remedied, because it gave her notice when anyone was coming” (Worsley 316). 
What a card, that Aunt Jane! Notice the elaborate explanation for a piece of household duty going undone. Certainly, she wouldn’t have neglected any other household chore for the sake of getting some writing done, only to keep strangers from knowing she was engaged in such an unladylike pastime. On her death, her brother James eulogized her with a little poem that ended: “They saw her ready still to share/The labours of domestic care” (Worsley 403). 
The picture that emerges is of a woman who wrote in the margins of life, the message being that writing is something that can be fitted into the corners and somehow done while simultaneously cross-stitching a sampler and baking the daily bread. In fact, the tiny table Jane wrote on is literally in a corner. This is a particularly damaging message for women writers: Surely if Jane Austen could write six masterpieces of English literature while stewing a posset, you can write your novel in between commuting to work and putting your six-year-old to bed. (Read more.)

Monday, July 15, 2019

Perfectly Imperfect

From Victoria:
By the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries, English potters had perfected their own processes for producing stoneware that mimicked costly blue-and-white Chinese porcelain. It was known as transferware due to the printing method in which tissue paper was laid atop engraved copper plates covered with a film of cobalt oxide. The paper was then applied to crockery, transferring the illustration. (Read more.)

Transgender Competition Violates Teen Girls’ Title IX Rights

From a month ago in the New York Daily News:
A civil rights complaint filed on behalf of three female high school track stars alleges that allowing transgender girls to compete against them violates their Title IX rights. The complaint was filed Monday with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. It requests an investigation of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), a non-profit organization that serves as the governing body for high school athletics in the state. Backing the high school athletes from Connecticut is Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a nonprofit legal organization whose other causes include defunding Planned Parenthood. Founded by 30 Christian Right leaders, the ADF is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Read more.)

Then They Came For... Betsy Ross? Jefferson? July 4th? America?

From Zero Hedge:
The eye-catching sentence is: “Democrats continue to lag far behind Republicans in expressing extreme pride in the U.S.” The actual percentages expressing themselves “extremely proud to be American” are: Republicans 76, Democrats 22. That’s a heck of a gap: 54 percentage points. In 2001 it was ten points, 64 to 54. Here’s my question for Democrats. The biggest issue in our politics right now arises from the fact that millions - tens of millions, likely hundred of millions - of foreigners want to come settle in America, with or without proper permission. Isn’t that an occasion for…”pride”? Apparently not. This last week, we have seen a couple of major strides toward the abolition of Independence Day: .
The logic on this one was hard to follow. Is it the thirteen stars, representing the original thirteen colonies, in all of which (I think) slavery was legal at the time Ms. Ross offered her flag design? If it was, then the thirteen stripes must be equally offensive. That could be…what’s the cant word here?…oh yes: problematic, that could be problematic to a great many not-yet-fully-woke Americans, as our present national flag retains those same thirteen stripes. The issue got further confused when diehard counter-revolutionary subversives noted that the Betsy Ross flag was prominently displayed at Barack Obama’s second inaugural bash. (Read more.)

The Tide Is Turning for the Arts

From The Epoch Times:
Since the close of the 20th century, the tide of postmodernism has turned somewhat in art and poetry. In regard to painting, here is but one example: Based on a true story, the movie “Local Color” tells of a Russian painter mentoring a young American art student. This film caused a ruckus in the art world for its defense of representational painting. Employing what might euphemistically be called colorful language, the painter Nikolai Serov is an ardent proponent of artistic form who despises abstractionism and postmodernism.

In poetry, too, a shift back toward tradition and form is taking place. Here in The Epoch Times, we have looked at William Baer and his fine collection of verse, “Formal Salutations,” which contains all manner of forms, rhythms, and rhyme. Baer’s work is particularly important for his portrayal of gritty characters, men and women who have seen better days, and for his love poems, one of which, “The Swimming Pool Float,” will remain with me to the end of my days. (Read more.)