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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Me, I've been trying to keep about five columns running in a single ledger. Problem: Incommensurability of scales of value.

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Lautrec show (exclusive corporate sponsor = Sara Lee): Glad I made the effort. Good deal of surrounding work, inc. paintings, posters, cabaret invitations by contemporaries; one sees very clearly how most other artists of the time glamourize the Montmarte demimone in a far more banal way -- many of the other ads for the Moulin Rouge or Olympia could have been done by Petty or Vargas, Lautrec is the only one to give price of place to Valentin the Boneless. 7-min orientation film employs "decadent" and "anti-authoritarian" only in their most vague and innocuous senses, no surprise there. One highlight, this 1897 poster by Henri-Gustave Jossot. L to R: Sidi-Ali Bey (Arab politician of the time, can't find much on him, may have written the name down wrong), Yvette Guilbert, Henri Rochefort*, Sarah Bernhardt, Aristide Bruant. Available in the museum shop as t-shirt and as jigsaw puzzle. Noticed for third time that I respond strongly to Vuillard -- I don't know anything about his periods, but I like the fact that his work seems technically unpredictable.

*Can this be right? He was dead.

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Sentence I never expected to write: Skipped out on Habermas' seminar (naturalism/free will -- we're up to Sellars) early yesterday, to catch end of Helene Cixous' talk on Derrida. I would call it a poetic reminiscence, woven with various philosophical themes, starting from a pair of occasions on which D. sent C. manuscripts "not to be opened" until some later date. Touching, though long (tendency to hammer on the polysemy of individual words by repeating them in a multitude of contexts).

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Disappointed by Ben Marcus' attack on Franzen/defense of experimental fiction in Harper's. Rantishly organized, argument and even rhetoric unevenly excecuted, some appeals to authority/high-modernist namechecks that play right into hands of doubters, false statement to the effect that Stein is not a model for younger writers. Except for isolated paragraphs, he makes a better case for what he does like in the intro to a recent Viking anthology, w/o the burden of carrying on one side of a literary feud.

Very pleased, on the other hand, by Aaron Kunin's piece on Harriet the Spy (calling Tim Alborn!), Little Women, and connected matters (queer narratives of adolescence, to pigeonhole it) in a recent Rain Taxi.

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Curious: Evanston manages to support two high-end guitar shops, but you have to get on 94 to buy a cheapshit keyboard stand.

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Nutty, Bree's sister's cat, had to be put to sleep today. Bree very upset that she can't be there for comfort.

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