Monday, October 15, 2012

usufruct, again and again

Maybe DFW read Joan of Arc by Mark Twain.  This is from the endpapaer of one of his notebooks:

tin palate

"Against Joie de Vivre" by Philip Lapote, Ploughshares, 1986

"I am saved from such culinary paganism by the fact that food is largely an indifferent matter to me. I rarely think much about what I am putting in my mouth. Though my savage, illiterate palate has inevitably been educated to some degree by the many meals I have shared with people who care enormously about such things, I resist going any further. I am superstitious that the day I send back a dish at a restaurant, or make a complicated journey to somewhere just for a meal, that day I will have sacrificed my freedom and traded in my soul for a lesser god."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


John McPhee, The Control of Nature1989, "Cooling the Lava"

The view over the community is of red, green, blue, beige, yellow bright rooftops, walls of oyster and cream.  Silver.  Turquoise.  Copper.  Butter.  It's a trig and colorful, prosperous, handsome town.  There is a house in three shades of green that closely resembles the geologic map of Nebraska.  Its appearance is not singular in Vestrnannaeyjar.

trig 2adjectiveneat and smart in appearance two trig little boys, each in a gray flannel suit.verb ( trigged trigging ) [ trans. ]make neat and smart in appearance he has rigged her and trigged her with paint and spar.ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense [faithful, trusty] ): from Old Norse tryggr; related totrue . The current verb sense dates from the late 17th cent.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

usufruct - an example

This seems a very good example of usufruct:

"After the Love Is Gone" by Nora Ephron (RIP) September 29, 2005, New York Times

"By the time Bill got involved with Monica, you'd have thought I was past being hurt by him. You'd have thought I'd have shrugged and said, I told you so, you can't trust the guy as far as you can spit. But much to my surprise, Bill broke my heart all over again. I couldn't believe how betrayed I felt. He'd had it all, he'd had everything, and he'd thrown it away, and here's the thing: it wasn't his to throw away. It was ours. We'd given it to him, and he'd squandered it."

The Seal

John McPhee, The Control of Nature1989, "Cooling the Lava"

"A year or so later, doctors at the London Hospital Medical College put him in a large tank - he is six feet four and weighs two hundred and seventy-five pounds - and hovered about with miscellaneous sensors while Gudlaugur reposed in water refrigerated to forty-one Fahrenheit degrees.  After an hour, Gudlaugur was bored, and asked for television.  The physiologists concluded that his subcutaneous fat closely resembled a seal's.  In Iceland, where swimming is the national sport, Gudlaugur is not regarded as much of a swimmer.  'He was fat,' said Magnus Magnusson, as he finished his story.  'He was no special swimmer.'"

Thursday, June 21, 2012


John le Carré, The Honourable Schoolboy, 1977, Chapter 4

"'However,' said Lacon, and to emphasise the volte-face went so far as to arrest Smiley's arm with his long hand so that he had to put down his glass.  'However,' he warned as his erratic voice swooped and rose again, 'whether our masters will swallow all that is quite another matter altogether.'"

volte-face |ˌvält(ə) ˈfäs; ˌvōlt(ə); ˌvôlt(ə)|noun ( pl. same)an act of turning around so as to face in the opposite direction.• an abrupt and complete reversal of attitude, opinion, or position a remarkable volte-face on taxes.ORIGIN early 19th cent.from French, from Italian voltafaccia, based on Latin volvere ‘to roll’ facies ‘appearance, face.’

And: Doughty Smiley!
"Smiley sat in a chair reading the files on his knee like a man in a train, doughtily ignoring the passengers.  Sometimes he lifted his head, but the sounds he heard were not from inside the room."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

the lyric of the noun and the verb

MCA died.  R.I.P.  
Someone wrote "Reincarnate Immediately Please"  Yes.

This is from "Get it Together" off of Ill Communication from 1994.
I'm the M to the C to the A and it's a must

The rhymes that we bust on the topic of lust
. . . 
I go one two like my name was Biz Mark 
But I had to do the shit just le t me embark
On the lyric and the noun and the verb
Let's kick the shit off cause yo, I'm not the herb
[Ad Rock]

Well, it's not the herb but the spice with the flavor to spare
The Moog with the funk for your derriere

And then this is from Roberto Bolano, "The Savage Detectives" from 1998.
"Then everything turned into a succession of concrete acts and proper nouns and verbs, or pages from an anatomy manual scattered like flower petals, chaotically linked."

Monday, March 19, 2012

How long does it take?

Check plus for sentences that name the speed of action.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick, 1851, Chapter XCIII. The Castaway
"Tashtego stood in the bows.  He was full of the fire of the hunt.  He hated Pip for a poltroon.  Snatching the boatknife from its sheath, he suspended its sharp edge over the line, and turning towards Stubb, exclaimed interrogatively, "Cut?"  Meantime, Pip's blue, choked face plainly looked, Do, for God's sake!  All passed in a flash.  In less than half a minute, this entire thing happened.
"Damn him, cut!" roared Stubb; and so the whale was lost and Pip was saved."

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, 1996, page 609 (see also page 871)
"Hester Thrale now has her pink-nailed hands over her eyes and is screaming over and over for nobody to hurt nobody especially her.  It's the Bulldog Item that holds the attention.  The two guys chasing Lenz around the Montego are unarmed but look coldly determined in a way Gately recognizes.  They're not wearing coats either but they don't look cold.  All this appraisal's taking only seconds; it only takes time to list it."

And here is a different idea that brought to mind the first two:
John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, 1974, Chapter 37
"There are moments that are made up of too much stuff for them to be lived at the time they occur."

Friday, January 20, 2012


Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1885
Chapter 1. I Discover Moses and the Bullrushers

"Then I set down in a chair by the window and tried to think of something cheerful, but it warn't no use.  I felt so lonesome I most wished I was dead.  The stars were shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me, and I couldn't make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me."