Gotham Diary:
Mechanical Twit
1-4 January 2013

Let’s see where this goes.

* 1 *

Will turns three at 1:39 AM. Kathleen turns sixty later this year. I’ll be sixty-five in six days.

¶ Speaking of kids, if Will’s day-care classmates behaved like the bienséant children on Chris Ware’s New Yorker cover, I’d call Frank Campbell’s for help. Does Chris Ware hate life? I’ve always thought so. (If you can think of a link, let me know.)

Pastafarian! Nostalgic, isn’t it? Considering what’s going going on with Gangnam Style. 555! Who knew the rosary had an area code? Were you able to stay awake? (JMG) In the times, an explanation of where the hell Gangnam is. (yes, it’s a place!)

¶ And a pretty lady from New Orleans. (Slimbolala)

* 2 *

Steerforth, the pseudonymous former bookseller who graces us with The Age of Uncertainty, offers some of the idiotic questions that eventually drove him to do business on the Internet. “Where’s your section of coffee table books about Paraguay?”

Ron Rosenbaum talks with Jaron Lanier, the contrarian Internet guru who has learned that, whether or not information wants to be free, you still get what you pay for. (Smithsonian, via Arts Journal)

¶ A fantastic little verse — title? — right out of A Child’s Garden of Verses in spirit. (Attributed to Mark Eckman and Jerrold Zar; FT; via Arts Journal)

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

¶ The 10 Cleverest Internet Films of 2012, chosen for The Awl by Eric Spiegelman. You can watch them in order, but I had to start with “Holiday Etiquette,” and that reduced me to silly putty.

* 3 *

¶ Dismay: I saw only one of Roger Ebert’s top-ten movies for 2012 Argo. Life of Pi, Flight — jamais de la vie. Arbitrage, End of Watch, Oslo, August 31 — how did I miss them? A Simple Life — I might give that a try. The Sessions — I love Helen Hunt, which is why I haven’t seen this picture. Beasts of the Southern Wild — as Fossil Darling would say, “Couldn’t be less interested.” (Tant pis pour moi?) In the end, I’ll break my rule against seeing Spielberg in the theatre just to see what Sally Field has done. But I disapprove of Abraham Lincoln almost as much as I do Steven Spielberg. Some days, more! (via TMN)

¶ I don’t know who he’s talking about!

¶ It occurred to me this evening that the American president, in 1860, ought to have invited the British to join in a war to restore the Southern states to the Empire. The British needed the cotton, and they hated slavery more than the North; the expansion of slavery into the West — the true cause of the Civil War — would have been utterly forestalled. I understand that this “solution” to the problem of the United States’s impossible existence would never have succeeded in 1860, but the fun in history is imagining what clear thinking would have looked like.

I see that Abraham Lincoln devoted himself to preserving the Union of 1776. He was a good man, but it was a bad idea, and he would never have achieved the White House if he agreed to any kind of breakup. When we finally do split, we’ll have one or two great faces to look back on — FDR, Eisenhower — but more to regret: Jackson, Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Arthur, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt (a foreign-policy nightmare), and, at the climax, the very worst president that the United States has ever had (given his immense international influence), Woodrow Wilson. Not to mention the king of bogus, Ronald Reagan. He was an insult to the presidency that the office may well not withstand.

There are no slaves in the United States of America — Lincoln saw to that. But how would you like to be a descendant of one of the vast number of human beings who were counted, per Constitutional provision Article I, Section II. “which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.)” Yes, this clause was cleaned up by the Fourteenth Amendment, but still… It’s not okay.

* 4 *

¶ Don’t miss Alan Hollinghurst on E M Forster. (LRB)

We are not guests in a Bloomsbury Valhalla but eavesdroppers on a very unusual man’s preoccupations: ‘carnality, intellect, humour, kindness’ and the connections between them that always preoccupied him.

I will go to my grave not knowing just how unusual the preoccupation with carnality is. Is it unusual? How unusual am I, not to share it? Not what I call carnality, anyway. (By which remark I betray the fact that I can’t imagine any connections between carnality and the three virtues that follow.)

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