Understanding what Derrida was on about…

Deconstruction is all about interrogating apparently unproblematic terms. It’s like digging a hole in the middle of the ocean with a shovel made of water.

I did three years of English Literature at university, and not once did anybody explain what Derrida was up to as clearly as Louis Menand did in this piece about Paul de Man in the New Yorker. I feel cheated, somehow.

“Since her illness began, at least in the intervals when she felt well enough to read, she had immersed herself in books almost fanatically, trying not to leave open any chink in her consciousness through which she could be waylaid by awareness of her body or by fear or disgust. She read only fiction, not history or politics, and nothing experimental or difficult that would require her to pause for reflection or argument. She had read a lot of novels recently that she would have disdained in the past.”
— From “Under the Sign of the Moon” by Tessa Hadley in the New Yorker.
"The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home. "The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home. "The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home. "The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home. "The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home. "The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home. "The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home. "The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home. "The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home. "The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home.

"The First Georgians" at the Queen’s Gallery is rather good - portraits of Electress Sophie, Caroline of Ansbach, numerous Georges, a few exciting clocks…

…and a woman in a cape who got extremely damp in a downpour on the way home.

I am honestly never going to get tired of this.

I am honestly never going to get tired of this.

iamimagined:

O große Lieb, o Lieb ohn alle Maße,
Die dich gebracht 
auf diese Marterstraße
Ich lebte mit der Welt 
in Lust und Freuden,
Und du mußt leiden.

O great love, o love beyond all measure
that has brought you 
to this path of torment!
I lived with the world 
in delight and joy,
and you have to suffer.

 - Bach’s St. John Passion, Third Chorale

It really is the best:

orlok:

xD

Last night I watched as Jacqueline Shave and the Britten Symphonia took three, four, five curtain calls in the Barbican concert hall. Of course, the 1,500 or so people who, like me, had ventured out into an oddly deserted city on Good Friday evening to hear them were applauding their tremendous musicianship. But there was something more as well. The work they had just spent the past two hours performing produces an emotional charge all of its own. At the end of the St John Passion, rapturous applause signals catharsis, as well as appreciation.

Thanks to Mendelssohn and, much later, Jonathan Miller, Bach’s St Matthew Passion was the first of Bach’s two surviving sacred oratorios to gain widespread popularity outside Leipzig, and remains far better known these days than the St John. There can be no doubt Bach gave the Matthew some fabulous arias, but it is in the John that you feel Bach rally mastered fusion of subject and form. As the source text demands, it is more angular, more chromatic, more despairing. The melodies are haunting and cruel. The harmonies contain all the contradictions and difficulties of the eighteenth century church: betrayal, struggle and hell are ever present, the minor chord waiting to follow the major.

At the heart of it all is the evangelist, who narrates the passion story. It’s an immensely difficult part to sing, not least because an awful lot of it consists of filling in the “Jesus said” and “Pilate answered” in between other parts. But as Nicholas Mulroy demonstrated last night, when done well, it anchors the whole, sprawling work. Working closely with the continuo players, he controlled the momentum of the piece, speeding up and slowing down the recitative to suit the music and the words. Most importantly, he allowed there to be silence at crucial moments, points at which you could hear your own breathing between the notes. He had the whole thing off by heart as well, which never fails to impress me.

Jesus has always been a great source of concern for me in the St John Passion. Ridiculous as it sounds, I’d just always assumed that Jesus would have a tenor voice, so the fact that Bach wrote him as a bass gives me a bit of a jolt every time. But last night, Matthew Brook introduced me for the first time the powerful beauty of the role, and I’ll never again think of those arias as time when you can safely allow the mind to wander.

The whole thing really is one of the crowning achievements of western music. I defy anyone to listen to the pivotal alto aria “Es ist vollbracht” and not weep:

And then, of course, it contains Bach’s most beautiful chorale:

Last night’s particularly brilliant performance, and the fact that although I went on my own with no expectation of company, I happened to be sat near some old choir friends, made me so joyfully giddy that I was far happier than anyone ought to be on Good Friday.

(If you have time, it’s worth watching John Eliot Gardiner’s version at the Proms. He takes it at a terrifyingly fast speed, but he does know what he’s doing…)

If I was a borrower, I think I’d quite like to move into the inside of a stringed instrument. These photographs by Mierswa Kluska for these Berliner Philharmoniker posters are mesmerising. If I was a borrower, I think I’d quite like to move into the inside of a stringed instrument. These photographs by Mierswa Kluska for these Berliner Philharmoniker posters are mesmerising. If I was a borrower, I think I’d quite like to move into the inside of a stringed instrument. These photographs by Mierswa Kluska for these Berliner Philharmoniker posters are mesmerising.

If I was a borrower, I think I’d quite like to move into the inside of a stringed instrument. These photographs by Mierswa Kluska for these Berliner Philharmoniker posters are mesmerising.

First Poem of the Morning

By Ann Nadge

When you and I wave
I wonder if for you
the stranger across

three gray rooftops
over the blackbirds
pecking the softening

skylight rim of morning
through the shapes
of blackened branches

on the other side
of the ice-paned
lane window

I wonder if for you
our wave is the first
poem of the morning

The Royal Ballet from the perspective of a pointe shoe.

“When we first moved in, my wife was still my girlfriend. We were engaged by the end of the first shower curtain cycle, married by the second, and entered the third cycle as we had our first kid. Will we have a second child before I change the curtains again?”
“Rather, there are robust novelists (D.H. Lawrence), who announce their presence by busting down the front door of your literary consciousness to steal your electronics, and insinuating novelists (Willa Cather), who sneak in through a window after you’ve dozed off and raid your refrigerator.”

Bowling most likely originated in Germany around 300 A.D. as a religious ritual in which participants would roll stones at clubs to absolve their sins. The annals of history reveal little about where or how bowling gained traction, but according to written record, the sport was so popular in England by 1336, that King Edward III had to ban it to keep his troops focused on archery practice.

Years later, King Henry VIII would ban bowling again for everyone but the upper crust: it had supposedly infatuated the working class so much that they were neglecting their trades and impeding the financial progress of their counties. By the time bowling was introduced to the United States during the colonial era, it had developed a rapport with the “common” man.

— Who knew medieval monarchs felt so strongly about knocking a few pins over?

fyninasosanya:

Street photography by Blake Andrews.

“[Andrew] Hohman, who ate two thousand and eleven wings in 2011, said, “When I finished my last wing of the year, I slept with the bone under my pillow.””
— Americans can be really weird about food.