Onomastic Fox

"By Way of Introduction' in which a surprising appearance puts the reader off track, given it is a cookbook that is being read:

Chester County — that glorious rolling countryside in Eastern Pennsylvania whose hills and valleys, woodlands and streams and quiet ponds, whose clover meadows and tilled fields and green pastures with nearby red barns and silos and herds, and whose stone farmhouses and spotless dairy buildings all show what the best traditions of farming and husbandry can mean — it is in Chester County, fox hunting country of the East, that Cooking and Cookery come into their own!
Out of the enumeration of countryside features pops the fox. !!

West Whiteland, Pennsylvania: St. Paul's Church, 1950. Compiled and edited by Virgina Penrose. Illustrated by Cécile Newbold Barnett. [Set up and printed by Princeton University Press]

The copy I have examined is inscribed in the same hand and the same ink there is a signature by Virginia Penrose and an address for a Mrs. Charles Penrose.

To Margaret Church
With every good
  Virginia Penrose
  July 15, 1954

Mrs Charles Penrose
"Hilltop Cottage"
West Chester RD 2

In consulting the list of contributors (identified by initials throughout), one discovers that "VP" is given as Mrs Charles Penrose and one would assume by the shared initials (and a little knowledge of the custom at the time on how to address married women) that this is the same person as Virginia Penrose, our compiler and editor and one so knowledgeable of fox hunting country.

And so for day 2403


I once sent a posting to Humanist about objects and electronic text editing and as the thread progressed I was reminded of a formulation from Owen Feltham: "Contemplation is necessary to generate an object, but action must propagate it."

The two ways (vita contemplativa and vita activa) bring to mind a statement by Jerome McGann in his essay "The Rationale of Hypertext"

To the imagination, the materialities of text (oral, written, printed, electronic) are incarnational not vehicular forms.
To be found in Electronic Text: Investigations in Theory and Method. Ed. Kathryn Sutherland. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997 (p. 19).

I am intrigued by the possibilities of recasting McGann's exclusionary dichotomy into a pair of allied pursuits (incarnation-contemplation and vehicle-action). The question takes on a hermeneutical hue: just where does the encounter between the horizon of the reader and the horizon of the author take place?

The answer may require a whole (social) renegotiation of what it means to contemplate versus to act upon a text. I suspect that the vexed question of the relations between powers of abstraction and embodied knowledge is at play.

The relations are not likely to be a one-way street. And this has bearing on what is involved in the telos of editing. I turn to Julia Flanders, "The Body Encoded: Questions of Gender and the Electronic Text" (which we find p. 129 in Electronic Text: Investigations in Theory and Method) for a recovery of a history of what were deemed the stakes in editing. She draws on Stephanie H. Jed Chaste Thinking: The Rape of Lucretia and the Birth of Humanism (1989) to trace and critique a spirit/flesh dichotomy at play in textual editing:
The organizing terms of this relationship revolve around a familiar binary of body and spirit: each physical text, the manuscript or printed book, is a particular concrete carrier of a universalized and disembodied textuality, the "text of the author" which may be fully represented in one physical object, in many, or in none at all. Within this schema the physical object, in a manner familiar to any student of neoclassical aesthetics, is subject to corruption and debasement, its very physicality and particularity drawing it towards the realm of the monstrous and the deviant. The task of the scholar and editor, then, is to discern the universal text within the various documents which instantiate it, and by patient study and labour produce a new — but also originary and authoritative — witness which perfectly transmits the "text of the author". In Jed's example, these texts are the foundational documents by which republican Florence was to construct a public ideology based on an assertion of lineage from ancient republican Rome (p. 75)
Of course the story does not stop here.

And so for day 2402


David Holbrook
"Me and the Animals"

I share my knee bones with the gnat,
My joints with ferrets, eyes with rat
I walk upright, alone, ungoverned, free:
Yet their occasional lust, fear, unease, walk with me
Always. All ways.
To be found in full in any of these (if tables of content are a guide)
  • Selected poems, 1961-1978
  • The Animal Anthology, edited by Diana Spearman
  • The New Poetry, edited by A. Alvarez
Yet to compare for any variance.

And so for day 2401

The Falcon, the Fish and the Heron

Denying oneself one's prey to not become prey in turn...

Then there are the bird fanciers shops, where they train and sell falcons, hawks and other birds of prey. One day in his Majesty's ante-room the Master of the Ceremonies told his Excellency that he himself saw a fine feat performed by a falcon, who seized a large fish in the air. He was flying at a heron who in the strife by instinct threw the fish which he had in his claw, into the falcon's face, and thus escaped the enemy's talons.
Anglipotrida by Horatio Basino
The Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts Relating to English Affairs. Existing in the Archives and Collections of Venice, and in the Other Libraries of Northern Italy. Volume XV (1617-1619), Edited by Allen B. Hinds. (London, 1909)

This comes to me via a friend, Willard McCarty who kindly digitalized a sheaf of photocopies and brought my way the collection of observations about London processions and performances. His calligraphy adorns the bibliographic info:

And in providing permission to reproduce his handwriting, Willard provides a tale of its route to Berneval...
I am so glad you like the observations on English manners. You certainly have my blessing to reproduce my handwriting. Years ago, but many years after I had graduated from skimming the State Papers [in Toronto], I loaned the photocopied pages to my former head of department here [London]. He then moved house, and in the process these pages found their way into a box that remained unpacked all the years he then lived in the new house. It was only when he moved again, from London to Edinburgh, that the box was unpacked, the pages in question discovered and returned to me. Yesterday I scanned them in.

So, a long journey and a new transformation.
And yet such a short interval between friends.

And so for day 2400

A Twinkle

Samuel R. Delany
Historifying Marginal Practices
in Time and the Literary: Essays from the English Institute

Taking on one of the biographers of Hart Crane

As a gay man today I read this with a cold eye. As far as homosexuality not being a problem till Crane was twenty. I hear myself muttering: "A problem for whom?" Homsexuality was the greatest problem for me between the ages of ten and eighteen: once I started doing it, believe me, it became less problematic by whole orders of magnitude.

As far as Crane's contempt for effeminate men, (which Loveman repeats later in his Conversation and Susan Slater Brown declares in Robber Rocks), the only problem with it as a blanket statement is Loveman himself. I can't speak for Loveman's self-presentation at age 30 or 40 (the height of his friendship with Crane), but the single time I met him, with poet and critic Hunce Voelcker, when Loveman was on the far side of 70, he was a wonderfully warm and friendly old gentleman — who looked as if he were moments from flying off through the sun-shot leaves above Greenwich Avenue on twinkle-toed slippers. And Crane had felt nothing but affection for him.
Simply sparkling.

And so for day 2399


Juan Gabriel Váquez in Browse: The World in Bookshops edited by Henry Hitchings.

Reflections on chance:

A reader's life is, among other things, this tissue of opportune coincidences.
And so by luck we arrive.

And so for day 2398

Landscape Amid Crashing Waves

A new take on the sublime

John Adams notes to The Dharma at Big Sur
East Coast / West Coast: Some Musical Autobiography

Coming upon the California coast is a different experience altogether. Rather than gently yielding ground to the water the Western shelf drops off violently, often from dizzying heights, as it does at Big Sur, the stretch of coastal precipice midway between Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. Here the current pounds and smashes the littoral in a slow, lazy rhythm of terrifying power. For a newcomer the first exposure produces a visceral effect of great emotional complexity. Many writers have tried to describe it directly, but Jack Kerouac did it best. In both his poetry and his novels he comes the closest to evoking my own sense of liberation and excitement, an ecstasy that is nevertheless tinged with that melancholy expressed in the first of Buddha's Four Noble Truths: "All life is sorrowful."
The music travels to you if you cannot be there. Be here.

And so for day 2397

Simple Forceful

From Cyrus Cassells, The Gospel According To Wild Indigo

she will never fear sale
or the bottom of the sea.
This ends a section. It sends the imagination to a space beyond the Middle Passage. The future tense and the negation operate like a promise. The assertion is strong. The partial rhyme sale/sea adds its own authority, or so I would like to claim. It does via an evocation of its homonym hint at a sail flapping in the wind — open to a new direction.

And so for day 2396

Once We Were Nomads

Margaret Atwood
Foreword to A Breath of Fresh Air: Celebrating Nature and School Gardens by Elsie Houghton

Describing the Post-War period after the Victory Gardens disappeared:

There was an undeniable emotional charge to throwing stuff out. Scrimping, saving and hoarding make a person feel poor — think of Scrooge, in A Christmas Carol — whereas dispensing largesse, whether in the form of a prize goose, as in Scrooge's case, or in the form of filling up your garbage can with junk you no longer want, makes you feel rich. Saving is heavy, discarding is light. Why do we feel this way? Once we were nomads, and nomads don't carry around grand pianos. They don't hoard food; instead they move to where food is. They leave a light footprint, as the green folk say. Well, it's a theory.

But we can't all be nomads any more. There isn't enough space left for that.
Not enough space and not enough grace. Just enough humour.

And so for day 2395

In Praise of Felines

Dedication to
Pellegrino Artusi
The Art of Eating Well
Translated from the Italian by Kyle M. Phillips III.

I dedicate this book to two of my best, most pure-hea[r]ted friends, Biancani and Sibillone.

To you, who keep me constant company without envy or resentment and are never bored; to you, who, when I was preparing theses dishes in the kitchen, would rub against my legs while holding your tails high and tremble with the desire to be the first to give me your opinions; to you, who, unlike your kind, cannot be called thieves, and if you are occasionally guilty of a slip, it was just the irresistible attraction you felt for a scrap of cheese or roast chicken that made you transgress; to you, who, with your friendship, offer an example of brotherly love to men, and, intent on grooming yourselves, do not turn your minds to sin.

Finally, to you, who often thrill me with your games and graceful leaps, and have never made me feel unloved.
Affirming meows. Whether from heat or heart.

And so for day 2394