Rilke, an admirer of Vilhelm Hammershǿi, made a visit to Copenhagen to meet the Danish artist in the autumn of 1904. Rilke wished to write an essay on Hammershǿi, a task rendered difficult by the artist’s inability to hold a conversation. Although Rilke records the visit, briefly, in letters, the essay was never completed.
I see him now before me, in the polished wooden chair, his hands on the armrest, the wood reflecting light. Every single surface in the Strandgade apartment sings back this whiteness. Light descends on him and then it stays. His wife, Ida, pours coffee for us and I look at their faces, both wearing a near-identical softness of expression. The emptiness of this Spartan room wells and brims inside their broken-focus gaze.
Published on November 28, 2008, Jeffrey Rosen’s long and comprehensive New York Times article about Google, YouTube, and the question of censorship is a milestone in recent journalism. A lawyer himself (and a professor of law at George Washington University), Rosen is well equipped to discuss the legal ins and outs. He writes admirably clear prose and knows how to order his points for narrative and drama. In addition, he has the New York Times behind him when he seeks to gain access to the web executives who are making the decisions. These executives include all the current top brass at Google. As he secures an in-depth interview with the mighty deputy general counsel Nicole Wong herself, journalists from less powerful organizations can only look on in wonder.
Already a star agent in the days before there were any others, Pat Kavanagh had the glamour to reduce most men and not a few women to slavery. She was beautiful, clever and loved to laugh, but she could also have a blunt way with a fool. Since most writers are fools, especially about money, a new client was likely to find his dreams being set straight quite early in the relationship. I can’t speak for her other clients – she never spoke about them either – but in general I would be surprised if there were any who were spared a close encounter with brute reality when she first explained to them why it would be unwise to start living like Donald Trump on the assumption that the next advance would be as big as the last one.
Too many of my friends are dead, and others wrecked
By various diseases of the intellect
Or failing body. How am I still upright?
And even I sleep half the day, cough half the night.
How did it come to this? How else but through
The course of years, and what its workings do
To wood, stone, glass and almost all the metals,
Smouldering already in the fresh rose petals.
Our energy deceived us. Blessed with the knack
To get things done, we thought to get it back
Each time we lost it, just by taking breath —
And some of us are racing yet as we face death.
Well, good to see you. Sorry I have to fly.
I’m struggling with a deadline, God knows why,
And ghosts keep interrupting. Think of me
The way I do of you. Quite often. Constantly.
(Spectator, Feb 2, 2008)