The lapse of luxury

"It is bitter to have loved and lost than never to laugh it off," Bamuall Subtler

Thursday, July 20, 2006

today's recommendation

Image from
Ben Katchor has something to say about the decorative impulse. He is a cartoonist who has made visible the urban decay, frayed moral fibres, dissolute history and fragmented knowledge stuffing our morally useless heads. His book The Beauty Supply District has nothing pretty in it. But in the Manhattan where this story is located we walk by stores with names like DECORUM, NON-OBJECTIVE IMAGERY, and ANALEPSIS... oh, yes, and one of my favourites, UP-TO-DATE SYMBOLISM. To unwind we grab a bench in the Municipal Laxative Garden (with the funny pages shrouding our heads, of course), and for edification we take in the Katsigh Collection of Worn Shoes and Broken Laces.

Now, to be tedious, back to the decorative impulse. I figure that what Katchor is trying to say is that we all try to beautiful our lives with curlicues and gaudy paint. It's an impulse. An impulse made taudry by society's apologists who would have us be practical. But Katchor's no whiner like me. He says it all with a sigh... a sigh made of pictures and words. Not a sound. Katchor's world ends in whimper.

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