2016年7月3日 星期日

"tactful," "poised," "fastidious" and "whole," dangerously, egalitarian

A biography paints Franz Kafka—who was born on July 3rd 1883—as a difficult, brilliant man. In Reiner Stach’s view, Kafka was “a neurotic, hypochondriac, fastidious individual", but one "complex and sensitive in every regard" and capable of love and lightness

Reading "Trip to Hanoi" now as a part of a collection, one sees how Miss Sontag's sensibility allowed her to risk these painful accusations. "What I'd been creating and enduring for the last few years was a Vietnam inside my head, under my skin, in the pit of my stomach," she writes, adding that she is "a stubbornly unspecialized writer who has so far been largely unable to incorporate into either novels or essays my evolving radical political convictions and sense of moral dilemma at being a citizen of the American empire."

Hanoi changed that -- and "Trip to Hanoi" enables us to see how her attitude toward Vietnam does follow logically from the moral philosophy which she applies so successfully to esthetic questions. In art, she glories in the discovery of "tact" and "poise" amidst the roaring babble. On her trip, she delighted in the painful recognition of the virtues of the Vietnamese who were "fastidious" and "whole" in the unspeakable holocaust.

To understand the nature of this achievement -- the clear-eyed translation of a vocabulary of art and philosophy into politics -- one must note again that Miss Sontag has been deeply influenced by the contemporary radical French intellectual tradition that concentrates on searching for the underlying structures -- often of an awesome complexity -- beneath the tangled and chaotic surface of individual acts. By creating a personal vocabulary that can permit her to define esthetic expression or political behavior as "tactful," "poised," "fastidious" and "whole," she is demonstrating an intellectual achievement both foreign to contemporary American usage and difficult to appropriate in times of artistic and political change.





egalitarian adjective FORMAL
believing that all people are equally important and should have the same rights and opportunities in life:
an egalitarian society
The party's principles are basically egalitarian.
egalitarian noun [C] FORMAL
a person who has egalitarian beliefs:
Ford is no egalitarian.
egalitarianism noun [U] FORMAL
the belief in and actions taken according to egalitarian principles


fastidious adjective
1 giving too much attention to small details and wanting everything to be correct and perfect:
He is very fastidious about how a suitcase should be packed.

American art museums are not what they used to be. And for art fans with fastidious tastes, this should be welcome news.
Of course, the Peabody Essex curators understand all of this, and make that understanding felt in many ways, large and small. They, like Mr. Monroe, seem to regard the museum and their stewardship of it as perpetual works in progress. It's a healthily unfastidious attitude. It lets them, and us, approach a great institution with fascinated delight and hard questions, and experience art as a source of both exaltation and aggravation, which is what it is.
2 having a strong dislike of anything dirty or unpleasant:
They were too fastidious to eat in a fast-food restaurant.
fastidiously adverb
fastidiously clean/dressed
fastidiousness noun [U]

dangerous adjective

describes a person, animal or activity that could harm you:
dangerous chemicals
I've never played ice hockey - it's far too dangerous.
[+ to infinitive] It's dangerous to take more than the recommended dose of tablets.
dangerously adverb
She drives dangerously.
He likes to live dangerously.
See also endanger.


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