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October 26, 2003

L.A. and The Sublime


I seem to remember you stating that you have a fundamental aversion to the Romantic aesthetic. This may explain why you don’t live in L.A. Occasionally, as today, Southern California throws up images that seem to have been designed to make one think one is living in the middle of a Turner or some other Romantic master.

I took the first three pictures while driving around trying to make sure my own dwelling wasn’t about to become a fire statistic.

The fourth followed a short while later as the sun set through the pall.

I guess the sublime remains a workable aesthetic category…at least in this part of the world.



P.S. All of this is noted with sympathy to those whose homes did become fire statistics today. My house came a good deal closer than I would have liked a couple years ago.

posted by Friedrich at October 26, 2003


Think how many art directors would give their eye teeth to recreate those clouds slowly, ominously reaching over the happy hillside like the hand of death??

Right out of "Poltergeist"...

Posted by: annette on October 26, 2003 10:27 AM

Some term I heard years ago in a context I've forgotten comes to mind... "A terrible beauty." Some of the abstractly loveliest photos I've ever seen were of bright shining stars in a blue sky -- but the reality is that a spaceship is breaking up and astronauts are dying.

Posted by: Dwight Decker on October 26, 2003 01:37 PM

I remember once seeing the most amazing towering high white clouds and then learning later they were the back end of a storm system that spawned two tornadoes and caused a couple of deaths. Stuff like this may be romantic in the poetic sense but it makes me want to run for the cellar.

I am glad the house and family are safe, Mr. F.

Posted by: Deb on October 26, 2003 06:55 PM

Yes, as if in mockery, natural disasters often bring beautiful skies. When a hurricane blew through here a while back, we had Turner-esque cloud formations for days after.

Posted by: Michael on October 26, 2003 10:12 PM

I enjoy watching flood water roil - from a safe distance - and most of my favorite geoligical formations were born in violence.

Posted by: j.c. on October 27, 2003 09:41 AM

Dwight: "A terrible beauty" is from Yeats, Easter 1916:

MacDonagh and MacBridge
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

It's Yeats at about his most bardic and bloviating, but there you go.

Posted by: Aaron Haspel on October 27, 2003 11:49 AM

Oops, I spoke too fast. My wife just called me and she's been told to evacuate the house. No active danger yet, but still...!

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on October 27, 2003 02:15 PM

Heavens, here's hoping all works out well. I'm watching the headlines and crossing my fingers for you.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 27, 2003 05:23 PM

On my first read, I mistook the post's last line as meaning, two years ago, as opposed to now, you would have disliked your house burning down. I started to wonder if you, deep down, hated L.A., and what your curent life is like that you could say that. Then I reread the sentence.

Posted by: Nathalie Chicha on October 27, 2003 11:43 PM


As best I can tell, I do not, deep down, hate L.A.--at least not more than about 40% of the time.

Apparently (knock on wood) yesterday was a false alarm, so we're moving back home. I'm rather hoping we get to stay there.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on October 28, 2003 05:48 PM

Writing from the vantage point of November 1st, let me say I'm glad you got through it all right. Last Sunday down here it looked as if San Diego itself would be going up in flames.

I recall waking up to a reddish-brown shroud of dreadful magnificence hanging above the downtown landscape. The air beneath was wonderfully clear, but above was a Damoclean beast pulsing slowly in size. Then it turned into a plain smoky haze, dangit.

Now people are complaining vociferously about the CDF's lack of action. I expect certain state regulations and federal laws will either be changed or repealed.

Alan Kellogg

Posted by: Alan Kellogg on November 1, 2003 07:30 AM


I just realized something. The first two pictures look rather like waves breaking upon rocks. Or like fog banks roiling under a steady, but slow, wind.


Posted by: Alan Kellogg on November 1, 2003 07:33 AM

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