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Typewriters of Writers


Berenice Abbott, portraits of James Joyce, 1926

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

When Abbott photographed James Joyce (1882-1941) in 1926 he was one of the most important writers in Paris and at the center of the expatriate literary circle that frequented Sylvia Beach’s bookshop Shakespeare and Company. Beach had published Joyce’s revolutionary work Ulysses in 1922 and was doubtless responsible for arranging this session with the young American photographer who had begun her career the previous year as a darkroom assistant to Man Ray, but who, like him, was now also becoming a favorite photographer of the avant-garde expatriate set in Paris. At the time of the sitting, Joyce was engaged in his most ambitious undertaking, Finnegans Wake, and was suffering both from criticism that it was unreadable and from a painful eye condition that kept him home at 2 Square Robiac (where this portrait was made) and required him to wear an eye patch. Abbott’s portrait is more like a mirror reflection than a professional portrayal, revealing a complex and sympathetic character Djuna Barnes so aptly described as “the Grand Inquisitor come to judge himself.”

In college, I used to underline sentences that struck me, that made me look up from the page. They were not necessarily the same sentences the professors pointed out, which would turn up for further explication on an exam. I noted them for their clarity, their rhythm, their beauty and their enchantment. For surely it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do.
— Jhumpa Lahiri, My Life’s Sentences (via vaginawoolf)

The Crow (by Jay Roeder)

The Strand. by Annie Wu. on Flickr.


“In Event of Moon Disaster”, July 18, 1969.

White House speechwriter, William Safire, was asked to write a speech that President Nixon would make in case the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the Moon.

It was never delivered, and this speech was quietly tucked away into Nixon’s records. 

Source: Nixon Library

Silence is beautiful, not awkward. The human tendency to be afraid of something beautiful is awkward.
— Elliot Kay (via decembrist)