Point de capiton.

The news of the death of the actor Robert Forster inspired me to watch the final scene of Jackie Brown, in which he gave an indelible performance as Max Cherry, and that led me to a Google trail which wound up on p. 114 of Robert Miklitsch’s Roll Over Adorno: Critical Theory, Popular Culture, Audiovisual Media, where I was stopped by the following passage:

While Jackie’s musical point of audition is realized via black R&B artists such as Bobby Womack and Randy Crawford, Melanie’s is associated with white pop-rock bands like the Guess Who and the Grass Roots. In fact, it’s not insignificant that the latter musical points de capiton are introduced in the scenes that immediately precede Melanie’s death.

Now, I’m familiar with all sorts of French phrases used in English texts, from the simple (point de vue, if you’re feeling too continental to say “point of view”) to the fancy (point de repère, ‘point of reference, landmark’), but I’d never run across point de capiton, and I didn’t even know what a capiton was (turns out it’s a kind of padding; since the French word was borrowed into English in the 17th century, meaning “Silk or linen flock,” the OED has an entry for it from which we learn that it’s “< Italian †capitone irregularity in a silk thread (a1347), probably < classical Latin capit-, caput head”). A bit of further googling told me that point de capiton is a Lacanian term, and happily there’s a Lacanian Wikipedia-equivalent (called No Subject for doubtless good and sufficient reasons) which has an article on it:

The French term point de capiton is variously translated in English editions of Lacan’s work as “quilting point” or “anchoring point.” […] It literally designates an upholstery button, the analogy being that just as upholstery buttons are places where “the mattress-maker’s needle has worked hard to prevent a shapeless mass of stuffing from moving too freely about,” so the points de capiton are points at which the “signified and signifier are knotted together.”

I have no idea what that means, and I don’t care enough to subject myself to the immersion in Lacan that would be necessary to find out — I long ago came to the conclusion that Theory is not for me. I have no objection to Lacanians using Lacanian terms in their Lacanian writings; that’s what in-groups are for. But I do object to the usage in the Miklitsch sentence I quoted. In the first place, his book, while Theory-oriented (as you can see from the title), is not specifically a work of Lacanian theory, and in fact Lacan is mentioned only a few times; is this particular Lacanian phrase so crucial to his argument it has to be used in this particular context? In the second place, the sentence just before it uses the phrase “point of audition” (which he explains elsewhere is an auditory equivalent of “point of view,” which seems both useful and self-explanatory), and when you read the two sentences together it seems to the untutored eye that point de capiton must be just a fancily French elegant variation on “point of audition.” I try not to fall too quickly into the category of grumpy old fart, and I try not to let my Theory-phobia morph into simple philistinism, but it does seem to me that authors should try a little harder to write accessibly — not for the general reader (since the general reader is unlikely to attempt a book called Roll Over Adorno: Critical Theory, Popular Culture, Audiovisual Media), but for the reader who, while comfortable with academic prose and the usual touchstones of modern academic reference, is not completely immersed in them. Otherwise you’re basically writing only for your own grad students.

Comments

  1. AJP Crown says:

    The French term point de capiton

    According to m-l, you’ve got to say LE point de capiton. You can’t just leave off articles in French. Ever since she said that, it’s annoyed me when I see French articles chopped off in English. She never comments now, I do hope she’s all right.

    the Guess Who
    On the other hand, this should be The Guess Who if it’s the name or just Guess Who if it’s not, for reasons that you’d need to have been around in the late sixties to understand. Like it’s the Rolling Stones & the Beatles but not the Led Zeppelin or the Cream.

    Robert Forster’s death occurred the same day that El Camino (a Netflicks’ Breaking Bad sequel) was released. As in Breaking Bad, he plays a vacuum-cleaner shop proprietor and something else. I was thinking hmm, he’s good, only to find he’d died.

  2. You can’t just leave off articles in French.

    Ah, but I’m not writing in French, I’m writing in English. And of course you can leave off articles in French; you’d say “il n’y a pas de point de capiton,” for example.

    She never comments now, I do hope she’s all right.

    I see her comment on FB, so she’s all right, but I miss her and wish she’d come back!

  3. AJP Crown says:

    Yeah but I don’t think writing in English is a good enough excuse in this case. Once you see it’s missing it just looks wrong (to me). Obviously you can write things like pas de point but that’s beside the, er, point.

    I’m glad to hear she’s on fb. She’s so intense! (Trond & I met her in Oslo.)

  4. he plays a vacuum-cleaner shop proprietor

    Our Man in Havana?

  5. AJP Crown says:

    Ant! I never thought of that. Brilliant. In this case the vacuum cleaners had no connection to his secret role but you can’t sell vacuum cleaners in a film without a nod to Wormold.

  6. @LH. ‘And of course you can leave off articles in French; you’d say “il n’y a pas de point de capiton,” for example.’
    Actually, the article is not omitted in this example if you understand that articles in French do not necessarily exist as single-word units. In the example given, the article is the compound “ne … pas de”. This is simply the negative form of examples such as “un peu de”, “beaucoup de”, “plus de” with its negative “ne … plus de”, etc. This is the form of the “article of quantity / of indefinite amount”.

  7. That is not an article.

  8. John Cowan says:

    But it is a determiner, and the prototypical determiner is an article. IMAO it’s not a huge error except to the professionally deformed.

  9. But the original quotation does have an article ” the … points de capiton” or the suggestion is that when discussing a linguistic item one cannot drop the article? This is hard to believe.

  10. But the original quotation does have an article ” the … points de capiton”

    Indeed. I could understand using the French article instead of the English one if there were no intervening adjectives, but surely writing “les latter musical points de capiton” would be a manifest absurdity.

  11. AJP Crown says:

    For clarity’s sake: stylistically, we all write whatever we like. I just remember m-l telling me that you must write le Corbusier in French and my saying that in English plenty of people write Corb, Corbu [because crow in French] or Corbusier so it’s not an error in English. But now I’ve had it drawn to my attention I don’t like to leave the article off, it just looks weird. I’m not trying to impose a French rule on English grammar. I suppose I just mean I’m not going to leave off the French article myself in English, not unless using too much logic creates something absurd, like in laowai’s hypothetical example.

    Les points de capiton, if they are indeed upholstery buttons* is a clear analogy for a certain kind of stability. So if Lacan says upholstery buttons, then why translate it as quilting points (wtf?) or anchoring points, which seem much vaguer terms to me?

    *But if I google in French I mostly get the Lacan analogy, nothing much about upholstery except a couple of pics of a mattress.

  12. AJP Crown says:

    Oh, ok, it’s just the capitons that are the upholstery buttons – obviously. The points are Lacan’s contribution.

    And here is point of audition.

  13. David Marjanović says:

    That is not an article.

    Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus!

    (In before “articles are actually rather optional in Homeric Greek”.)

  14. Heh.

    But it is a determiner, and the prototypical determiner is an article.

    This whole discussion is pretty silly. I took AJP to mean that instead of “The French term point de capiton” it should read “The French term le point de capiton,” with which I disagree. Now it turns out he’s working off m-l saying you must write le Corbusier in French [sic; should actually be Le Corbusier], which is entirely irrelevant, because Le Corbusier is a name, and it has to be written Le Corbusier and not Corbusier because his name is Le Corbusier and not Corbusier, just as you have to call O’Leary O’Leary and not Leary (or o’Leary). None of that has anything to do with point de capiton or any other noun that is not part of a surname.

  15. his name is Le Corbusier and not Corbusier, just as you have to call O’Leary O’Leary and not Leary (or o’Leary).

    And just as you have to write Lacan and not simply Can (or can).

  16. his name is Le Corbusier and not Corbusier

    Actually his name is Jeanneret and I’m pretty sure I can drop the capital L when I’m writing in English. If you think it’s a silly discussion, do feel free not to take part.

  17. Fine, then!

    *flounces off*

  18. I’m pretty sure I can drop the capital L when I’m writing in English.

    And I’m pretty sure you can’t. Not according to any English stylistic convention I’ve ever set eyes upon, so I’d love to see a web citation. A personal name that is a pseudonym is still a name and must begin with a capital letter when used in isolation. Would you also write about “el” Greco and “el” Cid, I wonder? Fighting Bob “la” Follette?

  19. ATHEL CORNISH-BOWDEN says:

    I think the bus stop for the No 21 closest to where I live is called just Corbusier (no Le), but, of course, I realize that the names of bus stops may not be the best guide to the most elegant French.

    Although the official name of the building is la Cité Radieuse no one actually calls it that: they call it Le Corbusier.

  20. “We put the bus in Corbusier!”

  21. Giacomo Ponzetto says:

    This discussion is not silly enough!

    The Fondation Le Corbusier consistently writes “Le Corbusier” in both French and English. But what I think is more telling is that it writes “de Le Corbusier” and not “du Corbusier.” French Wikipedia suggests this usage is widespread enough to be standard.

    By the way, his birthplace is called La Chaux-de-Fonds (and not la Chaux-de-Fonds or Chaux-de-Fonds, at least not in contemporary usage) and its municipal administration consistently writes “de La Chaux-de-Fonds” rather than “de la Chaux-de-Fonds.” However, the neighboring municipality of Le Locle writes “pour Le Locle” but “du Locle.”

    @AJP Crown: It would seem that capiton denotes the pattern in general (e.g., Wiktionary defines capitonné as “couvert d’un capiton”) and each of the lozenges formed by the pattern (e.g., the TLF gives the definition “compartiment que forme la piqûre sur la surface d’un tissu matelassé”), but not the buttons that are typically placed at their corners. Not that the buttons are seemingly called points de capiton either (at most, naturally, boutons de capiton), so that’s indeed just Lacan jargon. Here’s a French upholsterer explaining capitonnage technique.

  22. Ah, AJP will like that!

  23. Stu Clayton says:

    Did anyone ever put Corbusier on the bus ? Maybe his father, when sending him off to kindergarten.

    The French WiPe gives this myterious description of the fröbelian kindergarden: C’est une méthode pédagogique enfantine, qui peut être vue comme étant « hyper » géométrique.

  24. Stu Clayton says:

    @Giacomo: But what I think is more telling is that it writes “de Le Corbusier” and not “du Corbusier.”

    I just now read that in the French WiPe. The point is that the first refers to the man, the second to a house by him: L’usage a tendance à préférer « de Le Corbusier » lorsqu’on se réfère à l’architecte, et « du Corbusier » lorsqu’on se réfère à l’immeuble d’habitation[3].

    “It’s by Corbusier” versus “it’s a Corbusier”.

  25. AJP Crown says:

    I’m pretty sure I can drop the capital L when I’m writing in English.
    laowai: And I’m pretty sure you can’t. Not according to any English stylistic convention I’ve ever set eyes upon, so I’d love to see a web citation.

    Are you, laowai? Then follow your own rule and start your name with L. It’s so irritating to see it started with lower case in sans-serif.

    Loulou de la Falaise wrote her name in English with a small L (whoever wrote the Wikipedia article doesn’t seem to know). Here is her mother Maxime de la Falaise‘s name repeated over and over in the same manner in the NY Times. But if by ‘a web citation’ you mean in a style guide, you can start at the NY Times. But, really, do your own dirty work! I certainly couldn’t care less whether you believe me.

    I don’t follow a style guide myself – neither to English nor to American – I occasionally read Fowler, the edition introduced by David Crystal. That’s only for amusement.

  26. ATHEL CORNISH-BOWDEN says:

    In a review that we have in press, we refer several times to Julien Jean Offray de La Mettrie (lower-case d, capital L). We had a lot of trouble deciding whether to call him Mettrie, La Mettrie, de La Mettrie or de la Mettrie. We settled on La Mettrie, but I’m still not sure that that was the best choice.

  27. That’s what I would do, and that’s what Wikipedia does, for what that’s worth. (He looks like a cheerful fellow.)

  28. AJP Crown says:

    The American Frank L. Wright was 20 years older than Corb, and I read that he played with Froebel ® Blocks (“Developed by Friedrich Froebel, inventor of Kindergarten.”) That was 50 years ago that I read it, I can’t give a citation this time.

    Giacomo Ponzetto, I do like that. Thank you. It’s always written and spoken of as La Chaux-de-Fonds, at least by Kenneth Frampton. His would be the example to follow, here as in everything. Elsewhere it’s usually just Chaux, in English.

  29. AJP Crown says:

    English-lang. Wikipedia isn’t consistent about de la names, though.

  30. Stu Clayton says:

    Can’t expect much else from a crowd-soused project.

  31. Then follow your own rule and start your name with L. It’s so irritating to see it started with lower case in sans-serif.

    You must spend a great deal of time being irritated, as there’s some chap going by “languagehat” who crops up all over the place on this site.

    But if by ‘a web citation’ you mean in a style guide, you can start at the NY Times.

    I really meant for Le Corbusier in particular, not the surname of some random fashionista. Unsurprisingly, the NYT spells Le Corbusier with an uppercase ‘L’…exactly like every other publication I’ve ever come across.

  32. John Cowan says:

    call O’Leary O’Leary

    In Ireland you could get away with calling him Ó Laoghaire.

    —Eoghan Mac Eoghain

    isn’t consistent about de la names

    de Camp, Decamp, De Camp, DeCamp.

  33. When I worked at summer camp, I discovered that quite a few of the young Boy Scouts (and some adults too) had been taught lyrics to “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” that referred to Mrs. Catherine O’Leary as “old lady Leary.” The erroneous version is also in evidence around the Web.

  34. AJP Crown says:

    I really meant for Le Corbusier in particular, not the surname of some random fashionista.

    Did you Laowai? So you’re talking about some rule you think you might have heard of for the English language that applies only to the name “Le Corbusier” and excludes all other French names as ‘random’? And you want ME to see if you’re right. Loulou isn’t a random fashionista, she’s someone I used to work with when I was eighteen. It was a long time ago but I know how she wrote her name.

    anguagehat is pretty easy to figure out, but laowai is recognisable only to those who have a passing acquaintance with Pinyin, which I don’t. So I’m irritated when I see your name, but no one else’s. 🙂

  35. What consummate nonsense. You made what I consider a totally ridiculous suggestion–that Le Corbusier can be written le Corbusier. Asking you to demonstrate that such a notion has any currency whatsoever is not an unreasonable request. But you can’t do it, of course. End of story.

    And you may have worked with Loulou Whoever, but the name means nothing at all to me. Hence, “random.”

    It’s also bizarre that you would even invest so much thought in anyone’s screen name, picked purely at random for this site more than 10 years ago, but kept merely for the sake of searchable consistency. There are no orthographic conventions which apply to screen names that I’m aware of. Anything goes.

  36. J.W. Brewer says:

    The English-peerage surname-like title that gave rise to the US toponym Delaware can be found in print spelled variously as “de la Warr,” “De la Warr,” and “De La Warr.” Perhaps with enough deep digging an instance of “de La Warr” could also be uncovered although I haven’t invested the time. There’s a pretty strong pattern, although not exceptionless, in how English capitalization rules apply to ultimately-foreign-origin surnames with preposed particles (whether viewed as prepositions or articles or what have you), but instances with two such preposed particles are rare enough that perhaps no one has very strong native-speller instincts about the right approach. Jamming the components together, as in the Dutch-origin surname Vanderbilt (apparently etymologically “van” + “De Bilt,” which is a town just east of Utrecht), is a convenient way of avoiding the issue.

  37. Premodern variation is beside the point. In current usage, laowai is correct that Le Corbusier can only be written that way (two capital letters).

  38. J.W. Brewer says:

    Apparently when M. Jeanneret tired of his birth name he decided to adopt-but-tweak the surname Lecorbésier, which is variously described in online sources as his mother’s maiden name, his maternal grandfather’s name (which you’d think would be the same thing absent unusual circumstances), and his maternal grandmother’s maiden name. Breaking that into two pieces predictably meant he was asking for trouble. Using the two-word combo as a single name, thus creating ambiguity as to whether it should be treated like a given-name-with-no-surname or a-surname-with-no-given-name or some third thing (perhaps akin to a stage name like “Howlin’ Wolf”?) meant he was asking for even more trouble. I don’t personally feel like the general Anglophone community should feel much of an obligation to standardize its usage to accommodate troublemakers. If a conventional standard has evolved so be it, but it doesn’t seem like the sort of situation where anyone ought to invest much energy in purporting to correct the usage of dissidents.

  39. J.W. Brewer says:

    Note also that the convention in certain sorts of writings of putting surnames in ALLCAPS has disadvantages insofar as it can obscure ordinary usage. There was a 19th-century Belgian notary who is described thusly as “Achille-Eugène-Marie LE CORBESIER,” but that gives you no specific insight as to whether or not he (or his contemporaries writing to him or about him) used “Le” or “le.”

    Of course, if you have the sort of name where capitalization conventions really do differ and you’re sort of an edge case, having your official documents all in ALLCAPS gives you flexibility as to what usage you yourself prefer, with some liberty to shift preferences over time without having to redo any official paperwork.

  40. John Cowan says:

    I accept that, but I don’t like and won’t use randomly capitalized or spaced names. For me (raises fist) it’s going to be Bell Hooks, Language Hat, Laowai, and Athel Cornish-Bowden. Who writes Yahoo! for Yahoo nowadays, assuming you write about them at all?

    erroneous version

    That’s not erroneous, it’s the folk process at work, and none the less so because sometimes the “folk” is a specific person, like Billy Bragg’s rewrite of the “Internationale”, as distinct from Greg Baker’s recycling of it in the “Linuxnationale” (“Arise, ye prisoners of Windows / Arise, ye slaves of Redmond, Wash.”)

    Bessie Smith’s lyrics don’t even mention the Fire, and I’ll bet (old lady) Leary wouldn’t have been bothered by this version of her husband’s name.

  41. J.W. Brewer says:

    Now I’m remembering a question I had for hat (or Hat? or HAT?) about the book he was reading in the first place. Does the author suggest how to fill in the blank for the full snowclone “Roll Over Adorno and Tell ____ the News”? If not, what candidate does our esteemed host nominate based on his reading of the book?

  42. In the introduction, he says:

    Although the not so “vanishing mediator” of this discursive encounter is Theodor Adorno, the title of the book is intended to recollect not only Berry’s great rock anthem, “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), but the rebellious spirit of early rock ‘n’ roll and American popular culture itself. In other words, if Adorno stands for European high culture and all things classical, including and especially music (Beethoven being, for Adorno, the consummate figure of artistic expression), Chuck Berry—the de facto king of rock ‘n’ roll—signifies American popular culture in all its iconoclastic energy.

    And in the acknowledgments, he thanks “Michael Bérubé, fellow drummer and rock music fan, who provided the perfect response to the call of the book’s title (and the conclusion to the introduction): “Roll over Adorno and tell Horkheimer the news.”

  43. Does that mean Elvis in merely the king of rock and roll de jure?

  44. “you have to call O’Leary O’Leary and not Leary (or o’Leary).”

    I had a cousin called Mary Sweeney or Mary McSweeney at different times by the same person; sometimes the person was Mary herself.

  45. J.W. Brewer says:

    @Brett: After the demise of King Elvis, the succession was hopelessly disputed and imho no broad consensus ever emerged as to which claimant ought to prevail. One self-proclaimed claimant was last seen at the tail end of the Seventies (or conceivably during calendar 1980) being dragged off a public bus by the LAPD, according to one source:

    “‘Back 2 the Base’ was inspired by the Ramones,” says John [Doe], “and the lyrics are entirely based on things I heard a guy on a bus screaming as he was cracking up. He was holding a picture of Stevie Wonder above his head, as if to show everyone else on the bus how wrong rock ‘n’ roll had become, and he was screaming ‘Gotta get me back to the base, Elvis sucked on doggy dicks.’ They stopped the bus because the guy wouldn’t get off, and the last thing he said as he was being loaded into the police car was ‘I’m the king of rock and roll. If you don’t like it, you can lump it.” I didn’t write the song until a few weeks later when I was riding the bus to work at the Beverly Wilshire and was having comparably murderous thoughts.”

    Solomon Burke cleverly claimed for himself early on the slightly distinct title of “King of Rock n Soul,” which may have been just idiosyncratic enough that no one wanted to challenge him for it. Perhaps because the new king was himself already a bishop (having been consecrated to the episcopate in his boyhood), a secular functionary (DJ James “Rockin’ Robin” Robinson of WEBB-AM) performed the coronation.

  46. I had a cousin called Mary Sweeney or Mary McSweeney at different times by the same person; sometimes the person was Mary herself.

    We’re talking about different things. You (and AJP) are defending the right of particular people in particular circumstances to call themselves or others whatever they damn please; I have no quarrel with that. I (and laowai) are pointing out that the orthographic standards of formal edited English require certain forms rather than others. Your cousin would quickly discover the limitations of her quirkily changing preferences if she had to apply for an official document, and if she were mentioned in a book I edited I would enforce one consistent spelling throughout. Them’s the breaks.

  47. J.W. Brewer says:

    Internal consistency in a given text has something to recommend it, as long as it is understood that in some situations the author’s or editor’s choice among the competing variants is arbitrary. And even then you may have to decide how to handle direct quotes from source documents that use another variant …

  48. PlasticPaddy says:

    https://www.thewritethought.com/2012/05/31/proofreaders-nightmare/
    Hat you probably know this already, but be glad you did not copy edit Lawrence😊

  49. J.W. Brewer says:

    From the legendary-in-some-circles piece Lester Bangs wrote in the immediate aftermath of the news, mediating on what it meant that the King was dead:

    “When we heard about Elvis we knew a wake was in order, so I went out to the deli for a case of beer. As I left the building I passed some Latin guys hanging out by the front door. ‘Heard the news? Elvis is dead!’ I told them. They looked at me with contemptuous indifference. So what. Maybe if I had told them Donna Summer was dead I might have gotten a reaction; I do recall walking in this neighborhood wearing a T-shirt that said ‘Disco Sucks’ with a vast unamused muttering in my wake, which only goes to show that not for everyone was Elvis the still-reigning King of Rock ’n’ Roll, in fact not for everyone is rock ’n’ roll the still-reigning music.”

  50. J.W. Brewer says:

    In other news, today is purportedly “national lowercase day,” which may put a temporary crimp in John Cowan’s desire to impose standard capitalization conventions on the likes of bell hooks. https://www.worldwideweirdholidays.com/october-14-national-lowercase-day/

  51. Hat you probably know this already, but be glad you did not copy edit Lawrence

    I don’t know whether I’m glad (it would have been a nightmare) or sorry (it would have been a hell of a lot of fun), but I’m very familiar with the proofreading rant, which I quoted here.

  52. From the legendary-in-some-circles piece Lester Bangs wrote in the immediate aftermath of the news, mediating on what it meant that the King was dead

    I worshiped Lester as a writer and still vividly remember the shock of his death, but I’ve come to understand that the whole Disco Sucks movement was, shall we say, problematic.

  53. There is the strong tendency to write E. E. Cummings name without capital letters (I saw it that way on a book cover at the library today), even though the poet capitalized his name normally. He also used standard capitalization for other proper nouns, at least some of the time.

    Buffalo Bill ’s
    defunct
                who used to
                ride a watersmooth-silver
                    stallion
    and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
    Jesus

    he was a handsome man
                    and what i want to know is
    how do you like your blue-eyed boy
    Mister Death

    [Cummings’s horizontal spacing is there in the comment box, but the display strips it out, unfortunately.]

  54. AJP Crown says:

    You made what I consider a totally ridiculous suggestion–that Le Corbusier can be written le Corbusier. Asking you to demonstrate that such a notion has any currency whatsoever is not an unreasonable request. But you can’t do it, of course. End of story.

    Centre le Corbusier

    The thing is I never tried until now because as I said, I don’t care what you believe. Anyway, it took me a matter of seconds despite google’s reluctance to sort things by lower-case AND upper-case letters together. You just have to use a little common sense, Laowai, and you too will be able to find examples.

    And you may have worked with Loulou Whoever, but the name means nothing at all to me.
    This is so clearly a lie that I’m embarrassed for you. If that name meant nothing at all to you, especially after googling, you couldn’t have used the word “fashionista” above. ‘Whoever’ is de la Falaise, small D, small L, like you claim can’t be written in English. She was half-English, half French and bilingual, which I assume you aren’t.

    Hence, “random.”
    But it was I who chose it, not you, and I explained why! So not random except to the gormless.

    I can’t keep answering your questions Mr or Ms Laowai. Just make a rebuttal and we’ll conclude this. 😉

  55. David Marjanović says:

    The trick is &nbsp;, the non-breaking space.

  56. ‘Whoever’ is de la Falaise, small D, small L, like you claim can’t be written in English.

    But laowai was talking about LC, not dlF. There is no single overriding convention, and if people spell their own names with small dl big F, that should be respected. Good on you for finding the Centre, but aren’t you being perhaps a wee bit fighty about it?

  57. There is the strong tendency to write E. E. Cummings name without capital letters (I saw it that way on a book cover at the library today), even though the poet capitalized his name normally.

    Yes, I wrote about that back in 2007.

    [Cummings’s horizontal spacing is there in the comment box, but the display strips it out, unfortunately.]

    I added nonbreaking spaces; it still doesn’t look right, but at least it’s indented.

  58. Thanks!

  59. John Cowan says:

    I would go so far as to say that in Ireland the presence or absence of surname prefixes, or of Irish or English forms, simply does not count as having a different name, though of course only one version is official for any given person. The Learys and the O’Learys as well as the Ó Laoghaires are the same (large) family, and it’s commonplace for people in the same (small) family to use official surnames with more than one form. For that matter one could be any of Ó Caoimh, O’Keefe, or Ó Cuív, though there are are only a few who insist on the last (bizarre for Irish) form.

    —Eoghan Eoghain

  60. J.W. Brewer – ‘akin to a stage name like “Howlin’ Wolf”’ sounds right to me.
    Le Corbusier’s own books, French or English, invariably use ‘Le C’ in print (‘LE CORBUSIER’ on the title page), but his signature usually looks more like ‘le’.
    According to M. Christine Boyer’s book ‘Le Corbusier, Homme de Lettres’,
    ‘Jeanneret took the pen name of Le Corbusier, transforming Lecorbésier, the name of the father of his grandmother, into a new meaning: the raven-archer. He often called himself “Le Corbu”, the raven, and signed his paintings and letters with the sign of this bird.
    The raven-archer suggests other associations as well: “arche” signifies the mediaeval sign for the transverse arm of the cross of crucifixion, or it references the summer and winter eclipse of the sun. As “archer” it may also refer to the ancient Greeks, who transposed an everyday instrument of use, the stringed bow, into a lyre, the instrument of musical harmony. Thus Pythagoras, who made the connection between sounds and numbers, may be another self-portrait.’

  61. Fascinating!

  62. J.W. Brewer says:

    I will make a note to myself to develop the thesis “Disco Sucks Because of Le Corbusier” (the common thread is of course humanity being subjugated by robots, to the acclaim of questionable Euro intellectuals) on another occasion. Right now given the news of the day I’m feeling melancholy that AFAIK Harold Bloom and Lester Bangs never actually met each other (or even quoted each other).

  63. It’s funny, I was getting increasingly fed up with Bloom, and yet I find myself shocked at his passing.

  64. J.W. Brewer says:

    I am married to a former student/acolyte/research-assistant-and-collaborator of Harold’s (including on one of his Dostoevsky-themed works FWIW), so for me all of his manifold quirks were sort of those of a sometimes-exasperating-yet-always-charming in-law. I am not sure if he himself would have seen the Bangs parallels that imho seem obvious when they are both viewed from a more detached perspective.

  65. @AJP Crown

    Seriously? Your “proof” that Le Corbusier can be written with a small ‘l’ is a single photo caption referring to the name of a building, rather than the person himself? One does have to reluctantly admire your persistency in doubling-down on transparent idiocy, especially after Giacomo Ponzetto’s post.

    If that name meant nothing at all to you, especially after googling,

    Duh! The point being, I had to Google it (or, to be exact, I took the link you provided to the mother’s obit). Before you used the name, I’d never come across it in my entire life. Her apparent sphere of activity is not one that holds even the vaguest interest for me, and I remain baffled as to why you imagine the spelling of her name is of even the smallest relevance or interest to anyone.

    She was half-English, half French and bilingual, which I assume you aren’t.

    Nice ad hominem! Always a guaranteed winning tactic! Alas, though, untrue, unless your notion of “bilingualism” is restricted to the narrow sense of those equally at home in two languages. In the broader sense of the word, I have dictionary-free reading fluency in two others.

  66. AJP Crown says:

    aren’t you being perhaps a wee bit fighty about it?

    Yes. I apologise, Language. That’s why I said we must stop – also because it’s really not a very important distinction and I’ve wasted enough time on it.

    Wasn’t there a Eurovision song contest winner called Bloom-Bang-a-Bang?

    Christine Boyer taught at the GSAPP (small T) at Columbia when I was a student. I didn’t know she’d written about LeCorb. The big Corb issue now is about the limelight he stole from his early employee and co-designer of furniture Charlotte Perriand (also his treatment of his neighbour the anglo-Irish designer Eileen Gray). For some possibly quite valid reason no one mentions the third member of the furniture group, Corbusier’s cousin Pierre Jeanneret (perhaps he just did the accounts, or something). Two other things about the Corbusier name: 1. he was already about 35 when he first used it. I don’t think many architects are aware of that. 2. The design teacher who encouraged him as a boy in La Chaux-de-Fond to take up architecture was called L’Eplattenier. Le Corbusier revered him and I can’t help but think that the name somehow influenced the form of his own nickname (and of course I could well be wrong). And finally despite (or perhaps because of) all his peculiarities he’s in a different league from the other first-generation modernists like Gropius & the other Bauhaus architects or Frank L. Wright. He was remarkable for his ways of thinking, his enormous output and for the work itself. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  67. PlasticPaddy says:

    @ajp
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Stijl
    I think rietveld and the rest were nice. But I like smaller, lighter stuff (Georgian, not Victorian or Jugendstil).

  68. That wiki article includes “the De Stijl …” but not “…de Stijl…”

  69. David Marjanović says:

    le Corbusier = le bâtiment Corbusier

  70. L’Eplattenier

    Somehow that name sounds very funny to me. Splat!

  71. Ó Cuív, though there are are only a few who insist on the last (bizarre for Irish) form

    I find only an Eamon Ó Cuív, politician son of the Celticist Brian Ó Cuív, who I think (or at any rate have always assumed) invented it as part of his “simplified” spelling for Irish. A former colleague who studied under the latter described him as “sort of dumb.”

  72. PlasticPaddy says:

    The headmaster of Campbell College, Belfast, where Beckett was briefly employed, referred to “the cream of Ulster” to which Beckett responded: “Yes, rich and thick”.
    Source: “Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett”, James Knowlson.

  73. PP: I think rietveld and the rest were nice.

    Oh yes, so do I! Terragni’s work too is worth looking at, they’ve all been influential in their way.

    But the only person I’d put in the same league with Corb is Alvar Aalto, who also created a pretty large body of top quality work, but even Aalto didn’t have Corb’s intellectual grasp which included surrealism, the maths of proportional ratios & the proportions of the human body relative to architecture & furniture (the Modulor), painting (Purism), houses, housing (including a monastery, La Tourette) and city- & urban design, and building for what he considered the essentials of a life worth living. He built a lot of stuff himself, including a tiny cabin on the coast Cabanon de Le [sic, Stu] Corbusier, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin that has everything except a kitchen (he ate all his meals at the café at the top of the cliff, so perhaps one of the essentials is employing a good cook.) If you’re interested, I’ve assembled pictures of more than 20 of his projects here. I haven’t got round to his projects in India yet (the whole of Chandigarh or the Mill Owners’ Association Building in Ahmedabad.) He was – I think – happily married for years to a woman who had not the slightest interest in architecture.

    The Fondation Le Corbusier site has the best selection of pics of his work. It’s located in the Maison La Roche, in Paris.

  74. It was Brian’s father Shán Ó Cuív who invented the otherwise unused simplified spelling. Brian’s father-in-law Éamon de Valera (also “Eamonn De Valera”; “Eamon de Bhaléra”, “Éamon de. Bhaléara”) was an intermittent advocate of (less radical) simplification.

  75. Correction “De Bhailéara”, not “De Bhaléara” obviously.

  76. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Correction where needed. I passed the bus stop today. It’s not called Corbusier; it’s called Le Corbusier. Next time I catch the No 21 I must listen more carefully to the announcement. I thought it said Corbusier, but maybe it says Le Corbusier.

  77. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    If you’re interested, I’ve assembled pictures of more than 20 of his projects here.

    What a horrible site. I thought it would just show me the pictures, but no. First I had to sign up to Pinterest. Then it wanted me to say what I was interested in (“none of your business” was not an option). Then I thought I could get to the site you linked to, but it had forgotten about that and took me to somewhere quite different. Nothing to do with Le Fada.

  78. AJP Crown says:

    No chance of Les Corbusiers? Nothing for half an hour and then plusieurs Corbusiers come at once? – Oh, I see. It’s the stop not the bus itself.

    What a horrible site.

    Then try the Fondation Le Corbusier site instead.

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