World Exposition 1853

Walt Whitman could sure right pretty. He wrote what refers to as poem 245 for the 1853 New York exposition, which was in itself a reaction to that of the United Kingdom, and that in turn a reaction to the French one of 1844. I came across it because I've been listening to a great history of the Habsburg Empire whilst taking the first really long walks of the year (today, from a do at the House of Lords down to Parson's Green). Vienna's expo in 1857 was a sad affair,  not because of anything they did, but because of a stock market crash and an outbreak of cholera, which, alone or in combination, were and probably would never be that good for business.

Not for the first time, Vienna has me thinking about the connection between culture and politics. Seen from the brilliance of the Kennedy administration, for instance, and its grace and elan, Lyndon Johnson is an outline in the light, and a murky one at that. Seen as a kind of living embodiment of some brash, efficient, and very American Clifford Still painting, though, and LBJ is very much a man of his time and country, more so than Smiling Jack's frozen Rauschenberg collage. There is more to be written here--but perhaps not at this April midnight...and what is it with Vienna inspiring and Budapest depressing? One is champagne and the other is the hangover.


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