וְתִפְאֶ֖רֶת בָּנִ֣ים אֲבוֹתָֽם׃
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And now methinks I could even chide myself
Cyril Tourneur [auteur de La Tragédie de l’Athée, à qui l’on attribuait La Tragédie du Vengeur à l’époque] naquit de l’union d’un dieu inconnu avec une prostituée. On trouve la preuve de son origine divine dans l’athéisme héroïque sous lequel il succomba. Sa mère lui transmit l’instinct de la révolution et de la luxure, la peur de la mort, le frémissement de la volupté et la haine des rois ; il tint de son père l’amour de se couronner, l’orgueil de régner, et la joie de créer ; tous deux lui donnèrent le goût de la nuit, de la lumière rouge et du sang. La date de sa naissance est ignorée ; mais il parut dans une journée noire, sous une année pestilentielle.
Marcel Schwob (1867-1905)
Cyril Tourneur [author of The Atheist’s Tragedy, to whom The Revenger’s Tragedy was attributed at the time] was born of the union of an unknown god with a prostitute. Proof of his divine origin may be found in the heroic atheism of which he died. His mother bequeathed him instincts for revolution and lechery, the fear of death, the thrill of lust and a hatred of kings; he got from his father a love of self-coronation, the pride to reign, and the joy of creation; both gave him a taste for the night, red lights, and blood. The date of his birth is unknown; but he appeared on a black day, in a year of the plague.
Translation by SAGReiss
“Students of John Webster, Cyril Tourneur, and John Ford,
searching for guides to the best understanding and enjoyment of
these playwrights, are liable to find themselves in the position
of Webster's Flamineo
who, when he looks up to heaven, confounds knowledge with
knowledge. All three playwrights--despite their very different
artistic temperaments and talents--shared an appetite for
absolutes, extremes, and paradoxes. And, perhaps not
coincidentally, the outstanding characteristic of the scholarly
and critical literature about them is its tendency towards extreme
statements and antithetical, or even paradoxical, positions. On
the same library shelf, Ford the modernist is next to Ford the
traditional moralist; Tourneur both is and is not the author of The
Revenger's Tragedy, which is either the most cynical or the
most thoroughly medieval play of the Jacobean era; and Webster is
on the one hand a decadent melodramatist, on the other a deviser
of experimental dramatic structures which body forth a new tragic,
or absurd, vision. More radically still, their very raison
d'être, on a shelf devoted to serious English dramatic
literature, is now questioned, now affirmed.”
Date: 8 avril 2014
Objet: Fred & Alan
Je me suis reveille a deux heures du mat au lit. J'ai constate que je portais mon pyjama bleu. J'ai demande au chat (en anglais bien sur, mais je traduis pour ceux qui ignorent tout): "Dans quel etat suis-je rentre hier soir, et que bordel ai-ja mange?" Strophe n'a constate aucune anomalie, donc tout va bien. Je suis quand meme descendu a la cuisine. J'ai vue une petite boite de pizza, une flute de pain, ma bouteille de whisky, une bouteille de vin cevenole que j'ai eu la sagesse ou l'incapacite d'ouvrir dans l'etat de haute spiritualite ou je me trouvais hier soir apres l'apres-funerailles de Fred. Je trouve tres penibles les funerailles. C'est pas pour le mort. Quand Alan est mort, le 12 septembre 2010 trois heures apres qu'il m'a dit: "Bloody hell," et je l'ai quitte, je ne l'avais connu que depuis moins d'un an. Je ne pleurais pas pour lui. Je pleurais pour moi, pour Rose, pour Athene ma soeur, pour ceux que je ne connais pas. Vous etes des magistrats, donc sans ame. Vous ne pleurez pas. J'ai beaucoup pleure hier, et beaucoup bu, un quart de whisky au tombeau d'Alan, puis une quantite indecente de Ricard au Commerce, ou tout s'est tres bien passe dans la convivialite habituelle avec en prime la presence de la petite fille qui a casse la gueule a un gendarme & la seule Juive des Vans, qui a fait la comptabilite. J'ai paye un tres modeste dix euros l'Apero des Peres, mais j'ai offert plus. Philippe & Sylvie ont refuse, acceptant le principe que tout le monde a avoue a peu pres ce qu'il avait bu, sauf que certains n'avaient aucun argent. Aux Vans on n'est pas bassement materialiste. On accepte que meme les pauvres aiment se saouler la gueule. J'etais le premier a l'eglise hier. Une dame m'a tout de suite demande si j'etais celui qui devait chanter: "Je peux chanter. De Dieu, mais pas le votre." Elle m'a demande de lire un truc en hebreu, en pretandant que c'etait le nom de Dieu, ce qui n'est pas le cas, car il y avait cinq ou six lettres. C'etait en haut de l'eglise, donc difficile a lire. La douleur de Maria (BCC ci-dessus) etait ecrasante, sans parler de notre ami Fred qui etait dans une boite. (Je rebois un whisky la, ayant mange le reste de la pizza, pour me raffraichir la memoire. Est-ce que je travaille ce matin? Je ne le sais pas.) Tous les ivrognes & musiciens & voyoux & hippies des Vans sont venus aux funerailles de Fred, avec Maria & la famille. Il n'y a pas eu de messe, mais une lecture du Sermon sur le Mont de Mathieu, si je m'en souviens bien, ou le cure a lu: "Blessed are the repris de Justice, car ils vont enculer tout le monde." Je cite le texte orthodoxe, en grec ancien, bien sur. J'ai mis une heure a trouver la nouvelle pierre tombale d'Alan, car Mike (BCC ci-dessus), le con d'Anglais, & Dave (BCC ci-dessus), le frere d'Alan, m'ont pose un lapin. J'ai quand meme bu un coup avec mon ami. Je transcris le tres beau message:
Alan THOMAS LOTHIAN [Dave & moi nous sommes interroges pourquoi son deuxieme prenom est en majuscules, nous arretant sur l'hypothese que Dave etait saoul quand il l'a ecrit.]
Glasgow 1947 - Les Vans 2010
Homme de lettres
In my Father's house
Are many mansions [John 14:2]
Evidemment on ne peut pas faire beaucoup mieux que cela, meme si j'avais vote en septembre 2010 pour Proverbs 17:6b
And the glory of children are their fathers.
Fuck you all.
Scott, pere de Rose
Date: 25 September 2010
Subject: Ecstasy of the Left-Handed Virgin
Whatever we think of Venus' face in the mirror, it does behoove
us to look at pictures long & hard & often, to ask them
questions, to observe them carefully. C the G's Virgin was called
by her: "The Virgin: First Solo Orgasm," which lends itself to two
interpretations, either her first orgasm was solo, or her nth
orgasm was her first solo shot, which would tend to imply that she
was not in fact a virgin, at least in the Occidental meaning of
the term. Please remember that Nanat told me she regretted having
lost her virginity alone, for the Orientals understand female
virginity to be a part of the body, the hymen. In the East sodomy
is abstention [abstinence]. I'm not sure how oral sex effects
virginity in the West, nor if it does so in the same way for men
& women, gay & straight. So many possibilities. Anyway,
this morning I noticed that C the G's virgin is indisputably
left-handed [or at least a switch-hitter]. Her right hand appears
to be over her head beyond the left-hand frame of the image. Her left hand
is in the cookie jar. Rose is of course left-handed [but right-footed],
stairs on 15 August 2008, the day of the Virgin's Assumption,
whence her Ecstasy in the new
title I've given the painting. [The artist was always
left-titted.] I'm sure C the G won't mind.
Date: 23 September 2010
Subject: Blinded by the Light
Oops. Alan would have loved this, the experts & I making
dumbass interpretations of a work of art because we weren't
thinking of the science of optics. Some blogging wag has pointed
out that (her eventual narcissism aside) Venus does NOT in fact
appear to be looking at her own image in the glass. She seems to
be looking at a virtual image of the artist, reflected to her at
the same angle as her image is reflected to him. There is also
some learned commentary about the size of her reflected face,
which is apparently only realistic if we assume the artist is
standing at a considerable distance, but I don't understand this,
nor do I see why he couldn't be. But the painting is not
necessarily realistic in this or the former matter. For, if we
assume that Venus is indeed looking at the artist, and that we are
looking from behind his shoulder, and thus through his eyes, and
not hers, then why is the image in the mirror (and only in the
mirror) blurred? Could he be blinded by the light of the face of a
goddess? I think I still prefer the narcissism solution, and the
underlying assumption that Diego didn't know (or care) much more
about the science of optics than I do.
Date: 23 September 2010
Subject: Mary the Slasher
Velazquez' Venus del Espejo is my riff on Alan's idea. He could not have avoided the sex & love theme of the etymology, nor would he have wished to. "Transit of Venus" sounds like a euphemism for "orgasm". I know he had a good cinema culture (which I have not), but we seldom discussed it, nor the other visual arts. We are/were both men of letters, he of a more scientific & technological bent, I of a more artistic & musical bent. He enjoyed music, asking me to prove the worthiness of the internet by downloading Trevor Pinnock's Brandenburg Concerti, which I did, but by then it was too late. We shared similar politics, the extremely cynical left, but he knew far more history than I, indeed far more history than any man should know. He knew nothing of Judaism, although he thought he did. He wouldn't have recognized the names Rashi, Saadia Gaon, Judah Halevi, but where would Christians acquire such knowledge, unless they read my site, which he stubbornly refused to do. The following [from Wikipedia] is too good for editing. Alan would have loved it. She died on his fourteenth birthday:
Slashing the Rokeby Venus
Richardson's most famous act of defiance occurred in March 10, 1914 when she entered the National Gallery in London and slashed the Rokeby Venus with a chopper she smuggled into the gallery.
She wrote a brief statement explaining her actions to the
WSPU which was immediately printed by the press: "I have
tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman
in mythological history as a protest against the
Government for destroying Mrs Pankhurst, who is the most
beautiful character in modern history. Justice is an
element of beauty as much as colour and outline on canvas.
Mrs Pankhurst seeks to procure justice for womanhood, and
for this she is being slowly murdered by a Government of
Iscariot politicians. If there is an outcry against my
deed, let every one remember that such an outcry is an
hypocrisy so long as they allow the destruction of Mrs
Pankhurst and other beautiful living women, and that until
the public cease to countenance human destruction the
stones cast against me for the destruction of this picture
are each an evidence against them of artistic as well as
moral and political humbug and hypocrisy."
As a Fascist
Richardson like a number of middle- and upper-class suffragettes turned to fascism. She became the head of the Women's section of the BUF. Two other prominent suffragette leaders to gain high office in the BUF were Norah Elam and Commander Mary Allen.
Richardson published her autobiography, Laugh a Defiance, in 1953. She died at her flat in Hastings on November 7, 1961.
Diego Velázquez - La Venus del Espejo (detail 1914)
Catherine Uccellatore - Ecstasy of the Left-Handed Virgin (2009)
[A blogger suggests artistic jealousy of a dead man or sexual jealousy of a painting may have played a role: "In court Mary Richardson added that she had been an art student, but that she cared more for justice than for art, and that she therefore saw her act as understandable, if not excusable. In an interview in 1952, nearly 40 years after the deed, Mary Richardson gave yet another reason for her action: "I didn't like the way men visitors gaped at it all day long."]
Ah, yes. Feminism, fascism, & vandalism. The good things in life go together. I'd like to read her book, or at least a page or two, but I can't find it online. So what do we think of our supine beauty? Much can't be said, as the deep mauve has apparently faded to gray (Rose has taken to calling me Gray & herself Violet. [The only reference I can find is to Violet Gray in Peanuts, and we do like the Charlie Brown Christmas, but I had no idea of her family name, so how would Rose?]), and she took seven blows to the back with a meat cleaver, although I can't make them out even in the high resolution image. The shape of her body is extremely beautiful, and she seems to be almost a redhead, not quite an iconographic hair color at the time. Of course her face is blurred, though none of the critics has anything interesting to say about that. I guess her features dissolved in her own narcissism. I notice mostly the blue & pink ribbons of Cupid. [One critic calls them "fetters", although the blue one looks to me like a sash, and the pink one perhaps like a cord to hang the looking glass.] They seem to stand out in the large monochrome spaces.
Date: 22 September 2010
Subject: Sightings of Venus
Saturday night I found out what the book that Alan had wanted to
write was, Sightings of Venus, although that's my title. I don't
know if he had decided upon one yet. It was to be an historical
novel (or perhaps straight non-fiction) depicting the arduous
trips different people of different cultures at different times
took to see Venus (the planet, or Aphrodite the goddess of love
& beauty) from an optimal point of view, often I think in
remote ocean waters. It reflects his interests, science, history,
philosophy. I think this is what he was going to use to organize
The Venusian orbit is slightly inclined relative to the Earth's orbit; thus, when the planet passes between the Earth and the Sun, it usually does not cross the face of the Sun. However, transits of Venus do occur when the planet's inferior conjunction coincides with its presence in the plane of the Earth's orbit. Transits of Venus occur in cycles of 243 years with the current pattern of transits being pairs of transits separated by eight years, at intervals of about 105.5 years or 121.5 years. The most recent transit was in June 2004; the next will be in June 2012. The preceding pair of transits occurred in December 1874 and December 1882; the following pair will occur in December 2117 and December 2125. Historically, transits of Venus were important, because they allowed astronomers to directly determine the size of the astronomical unit, and hence the size of the Solar System. Captain Cook's exploration of the east coast of Australia came after he had sailed to Tahiti in 1768 to observe a transit of Venus.
A long-standing mystery of Venus observations is the so-called Ashen light—an apparent weak illumination of the dark side of the planet, seen when the planet is in the crescent phase. The first claimed observation of ashen light was made as long ago as 1643, but the existence of the illumination has never been reliably confirmed. Observers have speculated that it may result from electrical activity in the Venusian atmosphere, but it may be illusory, resulting from the physiological effect of observing a very bright crescent-shaped object.
The Canadian poet Earle Birney once wrote of Malcolm Lowry: "Teetering on a rope of comic fancies, between grandeur and self-pity, between exultation in his own power and agonies of self-contempt, his whole life was a slow drowning in great lonely seas of alcohol and guilt. It was all one sea, and all his own. He sank in it a thousand times and struggled back up to reveal the creatures that swam round him under his glowing reefs and in his black abysses."
Alan was furious when I told him that Lowry suffered from having
a very small penis: "Where the fuck did you get that?" "I read it
on the internet, so it must be true." "Bugger all." We sometimes
talked about his decision, odd on the surface of it, to come to
Les Vans to live & die rather than Italy, where his son lives
& where his grand-daughter was to be born [& whose
language he spoke much better than French]. I don't think he
himself knew exactly why he had come here. His brother was too
busy this summer to take care of him much, but it worked out well.
His whole family came three times, including the funeral, and he
had plenty of friends to look after him. He wasn't alone for even
one day in the last gruelling month of his life. From my own
selfish point of view, I'm glad he came. Alan, we hardly knew ye... He would
have hated that. He said the Y came about because Bill Caxton was
a cheap English fuck who wouldn't be arsed to buy a twenty-seventh
letter, the thorn.
Date: 21 September 2010
Subject: Dave's New Elder Brother Rose
As we left supper Saturday night, Dave blearily asked me who
would be his elder brother. On Sunday Rose said: "Last year [which
is her way of saying yesterday] I told Dave I'll be his elder
brother." I misunderstood, since I hadn't overheard this exchange:
"That's very nice, sweetheart. I'll tell Dave." "No. I told him."
Last night we all went out for a Last Supper at the Cabbage Leaf,
where Pablo's father works. There was a brawl about the
reservation. This family doesn't go anywhere unnoticed. I tried to
be the voice of reason, knowing Regis & speaking French better
than most. Tom was snarling about going somewhere the fuck else.
Everyone's nerves have been worn raw. Death sucks. I still haven't
returned to work, but I've got a lot of vacation time to make up.
We worked it out & a fine dinner was had by all. I told Dave:
"I didn't hear it, but Rose told me she told you she would be your
elder brother." Dave didn't remember. Annick said: "You were
drunk. I heard Rose say that."
Date: 21 September 2010
Subject: Fw: Absence
Desole, je ne vais toujours pas bien. La douleur m'infligee par la mere de Rose, la perte d'un ami la semaine derniere, et les funerailles ce week-end, m'ont laisse un peu abattu. Je m'en remettrai.
Date: 20 september 2010
Desole. Je suis malade. Je reviens en
Date: 20 September 2010
Subject: Letter to a Dead Man
I understand you are dead, but perhaps someone is still checking this account. I wasn't on your mailing list, but then again you weren't on mine. We corresponded privately, but you knew I was sending BCCs to my old literary friends, and publish everything online. That pissed you off no end, but it didn't stop you from writing, as you often & bitterly threatened to do, until you lost that ability sometime after 9 August. I've kept on writing, for that is all I know how to do. You often & bitterly cursed the internet, but you did so in e-mail. You were as addicted to it as we are. The texts I'm linking to may also piss someone off or ruffle a few feathers. Kafka knew that Max Brod would not burn his books, and you knew that I would write the tale of your death. Rose now understands that all of what I write is ultimately for her. [As I talked of our site with Jerry, Rose smiled & interjected in English: "It's for me."] After I'm gone, it will be hers to do with as she likes, although I have suggested that our site be passed down as a family heirloom, with each generation creating new pages with links to older ones. It did her a world of good to hear so many different accents of English at your seemingly neverending funeral. She also grieved for you deeply. She gave you chestnuts as a last gift. We sang you Joe Hill, a song thoroughly in your spirit. Anyway, Kirsty/ie (Couldn't you have given your children names I could fucking spell?) or Tom will decide whether the family wishes to link to our site. Our texts are not easy-listening, but you were not an easy man, nor were you in the least afraid of hard books. The Jews sit shiva for seven days. I mourn by casting a white pall over my site. I have unveiled it today, but I'll leave white forever the page that gradually became yours, as my grief over Rose's kidnapping melted into my grief over your lingering death. Dave & Annick may have wondered why I didn't say good-bye to you at eight o'clock on the night you died. I've wondered about it too, and the only answer I can give is taken from the valediction of the last letter our friend John (Please keep your scarf on.) Keats wrote: "I can scarcely bid you good-bye, even in a letter. I always made an awkward bow. God bless you!"
Rose & SAGReiss
Date: 20 September 2010
I had been a little bit concerned about some of the language Rose
was overhearing, but I justified it as strong language used in the
expression of deep emotions at a time of great sorrow. It wasn't
until yesterday evening, when I rejoined Alan's friends &
family after dropping off Rose, that I realized how much everyone
had in fact been restraining himself on account of her presence,
for suddenly people were just screaming: "Shut the fuck up &
eat your supper." The guy who was too drunk to attend supper after
the funeral drunkenly explained to the bartender: "We're just a
bunch of Englishmen mourning our departed English friend." I said:
"You're the only fucking Englishman I see." Anne said: "The rest
of us are mourning Alan, and he was a Scot. I don't know who the
fuck you're mourning." [I launched into a learned discourse on the
volume of a pint, a subject Alan & I had often debated. Anne
said: "Look, I've just burried that bastard. Now don't you get
fucking started." She told the tale of their no doubt sainted
& long-suffering mother inadvertently quoting her husband:
"You piss with the cock you've got," which I guess means in
French: "péter plus haut que son cul," or in American: "Dance
With the One Who Brung Me"] After a trip to the pig farm,
Rose had wanted to drop by at Alan's again. I couldn't remember
the words to Poor Jud
Is Dead, so Rose just kept asking me to sing Joe Hill over &
over again. We walked back to the graveyard with Alan's sister
& two old friends. Rose gathered chestnuts on the way to put
on the grave. The drunk & I discussed the difference between
horse chestnuts, sweet chestnuts, some English shit he called
conkers or something, marrons, & chataignes. Anne pulled a
flask of whisky out of her purse. We all had a drink, and she
poured the rest upon the dirt now covering the coffin. I still
don't know if Rose's maternal grandfather is dead, but
in ten years or so she'll likely only have her paternal
grandmother left. This week-end will have been the beginning of
her learning about death & how to cope with it. I don't think
we did too badly. I've taken today off from work. At supper, after
Rose was gone, we relived old memories of Alan & fresh
memories of his funeral, Rose & Anne dancing the night away
down the sidewalk in front of the hotel as I sang songs for them
to dance to. I explained that I had tried to chase off the priest
three times with yes or no answers to his pestering questions
about Yom Kippur falling on shabbat etc. before finally telling
him to fuck off. No one seemed to think this was too
inappropriate. It wouldn't have been Alan's funeral without some
Date: 20 September 2010
Subject: Une Pierre, Deux Coups
Desole pour le retard, mais les funerailles ont dure deux jours. J'ai encore pris conges de deuil aujourd'hui, et je ne sais pas encore si j'y vais demain. Je crois qu'il n'y a eu qu'un incident entre les filles, mais Dennis & moi ete dehors sur la terasse, donc on ne l'a pas vu. Rose a du pousser Naia ou quelque chose. Elle a du prendre un bon coup, car Naia ne pleure pas pour rien. Je suis vraiment desole. Rose a dit que c'etait un accident, et s'est excusee, mais bon... On l'a grondee quand meme. Effectivement elles jouaient un peu trop fort dans la maison. Tiens-moi au courant si jamais Naia prefere qu'on fasse un break. Elles ont pourtant continue a jouer ensemble apres, et l'on a meme parle de revenir plus tard, si jamais les funerailles etaient trop dures pour Rose. Finalement on est reste, car c'etait important pour nous deux de faire nos adieux a notre ami. Bien sur que c'etait tres eprouvant, mais on ne peut pas proteger nos enfants de la mort. On ne peut que les aider a y faire face. On a beaucoup pleure notre ami defunt. Les deux evenements de cet ete, la lente mort de notre ami & le cruel kidnapping de Rose, se sont confondus dans mon esprit dans une grande douleur de manque. Je ne vais pas regretter l'ete epouvantable de 2010. Je pleure encore.
At 23:56 18-09-10, you wrote:
J'etais desolée de ne pas vous avoir croise cet apresmidi! J'espere que les funerailles n'ont pas ete un moment trop difficile pou Rose.
Je pense que la prochaine fois cela serait mieux si vous veniez l'apres midi (genre a partir de 15h), car avec le marche on est un peu decalé, de plus avec Nans je fais de la natation et on sort de la piscine à 13h30 donc c'est un peu galere pour Denis de vous faire a manger et de s'occuper de ce genre de chose.
Naia m'a beaucoup parle de Rose et du fait que Rose n'avait pas ete tres gentille avec elle aujourd'hui. Elle etait contente d'avoir vu Rose et en meme temps elle ne voulait plus la voir c'etait assez etrange. J'espere que cela se passera mieux la prochaine fois!
allez, Bonne soirée!
Date: 18 September 2010
Subject: Mignonne, allons voir si la rose
Rose has collapsed after a long fucking day. I'm still awake, if
not quite alert. We had a piano lesson in Saint Paul at
eleven. Sara suggested that Alan (whom she didn't know) is among
the angels now. I demurred. Rose managed to transpose Do(e) a Deer
into another key. She's also tried to play it on the black keys,
but that's slightly more complicated. We went to Naia's
farm afterwards. I made a tactical mistake, thinking that
the funeral might be too hard or too long for her to bear, so I
suggested we could come back, if she wanted to leave. I should
have just left that idea in my mind. Rose had no problem with the
funeral, but she did want to go back to Naia's. I had to refuse,
which I don't usually do: "Alan was our friend. He is dead. We
will never have another opportunity to say good-bye to him &
all of his family. We can go see Naia in a fortnight." The service
was good. I had alerted the family to the preacher's guitar playing, so they eliminated that ugly
possibility. [Tom said: "If I see a guitar, I'll break it over his
fucking head."] The service was bilingual (much too much French,
as almost none of the mourners were of that persuasion) &
ecumenical, as an English catholic Dominican monk (arguments about
whether he is a poofter) presided. I later found out he is in fact
a nephew of Alan's, whom I had told: "We [the Jews] would just
like you [the Christians] to leave us the fuck alone." At a
Scottish funeral, this is not even considered bad form. I love the
Scottish people. The first victim occurred at half past seven.
We'd only left the graveyard two hours earlier. He was just
brought into Alan's bedroom (where Rose had just taken a nap)
& put to sleep. Everyone else proceeded to the Cevennes Hotel
for supper. It was wonderful. [Rose called it: "la fête triste
d'Alan".] I met the bad witch (Alan's first wife) and
congratulated her on her courage & wisdom in attending. Alan
hated her, but he would have approved of her attendance. He didn't
want to go out in bitterness. On the other hand Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
was invoked, a cliche that would have infuriated him. He would
have approved of all the late-night drunken squabbling: his
drunken sister insisting that he should not be incinerated in far
off Ales [Anne told me that the city had at first refused to have
him buried because he was not a property owner, then offered him a
temporary place in the pauper's graveyard: "Fine. How temporary?"
"Forty years." "I thought: 'Hell yeah. That's Noa's fucking
problem.'" I said: "Right. Let them fucking call her in Australia
in forty years and ask her to come pick up her grandfather. She'll
just tell the French bastards to fuck off."]; my stubborn refusal
[relenting later, of course, although I didn't hear Dave's message until after the funeral] to set
foot in a heathen temple; everyone's objection to a religious
service for an atheist, who had nevertheless taken comfort in the
religion (and especially the texts) of his boyhood. Alan's brother
& sister were both pretty visibly drunk when we left the
restaurant, but the latter actually accompanied us home. We've
been through a lot together, even if a lot of it was vicarious. I
have probably spent more time with Alan in the past six months
than anyone else. She told me she & Dave were going to get
seriously drunk afterwards. I guess the Scots have a special
definition of drunkenness. There were of course fights about the
presence of Rose (& four-month-old Noa), and my way of
describing events to her. Alan's son Tom & I agreed: "Tell her
the fucking truth." Alan is no more. What remains of him is not
really Alan, but it's in a fucking box that we're going to bury.
The family threw flowers on the box. Rose asked if she could too.
Fortunately she had collected a couple of chestnuts on the way
from the round temple to the cemetery: "You can throw your
chestnuts on his coffin." Those of you who can't read French can
at least appreciate the last word of the first verse of Ronsard's
poem below, which was read at Alan's funeral. In English poetry we
call this mutability.
In plain language we call this death:
Las ! voyez comme en peu d'espace,
Donc, si vous me croyez, mignonne,
Sweetheart, let us see if the Rose
Alas! you see how little time,
So, if you heed me, Sweetheart,
Date: (This message has not been sent.)
Subject: Parting Company: goodbye and good luck
Good day, everyone.
If you are reading this it is because I am dead, to put it bluntly. Lung cancer, much deserved, what with all the millions of fags I have smoked. No mourning, please: raise a glass and think of good times. We're all hanging around in the same station, where the line only goes in one direction, and a lot of good people have caught an earlier train than I did.
I'm writing this so you know I haven't just disappeared from the Net: I have very thoroughly disappeared, I know not where, so there's not much point in replying to this email address. My brother will add a few lines, with details obviously unknown to me at the time of writing. Not much more to say, really. The bell ringeth. I must depart.
love and fond memories
over and out
Date: 13 September 2010
Subject: Our Last Squabble
The hospital called me in the late afternoon to tell me the end
was neigh: "I'll be there in five minutes." I don't know how they
got my number, maybe I gave it to them, maybe they got it off
Alan's iphone, maybe they just looked in the white pages. I called
Dave from the room. He said he'd be there in an hour. They were in
Nimes. Alan woke up considerably when his bro arrived. We called
his son & his daughter, and Alan told them he was dying. I
left at eight. Dave's wife left me a message at eleven that he was
gone. I went to Marie's this morning, as I doubted anyone would
think to inform her. She blamed me for not calling her last night.
I didn't mention that Alan had asked me not to. Let death be our
last squabble. There may be a row about funeral arrangements: "I
don't know if Dave will want to be bothered with the Temple."
"That's what Alan would have wanted." "Alan's dead."
Date: 12 September 2010
Subject: Oh My Black Soul
Went to the Round Temple, which it turns out is called the Reformed Evangelical Church of Saint John of Maruejols & Avejan. They've got a site (with ads), but nothing of interest. My pic of the horses looks better than theirs. Inside it's ugly whitewashed roundness and of course miked up when Rose could easily project her voice in the tiny space. The new pastor plays the guitar. It's as horrible as it sounds. Except in the Near East, no one seems to have understood that the more they dumb down their religions, the emptier the pews will be. A newage, feelgood, Hallmark-greeting-card religion set to shameful attempts at popular music will be about as meaningful to people's lives as Hallmark greeting cards. I had to sit through half an hour of the service. At least the preacher is a seasoned public speaker. Why is it that lawyers can't seem to learn what priests, politicians, & talk-show hosts do? After the Eucharist thing (I didn't think to ask if Rose would be allowed to participate.) the pastor walked right up to me and we shook hands. I told him I came on behalf of a dying man: "Monsieur Lothian?" "Yes." Someone had already got to him, so he had visited Alan on Thursday, but I encouraged him to return soon, while it's still time. The nurses don't know how long he can drag it out. It does seem sad. Chemotherapy is bullshit. If they can't operate, and radiation don't work, just go home & die in sin while you're still able to. I read him some of Donne's sonnets, Batter my heart, Death, be not proud, Spit in my face, you Jews, O, my black soul, I am a little world made cunningly. I sang Auld Lang Syne in a broken tenor. I won't bring Rose back unless she really insists. There's no one left to see.
Date: 11 September 2010
Subject: Bloody Hell
I told Alan a possibly apocryphal anecdote about Victor Hugo, author of the great Note Dame de Paris & a lot of bad poetry. Only the French think it's poetry, because they don't read English, German, Russian (I assume.), or ancient Greek poetry. They might read Latin poetry, but that isn't very good either. Anyway, Hugo wrote long & a lot, so one night at a dinner party the younger poets were complaining about his ongoing dominance of the literary scene: "J'aurai bientôt fini d'encombrer l'horizon," a fine Alexandrine, if you go for that kind of thing: 2/2/2||3/3. Like Pope, he lisped in numbers. It's hard to watch Alan for any length of time now. He's barely in control of either mind or body, wracked in pain, wasting away. He'll die of hunger or despair before Tina the Tumor can kill him. I don't think I'll have to make a decision about whether to let Rose see him again. I don't think he'll last the week. Maybe we can sing Amazing Grace for him in the Round Temple. As annoying as Judaism can be, it's good that so many rules apply to hard times like birth & marriage & death. It's comforting to know what one is expected to do. It eases the burden of decision making at times when one can't really make smart decisions. And I'll never forget that even my uncle Nicky, who is a maniacally religious little prick, gave comfort to my grandmother (no relation of his) when she had suddenly lost her husband. He didn't seem to care that no one was obeying all of the 613 laws.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
a life of joy and peace.
"Bloody hell," murmured Alan. "Yes, my friend. You aren't far
from bloody hell."
Date: 10 September 2010
Subject: Going Home
"He would be better off dead." Harsh words, but this is a man
(Alex, husband of Greer the pottery lady) who sailed to Viet Nam
as a boy, got doused with Napalm, decades later had twenty
cancerous lymph nodes removed from his neck, which I don't really
understand (although Joy
might) but it can't be a good thing. In Nam I guess people had to
make decisions like that on a minute-by-minute basis: "He's too
far gone. Fuck him. Give him a flag, and put him in a box." Alan
is going fast. His mind is in and out, mostly in but deeply
fatigued. His body is more eroded than present, even if he's only
lost ten or fifteen kilos. I managed to get him connected to the
internet, and showed him the pictures of Rose's Birthday Bash to cheer
him up. That'll boost my hit count. I'll go back tomorrow, for we
couldn't figure out how to charge his iphone. I'll take it to the
Macintosh shop. His brother Dave will be back on Sunday. His son
has left, but I guess his daughter might be coming back. How many
trips can they make? I asked him if there was anything he wanted
before he dies, as there is little doubt in anyone's mind that
that's soon to pass. He couldn't think of anything, except going
home, which is now impossible.
Date: 6 September 2010
Subject: We are Seven
Then did the little Maid reply,
"Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree."
Rose descends on one side of her family from Jewish peasants who walked out of Europe with fake passports & without shoes. She has already seen a lot of sorrow. She is not weak. No one shall be sheltered from death. We live (or pretend to live) in an antiseptic environment. It is a lie, mendacity, as Big Daddy would say. Alan taught us (all of us) a more beautiful version of "Round & round the mulberry bush". He was a good friend to us for too short a time. Two hundred years ago, when Bill Wordsworth wrote the verses above, children knew death intimately. They watched most of their brothers & sisters die of horrible, lingering diseases in the next room, if not in the same room. They saw their parents slaughter the animals they were to eat, if they were lucky enough to eat meat. Jewish children do not read bowdlerized versions of the Bible, which is a book full of death, a book written essentially to represent life, and to come to terms with death. Most of our friends' parents, Madeline mother of Clovis, Father of Sam, Hind & Dennis parents of Naia, Jean father of Marie, Julia & Cliff parents of Archie, do not talk down to their children. Deictics or shifters (& look it up, if you don't know what the fucking word means) need to be learned. They are the hardest words in any language. We don't need dumbed-down shit here. When Alan dies, we'll listen to Mozart's Requiem played, not on a synthesized xylophone, but by a symphony orchestra. Rose & I will sing it, in Latin. I will try to convince her mother to allow her to attend the funeral in the round Temple. Death, be not proud, motherfucker.
At 11:06 6-09-10, you wrote:
I am very sorry about your friend Alan dying. It must have been hard for Rose to see him that way.
I try to imagine how my brother Isaac is reacting to his wife Betty dying of the same disease. They have given up on all the therapies, radiation, Chemotherapy and Biological therapies; they seem to be more harmful that helpful; Isaac is just waiting for her to die. He hired a caregiver to live in their house. I have no idea what to say to him when I call him
Date: 5 September 2010
Subject: Adieu, Alan, Adieu
Oh, & I forgot. I know I'm spamming you, motherfuckers, but a
man is dying, and we are not insensitive to this fact. Rose, who
apparently has her priorities straight, took her piano lesson,
where she was too tired (She rose me at six this morning after a
long day.) to do much, but we still got through Do(e) a Deer a few
times, Old Macdonald's Farm once, Jingle Bells sort of, and some
good play time. We ate the leftover falafel & meatballs with
green beans, tomatoes, olives, & onions, as I drank the white
wine, with goat cheese, bananas, & leftover birthday cake for
dessert. Next I thought a nap might be appropriate (for both of
us), but she wanted to hunt down Sam & find out why he hadn't
attended her Birthday
Bash, so I said OK, with little hope of finding them, since
they're usually sleeping. I suggested afterwards a visit to the
park, where Clemence might be, or a stop by Alan's at the local
hospital, which is really a retirement home. She chose Alan's
first, so I began to explain that he is very ill, dying. She said
she didn't want him to die. I agreed. When we got to room 233 he
was more or less sleeping. He stirred when we whispered. Rose
asked me if this was Alan: "This is the little that remains of
him." He was gracious enough to make sure his body was covered,
but there was no way to cover the bruises all over his arms from
the massive IVs he's had, nor the emaciated state of his body. He
couldn't talk, except in a whisper, not incoherent, but defeated.
He was more fun when he was incoherent. We went to see the nurses.
I noted that he had gone very far down since his arrival on
Thursday. The nurse bent down to Rose's level & suggested she
might ask him to eat. When we got back to the room, Rose needed no
encouragement about what language to speak: "Are you hungry,
Alan?" He said something I couldn't discern. Weeping, I read Proverbs 17 from the lovely leather King
James his drunken sister had left him. Rose was a little disturbed
to see me crying. I usually cry when she is not here. I stopped at
17:6 to ask her to listen. When we were done, I grabbed his hand,
and told him to hang on as long as he could. I don't really know
if it's better to go out gently or raging. He
mumbled something in Italian: "Sxxx bene," which I suggested to
Rose might mean "farewell" or "good-bye". A closer translation
would probably be: "Adieu."
Date: 21 August 2010
Subject: The Breakdown of Consciousness
To change the subject a little I asked Alan if he had ever read The
Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.
He said he had, so I countered with an argument recently made by
some American philosopher called Dan or Dennis or something
and possibly teaching at Dartmouth, adding a few improvisations of
my own. A conventional computer is a serial processor that gives
the impression of performing parallel processing. Could the mind
not be a parallel processor that gives the impression
(consciousness) of performing serial processing? The mind receives
huge amounts of information (primarily from the five senses) &
processes it simultaneously, but it also filters the results &
weaves them into a sequential narrative, essentially a first
person singular autobiographical novel, more or less fictional
depending on the person. It need not necessarily be so simple. In
the case of religious experience, the narrative may be part first
person singular, part second person singular, since God says:
"Thou". In the case of severe personality disorder there may be
more than one human narrator, as in Hitchcock's Psycho. Anyway our
friendly neighborhood psycho (Alan, not C the G, who could hardly
be described as friendly, and whom I would describe as a
sociopath) has calmed down, but continues to suffer
hallucinations, which at least he recognizes as such. He still
won't eat, and dozed off during our visit. I recharged his iphone
and drove home.
Date: 18 August 2010
Subject: MRI am hungry!
This is your mind deprived of oxygen. Signifier sans signified. I
could hear the charm, the loquacious eloquence, the historical
& literary allusions in three languages, but the long
perorations made no sense at all, unlovely jibberish. Alan had
simply lost control of his mind. I asked him if he realized he was
incoherent, and he said he did, but could do nothing about it. [He
recognized my allusion to Sam "Bam" Johnson's
sickbed lucidity.] I went to get a nurse. They were eating lunch:
"Bon appetit. You may not be aware of this, but the gentleman in
305 is a man of vast erudition who speaks three languages, and he
is utterly incoherent." "We know." "And this doesn't worry you?"
They told me to talk to the doc[tor]. I repeated the same speech
to the doc. She told me that's why a brain scan had been
scheduled, but here comes this nurse's aide saying he doesn't want
to take him to the radiology because he was raving. (One has to
remain still for a couple of minutes.) Tense negotiations ensued.
The doctor suggested I tag along to calm him down, so the scan was
happily performed. He isn't eating. [He recognized my allusion to
without dining".] He looks like a skeleton. I think he's a goner.
Date: 9 August 2010
Subject: The Glory of Children
Mr P seems adept at the rhetorical device the French know as
antithesis. It's of course more fun when, as often in these
verses, there is little or no semantic relation between the
parallel propositions, in Hebrew separated by a physical caesura.
Followers of your faith are more fond of the syllogism, which they
borrowed from the Greeks, stealing teleology from the Jews in
order to turn the so-called Old Testament into a prequel to the
tale of Joshua, as I mentioned to you yesterday. In any case, one
can basically do the same thing with a syllogism, by making the
minor unrelated to the major, and dispensing with the conclusion
altogether, in order to create what Joy's husband thing (with
respect to Bill Blake & our friend Job)
recently called "lovely jibberish [sic]" in a particularly happy
phrase. In any case, I'll take a cup of 17:6 "Children's
children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are
their fathers." Now everyone seems to translate the second
proposition in the plural, by association perhaps with the
complement "children" [or the predicate "fathers"] rather
than in agreement with the subject "glory". In Hebrew this would
not matter, since the copula is suppressed in the present
indicative. However, as it turns out, In this phrase all of the
words are plural, the text reading more literally: "and glories
[or beauties or honors] children [or sons] fathers". [Glory, by
the way, being the fifth sphere of the ten on the cabalalistic tree of life.]
At 07:43 9-08-10, you wrote:
On 7 Aug 2010, at 10:22, Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss wrote:
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Indeed they do. It is not generally understood that the Proverbial writer was in fact describing to his client base his new and very subtle sort algorithm. They told him it would never catch on, to which the Proverbialist merely pointed to III; 13. Been there, done that. It all boils down to T-shirt slogan philosophy,as Mr P makes sadly clear in XIV throughout but especially v.33. It was this manner of thinking that led to the need for a new sort algorithm in the first place.
Thanks for the words of wisdom, if not solace, bro.
Solace is not so easily to be had. With XVII;7, itself a sign of bitter but increasing urgency, Mr P at last gave up. As the ink in his porcupine-quill (are such kosher? Hmmm. If you don't chew the quill?) dried into a forlorn black powder in the heat of the Judaean Wilderness, there was little to add. Time for Mr P to hie him down to the Dead Sea and a few cold ones with his old mates.
It is, as the ground-breaking and somewhat surprising collaboration between de Lisle, Grossneck and Snickersaltz (Würzburg, 1923 op. cit.) has made deafeningly clear, unwise to rely too much on the Proverbialist's apparent sequentialism. Merely because in the vitiated mss that have survived, stained with cold ones as may be, the need for that new sort algorithm becomes abundantly clear. The dreadful ad hominem arguments put about by Snickersaltz's enemies, of whom there were, alas, many, should of course be ignored as a shame and embarrassment to the great public structure of Occidental learned discourse which is only very rarely used as a "facility" in downtown Istanbul. I discuss this myself in one of my many monographs; if the Emperor Alexius could only see it now, eh? (Let it never be said that post-biblical scholars lack a sense of the fitness of things.) Besides, none of Snickerstaltz's detractors had the slightest experience of Turkish tramboys; had it been otherwise, the lad known only to history as Yusuf might have led them, and not that fine German scholar, to the long-lost Tomb of the Scorpion. Which was of course never a tomb, and with no proven associations with.... what sort of jacket is it that has the sleeves tied together at the front? My dear sir, there's no need arf arf splutter
<KEYBOARD NO LONGER FUNCTIONAL.
PRESS F2 TO CONTINUE>
Date: 31 July 2010
Subject: Re: How goes it?
Sorry, man. The powers that be bow down to my wife that was, and in her infinite wisdom (or else out of fear of another visit from the local gendarmes) she deigned to bequeath me my daughter on 23 July. Since then my father will tell you that he can't keep up with me, and I can't keep up with her. We've been swimming, climbing trees, running the cobblestone streets, terrorizing the shopkeepers, & eating lots of picnics. I wanted to call you, but couldn't seem to find the time. Today we had a piano lesson, lunch at the pig farm, then a swim in the river. Tomorrow we're off to an arts & crafts festival, if I can only find the mysterious village where Greer & Alex invited us. Rose leaves us on Monday, my father on Tuesday. The judge's verdict falls on Friday. I will drive to the courthouse to pick it up, then pick up Rose again, if so wish the gods. One way or another, things will be back to normal next week-end, so we can meet up on Saturday, if you are feeling ambulant. I wonder how the neighboring madman chose his words.
At 18:25 31-07-10, you wrote:
With things nasty? Ou sont les antans de femme, eh? Or riddle me ree.
I'd hoped to see you around this weekend (Lyons wouldn't let me out last weekend, due to infections etc etc and other etceteras; wouldn't even let me stay in nice "hotel" but whisked me, drip-fed, to hospital chambre which I had to share with an authentic madman. An expression I do not use lightly.
They let me out this weekend, though. I got back aux Vans to find tidal wave of family (basically the Italy mob) on converging course; coming week Monday-Friday is last of current course. Family departs Monday although Kirsty's long swinging orbit brings her back here fairly soon.
May or may not see you around tomorrow; if not, then from following Friday afternoon. Barring unforeseen nasties, I will return here late lunchtime 6 Aug. Suffering from post-chemo exhaustion but hoffentlich no worse. However, I do tend to fall asleep very easily.
Of maladies, enough.
Date: 16 July 2010
Subject: Truth & Beauty
If you are the least interested in trying to understand, rather
than to condemn out of aggressive philistine ignorance, you might
take a look at this simple, but poignant, example of how we have
been working for the past fifteen years. One person's innocuous
comment on Facebook leads to the remembrance of a forgotten poem,
which is then rewritten to fit current circumstances ("context"),
which leads to the discovery of an unknown image & piece of
music, and the memory (as I wrote the date) of C the G's birthday.
If you do not find this beautiful, then I think you are too old,
too ill, &/or too uneducated to recognize truth & beauty.
Has found out thy bed
William Blake, Songs of Experience (1794)
Joy: is disappointed in the appalling shallow (mis)interpretation of William Blake @ Wikipedia. Context may, in fact, be important. *sigh*
Jason: Just checked it. Agreed.
Roby: You know you can fix that if you want to.
Joy: Yeah, we did, a little. Considering it a work in progress, but a daunting task nonetheless.
SAGReiss: Bill Blake, the poet? This guy: "Tyger Tyger, burning bright,/In the forests of the night:/What immortal hand or eye,/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
16 July 2010 (Happy birthday, Sweetheart.)
Joy: You could always check out the entry and find out.
SAGReiss: Indeed I did before I answered. I don't see
what's bothering you, although I must admit I didn't read
every word of the long article, nor is this the poet I
know best. Could you give us a hint?
Date: 16 July 2010
Subject: The Sick Rose
Joy scolded me again today on Facebook, basically telling me to RTFM. I'm happy to be chided, especially when (as in this case) the upshot is a new song, two new songs actually, one forgotten, one never heard, The Sick Rose by Bill Blake & Ben Britten (still downloading), which comes to me with a new meaning born of a change in context. You'll find the songs (text reworked for the occasion, music, & illustration) on The Revenger's Tragedy page in a few hours, depending on download speed. I love BitTorrent.
Date: 14 July 2010
Subject: Pascal's Wager
Our friend Pascal had, as you know, a mind few have ever been in
a position not to envy, yet here he is performing simple risk
analysis. Think of it this way, you might, on the one hand, have
sniffed out an overwrought internet wanker who holds too high an
opinion of himself, which is probably the same conclusion a
billion other anglophones would come to if they read my "blog", as
some are wont to call it. On the other hand, you may, in your
dotage, have by a host of happenstance stumbled upon the future of
English literature, something a man who plays Wagner for money
recently called: "combining music, literature, and inceste into a
perverse and glorious Gesamtkunstwerk". Yes, we have
soaring ambitions, and why shouldn't we? Please remember that one
poofter, Gide (not to name the guilty party), made a fool of
himself forever when he couldn't be bothered ("arsed", as you
would say) to sift through fifty pages of another poofter's
whining about his mother's kiss. It's not like you haven't got the
time or the education to read what half a dozen men & women of
similar erudition have been working on for fifteen years. It would
be odd to the point of impossibility that the internet, the most
Promethean invention in information technology since the printing
press, democratizing writing as the latter democratized reading,
would not create new genres of literature, as Gutenberg's baby
killed the illuminated manuscript, while giving birth to and
ultimately promoting the novel over poetry & theater. Rose
will find it odd that we in the twentieth century actually read
books without images, without music, in a sequential, linear
format of paper pages glued together that wouldn't even let us
click around and read in whatever order we wished. She will not
understand why books had only one author, one language, why they
were closed, written in stone as it were & inhospitable to
updates. It will seem as natural to her to write on our pages as
it was for Natalie Cole to sing with her [dead] father thirty
years after he sang "Unforgettable".
Date: 13 July 2010
Subject: Re: Pedagogy & the Effet de Reel
Insolence, arrogance, and bad manners, well, I have never claimed the contrary. I am an educated American Jew, and that will have to do. As you know (or at least I've told you so), I befriended you on my father's behalf, and have helped you because you were in need of help. I need, nor want, nor have, nor have ever had, any friends. They seem superfluous to me. Sybille Bedford is indeed a good writer, although some of her words (placement of adverbs & such) make me wonder (although that's not necessarily a bad thing), but she has the mind of a thirteen-year-old girl. I don't care where she spent her endless vacations. I have no interest in her spiteful back-stabbings of old friends. I think she had what you accused Proust of having, poofter-disease. You are an educated drinking buddy, which seems about right to me. On the contrary you should be honored to be vaguely associated with the members of my World, who are quite transparent on the page of that name, if you would be so kind as to take a look. They are one or another better writers, better mathematicians, & all better musicians than you. I hope you do not die without having written the books you think you could have written. I know I will not do so. I have already done it. That you do not understand is your problem. I guess you're back in Les Vans. Let's meet for lunch tomorrow. My whole family is here, except the hostess with the mostest, Rose, who I hope will bless us with her divine presence in the Christian month of August. Otherwise, fuck you too, bro.
At 20:34 13-07-10, you wrote:
On 12 Jul 2010, at 16:29, Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss wrote:
Here's the printable version in case you get bored.
I am not bored, Scott. I am simply disgusted. There are limits to what may be achieved by insolence, arrogance and sheer bad manners and you have reached and exceeded all these limits. I have no, rpt no, interest in a "printable version", whatever that may mean.
I am particularly pissed off by your use of your hidden audience, always concealed beyond what passes for your "footlights". I suppose this darked-out mutual masturbation society must exist, but I may be under-rating your powers of invention.
I leave your spew of ill-thought, posturing vanity -- a vanity that might be awe-inspiring were it not constructed on the worst sort of electronic clay; as it is, it is merely vanity at once grossly self- serving and grossly un-self-observing -- to be its own delight to you in these hours of need.
One more email like that, though, and
my system goes to auto, which is probably what I should have done
anyway. This is no time to be losing friends but by God you know
how to work at it. You are, as the saying goes, "losing it", and
losing it "big time." It might be a good idea to stop.
Date: 12 July 2010
Subject: Pedagogy & the Effet de Reel
At lunch with Alan I was explaining the "effet de reel", with which he
wasn't familiar, and it occurred to me that it isn't merely an
artistic tool, but also a pedagogical one. The written word,
fiction or non-fiction, you know I couldn't care less about that
distinction without a difference, never conveys any reality. It
never hits any of our senses (unless we're blind) except sight,
indeed making the most limited use possible of that apparatus. Yet
it may, in the hands of a skilled artist who is so inclined, seem
real, give the appearance of reality, affect our mind's eye, ear,
nose, mouth, & touch. Reality, on the other hand, is in some
sense real. It does affect our senses (almost) directly, causing
pleasure or more often pain. Yet this same real reality also
appears real, most of the time at least. And as I present this
reality to Rose, last month & I hope next month, I seek to
find the effet de reel in our daily life, the detail (color,
sound, correspondence) that makes this particular reality seem
real, makes it particular, makes it memorable. Alan is, as is my
family, brain-dead to this endeavor that we have been working on
for the past fifteen years. It's one thing to use the internet,
which they all do. It's another to understand the theoretical
implications of it. As I explained, our site is a dialogue,
between us for the moment, but with plenty of unpredictable
metadata, such as the court documents that may pop up in the near
future. Moreover, it will someday become, in twenty years or so,
when I (if I am still alive) or one of you hand over the password
to Rose, a family dialogue between her & her father, as she
reacts to what I've written, corrects my mistakes, completes my
thoughts [adds her own, creates new pages, respects or revolts
against the color scheme, in short makes it her own]. Twenty years
after that, if she has children, she can in turn pass it on to
them, and this will become our family heirloom, our interactive,
polyglot, history, the autobiography of our World.
Date: 6 July 2010
Subject: Street Theater with Polices
The three girls (Deborah, Lucie, & a wench I don't know) by
turns wailed & screamed. Well, at first they just told the
pigs they didn't know where Rose & her mother were. But when
three cops ask to enter the house & take a look around,
sometimes people change their minds, which is what happened in
this case. C the G was back in a flash, and the wild rumpus
started. She raged, screamed, wept, swore, smoked, while I just
smoked silently, keeping a safe distance. There were moments it
looked as if a physical confrontation with one of the Gendarmes
was not far [off]. When she went inside, they watched the back
door. In short, she refused, and refuses, to give me my daughter.
I have to admit I was expecting something like this. The lady
Gendarme, who didn't accompany us, had hinted that she might just
not open the door, but that's not her style. She was in her
street-theater glory as neighbors stopped by, even the forgotten drunken undertaker,
who is not unknown to the forces of order. After an hour and a
half of this loud madness, everyone was immediately convoked to
the Gendarmerie of Largentiere. I had to go get my Israeli
passport first, which turns out to be expired since 2006. By the
time I got there, the cops had gone away to a traffic accident,
something C the G oddly said she knew about. For, at this time, we
found ourselves alone together in this tiny waiting room. We could
smell each other. I have to admit, she was in good form, and was
about to hit her second wind, after our down time together. The
only thing is I would have preferred a bathing suit for comic
effect, rather than having to look at her undies bunch up her ass
under the clingy white shorts for the second straight day. Her
hair is beautiful. Her tits are larger. Altogether, still a good
fuck, as I told her on the night of 2-3 July 2007. They called her in for
an interview first, and I could hear her screaming, then
surprisingly the cop screaming back, her weeping... Then they
called me in. I just told the same story again, answered a few
questions about her bizarre allegations, which will be dealt with
in front of the judge on 22 July, and had no choice but to leave
with little hope of seeing Rose before 2 August or some faraway
week-end in September. As I told the cop who interviewed me:
"Assuming everything goes my way, which might be expected after
today's circus, I'll be right back here on 2 August asking you
once again to enforce the law. The new decision will be no more
legally binding than the current one."
Date: 5 july 2010
Subject: No Solace for the Damned
Gratiana: Are you so barbarous to set iron nipples
Upon the breast that gave you suck?
Vindici: That breast
Is turned to quarled poison.
Gratiana: Cut not your days for't: am not I your mother?
Vindici: Thou dost usurp that title now by fraud,
For in that shell of mother breeds a bawd.
The Revenger's Tragedy, IV.iv
Mid-morning it occurred to my disturbed brain to wonder what C
the G might wear to the audience, knowing, as did I, that nothing
would happen except an adjournment & since this is summer that
the judge wouldn't even be the same one we'll see when we're
playing for money. I thought she might go for the throat with her
Whore of Babylon
scarlet dress, the one she wore the last time we met in that same
courtroom, actually just a tiny little office called the
Bibliotheque, where everyone is far too close together. Given how
wild C the G looked & sounded, I think it might be more
appropriate to put us in cages next time. She can spit at me
through the bars. My lawyer, who is now openly hostile to me, just
asked for a week or two, which we were granted, while asking the
judge to note that the current decision is (or should be)
enforceable in the meantime. The judge confirmed, so C the G asked
to speak. The judge said: "No, you can speak on 22 July." C the G
spoke anyway, squawking that she would never give Rose to me,
which is odd, since has always done so in the past, except once.
The judge told her to shut up and obey the law, or face the
consequences. I think she prefers the latter, and I'm not really
sure there will be any. We'll find out tomorrow morning, as I try
to convince the police to go get Rose. I don't know how likely
that is to happen. She is really getting fat, although her tits
are swelling in proportion. She needs to find some new underwear
to wear under those clingy summer shorts. If I can't get Rose in
July, I'll just ask for August, as the decision should fall about
the first of the month. I'm sorry. This text is no good. I'll try
to do better tomorrow.
Date: 5 July 2010
Subject: Uccellatore vs Reiss
In the final analysis what I have done is to set the problem of
life vs art on its head in order to use life as the support medium
Date: 2 July 2010
Subject: Howl, Howl, Howl, Howl, Motherfuckers!
Vindice: Oh fie, fie, that's the wrong end my lord! 'Tis mere impossible that a mother by any gifts should become a bawd to her own daughter!
The Revenger's Tragedy, I.iii
C the G greeted me with her fat belly, sunglasses, her eldest
daughter, & a couple of the latter's sleazy friends. She told
me Rose was with her mother's friends, possibly Olivier &
Beatrice Dupont of Namur, Belgium (May their souls be damned.) in
a rented bungalow "somewhere in France". The cop (unfortunately
let it slip that: "elle est pas loin" & then "in Lablachere",
but how the fuck does he know that? Because the recidivist author
of a penal offense in commission told him so on the phone? Would
it not be prudent to check? He didn't seem to think that
necessary, and so my mother, Antistrophe, & I wait until
Monday, when nothing will happen anyway. Justice is not only
blind; it is also slow as death. The bastard took the complaint,
which is only doing his fucking job & not further depriving me
& Rose of our rights. I will post my complaint, although it's
nothing of interest from a literary point of view, and our conclusions,
which may be (depending on what my lawyer does with the text I
wrote, if anything), when that seems prudent, or possibly before
such a time. For the moment, I can only utter a few rhyming words
of wrath: bitch, bawd, whore
of Babylon, begone from this Earth, and spare it (and us) of
Date: 28 June 2010
Subject: My Friend Charles
Thanks for all of the suggestions, but I've opted for a short
piece by my favorite composer & homestate buddy Charles Ives,
Halloween in Pete
Boulez' version, not that I had any choice about the latter.
It's good for people with diminished attention spans, fits our
mood, and gives a nice understanding of the man's music. The
string parts sound as if the first & second violinists were
trying to gouge each other's eyes out with their bows, and
eye-gouging is very Jacobean, although Shakes had no great
aversion to it, as witnessed in King Lear, but his plays are
mostly undatable. Indeed the theatres may have had to be closed
after John Ford,
even if the Puritans hadn't taken power, as the snuff flick was
about to be invented onstage. At one minute it sounds like a fight
broke out in the bar, and bodies are falling across the keyboard.
At 1:30 the drunks seem to turn their interest to a drumset
discovered when someone collapsed behind the piano. Since it's
often associated with the Outdoor Tone Pieces or Three Places in
New England, this might not be exactly what Chas had in mind, but
we agree on the main bits. In my research I discovered that the
"heart attacks" that debilitated him at forty were actually
psychological in nature, a scary thought. A great mind burnt out
by thinking too hard, and a living corpse left to rot for another
forty years. Of course, Chas was burning the candle at both ends,
writing insurance policies during the day and music at night. He
married late, but there's no note that they had any children. I
had thought of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, but it doesn't stand
up to repeated listenings. It was used in the Exorcist, but that
would seem like ancient history to Rose. Although the film had an
impact on me, and I've walked that stairwell in Georgetown, I was
ten when it was made, and I never saw it, as I'm afraid of horror
movies. Life is bad enough without them.
Date: 25 June 2010
Subject: May Heads Roll
Most of you are musicians, and those who are not understand contemporary popular music better than I, so I will ask you to please download the following ZIP archive:
I tried to listen to these eleven songs, but could not bear to
hear more than thirty seconds of any one of them. Is this music as
horribly bad as I think it is? Techno in the eighties was awful,
but we only had to listen to it when we were drunk, and we were
just trying to get laid anyway. A discotheque is not exactly a
concert hall. This music sounds as if it had been composed &
performed by a computer, and I wouldn't expect much of a 'puter
trying to write poetry. Or, if you can't be bothered to listen to
this worthless tripe, could you please suggest music associated
with the revenge theme (or the silkworm theme) or indeed any music
that might illustrate the bloodthirsty genre of Jacobean tragedy
that Marcel Schwob has so beautifully described. Carmina Burana
would be an obvious choice, but that's been done so many times,
best by our friend Pete Paul Pasolini. I
can't even find what fucking music Visconti used in his 1961 film
of John Ford's 'Tis
a Whore, which approaches our target in both time &
feeling, not to mention sex & death. [Inceste replaces necrophilia
in the thematic structure, while the impaled heart of Annabella
replaces the skull of Gloriana as a prop.] Basically what we're
looking for is rape & murder, heads will roll. Has not Shosti
done this on a day when he wasn't feeling well? Or someone else?
Date: 22 June 2010
Subject: The Revenge Paradox
A short word on our new theme. Last year Naia's family had some silkworms, an age-old tradition in Ardony where they eat blackberry leaves. Apparently conditions were ripe, for the five cases of worms pictured are the result of the eggs (or larvae or whatever the fuck it's called) of the one case we saw last year. When I saw the magnanery, I wanted to take pictures, and the verse of Tourneur (I hadn't yet heard of the Middleton attribution.) came to mind. The title, lurid style, & gory plot brought my mind back to my woes, so before the pics were even taken the page had already taken shape in my mind. Whether the title should be interpreted according to the esthetic or vulgar meaning of the word "tragedy" will depend on whether the outcome is paradoxical for C the G (She wants me to be unfathered, but may have unwittingly given me the opportunity to obtain shared custody.) or catastrophic for Rose (if I am indeed unfathered, which is highly unlikely). I've found the film from Liverpool, but it is utterly unwatchable, like a 105-minute music video. I'm trying to download the soundtrack by Chumbawamba, but having no luck. I'd be willing to buy it, but not for sixty-five pounds sterling. And they wonder why we share. Once again, congratulations Murder & Molly. May you never fight a custody battle. That leaves only negatron & Nichelle bachelor(ette)s. I guess Miss Limeblossom is the next lucky lady. Nichelle, any wooers coming your way?