[narcissism, vanity, exhibitionism, ambition, vanity, vanity, vanity]
He crossed the Danube on his cloak ...
"Legend has it that he was the son of a king, from Dacia or Denmark, who married a French princess in Paris. During the wedding night, the story goes, he was afflicted with a sense of profound unworthiness. Today, he is supposed to have said to his bride, our bodies are adorned, but tomorrow they will be food for worms. Before the break of day, he fled, making a pilgrimage to Italy, where he lived in solitude until he felt the power to work miracles arising within him [...] and went over the Alps to Germany. At Regensburg he crossed the Danube on his cloak, and there made a broken glass whole again; and, in the house of a wheelwright too mean to spare the kindling, lit a fire with icicles. This story of the burning of the frozen substance of life has, of late, meant much to me, and I wonder now whether inner coldness and desolation may not be the precondition for making the world believe, by a kind of fraudulent showmanship, that one's own wretched heart is still aglow." -- W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
"Method of this project: literary montage. I need not say anything. Merely show. I shall purloin no valuables, appropriate no ingenious formulation. But the rags, the refuse -- these I will not inventory but allow, in the only way possible, to come into their own: by making use of them." -- Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project
Twelve thousand words into a new novel and I'm at the first serious tangle. There's a fragile madness to starting books. This time around I'm struck less by the madness -- I've been here before -- than by the fragility. The story's just a bubble until it's real.
Back when the idea of a listserv was still interesting enough for me to spend time on one, someone posted Sartre's Lost Cookbook.
I have realized that the traditional omelet form (eggs and cheese) is bourgeois. Today I tried making one out of cigarettes, some coffee, and four tiny stones. I fed it to Malraux, who puked.
Fifteen years on, it still makes me laugh. Wish I knew who wrote it. Er, maybe that's the point.
Egypt Cuts Ties With Louvre Over Stolen Antiquities
CAIRO -- Egypt's antiquities czar took his campaign to recover the nation's lost treasures to a new level on Wednesday by cutting ties with one of the world's premier museums, the Louvre, over disputed artifacts.
Scroll down: The Dendera zodiac, the focus of my new book, THE ZODIAC OF PARIS, with Jed Z. Buchwald, is among the disputed items.
Guys and Dolls
I have grown mighty tired of books written for children. Magic Treehouse, I love you, but I just can't read any more saccharine escapist fantasies involving magic wands and wizards.
So MJ and I have switched Jane's bedtime reading to something edgier.
Damon Runyon's Omnibus, in fact.
This decision has not been without consequences.
Tonight, while we are eating dinner, MJ asks Jane about a new teacher at school. What's she like? Is she tall or short? Mean or nice? Old or young?
"I will give you a hint," Jane says, in a tone that I can only call Runyonesque. "She is not young."
And I realize that, in Runyon's sentences, "you moron" is the perpetual unspoken subordinate clause.
If I have all the tears that are shed on Broadway by guys in love, I will have enough salt water to start an opposition ocean to the Atlantic and Pacific, with enough left over to run the Great Salt Lake out of business. But I wish to say I never shed any of these tears personally, because I am never in love, and furthermore, barring a bad break, I never expect to be in love, for the way I look at it love is strictly the old phedinkus, and I tell the little guy as much. -- Damon Runyon
Ears to Hear
"What we ask of writers is that they guarantee survival of what we call human in a world in which everything appears inhuman [...] Literature is like an ear that can hear beyond the understanding of the language of politics." -- Italo Calvino, The Uses of Literature.