8 January 2013

Squirrel, Uselessness, Pony Express

Filed under: Fiction, Reflections — ktismatics @ 7:43 pm

1. In my O’Gandhi novel I included an episode about removing a dead raccoon from the main character’s chimney, a fictional event based closely on real life. Again yesterday, several years later, we had to call an animal removalist, though this time it was a live squirrel. I won’t write this one up, but I will note that the tactical equipment included a green cloth grocery sack, two blue rags, and a bottle a chloroform. “Good boy,” the removalist complimented the still-very-alert squirrel while tossing it over the back porch railing.

2. Daughter Kenzie has been rewriting a novel she originally wrote during 2011 NaNoWriMo. Here’s a bit of dialogue from the work in progress, tentatively entitled The Sin Aesthetic:

“What do you mean,” she inquired, “when you say you wonder if art should be useful?”

“Only that some things are more enjoyable if they are of no practical value. The beauty of a portrait is not its ability to make a profit unless it is of very poor quality indeed. Its beauty is much more reliant on its sheer implausibility and impracticality. Few people in reality pose the way they do in paintings of themselves, but the discrepancy often heightens their portrait’s quality. I find that use tends to cheapen art horribly.”

Lucia thought that Mr Fenmore looked rather like some idealized portrait as he lounged upon his sofa, and she found herself hoping that he was a perfectly useless individual.     

“Is this a commonly held opinion in Apollyn, Mr Fenmore?”

He chuckled softly. “I am uncertain that it has occurred to the majority of genteel Apollynians that there is any use beyond beauty. It may not be a subject on which most people have an opinion, since it is assumed that everything should be beautiful, and that only some things need to be useful.”

3. I’ve been looking again at The Courier. I wasn’t sure whether I liked it when I finished editing it a few months ago; now, after letting it breathe, I’m finding it more palatable. Today, for example, I was pleased to come across a sentence that includes four colons. While rereading I’ve also taken the occasion to add passing references to Hermes, Trismegistus, and the Pony Express.



  1. I thought ‘sin aesthetics’, lounge lizards and effete snobs were mostly outre by now. Maybe just kept in hiding by the 1%, who were invented as a term by Occupy, I think. After 2008, there was less flaunting, at least for awhile. But this Mr. Fenmore sounds more like fin-de-siecle (19th) types. Maybe it’s a historical novel.

    Come to think of it, there are still lots of playboys and girls, but not so much lounge lizardy. Jackie O’Nassis wrote a very pedestrian NYTimesMag article on Diana Vreeland, the dragon super-style bitch who ran the Met’s Costume Institute. She even had someone ‘fold her new bills’, the quality of her cash must even be smart-looking (never heard of that before or since.) She said that the first thing required to be high-style was ‘to be born in Paris. After that, everything else follows quite logically’. That was in Mrs. Onassis’s dreadful prose, as well as Ms. Vreeland’s support of Bird of Paradise feathers for hats (that’s where I’d heard of it.) She spoke politely to an upstate NY small-town ex-friend of mine who was looking at the costumes. I was surprised, and then didn’t know when she perished.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 10 January 2013 @ 10:56 am

  2. “But this Mr. Fenmore sounds more like fin-de-siecle (19th) types.”

    K is very enthusiastic about Oscar Wilde, especially The Importance of Being Earnest; this book offers explicit homage to Wilde’s Victorian decadence. K’s elitist aestheticism presents a curious contrast to her mother’s intense commitment to aiding the homeless.


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 January 2013 @ 12:33 pm

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