10 April 2013

Undead Text

Filed under: Culture, Fiction, First Lines, Ktismata, Psychology, Reflections — ktismatics @ 11:54 am

“I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.”

That’s the first line of The Shadow of the Wind, a 2004 novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafón that I’ve been reading. Yesterday I was searching my document files — my private cemetery of forgotten texts — for a fragment I remember having written, thinking that I might be able to splice it into the fiction I’m presently writing. I never did find what I was looking for, but I did come across a document from 2004 that read like a Ktismatics blog post before Ktismatics even existed. Better late than never, I figured, so I reformatted the document as a post. I titled it “Wallace Stevens, Bond Man.” While proofing it I was remembering a couple of other posts I’d previously written about Wallace Stevens. So I googled myself: it turns out that I had already turned this same text into a Ktismatics post. It’s called On Keeping Your Day Job, posted in August 2007. So it was three years after having written the text that I turned it into a blog post, but that post is nearly six years old now and I’d forgotten all about it. Sometimes even the resurrected texts find their way back into the crypt.



  1. You know the way they have shelves in academic institutions full of notes, typescript eaten by revision, dripping with tippex, stapled on and pasted over; the work of the greater and lesser scribblers. Where are the Cahiers of yesteryear? Now at most 3 CDs and some old floppies, usb’s that have lost their bytes and don’t know where to find them. No more letters either. A grim outlook for the biographers.


    Comment by ombhurbhuva — 10 April 2013 @ 2:34 pm

  2. Here’s a quote from Robert Graves that’s in my original text fragment about Wallace Stevens but that for some reason didn’t make it into the blog post:

    “There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”

    The fragment I couldn’t find was an elaboration on a dream I had about a Kafkaesque “office-scape” which I wrote up as a post at the time. My failure to locate the expanded version imbued it with even greater narrative weight, transforming it from possible inclusion to a crucial scene in the fiction I’m writing. So I pulled up the blog post about the dream and rewrote the lost elaboration. And since the return of the repressed seems to be operating so intensively on this other text about Wallace Stevens’ business career, I decided to weave it into the same scene. It’s not a bad join, since Kafka, like Stevens, was an insurance claims man — I wrote some thoughts about that once too, somewhere… Anyhow, so now I have the character wandering into a meeting in which a group of businessmen are discussing… wait a minute… Instead of having someone talk about Wallace Stevens, should Stevens be present at this meeting? I need to take a walk to consider the possibility. Another seven inches of snow fell yesterday, accompanied by record cold temperatures — should be ideal.


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 April 2013 @ 3:44 pm

  3. The Graves quote is great. Glad you shared it.
    I’ve discovered on a few ocassions that my blog posts were repeating previous posts (unintentionally). I figure that if I can’t remember writing the earlier post, it’s unlikely that any reader will remember it either.


    Comment by Bill — 10 April 2013 @ 8:01 pm

  4. Almost surely you’re right, Bill. The content of most of our blog posts isn’t particularly date-sensitive, so some of the better ones might deserve another play.

    I tend to forget faces and names, the result being that I sometimes introduce myself to people I’ve met before and who remember me. So now I often begin conversations with apparent strangers by wondering when it was we met previously. Over-remembering people seems a more endearing error than forgetting them.


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 April 2013 @ 8:29 pm

    • I re-read a bunch of my posts and found that I often tell about an event twice. But that I forget I did so.

      Graves quote had to be said, but cannot be exactly true. There is definitely poetry in money, just not too frequently. I’d say that there’s about the same percentage of money in poetry too. I mean–that’s just the way it is methinks. The other way is too sentimental and even bipolar–because, unless a total starveling poet, you have to flip back and forth between the poetic and the financial, which induces schizophrenia of the acceptable sort, and the financial can quite often seem so profound you’re more than wiling to totally abandon poetry in favour of it. The reverse happens there to, and can seem a disastrous choice until it’s ‘repaired’.


      Comment by Patrick Mullins — 11 April 2013 @ 6:45 pm

  5. “Money is a kind of poetry”: this was a stand-alone aphorism from Stevens, no explanation or elaboration. It’s possible he was being kind of exquisite here — everything is poetry, even money, if you’re a true poet. But I suspect he liked making money, liked spending it too. Certainly his day job as surety claims VP was all about money, and purportedly he did like his job. Money is abstract, it holds fascination, it can possess you: I’d rather have it than not have it.


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 April 2013 @ 10:06 pm

  6. Wallace, you’re all washed up,
    There’s a bow on the top of your head,
    Like an Easter egg.
    No more will your jaw drop at the effrontery
    of life’s claims.
    Weeping minions are shredding files
    And the dead eyes of box files
    gaze implacably down.


    Comment by ombhurbhuva — 12 April 2013 @ 2:27 am

  7. W.S. continues to inspire. “the effrontery of life’s claims” is a nice touch. It’s a somewhat jarring juxtaposition of “washed up” with the bowed Easter egg: two different ways of being finished. The word “files” at the end of line 6 here is rendered as “flimsies” in the version on your blogpost: is this a transcription error, or an aesthetic variant? The biographers will puzzle over which is the more authentic version. According to the dictionary a “flimsy” is a thin piece of copy paper, here suggesting both the derivativeness and the thinness of what’s written on it.

    Here’s another association between W.S., poetry, and money:

    In the eyes of young Wallace Stevens, she was the most beautiful girl in Reading. Enamored by Elsie Viola Kachel’s blond hair and blue eyes, Stevens would regale her beauty in love letters that foreshadowed his emergence as one of America’s greatest poets of the 20th century. Yet not even the poet’s eloquence could have portended the immortality that would befall Elsie several years after she became Mrs. Wallace Stevens in 1909. Somewhat by circumstance, anecdotal evidence suggests, the Reading woman would become one of America’s most enduring beauties on one of the nation’s most beautiful coins – the goddess Liberty on the Mercury dime…

    Wallace Stevens, a Harvard-educated lawyer, had grown up in Reading and was working in New York City during his courtship with Elsie Kachel. To the dismay of his parents, attorney Garrett and Margaretha Stevens, Wallace presented Elsie with an engagement ring from Tiffany’s. His parents boycotted the wedding, but Wallace and Elsie were not deterred.

    Shortly after exchanging vows at Grace Lutheran Church in Reading, the newlyweds moved into an apartment at 441 W. 21st St., a brownstone on New York’s lower west side. Their landlord happened to be Adolph A. Weinman, a German-born sculptor who studied under the renowned sculptor of Civil War monuments in Washington, D.C., Augustus Saint Gaudens. Weinman had a rooftop studio and, about 1913, asked Elsie to model. “Struck by Elsie’s comeliness,” Mertz wrotes, “Weinman asked if she would sit for a portrait bust.” She was 27 at the time, and had long blond curls. “Weinman pinned up her curls under a Phrygian cap with wings,” Mertz said. “He would write that the wings were intended to symbolize liberty of thought.”

    In 1915, when officials at the U.S. Mint selected Weinman to design a new dime, he used the 24-inch bronze bust of Elsie as a model for the goddess Liberty. Ironically, the winged image would be confused with the Roman messenger God and the coin would erroneously become known as the Mercury dime.

    Classic coin

    Immortalized in the song “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?,” a Depression-era hit by Bing Crosby, the Mercury dime holds a special place in American cultural history. Throughout the Roaring ’20s, Great Depression and World War II, when a dime could buy a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup, most Americans carried the ubiquitous coin. Some 2.6 billion of the coins, which are about 90 percent silver, were produced between 1916 and 1945. “Who knew this girl from Reading was on the Mercury dime?” Mertz said. “She’s a home-grown heroine who contributed to American history.”

    Ron Yerger, an Exeter Township amateur historian, ranks the Mercury dime among the nation’s most significant coins. “The winged Liberty head,” he said, “is considered to be one of the most beautiful U.S. coin designs ever produced.” The dime was among three coins minted in 1916, Yerger said, that are of unparalleled artistic significance. The others are the Walking Liberty half dollar, also designed by Weinman and believed to have featured Elsie as the model, and a quarter designed by Herman A. MacNeil. “That Elsie is associated with two of those coins elevates her to historic status,” Yerger said. “There has been nothing like that trifecta in the coin world, before or since.”


    Comment by ktismatics — 12 April 2013 @ 6:57 am

  8. The second ‘files’ had a dull thud so I changed it. It was like a man in our town that had a gammy leg who was known as ‘Step and a Half’. He could drive off it but when it came to putting it down it fell half-way.

    That dime story is interesting. What I noticed apart from the beautiful face was that the obverse showed a fasces, the insignia of those bad people in Italy, and that it was on the coin until 1945. They don’t own it of course and one recalls the Swastika laundry in Dublin and swastika symbols in the cathedral with the tails in the auspicious direction counter to the Nazi tails.


    Comment by ombhurbhuva — 12 April 2013 @ 7:41 am

  9. They used to tell me I was building a dream
    And so I followed the mob
    When there was earth to plow or guns to bear
    I was always there, right on the job

    They used to tell me I was building a dream
    With peace and glory ahead
    Why should I be standing in line
    Just waiting for bread?

    Once I built a railroad, I made it run
    Made it race against time
    Once I built a railroad, now it’s done
    Brother, can you spare a dime?

    Once I built a tower up to the sun
    Brick and rivet and lime
    Once I built a tower, now it’s done
    Brother, can you spare a dime?

    Once in khaki suits, gee, we looked swell
    Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum
    Half a million boots went slogging through Hell
    And I was the kid with the drum

    Say, don’t you remember?
    They called me ‘Al’ It was ‘Al’ all the time
    Why don’t you remember? I’m your pal
    Say buddy, can you spare a dime?


    Comment by ktismatics — 12 April 2013 @ 10:20 am

  10. ‘Come on ovah to myyyy place,
    and I’m gonna give you Easter Egg…”

    —from Rosemary Clooney big hit.

    Just kidding. I like your little verse, but like ‘files’ as well as ‘flimsies’, the latter mostly because of the rhythm of ‘weeping minions are shredding flimsies’ is pretty, but with ‘files’ the thuddishness is good, because ‘files’ rarely has aesthetic associations, so it’s harder-hitting and more painful.

    Someone told me Stevens said something like ‘you can’t build a cathedral by the sea’ when I told her about visiting the Getty Museum in Bel Air. That’s one of those puritanical kinds of thoughts, unless maybe it’s because you don’t need a cathedral by the sea. But the problem was hardly that you got great ocean views on clear days, as I once did, but rather that the ‘cathedral’, Richard Meier’s Getty buildings are too severe without being particularly elegant. The old Getty Villa, re-opened a few years ago at Malibu, doesn’t just have ocean views, it’s on one of the hills just across the PCHwy and is very close to the sea, it works fine, although I’ve never seen it inside. Either of you familiar with that or a similar-sentiment line, I couldn’t find anything googling.

    I looked at the Reading picture of Elsie. At first I thought it was going to be that period kind thing you see in early 20th century photos and paintings, and also those big white gardens like Edith Wharton’s and many others I’ve forgotten that were always in American Heritage Magazine and suchlike. And I thought she might look like one of the ‘buxom style’ periods that Veblen talks about. But on enlarging it, she really is this stunning beauty, even by modern standards, once you overlook the dress. Reading is one of the few places I’ve spent a great deal of time in that I almost never mention. I had patrons there in 1973 and 1974 and had to go down and entertain them every few weeks. I could never stand it nor get used to it, this Penna. industrial town. A violinist friend and I were like ‘court musicians’ there, and he remained with them, marrying one of the girls for a few years, then divorcing her.

    I realize now that when anyone says I am also a ‘poet’ that I can’t be, even if I’ve written some things in traditional poetic form. I’m ‘poetic’, but not a ‘poet’. I can hardly believe how little actual poetry I’ve read, and never think of doing it voluntarily. Two people told me about their love of Emily Dickinson, and I couldn’t remember a thing except ‘I never saw a moor…’ I have read some Auden, most of Rimbaud and Baudelaire, and the Shakespeare long and short ones, and some John Kinsella a few years ago, plus some other things–point is, I never think about reading poetry.

    Charles Ives was also an insurance man, he talked about it a good deal too, praising it. I think these types talking about their jobs are not what I see as ‘money being poetry’. They were just comfortable enough playing those roles. Maybe ‘money having a poetics’ is better than ‘poetry’, I think I can see that it isn’t quite actual poetry. And you find these tell-tale signs that these types (at least Ives) do look down on the more all-pervasive artists. Ives made farting remarks about Debussy (‘poor, little suffering Greece’ ‘his voluptuous lips’), Chopin (something about ‘wearing a dress’) and Mozart was like ‘sitting on a perfumed cushion. Given that, it helped that he pointed out Thoreau’s ‘cussedness’, which he definitely had, and in not too much greater quantity than Ives’s. Ives has some old residences still standing within a few blocks from me, they’re nice but conventional. I’ve played once (in 2002) the ‘Concord Sonata’, which is the one with the movements I-IV named Emerson, Hawthorne, The Alcotts and Thoreau. The first two are very difficult and sometimes rewarding, the last two have charm. They are ‘real’ American music, but I can’t say anything I know of his ever approaches Debussy. Of course, comparisons are both ‘odorous’ and ‘odious’, but we know that they are necessary, when somebody like Ives takes offense at these great artists, it seems he really hated Debussy. The sensuality would have driven him half-insane. I believe he and his wife Harmony (what I thought the Reading girl was going to look more like, even without a name like ‘Harmony’, thank god those names went out of style–Mercy, Patience, etc., but she’s as goodlooking as Jessica Lange) also were very condemning of Henry Cowell’s homosexuality, who was imprisoned for 4 years on ‘morals charge’. On the other hand, I guess 18 is still the age and the guy was 17. I didn’t even know that part of the story till just now wiki. Interesting he married a woman who was instrumental in getting his pardon. Ives is for those who love the strong old New England booming religiosity, and of those, I seem to only love Hawthorne, although it gets better when Henry James starts talking about Chad (who never appears, I think, or never says anything, but that’s been decades) and Mme. de Vionnet.

    Forgive for rambling here, just finding some of these old things.

    Really good thread this is.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 12 April 2013 @ 10:29 am

  11. “441 W. 21st St., a brownstone on New York’s lower west side.”

    Trivial matter, but was ‘New York’s lower west side’ the term used in text you read. Because I’d never heard such a term used, even though it’s accurate enough. Meaning ‘Lower East Side’ is a near-official name for a specific neighborhood, as are ‘East Village’, ‘West Village’, ‘Upper East Side’ and ‘Upper West Side’. After the West Side stops being ‘Upper’, it’s in Midtown, then below that Chelsea starts, and most would call the area of 441 W. 21st ‘Chelsea’. Then Chelsea goes to West Village, and then SoHo, TriBeCa, etc.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 12 April 2013 @ 10:40 am

  12. I see that Ives was an insurance agent, a salesman who was clever at packaging life insurance products as investments for rich clients. Salesmen tend to be more outgoing hale-fellow types than the anal claims adjustors, but Ives seems to have been psychosomatically and neurotically impaired for decades, ultimately causing him to stop composing altogether. Even after he quit his day job he couldn’t compose any more.

    Yes, the lower West side was in the quoted text.

    I too like these threads that weave together various seemingly unrelated elements. I realized on my recent round of cognitive-neural posts how *on-topic* and *serious* some of these blog discussions often get, and how my own attention starts to drift onto multiple tangents after only a few rounds of single-minded intensity.


    Comment by ktismatics — 12 April 2013 @ 12:26 pm

  13. Say, don’t you remember?
    They called me ‘Al’ It was ‘Al’ all the time
    Why don’t you remember? I’m your pal
    Say buddy, can you spare a dime?

    I see from Wikipedia that Yip Harburg who wrote this lyric also wrote ‘Paper Moon’ and the lyrics of the Wizard of Oz. There’s a touch of genius in that “It was ‘Al’ all the time”.

    A vague sense of fraudulence hangs about the insurance business. I worked in a big firm for a month in London once as a stopgap thing with no intention of staying. There’s no boredom quite like office boredom but it being England made it like a situation comedy. Classic older motherly woman, younger vamp, surly underlings, there may have been a porter, mahogany desk of the head clerk where I brought the attendance book to be signed, tea in a pot – who’ll be mother. Plotting and resentment, factions and long vaults where records were kept. This has all been moved to Bangalore now where Jamal who has taken the name Jimmy will deal with the paperwork and answer your queries.
    – Jimmy, whatever your name is, can I speak to an Englishman
    – Sir, I’m here to serve you, your policy has lapsed, isn’t it.


    Comment by ombhurbhuva — 12 April 2013 @ 4:42 pm

    • “your policy has lapsed, isn’t it.”

      LOL. Are you sure you’re not English, that sure smells English to me…


      Comment by Patrick Mullins — 12 April 2013 @ 5:20 pm

      • After I wrote that, I saw this, it’s most gross and like rotted Firbank: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/11/londons-best-and-most-secretive-address/#postComment

        I had heard of *Albany* a few years ago, an autobio of Edith Evans who had lived there. It’s interesting, because he actually ‘tells all’ by his atrocious, decayed writing. I didn’t actually know anybody even in London or ‘stately home’ circles wrote like this anymore–even Deborah Mitford doesn’t talk like this in docus that I’ve seen about Chatsworth, etc..

        A quick google led to this: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/21/garden/at-home-with-christopher-gibbs-a-parting-embrace-for-a-lifetime-s-quirks.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

        from 2000. There was such as this: ‘Milly de Cabrol, a New York interior designer who visited him in Tangier with mutual friends in August, was struck by how content Mr. Gibbs seemed in his new mountainside home — a simple but exquisite house with an enormous garden overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar. ”He was wearing wonderful caftans,” she recalled. ”And he looked like Moses walking in the olive garden — very peaceful, and looking forward to spending more time there.” but there’s still more ‘old-queen writing’ than I’ve yet encountered in the rest of it. This bit, albeit from a visitor, made me think of a replacement for the ‘Music Man’ song, ‘Till There Was You’, which the Beatles somehow sang early on. The part that goes ‘and there were wonderful roses, they tell me…’ is bad enough, but you could do ‘And there were wonderful caftans, they tell me’.

        But this is more ‘shock treatment’ than important. What was interesting was that, as a non-paying reader of the NYTimes, I could not make a comment any longer anywhere in the paper. I even called their 800 # and they said no, you can’t. The paper has become like some kind of monarch itself. Since you don’t have to pay to read the NYTimes unless you read all of it, I don’t see why pay, even if there are some limitations. Noting that this writing seemed like ‘putrescent Edwardian exquisite’ didn’t seem worth a subscription.

        English royalty could never get away with this much silliness in a public article or statement. But they hang out with such types, drink with them, and don’t mention it.


        Comment by Patrick Mullins — 12 April 2013 @ 7:18 pm

  14. Like Ives and Wallace, I rather enjoyed my stint in the insurance biz. Maybe the vague sense of fraudulence added to the appeal, a mild thrill of white-collar outlawry. James M. Cain was an insurance man for awhile too, and look what he took away from the job: The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity. I loved the office where Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson worked in the film version of Double Indemnity: a big bullpen with a balcony ringing it on the floor above where the execs had their offices. I did the job for three years after graduating from college, during which time the company moved me from Chicago to Cleveland to Detroit. I felt like a real adult with my apartment and my suits, my accounts and briefcase and expense account. I wasn’t desperately bored or dissatisfied when finally I went back to school: I just decided it was time to try something else. After my postdoc I did another two years as an insurance VP (of “special markets and strategic planning”) before going to the health policy think tank. I experienced a vague sense of fraudulence hanging about the education business as well; also the medical business.

    And now for some synchronicity! Recall that this post began with the first line from a novel. I just read the back flap of the book, which gives brief bios of the author, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and also the translator…

    Lucia Graves is the author and translator of many works and has overseen Spanish-language editions of the poetry of her father, Robert Graves.


    Comment by ktismatics — 12 April 2013 @ 5:20 pm

  15. Wallace ‘The Kid’Stevens was all washed up but he had a shot at the title when he took on Ernest ‘Maximus’ Hemingway in Key West in 1936. The desk jockey was knocked down several times and broke his hand on Hem’s jaw but they made up later and agreed on a fall down the stairs story. The victor blabbed which is understandable, it’s not often you get to beat up a modernist master who is 20 years older and drunk.


    Comment by ombhurbhuva — 13 April 2013 @ 4:04 pm

  16. I had no idea; I thought you were writing fan fiction. Here is Hemingway’s account:

    February, 1936
    “Nice Mr. Stevens. This year he came again pleasant like the cholera and first I knew of it my nice sister Ura was coming into the house crying because she had been at a cocktail party at which Mr. Stevens had made her cry by telling her forcefully what a sap I was, no man, etc. So I said, this was a week ago, ‘All right, that’s the third time we’ve had enough of Mr. Stevens.’ So headed out into the rainy past twilight and met Mr. Stevens who was just issuing from the door haveing just said, I learned later, ‘By God I wish I had that Hemingway here now I’d knock him out with a single punch.’

    “So who should show up but poor old Papa and Mr. Stevens swung that same fabled punch but fertunatly missed and I knocked all of him down several times and gave him a good beating. Only trouble was that first three times put him down I still had my glasses on. Then took them off at the insistence of the judge who wanted to see a good clean fight without glasses in it and after I took them off Mr. Stevens hit me flush on the jaw with his Sunday punch bam like that. And this is very funny. Broke his hand in two places. Didn’t harm my jaw at all and so put him down again and then fixed him good so he was in his room for five days with a nurse and Dr. working on him. But you mustn’t tell this to anybody.

    “Anyway last night Mr. Stevens comes over to make up and we are made up. But on mature reflection I don’t know anybody needed to be hit worse than Mr. S. Was very pleased last night to see how large Mr. Stevens was and am sure that if I had had a good look at him before it all started would not have felt up to hitting him. But can assure you that there is no one like Mr. Stevens to go down in a spectacular fashion especially into a large puddle of water in the street in front of your old Waddel Street home where all took place. … I think he is really one of those mirror fighters who swells his muscles and practices lethal punches in the bathroom while he hates his betters.”

    It seems that a lot of people didn’t much care for Hemingway, but Wallace sounds like a mean drunk. Evidently he almost came to blows with Robert Frost, also in Key West.


    Comment by ktismatics — 13 April 2013 @ 10:06 pm

  17. Frost too. Gertrude Stein would have slaughtered him, if she fell on him he’d never get up.

    The doctrine of omission (cf. A Moveable Feast) applied to the bout with Morley Callaghan with Scott as referee. The Canadian 4“ shorter and 40 lbs. lighter knocked him on his ass and bloodied his mouth. And all because Scott had let the round run on for 4 minutes and besides Papa had been drinking and ‘you all hate me’. Morley up to this had been praised to Scribner by Ernest but when the story got out he was accused of spreading it to humiliate him. The friendship ended but telegrams flew with offers of a rematch.

    There’s a ‘grassy knoll’ here.


    Comment by ombhurbhuva — 14 April 2013 @ 3:52 am

  18. What about this, from Callaghan’s wiki entry? I have never read any of his work. But the Schiller article doesn’t say anything about this. I know wiki isn’t gold standard, but wasn’t looking at it for any reason except to find out something about Callaghan:

    “He recalled this time in his 1963 memoir, That Summer in Paris. In the book, he discusses the infamous boxing match between himself and Hemingway wherein Callaghan took up Hemingway’s challenge to a bout. While in Paris, the pair had been regular sparring partners at the American Club of Paris. Being a better boxer, Callaghan knocked Hemingway to the mat. The blame was centred on referee F. Scott Fitzgerald’s lack of attention on the stopwatch as he let the boxing round go past its regulation three minutes. An infuriated Hemingway was angry at Fitzgerald; Hemingway and Fitzgerald had an often caustic relationship and Hemingway was convinced that Fitzgerald let the round go longer than normal in order to see Hemingway humiliated by Callaghan. Whether this boxing match ever took place is a matter of conjecture, but it is certain that it could not have taken place at the American Club of Paris; since its founding in 1904, the American Club of Paris has never had a clubhouse, so it would have been impossible for the fight to have taken place there. If the fight did happen, it could possibly have been at Pershing Hall on the rue Pierre Charron, also known at the time as the American Soldiers and Sailors Club.”

    Did they all make up stuff?

    Mention of ‘Miss Stein’ made me think that that portrait by Picasso definitely seems like an anomaly about 8 years after reading Mailer’s marvelous ‘Portrait of Picasso As a Young Artist’, or whatever it’s called. I went to see it at the Met shortly afterward, but had just read where it fit in in Picasso’s early various ‘periods’, and have now forgotten. Interesting to think of H’s and P’s different ways of dealing with Miss Stein (I guess that’s mostly what having any kind of relationship with her would be), and H in ‘Moveable Feast’ with his interesting virginal ears so horrified (and sure everyone else would be) at a Lesbian squabble–not that some I’ve heard in real life aren’t quite singular (Bochco got one exactly right on a ‘Hill Street Blues’, ‘LA Law’ or ‘NYPD Blue’, the peculiar out-of-controlness) by ‘Pussy’. I’m sure it fits in, but it’s a very powerful painting, and you know that if you aren’t exactly a fan of the creature or her weird stories, although ‘Melanctha’ has a moment or two. If H. was talking ‘like a 7-year-old’, it just seems rather typical, not so surprising (there were some stories about Faulkner drunk too.) But Mailer’s account of what P did to his friend Apollinaire seems much more damning, and that was another theft, that ‘Louvre theft’, but I can’t remember what was stolen. I have often thought of P’s cowardice in that situation and how it didn’t affect his continuing on, I suppose that even when he said ‘I am God’ that was afterward. Mailer said all that smooth sailing tended to make death a rather more than usual difficult challenge for Picasso. I mentioned this matter when I was on the ballet board, and someone said not to pay attention to Mailer on this, but to read art critics–as though art critics would know something more about something between friends, a betrayal, than Mailer would. Not that Mailer didn’t indulge in some purple prose, as he had in ‘Marilyn’, but it was always good, including in the novels. I would say his Purple Prose is the best I’ve ever read; I wouldn’t call anything I’ve read in D.H. Lawrence ‘purple prose’ no matter how rhapsodic and sensuous it gets.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 14 April 2013 @ 10:58 am

  19. Patrick:
    Hem would never have made this up. Morley and him were good friends until the word got out about his flooring. For Scott, there was a ‘short’ story. No, Maximus could not be laid low.


    Comment by ombhurbhuva — 14 April 2013 @ 3:01 pm

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