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You signed in with another tab or window. Reload to refresh your session. His hands plunged and rummaged in his trunk while he called for a clean handkerchief. God, we'll simply have to dress the character. I want puce gloves and green boots. Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. Mercurial Malachi. A limp black missile flew out of his talking hands. Stephen picked it up and put it on. Haines called to them from the doorway: —Are you coming, you fellows?
Come out, Kinch. You have eaten all we left, I suppose. Resigned he passed out with grave words and gait, saying, wellnigh with sorrow: —And going forth he met Butterly. Stephen, taking his ashplant from its leaningplace, followed them out and, as they went down the ladder, pulled to the slow iron door and locked it. He put the huge key in his inner pocket.
At the foot of the ladder Buck Mulligan asked: —Did you bring the key? He walked on. Behind him he heard Buck Mulligan club with his heavy bathtowel the leader shoots of ferns or grasses. How dare you, sir! Haines asked: —Do you pay rent for this tower? They halted while Haines surveyed the tower and said at last: —Rather bleak in wintertime, I should say. Martello you call it? But ours is the omphalos. Haines asked Stephen. I'm not equal to Thomas Aquinas and the fiftyfive reasons he has made out to prop it up.
Wait till I have a few pints in me first. He turned to Stephen, saying, as he pulled down neatly the peaks of his primrose waistcoat: —You couldn't manage it under three pints, Kinch, could you? Is it some paradox? We have grown out of Wilde and paradoxes. It's quite simple. He proves by algebra that Hamlet's grandson is Shakespeare's grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father.
Haines said, beginning to point at Stephen. He himself? Buck Mulligan slung his towel stolewise round his neck and, bending in loose laughter, said to Stephen's ear: —O, shade of Kinch the elder! Japhet in search of a father! And it is rather long to tell. Buck Mulligan, walking forward again, raised his hands. That beetles o'er his base into the sea, isn't it? Buck Mulligan turned suddenly for an instant towards Stephen but did not speak. In the bright silent instant Stephen saw his own image in cheap dusty mourning between their gay attires.
Eyes, pale as the sea the wind had freshened, paler, firm and prudent. The seas' ruler, he gazed southward over the bay, empty save for the smokeplume of the mailboat vague on the bright skyline and a sail tacking by the Muglins. The Father and the Son idea. The Son striving to be atoned with the Father.
Buck Mulligan at once put on a blithe broadly smiling face. He looked at them, his wellshaped mouth open happily, his eyes, from which he had suddenly withdrawn all shrewd sense, blinking with mad gaiety. My mother's a jew, my father's a bird. With Joseph the joiner I cannot agree. So here's to disciples and Calvary. He held up a forefinger of warning. Goodbye, now, goodbye! He capered before them down towards the fortyfoot hole, fluttering his winglike hands, leaping nimbly, Mercury's hat quivering in the fresh wind that bore back to them his brief birdsweet cries.
Haines, who had been laughing guardedly, walked on beside Stephen and said: —We oughtn't to laugh, I suppose. He's rather blasphemous. I'm not a believer myself, that is to say. Still his gaiety takes the harm out of it somehow, doesn't it? What did he call it? Joseph the Joiner? Haines asked. I mean, a believer in the narrow sense of the word. Creation from nothing and miracles and a personal God. Haines stopped to take out a smooth silver case in which twinkled a green stone. He sprang it open with his thumb and offered it.
Haines helped himself and snapped the case to. He put it back in his sidepocket and took from his waistcoatpocket a nickel tinderbox, sprang it open too, and, having lit his cigarette, held the flaming spunk towards Stephen in the shell of his hands. Either you believe or you don't, isn't it? Personally I couldn't stomach that idea of a personal God.
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You don't stand for that, I suppose? He walked on, waiting to be spoken to, trailing his ashplant by his side. Its ferrule followed lightly on the path, squealing at his heels. My familiar, after me, calling, Steeeeeeeeeeeephen! A wavering line along the path. They will walk on it tonight, coming here in the dark. He wants that key. It is mine. I paid the rent. Now I eat his salt bread. Give him the key too.
He will ask for it. That was in his eyes. Stephen turned and saw that the cold gaze which had measured him was not all unkind. You are your own master, it seems to me. Haines said. A crazy queen, old and jealous. Kneel down before me. Haines said again. What do you mean? Haines detached from his underlip some fibres of tobacco before he spoke. An Irishman must think like that, I daresay. We feel in England that we have treated you rather unfairly. It seems history is to blame. The proud potent titles clanged over Stephen's memory the triumph of their brazen bells: et unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam: the slow growth and change of rite and dogma like his own rare thoughts, a chemistry of stars.
Symbol of the apostles in the mass for pope Marcellus, the voices blended, singing alone loud in affirmation: and behind their chant the vigilant angel of the church militant disarmed and menaced her heresiarchs. A horde of heresies fleeing with mitres awry: Photius and the brood of mockers of whom Mulligan was one, and Arius, warring his life long upon the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and Valentine, spurning Christ's terrene body, and the subtle African heresiarch Sabellius who held that the Father was Himself His own Son.
Words Mulligan had spoken a moment since in mockery to the stranger. Idle mockery. The void awaits surely all them that weave the wind: a menace, a disarming and a worsting from those embattled angels of the church, Michael's host, who defend her ever in the hour of conflict with their lances and their shields.
Hear, hear! Prolonged applause. Nom de Dieu! I don't want to see my country fall into the hands of German jews either. That's our national problem, I'm afraid, just now. Two men stood at the verge of the cliff, watching: businessman, boatman. The boatman nodded towards the north of the bay with some disdain. It'll be swept up that way when the tide comes in about one. It's nine days today. The man that was drowned. A sail veering about the blank bay waiting for a swollen bundle to bob up, roll over to the sun a puffy face, saltwhite.
Here I am. They followed the winding path down to the creek. Buck Mulligan stood on a stone, in shirtsleeves, his unclipped tie rippling over his shoulder. A young man clinging to a spur of rock near him, moved slowly frogwise his green legs in the deep jelly of the water.
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With the Bannons. I got a card from Bannon. Says he found a sweet young thing down there. Photo girl he calls her. Brief exposure. Buck Mulligan sat down to unlace his boots. An elderly man shot up near the spur of rock a blowing red face. He scrambled up by the stones, water glistening on his pate and on its garland of grey hair, water rilling over his chest and paunch and spilling jets out of his black sagging loincloth. Buck Mulligan made way for him to scramble past and, glancing at Haines and Stephen, crossed himself piously with his thumbnail at brow and lips and breastbone.
Chucked medicine and going in for the army. You know that red Carlisle girl, Lily? The father is rotto with money. He nodded to himself as he drew off his trousers and stood up, saying tritely: —Redheaded women buck like goats. He broke off in alarm, feeling his side under his flapping shirt. I'm the Uebermensch. Toothless Kinch and I, the supermen. He struggled out of his shirt and flung it behind him to where his clothes lay. Make room in the bed. The young man shoved himself backward through the water and reached the middle of the creek in two long clean strokes. Haines sat down on a stone, smoking.
Not on my breakfast. Stephen turned away.
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Stephen handed him the key. Buck Mulligan laid it across his heaped clothes. Throw it there. Stephen threw two pennies on the soft heap. Dressing, undressing. Buck Mulligan erect, with joined hands before him, said solemnly: —He who stealeth from the poor lendeth to the Lord.
Thus spake Zarathustra. His plump body plunged. Horn of a bull, hoof of a horse, smile of a Saxon. Half twelve. He walked along the upwardcurving path. Liliata rutilantium. Turma circumdet. Iubilantium te virginum. The priest's grey nimbus in a niche where he dressed discreetly. I will not sleep here tonight. Home also I cannot go. A voice, sweettoned and sustained, called to him from the sea. Turning the curve he waved his hand. It called again. A sleek brown head, a seal's, far out on the water, round.
The boy's blank face asked the blank window. Fabled by the daughters of memory. And yet it was in some way if not as memory fabled it. A phrase, then, of impatience, thud of Blake's wings of excess. I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and time one livid final flame. What's left us then? And he said: Another victory like that and we are done for.
That phrase the world had remembered. A dull ease of the mind. From a hill above a corpsestrewn plain a general speaking to his officers, leaned upon his spear. Any general to any officers. They lend ear. What was the end of Pyrrhus? Ask me, sir, Comyn said. You, Armstrong. Do you know anything about Pyrrhus? A bag of figrolls lay snugly in Armstrong's satchel. He curled them between his palms at whiles and swallowed them softly. Crumbs adhered to the tissue of his lips. A sweetened boy's breath. Welloff people, proud that their eldest son was in the navy.
Vico road, Dalkey. Pyrrhus, a pier. All laughed. Mirthless high malicious laughter. Armstrong looked round at his classmates, silly glee in profile. In a moment they will laugh more loudly, aware of my lack of rule and of the fees their papas pay. A thing out in the water. A kind of a bridge. Kingstown pier, sir. Some laughed again: mirthless but with meaning. Two in the back bench whispered. They knew: had never learned nor ever been innocent. With envy he watched their faces: Edith, Ethel, Gerty, Lily.
Their likes: their breaths, too, sweetened with tea and jam, their bracelets tittering in the struggle.
Yes, a disappointed bridge. The words troubled their gaze. Comyn asked. A bridge is across a river. For Haines's chapbook. No-one here to hear. Tonight deftly amid wild drink and talk, to pierce the polished mail of his mind. What then? A jester at the court of his master, indulged and disesteemed, winning a clement master's praise. Why had they chosen all that part? Not wholly for the smooth caress. For them too history was a tale like any other too often heard, their land a pawnshop. Had Pyrrhus not fallen by a beldam's hand in Argos or Julius Caesar not been knifed to death.
They are not to be thought away. Time has branded them and fettered they are lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities they have ousted. But can those have been possible seeing that they never were? Or was that only possible which came to pass? Weave, weaver of the wind. A ghoststory. Stephen asked, opening another book. Go on, Talbot. A swarthy boy opened a book and propped it nimbly under the breastwork of his satchel. It must be a movement then, an actuality of the possible as possible. Aristotle's phrase formed itself within the gabbled verses and floated out into the studious silence of the library of Saint Genevieve where he had read, sheltered from the sin of Paris, night by night.
By his elbow a delicate Siamese conned a handbook of strategy. Fed and feeding brains about me: under glowlamps, impaled, with faintly beating feelers: and in my mind's darkness a sloth of the underworld, reluctant, shy of brightness, shifting her dragon scaly folds.
Thought is the thought of thought. Tranquil brightness. The soul is in a manner all that is: the soul is the form of forms. Tranquility sudden, vast, candescent: form of forms. I don't see anything. Talbot asked simply, bending forward. His hand turned the page over. He leaned back and went on again, having just remembered. Of him that walked the waves.
Here also over these craven hearts his shadow lies and on the scoffer's heart and lips and on mine. It lies upon their eager faces who offered him a coin of the tribute. To Caesar what is Caesar's, to God what is God's. A long look from dark eyes, a riddling sentence to be woven and woven on the church's looms. Riddle me, riddle me, randy ro.
My father gave me seeds to sow. Talbot slid his closed book into his satchel. Hockey at ten, sir. They bundled their books away, pencils clacking, pages rustling. Crowding together they strapped and buckled their satchels, all gabbling gaily: —A riddle, sir? Ask me, sir. What is that? We didn't hear. Their eyes grew bigger as the lines were repeated.
After a silence Cochrane said: —What is it, sir? We give it up. Stephen, his throat itching, answered: —The fox burying his grandmother under a hollybush. He stood up and gave a shout of nervous laughter to which their cries echoed dismay. A stick struck the door and a voice in the corridor called: —Hockey! They broke asunder, sidling out of their benches, leaping them.
Quickly they were gone and from the lumberroom came the rattle of sticks and clamour of their boots and tongues. Sargent who alone had lingered came forward slowly, showing an open copybook. His thick hair and scraggy neck gave witness of unreadiness and through his misty glasses weak eyes looked up pleading. On his cheek, dull and bloodless, a soft stain of ink lay, dateshaped, recent and damp as a snail's bed.
He held out his copybook. The word Sums was written on the headline. Beneath were sloping figures and at the foot a crooked signature with blind loops and a blot. Cyril Sargent: his name and seal. Stephen touched the edges of the book. Mr Deasy said I was to copy them off the board, sir. Ugly and futile: lean neck and thick hair and a stain of ink, a snail's bed.
Yet someone had loved him, borne him in her arms and in her heart. But for her the race of the world would have trampled him underfoot, a squashed boneless snail. She had loved his weak watery blood drained from her own. Was that then real? The only true thing in life? His mother's prostrate body the fiery Columbanus in holy zeal bestrode. She was no more: the trembling skeleton of a twig burnt in the fire, an odour of rosewood and wetted ashes. She had saved him from being trampled underfoot and had gone, scarcely having been.
A poor soul gone to heaven: and on a heath beneath winking stars a fox, red reek of rapine in his fur, with merciless bright eyes scraped in the earth, listened, scraped up the earth, listened, scraped and scraped. Sitting at his side Stephen solved out the problem. He proves by algebra that Shakespeare's ghost is Hamlet's grandfather.
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Sargent peered askance through his slanted glasses. Hockeysticks rattled in the lumberroom: the hollow knock of a ball and calls from the field. Across the page the symbols moved in grave morrice, in the mummery of their letters, wearing quaint caps of squares and cubes. Give hands, traverse, bow to partner: so: imps of fancy of the Moors. Gone too from the world, Averroes and Moses Maimonides, dark men in mien and movement, flashing in their mocking mirrors the obscure soul of the world, a darkness shining in brightness which brightness could not comprehend.
Can you work the second for yourself? In long shaky strokes Sargent copied the data. Waiting always for a word of help his hand moved faithfully the unsteady symbols, a faint hue of shame flickering behind his dull skin. Amor matris: subjective and objective genitive. With her weak blood and wheysour milk she had fed him and hid from sight of others his swaddling bands. Like him was I, these sloping shoulders, this gracelessness.
My childhood bends beside me. Too far for me to lay a hand there once or lightly. Mine is far and his secret as our eyes. Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants, willing to be dethroned. The sum was done. Thanks, Sargent answered. He dried the page with a sheet of thin blottingpaper and carried his copybook back to his bench. In the corridor his name was heard, called from the playfield. Mr Deasy is calling you. He stood in the porch and watched the laggard hurry towards the scrappy field where sharp voices were in strife.
They were sorted in teams and Mr Deasy came away stepping over wisps of grass with gaitered feet. When he had reached the schoolhouse voices again contending called to him. He turned his angry white moustache. And as he stepped fussily back across the field his old man's voice cried sternly: —What is the matter? What is it now?
Their sharp voices cried about him on all sides: their many forms closed round him, the garish sunshine bleaching the honey of his illdyed head. Stale smoky air hung in the study with the smell of drab abraded leather of its chairs. As on the first day he bargained with me here. As it was in the beginning, is now. On the sideboard the tray of Stuart coins, base treasure of a bog: and ever shall be.
And snug in their spooncase of purple plush, faded, the twelve apostles having preached to all the gentiles: world without end. A hasty step over the stone porch and in the corridor. Blowing out his rare moustache Mr Deasy halted at the table. He brought out of his coat a pocketbook bound by a leather thong. It slapped open and he took from it two notes, one of joined halves, and laid them carefully on the table. And now his strongroom for the gold. Stephen's embarrassed hand moved over the shells heaped in the cold stone mortar: whelks and money cowries and leopard shells: and this, whorled as an emir's turban, and this, the scallop of saint James.
An old pilgrim's hoard, dead treasure, hollow shells. A sovereign fell, bright and new, on the soft pile of the tablecloth. These are handy things to have. This is for sovereigns. This is for shillings. Sixpences, halfcrowns. And here crowns. He shot from it two crowns and two shillings. I think you'll find that's right. You have earned it. Stephen's hand, free again, went back to the hollow shells. Symbols too of beauty and of power.
A lump in my pocket: symbols soiled by greed and misery. You'll pull it out somewhere and lose it. You just buy one of these machines. You'll find them very handy. Answer something. The same room and hour, the same wisdom: and I the same. Three times now. Three nooses round me here. I can break them in this instant if I will. You don't know yet what money is. Money is power. When you have lived as long as I have. I know, I know. If youth but knew.
But what does Shakespeare say? Put but money in thy purse. He lifted his gaze from the idle shells to the old man's stare. Something like this Head of Research: "Well, we knew it was going to happen. It's been looking a bit shaky since the earthquake of BC. Editor: "Yes, well we'll just have to find another one. We can't leave the page blank. It'd do our Asian sales no end of good. Editor: "Done. Editor of guide book, 'Cultural Delights of the Antiquity' published , to his team: "Earthquake in Egypt. No more lighthouse on Pharos. No reason left to include Alexandria in next month's edition of the guide.
Any ideas anyone? Junior copy editor: "Can't they rebuild it? Editor: "Not in time for the new edition. Layout manager: "What did they do when they lost the Colossus? Editor: "Good question Tarek. Nice to see you read our books from time to time. Tarek: "Sorry. Research analyst: "Well we could always include Notre Dame. That's just about finished.
My sister's been to see it in Paris and she says it's quite a sight. If there's a war with France and we include their number one cultural attraction the publishers'll have my neck. Second analyst: "They'll probably have you drawn and quartered as well. Editor: "Yes quite. Let's get back to the subject, shall we? Can't we think of anything British? Marketing manager: "No good for sales. People want to get away from this place. Editor looks out at pouring rain : "Can't think why. Tea lady: "What about something Italian? Second analyst: "There's just not been a lot going on since the Romans kicked it.
Editor: "Thanks Will. They've gone a bit Germanic. Editor irritated : "Well yes but we don't do towns we do things. The pyramids. The hanging gardens Tarek: "They're gone now. Editor: " I know! The Giralda! Marketing manager: "Can't think. Analysts together : "Mind's a blank. Editor: "OK. Has noone here been to Seville? First analyst: "A couple of wigwams. Sales manager: "What about Australia?
Willibrord: "I'd make an exception and go for Venice. It'll probably be under water by then anyway. First analyst: "Um Editor: "Yes Claudius? What is it? Claudius: "Tarek's right. We really ought to do something about Babylon. Editor: "Well what about Babylon? Claudius: "The Hanging Gardens. It's a shopping centre. Editor: "A Editor: " BC! Claudius: "And then that was destroyed in AD Editor: "Wait a minute. Claudius: "Well more or less Tea lady: "Nice pictures though. Claudius: "And now it's a shopping centre.
Very modern, so I hear. Editor panicking : "That isn't the point! If the papers hear about this Willibrord: "Oh I wouldn't worry about that. Gutenburg isn't due to invent the printed press for another years or so. Editor: "Well that's something at least. Maybe we can cover it up. A modern shopping centre, you say? Claudius: "With fountains and paved passageways and very charming mosaics.
I haven't been. Editor: "But no hanging gardens. Claudius: "No. Editor: "Not even a rose bush? Claudius: "Not that I've heard. Editor exploding : "Then why do they call it the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Sales manager: "Marketing. Editor holding head in hands : "Why didn't anyone tell me about this? Second analyst: "Tarek tried to. But you told him to shut up. Editor: "Look, sorry Tarek, but no more writing in hieroglyphics, OK? I want you on a training course to learn latin by next week. Ask Jane to fix it for you. Jane: "Got it. Editor: "OK everyone, we're keeping the Hanging Gardens.
Any objections? Jane, book a meeting later this week to talk about the layout. Maybe we'll keep Venice after all. Meeting adjourned. Back to work people. I have lost my watch I'm still writing — I've just started a new paragraph — I'm not sure where it could be. I'd quite like a cigarette right now. Not really, really like — just quite like. It would mean I'd have to stop writing for a bit. Yes, I think I'm going to have a quick look for my watch. I know you'd find it easier if the above were in English, but this is how we talk with my friends in Paris I wanted you to get the flavour of it.
For non-French speakers, I've added a translation at the bottom . It's a fairly common topic of conversation, too, but I should point out that we are, basically all the nation's elite since we all graduated from one of those super-prestigious Grandes Ecoles that everyone's heard of over here but no one really likes to acknowledge and still less understand in competition with the universities. Dream last night: friend James was a writer for the Evening Standard. Front page photo, more than decent size, bald pate, dark eyebrows and cheesy grin.
Claimed in the headline article that he had children, which I knew to be untrue I was reading in the Underground, near White City on the Central Line, down from the BBC centre, from the front page of the paper of the person sitting opposite me. Where this dream came from I have no idea. James is an old friend, we grew up next door to each other from the age of about nine.
Used to irk me at first and then we got used to one another. Maybe some kind of underlying rivalry? When I woke up he was still the editor of a film magazine which is a rather more respectable position than scribbler for the Evening Standard in my HO. Commenting on something I'd written he once said, "It's writing about writing. Why not? Read any Miller recently?
I've just finished Nexus so-so , and I had the eeriest feeling at times that we'd tapped into the same obscure Stick to Nin. Not much I can add to that. I came across a letter I'd written to a friend some time ago — unfinished. It went like this:. Will she be flattered? Will she feel betrayed? Will she fall in love with me all over again if she isn't already?
It wouldn't be the first time a book had been written with the explicit purpose of regaining a lost one's love. Sorry — did I betray myself just now? I really am getting into things, aren't I? No, no, let this be clear. I am under no illusion whatsoever that anything I could ever do or say could ever win M. She's gone — finito. Nothing left, passion all spent on my side that is — it took long enough. Naturally, nothing else in my life means anything like as much as that devouring passion I had for her once did.
Maybe it's just as well. Meanwhile I have this semi-autobiographical novel thing to get on with how can it be autobiographical? I'm not talking about my life here — there's no 'and then, when I was about four and a half, I stepped on my father's razor blades' — although I did, my foot bled profusely and it hurt like hell, I can still remember it. First floor of an estate, one bedroom for their two daughters which is where I also slept, one long corridor with an evil fucking razor blade sticking out of my father's toilet bag in wait for a four and a half year old running barefoot to the kitchen.
It makes me laugh to remember that my fantastic French teacher M. Chateaubriand used to tell us not to use parentheses in our work — I use them all the time and what about it, eh, old Chatterbox, as we never used to call you? I have found my voice! Anyway, old Henry's book was about writing read it, you'll see — mine is about How pompous! How self-inflated! I know, I know, guilty as charged your honour, but I do quite like that phrase, "the neurotic insecurities of a fledgling writer". I'd say it had a good ring to it, wouldn't you?
One of my worries — just for the sake of posterity, I'm writing this on a notebook that served in my days as a management consultant. What happens when I reach the pages that have already been written on? It's a thought, isn't it? What happens to flow? And I've only got about thirty pages left! A voice mocks me gently from a distance Do you really think that you have flow?
I was twice engaged to M.. She would probably only acknowledge the once but it was twice. Both times were painful, in some ways the first more than the second. Something of an expert at inflicting pain in fifty-seven varieties, our M.. Two simple examples that make me wince: "Does it [feel like an age since we walked down this street together]? To me it feels like the last time. Does that feel like a slap? It was meant to.
PREFACE TO VOL. I.
Second time around. The scary thing: she's my other half, the Yang to my Yin, the circle repeats itself and it wasn't, in any case, the last time we spoke It just goes to show that the Stones' immortal line, 'You can't always get what you want', applies to all and sundry.
The song continues, 'but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need', which I confess never to having understood very well. What I want, I need, and what I need, I want. Isn't that human? Should I lie in bed — alone — telling myself, "I can't have M. Do we need warmth? Do we need a tender touch on a cold winter's night as we clamber under the duvet together?
Of course we do. Still, well done on the knighthood Mick. Did you know that we used to be neighbours? Never mind, the line sounds good Let me know if this is getting too much for you. Sitting comfortably? Then we'll continue. Of course — you're the reader — assuming that you've stayed the course, that is. Anyway, as I was saying, I was twice engaged to M.. I once wrote a short story — seven pages long. In a bar, in Soho, Old Compton Street, seven pages in two hours and quite a few beers.
I mentioned her not once. It's never been published and I think I can get away with it I'll be the judge of my material, thank you very much, and I wouldn't let good writing goes to waste. Here it is Writing is said to be a painful exercise, and boy, I can tell you, it is.
Stick to accounting, or grave digging, or whatever it is you do for a living. Come to think of it, can writing really be blamed? I'm beginning to get the impression and it's only an impression so far, mind you that living can be a little on the So is there any reason to blame writing for the occasional stumble on the poorly-paved path of life like that image?
Didn't mean it! Not intentional! It's just my eagerness to please that's getting the better of me! Please don't take it personally. Frankly a lot of the time it's not the readers I have a problem with, it's the writers. But I do have the slightest problem with the Brothers Karamazov — it's boring. Never finished it. Maybe translation to blame. Something unpleasant about the characters Now if I get started on a list of books I never finished there's going to be blood on the floor, I warn you.
Balzac, Tolstoy, Balzac: can't stand him, talks about money all the time, very vulgar. Also goes for correpondence between two of Dostoievsky's Best to read in the original if pos. Perfume good though, French and English. Some translators they really can write. How do you translate Ulysses? Get Larbaud to do it for you! But why did Baudelaire waste his time with Edgar Allen Poe? Was it really worth it? Did the French show him any appreciation for his efforts? Nobody in France reads Poe after the age of Boris Vian similar fate. But being French and a saxophone player to boot his claim to a place in the pantheon of cultural icons is far greater.
Poe happened at the wrong time — too late for a strict reaction to romanticism which everyone had forgotten by then, such was the thrust of the Symbolists , too early to lay claim to influencing the surrealists. Caught between deux eaux. It takes time to write a book. Can't be done in one go. The question is — is it the same thing to write a book as it is to create a world? Ask Mr Miller! Do they see men as "vessels that carry money?
Great characters, good dialogue, an enlightening insight into the world of dancing in that splendid little island of Jamaica. Vivid and colourful, sometimes tasteless but in a somehow tasteful way. Ever seen two people dancing Zouk? Who provides a greater service to mankind: the one who writes a book or the one who invents Concorde?
One might have the vision but does that make him the genius? And let me tell you something else: it only takes one man to write a book. And for the sake of our comparison, does it make a difference if that book is called The Idiot or My Struggle? This one requires some thought: praising Hitler for services rendered to humanity, a paradox too far, I believe. See Chaplin's The Great Dictator to make your own mind up on that one. Charm in abundance, Hynkel a beguiling mixture of determination and sensitivity.
See him face down the pompous Napaloni the cheesy ravioli! And dance with the globe! His grace in the face of the greatest difficulties! Poor Hynkel, more sinned against than sinning. And even Chaplin seems to find it difficult to discard the ridiculous notion But Hynkel certainly gets the crowds on his side. A rabble-rousing prophet. Does the devil have all the best lines? The problem with this undoubtedly great film: it makes the evil dictator appear rather too sympathetic.
Whatever his qualities as a writer Mein Kampf has a better ring in German , Adolf Hitler was famously infamously known as a failed artist. His common problem by common consent : no talent. Or very limited at least. Could that little talent have been nurtured? Could he have become, through practice, dedication and patience, an artist worthy of the name?
We shall never know if the Viennese college of art shares responsibility in the genesis of the XXth century's most criminal mind, most brutal given the advanced technology at his disposal Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao all come close — and the ruthless efficiency of the German people.
Let us bring a small measure of even-handedness to the judgement of History. Hitler was not alone in creating the might of the Third Reich. Plenty of his adopted countryfellows put in a hand. Neither was he responsible for the economic conditions which led, through poverty and hyperinflation, to the polarisation of politics in Germany in the s and s. Neither did he write Das Kapital. The monster grew and grew and finally collapsed under the weight of its misformed evil and if a vision of The Fly is forming in your mind with Jeff Glodblum very good very good An idea for a film I'll get back to my list of least-favourite authors later: two twelve-year-old boys are watching the final scene of David Cronenburg's masterpiece they're underage but never mind : a mutated version of Goldblum's eponymous character finally has his head blown off and pretty gruesome it is too.
One of the two boys, let's call him Jack, is impressed by the images on the screen: he comes out of the cinema pretending to shoot at people in the street with a shotgun. No too horrible Standard horror flick. The seventies decade was a time of togetherness, a time of being one and the same. Hence the lack of irony: irony means laughing at your neighbour, yourself, making fun of his hairstyle, yours, his shirt, his flares or his jacket. No irony means no restraint — and things soon took a turn for the worse. Blame Vietnam, blame socialism, blame what you will, things got a little out of hand.
See the magazine adverts of the time for evidence. What is Ealing like? One smoky brown heart of plastic placed over each eye. That's Ealing for you. It's Essex with money. And class. No Ford Cortinas in Ealing. Of course, the other cars make their presence felt but not to the detriment of those kings of the road The waitress justified the service charge prettily and insisted I take a receipt. Sheltering behind a brisk, unfeeling, short-but-courteous professionalism. It's a Groping for a three-letter word to add to the end of her question as a matter of poise.
Beginning with 'S' and ending with 'r', commonly used as a term of respect towards paying customers. Of course, I shrugged and said it was cool. By the way — I've been compared to Tom Cruise. Much better nose, however. You never meet anyone you know in Ealing. It's got that end-of-the-line feel to it. Nice Victorian houses but no one you know ever hangs out in Ealing.
Why should they? They flee, as quickly as the District or Piccadilly or Central line underground train can take them well connected, is Ealing. Or mainline straight to Paddington in fifteen minutes all through the night at hourly intervals. Well, OK, I stumbled on someone. A schoolfriend of yours from Roedean. It's so funny — while I was chatting her up in the bar beforehand I was thinking — this woman has exactly the same expressions as MA. It's uncanny. Only when I asked her later did she blurt out: 'Know her? I was her mentor!
I once had dinner in a plush London restaurant with a comely blonde who worked in the City. Do you ever read the Alex cartoons in the Telegraph, I asked. Even if I change the names which I've a mind not to do she'll still know about it. She'll know I had carnal relations with her role model on a one-night stand in Ealing. And she'll forgive me: sex was never important, the physical rather than the emotional side. There are no strings attached when you have sex with a girl on the first night at 3.
Well, at 3. It's only human. Sorry M. Wouldn't you like to help me to put the pieces back together again? And A. It wasn't really a one-night stand, we had dinner together a few nights later. How ever could we have come to meet? Perfect for marathon running. I liked it but I don't think it really cut the ice with M.
Despite the similarities, the late 90s and the early 00s are all about hyper-irony — utter individualism, in other words. The seventies taken to the other extreme. In its own way, it's just as unattractive, possibly more so.
And of course, the 70s have become very fashionable again. Flares etc. We make fun of them irony yet we acknowledge their historical significance. Ten or fifteen years ago we knew them to be naff. Barring the odd Star Wars or Abba fan with a yearning for memorabilia that was the end of it. Gold chains and David Cassidy hairstyles — they'll be back next. My boss's wife fancies me.
So does every other woman in the company. But my boss's wife is prepared to go further: she confessed her desire to me after an evening when we'd got slightly closer to one another than the strictest observance of Scriptures would technically allow we strayed this side of adultery I'll let you be the judge of that one, thanks very much. Did the funny looks I subsequently received in the office from my other female colleagues indicate disapproval or desire? Either way a classic three-way tryst was up and running. I, who have no great affection for the Bard, must this allow. And notice that in this olde style of writing the verb is placed at the end of the sentence, just like in German.
No wonder Shakespeare is pretty hard going. Two families at war. Boy meets girl, they fall in love. Their end is tragic, yet their love is spared the corruption which comes from the passing of time Watch passion turn gradually into easy uneasy habit. Their end is violent, for passion oft leads to violence. Their end is sudden — as all ends must be. Woke up mad with my brother — needed to get some thought under the bridge.
All sorts of dark thoughts. Imaginary dialogue running like this:. Me: "If I give you a pen, will you use it to twirl around your hand and stop cracking your knuckles? Him: "I'll use it to poke your eye out. Or this:. Hateful glances, I acquire the nickname 'arsehole' or 'dickhead' or something equally complimentary. That's all you need to know about my brother. He won't make another mention unless we get on to the details of how I met M A fairground He brought her along.
HE brought her along yes Pierre, your brother introduced you to MA.
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