Saturday, November 10, 2007


I'll be gone next week; top officials in Pakistan have requested I fly in to mediate between the factions currently struggling for control of the government. My plan is to bring them coffee cakes--and maybe a copy of "Frank Sinatra Croons Songs to Mediate Between Warring Pakistani Factions." If that doesn't work, I'll probably just find a cardroom.

Point is, no blogging. However, there are any number of succulent, long-thought out posts that still await your replies. Come on, people! What else do I have? Bad television, wine, and the few of you who read these posts to the end. Let's have some colloquy. Colloquy!

In the meantime, here's the conclusion to Barthelme's "The Genius." It can be found in his masterwork, Don Quixote.
His worst moment: He is in a church, kneeling in a pew near the back. He is gradually made aware of a row of nuns, a half-dozen, kneeling twenty feet ahead of him, their heads bent over their beads. One of the nuns however has turned her head almost completely around, and seems to be staring at him. The genius glances at her, glances away, then looks again: she is still staring at him. The genius is only visiting the church in the first place because the nave is said to be a particularly fine example of Burgundian Gothic. He places his eyes here, there, on the altar, on the stained glass, but each time they return to the nuns, his nun still staring. The genius says to himself, This is my worst moment.

* * *

He is a drunk.

* * *

“A truly potent abstract concept avoids, resists closure. The ragged, blurred outlines of such a concept, like a net in which the fish have eaten large, gaping holes, permit entry and escape equally. What does one catch in such a net? The sea horse with a Monet in his mouth. How did the Monet get there? Is the value of the Monet less because it has gotten wet? Are there tooth marks in the Monet? Do sea horses have teeth? How large is the Monet? From which period? Is it a water lily or group of water lilies? Do sea horses eat water lilies? Does Parke-Bernet know? Do oil and water mix? Is a mixture of oil and water bad for the digestion of the sea horse? Should art be expensive? Should artists wear beards? Ought beards to be forbidden by law? Is underwater art better than overwater art? What does the expression ‘glad rags’ mean? Does it refer to Monet’s paint rags? In the Paris of 1878, what was the average monthly rent for a north-lit, spacious studio in an unfashionable district? If sea horses eat water lilies, what percent of their daily work energy, expressed in ergs, is generated thereby? Should the holes in the net be mended? In a fight between a sea horse and a flitternmouse, which would you bet on? If I mend the net, will you forgive me? Do water rats chew upon the water lilies? Is there a water buffalo in the water cooler? If I fill my water gun to the waterline, can I then visit the watering place? Is fantasy an adequate substitute for correct behavior?

* * *

…But now a brown UPS truck arrives at his door. It contains a ceremonial sword (with inscription) forged in Toledo, courtesy of the Mayor and City Council of Toledo, Spain. The genius whips the blade about in the midmorning air, signing the receipt with his other hand….

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