Uit: Changing My Mind
„My father had few enthusiasms, but he loved comedy. He was a comedy nerd, though this is so common a condition in Britain as to be almost not worth mentioning. Like most Britons, Harvey gathered his family around the defunct hearth each night to watch the same half-hour comic situations repeatedly, in reruns and on video. We knew the “Dead Parrot” sketch by heart. We had the usual religious feeling for Monty Python’s Life of Brian. If we were notable in any way, it was not in kind but in extent. In our wood-cabinet music center, comedy records outnumbered the Beatles. The Goons’ “I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas” got an airing all year long. We liked to think of ourselves as particular, on guard against slapstick’s easy laughs — Benny Hill was beneath our collective consideration. I suppose the more precise term is “comedy snobs.”
Left unchecked, comedy snobbery can squeeze the joy out of the enterprise. You end up thinking of comedy as Hemingway thought of narrative: structured like an iceberg, with all the greater satisfactions fathoms underwater, while the surface pleasure of the joke is somehow the least of it. In my father, this tendency was especially pronounced. He objected to joke merchants. He was wary of the revue-style bonhomie of the popular TV double act Morecambe and Wise and disapproved of the cheery bawdiness of their rivals, the Two Ronnies. He was allergic to racial and sexual humor, to a far greater degree than any of the actual black people or women in his immediate family. Harvey’s idea of a good time was the BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son, the grim tale of two mutually antagonistic “rag-and-bone” men who pass their days in a Beckettian pile of rubbish, tearing psychological strips off each other. Each episode ends with the son (a philosopher manque, who considers himself trapped in the filthy family business) submitting to a funk of existential despair. The sadder and more desolate the comedy, the better Harvey liked it.“
Zadie Smith (Londen, 27 oktober 1975)
’t Was winter en ’t wierd avond. In de kerk was ’t donkernacht.
Een broeder, de lanteern in hand, ging sluiten, als hem dacht,
met hoofd en lijf geleund lijk een die doodmoe is van reizen,
een spilde mansgestalte langs een pijler te zien rijzen.
Hij deed zijn sleutels rammelen en hij klutterde aan de poort.
Doch roerloos bleef het staan alsof het niets en had gehoord,
gelijk een dode of wel een spook. Zeer bang en zeer godvruchtig,
sloeg de arme broer een kruis drie vier, besproeide zich geduchtig,
met water uit ’t gewijde vat, en stapte toe. Het licht
verschrok de dove. Hij keek op, en toonde een aangezicht
zo mager als de Honger, als het Lijden zo getrokken,
en toch zo onverklaarbaar schoon met zijne grijze lokken,
dat men er van bewondering wel bij gekresen had
zo prachtig, lijk een vlamme door een oud albasten vat,
doorstraalde die verstorvenheid de meesterschap der rede.
‘Mijn broeder, wat begeert gij?’ vroeg de lekebroeder. ‘Vrede!’
verzuchtte diep die vreemde man, en leunde op de pilaar.
Gauw vezelde de broer de lijst der ‘beste paters’, maar,
alsof een pletterende overmacht hem langs die pijler plantte,
stond hij die vrede zocht daar doof en stom. Zijn naam was Dante.
Albrecht Rodenbach (27 oktober 1856 – 23 juni 1880)
De Britse schrijfster Enid Algerine Bagnold werd geboren op 27 oktober 1889 in Rochester, Kent. Zie ook mijn blog van 27 oktober 2008 en ook mijn blog van 27 oktober 2009 en ook mijn blog van 27 oktober 2010
Uit: The Happy Foreigner
„A porter came out and swept the steps of the hotel, and a puff of his dust caught her in the face. He laid a fibre mat on each stone step, and clipped them with little metal clips.
“Are you for us?” asked a _sous-lieutenant_, looking first up and down the empty street and then at the car. He had blue eyes and a long, sad moustache that swept down the lower half of his face and even below his chin, making him look older than he should.
“I am for a Russian colonel,” she said, liking his mild face.
“That’s right. Yes, a Russian colonel. Colonel Dellahousse. But can you manage by yourself? Can you really? I will tell him….”
He disappeared up the steps and through the swing door of the hotel. A moment later he was out again.
“He will come to you himself, he will see you. But we want to go to Verdun! Could you drive so far? You could? Yes, yes, perhaps. Yet here he comes….”
In dark civilian clothes the Russian came down the hotel steps. He was tall, serious, upright, rich. His face beneath his wide, black hat was grave and well cared for. The sombre glitter of his eye was grave, his small dark beard shone in the well-controlled prime of its growth. From the narrow line of white collar to the narrower thread of French watchchain–from the lean, long feet to the lean, white hands she took him in, and braced herself, adjusted herself, to meet his stately gravity. If there was something of the Mephistopheles in fancy dress about him, it was corrected by his considerate expression.
“Have you had breakfast?” he began, speaking French with a softly nasal accent.
“How kind of you to think of it! Yes, thank you, monsieur.”
“I have to go to Verdun,” he put it to her. “I have business there.” It was as though he expected that she would let him off without difficult explanations, would exclaim: “There is some mistake! Some other car, some other driver is intended for your work!”
Enid Bagnold ( 27 oktober 1889 – 3 maart 1981)
Uit: Fran Lebowitz, A Humorist at Work (Interview in The Paris Review, 1991)
That’s not writing. Talking is not writing. To me, it would be even a slower way to write. To me, dictating a book seems impossible. But what would also be impossible, would be to write on one of those word processors. There’s too much distance.
What do you use then?
A Bic pen. I’m such a slow writer I have no need for anything as fast as a word processor. I don’t need anything so snappy. I write so slowly that I could write in my own blood without hurting myself. I think if there were no such thing as men, there would be no word processors. Male writers like them because they have this sneaking suspicion that writing is not the most masculine profession. This is why you have so much idiotic behavior among male writers. There are more male writers who own guns than any other profession except police officers. They like machines because it makes them seem more masculine. Well, I work on a machine. It’s almost as good as being a mechanic.
I have a real aversion to machines. I write with a pen. Then I read it to someone who writes it onto the computer. What are those computer letters made of anyway? Light? Too insubstantial. Paper, you can feel it. A pen. There’s a connection. A pen goes exactly at your speed, whereas that machine jumps. And then, that machine is waiting for you, just humming “uh-huh, yes?”
It reminds me of when a choreographer I know was creating a ballet. He was stuck, and he asked me to come help.
I said, How could I help you choreograph a ballet?
He said, I’d like you to come and sit there while I’m doing it. You’re so judgmental I would find it helpful.
So I went to his studio several times while he was making the ballet. I saw the only job that was worse than writing. My idea of pure hell. The dancers sit there waiting for him to come up with something. It would be as if the letters were sitting there, or the words, smoking cigarettes, staring at you, as if to say, Well? OK, come on.
Plus they are paid by the minute. And a piano player is sitting there as well. Twenty-five people sitting in the room staring at you while you are thinking. I can’t believe anyone has ever made a ballet.”
Fran Lebowitz (Morristown, 27 oktober 1950)
Zie voor onderstaande schrijvers ook mijn blog van 27 oktober 2008.
De Iraanse schrijver en filmmaker Reza Allamehzadeh werd geboren op 27 oktober 1943 in Sari, Mazandaran.
De Poolse schrijver Kazimierz Brandys werd geboren op 27 oktober 1916 in Lodz.