Uit: City Boy
“I had constant daydreams of meeting Susan Sontag and Paul Goodman. I don’t know why I focused on them — maybe because they were so often mentioned in the Village Voice and the Partisan Review but even by Time. He’d written Growing Up Absurd, the bible of the sixties, now largely forgotten (I never read it in any event). How could I have worshipped a man whose work I didn’t know? I guess because I’d heard that he was bisexual, that he was a brilliant therapist, and that he was somehow for the young and the liberated. I read his astonishing journal, Five Years, published in 1966, a groundbreaking book in which he openly discussed paying men for sex and enjoying anonymous sex in the meatpacking district. Today that would seem unremarkable, perhaps, but for a husband and a father back then to be so confi ding, so shameless, was unprecedented, especially since the sex passages were mixed in with remarks on culture and poetry and a hundred other subjects.
Sontag was someone I read more faithfully, especially Against Interpretation and even individual essays as they were published.
New York, in short, in the seventies was a junkyard with serious artistic aspirations. I remember that one of our friends, the poet Brad Gooch, wanted to introduce us to his lover, who’d become an up-and-coming Hollywood director, but Brad begged him not to tell us that he worked as a director since Hollywood had such low prestige among us. That sort of reticence would be unthinkable today in a New York that has become enslaved by wealth and glitz, but back then people still embraced Ezra Pound’s motto, “Beauty is difficult.”
We kept asking in 1972 and 1973 when the seventies were going to begin . . .
Then again we had to admit the sixties hadn’t really begun until the Beatles came over to the States in 1964, but after that the decade took on a real, definite personality — protest movements, long hair, love, drugs, a euphoria that turned sour only toward the end of 1969. Of course for Leftists the decade began with the Brown v. Board of Education decision and ended with Nixon’s resignation in 1974.”
Edmund White (Cincinnati, 13 januari 1940)
„Niemand durchschaute sie ganz; niemand konnte wirklich sagen, warum sie mit einemmal ausfielen oder sonderbare Dinge taten. Man suchte schon lange nicht mehr nach Ursachen, man tauschte einfach so lange Teile aus, bis das ganze Gebilde wieder funktionierte.
Oft stellte er sich vor, wieviel in der Welt von diesen Apparaten abhing, von denen er doch wußte, daß es immer eine Ausnahme war und ein halbes Wunder, wenn sie genau das taten, was sie sollten. Abends im Halbschlaf beunruhigte ihn diese Vorstellung – all die Flugzeuge, die elektronisch gesteuerten Waffen, die Rechner in den Banken – manchmal so sehr, daß er Herzklopfen bekam. Dann fragte Elke ihn ärgerlich, warum er nicht ruhig liege, da könnte man sein Bett ja ebensogut mit einer Betonmischmaschine teilen, und er entschuldigte sich und dachte daran, daß schon seine Mutter ihm gesagt hatte, er sei zu empfindsam.
Als er aus der Bahn stieg, läutete das Telefon. Es war Elke, die ihm sagte, er solle noch Gurken kaufen, heute abend auf dem Heimweg. Im Supermarkt in ihrer Straße gebe es die jetzt besonders billig.
Ebling versprach es und verabschiedete sich schnell. Das Telefon läutete wieder, und eine Frau fragte ihn, ob er sich das gut überlegt habe, auf so eine wie sie verzichte man nur, wenn man ein Idiot sei. Oder sehe er das anders?
Nein, sagte er, ohne nachzudenken, er sehe das genauso.
„Ralf!“ Sie lachte.
Eblings Herz klopfte, sein Hals war trocken. Er legte auf.
Den ganzen Weg bis zur Firma war er verwirrt und nervös. Offensichtlich hatte der ursprüngliche Besitzer der Nummer eine ähnliche Stimme wie er. Wieder rief er beim Kundendienst an.
Nein, sagte eine Frau, man könne ihm nicht einfach eine andere Nummer geben, es sei denn, er bezahle dafür.“
Daniel Kehlmann (München, 13 januari 1975)
“Being entrusted the care and feeding of Victor Propp was presumably a mark of being chosen, although Russell sometimes wondered. Victor was a long-term, highly speculative literary investment. . . . In 1961, Propp had published a delicate coming-of-age novel called “New Haven Evenings.” The story of a Propp-like second-generation American who goes to Yale to become a poet and falls in love with a duplicitous Daughter of the American Revolution, it collected respectful, encouraging reviews. . . . Since then Propp had entered an almost purely theoretical realm in which, as someone once said of E. M. Forster, his reputation grew with each book he failed to publish. . . .
Propp’s work-in-progress gained stature and renown with each passing year in which it failed to appear. . . . Fragments of the untitled novel infrequently found their way into literary journals . . . somehow conveying the sense of samizdat. . . . The subject of this long-anticipated work seemed to be the author himself, in every phase of his development from the embryo. . . . One feminist critic, wondering about his mother’s role in all of this strident creation, complained that, in Propp, “ontogeny recapitulates mysogyny.” What chiefly dazzled Propp’s admirers was the language, reminiscent, as one commentator proposed, of “Henry James with bowel movements” — a Propp sentence being a colonic labyrinth of qualifications, diversions and recapitulations — another enthusiast declaring that Propp was the only American writer of this century who thoroughly understood the semi colon.”
Jay McInerney (Hartford, 13 januari 1955)
Uit: A Gate at the Stairs
“I was ever hopeful of early bedtimes and long naps. I had come from Dellacrosse Central, from a small farm on the old Perryville Road, to this university town of Troy — “the Athens of the Midwest” — as if from a cave, like the priest-child of a Columbian tribe I’d read of in Anthropology, a boy made mystical by being kept in the dark for the bulk of his childhood and allowed only stories — no experience — of the outside world. Once brought out into light, he would be in a perpetual, holy condition of bedazzlement and wonder; no story would ever have been equal to the thing itself. And so it was with me. Nothing had really prepared me. Not the college piggy bank in the dining room, the savings bonds from my grandparents, or the used set of World Book Encyclopedias with their beautiful color charts of international wheat production and photographs of presidential birthplaces. The flat, green world of my parents’ hogless, horseless farm – its dullness, its flies, its quiet ripped open daily by the fumes and whining of machinery — twisted away and left me with a brilliant city life of books and films and witty friends. Someone had turned on the lights. Someone had led me out of the cave — of Perryville Road. My brain was on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauovoir. Twice a week a young professor named Thad, dressed in jeans and a tie, stood before a lecture hall of stunned farm kids like me and spoke thrillingly of Henry James’s masturbation of the comma. I was riveted. I had never before seen a man wear jeans with a tie.
The ancient cave, of course, had produced a mystic; my childhood, however, had produced only me.”
Lorrie Moore (Glens Falls, 13 januari 1957)
In de wachtkamer
In de wachtkamer wordt
vooral gewacht, zoals
een vader op het antwoord
van zijn zoon: rustig
en gelaten. Zittend tussen
doe maar kalmpjes aan
en schiet een beetje op.
En er wordt zeer veel gezucht,
lucht die overschiet,
als na het zingen
van een lied, buiten adem
en ook weer niet.
Geel van de zon
Boer kijkt naar lucht,
ziet een wolk en
denkt o dat de
zon weer scheen en
ik met vrouw of
paard of koe of
hond blij kon zijn
en in de zon
keek met de blik
op het licht en
het hart naar het
geel van de zon.
Jan de Bas (Waddinxveen, 13 januari 1964)
Uit:Letters From Buenos Aires
“Monday 9th June
I left the long summer days of Paris for the Buenos Aires winter: it was zero degrees and the afternoons were over by five thirty. The Kirchner government had been installed in May, and even among the capital’s disillusioned, not to say cynical inhabitants, it was enjoying the obligatory honeymoon period. In the taxi from the airport, the driver asked me my opinion of the president’s first measures: a green light for the trial of corrupt Supreme Court judges, the sacking of dozens of high-ranking military officers, government subsidies for public works under the auspices of select workers’ organizations. I tried to explain to him that, having witnessed an array of more or less inefficient civilian governments and brutal military regimes, it was hard for me to have any illusions on this score, even if the outlook seemed quite positive. ‘We are just like you,’ he said, ‘waiting for the first foul-up.’
Four Argentine films were showing in Paris when I left, including Diego Lerman’s remarkable Tan de repente (Suddenly, 2002). My first surprise on arriving in Buenos Aires was to learn that this film—its opening section based on César Aira’s short story, ‘La prueba’—had not yet been released in its native country; it was to premiere two weeks later. As a juror at the 2002 Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival, I had been astonished by its grainy black-and-white images, its totally unconventional casting, and above all by its seemingly aimless, improvised narrative, the second half of which overturns everything established by the first.
All of these qualities, whilst unusual, are not entirely novel in the ‘new’ or ‘young’ Argentine cinema. (Though such promotional labels are worth little, it seems all but impossible to remove them.) Seven years ago, I discovered Martín Rejtman’s first film Rapado (Shaven, 1992), a bolt of lightning in the desolate landscape of the time. Like Rejtman’s next film, Silvia Prieto (1999), Rapado was striking for a ruthlessly pared-down aesthetic, and for its reserved but at times fanciful humour—all of which ran quite counter to the sentimentality and telenovela theatrics that then dominated most ‘ambitious’ Argentine films.”
Edgardo Cozarinsky (Buenos Aires, 13 januari 1939)
Uit: Persian Is Sugar (Vertaald door Iraj Bashiri)
“My dear fellow,” I said. “What kind of a question is this? Of course I am an Iranian. My ancestors have all been Iranians. Ask anyone in the Sangalaj district of Tehran; they will all testify to my being an Iranian.”
But my reply did not seem to meet with his satisfaction, which made me realize that the situation was worse than I could have expected, especially when he ordered the officers to arrest “Khan-Sahib,” that is me, temporarily, while further necessary investigations were carried out. One of the officers, who tucked a rather long-stem pipe, like a sword, in his tattered sash, grabbed me by the wrist and said, “Move on.”
Recognizing my situation and how precarious it was, I decided to assume a casual stance. Rather than making a scene, as I would normally do in such a situation, I drew in my horns, allowing common sense to lead the way. May God save us all, even the infidel, from falling victim to governmental officials! You cannot even imagine what these ruffians put me through. The only things of mine that were not poked about and turned inside out were my derby hat and my faith, neither of which was of any particular use to them.
Eventually, when they felt that they had carried out their administrative duties to the best of their abilities, I was locked up in a small, dark hut behind the Customs House. It was a grave-like hole complete with cobwebs, and guarded by an army of spiders.”
Mohammad- Ali Jamālzādeh (13 januari 1892 – 8 november 1997)
“O Love, thou Judas of the martyred soul!
Thou pandar to the painted harlot, Life !
The rankest lies wherewith thy heart is rife… ”
“My love is the flame of an unfading autumn,
It is the flare of unconsuming leaves
In an ecstasy of halcyonian space and light;… ”
“Our blood is swayed by sunken moons
And lulled by midnights long foredone;
We waken to a foundered sun… ”
Clark Ashton Smith (13 januari 1893 – 14 augustus 1961)