And someone precious once lent me a copy of Fernando Pessoa's 'The Book of Disquiet', and like quality absinthe, it's definitely a book to be taken in small doses, a delicacy best tasted by taken in only a few pages at a time, but since finishing it, I've had this urge to visit his home town of Lisbon, sit in his café's and bars, and pretentiously read him aloud there, and perhaps find a barber and have my hair cut there as well.
Pessoa writes on the first page that 'sometimes I think I will never leave Rua dos Douradores. Once written down, that seems to me like eternity' and then 'I stand waiting for the stars to begin at the window of this fourth floor room that looks out on the infinite' which gives me some good clues where he might be found, and the Rua dos Douradores being close enough to the Bainxa/Chiado metro station, easy enough to get to, on either the green or the blue lines, and a little later 'yes, for me Rua dos Douradores embraces the meaning of all things, the resolution of all mysteries, except the existence of mysteries themselves which is something beyond resolution', and although visiting the street itself cannot simplistically resolve those mysteries, the resolution itself does not matter much. But I've already read the barbershop sequence on page 6, aloud - on the Belgrave train from Flinders Street station after buying my own copy from the Readings bookshop in Carlton, and not caring who overheard, in fact I was only reading it aloud for the benefit of my fellow passengers anyway, beginning 'the dull old man with dirty gaiters I often used to pass at half past nine in the morning. The lame lottery salesman who pestered me without success. The plump, rosy old gentleman with the cigar, who used to stand at the door of the tobacconist's. The pale-cheeked tobacconist himself. What has become of those people who, just because I saw them day after day, become part of my life? Tomorrow I too will disappear from Rua da Prata, Rua dos Douradores, Rua dos Fanqueiros. Tomorrow I too - this thinking and feeling soul, this universe I am to myself - yes, tomorrow I too will be someone who never walks these streets, someone others will evoke with a vague: "I wonder what's become of him?" and everything I do, everything I feel, everything I experience, will be just one less passer-by on the daily streets of some city or other', and lordy I loved that, knowing that I too will someday possibly be someone else's vague recollection, but if the other passengers in my carriage didn't, then it's their loss, they should have been laying garlands at my feet, but they didn't, and not one of those ingrates even asked who it was that I'd been reading from.
Pessoa also mentions the grocer 'on the block between Rua da Assumpção and Rua da Victoria. He's the Caesar of the whole block' on page 15, although at the moment I'm not entirely sure of where that block might be, exactly, but if I should meet this particular Caesar then I shall buy two apples and a lime. Nor do I yet know of the 'Rua do Arsenal, Rua da Alfandega, the sad roads that lead out to the east where the Alfandega ends, and the long solitary line of quiet quays: they comfort me with sadness on those evenings when I choose to share their solitude' that straddle the pages 22 and 23, but walking roads defined as sad will always sing their siren song, and I will seek them out, and ponder the nature of their sadnesses, wether they be melancholic or in total and complete despair, and the clouds written about at length on page 33, that Pessoa describes as being those disembodied pieces of heaven, and I shall photograph these pieces of heaven as they may recompense for the photographs I never took of the seven kilometres of road that was made by angels linking Nájera with Azófra, on the Camino in northern Spain, the angels that earnt a sainthood for Santa Domingo de la Calzada, but I shall definitely walk this heaven-sent street, and photograph the Rua Nova do Almada of page 40 and hopefully some descendent of the ordinary man will be there, just as you looked at the ordinary back of a head of an ordinary man in this ordinary street for whom you felt some tenderness merely for being so ordinary and unthinking, and the unnamed café in the unnamed street on page 49 from where Pessoa looked tremulously out on life from it's terrace (I suspect some café in the Rua dos Douradores itself), a pity, as he could have been looking tremulously at the brighteyed waitress who brought him his afternoon coffee instead, and with a few clever words Fernando might have charmed her completely and perhaps even not have died the virgin that he did, and it may be the same blackclad waitress in the same café who provided him with the white sandwich wrapping paper to write on, although I cannot ask for sandwich paper to write on, as I don't yet know the Portugese for either of those words, nor any words that might charm our waitress. So perhaps I will merely ask for another coffee, por favor, and later, I shall attempt to photograph the sunset of page 72, after yet again sadly failing to proposition the paperbringing waitress with whom this sunset could have been shared, perhaps not being able to find the right words or anticipating that the prospect of rejection too humiliating a prospect.
Walking leisurely down Rua da Alfandega towards Targus and as Terreiro do Paço opened out before him, seeing the sunless western sky, and the next page feeling nostalgia overwhelms Fernando like an opiate and, like religion, is indeed a fine grade of opiate, then mentioning the greatest traveller he has ever known on page 76, the office boy who collected everything, including 'brochures on the sailings between Portugal and Australia' and I think I should like that tremendously, imagining maybe six weeks of sailing, calling in at foreign ports often enough, although the idea of a deck chair and a suitcase full of books to read while being entirely surrounded by a horizon of ocean, and perhaps some fine art paper and a handful of drawing greylead pencils, and my reflecting aviator sunglasses, and occasionally taking walks from bow to stern and back again, and perhaps think on 'we can never disembark from ourselves' as is written in page 78 is absolutely true, we cannot escape ourselves, just as Sartre's Egyptian, despite having lived in Paris for twenty years is not only still thought of an Egyptian but is still Egyptian in his head, but within just a few pages reading your idea that 'when other travellers visit countries, they do so as anonymous pilgrims', and this is said as though it was a bad thing, but with all apologies, Fernando, right now I can think of nothing I'd rather be than some anonymous pilgrim walking again along some seemingly endless dusty road towards some distant town and enjoying the sound of each footfall, even an anonymous pilgrim who might be naturally fearful of the black sky described on page 85, pilgrims necessarily being more tuned into the elements than most others, and also more appreciative of those beautiful Sunday mornings such as you describe on page 88, that Sunday which leads you to the church of Sao Domingos with it's congregations coming and going and where you remember attending mass as a child and it was like penetrating a great mystery, but soon enough in the market of Rua da Prata where you consider the implications of buying bananas, but should I ever walk the Rua da Prata, perhaps as some anonymous pilgrim, then I will buy a few bananas, but probably not consider the deeper implications of the exchange as you did, nor think on it's metaphysics, nor will I stand for hours in Terreiro do Paço, lost in some meditation 'on the eternal insatiability of my vague desires and on the perennial instability of my impossible longings' of page 93, while the jetty, the evening and the rank sea air all formed part of the anguish he writes of, and while I can only conjecture your impossible longings, in deference to them then perhaps I shall be more inclined to appreciate that 'the general aspect of the square is of a kind to give a very agreeable impression to the most exacting of tourists', and although I am pretending to be an anonymous pilgrim and not the exacting tourist addressed in your guide to Lisbon, then perhaps I should sing whatever words I can remember from 'the impossible dream', speaking of impossible longings, instead, which may not amount to much more than:
"to dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe
to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go"
And whatever comes next will probably slip through the mental cracks entirely, those cracks perhaps being some kind of divine punishment for my being more familiar with the Alex Harvey version than the original from Man of La Mancha, but both versions are probably as far removed from Fernando's meditations as it's dialectically possible to be anyway, but only a few pages later, he's singing the praises of 'the sordid skyline of the houses, the unwashed windows of all the offices in the Baixa and the empty windows of the top floor apartments and, above them, around the garret roofs, the inevitable washing hung out to dry in the sun amongst flowerpots and plants', which all sounds terribly charming to me, and probably closer to my idea of the impossible dream than Pessoa's is to him, let alone the cheap cigarette of page 95, which I could smoke while photographing those unwashed windows and all that drying washing pegged out, and the brief moment on page 96 where he imagined himself to be someone else, and was happy, drinking, eating and laughing, but then two pages later pondering the metaphysics of God himself as revealed through the blue eyes of a calendar lithograph of a woman holding a primrose, revealing an essential sadness within, and on page 105 mentioning being overwhelming by the aroma of the bakery, et si, I will have dos croissants por favor, and of fresh fruit, et dos banane por favor, and the scent of wooden crates, and perhaps we shall eat the croissants and bananas on the tram journey, the one Pessoa describes on page 113 where the journey is spent contemplating the green dress of a female passenger as though her dress was a primer on political economy, although, should a similarly dressed passenger be on our tram, I shall most likely be considering the shape beneath that dress instead, my knowledge of political economy not being my strong suit. But I shall maybe think on his statement from page 120 that 'tedium is the lack of a mythology', for I have my own personal mythologies endlessly being carried around in my head, a mythology being endlessly added to, a weaving of sorts, with some threads stronger and more brilliantly crimson than others, but all there, of those with whom I have crossed paths, and one of those brilliant threads is shared with Fernando on page 125, when he writes of cigarette smoke that 'subtly rebuilds past moments', and given my nearly lifelong affair with them, they are more than a single strand, trying to remember all the names of those with whom I have shared cigarettes, but though they are legion, I still care about them all, and then the potent image of 'the posters pasted one on top of the other on the walls' mentioned on page 129, even if I endlessly photograph such layered posters, I would trade them all for some girl, perhaps the waitress from the unnamed café, who'd be willing enough to pose smoking a single cigarette, hundreds of shots taken during the seventeen or so inhalations it takes to smoke one, already imagining that smoke writhing beautifully upward from a red and perfectly lipsticked mouth. Perhaps Pessoa would have as well, had he a camera, perhaps he did, perhaps he just didn't mention it, perhaps he would have photographed the wooden floors and paving stones he mentions on page 131 and somehow also managing to photograph the metaphors of both the masked and unmasked men of page 132, maybe he has photographs of his young mother who died when he was one but who has been pretty and the father who suicided when he was three and written of in page 135, although my mother died when I was thirty-two and my father still lives a life, of a dementia affected sort, although Fernando's story isn't quite that of bernardo soares, the protagonist of our book of disquiet, as his father died of tuberculosis when the young Fernando was five and his mother remarried some time afterwards, but what he writes on page 137 is true enough, that 'no anguished sense of the mystery of life hurts like love or jealousy or longing', and I will take a large mouthful of jack daniels and hold it there for a few seconds before swallowing it, and almost feel myself weeping at an inestimable sense of loss for something gone that I'll never have again, and on page 138 he writes of the young girls seen on the street who would never be his, and of how he is the prose he writes, of how he is the madman garlanded with dried flowers, of how he is the sawdust-stuffed doll, and on page 139, how he becomes some character in some book, a character then destroyed through a rewriting, of how he is a playing card remnant of some otherwise long lost pack, and somehow I'm imagining that Fernando would never have been the Jack of Hearts, perhaps the Eight of Spades, and on page 140, of how he is a discarded rag, he writes of the vast theatre of his dream life, before 'life intervened. That night they took me to have supper at the Leão', the Lisbon café apparently frequented by intellectuals, and I'm wondering if the Leão still exists, if that be the café with the bronze statue of Pessoa himself enjoying his café con leche on the terrace, but no, it is not, it's outside the 'A Brasileira' café, to which I'm terribly tempted to add a texta'd moustache, or perhaps it's a red wine he's so determinedly and bronzedly holding, but if the café still stands, then perhaps the Leão will be the Lisbon café in which I shall pretentiously read Pessoa aloud, the section on pages 5 and 6 which tells told of the death of the old barber, or perhaps, if the Leão no longer exists, I shall have to visit a barber instead, un dos por favour, but maybe by then I will have learnt enough Portugese to talk a little with the barber, perhaps about the current state of the Portugese football team, or the weather, but most likely not, and most likely I'll never have the words for those social obligations mentioned on page 148, going to a funeral, discussing whatever matters need discussion at the office, going to meet someone at the station, nor the words to talk through why 'the constant object of my close study is precisely that vulgar humanity, I love it because I hate it', yet, a few pages later, on page 151, he writes, simply enough, that 'I've never loved anyone' and a little later that he would despise anyone capable of loving him for their obvious lack of any aesthetic sense, but not as much later as Fernando saying of himself that 'I am nothing but an abstract centre of impersonal sensations', at which point, if Fernando and I had been drinking whatever Portugese-for-beer might be then I'd have suggested his visiting some brothel between here and there and gotten himself a headjob from some sad-eyed beauty where his sensations would be of another kind entirely, and not much caring if that makes him relatively happier or not as he writes of on page 151. I'm guessing that 'happiness' is not much of a sought-after abstract noun in Fernando's world, the desire for which is not the end point reached through intense philosophical discussions, but something else, and on page 155, argues that 'to be loved has always seemed an impossibility', and I'm wondering about love itself, and why does it dies in the mouths and hearts of the loved.As sadly, on page 156, he says that 'whenever I have loved, I've only pretended to love', and I'm not quite sure what this means, exactly, do we love who the person is, or what the person is, or our understanding of who we imagine that person to be, perhaps she was right that I did not love her, that I loved something else, a fictional construct of my own creation, then again, I may have been a fictional construct for her as well but I daren't asked, as she might tell me something I wish I'd never known, but for the next half-dozen pages, Pessoa pontificates on the nature of love, which is perhaps a little too much like a virgin describing her first good fucking. But later, on page 174 he writes of 'the longing for impossible things precisely because they are impossible, the nostalgia for what never was, one's bitterness that one is not someone else', about which I could probably write, free associate, tell stories until I wept, so perhaps I should just have a good weep now and get it over with, 'scuse me just one moment.
Nope, sorry, couldn't do it, all apologies, couldn't manage to work up even so much as a single, solitary tear, meaning they'll probably happen later, but hopefully not at Ruby's Bar and Lounge, as Kaki King is playing, although I could always pretend her playing shifted something emotionally south within me.
And, on page 178, we get the word 'disquiet' itself, and as the book is 'The Book of Disquiet', then I'm hoping all will go quiet after the word has been introduced to the audience, and, much in the manner of a standup comedian, or some poet (not that there's any difference at all), and hopefully he's about to begin some kind of monologue on the nature of things, using itself as the basis for it's observations, it's own delightfully quirky interpretations of the world and it's words, and all will be made clear, 'the disquiet aroused by the mystery of life', and if 'disquiet' was a high cheek-boned Parisien of some Algerian descent, then those in the front row are lining up to have disquiet's babies, 'the mysteries of existence' he continues, but not quite defining itself, but slightly moving sideways to sing the praises of all things tiny and seemingly inconsequential, a solitary stone in the road marched on by a victorious army, the solitary pin in the ribbon roll, but soon enough, on the very next page, Pessoa writes that 'Where did I find the strength in my solitary soul to write page after lonely page, to live out syllable by syllable the false magic not of what I was writing but of what I imagined I was writing', leaving 'disquiet' still standing on his stage, perhaps still facing that expectant audience, but now humiliatingly wordless, and now quickly changing the subject on page 182 to the topic of death, 'What is art but a negation of life' he asks, apparently quite seriously, and not really wanting an answer, 'never to know if God exists' he asks again, perhaps providing a nice quote for those students enrolled in philosophy 101, who'll endlessly and uselessly debate the same question, and on the following page telling us that we should be nothing, have nothing, want nothing, which, if Fernando and I are having a second whatever-the-portugese-is-for-beer down here in the bar, then I'm assuming that he's relying on me to pay for all the drinks on this fine and dark night, and he's smoking my more expensive cigarettes as well, bastard. But wait, while he's drinking himself into a pleasant state as someone else is paying for it, and all that cigarette smoke is undoubtedly affecting him in terms of raw emotional recall, he's begun, on page 184 to define exactly what knowledge is, and this had better be good, Fernando, this had better be worth it, as to know something for certain puts you in the same league as Socrates, and without putting too fine a point on it, Socrates is a tad better known that you are, or ever will be, and roll up, bang the drum, and for one night only, folks, the world's greatest philosopher in the red trunks up against Portugal's best known poet in the blue, which almost seems like a non-event, a foregone conclusion.
And Portugal's best known poet lands the first punch, with:
'To consider our greatest anguish an incident of no importance, not just in terms of the life of the Universe, but in terms of our own souls, is the beginning of knowledge. To reflect on this whilst in the midst on that anguish is the whole of knowledge' ..
And rather than describe the fight, when Socrates comes out swinging and demanding definitions of at least half a dozen terms just used, it might be best just to wait a while, and perhaps clean up the blood later, while accepting that none of it really matters anyway, if Fernando actually believes that reflections on anguish are the core of knowledge then fine, I don't care that he's wrong, he can dance his little dance and sing his little song, and swing his little fists and then the Socratic technique will take him out easily enough.
At least I'd hoped so, until I read on, and on page 186 there's him saying that 'In order not to demean ourselves in our own eyes, it is enough that we should become accustomed to harbouring no ambitions, passions, desires, hopes, impulses or feelings of restlessness', and maybe it's true, maybe Fernando's nailed it exactly, exposed all pretence to otherness, being the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, apparently, but somehow I don't think so, as at times my entire life seems nothing but a lurching, an almost drunken procession of passions, desires and hopes, and 'sober courtesy in the banquets of our thoughts' is necessary for the aesthete, sober, fuck!, I think not. Release the thoughts! Release the fuckin' bats! And my hard fingered rendition of 'Me and the Devil Blues' on this steel guitar is going to loosen the undies of those wives and girlfriends in the front row, bottles of red wine will be drunk, and large nips of vodka will be mixed with redbull, and blood will probably be spilled and you might not be able to explain the yellowing bruises tomorrow morning and I will laugh sarcastically at the at the finely wrought pretensions of poets, as a rose is not a rose is not a rose.
Then, on the very next page, Fernando feels it necessary to rise to the defence of poets, maybe because of me just having called them pretentious, but even then I was being kind, 'whining and pretentious little cunts' is the more appropriate descriptive term, but I'm making an effort to be reasonable, which is a much overrated requirement anyway so I'll refrain from calling some whining little cunt of a poet a whining little cunt, but Fernando's argument runs something like this:

1. The smile that non-poets and non-artists bestow on poets and artists is not one of condescension, but an 'admission of conscious doubt'.
2. This conscious doubt is an acknowledgement, of the 'superiority' of those professions that use dreams as their raw materials ..
3. 'it's the dreamer who is the true man of action.'
4. Thus, every smile and smirk endured by poets and artists is to be read as something else entirely, perhaps as some kind of salute, a tip of the hat, an acknowledgement ..

And I'm assuming than that for an encore, our action man will slip his hand down his own undies and feel himself up before wanking like a man possessed on behalf of the poets, artists and whining little cunts everywhere, and somewhat interestingly, soon enough Fernando acknowledges that 'I can't look reality in the eye', whatever reality might be, but which seems screamingly obvious, but there's arguably an occasional truth even in the utterances of madmen, perhaps even in those of poets.
But to continue, and ignoring the supporting statement on page 190 that he says of himself that he doesn't 'speak the language of reality', before spending the next few pages outlining the substance of his dreams, perhaps, down here in the bar where I again appear to be buying all the fuckin' drinks, I might tell him a few of mine, but I doubt he'd be at all interested, and if there's a shred of truth in the entire book then it's in his descriptions of unease and discomfort, a disquiet, that he feels in the company of other human beings, and that he'd rather be left alone, well, sorry, Fernando, as I'm paying for the drinks and supplying you with endless cigarettes, you may have to just feign being interested in something other than the 'liquid, sickly meandering of feelings as they crumble and rot' within you that are mentioned on page 191, not to mention those sweet juices of your own dreams as well, but some time later, during which Fernando has listened to me retelling of my own dreams, particularly the one where I'm managing to squeeze splinters the size of apricot pips from the ends of my fingers, that leave us both yearning for the 'cup of coffee, a cigarette, and the penetrating aroma of its smoke' of page 192, and perhaps we'll be discussing his observation that 'Imaginary figures have more substance and truth than real ones', an observation that is perhaps true enough, given the imaginary figures I have created over time, ones that have populated my stories, including Clementine of the Wondrous Clavicles who works at the local epicerie, Mao of the Chinese black market and his achingly beautiful almond-eyed daughter, poets who publish slender volumes of verse and who are incapable of refusing any unabashed forthright proposal, Louis who is a descendant of the Sun King himself and who passes the time playing checkers with his brothers, Pierre the Anarchist mime artiste, not to mention Gothchick the Raven-haired Wonder who always seems to turn up whenever I need her to, Tony the Carny with the flashing gold tooth and possessed of an unequalled rat cunning, and all those other residents of Rue Saint Denis all so willing to be photographed for they think they know me well as I can only pretend to be one of them, and all others who's stories remain to be told.
"I never knew loves so real, so full of passion and life as I did with the characters I myself created. What a shame! I miss them because, like all loves, they end …"
And perhaps I should tear out that page 193, and have it framed and hanging on my wall, this one thing that both Fernando and I know appear for certain, those ends of things, and if Socrates should appear, spoiling for a fight regarding our certainties regarding the endings of all things, then I'll need to deal him a series of unforgiving and vicious rabbit punches to his kidneys and spleen, and I'll clean up his blood from the floor afterwards. And later, as I walk with Pessoa through the streets of his Lisbon, perhaps he'll tell me again what I've already read on page 195 that 'My mania for creating a false world is still with me and will leave me only when I die', which, using hindsight, I will tell him will be on November 30th in 1935, but shall taunt him by refusing to reveal the exact manner of his death, tuberculosis at the relatively young age of 47, and wondering on the distance between the his first bloody cough and his last. But it's true enough, my own false world is far more real than mostly anything else as well, and maybe, as he stumbles home to his fourth floor apartment, to somewhere on the Rua dos Douradores, where he both lives and works, the address he assumes he will never escape from, but not being entirely sure if he ever really wanted to, the shuttered room that is his world, the alone of his professed preference, perhaps he will talk of other things, here, and I will just assume him drunk and rambling, but I will listen anyway, and agree with him as I have no idea who he might become when drunk, this was a man with self-induced psychosis, a cornucopia of multiple personalities, whose pseudonyms provide the bulk of Portugese writers, he will talk more of dreams, and of his created worlds, of the conceit that poets and philosophers occupy the apex of humanity, and although he's wrong, I'm not telling him (the apex of humanity is occupied by librarians), about the 'inner processes of illusion' mentioned on page 205, and how his objectivity is of the most absolute kind, and mentioned on the same page, and he will mention the realities of his generation a little later, those working during and after the First World War, when everything believed to be true was a fiction, and when everything that gave society its strength was destroyed, as he said just before incoherency set in and he's saying something about the cracks in the walls that they didn't even notice, but, God knows I love a drunk, so rave on my imaginary friend, tell me about God, and the humanists, and how the humanists rejected God, and how that was a mistake, as humanists believed in people, and how people are generally fucking stupid, and of how you decided you preferred the faith of Decadence instead, divine decadence then, bring it on, perhaps not the Dionysian type of decadence I'm imagining, but something else entirely, something finer perhaps, something that has some resonance with the intellect, in something to be had in 'an aesthetic contemplation of life' as explained on page 208, an aesthetic decadence, continuing that such decadence is incapable of taking anything seriously, leaving only feelings as the greater reality, if not the only one, and to accept that everything is flawed and imperfect, and finishing by telling me, on page 209, that you really don't give a fuck if anybody at all reads your words after your death, I do not believe you, but I'm just saying anything, it's not worth the argument, writers write not to pass the time, as you argue, but because they have to, the imperative is to get the words out of their heads.
And although there's another fifty or so pages in your book of disquiet, I've had enough for one evening.
A little later, and on page 210 Pessoa rambles on regarding the losing of religions, about how the massive loss of faith in his generation led others to try on other spiritual dimensions for size, but which he finds all wanting. Let it go, Fernando, just let it all go, and somehow, perhaps it was the wine, perhaps you're a little unused to the sheer quantities of the cheap stuff, but you've said something along the lines of 'We represent a painful version of the Argonaut's bold motto: the journey is what matters, not life', and you can recant if you want, but it's in print, so recanting isn't going to change much at all, the Argonaut's voyage may have eventually transformed into being about the journey and not the destination, if by 'life' you mean the same thing as 'destination', and I'm assuming you do, you're wrng, as it's not. In historical terms, the Argonaut's journey was more about ensuring the correct succession of the kingship of Jason's city state, Jason being set the apparently impossible task of bring back the Golden Fleece, his uncle having illegally usurped his father's kingship by dent of force and murder, the journey only proving Jason's worthiness through being subject to tests of various godly-designed kinds, and with Jason bringing back the princess Medea as well, another inevitability given Aphrodite's cunning plan, but that's an entirely other story, don't get me started on Greek mythology, Fernando. Okay then, get me started then, and see if I care, so, one twist of the Argonaut's voyage and we have the perfect metaphor for the idea of the voyage, but confusing 'life' and 'the destination' is a tad crude, an all too obvious twisting to your own seemingly nihilistic purposes, but yet a further twist yields another metaphor, a third yet another, some long forgotten historical fact involving the plunder of Colchis and suddenly stories are rife about the worthiness of the plunderer.
And lemmee see, 'Life would be unbearable if we were truly conscious of it', it's okay, Fernando, you don't have to whisper it, as the print on page 212 will remain the same, whispered or spoken or shouted or screamed, followed up with something along the lines of consciousness and unconsciousness, with a tip of the hat to Jung as the collective unconscious gets a token mention, but whatever the merits, I'm suggesting calling by the hardware shop, maybe the paint shop, and stocking up on spray cans, and tomorrow morning, Lisbon commuters will be reading "life would be unbearable if we were truly conscious of it" graffiteed endlessly on it's walls, it's railway bridges and it's streets, and any other place you think worthy of being targeted, but I'm suggesting Rua dos Douradores for starters, and yes, it may all be ultimately useless, but the risk might be fun, and as an idea, graffitteeing it is probably a better way to get it into the public consciousness than publishing. And with the red wine mentioned on pages 213 and 214, and, forgivez-moi, but I grabbed it while I could even though you sanctioned me against grabbing anything while I could, but I left the porkchops for someone else, and the girlfriend you mentioned, but never had, is still waiting on the street corner for someone better to come along, maybe the Caesar of page 5 or the young barber from page 6 or even the unmentioned waitress, but maybe we could tag along with the procession of gods from two hundred and seventeen, as there's a few issues with 'the bright divinities of the Greeks' that I need to discuss, although which bright divinities they might be is a little unclear, Hades not being the brightest, but for whom I'd buy a drink anyway, and perhaps a chat with Orpheus and suggest he might learn a few things, technique-wise, from Kaki King, although he'd probably reply that the last thing he needs is a drummer overpowering everything, and I'm wondering what Sartre would make of the statement 'To be is to be free' on page 217, and how far that sentiment is from Sartre's 'Man is condemned to be free' which if he didn't scratch it into the table at the Café de Flores with his trusty Swiss army knife, then he should have. Perhaps I should make recompense next time I'm in Paris, after likewise scratching 'to be is to be free' into some table at the Leão, and oh my, Fernando, let me sit back and consider page 218 for a minute or two, it's quite breathtaking, when the idea of love is examined, and the words 'i love you' written of as meaningless, and only spoken in some misguided attempt to gratify our 'own pleasure'. Fern, Fern, Fern, I'm thinking nobody ever told you, no-one ever whispered the words while you held them, and maybe the self-congratulatory lucidity here is simply an intellectualized bitterness talking, and you could not be more wrong, as if loving someone was merely self-gratification then love could never kill one's heart, but shall we walk on then, you and I, and you can tell me of your tomorrows, and how you will be different in each of your tomorrows, and ruminate on the differences between sleep and death, although the bright gods of the Greeks placed them as brothers, although I agree with your argument that the difference is largely being in the inability to wake-up from death, and we shall definitely talk about words, our favourite ones, and about that passages of prose you mention on page 233 that reduced you to tears, as there must be more than that single example given, but perhaps you'll remember those others as we walk through the 'narrow moonlit streets' of page 235, and yes, I shall not argue if you choose to scrawl 'Metaphysics is a prolonged form of latent madness' onto some brickwork that's just begging for it. And we shall welcome Socrates himself when he makes another entrance, this time into page 249, apparently quite well recovered but his chiton still carrying the evidence of the previous bloodletting, but he's quoting himself as an example of higher consciousness in that 'I only know that I know nothing', and perhaps we should take the opportunity to finish the job completely, and it shouldn't matter all that much, given that Socrates was already a very old man when he said it and only a few days prior to having to drink the killing hemlock anyway, or perhaps we could ignore him entirely, or maybe ask him for an absolute definition of what the verb 'to know' might be that is true in all possible instances, or perhaps we could just kick the fucker's head in completely, et naturellement, in the most aesthetically pleasing manner possible. 'Know thyself, Socrates!' I'll tell him, which may be the last words he'll ever hear before lapsing into unconsciousness not of the collective kind. And yes, the knowing thyself of the type described on page 250, the type that is far more difficult and dangerous than any of the twelve Herculean labors, there inevitably being 'always something that eludes us', and after leaving Fernando to the predictable failure of truly getting to know himself, and perhaps leaving him muttering 'like all of nature, I have failed', I shall walk to the Quays and find a comfortable enough park bench, and there uncork yet another bottle of red wine (although I do not know the Portugese for corkscrew) and toast the dark sky while lighting yet another marlboro, and contemplate what Fernando called 'The poetry of the twilight of disillusion', before finishing the last dozen pages of The Book of Disquiet, and thinking on all those moments of disillusion, and perhaps thinking on disillusion's relationship with betrayal, perhaps reading these pages silently, perhaps reading them aloud to anybody who'll listen, like a drunken madman harassing passers-by, before reaching it's final sentence on page 262 'nothing, nothing, just part of the night and the silence and of whatever emptiness, negativity and inconstancy I share with them, the space that exists between me and me, a thing mislaid by some god', and maybe it's the wine talking, but I shall press my closed eyes with the ball of my thumbs to kill the hot tears, before discarding the book entirely, into some whatever-the-portugese-might-be for garbage bin, and thinking it's time to move on, but not knowing if I'm ready to, just yet, maybe a little later.

and the Portugese for beer is cerveja ..

Alice's Recipe


While Gertrude Stein is probably best remembered for writing a rose is a rose is a rose in her biography of Alice B. Toklas, Alice B. Toklas herself is best remembered for her cookbook, and in particular, one recipe from that cookbook, but I've done the epiceries for most of the ingredients, but for that one special and absolutely necessaire ingredient I had to visit some guys off Little Bourke Street, who sell it in little plastic bags.
And I'll begin with the mortar and pestle, and grind up a teaspoon of black peppercorns and four sticks of cinnamon, and I love cinnamon, and I could eat them raw for that total cinnamon experience, and maybe induce visions of Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl, ten silver saxes, a bass with a bow, the drummer relaxes, and waits between shows for his cinnamon girl, and maybe if I eat enough I'd be able to induce the entire extended guitar solo as well. A teaspoon of coriander, and I'm not sure why, but coriander always reminds me of Jane Austen novels. Pulverizing them into a one-ness, then chop and mix a handful de-stoned dates (in ancient Sumeria, they drank date wine, but I've never tried it), some dried figs, some shelled almonds, which I handle with care and respect as I'm allergic to almond essence, which I discovered after once having eaten half a loaf of Greek almond bread and it felt as though a fist suddenly exploded into the base of my skull and rammed its way through to the interior of my forehead, where it howled and raged at it's imprisonment for two days. Then adding some peanuts, and then essential ingredient, the dope (technically Cannabis sativa), pulverizing it, and I may just lick the pestle clean, along with the fucking mortar as well. But I'm not done yet, as the pulverized dope and the spices need to be dusted over the mixed and kneaded fruit and nuts, and a cup to measure the sugar, and I don't mind if it still has the residue of last night's vin rouge, dissolved into the butter (and I'm wondering why butter portions are called 'pats', but this pat is a largish one), then rolled into a cake, and I'm thinking that it's now technically more in the realm of the fruit roll rather than a resident in the kingdom of cake. And with a knife cut it into pieces, and just taking a small handful, cleave off some with my fingers, or two, or three as I'm desperate to entertain visions all afternoon, and after two, I'm feeling utterly, utterly, freakin', decadent, and should I begin singing 'Hole In My Shoe', then please forgivez-moi. Continuing on, while thinking of the brilliance of holes in shoes and how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall, and trying to follow the instructions on how to assemble a hookah, I've never been very good at following instructions, and whose colourings-in always went out-the-lines, and feeling different from the other kiddies who apparently all understood thought that keeping in-the-lines was a sign of high intelligence and moral virtue, perhaps I should sit cross legged and make circles of my thumbs and middle fingers and attempt to find peace of mind first, ohhmmm, nope, doesn't work. And never did, all that bargain basement hippie bullshit ohhmmmmmming, and forget the late sixties entirely (only the music was good), but I digress from this rather beautiful Iraqi hookah I'm about to assemble, and have enough opium to sedate and phantasmographise the dreams of an entire asylum ward, the vase is a rather wonderful translucent blue (not quite Chartres blue, more like the blue of a Bombay Sapphire gin bottle), patterned with abstracted indentations of darker shades, and step 2 apparently involves the vase needing to be filled with water, to about three centimeters up the stem, easy enough, and adding a few iceblocks (not in the instructions, but a trick that that will hopefully bestow the aura of having some expertise with opium preparation), and step numbered something else involves placing the gasket around the top of the stem and screwing the argile gently, gently, until the vase and argile are airtight. Although I can feel the urge to intentionally go out-the-lines coming on, but don't want any smoke escaping unused, and the argile is the metal piece that the hookah pipe eventually attaches to. Now the instructions now tell me I should be 'carefully placing the tray', the tray, where the fuck is the tray, this thing that resembles a slightly concave CD (or it might have been convex if it was attempting to disguise itself as something else entirely), at least it looks like that in the instructions, hmm, it seems I've finally found a use for that Greatest Hits Of Marcel Marceau CD, although perhaps I should play 'Trapped in a Box' or 'Against the Wind' before I destroy it, fits perfectly, maybe an object lesson in peace of mind itself, but this isn't peace of mind at all, this is Zen, and I'm wondering if it's possible to taste the difference, peace of mind being something only the ego can pursue, while Zen pursues an annihilation of the ego, and attaching the hose gasket, which resembles Miles Davis' trumpet mouthpiece, to the hose, and the hose itself is beautiful, patterned cotton threads all shades of greens with blacks and white contrasts, and now the delicate part, breaking apart the opium into the bowl that's the top part of the argile, and it has to be just right, too dense and I'd need a typhoon of a drawback to suck back enough smoke, the trouble is, I don't actually know what 'too dense' is, and probably need to experiment over quite a few evenings, and filling it to the rim of the bowl, and, excuse me just one moment, but I have to find some tin foil to place over the bowl, shiny side up, and wrapping it under the edges, and a hairpin or something, to poke many small holes into the tinfoil, and the bic lighter (naturellement) to begin burning the charcoal, and this is the moment of ritual, when one can imagine one is entering into some world of higher consciousness through rigid adherence to proper forms. At least that's what it says in the instructions, fuck them then, I'm turning these instructions into a paper plane that I will fling from the nearest window, higher consciousness and lower consciousness, but I want it all, I want the elegance of art nouveau and I want the brickwalls of alleyways, I want the sacred and I want the profane, I want peace of mind and I want a fuckin' war up there, I want both Rimbaud and Rambo, and burning the coals so carefully all the way around and blowing gently until they glow an orangey-red, I'm good at this. Then pouring these burning coals onto the hookah head and with a fork, so I can break the coals apart, easy enough, and spreading the heat ..
I think it's ready, but perhaps I should check it first,
ssssssuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucccckkkkkkkkk ..
hold it down hold it down hold it down hold it down, phhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww ..

and I was hoping to write of how perfect it was, but all I can say is it's not too bad at all, maybe if everything was perfect the first time, then everything would mean absolutely nothing ..


Les Miserables

les mis

Les Miserables. In Paris, after having finally taken possession of the fourth floor studio apartment in the rue Jacob in the sixth arrondissement, and is just a short walk from moi boulongerie et epicerie de preference, I shall be known as Les Miserables, Les being short for Lesley, which fortuitously happens to be my father's middle name, so maybe I have some entitlement to it, I guess.

"Comment t'appelle tu?" the epicerie chick might or might not ask, after I have been buying semi-dried tomatoes, kalamati olives and Greek fetta cheese, and she's recommended the smoked salmon and aligot ..

"Je m'appelle Miserables," I will reply, "Les Miserables."

















Dismantling Kafka


And I've just discovered that the Franz Kafka museum has been shifted from New York to it's permanent home in Prague, which probably accounts for this sudden urge to steal not only the torture machine from in the penal colony, but the cockroach that inspired metamorphosis as well, chouette, non?, there's a train leaving from the Gare du Nord at 6:55 tomorrow morning, and it takes 15 hours to get to Prague (or, as my map calls it, 'Praha'), so I'll need supplies of the major food groups: cigarettes, alcohol, olives, turkish bread, coffee, books ..

Later, nearing Praha, and out there there's a real army disposal, a wreckers yard of tanks, trucks and fighter planes, and quite obvious despite the fading attempts at camouflage painting, there's a disturbing blue against a white fluffy clouded sky, and it should be gray and vaguely threatening, they should be metaphor for the unfeeling bureaucratic nightmare that relentlessly imposes itself, crushing the human spirit, but now there's a lake, with a bridge, for those melancholic, Kafkaesque walks while thinking on those with whom one has crossed paths ..

Later, and the train should be arriving in central Praha fairly soon, I need the feel of earth under my feet that isn't moving, I just need a moment to reconnect, fine in most circumstances, but not when I'm about to steal a cockroach and a torture machine, maybe it's the disconnection that leads to this rather exquisite tiredness and thinking on the problem of the torture apparatus itself, of how it might eventually become a fine piece of installation art, but in the meantime I've been making small lists of those people who may at some point may eventually be on first name terms with the apparatus, but also worry that I may go all DIY experimental on my ego when my superego isn't looking, anyway, I've bought a matchbox for little Franz and punched it with airholes, but I'm not sure what cockroaches eat, so I've put some blades of grass and a daisy in his new home, and I'm confident little Franz will make an outstanding trade sometime down in the black market of clignancourt, the torture apparatus could be a little more difficult though, as it's quite large, about the size of a triple bunk bed, but I've a cunning plan, which involves stealing a truck, and I'm thinking army truck here, camouflaged so it can't be seen on the highways, and yes, I'll be truckin' back to Paris, truckin' all the way, and already my head is filled with grateful dead songs, "sometimes the lights all shinin' on me, other times I can barely see, lately it occurs to me—ee-ee-ee, what a lo-ong, strange trip it's beeeen", and just the thought itself shucks off all this brain-numbing tiredness, and fortunately the vast number of army trucks built during the communist-regime here leaves them easily available, and can be easily stolen from the disposals, and I know where it is, should be easy enough:
"Ahoj,"(hello) I say to the machine-gun totin' guard at the army truck depot, "dobré ráno." (good morning.)
"Ahoj," he replies, a little slowly.
"Já poteba až k krást jeden dopravovat." (I want to steal a truck.)
"Ze se ti chce poteba až k krást jeden dopravovat" (why do you want to steal a truck?)
"Pro ne?" (why not?)
"Ono is jeden blahoas do kráení dopravovat," (it is a good day for stealing trucks) he continues, "vyjít najevo hojný jeden, ono préz od have jeden blaho radio." (take the large one, it has a good radio.)
"Dkuj, na shledanou .." (thank you, goodbye ..) and I shake his hand, and start the truck, wondering exactly when it might have been that I became fluent in czech, the guard waves goodbye, and I watch as he recedes in the driver side mirror, and while I'm not licensed to drive one, I've watched Duel twice, and Brazil often enough, and that awful Keanu Reeves movie where the bus has to maintain a certain speed, how hard can it be?
Pulling out of the depot, turning left, and heading towards the Malostranska area, near where the museum is, just over the Charles IV bridge and there, with it's thirty statues of saints and crucifixions and madonnas and defenders of the faith and smirking turks and madmen ..

The Kafka museum is just over there, down by the river, and if we can just find the tradesman's entrance, should be somewhere around the back, although I may just stop here a short while first, just by the road, for a cigarette or two, and remind myself why I'm doing all this, and things are happening too fast, need to slow down, I'm missing the forest, only seeing nouns and using badly chosen verbs, later, I will be a tradesman, and come to take the torture apparatus for the repairs needed to its troublesome cog wheel, Kafka himself constantly complained about it, and it needs a complete refit, and considering the parts are so old their replacements will need to be machined up and comprehensively tested, and later, the apparatus will be lifted into the back of the truck, during which time I'll be able to wander the Kafka rooms, taking in the manuscripts, the artefacts, the photographs, the letters, and the imaginary topography exhibits, just take the matchbox avec moi, and, yes, I'll be rolling out of here when I have Franz, the cockroach, the photographs and documents from his childhood exhibited under water, the filing cabinets of an endless bureaucracy, the castle and the trial and reality as fantasy and his gratitude for the tuberculosis contracted in his early forties and the four loves of his life, and wondering if the receptionist could possibly be a descendent, and there's Franz, in the corner, scurrying while pretending to be something else entirely, just as cockroaches are meant to ..

Later, putting Franz' matchbox up under the passenger seat and trying not to think of him as a pet, and the apparatus in the back, it's a hefty drive back to paris, but I've been collecting stuff along the way, a carton of marlboros, bottles of ouzo and vodka, manuscript paper, turkish bread, and if I can find some place that sells sherbet bombs then I'll have enough, but only after the hospoda bar, which has become my favourite, and ordering red wine and something from the menu with pork and cabbage, and the floor is marble and the sound is thunderous every time a chair is moved, scraped, and it's wonderfully aromatic with countless cigarettes having been smoked in here over an unimaginably long time, and even a short walk in Praha is going to reveal an exhibition's worth of grunge, like paris but with deeply bruised knees, a barefooted cellist, a girl with far too much black makeup underneath her eyes, absinthe shops, and thinking that driving out of this city enmeshed in some absinthe haze might be a worthwhile experience, but soon enough thinking of the history of Praha in the twentieth century somewhere near the bus routiere and predictably 1954 has drummers and women in uniform, and another café with baroque plaster angels hanging from it's ceiling, and for seven minutes there's pink floyd's comfortably numb on the sound system, which is kind of appropriate, and I may just quietly sing along for a moment ..

Later, leaving Praha, late, and I may have to sleep sometime, probably in the back of the truck, alongside the apparatus (which is an idea I find curiously attractive, perhaps admiring the faultiness of those cog wheels and the pointiness of his needles), and while the route I'm taking isn't exactly the direct way back, avoiding germany, as my knowledge of german is barely adequate, nein, guten tag, mein kampf, and the truck might have a good radio, but it's hardly worth listening to, which is okay, as I'm comfortable with long silences, and heading south, towards austria, and the roads are good and the landscape is cliché picture postcard, which I detest, but I will think uselessly on how austria gave the world both marie-antoinette and adolf, and how marie was wonderful and how she liked to dance and how in some other life I'd have worked with the resistance against adolf's regime, but I'll keep on moving, passing though green fields of corn, and yellow fields of sunflowers, and everything is scrupulously clean and I hate it, my soul years for grunge, for badly lit streets, for stained walls chalked with hastily written messages, particularly those of one word, for the rudeness of strangers, for cafés redolent with the aroma scent of cooking fat, for the hotels where one is not worth more than a surly glance, for the barely concealed promises of violence just loitering below the surfaces, maybe the next town will deliver, but probably not, skirting the lower borders of germany, attempting the narrower roads of the northern border of italy, and thinking on how some day I'll spend time there, probably in rome, but here, there's shepherds walking their flocks, through towns like tolmezzo, where blackshawled women maybe recall previous times when army trucks rolled through their villages taking their men, waving white laced handkerchiefs with which they later uselessly wiped tears, the mountain town of bolzark, and it's getting dark, and there's a lit café, and the possibility of a room, and italy is easier, they understand the subtleties implicit in every gesture ..

Later, and as the sun rises in the morning, through a gentling rain, (and I'm trying to establish a scene of picturesque, village-esque, country-esque and cliché-esque here), and all I remember from the previous night is the gilt-framed photograph of the Bolzark U-16's football team, the year they won the premiership, behind the bar, I've been looking forward to the drive, though, over the alps, so it'll be a slow trip, but I care not), and heading for turin first (and I have a vague hope that some other time I'll be able to collect the shroud itself as well, it would make another fine trade on the black market), then through the mountains, and into france and reaching lyon before nightfall, to paris it's mostly freeway anyway, l'autoroute du soleil, which I think translates into the freeway of the sun ..

Later, with Franz in my coat pocket, and hauling the apparatus out of the truck, dragging him into the lounge, and figuring out how to strap myself in, I'll go without a struggle (I promise) ..

Later, taking apart the torture apparatus of Kafka's penal colony was a delicate operation, placing each of it's constituent parts into glass containers, like those ones in medical research labs filled with formaldehyde and pale aborted things, some glass containers now holding the screws, and others for the nails, some of which were tough to remove, refusing to budge even with the clawhammer, and I had to use the brute force and ignorance method (works every time), other jars for the bolts with their washers and nuts, and several jars for the various sized inked needles, thinking on the skin they have punctured and coloured and hurt, and somehow this made the dismantling the tattooing mechanisms threatening, thinking that perhaps the needles should do their work one last time, but no, and I'm feeling safe in the knowledge that they wouldn't, but yes, becoming aware of the names of the crimes that have been pounded into so many others, the ink bottles themselves, now with their spilled ink congealed and permanently glued to unopenable metal caps, with their inkclogged tubes through those caps, snaking towards the mechanisms that held needles, those tubes of what had been blue ink, much favoured by sailors needing a dancing hula girl on one forearm and a scroll-covered heart on the other, the red ink ideal for bleeding hearts o'jesus and declarations of love for the objects of one's affections, but I'm thinkin' more of the cliched crimson red lipstick worn by whores everywhere, the green ink, and I'm thinking fee vertes, the irish republic, libyan flags and possibly grassy knolls, and then the yellow ink, and maybe some artistically inclined pirate may fancy a van gogh sunflower rather than the black word 'mother', and the black ink of ravens, of the aces of spades and clubs, of grim reapers, although I'm wondering if it's possible to use tattooists ink in a cartridge pen, would it flow into the paper the same way, caressing rather than penetrating, maybe it needs the dermatological challenge to actually function, hmm, I'm not sure, and other glass containers for the wires, once as taut as a piano's but now slack, and the eyeholes they once passed through, and another for the cogwheels, and the well greased and oiled gearing mechanisms, although these mechanisms could be dismantled further, until they are a reality of an exploded diagram of all of their constituent parts, down to it's tiniest split pin, then the pulleys and levers and ropewire in their own containers, and others for those leather beltstraps which have held countless bodies down, and now rancid and stained with the smell of sweat and fear, with their fearsome and unforgiving buckles, and yes, the wood of it is burning, every last splinter of it is now reddening and blackening and eventually ashed, and perhaps I'm only imagining it's dying screaming, perhaps I should just leave it to burn itself out, to leave it spitting and cursing as it dies a solitary death, knowing it's curses will come to nothing, although I am delighted and impressed at their vehemence, and should write them down for future reference, and my smirk enrages it even more, and don't imagine that my taunting the flaming wood is not enjoyable, but eventually I'll need to sweep the toxic ashes, and make a splendid gift for the garbage men ..


Fitzgerald's Lights


And I've just discovered the café where Fitzgerald first produced the manuscript for The Great Gatsby, for John dos Passos' assessment of it, La Closerie des Lilas brasserie, at 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse near the southern side of the gardens, and my desire now is to steal the green light of Fitzgerald's desires, even though my pickpocketing skills probably won't even be challenged, and as I'm already somewhere in Rue de Seine, and it's possible to metro it to quite near the café itself, it's left into Quai de Conti, passing the mint and crossing Rue Guenegaud (which is quite charming itself) then rue Dauphine (which is even more charming) but continuing on despite the quai changing its name quai des Grands Augustins, and I know this area well, as just on the right is the Vert-Galant, and behind that la Conciergerie, where prisoners awaited their execution during the revolution, it's walls bleeding history, and yes, the St-Michel metro station, line 4, even though this time it's not even a stop, but walking through the tunnels with it's buskers, advertising hoards and white tiles until reaching St-Michel Notre Dame, line 1, and as usual, there's a few minutes wait for the train, and as usual I become a little heady with the aroma, or maybe it's the wine and as usual I'll photograph the metro station name and whoever happens to be near it. Yes, the train and there's many other passengers, and I'm always a little suspicious of all of them, wondering if Satan himself might be among them, waiting for his opportune moment, or even God, waiting for his, maybe it's that one standing, there, the one in the grey suit with the too-tightly laced shoes, and holding a black leather briefcase with it's shiny clasps, maybe it contains the paperwork involved in soul-taking, catalogues of names, ages, desires granted, deals made, and I imagine they're signed in blood (but probably not), or perhaps it's that other guy, the one who cannot stop staring at the tits of the t-shirted girl standing near the door, but then again neither can I, or maybe it's just my paranoia being given open reign, maybe he's just vacantly staring at nothingness and she just happens to be within the range of his vacantness, slowing into Luxembourg, and above me are the statues of George Sand and Stendhal, and wishing I could remember anything of plot to Stendhal's 'The Red and the Black', but wishing I could steal the title, and knowing that my life has probably been influenced by never having read anything by George Sand, who it may have been that said of the word fuck 'some things just sound better in english', or it maybe have been someone else entirely, but I digress, as the train is slowing into Port Royal, and leaving satan and god and the nippliciously worthy girl behind, and through the tunnels to the boulevard de Montparnasse exit (and perhaps later I will visit le Cimitiere, again, perhaps trying to find Man Ray, yet again, I know he's in there somewhere, but he's just being damned elusive, maybe, once again, I'll give up the search early and spend some time thinking on those who were not celebrities, are not named on any maps to the dead, and saying their names quietly as I walk past their graves), but through the exit gates, and the brasserie is just over to the left, on the corner, and the prospect of providing the definitive answer to all those adolescent ponderings on what deeper significances could possibly be read into Fitzgerald's green light, metaphorically speaking, a hard ask, given that the green light was a physical reality, the light at the end of Daisy's pier, the maitre d' nods et oui, je voudrais un café grande et le gateau d'madeleine, sil vous plait (yes, I'm still waiting for my own Proustian moment, and I'll stop ordering madeleine cakes when I've had it), and that table, there, towards the back, is where Fitzgerald passed the manuscript to Don Passos, and just over there, under the window, is where Hemingway wrote 'The Sun Also Rises', and the green lights now are just, over, there, and in between the red ones, I'm guessing this place is a little tardy in taking down its christmas decorations, et excusez-moi, monsieur Fitzgerald, I have to remove these lights, won't take a moment, there, easy enough, and leaving ..


Oskar's Drumming Lesson

tin drum

And back in one summer of the late sixties I stole my first copy of 'The Tin Drum' by Günter Grass, from a general store down near Rosebud on the mornington peninsula, it was a fine morning, and the sun seemed to shine more crisply, and the sky seemed bluer after I'd walked from the store with the book down the front of my jeans without being intercepted, I had to read it, as it'd been a recommendation from someone I adored, and on page 43 is the first mention of the tin drum itself, at the moment of his birth he hears the words 'when Oskar is three, he will have a toy drum', and Günter then goes into some some clever word play on all things drumming, ending with mentioning that Oskar's drumming teacher had been the brown moth furiously beating it's wings against one of the sixty watt light bulbs, and on page 55, in the photograph album of images taken on Oskar's third birthday, the promised drum appears, and on the same day he decides to retain the stature of that three year old, but a retelling of the narrative is not my purpose here, but after throwing himself down the stairs, Oskar begins to drum, on page 59 'and I began to drum' and soon enough little Oskar is relentlessly drumming up and down the stairs, the first drum merely lasting a month of continual beatings until the metal head of it's playing surface is worn through and dangerously jagged, and I'm imagining blood on the drumhead, but he's soon enough is given a second drum from Jan Brodski, with whom Oskar's mother is having an affair, and whom we suspect might be Oskar's father, he then spends the next two hours drumming on the new red and white tin drum, drumming it in, so to speak, making it speak, and eventually wearing out drum after drum after drum, but again, I am reiterating the narrative,
but as much as I adore the book, I have to take issue with at least one aspect of it, that being Oskar's drumming ability, as no one simply 'just begins to drum', I guess one hold drumsticks and tap tap and randomly tap, but one does not learn drumming by hearing a moth's wings, or even by watching a moth beat those furious wings no matter how rapidly or rhythmically, just as one cannot learn how to mix an artist's oil paint by watching an artist working on a canvas, anymore than one learns how to write a novel by reading another one, or to read by looking at a newspaper, any more than it's possible to write black rook in rainy weather by reading nothing but sylvia plath endlessly, or to write the tin drum by reading it, or to write like euripides by watching some performance of the trojan women, no matter how fine the production, no matter how perfectly andromache's 'he's just a boy' speech has been delivered, and no, dressing in rags and playing with fire will not make you the mad cassandra until you've looked apollo in the eye and said 'fuck off' and absolutely meant it, and know exactly how and exactly when you're going to die, and if learning by watching was possible then I'd be able to play violin like Warren Ellis or whoever the violinist was in Bob Dylan's band in the 1976 tour, viola like Cleis Pearce who I could have taken home after seeing her play at the carlton country club, uillean pipes like Davy Spillane and every other instrument played by the players in the Riverdance orchestra, I could sing like Sinead O'Connor, and play baritone saxophone like Gerry Mulligan should I ever actually want to play the baritone saxophone, although being able to play guitar like Rchard Thompson is an idea that pleases me more, given that the closest I've ever been to watching Jimi Hendrix play was the Woodstock movie, and during that sequence I probably learned more about being a tired and emotional, and thinking about going home, and I could've been able play drums like Keith Moon before I could play drums at all, but unfortunately I was too many rows back from the who's stage to see exactly what he was doing, but to the business of drumming then, and while I'm contemplating a visit to some Gdansk toyshop to demonstrate on the type of tin drum that Oskar himself played (although Oskar knew it as Danzig), there's really no need, as I have a drum of the type played in pipe bands the world over, and yes, I can play it, having gone though years of learning, and having played with Hawthorn City Pipe Band when they were the Australian A-grade pipe band champions, and at the risk of appearing overly conceited, and thus belying my relatively humble nature, as a drummer I'm really fucking good, so, it's perhaps time to give little Oskar his first few drumming lessons, beginning now if you like, first, pick up the drumsticks, keeping in mind that a moth show is incapable of showing even the most determined drummer how to hold drumsticks, unfortunately Oskar does not describe the drumsticks he first just began to play with, and presumably he already knew how to hold them, but something tells me that, no, he didn't, he was guessing, and even though Oskar was a most wonderfully precocious child, he undoubtedly made the wrong guess that the general populace also appear to always make, the right hand and left hands hold the drumsticks differently, although if you were playing a drumkit it might be necessary to hold them identically, but for a military style of drumming, of a tin drum kind, the right hand is held like this, which I guess is easy enough to learn if you've ever watched a military drummer, but never by watching a moth, as I have no idea how moths hold drumsticks, the stick is held gently enough between the thumb and forefinger, using the middle finger for support, hold it, get the feel of it, held gently enough but with enough pressure not to drop it, while the drumstick in your left hand is more a controlled balancing act, and yes, it feels strange at first, but then becomes normal, you'll just have to trust me at this stage, but to be a drummer, knowing what it feels like is an absolute imperative, just like the calloused left hand fingertips of string players be they violinists or maybe guitarists, or like the hardened lips of brass players, like the intense backpressure that causes oboe players to eventually go insane, the feeling of simultaneously breathing in while breathing out as every didgeridoo player must know, like holding a pen in something closely approximate to right way is deemed an important step if one is aspiring to making beautifully aligned words fluently appear, hold the drumstick across your upturned palm, gently resting between the crook formed between the base of your thumb and the first knuckle of your ring finger, two fingers above, two fingers curled below, and gently fold your thumb across the stick, and for some reason, little Oskar speaks of some kind violent wrist movements necessary for drumming, no, it's more a controlled wrist movement actually controls this violence, if it be violent, which may be a contradiction in terms but so be it, and for the next week, Oskar, spend a few hours a day doing nothing but tapping right right then left left, right right left left, right right left left, RRLL, again and again and again, RRLLRRLL, perhaps you could be thinking on right right left left while experimenting with fizz powder with maria and during those rhythmic moments afterwards, and this exercise actually has a name, mumma dadda, RRLLRRLL mumma dadda, again and again and again, begin slowly, and make them even RRLLRRLL mumma dadda mumma dadda, even, smooth, constant, then slowly build up speed, slowly, as the issue is control, a controlled violence if you must, but at some point the two intentional taps becomes one intentional bounce, faster then, and do nothing else for an entire week, mumma dadda mumma dadda until you can think of other things while the right right and left left is happening, but it will never be boring, perhaps thinking of maria, perhaps thinking of the destruction of emingZthe Gdank post office, perhaps thinking of the intricacies of greff's suicide, perhaps thinking of the witch as black as pitch, perhaps thinking of all those windows destroyed with your voice and the violence of the dusters, and over the next week, mumma dadda mumma dadda again, a little faster but always controlled, even even, smooth, and then there's a trick, which I'll teach you after you think you've mastered the mumma dadda, and after the paradiddle, and no, I didn't make that up, it's the correct technical word describing right left right right, pa-ra-did-dle, then left right left left, pa-ra-did-dle, rightleftrightright leftrightleftleft pa-ra-did-dle pa-ra-did-dle, rightleftrightrightleftrightleftleft again and again and again, RLRRLRLL, again and again, rightleftrightrightleftrightleftleftrightleftrightrightleftrightleftleft, RLRRLRLLRLRRLRLL, 'til it's absolutely smooth, and as though the rhythm has a mind of it's own, and can be played at will without thought to right left right right left right left left, should take a few days, until the technique is without conscious thought, and wars can be thought of, and of circus performers and meeting other adults of your own height and the beginnings of one's madness right left right right left right left left again and again and over and over, eventually faster then faster, and it might help eventually to accent the left in the midst of all those rights and the right in the midst of the lefts, right left right right left right left left right left right right left right left left and make them even, those accents, right then left then right, and on and on, and although it never gets boring, keep in touch with those mumma daddas as well, just getting faster, RRLL, a controlled right bounce and a controlled left bounce, mumma daddas and paradiddles will become the sound of your world, and by now those drumsticks should be feeling nothing if not extensions of your arms, and your wrists will ache for while, but there's nothing to be done for it but just to work through the pain, make the pain your friend, little Oskar, you know you adore it already, and remember that it doesn't last once it's been worked through a few times, it disappears for good, perhaps all that pain slips off and down into the bar, where it takes a barstool and orders a double jack daniels and begins telling it's story to anybody fool enough to listen, okay, little Oskar, now that the wrists are supple enough for all that controlled violence, and you imagine you've mastered the mumma daddas and paradiddles, here's triplets, one two three one two three right left right left right left, RLR and LRL over and over and again and again, quintuplets right left right left right left right left right left, over and over and again and again, again and again and over and over and ever so smoothly, and it might help to slightly accent all those one's of those triplets, one two three one two three right left right left right left ..
Okay, now, the trick, as promised, but which isn't so much a trick as a deception and depends entirely on how well you've mastered the mumma daddas, and if the deception isn't possible, then you haven't really been giving those mumma daddas your full attention, or you've decided you can play them because you've watched someone else play them, and the feeling isn't in your wrists, right right left left right right left left right right left left, RRLLRRLLRRLLRR, again and again, faster, now faster then faster still, totally controlled, you know exactly what you're doing as each bounce is totally controlled, and now, during each bounce, push harder and the controlled bounce is more than two beats, it's many, it's become a slur of pushed beats, right slur left slur right slur left slur, slurring on and on, it's what drummers know as a roll, one continuous sound, roll on, john donne, just as the french can pronounce RRLL as a gargling rumble in the back of their throats, a sound like the tearing of paper, riiiiip, and now stop with a single beat, right slur left slur stop … Right slur left slur stop, right left right left stop, keep on going, roll forever onwards, then stop ..
And there's just two more things, flams and drags, and say the word flam, feel it, feel those two syllables quickly said as though they were merely one, fill-am, fl-am flam, now play it, play the word, let the sticks drop but starting with one stick slightly higher than the other, flam, not hitting at the same moment but fractionally apart, try flam right left flam left right, again and again and over and over ..
And now drags, the bastard cousin of the flam, the one who'll do you a serious damage if you even look at him the wrong way, right hand drags and left hand drags, letting the sticks drop from their unequal heights, but while letting the left stick bounce up the right stick momentarily stays down on the playing surface, as though it wants only to stay there, just a short while, the right hand drag, and the left hand drag is when the left stick is keep momentarily down instead, like an accent on steroids, and for the time being, that's it, although please don't ever imagine that's all there is, but there's just enough to go on with for quite some time, and more than enough to confuse the marching steps of those marching soldiers, just throw in a few mismatched accents, or maybe a bar of five-four into the military step of four-four, easy enough, although the waltz rhythm you chose instead, the rhythm beloved of simple folk everywhere, eventually worked just as well ..









And yes, I have printed out the walking tour of Istanbul. The obligatory sights to be seen, the mosques and the old areas and the scenically wondrous. The streets of the Sultanahmet and it's tea gardens and Byzantine mosaics, and perhaps wondering on the weakness of the tea and the stories being told in the tiles. And then the Topkapi place and thinking on the possible reasons explaining why the harem tour is not encouraged, as the idea of the harem has fascinated me forever and probably explains why 'I Dream of Jeannie' was such a popular show with young boys. And wondering if I'll have the stomach for the archaeology museum even if it does have the Treaty of Kadesh itself, which Rameses the Second apparently won single-handedly. But given my cynicism towards most things archeological and just how much the profession itself gets regularly caught up in the stranglehold of this or that -ism, and in the delights of whatever it's managed to steal from other disciplines, and the three years completing a degree in it, and everything was pure theory and not once was I taught how to half-section a hole, nor anything else of any use to anyone. And spending two weeks on an archaeological dig in county Wexford, after some farmer had accidentally unearthed a bronze age cemetery, and on the first day being afraid that I might be asked to half-section a hole and feeling utterly out of place, not to mention that work done cataloguing the Westropp collection of photographs for the national museum of Ireland and not once did they even sling even so much as a tenner my way, would've been easy given the hundreds of pounds that was shoved into the perspex donation box near the exit every freakin' day. Fuck archaeology. just wondering on other things here, like where the turkish delight sellers vie for trade, and not for the first time I'm thinking of those streets within the labyrinthine markets aromatically scented with clouds of icing sugar floating above the freshly made turkish delight, ranging from deeply crimson shades to those almost transparently pink. And yes, I'll have a kilo of that please, and half a kilo of the cherry red, as I have no idea if it's actually called turkish delight here, somehow doubt it. But maybe somewhere in the grand bazaar, in which I'm hoping to get utterly lost, just following the scents of whatever seems the most alluring at the time, perhaps finding the turkish delight almost by accident after following the trail of antique letters being waylaid by the scents of other attractions. And which should finish off the evenings well enough with the souvlaki's bought from some street trader and the bottle of red wine, although I have no idea what 'red wine' might be in Turkish. And the Egyptian spice bazaar, despite not really intent on buying exotic herbs or spices (unless they be the mysterious blue spice, not seen since the spice market in Luxor in Egypt). And there's the tourist drawcards of the red and the blue mosques, and most likely any number of unmentioned brothels inbetween, and given the sheer number of Turkish slang words for whore. Ağır işçi, aşk meleği, fahise, kahpe, kaltak, orospu, sürtük. There must be many, those ladies with the bluest of smiles and the darkest of eyes, not to mention those hash sellers on the streets and alleys who somehow always fail to be mentioned in the lonely planet guide to the city. but I've seen midnight express, so maybe avoiding the hash sellers entirely might be a good idea. The guidebook maybe also mentions the main arterial road and the back streets of Beyoglu, but not mentioning the sense of hüzün that Orhan Pamuk writes of as almost oozing up from between the cobblestones of these streets, that adored sense of creative melancholy that apparently pervades Turkish thought. Maybe hüzün is to be found in the darkened recesses of those cafés of Beyoglu where maybe the waitresses are not surly at all, but smile pleasantly enough to reawaken the sense of loss. The loss never being too far below the surface anyway. But I will write, in this café, perhaps recreating an imagined life for her. My writing dripping with hüzün, flowing naturally. Like a dark and bitter honey, this creative melancholy that permeates Turkish literature. And somehow I'm beginning to think of myself sitting in some dimly lit turkish bar, perhaps a café, nursing a cheap red wine and smoking even cheaper cigarettes, and hüzün has introduced itself while I've been writing in my notebook and cunningly inserted it's melancholy, perhaps influencing my adverbs and choice of metaphors, maybe even manhandling my sentence structures into an alignment it finds pleasing. And I'm about to re-read Pamuk's book, in some kind of probably misguided quest to find those bars that he might have mentioned where hüzün is most likely to hang out, maybe ordering itself shots of jack daniels and slurring it's words. But not yet, although on page 9 he mentions unplayed pianos, which suggests a most hüzün-worthy image. And on page 10 there's some medical books that hadn't been opened in twenty years, and I'm imagining the yellowing paper and the occasional underlined word. And glass cabinets that have become museums for the dead, which is probably completes the hüzün trifecta. And then on page 24 there's 'the back windows of our building on Teşvikie avenue, beyond the cypress and linden trees', which locates me on a certain street, a necessary beginning to this waltz in the name of hüzün, although by the next page there's already the second mention of Flaubert. But on page 27 there's the 'crazy princes, opium addicts in the palace harem, treacherous sultan's daughters and exiled or murdered pasha's'. All the better, for I cannot imagine abetter career move than becoming an opium addict in a murderous liaison with a treacherous daughter. And on the same page there's the grandmother tapping her feet to alaturk music, and I have no idea what alaturka music might sound like. Although I'm thinking something rhythmically wild with a bass line that goes straight to the groin, and to which the treacherous daughter who has just accepted my offer of cheap red wine and a Marlboro cigarette might suddenly need to dance.
And, with the sultan's treacherous daughter following along, I must ride the tramway mentioned on page 29 that connects 'Maçkaand Nişantaşi to Taksim Square, Tünel, the Galata Bridge and all the other old, poor, historic neighbourhoods' as their names read like poetry. and places like the back streets of Üsküdar where, on page 36 there's 'crumbling city walls like so many upended cobblestone streets. The newspaper hawkers on the street, the drunks that roam in the middle of the night, the pale street lamps, the ferries going up and down the Bosphorus and the smoke rising from their chimneys, the city blanketed in snow'. And the next few pages describing a black and white Istanbul, and I'm sure the treacherous daughter would be inspired to get down among the ruins and breathe in it's melancholy. And feel it settling in her throat like a tuberculosis to be bloodspatteringly coughed up, and noting on page 42 that the Turkish words for throat and for Bosphorus are the same word, and on page 50 Pamuk notes that he's not the first to wonder if the Bosphorus has a soul. Perhaps the treacherous daughter and I could just walk along the shores of the soul, treading carefully, or wander through those scenes of old Istanbul by Melling, which assumes the entirety of chapter seven, and I might wonder what I might have already said or done that will cause her to betray me, as she inevitably will, but hopefully not before she's finished this vodka and redbull, and surely a second will loosen those treacherous black undies in the backseat of the 1956 Chevrolet taxi mentioned on page 86, not that it matters as I have yet to tell her my name. As we head towards those manifestations of hüzün mentioned over the next three pages from getting into the Chevrolet, and perhaps we'll add to the list of what exactly hüzün is, and also visit some café where the arabesk music of page 93 plays, about which I know as much as alaturka. But Pamuk suggests it's 'something between physical pain and grief', which leaves me guessing it's similar to Greek rembetika, and the pain and grief told through bouzouki's and clarinets, although given the nature of hüzün then I'm guessing that both may experienced in the back of this taxi. Or maybe we'll merely 'head off into the back streets of the city to gaze at its ruins', which according to page 95, is one way that the heroes of those old black and white films had if resolving the impasse inevitably reached. The other is to walk along the Bosphorus, et ce soir, either is fine by me. I will just make sure I have enough red wine and the corkscrew along with cigarettes and matches. It's okay treacherous chick, you don't have to say anything, besides, my knowledge of Turkish is non-existent and I seriously doubt I'd understand anything anyway, and no, I don't know your name either, and not really certain if I actually really want to, so treacherous daughter will do just fine, and you can call me anything you want to and I truly won't care. Maybe we could try the café's mentioned in the chapters that deal with the 'four lonely melancholy writers' of chapter eleven, a kind of a café crawl, maybe beginning where 'the great, fat poet Yahya Kemal' who apparently ordered his Turkish coffee at the Abdullah Efendi restaurant. And I'm not sure of the right words to order black coffees, so I'll assume that Abdullah himself is conversant enough with English for me to be understood. Two black coffees, please. Even though the treacherous daughter has had a few vodka and redbulls, so maybe she'll be needing more than just the one coffee, and I'm wondering if the fat poet might loan me a few appropriate metaphors to use. The poet's stock in trade. And, like Pamuk, perhaps we could discuss grandparents although there isn't much I could tell about mine as I simply don't know their stories apart from the basics of the maternal grandparents and not even that of the paternals, other than the maternals loved me and the paternals didn't. Maybe the treacherous daughter's contributions to the discussion may reveal a few treacherous genes, or maybe she's talking about something else entirely, but I'm thinking that either the fat poet, or abdullah, will be betrayed tonight . Perhaps words will be spoken regarding schools, beginning from 'the first thing I learned at school was that some people are idiots; the second thing I learned was that some are even worse', and perhaps our conversation, if there is to be one, will involve dredging up memories of idiots we have known. And for me at least, that mostly means various teachers along the way. My third grade teacher telling my mother I was a poor reader, "you have the wrong child," she replied, "Mark reads everything". And Mrs. Bartholomew shifts her ruler down the page underlining our results, and "yes, Mark is a very good reader" . Fuck, I'd spent nearly a year in her class and she didn't know who I was, not a single clue. And my fourth grade teacher hitting me with a leather strap, then my fifth grade teacher given to outbursts of violence best understood in terms of an ex-soldier's war trauma. But not only were some teachers idiots, but recalling myself in year eight, and deciding that I would never need French, having confused the subject itself with the teacher of it, as Mrs. Vicaro loathed me for reasons I could never quite understand, but I must have reciprocated in ways that I cannot remember now. But now regretting my inability to speak a second language, and my career choice of being an old and insane french man being seriously compromised, my carefully laid plans of drinking sessions on the Vert-Galant with the characters I have created perhaps becoming an impossibility, my plans to discuss philosophy with whoever may also in the circle upstairs in the Café de Flores become completely undone, and I shall never open the pages of Le Monde in any café and understand anything more complex than the day's cinema listings. And perhaps the treacherous daughter will tell me of her own time in whatever classrooms she may have been in, and I'm reasonably sure that being the sultan's treacherous daughter, would mean something very different from my own. But reading, on page 114 that 'there was a girl I admired from a distance, perhaps because she was tidy and attractive', and yes, there was Penelope Hall in grade six, who always had the right answers and I thought he was beautiful, and whom I similarly admired from the distance of the next row of desks, and it damn near broke my heart when I learned at the end of the year that she was destined for some private school rather than Blackburn High like the rest of us, and sometimes I wonder whatever happened to her. I cannot imagine her melding back into the dross of suburbia from whence she came, but maybe she did. And perhaps the treacherous daughter will tell me of the boy she might have first admired, and maybe his name was Menelaus, and I will listen so carefully and think of a million questions and afterwards not be able to recall a single one, preferring the sound of her words to hang in the air. Maybe followed by a silence, but probably not a comfortable one, as I'm already thinking ahead to Pamuk's question of why the authorities had 'gone to such lengths to discourage spitting in Istanbul, where it had never been so popular', and excuse me just one moment while I hack up a good one, and thinking on the possibility of jackspitting with the treacherous daughter, and suggesting our next order include the two shots of jack daniels needed. Jackspit being my poison of preference and I go under in a moment when time itself ceases, and there is only the here and now. And only in the moments afterwards, when our jackscented tongues have stopped resembling paisley wallpaper shall I recall the mention of the 'gallery of death, torture and horror, illustrated in shadowy black and white' on page 140, being Pamuk's summary sentence of the few preceding pages, those described deaths, tortures and horrors that endlessly fascinate. Along with the 'zest for romance, its association of sex with sin, filth, trickery, deception, perversion, degradation, weakness, disaster, guilt and fear' as listed on page 149. All of which I'm unusually fond, and maybe I'll try to explain to her how my photography attempts to capture the essences of those concepts. And so, if you wouldn't mind facing that brick wall, being the first of a planned 'up against the wall' series of photographs, and then maybe replicate the 'broken mannequin gazing up at the sky from the cloth-covered streets' told of on page 158, we could begin. And, as Pamuk spends the entirety of chapter twenty on religion, then the appropriate blasphemies will be committed with the treacherous daughter, for if I am to be betrayed. and I will be, eventually, and sooner if not later. Then I should definitely give her good cause, and I'm thinking on which of the fine Istanbullu mosques shall be first. Or maybe we'll end up 'arguing with the fishermen in the coffeehouse, beating up priests in the french school downtown', but not committing the suicide as mentioned on page 175. And after the blasphemies, which were truly inspired moments, perhaps the treacherous daughter shall suggest an evening of 'counting the ships going up and down the Bosphorus' in honour of nearly the entire twenty second chapter, and personally I can't think of a finer way to spend whatever might remain of this evening and perhaps creating the lives of those passengers on the city ferries 'who spent the journey lost in thought, smoking and drinking tea' beginning on page 181. Perhaps those passengers are contemplating the roads not taken, perhaps they think on the roads that may have been since taken by their childhood sweethearts, perhaps they plan their escapes to elsewhere, maybe they are just quietly reading the evening's newspapers or caught up in the adventures of whatever might be happening to the protagonists in the novels they have opened and bookmarked, or maybe those passengers wrestle with their consciences on the exact nature of the truth, maybe they wonder if the lies they tell themselves, just to survive, are better than the truth anyway, perhaps they have been watching their reflections in the ferry windows grow older. Or perhaps their eyes will similarly 'fix on something moving very slowly through the currents' as they do on page 183, or maybe, as described twice between pages 186 and 190, think of the occasions when ships collided, and the Bosphorus itself was on fire after some fuel-laden tankers hit. An event which may thrill the hearts of the more arsonistically inclined, but not mine. Mine, like Peggy Lee's, will most likely be asking 'is that all there is, to a fire?'. But assuming that no fires will be illuminating the surface of the sea tonight, then perhaps I shall recite 'the black sun of melancholy', by Nerval, which is mentioned on page 199, although some translators will have you believe the title is 'black sun black shadow' ..

I am the man of gloom - widowed - unconsoled
The prince of aquitaine, his tower in ruin:
My sole star is dead - and my constellated lute
Bears the Black Sun of Melancholia.

Which Pamuk tells us is Nerval's most famous poem, but which I find overwrought and almost comic in it's teenagerish angst, although I have little idea of what a contellated lute might be. Imagining some kind of overly mannered and pompous lute-playing poet, and dressed as though Rembrandt was his tailor, crying over his tuned lute strings. So I'll finish the recitation after only four lines, and I don't really care if the treacherous daughter enjoys poetry or not, and maybe she's too honest not to laugh at the pretensions of poets everywhere. Here, then, have another shot of jacks instead. And I'm wondering from which streetlight, exactly, was the one Nerval eventually hung himself, later. Maybe Istanbullus looked and pointed and laughed. But I'd like to photograph it anyway, and imagine the man of gloom himself swinging beneath it, creak creak. And wondering how far his feet danced above the footpath.
Or perhaps the treacherous daughter might suggest following in Gautier's footsteps instead, the man who Pamuk writes on page 205 'could find melancholic beauty amid dirt and disorder' before describing his walk in detail, 'leaving his hotel (in today's Beyoğlu) and walking down through Galatato the shores of the Golden Horn, then crossing Galata bridge. Gautier and his French guide proceeded to Unkapani and north-west; soon they 'plunged into a labyrinth of Turkish lanes'. which Pamuk, on the next page, describes as virtually unchanged, and melancholically beautiful and filthy. And I'm suggesting we walk 'this road which runs for more than three miles between ruins on one hand and a cemetery on the other'. And I'm expecting the treacherous princess to be willingly enough up against one of the cracking walls for a fifteen minute reprieve type moment, if not in the cemetery as well. the exact places of those moments unknown to others and unlikely to be included as an addendum to the essay entitled 'On the City Walls of Istanbul' by Kemal, the fat poet, mentioned on page 226. And I'm not sure about you, sweetheart, treacherous though you may be, but I'll be spending at least the next fifty pages in search of a bar, even a café would be fine. Ignoring the descriptions of Istanbul's tourist architectural highlights that dominate chapter twenty seven, although I'll undoubtedly photograph the 'broken fountain, an old ramshackle mansion, a ruined hundred year old gasworks, the crumbling old wall of an old mosque, the vine and plane trees intertwining to shade the old, blackened walls of a wooden house' as listed on page 231, these ruins that Pamuk writes give Istanbul it's soul, apparently, and hopefully my photographs will complement the black and white hüzün-infused images mentioned on page 234 by Ara Güler, except the treacherous daughter will be in my photographs, the treacherous daughter standing in whatever water may remain the broken fountain, the treacherous daughter looking from the window of the ramshackle mansion's windows, the treacherous daughter up against the gasworks wall and walls of the old mosque, the treacherous daughter perhaps not appearing at all in the images of trees, but certainly near the front doors of those blackened ruined houses. And while a coffeehouse is spoken of in this chapter, it's only in the context of being the setting for a play called Streetcorner, but I'm after something just a little more real. And no, while the two chapters that follow on from the architectural descriptions of the city, are on painting, and given the enormous amounts of time artists spend in cafés fearlessly discussing art, at least one could have been specifically mentioned, but no. Nothing. Matisse and Utrillo and the fifty years too late Turkish Impressionists are spoken of. But not a single café visited, nor is as ingle raki glass raised. F From page 251 is described Pamuk's love affair with the ferries of his city, and while the description on page 253 of 'the ferries' great gift to the skyline is the smoke from their funnels' is one perfect word alignment, I'd prefer to admire it with a drink in my hand, but it's not to be had in this chapter at all. But the next shows promise, being on Flaubert, always the aesthete, always raving on about the primacy of art, and despite his syphilitic prick, caught from not even he knew who, could have been one of the many, but was still desperate to fuck the sixteen year old daughter of some brothel owner. But, no, if he had a drink or two after the girl refused, then it's not described. Flaubert the conscienceless aesthete. Perhaps Flaubert had his scabbed prick sucked by one of the cemetery whores mentioned on page 263, those who fucked soldiers at night, in those cemeteries now filled with gravestones that are slowly sinking into the earth. And while I know that a photograph of the londrabar is on page 332, the second last page of the book, I'm still hoping for one between here and there. And discovering that image has given me cause to partially forgive chapter thirty two for being on the violence between Orham and his brother. But not entirely, and if the treacherous daughter is getting kind of antsy at this point of the search, then I can't blame her. Perhaps this failure is my failure, and it's maybe for this is the reason I will be betrayed. On page 273 are the descriptions of Orham's fantasies during a wanking session, in which the treacherous daughter seems to enjoy being such a fantasy. But on the next page there's a description of his 'existential despair', which leaves me wondering if this existential despair led itself to contemplating the interface between razor blade and wrist, but not actually bleeding. And on page 275 the descriptions of the streets he walked on the days he skipped school. There's grocery stores and antiquarian booksellers, and on the next page the alleys and backstreets explored at other times, but still not as ingle café mentioned anywhere. On page 278 there's 'hamburger and sandwich shops', but on the next page, after the description of the reception room of some unlicensed brothel he's visited, there's ament ion of a cafeteria, which I guess will have to do, even if Pamuk describes it as having 'sickly colours', and after ordering the usual two long blacks I shall lead the treacherous daughter to my table of preference, nearer the back, where it's usually darker but here everything is neon lit. and perhaps we shall talk of Istanbul, perhaps we shall talk of other places entirely, perhaps she shall reveal to me her treacherous plans involving her father and the reasons for them, which no doubt I will agree are valid and wish her luck with them, Or maybe she'll keep her treachery hidden and speak as though she had no plans at all that were nearing their completion, perhaps she will speak of what she expects will happen after her treachery is exposed. Perhaps it means her inevitable execution, or perhaps she intends to elope with some lover, like Medea with Jason, and live the rest of her days in some country hostile to Turkey. Although, at the moment, I don't know which countries they might be, although I'll probably fill her in on Medea's real ending, which was not the one written by Euripides intended to salve the consciences of the child-killers of Corinth. Perhaps, like Medea, the treacherous daughter intends fleeing to Iolcus, then Corinth, then Athens, then Rome, then someplace else before finally arriving in Hades, where apparently she fucked Achilles himself. Yes, I could go on but I won't, as I'd like to watch as the post-Colchis scenario filters through the treacherous daughter's imagination of the fucking with some almighty warrior whose mother was a goddess. Yet, despite the cafeteria's sickly colours I shall order two more long blacks, before pocketing a few of the complimentary sugar sachets to rip open later, maybe adding some to the vodka and redbull mix, and yes, also stealing a small serrated bread knife from the cafeteria's cutlery tray. A preparation of sorts, should the treacherous daughter's treachery be directed at me before the night is over and those rosy fingers of dawn are bloodred, and all her words concerning the intended of her treacherous longings have been merely a construct of artful lies. But maybe I will pay the bill before the conversation turns to schools again, as it does for nearly all of page 281, as Pamuk chooses to bash teachers, reducing them to the stereotypes of the 'turkish' ones and the 'american' ones. The targets are too soft, and the comments made by a writer using hindsight and who has never taught, has never stood in front of a group of students and thought the eternal question 'how the fuck did I get here' and trying to pinpoint the exact circumstances when this seemed like a good career move, and how one could get it so utterly choose the wrong path on a sign posted road. And then maybe, the treacherous daughter and I try to choose which poet we would translate, just as Pamuk's father describes translating Valéry into Turkish while living in Paris on page 283, which is most probably a lie, but a beautifully romantic one and worth the telling. I decide that I'll be translating Máirtin O'Codhain's Cré naCille otherwise known as The Clay of the Churchyard, which the Irish Writer's Museum in Dublin will tell you is a classic of Irish literature and the equal to James Joyce's Ulysses, but according to the Irish Lit specialist downstairs in Fred Hannah's bookshop on Nassau Street, O'Codhain's masterpiece has never been translated into English. And meanwhile, the treacherous daughter has resolved to look into the availability or otherwise of Turkish translations of Sylvia Plath. Maybe, I can't quite recall, she may have said something else, but I'm wondering what Black Rook In Rainy Weather might sound when tripping off a Turkish tongue. And then there's Pamuk's father continuing on the following page, passing on whatever hard-learnt lessons he thought necessary, 'telling me how important it was that people followed their own instincts and passions' just as my own father never gave me any advice that was not spoken in rage, and I have no idea why, other than not being the son he wanted. yet I shall lead the treacherous daughter through 'the filth of the side streets, the foul smell from open rubbish bins, the ups, downs, and holes in the pavement, all this disorder and chaos, the pushing and shoving' of page 286, because I want to, and because they are the kind of places that if the treacherous daughter were reading this book, then she'd be dog ea ring this page for future reference, and they're the kind of places that offer up the most photographic opportunities that I need to take advantage of, just as I have probably taken advantage of the treacherous daughter herself. The treacherous daughter with all kinds of filth, and maybe when the night is done I'll be asking for her black undies as a kind of souvenir, to be carried in my coat pocket. And I will photograph those streets, I will photograph those overflowing rubbish bins, that disorder and chaos, and the treacherous daughter will pose for me as she stands closely facing some brick wall among all this beautiful squalor this wall, then that wall, and up against that wall and in front of those posters for some upcoming rock concert, and I have no idea who the band might be, but the treacherous daughter will probably tell me she's downloaded a few of their songs onto her ipod and would I like to listen, she being more attuned to these things than I am. Perhaps I will, and I listen for fifteen seconds, just a token nod of sorts, but not long enough to make any kind of informed criticism. but we shall avoid those streets that get themselves spread over pages 287 and 288, those lined with bland western-style apartments that have replaced something else that may have been of arguably greater interest . And perhaps, should we found some place better, which might just be a park bench if one is mentioned, the conversation might turn to chapter thirty three, where he tells of his first love. The girl he calls the Black Rose. And of how on page 294 'the seventeen year old black rose began to pay visits to the room in which I painted, and which, taking myself too seriously, I called my studio'. And on page 296 the black rose is 'made-up, perfumed and wearing a very short skirt', and maybe the treacherous daughter is similar attired. I can have her in anything I please, but just for this evening, she's not made-up, perfumed, or even wearing a similarly short skirt. And on page 297 our Orhan writes that he's in love with his 'sad, beautiful' schoolgirl who poses on his sofa, keeping still and silent while he paints her, but not mentioning the fucking until page 299, where he annoyingly calls it 'lovemaking'. And, treacherous daughter, stand there and face that wall, as though you're up against it, while I take a dozen shots or so, and yes I'll hold your bag as I don't want to be bothered having to photoshop anything that distracts from your fearful symmetry later on. as I loathe it when writers call it 'lovemaking'. It sound cheap, and a fuck is a fuck is a fuck. And finally, after finally fucking the black rose, there's a specific café mentioned on page 300, the Çinaralti café on Beyazit Square. Dos cafes, por favour, I'll ask. And perhaps, in our acknowledgement of the painter/model relationship as described on a few of the preceding pages, these coffees shall be had in complete silence, no words, like blank pages in a diary, nothing. Just silence, although for some reason, I am trying to refrain from singing Tom Petty's Don't Come Around Here No More, although the words are welling up inside my head and perhaps I will sing them silently. Just as they were silently sung, years ago, when I was lying on some hospital gurney and attempting to take my mind away from the pain that I was sure was going to kill me and trying to remember all the words. I don't feel you anymore you darken my door whatever you're looking for hey don't come around here no more I've given up. And after the pain killers had been administered, the words just took up a kind of residence there and refused to leave, although there's moments when I can sing them with greater conviction than others, as I've not really given up. And perhaps, afterwards, the treacherous daughter shall accompany me to the empty Museum of Painting and Sculpture of page 300, and once there loudly and flamboyantly discuss how our 'up against the wall' exhibition should be mounted, those images taken during this night, images that will inevitably include the walls near the 'disused fountains of the poor neighborhoods', to be photographed when we choose to leave here, and the cafés are now appearing thick and fast, as on page 301 there's mention of the 'white-bearded, skull-capped old men who sat in the cafés'. And unable to refuse, we'll have yet another long black, as this is an allnighter and the treacherous daughter and I almost certainly need it. And wondering how many of the imaginations of these white-bearded and skull-capped old men have created scenarios including the honey and almond scent of the treacherous daughter's cunt being still moist on their fingers, amongst other fantasies which are not mine. My thoughts have turned to art since the visit to the museum, so perhaps we shall discuss art, those 'mostly abominable paintings' of page 302, and attempt to reason what it might be that makes a painting abominable, maybe the subject matter, perhaps the techniques used. Or maybe we shall discuss the photographs of Francesca Woodman and Bill Henson, perhaps something or someone else entirely. And I'm wondering if the treacherous daughter may have been the model for what Pamuk and his black rose decided was their favourite painting, Halil Pasha's Reclining Woman, conveniently included on page 303, and I cannot recall using the words perhaps and maybe since I wrote essays towards my degree majoring in archaeology. But unlike the plans Pamuk made to kidnap his black rose to get her away from her pathologically protective father, I have no intentions of kidnapping the treacherous daughter at all. And on page 308, the black rose is living in Switzerland and is not answering his letters. And I know he will never recover, as she is now an inevitably bright and crimson thread in the weave of his personal mythology, and I'm wondering if the treacherous daughter will ever become part of mine, inevitably yes, but I suspect maybe only a dim thread and mingled with others of the same hue and indistinguishable from the rest. But in the meantime, being wired on coffee and having enough cigarettes and a nearly done bottle of jack daniels, then perhaps the treacherous daughter and I will walk the those same streets of Istanbul that are mentioned in chapter thirty eight, 'the back streets between Taksim and Tepebaşi. The pera neighbourhoods. The narrow streets of Kasimpaşa, or Balat. The very bright back streets of Üsküdar. The eerie old streets of Kocamustafapaşa. The beautiful courtyard of the Faith Mosque. The area around Bahkh. The neighbourhoods of Kurtuluş and Feriköy'. And maybe even board the city ferry, as Pamuk does, and commuting the Golden Horn all the way to Eyüp and maybe we'll feel a similar sense of belonging, although undoubtedly the treacherous daughter belongs more than I ever will, as I will always be an alien in this city, as I cannot speak the language, and cannot think in Turkish, and I never will. Yet on page 319, he writes 'once I had mastered this new poetic outlook' , which was some kind of epiphany revealed to him on the city ferry, like a Zen moment of sorts, which involved collecting strange mementoes of his journeys through the city. A calling card, old books, a postcard, whatever is there that was somehow meant for him to find, and then attempting to unlock its secrets, revealing all that 'delicious melancholy' inevitably within, a revelation revealed on page 320. which may be another way of understanding how an Istanbullu might think . And wondering what I may intentionally drop from my pockets, intending for him to find them, and thinking on what delicious melancholy might be distilled from a handful of complimentary sugar sachets, as mall serrated breadknife, a two dollar coin, a card taken from the health food shop spruiking belly dance classes and a half-used strawberry-flavoured chapstick. And I'd ask the treacherous daughter what might be in her pockets, but she might not want to know the flavour of her delicious melancholy. Perhaps her treacherousness would be deduced from her remnants, although maybe the deduction could be of something else entirely. And so, my dear but treacherous companion, we have arrived at the final chapter, thirty seven, where he speaks of his endlessly arguing parents, the conversations and arguments with his mother over what his future might be, what career he will choose, her concerns over his dropping out of second year architecture, preferring the life of the artist, and his night walks. Halfdrunk and incessantly smoking, jut as I prefer to be as well. Through those back streets of his preference, while some kind of inner turmoil inevitably attempted to play itself out, but just as inevitably refused. Some kind of existential angst, and here I'm thinking that Pamuk probably still listens to his Cure CD's, and probably knows all the words to A Forest and Pictures of You, and probably reads far too much into the novels of Albert Camus, adoring The Plague. Although of the French existentialists, only Sartre has been specifically mentioned, and that being only a fleeting glimpse of maybe a hundred pages ago. And he rages at the common understanding that even the greatest Istanbullu painter would only be seen as crazy in Istanbul, but as a veritable genius in Paris, and feted as such. And in his rage, walking those streets that head towards Taksim. And we are following, although I intend to lose the treacherous daughter somehow. Perhaps leaving her alone in the Çinaralti café. Perhaps telling her I'm just getting some more cigarettes from the tabac, and wondering what her brand of preference might be, but treacherously not returning, pleased by not having to use the purloined knife. And just leave her sitting there, designing her treacherous schemes, regretting that the moment was never right to ask for her black undies. But like Pamuk, I'll browse through the books in some old bookshop, maybe there'll be a photography section, and with luck a collection of the images by Ara Güler, and buying it. I'd steal it, but I'd like to make my reasons for just happening to be in the bookshop appear genuine even if they are not. and soon enough also ordering a beer and a vodka in the bar that he does, and trying not to make it too obvious that I'm not there by accident, matching him cigarette for cigarette, perhaps I'll open the Güler book and study his images, or perhaps attempt to get into a useless conversation with the barman on the current state of the Turkish football team. And only leaving the warmth of the bar when Pamuk does, and continuing along the street, and similarly peering into shop windows. At second-hand goods in one shop and those mannequins he remembers from childhood in another. And perhaps I shall photograph them as well, and follow him as he retraces his steps back to his apartment, and watch him enter his front door, knowing from page 332 that he will spend the rest of the night 'with pencil and paper to write and draw', and in the book's final sentence decide that his future is in writing. And I wish I could have said the same ..

The Death Of Jimmy Joyce


And with a half packet of gauloises left, meaning at some time soonish I’ll have to visit le tabac, which is okay, as I get to talk football with Monsieur Bergere for a while, usually on the greatness of Eric Cantona and the relatively crap state of the current French team, about which I know very little, and perhaps buying Le Monde, which I'll pretend to read after spreading it pretentiously over the table of some café where the waitress will try to ignore me completely, la salope maussade, which if it isn’t the name of this café then it certainly should be, or perhaps I’ll read the French version of the age of reason instead, as part of my sartre-led understanding of French grammar, or perhaps just listen to the sound of my tinnitus ruining the silence that Simon and Garfunkel spoke so glowingly of, perhaps I could sit crosslegged on the floor, making circles of my thumbs and first fingers and chant, om mani padme hum, om mani padme hum or whatever it’s meant to be, although I’ll probably drift into the riff from Stagger Lee eventually, and meditate awhile, maybe purging all those distractions that the ego is meant to create, and achieve some higher state of consciousness, of awareness of sorts, and perhaps then I’ll know what it feels like to be me, but I can’t, as it would by definition be false, perhaps I'll just listen instead to the sounds of whatever else is being spoken in those conversations overheard, maybe trying to imagine all those words as some kind of musical score, the women's voices the flutes and oboes, the men's the cello's and brass, trying to discern a melody, maybe a harmony, or following the logic through which the score builds, changes, the repeated motifs and variations of basic themes, and soon enough thinking on the wondrousness one could listen to in bars and street corners if thoughts themselves could be heard, and if thoughtdreams could be seen, as Dylan said, then wondering how many heads would find themselves in guillotines after finding themselves prosecuted and found guilty as charged, and if streams of consciousness could be authentically written, and wondering where all these streams might flow, perhaps into some river, some lake, some ocean of thought, and thinking on how reciting Molly's soliloquy from Ulysses on Bloomsday itself is the glittering prize for Irish actresses, but it's not real, it's only pretend, okay, the technique has pushed what's considered possible in literature, but let's not ever pretend it's really what Molly's thoughts might have been, not even for a second, as a writer cannot get totally into someone else's head, and no, not even a character of their own creation, without going insane, which perhaps Jimmy was, and maybe Finnegan's Wake could be used as evidence that perhaps his descent into literary madness was a means of the specific illustrating the general, and momentarily imagining reading Finnegan's aloud in my cafés of choice, perhaps reciting the anna plura livabelle section next time the Café d'Assas has it's poetry night, but the pretence that Molly's thoughts are actually an authentic stream of consciousness is one of the many reasons that possibly justify why I feel the need to pay Jimmy a little murderous visit, and I’m making no apologies to the literary world, which can go and fuck itself, but he must have known I was out to get him, although I'd prefer to think of it as a mercy killing, as Jimmy and Nora and their kiddies have been relentlessly moving accommodation all over Paris, well, not exactly all over, and I know where they are, and where they've been, first leaving the flat at 5 Rue de l’Assumption, in fact they couldn’t get out of there fast enough, then they tried 9 Rue de l’Universite, the Hotel Lenox, behind the Musee d’Orsay, but leaving the day after, maybe they were watching the street from their window, saw me lurking in the shadows, although Jimmy wasn’t much into watching things from any kind of distance given his appalling eyesight, maybe he was daydreaming of the barmaids of the Circe chapter of Ulysses, which was apparently proving to be a difficult chapter to write, although, if I were Leopold Bloom I wouldn’t have sidestepped Blazes Boylan in Kildare Street by deftly disappearing into the entrance to the National Museum, but I would have necessarily dealt him a vicious blow to the head with a blunt instrument, leaping from my hiding place just behind the Museum's wrought iron gates, before dragging his sorry carcass down Kildare street, crossing Nassau at the lights, around the front of Trinity College (checking the time on the blue-faced clock, ten past one) then down Westmoreland street while thinking wistfully of the time when Bewley's café graced this street with it's presence, and then to the O’Connell bridge, and let him flopsplash into the Liffey, to let it float out past the container ships on the tide, where some guy named Tony will forever wonder what the story was that explains that floating and face down body. Blazes deserved it, but Jim and Nora then tried 5 Boulevard Raspail, the fools, so close, I can see it from this bar, so perhaps he sensed his own doom, maybe thinking of just getting it over with, his life work is done, his eyesight is shot, the only thing left is the sad incomprehensibility of Finnegan's Wake. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just turn the stove on, begin boiling the soup, and I’ll be back in time to ladle it out and make some toast to dunk, and just slipping a few large red firecrackers, and god bless the Chinese black market, and the bic lighter into my coat pocket and paying Mister Joyce a visit, he deserves it, the smug bastard, death by firecrackers, and yes the deed was done and Jimmy almost looked grateful as the firecrackers were shoved up his arse one by one and it may need a little more pepper and these weren’t pathetic little pennybungers but the big ones equivalent to quarter of a stick of dynamite like they sell up in Henry Street and Moore Street in Dublin when it's near Halloween even though they're illegal but so is the tobacco sold from underneath coats that i used to buy every Saturday morning anyway and with each cracker connected as they were by their beautifully interwoven fuses and shoved up one after the other and I’ll just ladle it out carefully and the soup should be brilliant and just as sure as Jimmy won’t be enjoying chili soup ever no more and beginning with frying some rashers of thick bacon in the skillet which were cut into cubes for about five or six minutes just enough to work through the logical thread of refuting the argument that Dubliners is depressing until they’re nice and crispy and then putting them all into the large stockpot Dubliners is an accurate depiction of Jimmy’s times even though he failed to mention buying illegal tobacco on Saturday mornings and lordy didn’t Jimmy go with a bang although more like a sequence of muffled foops and just turning the heat down under the skillet a tad adding a peeled and chopped onion until it turned translucent which only takes a minute bang foop foop Jimmy went okay although he also failed to mention the Auld Dubliner down in Temple Bar nor the closed to the public music room inside the National Museum where all the wooden instruments are slowly destroying themselves by not ever being played and just putting the onions into the stockpot with the bacon actually pieces of Jimmy appeared similarly sliced and diced and using vegetable oil in the skillet mixing with the bacon fat god it smells good I’d lick I straight from the skillet and i’m wondering if my tongue would taste different if it were burnt but I’m sautéing the kilo of beef I bought from the charcuterie which is cut into cubes just a few at a time although the charcuterie chick had trouble understanding my pronunciation of boeuf although i tried and she tried and i thought she was pretty enough until they’re all nicely browned on the outside I was expecting the bastard to whimper a little and maybe even cry but he didn’t I glad I hate it when they whimper and call for their mammies and then put them all as they’re done into the stockpot and adding about half a can of tomatoes and I'm wondering where the can opener came from as i cannot remember ever buying one with the juice and crushing them gently with a spoon and I'm sure the spoon must have come from some cutlery heist from some visited café and the red of the tomatoes is wonderful and I'm thinking that maybe Jimmy thought red wine tasted like blood which he did as it's mentioned more than once and mentioned again in Brenda Maddox's biography of Nora but it's never explained why and maybe red wine has an association with Last Suppers and this is my blood you drink and taking masses every Sunday in Dublin with his mammy and being afraid of the priests as they all are in Ireland and now I just have to stir in a cup of beef broth and thinking that blood is meant to taste like copper although i cannot remember the last time i tasted copper and a small amount of cumin and oregano which are my secret ingredients and Nora's unpunctuated letters to Jimmy were the words that began what ended with Molly's soliloquy and Jimmy’s last wish was to loudly recite some improvised stream of consciousness it’s half a tablespoon of dried coriander and half a teaspoon of chili powder a shake of salt and a couple of cloves of finely chopped garlic and I told he’d better get a move on then with his consciousness as it’s a short fuse and there’s just no fuckin’ way anyone can speak as fast as they could think but he tried anyway so I raised the heat and brought it to a boil and skimming off some of the fat that rises to the top it’s quite unappealing aesthetically then lowered the heat and let it simmer uncovered for about three hours which was more than enough for justice to prevail and symmetry to be maintained and soon enough and in midstream of some consciously streaming sentence Jimmy exploded until the meat is very tender and the sauce is thick as Jimmy loved Nora’s tender melancholy but i thought the twenty-five minute kiss on Nora’s neck that he wrote so glowingly about in his loveletters to her was weak and i’m certain twenty five is relatively pathetic and sometime I’d like to try perhaps with Lucy the charcuterie chick although I’d just have to guess when twenty five is up and with the soup there’s some tabasco on the side as well as buttered toast cut into fingers which makes them perfect for dunking and the chili is good as long as there aren’t too many beans in it as if you get too many beans then you’re more into the realm of a vegetable side dish and both Jimmy and Nora had quite a few side dishes as both while they adored each other Jimmy used their infidelities as research material and questioned Nora relentlessly about the other men just as Jimmy’s other lovers ended up as characters in Ulysses and just before the final cracker went bang and his heart gave out he murmured among the pooling stream of his consciousness as it lay spreading on the footpath that he wanted to be kissed one last time so i kissed him but it was like kissing your mother or your sister it’s different so there’s enough soup for seconds and more toast and uncork another merlot and peel the plastic from the packet of gauloises i bought this morning and light it with the same lighter that i used to light the firecracker fuses earlier, but I had to do it, sad, as i absolutely adored Jimmy Joyce, although Finnegan’s Wake remains unread even after the most noble of attempts, his characters are so real, they’re spiteful, mean, hateful and petty, they are what they are, i even quite like the chapter in Ulysses where Joyce plays the ever-so-cleverdick with language, beginning with the earliest types of language, through Anglo-Saxon and Chaucerian and Shakespearean and Jacobean and then through ‘contemporary’ language to some kind of pidgin English which is apparently what Joyce envisioned where language was heading, and perhaps it still is, it’s almost as though he’s made this conscious decision to ‘show you what i can really do’, and the styles overtake the content a tad too transparently, but i like it anyway, as i’ll stand back and cheer whenever content takes a beating ..