Boat Ride

Yesterday by close of play, as I was trying to make sense of bits and pieces of information even at that time of day still being thrown at me in a Teams meeting with seven other participants, one of my smartphones signaled receipt of a text message in what looked like a group chat. “You guys wanna go for a boat ride Boards back of Hilton!” I had no idea whose chat I had been included in, intentionally or by mistake, or which of the three or so Hilton hotels that I knew of was being referenced. I immediately lost all interest in the Teams meeting and thumbed on the smartphone in question “Sure, what time?” No sooner had I pressed the send button than another text came in: “Hey guys, don’t you think it’d be nice to ask Ding to tag along?” Before anyone could respond “Not the tightwad with the screwed up face!!!  (three puke faces), I texted: “Already got the invite. Happy to.” Departure was in less than an hour from that point in time. I started backing out from the Teams meeting saying one of the cats had spasms, then, reading the faces on the screen, that both cats had spasms (“Must be food poisoning!”). Then I just clicked the Leave button. I went to the bathroom to do up my hair and make the best of my damaged face, changed from blouse and pencil skirt, that I had been wearing for no reason but to feel corporate even in virtual meetings, into a breezy yet body-con summer dress, asked in the chat for an address my satnav could work with, and raced off to the venue.

The boat was a nicely refurbished diesel-fueled wide-beam barge, perfect for navigating the canals of a certain town in the country of my exile. My arrival completed a company of five men and a woman. Three of the men and the woman were partners of a small corporate litigation boutique. The two other men were bigshots at a corporate client of the boutique. One of them owned the boat and was at the helm. He also commanded the music system from his smartphone. I had meanwhile recollected that some three months ago I had offered legal expert services to the boutique in support of litigation they were in the process of preparing on behalf of the client. This had occasioned the invite. Due to a certain pandemic we had thus far never met in real life and I had all but forgotten about the services I had offered. Providing expert legal advice to law firms is the kind of work that I do as a sidekick to my work for the tech company whose board I’m in. My contract says I’m not allowed to, a prohibition which I admit to myself is the more compelling in this particular instance, the litigation being against a client of the company. But if I smell an opportunity to make some extra cash, you bet I’m on it. One can reach that point in life.

The boat ride was enjoyable. The evening was warm. The atmosphere all around was calm. Set. The music mellow. We had wine, which we drank from plastic cups. I don’t like wine, but the idea of having it on a boat appealed to me, and I downed four cups one shortly after the other. I was light-headed for a while but soon recovered. Many other boats were out on the water. We moored at a restaurant on the waterfront, locally known as The Gilbert. We were served preordered sushi on deck and restocked on wine. The helmsman then took us back in the direction of the Hilton, but, following general acclaim of his suggestion to the effect, we detoured to navigate the inner canals of the city. We commented on the houses and apartments we chugged by. At least one of us knew the architect or the value or the owner, or that the interior had been recently redone, or that it had seen a tragic death such as a suicide, that it would be on the market soon, etc.

The day had darkened and unobtrusive lights, mounted on the brick structures of the low bridges that we passed underneath, had turned on. The laidback boatman had notched up the music to an ambient techno and we started swaying slowly and soundlessly, like ghosts, in the vein of dancing. We moored at another Gilbert (debating in our woozy condition whether, if there were two Gilberts, there might not also be a George around the bend), where we took in another two bottles of wine. The men had started talking about a thing they knew nothing about. Although I knew everything about the particular issue, I declined to join the conversation because I wasn’t attracted to any of them and the issue was extremely boring anyway. I sat down with the only other woman on board. She’s an acclaimed litigator and a professor at law. We talked about our lives and our children. In subdued voices we exchanged very personal information. I lied discretionarily and without restraint about my own life. She told me she was divorced two years ago and that she had completely given up on her oldest son who, following the divorce, had dropped out of the school system, did drugs, drank too much and, at the age of twenty, had been convicted of several felonies already. She was quite short, her body was shapeless. She looked prematurely aged. At the video call months ago, where we had discussed the case and my services, I had just seen her pretty, digitally enhanced face.

Streets of London by Ralph McTell was playing on the music system as we approached the jetty where we had boarded. We alighted. We parted. The boatman steered the barge back to open water in the direction of where I supposed it would be docked. The woman was still on it. It was completely dark now. There was no music. She sat erect and motionless.

The Henry James Reader

Overwhelmed and defeated by feelings of insignificance and intellectual inferiority each time I read a novel by Henry James, I once wrote a piece in bogus essayistic style, reprinted below. Yesterday, I came across a very nice WordPress site devoted to short essays on literature, run by the extremely prolific blogger and writer Dave Astor: https://daveastoronliterature.com/. In a recent post https://daveastoronliterature.com/2021/05/30/long-remembered-books-released-within-a-short-time/ Astor extolls as James’ “perhaps most impressive feat” the writing, “in three consecutive later-career years“, of The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903), and The Golden Bowl (1904). Astor calls them “All highly ambitious (some might say overwritten) novels.” The mildly derogatory epithet “overwritten” is exactly what my my piece was about. It is about the complicating prolixity that characterizes some of James’ novels. I am rather convinced that ‘overwriting’ was deliberate methodology…

The Portrait of a Lady

So here is that snippet on Henry James from a few years back.

The Henry James Reader

I am very partial to the works of Henry James, the American/English 19th (and turn-of-the-) century novelist. I understand the mechanics of his art. I do not always understand what he writes. These facts (about what I understand and what I do not always understand) are related. What James strives at in the composition of his novels, or the best of them, is to keep filling up the space until his words have built and sealed off the context in which all that the novel is about, physical, philosophical, moral and psychological, is captured and interconnected.

James’ work allows interpretation, requires it. Any word, necessarily a projection, requires interpretation. But when one is dealing with the work of Henry James, interpretation must confine itself to the words that are there, at hand, in print, the words that one is actually reading. No interpretation may assume, or result in the conclusion that, anything has been left unsaid. If an interpretation adds a ‘layer’ to the words James wrote – philosophical, psychological or otherwise – or relies on a reading ‘between the lines’, then that is proof, eo ipso, that the interpretation is false. It is precisely the consistent effort of James to leave no space between the lines, or the words in a sentence or the sentences in a paragraph, which makes his work sometimes so difficult to access. In James’ work the key to unlock a sentence or a body of text is always to be found in the entirety of the written words, never in a psychological or philosophical idea beyond the words. The words one reads are everything, and everything is in the words.

I have come to be convinced that if James, in writing a single sentence, would find that not everything he intended to say in that sentence was in it, he would supplement the sentence, or add more sentences, until words had been given to what he had set out to say but was still not contained in the words he had put on paper at that point. I found that if I didn’t ‘get’ a sentence or a paragraph the thing to do was to back up and very meticulously close-read the preceding text, often on the very same page. The key to a passage I couldn’t get my head around was always, without fail, in the preceding text not read attentively enough the first time. This is what makes some of James’ works so extremely exacting on the reader. To interpret a text by relating it to an underlying philosophical or psychological concept may seem to involve the greater intellectual effort, but this is in fact not the case; it involves education. James requires his readership to bring to bear the full force of its linguistic capabilities.

I’m not saying that James’ art is unrelated to a context – metaphysical, moral or aesthetic – outside the ringfence of a novel. No doubt his art is inspired by and has adopted ideas from external context (just as it has added to it). But this is irrelevant to the interpretation of his texts. It may be relevant to enjoying them. To get the most out of James’ art, one needs to be thoroughly culturally educated as well as an extremely skilled reader. Incidentally, I’m neither.

I don’t sleep well. I am worried sick all the time about everything, and extremely unhappy and desperate. I fall asleep quickly, but I invariably wake up around 2.00 am, 3.00 if I’m lucky, 1.00 at the worst of times, my mind boiling and seething out of control. Then I read Henry James, hardly able to construe what I read, but soon to be soothed by the universe I submerge into, knowing it to be pure and truthful, complete. Then I go back to sleep. If there’s no happiness for me now, which seems to be getting more likely with the lapse of every next day, and no paradise, or anything short of it, hereafter, which sadly is a scientific fact, then at least there is the undecipherable art of Henry James.

Killers

Don’t read this if you’re on Twitter

I’m no fan of transvestism (‘drag’) in public. My friends know that. They berate me for what they see as annoying narrow-mindedness. The thing is, transvestism is blatant sexual behavior, or in men it is (it’s mostly just fun for women). I don’t like to be confronted with sexual behavior in public, other than court-making (even fiercely). Nor do I see why I would have to put up with it.

I’m tolerant towards transsexuals, nowadays more commonly referred to as transgenders. Gender dysphoria is a medical condition. I’m not tolerant towards people who consider it an ideology. One doesn’t mutilate one’s body for an ideology. Gender dysphoria is a neurological disorder. Logically – and my friends are even more annoyed with me for saying this – if the medical disorder could be remedied by neurosurgery to align the cerebral gender identity with the physiological reality, then that should be the preferred option. But that does not seem to be the case. It is very unlikely that femininity and masculinity are a matter of traceable wiring, that could simply be ‘set straight’. Taking myself as an example, a woman in the genetic (XX) sense, feeling myself a woman is all over the place inside of me. I have no reason to believe that this is different for transgender women. So yes, they have no choice but to go through the entire procedure to align their physical appearance with what the dumb brain makes them feel they are most comfortable with.

I had a transgender woman friend. She hated that she was considered a complex homosexual, that she was grouped against her will with the so-called ‘LGBTQ community’, not just by this ‘community’, which she could stay away from and ignore, but the media, which she had no means of shutting out. You see, she could not make it with homosexual men, as much as it is impossible for any straight woman to make it with a homosexual man (and vice versa). But even the friends of this friend of mine were immune to her implorations, and they kept alluding to, if not simply disclose, her condition in the circles we were in, as if they felt they were under a moral obligation to. After everything my friend had gone through she still wasn’t allowed to simply be the woman that she was.

This friend of mine, a brilliant person, a thoroughly sweet, cultivated, well-read and upstanding woman, has killed herself. Because of that. I’ll always hate the people who occasioned her death.

Widerhall Meister

A friend, whom I shall call N., not a female friend this time, but, to his credit, a homosexual (i.e. we’re not erotically invested in our relationship), and black, poor and a Christian (all of which, being white, entitled, inveterately heterosexual, and a fanatical hater of religion, creeds and, generally, anything that isn’t proven fact or cannot be falsified, I merely mention to show off my humanity), this person, N., who I’ve let in on this blog, asked me yesterday, point blank: “Ding, can’t you write a single story which has a beginning and an end to overarch a plot?

N.,” I said, “most assuredly I canI’m a writer. A writer can do such things. But bear with me. First, I’m going to republish a short story. It is called Widerhall Meister. It’s the first that I got published. You may find it boring. You’re a man.”


Widerhall Meister

I wrote this because, at the time, you asked me to, rather imperatively as I’m sure you will remember. I think you meant it as therapy, although I knew even then you didn’t think I had a mind to deliberately ski into a ravine. I’m not much of a skier. Aiming for a ravine I might miss it. I started too late in life to allow for hope of becoming anywhere near accomplished.

___

I broke off less than halfway through the day yesterday, feeling cold and miserable. I returned to the hotel. I wrote, I read, I slept. I woke up feeling hungry. I went out. I’m in a little town, at a one and a half hour drive from the capital. I ordered a coffee and pastry in a bakery.  A section was fitted out as a café. A man walked into the shop. Our eyes locked. He walked up to my table. We had been travelling up the slopes in the same cable car this morning. I had been struck with the beauty of his face. His hair, I had noticed, was not thick. It would be very easy to comb through. But it was planted densely in places men are most worried about. It had occurred to me that he would probably not start losing his hair at the age most men do, if ever.
– I saw you in the cable car this morning.
A foreigner looks it. The signs may be subtle, but they are always multiple and unmistakable. Of course he would address me in English.
– Ich Sie auch. He smiled. He extended his hand. I shook it, careful not to press. Widerhall Meister, he said. The strangest of names.
– Dingenom Potter. Playfulness on my father’s part, the family name a given.
Sie waren mit einer Frau. Ihr Weib?
– Freundin, he said. Your German is good.
– I get by. You speak English well.
– I use it in my work often. Where did you pick up German?
– What work do you do?, I asked him, not allowing the moment for the obvious question to pass unused.
– Balls, he said.
– Balls?
– I dance at balls.
– You dance at balls?
– Professionally. I’m a professional ballroom dancer. I get paid to dance at balls, in the capital mainly.
– Who do you dance with?
– Women, obviously, ladies.”
– Women pay you to dance with them at balls?
– No, the organizer of a ball pays me. I appear as a guest. I invite ladies for a dance… ladies who look like they need a dancing partner… In fact, I am often the one to kick-start a ball, or prevent it from collapsing halfway, or to resurrect it. There have been instances when I was hurried into a car and taken to a ball at high speed, like an emergency doctor, to revive it. I dance in shows, too, sometimes. But they’re not my main line of business. I thought this over for a while. If I didn’t suspect him of engaging in anything unseemly I cannot deny I was rather disappointed.
– That is interesting. How does it involve you speaking English a lot? Even if he danced with English speaking ladies mostly, he surely would not dance with them every night, even during the ballroom season?
– Contracts and contacts are usually in English. I’m managed by an agency. They’re British. And, then, somehow, it’s mostly women visiting from abroad who find themselves stranded at balls they thought would be interesting to attend… as a tourist attraction… Balls are that in our capital, you know? Plus, I travel a lot. Would that be enough for an explanation? He smiled again.
– It seems I should have praised you for still having command of your native tongue.
– You just did. Thank you. So, your German? Where did you learn it, or how?
– Oh, nothing bohemian, I’m afraid. Junior high, books, visits, and love of language.
– Language? The language, German? Or languages? I had deliberately left out the article and yet not used the plural. If I was already impressed with the fluency of his English, I was quite surprised that this had not escaped his attention and that he had rightly surmised that I must have had a reason to express myself the way I had.
– No, not German in particular, or languages in general. I love language, not any particular tongue. Because I love language so much I want to make the most of what I have learned of a language, too.
– By extending and deepening what you’ve been taught of a language? I nodded. I was much too impatient to allow a question I could not have thrown in earlier to be brought at the risk of being interfered with by a further exchange on the topic.
– Widerhall Meister… is that your artist’s name?
– I’m not an artist… No, my parents gave me Widerhall as a first name. I don’t know why, or whose idea it was. It’s hardly likely they thought of it both at the same time. A smile had passed over his face again. It doesn’t run in my family; as a matter of fact, it’s not a first name that a research I carried out has established to have been given to anyone else, ever. I would have been much surprised if a result to the contrary should have turned up.
– But it must have occurred to you, surely, that the reason that name was given to you is because of its absolute beauty in combination with your family name? Absolute, I mean, as opposed to in relation to a meaning, motive or reason?
– You’re very kind. But the person growing up with a name is the last to whom the beauty of it might occur.
I liked his unimposing brightness. He would not easily allow mere words to force a conversation off the mooring of its substance.
– I am a tourist, you know?
– I do, now… I guessed as much before… Do you dance?
– Only if I would be stranded at a ball that sees you produced as a guest by your agency. Is there a ball you would recommend my getting stranded at?
My words having facetiously abstracted some of the information which our conversation had yielded, this could, to the embarrassment of neither of us, still pass off as a joke if he chose to blind-eye the obvious flirtation. I didn’t really care which direction my words would take me to. In my situation, I would resign to either.
– Don’t you agree that it would be very impolite of me to make a suggestion to you?
– For a ball?
– Oh, I would be honored to suggest a ball to you! I would just hate to advise you getting stranded at even the best.
– But if you would show up and save me from that predicament?
– I’m here now. I would rather prevent the predicament from occurring. He produced a pen, then took a coaster from the table, tore it to pieces and scribbled something on one of them. He handed it to me.
– For tomorrow night. An address and a time. If you wish. Don’t say. I will be there anyway.
My hand resting in the hand he had extended, his fingers folded over it, we said goodbye. He walked up to the counter, bought something and left. That night I danced with him. During our second dance I clasped my arm around his waist a little harder. Then I allowed my head to rest itself against his chest.

Widerhall Meister. Liebe Freundin, ich war sprachlos.

Wendy Sutter

On Sundays a decent woman buys fresh flowers, arranges the same in a vase she keeps for such things, and plays Wendy Sutter performing Philip Glass, Songs and Poems for Solo Cello, on her soundlink system.

After that, anything may happen. She (i) may mark up the direct agreement and guarantees sent for review, and then prepare Monday’s board meeting, and hate to have to be doing the one and the other. Or (ii) she may (if she hadn’t been overdoing it somewhat on Saturday and her clit were not all raw and sore), sneak up to her room and procure the Womanizer and Foxy to perform their team effort on herself. Or (iii) she may do the sensible thing, stretch out on the freshly made bed, start reading from any of the three novels sitting on her nightstand, doze off within 5 minutes, wake up healthy and invigorated 30 minutes later, and double back to option (ii).

American Made

Now for a very good film: American Made, featuring Tom Cruise. The film is based on a sequence of “real events”, reacquainting us in an incredibly funny fashion with hoodlums and douchebags such as Manuel Noriega, Pablo Escobar, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush (“George W.”) and Oliver (“Ollie”) North, to name the best known crooks and numbskulls brought back to life. I hate films based on real life. I mentioned this in an earlier post. I stand by the position. But this is one of the exceptions. To except the film is warranted, because it is better than the historical events it takes for an excuse. History is re-scripted and re-sequenced, and, most of all, re-centered towards the main character, Barry Seal, played by Tom Cruise, who in fact never plays anyone but himself.

image-6
5′ 10.8″

Tom Cruise is a very good actor. I stand 5.9 ft. Tom is therefore obviously too short for me (or I’m too tall for Tom’s perfect build; fine) to want to have sex with him (for the avoidance of doubt, Tom has never asked me to). But in movies his height doesn’t show, just that he is very handsome, very sexy, very, very funny and a very good actor. Tom Cruise is the kind of actor that makes even the action movies he stars in palatable, because he cannot but play tongue-in-cheek.

Do watch and sit out the closing credits of American Made. They’re among the best you are ever going to see.

Joaquin Phoenix

Ref. previous post, and earlier posts for this introductory para. I started with the Womanizer. I finished with the Foxy. Ladies are encouraged to emulate the sequence. I orgasmed like seldom before. At roughly USD 300 in machine investment, the orgasm was well worth the expenditure.

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Dress by Alberta Ferretti

I watched a movie, Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. I had never heard of him. He is very good. The film is not good. It’s very good in a superficial kind of way. There’s very good acting across the cast, which includes Robert de Niro as a supporting actor. But the film is over-the-top. The darkness of the general atmosphere is over-the-top. The eschatological theme is over-the-top. So is the narrative. But not the acting. Despite the intensity of the character played by Phoenix, there is no overacting. There are no takeaways from the film. Joker is a very intense bullshit movie, with a very good cast.

I searched for another movie with Phoenix. I came across You Were Never Really Here.

??

??

But I like Joaquin Phoenix a lot.

The Surrendered Wife And Sex (And Me)

It’s a Saturday in the country of my exile. I slept poorly. There had been a lot of noise outside, loud music, a boy slugging a girl (as I found reported in the building’s WhatsApp group this morning). It seems a call was made to 911 (it’s a different 3-digit number in the country of my exile; I don’t know the number). I’m not bothered by such things. I fall asleep within 15 minutes under any circumstance. And I often wake up three hours later, for no reason but what’s going on in my own head.

I did my errands. I paid a visit to my father. I found him in his room, slumped forward in his wheelchair, wide awake, forehead resting on the shelf of a bookcase. Drool from his mouth had gathered into a small puddle on the floor. He said he couldn’t straighten himself. I helped him sit up, but I couldn’t keep him straight and he doubled up again. I alerted personnel busy in the common area. They said it wasn’t their business. They said this wasn’t the kind of thing that they were around for. I proceeded to the nurses’ station. They looked in on my father. They called another nurse who measured my father’s blood pressure and took his temperature. They said they’d be back, but they weren’t. If people could kill with a mere heartfelt mental effort, or by indifference, we would be reduced to ten million in a matter of days, and extinct one week later.

Ding ironing

I’ve got work to do. I have to clean up the place. I’m not sure why or how, but cleaning makes me horny. Years ago I bought The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle with nought but prurience in mind. It’s by far the most idiotic book I’ve ever purchased. As it turned out the author was a trifle too serious about her ‘woman as a subordinate being’ ideology to make the book a turn-on for a masochist like me. Anyway house-cleaning is a stimulus, and I have a feeling that the Womanizer Premium will be air-pulsing between my legs before I’ve finished a single room.

A Rather Famous Writer’s Public Reading

On tour to promote her new novel, a rather famous writer gave a public reading in the country of my exile. I was in the audience. Questioned about literary criticism the rather famous writer posited that she only accepts criticism from those who have themselves ventured into the “arena”, i.e. have published work of their own.

This position is untenable for two reasons.

First, every reader is also a critic. One cannot read a novel and not form an opinion of it even as one reads. Why would the opinion of a critic be worth less if it is published as literary criticism? And should the private reader hold her own opinion of what she has read in contempt because, as ardent (and perhaps accomplished) as she may be as a reader, she does not have a talent for writing? In other words, would it be ill-advised for a reader to reflect on what she has read, since, in the rather famous writer’s view, she should distrust her reflections because she is not a writer? It would be the end of literature, of art in general, its essence (and its most gratifying aspect) being that it opens up one’s room to views, in the privacy of one’s own mind, on one’s life, that of certain others, on life in general.

Second, if only writers of literature were allowed to criticize literary works, would this not inevitably introduce a permanent state of bitterest conflict and bloodiest competition within the literary community? This demonstrates how sadly apt the rather famous writer’s arena metaphor is. Who, having a heart for literature, and art in general, can suffer the idea of their creators being pitted against each other as if they were gladiators in an arena?

I think the photo was taken by my daughter in the very charming Maison de Balzac, 16th arrondissement 47, Rue Raynouard, Paris (France). We happened upon it returning from the Bois de Boulogne. The photo shows me sitting at what was said to be Balzac’s writing desk. I was wearing glasses. I have stopped wearing glasses altogether. There’s quite a lot one can do without wearing glasses. E.g. one can forego looking at one’s reflection in a shop window.

The Artist

A career is a death trap. I ought to be drowning instead, swimming in the endless lake of composition. A life lived to its potential ends in the drifting away on one’s senseless musings, one’s unread writings, one’s unrequited love.

On an uncommonly bright and warm early-autumn day a friend of mine and I visited a Marlene Dumas retrospective at a museum in the capital of the country of my exile. I greatly admire my friend, who is a trained and exhibiting visual artist herself, not for her work though, which I have simply not seen enough of to warrant my forming an opinion on it, but for her power of judgment and distinction. It was she who acquainted me with the minimalist art of Dutch artist Jan Schoonhoven and others (mostly non-Dutch) commonly associated with the so-called Zero Movement. My favorable response to their work had encouraged my friend to suggest joint excursions to exhibitions or art events with greater frequency. Until then each of us had pretty much considered such affairs as pertaining to the privacy of her own predilection.

After we had seen the exhibition my friend suggested that we walk across the park to another museum (as renowned as the museum with the Dumas retrospective) and pass by an exhibition of sculptural art by the American artist-engineer Alexander Calder (1898-1976), which for the main part unfolded in that museum’s freely accessible gardens and for a smaller part in its newly built atrium, before the toll gates, i.e. free of charge as well.

Once in the gardens we first sauntered by a number of standing mobiles. My friend elaborated on the layout of the gardens and pointed to the patches of lawn which could be uprooted for specific purposes and turned back to virgin lawn in a matter of days. When we got to the next segment of the gardens, exhibiting stationary sculptures (“stabiles”), my friend said: “And now on to my favorite.” It was at this juncture that she volunteered that she was all but partial to the standing mobiles, the loose (“mobile”) elements in her opinion having a minifying effect on overall structure, subverting it. This was typical for my friend. She would explain what she liked and captured her interest, and simply not comment on things she disliked, or not bring those up until an occasion presented itself where comment was apposite. Her tepid reaction to the standing mobiles echoed what I felt about them, and not just aesthetically; in those days a lot seemed to have become unhinged within me. My senses could well dispense with the jading stimulus of stout structures impaired by dangling elements. If anything, I needed stabiles! I had kept my feelings to myself though, immensely enjoying the stroll and very much inclined to be over- or underwhelmed, as the case might be, by whatever we would run into.

My friend’s proclaimed “favorite” was Le Tamanoir (the anteater), which struck a note with me, too, that note being the impression it gave of unfettered massiveness and unquestionable presence, played down, as if effortlessly, to elegance of form (the particular form of this sculpture) and of balance, a balance, however, not precarious but sturdy. Other stabiles equally appealed, and for similar reasons, to my aestheticism. We left the gardens and entered the museum’s magnificent atrium. Here we found a reduced-size, if still quite sizable, version of the 60-ton Homage to Jerusalem on Mount Herzl, Israel. This stabile, which we observed for a while from a raised partition of the atrium, then, having descended to the floor it was standing on, circled a few times, and finally (rather uselessly) sallied right into, is – well, beautiful, and as we left the museum to head back in the direction of the former museum I carried inside me the reddish-and-burnt-orange glow of the warming and comforting bulk of Homage to Jerusalem.

On our way to the Calder exhibition, engrossed in the inconsistent rippling of my D&G S/S 14 polka dot skirt (fitted through the thighs and knees, but flouncing at the calves), I had nearly bumped into a golden statue standing right in the middle of the walkway. My friend jerked me back by my arm just in time or I might have knocked it clean off its base. The statue was a man of flesh and blood, a living statue – a standing mobile! Everything of him, his face, his hands, and on him, his attire, the palette and brush he was holding, was painted in gold. Even his hair, if most likely a wig affixed to his plumed hat, gold painted of course, was golden. This man, as I immediately grasped, intended to impersonate a Dutch/Flemish painter in the so-called Golden Age, or, rather, the statue of such a painter. I think, more specifically, that the reference was to Rembrandt, the gold paint again being a giveaway (how smart, too!).

To my enormous relief the artist showed far greater liberty with his self-imposed role than is often seen in living statues, whose rigorous rigor seldom failed to revive in me the memory of various obsessive-compulsive disorders I had suffered from as a young girl. This was a personable living statue! He leaned over to us from his pedestal and asked, rhetorically I should say (I was carrying a transparent signature bag of the museum through which a catalogue I had bought was visible), if we had visited the Dumas retrospective. My friend confirmed this and added that we were on our way to the Calder exhibition at the museum across the park. The latter piece of information he acknowledged, appeared to vet even, with a slight nod.

Unsure whether it was quite comme-il-faut to address a living statue I didn’t say a word, but merely smiled at him. He smiled back, doffed his hat, and made obeisance. One has to be careful with a face thickly smeared with gold paint, but I found myself very much warmed to his smile, his traits, and his gallantry. I chose to ignore the modest bowl at his feet. The truth is I felt awkward at the idea of giving this peddler of personal statuesque qualities his meed. I think I felt it would be condescending, almost a debasement (even if I were to use the gold-color coins which were plentiful among the country of my exile’s legal tender) – and one doesn’t want to debase a statue.

As we turned to continue our way I muttered something about perhaps having to have given the artist his due, which my friend met with that sibylline smile of hers which I always thought of as indicating that she wished one to come to one’s own conclusion. But if I had, and if it would have been favorable to the artist, it was useless, because we had moved on and to return would definitely be impossible. Yet, I turned my head and saw that the man-statue had turned his head too and smiled at me, and made obeisance, despite the risk of marring his act (and, by implication, all he had for a business case) with other strollers approaching him in our wake. This living statue was as unstinting as it was personable.

We followed the same path back to the museum where we had started our cultural jaunt. And, sure enough, there he was again, the living statue, the artist, the golden Rembrandt, right in the middle of the walkway! My friend nudged me and said “Now make up for it!”, and I took out my wallet, culled out all gold colored coins and dropped them in the bowl. The artist smiled at me and made obeisance. I didn’t know what to say. We walked on. When I felt we were at a remove which for any gold paint in the world we would not go back on I turned my head. I could still see his golden face gather into a handsome smile and his body then fold into a courtly bow.

A Note On The Perfect Bond

The Perfect Bond is based on as much fact, emotion and fiction as a story requires and tolerates. I’m in love with it for the way it carries me back to a certain dream, and a certain summer’s day when I had tea with a friend in the sprawling gardens of the seaside mansion where I lived with my two children. My husband had died about a year ago. It was the worst death that I had ever experienced to happen to someone. Because it broke me.

Yes, I could still outline the dreamt face on paper if I wanted to. I wasn’t 22 in the photo that I posted with the story. That photo dates back to the time which the story at the beginning of the second part (this being its mild peripeteia) reveals to be the actual time (in the story’s setting) all along. I estimate this to be about six years ago, 2014/2015. This is one of the photos when sorrow and pain had set in but hope still doggedly pushed back on decline and decay. This must have been when I had just come out of the shower. I wasn’t wearing make-up. A woman can dispense with make-up when she has just stepped out of the shower. The molten flesh on the face hardly shows.

The Perfect Bond

The first time I met him was in a dream. He was standing near the back door, preparing to leave. My dream suggested I had met him earlier at the party which served it as a backdrop.
The man was in casual dress, wearing a light-colored jacket with a faint check pattern, no tie. He would be in his late thirties. His hair was blond, his head balding. He had a short-trimmed beard on a smooth, well-groomed face. He was of medium length, slim, well-proportioned. He was homeless. He said he was going to look for a place to sleep, under a bridge, in a street, a shelter maybe. He was beautiful. He was clean and fresh. Only a dream, in mere seconds, can hand you other facts which an entire life does not suffice to establish: his soul was untainted; capacity for evil, dishonesty or dissimulation he did not possess; he was unambiguous; he was safe for me.
Taken with a deep love for him, which the dream suggested had announced itself earlier during the party, I kissed him. I kissed him once, on his right cheek. His perfection made my kiss the purest act, an act of purest love. A kiss more chaste, no one, dreaming or awake, may ever have given. O, I felt the giving of it was fundamental and in giving it I felt my being pour out in my love for him, so that nothing was left of me but the love I had given him.
I wanted to explain how ridiculous the idea of his going out on the streets was, that surely I could find a solution. That is where my dream ended. This man, whose face I could have drawn on a sheet of paper, his pureness and the pureness of my love for him, my kissing him, it all felt so real that, awake, I just could not, did not want to, believe that he was not with me.

– The second time we met, I said to my friend of recent times with whom I was having afternoon tea in the splendid gardens around my house,
– Ah, give me a break! she half-laughingly cut in.
– and every next time, I continued unperturbed, was in my recollection of that dream. I remember him as he was in my dream. Remembering his dreamt image, I feel love for him as I had felt love for him in my dream. The image of him does not fade. The feeling of love does not wear off. The enduring image and the feeling that comes with it, they are not a dream.
– How long ago did you have the dream?
– I was 22.
– I don’t believe you!
– Wait, I said, I’ll not be ten minutes. I walked up to the house. Inside I collected a sketchbook, a soft pencil, chalk, charcoal.
– I have done this so often, I murmured sitting down with my friend again. Less than 10 minutes later I showed her the drawing.
She looked at it uncommenting.
– I only started doing these sketches after his decease. I never told him of the dream of course.
– How could you suffer such love and love your husband?
– I couldn’t. I used him as a vessel in which I poured out my love for the dreamt and never-forgotten image. Never has a woman filled a man’s life with truer love. Never has a man been made to feel deeper love. It didn´t matter what created the love, whether to me, knowing, or to him, blind to it. That is the essence of its purity.

My eyes went out over the gardens stretching out before us. The slightest haze had intervened to soften the brilliant sun’s hold on the land.

– Our marriage was perfect.

Nancy Huston, Nelly Arcan (and a Katie Ward Footnote)

In her study “Reflets dans un oeil d’homme” (recommended reading) the Canadian writer Nancy Huston quotes Nelly Arcan (alias for Isabelle Fortier), who wrote “Je pourrais vous décrire la beauté du monde si je savais la voir, raconter comment la foi et le courage peuvent venir à bout des plus grands malheurs, mais je suis trop occupée à mourir. Il faut aller droit à l’essentiel, à ce qui me tue.” (Nelly Arcan, Putain, a fictionalized autobiography that I have not read, so I will not add a picture of the book cover). Arcan took her own life. I have been there, the constant preoccupation with “what is killing me[1] not just day in day out, but every minute of every day, for years and years. As Arcan represents in those two powerful, inimitable sentences cited above, it drains one not just of the energy, not just of the inspiration and creativity, but of the very time to celebrate, to encourage, to thank, to gratify, to praise, to welcome.

For now, I’m a woman writing.[2] And the writing, specially the multifariousness of the aspects of me and my frenzy, of what I observe, experience and reason about, shall document not the beauty of life, if I were capable of discerning that, but that there is nothing but life.

[1] Non-authenticated English translation.

[2] A reverential take on Girl Reading by Katie Ward http://www.katieward.co.uk/?page_id=44


Adult Conversation

Many years ago I dined out with my daughter, who was 12 years old at the time. My children and I have been dining out a lot, since when they were quite young. But at this occasion I suddenly found myself in an adult conversation with her for the first time. This must explain why I had kept notes, which this post is based on. The photo, by the way, is not of my daughter. It’s me in the diner we were at. It was taken before my eyes started to lose their sparkle. This was some years before they started to die. I was wearing my hair shorter then. Now it drops all the way to the small of my back.

My daughter broached the subject of reincarnation, which she said she liked to believe in. Oh, there are so many things I like to believe in, I said (leaving open whether reincarnation was among them). But to actually believe in something is a different thing altogether. You can believe in a person’s goodness, her wisdom, her sense of responsibility. It means you have reason to assume she is good, or wise, or responsible. You can believe a person telling you a story. It means you have reasons to believe the story, or that you are willing to accept its veracity, let’s say because you trust that person, or because whether or not the story is true is irrelevant to you. You can even believe in a theory, on the ground (subject to falsification) that, in your estimation, the indications that it is correct outweigh indications that it is false. But believing as an act of faith is destructive. Every religion, every creed, every penchant for the super- or preternatural, is horribly nihilistic in its contempt of reason and human potential, its contempt of humanity.

We went on to talk about the importance of Popper’s falsification principle, the hilarious if rather abundant argumentation Dawkins stacks up in The God Delusion to refute the existence of a god or other such ‘higher entities’, Darwin’s evolution theory, the Alma Witthaker character in the Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Gilbert’ s elegant playfulness in dealing with 19th century natural science.

We had a pleasant time and a very good 3-course dinner. My notes said it set me back $ 135.

Interview With Bob Mould

I listen to Bob Mould a lot. Everything written and/or performed by him or the bands he fronted (Hüsker Dü and Sugar) was on my iPod. Now it’s in a Spotify playlist named “All Bob“. I met Bob in New York. He’ll tell you no if you’d ask him. He’ll tell you he has never heard of me. So what? If it is true we never met, you bet he wished that we had. Anyway, this is my conversation with Bob, to whom I had introduced myself as Dingenom, which he forthwith pared back to Ding (only intimate friends use that!).

– Bob, do you believe me when I tell you that I have been playing Again and Again again and again and again, and yet again? That I’ve had it on repeat for an entire day once?
– You like the song.
– I do, Bob. I like it tremendously. This may be the best song ever written in pop music.
– Ding, do you know that I’m gay?
– I do, Bob. Why mention it? Because I look at you so longingly? It’s true, I’m a little disappointed. I read about your sexual orientation right after I had blogged that I liked you so much with the beard and the spectacles. You look so on top, so good-natured and so wise on the cover of District Line. That photo made me fall right in love with you. I mean you, Bob. Your music I had fallen in love with the first time I heard it on the radio, a long time ago, a Hüsker Dü song. I think I recall it was a track from Warehouse: Songs and Stories. So many times I have imagined myself in your arms, Bob…

– I once woke up from a dream where we had wonderful sex. I mean safe, Bob. I mean where I felt warm and safe and protected. It’s only feeling safe and protected that I get off on. I woke up on the verge of an orgasm. The longing to be back with you, in the dream, was liable to keep me awake through what remained of the night, a considerable part of the night still, Bob. That could only be resolved by finishing the job. If you get me. (Bob nodded understandingly). Are you quite positive that you’re gay? Are you sure you want to be gay?

– ?

– It’s a thing, Ding. Don’t you like gay people?
– Or course not! Straight people either. One cannot go about just liking ‘people’! Don’t you like me? I have been listening to everything you did since I was 18. The Girl on Heaven Hill is a Hüsker Dü favorite of mine.
– Ah, yes, The Girl on Heaven Hill.
– And Hoover Dam.
– That was Sugar.
– Did I say it wasn’t? Of course it was Sugar. I know my classics. Life and Times; there goes another one. A classic I mean.
– I can make it with a girl though.
– Gosh, Bob, I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression, but this interview is about your music, not sex. Why did you flaunt your one time association with Nirvana? They may have become more famous than you, but artistically they cannot stand in your shadow, or Hüsker Dü’s for that matter, or Sugar’s. In fact, they were rather middle of the road. Can you imagine them doing a song like Egøverride?
– You mean the references to Nirvana in the booklet that came with Silver Age? Oh, I think it was an idea of the commercial people.
– You ought not to have had let them do it to you, Bob. You are very much your own man. That is one of the things I like about you.
– What other things do you like about me?
– You caught me out, Bob! I don’t know anything about you. Everything I feel or think about you is the fruit of my imagination. Some will say this very conversation is!
– Well, how long have you got, Ding?
– How long do you want me to have, Bob?
– As long as I want you deep.
– Is that an innuendo?
– No, it’s the title of a song.
– I don’t know that song.
– It just came to my mind.
– You mean the song, or just the title?
– Both.

He played the outline of the song on one of the acoustic guitars in the room, humming along with it. That song will be on Bob’s next album. I’m not sure about the title though, which sounded like bad English to me. I mean, it’s all true of course, but you might just not recognize that song.

The Pleasure Tools Have Arrived

The Womanizer Premium and the Foxy arrived today in a prettily wrapped box with some complimentary extras. Ignoring latter items I immediately set the pleasure tools charging on the countertop right next to the table where I was hammering away on two laptops, the one displaying some energy draining legal document I was meant to be working on, the other showing my investment portfolio, the managing of which I was devoting most of my time and acuteness of mind to. Three hours later I absconded to an upstairs bathroom, clutching the foxy little lilac Foxy vibrator in my slightly damp hands. The cats, though nonplussed by my dreamstate erraticness, related at the level of animal instinct they felt (from a cat’s perspective) I had risen to. I put the freshly charged Foxy to work on the inside and the outside of me. It delivered in mere minutes.

The Womanizer Premium is still sitting on the countertop downstairs. Given its design I’m confident that someone visiting me unexpectedly will be none the wiser if I tell them it’s the newest in ear thermometers.

Featherweight In Lunacy And Lucidity

People have asked me how a self-proclaimed lunatic can boast (i) a successful career in law, (ii) being on the board of two tech companies and (iii) having the resources to make substantial investments and buy expensive cars. To that I answer that I can separate doing my job and succumbing to the Sirenic call of liberating madness. Not always though. This accounts for the spectacular turns of my life. In general, people’s lives collapse onto themselves, thicken, become more and more impenetrable, even as time progresses and the world around them evolves. Then they sink, and they die. I, on the contrary, cannot get my own life to gain weight on me, and, displacing time and circumstance, lethally wedge itself snug and secure. I’m a featherweight in lunacy and lucidity.

The Handsomest Movie Man

I have to add this: the handsomest man I can think of is the actor Denzel Washington. If Denzel in real life were a mere 10% of the man on screen, which most likely he isn’t, I would give my left arm (if that wouldn’t make me a turnoff) just to know being caught in the corner of his eye. It’s a shame and a sorry waste of time to have to watch so many boring and incomprehensible formula action movies (Safe House is the latest I had to sit through) to drool over his face, his body, and the all but absent inflections of his voice…

Masturbate Don’t Degradate

Many women’s series are quite open about female masturbation. Fleabag, Grace & Frankie, The Bold Type, to name a few. When I masturbate I take the male perspective to look at myself as a woman and what I would do to myself. I doubt that men when they jerk off picture themselves as a woman and fantasize about what they would have themselves being done to by a man. They’d risk instant impotence. Men are alien to me. A good and solid man is warm and reassuring though. I need the stubble. Just writing this I get very horny. I immediately order a deluxe air pressure clit stimulator online, the Womanizer Premium. It has autopilot capability. I throw in a sweet little purse vibrator, with a good press, the Foxy. They come with chargers. I like new things, I like innovation. Even my seat-heated bidet toilets are on an app. Degradation unnerves me. That is why I avoid non-rechargeable battery powered appliances as much as I can.

Laurel & Hardy

I watched the 2019 British movie Stan & Ollie on Amazon Prime tonight. I had seen a small part of it inflight on a trip to NYC. Crew preparing for landing I was forced to abort it. I thought if only I can trace the movie and see the rest of it when I’m back home in the country of my exile. Well, tonight I did, almost two years later. I cried after it had ended. Crying when one is alone is unnatural. That’s how alone I am. Not lonely though. Crying is a social thing. One cannot take crying people too seriously. People crying unseen, unheard, and not feeling sorry for themselves, now that is serious. I had planned to stay in NYC for three weeks. My mother died unexpectedly. I flew out after a week.