an audience of madmen

Ensor, les bons juges

I am not dying this year and may not even die the next year. Waiting for death year in and year out, I am growing restless. While death does not come, woes are approaching. Yet those woes are not approaching fast enough! – Li Chih (Li Zhi)

“You would even have agents, inspectors, who would send back to their houses those people who did not have the grimace of happiness stamped upon their lips.” – Baudelaire

LI likes to think that this blog follows certain secret themes, and that I invent those themes. I am the master. But any being that follows is, in one respect at least, not the master – viz, that it follows. This is not merely a play on rhetorical convention, as that random master who wakes up to his throat being cut by his footman, his maid, his garbageman, any of that lower level host, finds out in the end.

So I have been following a theme recently that is not even strong enough to be a theme. That is, strong enough to be subject to the truth table, where they strap down themes and take out their hearts and weigh them. From Wittgenstein to the Egyptian book of the dead, you know, is only a wink.

Well, that was my thought: all that we touch turns into mythology.

And into this I wanted to bring Gerard de Nerval, who, more than most, was hyperconscious of the mythological touch – he was the Midas of it among poets. And that brought me to Baudelaire, and that brought me to Baudelaire kicking the shit out of Jules Janin in a letter he never sent, and that I promised to publish.

But then I thought – hmm. Perhaps there is a whole geneology, one of those secret genealogies, who have had the thought, everything we touch turns to mythology. In their own ways.

Which made me think of the French writer Joseph Joubert, whose fans include Matthew Arnold, Maurice Blanchot, and Paul Auster, who translated him.

Well, here’s an anecdote from the essay by Paul Auster about Joubert. The translation was recently republished by NYRB books. But it first came out from North Point Press in 1983. Well, it didn’t exactly have a noble run – 800 copies were sold. But Auster loaned it to his friend, David Reed, an artist who had a friend in Bellevue. Reed left it with this friend: ‘Two or three weeks later, when the friend was finally released, he called David to apologize for not returning the book. After he read it, he said, he had given it to another patient. That patient had passed it on to yet another patient, and little by little Joubert had made his way around the ward. Interest in the book became so keen that groups of patients would gather in the day room to read passages out loud to one another and discuss them.”

There is nothing more flattering to a writer than an appreciative group of madmen. The mystery of the writer and the audience is second to the ways of the woman with the man, etc. Anyway, there is a rather hard to translate bit from Joubert about the presque rien that I’m going to translate in my next post for you lucky inmates.


patrick said…
Everything we touch should turn to myth eventually, or it just turns into complaining at the toilet blogs (not this one, of course.) The Marxists are getting nowhere, though, since they turned in shit to somebody today, or rather the
American communist Party did, so there's nothing to do but talk about how bad all white bipolar Americans iz.

I've turned all sorts of things into myth and there are even people who don't like this who have decided the myth is more useful than dull analyses by flat-prose Marxists who don't know their asses from holes in the ground.

In the meantime, sheer idiocy is also very pleasant and will take many years to turn into Proustian Recherches du Mythes Perdus...Speedy Gonzalez, no better than DealBarbie or InstantProfitz in his attempt to build a MySpace all his own, is 'upset' at McNulty's emails, because him wanted him to be a talkin' 'bout how him was fired because of performance duties, not because Harriet Miers was given a list of people to fire while everybody was trying to decide to support Ralph Nader in the 2006 elections, because it was so much fun going to hell in a more bombastic fashion all throughout 2004-2006. Them hard-leftists lub dem 2004-2006 years, didn't have no investigations nor nothing, and Harriet hadn't even gone back to her garden club. So they got organized enough not to fire 93 prosecutors (wasn't there a Flight 93 of some import that surely this must mean as much as 666 or some Biblical shit), and it 'evolved' into about 12 or 13, and Mistah Sampson and Mistah McNulty well, they lay low but dey di'n't feel right about firing some of these people about the political disloyalty. And by now, they got so panicky, they freaked out and put it all in pre-discovered emails. Didn't anybody learn anything from the way Miss Hilary hid shit in the residential areas of the White House, and then said she didn't know how they got there. The little pic of Speedy Gonzalez has given me no end of pleasure today. I think he can now be a salesmen at a nice J.C. Penney's or sell chain-letter businesses on the internet so you can buy a nice speedboat like the one he and his nice wife have. I don't know if him went on any junkets to Scottish golf courses, though, but it looks like him's gonna have time on him hand, and so him can play blackjack with Tom DeLay and drink Jim Beam.
northanger said…
Rosie asleep. A hand comes down hard and efficiently against her throat -- she wakes up, fighting for air.

Marco: You wanna really run the world, don't you, Susie? Rosie? Whatever the hell your name is. I got my library card and I got your tapes. I do my research too. We're going to the feds, we're going to the police, the newspapers, whatever it takes.

Rosie: I am the Feds! Now, get off me! Get off of me!

the new MC rocked, Rog!
roger said…
North - and, incidentally, was a great advertisement for libraries!

Patrick: speaking of Gonzales, I've been proud, as a blogger, of the role of TPM in the whole deal. Josh Marshall has grown up a lot from the early days, when he was a pro-war liberal.
patrick said…
I agree. I got a little too excited last night when I read about Speedy getting upset about how the email didn't read right...

Anyway, thanks.

Poor Tony Snow. Isn't it just awful what he has to go through? He'll have to get a presidential pardon just like Libby will.