Tuesday, July 10, 2012
a natural appetite kindles the desire for a specific food
Indigenous Literature Week is over but I direct you to the concluding post at ANZ Litlovers, which sums things up and proposes hope for the future, the future being an ideal place for things such as hope to repose and perhaps even the only possible place unless you can hope in reverse, which not even Merlin in T.H. White's Once and Future King seems to be able to do, though that was surely the author's problem before it was his. He lives backwards, in that book, I mean Merlin.
I sat down to write another post about The Italian, but Paolo's death feels like such a natural end point that I can't think of anywhere else to go. Ann Radcliffe has been sliced off me like the end of a sausage (I am thinking of sausages because we had bratwurst yesterday and why, says M., do we call them Brats for a nickname and not Wursts? It is Americans who do that, I said, and thinking of Americans I had to think also of the homeless and the schizophrenics outside, for, why, I had asked him, are so many people here so poor and so mad? why do they shout? who helps them? and both of us sitting in the Harrahs casino where the nation's sane children were appearing in an advertisement on one of the wall-mounted televisions, laughing, smiling, playing in long grass, and responding to a dinner bell rung by one of their mothers, the contrast between those children and the homeless man twitching in his sleep on the concrete outside Buffalo Exchange being so strong and so terrifying -- we are all doomed -- but anyway -- we were trying the America-themed milkshake at the casino's hamburger bar, patriotic due to the Fourth of July -- there was genuine apple pie crumbled into it) and what should I replace her with, Ann Radcliff? -- I wonder to myself, and I wonder it now to you as well, not that you can help, future-creatures that you are, flying forward unknown in some part of the world as I'm writing this, not knowing how useful you could be, and so I should say, Poor You, because it is very refreshing to help someone, especially when you can help them as easily as you could help me right now, just by typing, for example, "You should write about _____" into a window on the screen and hitting the key named Enter.
By the time you read this it will be too late; it is always too late to stave off the present problem although you might be able to prevent the one that would happen one minute from now, and it could be the same thing -- hunger for instance -- a sandwich -- solved --
Very easily you could improve very slightly the planet that is attached to you and which you attach to yourself, in so many ways, using it like tool, arm, or leg, and the sky too is attached to you, and the sun, by extension the entire solar system, then the universe beyond that, because nobody says you have to stop, anywhere, recognising these things you are beholden to, so that the bell that tolls for a moon-lizard falling off a cliff of rampant flame ten billion light years from your seat tolls also for thee. Ding dong, as they say in Shakespeare, tick tock goes the clock, but I have made remarks about Frank Kermode and his tick and tock at least twice already in this blog, if not three times, so I will not do it again.
So for now let me keep writing in a sort of flailing hopefulness similar to the one I experienced when, a while ago, when my right sinus was blocked, I ate a clove of raw garlic to see if that would help. It didn't, and as I sat there with tears running down my face I decided never to do that again. Childhood never completely ends; there is always something new to discover, which is surely a lovely thought. How did they pick their cures, back in the days when medicine was, for example, putting a slug on your wrist and licking a weasel's chine at midnight (I had to wait until Pepys to find out what a chine was; he spends every day and night bolting chines of beef); how did they choose one method over another; how do you rank the action of tying a hangman's rope around your knee against rubbing the wart of a rabbit on your ear? The reasonable answer is that someone tried one of those methods and got better, after which everyone said, oh, that must be the method that works, but it's possible that some of them merely sounded more appealing when they were described, and people were drawn to them by aesthetic pleasure, or else instinct, which is the way says Aelian, that lions are driven to eat camels. "At any rate I should not be surprised if it were by some mysterious instinct that the lion, in spite of never having seen one before, delights to eat the flesh of a Camel, if he chances to come across one. For a natural appetite kindles the desire for a specific food, even in those who have never seen it before," he wrote. (A.F. Scholfield made the translation.)